92 Alaia slithers out of Lucan's grip

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92   Alaia slithers out of Lucan's grip

As Evelyn and I reach the pavement and set off towards Downstairs, she says, "I hate having to lie and hide things from my friends like that."

I bet you do, I think, and is that why you chose three of your friends for me to spy on? "Oh, I know, yes. Me too."

"I wonder," she says. "Could anyone on our team be leaking raw material, d'you think?"

Woops—I thought this would be coming. "How d'you mean?"

"Well ... what was it Alaia said the other day, that made me wonder if she's really being discreet about our spokes-sheep recording? Something struck me as odd, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it..." She thinks hard, then shakes her head. "No, it's gone. Damn. Oh well, it'll come back. Anyway, d'you remember this Mint Man character? Was he in your Shigem footage?"

Aha. I was wondering whether she remembered it. It seems she doesn't. Or is she just pretending not to remember it, to test me out? There go those permutations again. I must remember here, she can always watch the Shigem footage again by herself and find the Mint Man in it once again: I'd better sit on the fence here, then. "Hmm," I muse. "There's been such an orgy of imagery over the last week, I can't quite be certain. It may ring a vague bell, but I'm not sure."

"Huh..." And we walk on in silence.

The dive-bar approaches, and there's Alaia waiting outside.

As we enter, nodding our greetings to Lucan, Angel and Flames, Kev is boasting, "That night last week, I had five Long Island Ice Teas here, and I only had to drain the lizard once."

"You were draining it down your leg and never noticed," says Damian.

"I fucking wasn't."

"Damian's right," says Flames. "I should know, I had to mop it up, right there on the floor."

"You are all so full of shit—"

"And to think," says Flames, shaking his head sadly, "I even made the drinks weak, just for you."

"You did not—they were full-strength and you know it!" Kev remonstrates. "I'm warning you, Flames..." His piggy eyes fall on Evelyn, as she leads Alaia and me towards the back of the room. "Hey Evelyn, wanna go halves on a bastard?"

"I'd rather suck on a urinal cake," she calls, without looking back.

"She sounds like a beautiful sister, to me," says Flames, watching her walk.

"I got the woofers in my jeep!" calls Kev.

Evelyn raises one finger at him without turning around.

"Damn, you have a way with women, Kev," says Lucan.

"Damn straight," says Kev. "Unleash the beast."

"An incontinent Chihuahua?" says Angel with fatigue.

Ignoring him, Kev continues, "I have to store my briefs in the freezer overnight before I wear 'em, or else I just burn 'em off me."

"I thought that frozen dinner tasted like cloth, last time we were at your place," says Flames. "Now I know what I was eating..."

As we reach the back wall, Evelyn's phone rings and she starts a conversation on it. We all sit, with me facing across the table towards the corner of the room, then she shuts her phone off and says, "I have to go. Rik needs me in the studio, to help him set up for us tonight—for the next you-know-what. So I'll just see you there, around eleven-fifteen?"

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