67 Overheard through the corn-chips

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67   Overheard through the corn-chips

A joint obtrudes itself into my sightline, proffered by Evelyn. "All the way from Humboldt County," she reminds me. I take two or three good tokes and hand it on to Alaia: strong, for sure, and very nice, though it doesn't feel like anything so unusual.

I glimpse a kitchen down a corridor at the back, where I think I can see glass bowls of corn-chips on a counter-top. "I'm going to the kitchen," I tell the other two and wander off across the den to the start of the corridor. Then swiftly but smoothly over the next few seconds, I come to a point where I cannot feel my feet on the floor at all. I stop and peer down: I am not levitating, but I have no sensory evidence of this, except through my eyes. I reach out and touch the corridor walls on either side of me, to guide myself, and set off again. There's a problem, though: my ability to feel my hands on the walls is also disappearing. At this moment, out of the track that just came onto the sound system, there erupts the single-word lyric, BABYLON! in a voice of thunderous charismatic depth and power, resonating with fantastic volume and sensuality, welling up out of driving drumbeats that seem first to belch the word out and then to be flattened by it... I come to a halt again: I wasn't expecting that. Now the word returns, thrown up by that driving beat, surging up the short corridor from behind me like the deep-bass explosion of a volcano: BABYLON! I realise I don't want or need to move anywhere, if this sound will be coming back to me again here (as I suspect it will be), because it contains everything I need. Yes indeed, here it comes: BABYLON!... I feel I could listen to this, repeated, for hours straight—but I also begin to wish that this explosive aural feast had chosen a more convenient moment to visit itself upon me, for all I have here, pretty much, is visual data: proprioception has gone out of the window, leaving just a conscious head floating in a hallway above an unrelated torso.

This head decides it had better press on nonetheless, guiding itself by looking at where those fingers appear to be pressing into those walls on either side and somewhat below it ... and somehow, after a few more BABYLON!s, the head reaches the door of an empty kitchen. I see a bathroom doorway on the other side of the kitchen, sway across towards it, disembodied, as if watching myself in a movie, float through the bathroom doorway with a good bit of guesswork, plonk myself down onto the toilet just inside it and pull the door closed beside me. Over the course of some long number of minutes, I'm not sure how many, the feeling creeps back into my hands, then into my feet, while a good number of further BABYLON!s erupt.

Evelyn was right about the weed here—I should've gone easier on those tokes.

As I return to earth with the bathroom gently spinning, I hear someone enter the kitchen, humming to himself. I make out the oily-dry scrape and muffled ring of a handful of corn-chips being clawed up from a glass bowl on the counter, then the snap-crunch-chomp of their ingestion and mastication. "Hey, baby Angel," comes Lucan's unmistakable deep brown voice through the corn-chips, as another much lighter step comes into the kitchen.

"Hey," says Angel's voice.

"That DVD was sexy," murmurs Lucan through a mouthful of chips.

"Mmm," comes the answer, in a tone I can't decipher.

With surprise I find I am tuning in to Lucan, as he contemplates Angel on the other side of this door. This is happening without my having intended it at all—the only time I've tuned in to anyone by mistake. Maybe I'm stoned? Yes, perhaps I am! Before I can think about whether and how to extricate myself from the tune-in, I see that I'm looking at Lucan's memory of first meeting the twenty-year-old Angel, two or three years ago on Kingsley Street, and I cannot look away ... for he seemed to you, Lucan, like a sexy little fly. You saw him as a creature whose natural habitat would be hovering above a steaming-hot pool of blood and honey, sending his feelers down into it like the snouts of a voracious alien. And those killer eyes on him—so startling in close-up! Those big, brown, vital eyes, so dark and alive and dangerous and watchful, beneath long black eyelashes; the curve of the eyes echoed and magnified underneath by the fuller convexity of pale brown-olive skin curving outward over his cheekbones, then quickly back in and down in slanting arcs to the reticent mouth and smooth sharp chin; and the delicate jaw-line rising around behind, past small ears to the flame of black hair above a round intelligent forehead. That animal immediacy, that play of flesh and electricity combined, that scything sharpness and tang within a wrapping of organic yield and warmth, which knew that it grabbed your own gaze and licked it back. Here was an urgent, self-evident truth for you, Lucan, discovered at a moment and in a human vehicle where you would never have expected to find it. For you'd only ever had girlfriends—yet how beautiful would Angel look, once raped and crying! No, there was no way to move away and leave this one behind, without the stale and dreary guilt of loss, and you weren't that stupid, were you, Lucan?

"Can you believe that stuck-up bitch fucked up and gave us the wrong disc?" says Lucan, jolting me out of him, so I find myself looking once again at the inside of the bathroom door. A slap resounds around the kitchen, which sounds very like the sound of two powerful hands clapping gleefully together. I hear him take another almighty fistful of corn-chips.

"Can you believe Shigem and Kim! Can we say insipid?" replies Angel with a sensual acidic malevolence, like a lisping snake.

"Vanilla essence, yummy-yum," murmurs Lucan, buried in his chips.

"I still can't believe you thought I'd gossiped about us," Angel accuses him. "How are you going to make it up to me?"

The only reply is a loud, leisurely, nonchalant crunch.

"Answer me!" lisps Angel, insistent, but is answered by nothing more than another big, slow crunch, doubtless with an insolent grin to match it. "Whatever it is, it had better be good..."

I should probably get up and return to Alaia and Evelyn, before they wonder whether I've crashed out somewhere; but having just seen Lucan's memory of first meeting Angel, I decide to sneak the quickest of peeks at Angel's first memory of meeting Lucan, as I did yesterday evening with Kim's and Shigem's memories ... and you'd seen Lucan here and there around town, Angel, but never from as close as when he stopped on Kingsley Street and looked you up and down. Planted there in front of you, surrounded by his entourage, he struck you as a drummer on a stage in a cone of light, with all the band beneath him and the curves of his biceps drumming with a slow aggression, face remaining shaded till he tossed up his head with sexy arrogance, flinging up droplets of sweat in slow motion through the spotlight.

You saw him, all in all, as a vision of perfection. You dreamed that he would sweep you off your feet and that you'd lie draped lasciviously across his powerful arms, like a fairy princess swooning when she's rescued by a prince. In blunter terms, while assuming he was straight (but more especially if he was), you were desperate to be fucked.

Then, to your shock, this all occurred, for many months.

Then during its occurrence, Lucan's laughter in the dark welled up behind the air and echoed all across the sky, deep and wicked. And along with his laughter came your first intimation that your new position here with him, despite its nightly ecstasy, provided scant protection from the murderous dangers inherent in associating with him.


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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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