31 We'll all adore you

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III   Monday: Alaia learns my subterfuge

31   We'll all adore you

I wake at half-past ten, to my alarm and the scratching of the gulls in the eaves through the window. I walk across the room and peer down at the green space outside, which my journeys last night informed me is Liberty Square. I see my phone on the coffee table. I had forgotten its existence throughout last night. Glancing at its tally of new texts and voicemail messages that have been accumulating silently since the broadcast, mostly from New York, I make a snap decision: these are all products of such a different world and such a different headspace from those I'm currently inhabiting here in Asbury Park, that I'm not going to deal with a single one of them for the few days I'm here. I shall be officially uncontactable. Otherwise I'm going to get too distracted with stuff that can wait. I'm meant to be in hiding, after all. So I'm going to leave it on silent and carry it, but answer only if it's Alaia or Evelyn or Rik or Marc or Jason or Pippa or anyone else I may meet in this strange little bubble of exile.

I get ready at high speed, knock on Alaia's door, hear no answer and head downstairs. In the room that Evelyn called the breakfast room there is a buffet of which I make good use, attended by a polite but wholly uncommunicative Mexican girl who flits on cat's feet between this room and some hidden kitchen, as if serving at a delicate funeral.

As soon as I've returned to my room, Alaia emerges from hers and knocks on my door. I bid her enter and she bursts in, emanating a glow of exhilaration. "Good news?" I ask.

"Nothing in particular. Unless you count the fact that I was just looking online and found that millions of people are talking about us two, all around the entire world, after last night. And I don't mean bad stuff. It's amazing, fabulous stuff! D'you want to come see some of it? Jaymi, our lives have completely changed now."

I laugh and reflect on this for a moment. "You know what? I don't. Not yet. Not before the second broadcast. It'll distract me while I'm on camera, I know it will. I'm going to wait till we're back in Manhattan, then just go through all of it. It'll be a very Manhattan thing to look at! If our lives have changed as much as you say, which I can believe, then we'll have quite long enough to inhabit all that. We'll have no choice. But this town is on a different planet from that, and I want to keep things peaceful and isolated and strange, just for the week that we're down here. This is an unrepeatable and unique little Sargasso Sea of time and space, that we'll never get again—our very last week of privacy, before the dam bursts forever. We shouldn't squander it with texting."

"Privacy, such as Lucan hustling you into Downstairs, facing you into a corner at the back and putting a paper-bag over your head?"

"Um, I don't remember the paper-bag, but yes, that was the kind of restful privacy I'm talking about, compared to what's coming next week. But here, I'm not going to answer any calls or texts from outside this little bubble we're in. This thing's staying on silent."

"I'm with you there. I haven't been answering either."

Soon we're both back in the studio, for our noon appointment. "OK," says Rik, "so you know Marc's fixed the second broadcast for this Thursday evening. That's three and a half days away, which pushes us unmercifully for time, but we can't do anything about it, so we'll just have to make it work." Alaia grimaces. "Jason's no help there, he's also been pushing for Thursday because apparently that's the day of 'maximised cross-fertilisation of viewer memory and word-of-mouth', whatever that means. Anyway, two things here. First off, Jason's given that broadcast a name: he's calling it Big Bang."

Alaia frowns. "OK. Sounds a bit like a circus act."

"That's fine," I say. "We are a circus act."

So Big Bang it becomes.

"Second thing," says Rik. "An idea that may help us, so let me know if you're both on for it. I hope you are. Jason's OK'd it already on the phone, 'cos he knows it'll turn out at least as good as last night's. To take it to the next level, how about we don't air live, as such? I suggest we air an amalgam of three short sessions we record over the next three evenings—the first tonight, the second one tomorrow Tuesday, and the third one Wednesday. Along the way, I'll be putting the three together, through some new software that processes the picture and the sound in fantastic ways." A faint cloud must have flicked across our faces, because he hastens to add, "Don't worry, I'm not going to tweeze you around so much that you'll be unrecognisable."

"Well, that's all right, then," says Alaia. "I just don't want to sound like some scratch mix of myself."

"Alaia, we'll all adore you."

"Well, I wasn't really thinking of that—"

"Sure you were—I mean, no of course you weren't," he says, slapping his cheek.

"OK," she laughs.

"Fine," I say to Rik. "It sounds like your non-live idea may have saved the day there. So, less pressure than yesterday?"

"Not really. Our schedule's tight as a gnat's fanny, if I'm to get the post-production done in time. So let's treat these three as fully live, and let's shoot the first one tonight at seven. By the way, d'you two have the content sorted out?"

"Oh, just that little matter of the content!" laughs Alaia.

"Content?" I say. "No, we thought we'd skip that bit... Oh all right, if you insist, we can rustle up a little something."

"Cool beans. OK, let's just get a few tests done. If you could each sit where you sat last time." We take our places, as he starts flicking switches and checking monitors. "Alaia: at whatever vocal pitch you're loudest, could you give me a smooth gradient, over ten seconds, from silent up to loudest, please."

I hover my index fingers over my ears.

"Why are you putting your fingers over your ears?" demands Alaia from inside the sound booth.


For some nice reviews and interviews about The Imagination Thief, in The Guardian and elsewhere, see http://www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-imagination-thief-reviews-media/

For a quick synopsis of it, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/synopsis-and-characters-list-the-imagination-thief/

For the 12 Films in The Imagination Thief, see http://www.rohanquine.com/video-books-films/12-films/

For the Audio-book version and the Video-book version of each of its 120 mini-chapters, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/audiobook-tumblr-wattpad/

For links to the retailers, see http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-ebook/ and http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-paperback/

And for its Amazon pages, see http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909 and http://www.amazon.com/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909

The Imagination Thief is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.

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