84 Angel tries to use me

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VII   Friday: Alaia receding

84   Angel tries to use me

I wake in my bed to the sound of the gulls in the wooden eaves, return foggily to consciousness and make a decision: to clarify our options for helping protect Shigem from Lucan's blame, I really must take action today, in light of my being the only one who knows that the weaselly figure glimpsed behind Pippa's window is probably still in Pippa's apartment. I must bite the bullet, visit Pippa and find out just what's happening, up in that high-rise.

I find Alaia in the breakfast room, where we both try to clear our heads with coffee. She's emitting none of the cold energy of yesterday morning on the beach, but there is something in her presence that makes me feel as if she's behind a wall from me and receding into the distance.

After breakfast we call Marc, as I promised Jason yesterday evening. "Jaymi!" he booms. "Congratulations. An absolute triumph last night. By the end of the broadcast we had a viewership of fifty million in the U.S. alone. That's way up on Sound & Vision's thirty-three million. Here's Variety: 'The nation is now agog to know more of this hypnotic face and its wailing accompanist, whose identities the General Network continues to keep enticingly enigmatic...' I'm very happy, Jaymi."

"I'm deliriously happy with it, Marc. Not to mention quite hung-over."

"I'm glad to hear both those things!"

"You're not going to trot us out a third time, are you?"

"Well, here's the plan. Today's Friday. By Monday I'll know whether there'll be a third one, and if so, when. But either way, I shall come down there on Monday afternoon, so you and Alaia and I can talk about plans, going forward—because the broadcasts themselves were just the curtain-raiser on an orgy of content-repurposings, scads of innovative on-demand download options, and even a smattering of some good old-fashioned ejectable media. All confidential, of course. Can you both hold on for three more days, down there?"

"Oh, sure. I'll think we'll cope."

After Alaia and I have both finished speaking with him, she says, "I need to work alone on some new vocals in the studio today. I'll see you later. We'll go to Shigem's together."

"I admire your discipline. Are you OK?"

"Yes, fine. See you later."

I watch her recede up the white marble staircase and out of sight. I remember how she looked in the club last night when she brought us drinks on the dance-floor. I wish I could go with her to the studio today, but she clearly doesn't want me there.

In any case, I've promised Evelyn that today I shall find out what I can about the three waxworks, by seeing what severed heads I can nose up inside our targets' minds. The trouble is that my sight doesn't really work in this search-engine-like way, because it is an incomplete sight: I'm restricted to the parts of people's memories and imaginations that present themselves, voluminous though these are. There are swathes of their internal landscapes I just can't see, or haven't learned to see. I must give it a whirl, though. Plus, tonight is the last spokes-sheep session and therefore my last chance to make sure I do justice to the recording of our four targets for posterity, whatever posterity may make of them. I shall therefore go one last time to my island hideaway for a while. Before I leave my room, an idea strikes me; I pick up a DVD case containing a copy of Sound & Vision and put it in my pocket.

"Hiya! Where you going?" says Evelyn from her van when I step through the Metropolitan's inconspicuous door.

"Sunset Lake."

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