91 My lies about the Mint Man

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91   My lies about the Mint Man

If only I could help her, but I don't see how I can. I can't take her pain on board, as I could with a piece of her knowledge, but even if I could do this, it probably wouldn't do any good, as I suspect that there would then just be two people who felt it, instead of one person. The pain isn't mine, but hers specifically, it seems.

I see also that in her current state she will yield nothing coherent or useful about her mysterious weasel Angel. I return fully to my wet ledge, therefore, drop down off it to the sand and return to the Metropolitan.

In my room I change into dry clothes, then call Alaia. "Hallo," she says from the other side of the wall.

"Hi. Just to let you know Kim said we can go round to Shigem's place again this evening if we want. I'm thinking maybe we could take the pizza round this time. How does that sound?"

"I don't think I'll join you tonight. I'm going to the studio again. I still have vocals to practise."

"Once again, I admire your discipline. But just so you know: Big Bang was yesterday."

"Yeah but don't forget Marc's coming down here on Monday to meet us. He may tell us he's fixed a third broadcast. And knowing him, it'll probably be the following night."

"I've been postponing that thought myself, I admit."

"I have to come up with stuff. I don't have the luxury of just showing up and staring at the camera."

"I'm not going to rise to that." It's good to hear a bit of humour from her; but despite the humour, there's still that strange distance in her, that newfound wall between us ... and I lay my palm against that wall's bricks-and-mortar equivalent beside me.

"I only need half an evening, though," she continues, "so let's meet at Downstairs at nine-thirty. I'm suggesting it because we should continue to keep our ears to the ground, for Shigem."

No other reason, then. "OK, good idea—I'll see you then." So it's agreed. I call Shigem's home, hear his voice and report Kim's invitation, saying Alaia cannot make it but offering to bring pizza. He says he was about to call us and I should just come straight over, because enough pizza has just been brought by Evelyn who is already there.

Within twenty minutes he's opening his front door to me. "Come on in, there's all the food you can eat," he says. "Coffee?"

"Yes please."

He goes off to the kitchen, while I find Evelyn sitting on a box in the main room. "Kim's just out buying booze," she says through a mouthful of pizza.

As I tuck in, wondering whether that booze-buying was a handy pretence for Kim to make a private phone call to Lucan outside, Shigem enters the room, hands us mugs of coffee and sits on a box, sipping his own. His long black hair with its platinum-blond highlights has been restyled to hang down in front of his cheeks. "You know, I got the funniest call from Lucan," he says, awkwardly. "Well, not so funny, because he ended it by saying, 'Have a nice day, Shigem, it may be your last.' But before that little gem, he said that you, Jaymi, offered money to Kim for his permission to spy into me and him."

Woops, here we go... I shake my head, smiling.

"Well, I knew it must have been bullshit, of course," continues Shigem, "and I told him so. But then he described a scene from a dream I had recently, about Kim and me meeting someone called the Mint Man, and I know that the only person I've ever told that dream to was Kim. Lucan described it precisely and he even quoted something I said in the dream; it was pretty creepy. So of course it's made me a bit insecure about Kim, but I haven't said anything about it to him and I don't think I shall. I just want to forget it."

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