61 Alaia bites the bullet and calls Lucan

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V   Wednesday: I learn Alaia's subterfuge

61   Alaia bites the bullet and calls Lucan

Next day in my room at noon, Alaia sits at the table to phone Lucan from the landline, while I perch on the table beside her and Evelyn stands by. "I just have to bite the bullet and do this," she says, dialling. "How do I phrase it?" she asks us. "Oh, I'll just blurt it out... Hi Lucan, it's Alaia, about my phone call to you last night, I just meant to add that I didn't hear anything from anybody else about what we were talking about—nothing at all. I knew about that thing, only because we were just tuning in to Angel a bit, through Jaymi's psychic sight, you know, just to test that sight—" She pauses. "It's not bullshit and I'm going to prove it: I'm going to lend you a copy of what he tuned in to, on DVD... Good, I'm going to deliver it to you today, what time d'you want me to come and deliver it?... What time, Lucan, I'm going to come and deliver it. OK, I'll come to your front door at one o'clock and just give it to you. Goodbye..." She carries on listening to the receiver, glancing up at us. "No, just Angel. Bye then. What?... Oh, really? Tonight at your place? What time?... Oh, well, I don't know, maybe... OK bye, thanks, yeah, bye." She hangs up and stares at us. "I didn't sound very cool and collected, did I? So much for the Sound & Vision ice-goddess. Anyway, I think that went OK, maybe. But then the funny thing was, he invited us to a party."

"I half-heard he was having one," says Evelyn. "Did he invite all of us?"

"Yeah. Is it some kind of trap? It must be a trap."

Evelyn considers this, then grins. "No, girl, I think it's just a party!" She shrugs. "Well OK then, we should go. But we should go early and not stay so long and not have too much fun, because we need to keep it together and not get too involved over there—we're still under contract with Jason and we're meant to carry on keeping a low profile."

Alaia's phone vibrates. "That's my new therapist," she says, peering at the incoming number. "I'm going to take this outside, I'll be right back," and heads for the door.

Evelyn stares after her, then back at me. "She is so New York... But yeah, I've been to a few parties at Lucan's."

"Fun?" I ask, casually picking up the brown envelope I've been noticing beside Alaia's bag on the table beside me. It is unsealed and bears Lucan's name. I glance inside.

"Sure." Evelyn grins: "Just go easy on the weed there, it's Humboldt County... We may find out if he still thinks Shigem left those heads."

I nod thoughtfully, only half-attending to her words because I'm seeing something interesting here in my hands. Half-pulling the DVD from its envelope, I'm struck by its labelling, in Rik's scrawl: it reads not "Angel", as it should have read, but rather "All 4"...

"I'm due to call Jason and Marc now," Evelyn is saying. "D'you want a word with them?"

I replace the disc and the envelope on the table, just as they were before. "Oh, yes please."

Alaia re-enters the room, looking tense. "How was the therapist?" I ask.

"Fine. I told her about my call with Lucan just now."

"You what?" says Evelyn. "You told some stranger out there about our dealings with Lucan?"

"I didn't give anything away that I shouldn't have. I only said I'd just had to make a demanding phone-call, which had taken it out of me. She said I should lie down and take a rest."

Evelyn raises her eyes. "Jesus, and you pay her for that? Anyway, I didn't think starving artists could afford therapists."

"I finished starving last month. Now I'm well-fed. But I still have the same issues. Believe it or not, I'm actually quite high-tension."

"Surely not," says Evelyn. She shakes her head, as if to clear it. "All right. Now I have to call Marc—d'you want a word with him?" Alaia nods. "OK, you speak with him first, then Jaymi, then me." Evelyn dials a number on the landline and hands the receiver over to her.

I lose myself in puzzling over the scribbled label on the DVD, until I see Alaia holding the receiver out to me.

I take it. "Hallo Marc."

"Jaymi. I can't speak for long, but just to say that tomorrow or the next day I'll know whether we're doing a third broadcast and when we'll be bringing you out of hiding. I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I'm sorry you're a prisoner of the Metropolitan. You must have wanted to go out, but I'm grateful you haven't—there's just too much at stake for us to risk introducing any loose variables into the equation, and I'm told Asbury Park is full of those!"

"Well, if this is a prison, it's certainly a luxurious one."

"Good, good. Do make yourselves at home, no expense spared. You can order food down from Manhattan if you like—they can bike it down, 24/7. Ask Evelyn for the folder of menus, it has all the best places in it. Alaia sounded relaxed?"

"Oh, yes, very relaxed," I say, glancing at her where she stands grinding her teeth beside me, probably still chewing over her call to Lucan.

"Excellent. Jaymi, there's another call coming in, that I have to take. Tell Evelyn to call me later, if you would."

"Shall do. Bye!" I hang up. "He wants you to call him later," I tell her.

"OK." She points at the window. "The sun's out, and I'm going for a walk. Wanna come, you two?"

"I shan't, thanks," says Alaia, "I need to go to Lucan's, then I must practise some vocals in the studio."

"Good girl," says Evelyn, then turns to me, enquiring.

I'm not sure what I want to do, now I've seen that DVD. Why did Alaia pick up one of the copies containing all four targets from all three sessions, instead of one of the copies of just Angel as we'd agreed? Should I say anything about this to her? Maybe. But if so, should I do so in front of Evelyn? I can't think it all through, quite this fast, but here is Evelyn staring at me... "Yeah, why not," I tell her.

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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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