82 The Supreme Ruler and her space-cat

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82   The Supreme Ruler and her space-cat

Three effortless hours later, we are all four stoned as we wander the three blocks to Paradise, which is packed. Shigem is much in demand, this being his last occasion hosting, and is looking divinely flamboyant, wearing a lot of make-up both glamorous and subtle, plus a soft-edged but extensive application of silver body-paint.

As soon as he and I greet each other, there's a mute agreement similar to the one we reached here after Sound & Vision, though this time it is mutually arrived at rather than being imposed by me: namely, that we shan't bother talking about what he experienced earlier tonight through Big Bang, so personal and self-sufficiently complete were the beauties it will have caused to flower in him.

I see, too, that so close are we without words, he has also come to know about my passive tuning-in. He can't directly feel it happening, but he knows or at least assumes that I do it. The other member of my target group who must know I do it is Angel, but only because we gave Lucan the DVD. Shigem knows it just within himself. So he knows I'll have access to the beauties that Big Bang elicited in him; he knows I'll respect these and love them, if I seek them; and the rest will stay between us.

Unlike after Sound & Vision, however, I shan't tune in here to his experience of tonight's broadcast. Although I can sense that this one's effect on him was of comparable emotional depth, I can also sense he hasn't yet made sense of it—partly because this one lacked the simplifying effect of surprise, and partly because he'll have watched this one in the company of Kim, which will have introduced a new complexity and mediation into the experience.

Yet my stoned state is tipping me into tuning in to Shigem, as when I was tipped into tuning in to Lucan in his kitchen and picked up his memory of first meeting Angel. I allow this to happen, but turn myself to face away from the churning of Big Bang and steer instead towards something much easier—just his memory of when he arrived here in the club tonight. But in my current state, even this factual memory of Shigem's is less simple than I expected ... for the first thing I see, Shigem, from when you and Kim first walked in here, is that a stylish woman in her thirties was perched on a bar-stool: the skin of her entire shoulders and arms was covered in a tattooed leopard-skin design, while in her lap sat a rabbit with leopard-skin fur and busy ears, and by her side squatted a sleek, disturbing space-cat. There she sat, callipygous and elfin, sucking down a tall blue drink through a straw—an Electric Lemonade, you guessed. I see that you recognised her as one of the club's owners and its Supreme Ruler, and that she was about to make an announcement to the staff, right before the club doors opened. The bar was stocked with rare and mischievous drinks: the yellow and the green Chartreuses enjoyed a passionate celibacy, alongside violet champagne, moon-wine and a pointed flask of Sweet Spirits of Night. Spaced behind the bar's length, five exotic bartenders listened as she rapped out their names in an upscale electronic voice: "Tapette, Twinky, Chi-chi, Maiden-boy, Chiaroscuro Queen—hear me well. No fuck-ups, please, tonight of all nights, our special friend Shigem's very last!" Dead silence—she was Supreme Ruler here, after all. "A Joan Collins is a Tom Collins made with vodka instead of gin, but the sour-mix, the soda and the cherry are otherwise quite unchanged. I shall refrain from describing the dog's dinner I saw being made of a Joan Collins by one of you here last week—I say not by whom. Make no mistake, I've commanded boys behind bars around the world, of every hue, from disco to disco: painted boys in neon bars, muscled brutes in smoky dives, fey boys with high-pitched lisps, and parrot-wearing bartenders training as pirates, so I know whereof I speak... Think about the dry vermouth very hard, before you add a dash or a drop of it or even just walk past the glass with it: if you don't, it will feel insulted. Don't pout, Tapette. I'm a sensitive boss—moonlight through dark glasses sometimes hurts my eyes—but I shall slap your impudent little bottoms that wiggle so pertly, if any of you fucks up a drink tonight, because this is Shigem's swan-song." With her hands on her hips, she concluded her harangue with a slick, swishy, tightly-timed sass: "And that's that, as far as I'm concerned!" before picking up her leopard-skin rabbit and sweeping across the dance-floor to the management office, followed slinkily by the space-cat emanating a regal felinity that purred Learn it, bitches! to all assembled.

Half an hour after you saw the club doors opened, the DJ was already in top gear, though only a small crowd had yet arrived. There was a huge build-up of lighting effects and increasingly manic, dirty, twisted, even chunky house music ... but at the centre of this spectacular whirl and bombast the dance-floor was as empty and still as the centre of a tornado. On the video screens above, there appeared some footage of that Supreme Ruler's arms with their distinctive leopard-skin artwork: one hand stroked with long golden nails the white fur of a long-haired cat, while the other hand limply held a peeled banana.

"Remember that really chunderous décor that used to be here?" the bartender Tapette tittered at you from behind the bar. "Those pink fur walls..."

"Oh I used to love those walls," you said. "I used to writhe against them. I miss that."

"But they kept getting bits of chewing-gum caught in them," objected Tapette.

"True, but I used to writhe against the bits without chewing-gum. Anyway, sweetie, I'll have a Parfait Amour liqueur and cream soda, please." You turned to Kim beside you. "Kim, did you know that our luscious bartender Tapette here colours the wine artificially—even the good stuff—just to jazz it up a bit, 'cos he thinks wine gets to be a boring colour after a while."

"I do not!" shrilled Tapette at you, taking offence and stamping his foot. "I'd never commit such a sacrilege," and he whipped out a diminutive cauliflower from beneath the bar and started peevishly trimming off miniature florets of it into the garnish trays...


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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