100 Evelyn's dance, with minimal effect

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100   Evelyn's dance, with minimal effect

I jolt awake and glance around the room. Then I get up, close the window and draw the curtains, right to the edges of the glass. In the bathroom I splash cold water on my face and stare at my pupils in the mirror: to me, that power and capacitance are still quite clear in there. Something's building up, within the air in this town, that I should know about. I'll go for a walk around the block, to clear my head.

In the hallway I run into Evelyn, who is entering from the street. I gesture her into the empty breakfast room, which is lit only by lamp-light coming in through the single unshuttered window in there. "What's up?" she asks.

"This'll sound funny, but ... there's something strange in the air between me and Alaia. You heard her coldness on the beach to me a couple of days ago. Then yesterday I was alone with her in the morning right here, and then at Shigem's in the evening, and both times she just seemed to be receding from me. Now today she feels like she's in hiding... Strictly between you and me, you don't think those wax dummies were her work, do you? I wouldn't know, because I have an agreement with her not to tune in to her—"

"Jaymi, that's ridiculous."

"I guess so. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I sometimes feel that the arrival of these abilities of mine have made me lose some of my own default personality—"

"I know."

"You know? How?"

"Well, she and I do sometimes talk to each other!"

"Oh. OK. Well, so maybe the strangeness between her and me just comes from me? D'you think so?"

"All I can say is, look at yourself and her, and keep looking. You may discover something." She ruffles my hair, as if I were a little boy, then gets up.

"Is that all the wisdom you have for me?" I ask.

"I have to go now. I have to drive to New York, to give Marc the final master recording of Sound & Vision, which Rik output today."

"Why so late in the evening?"

"Marc says it's safer at night."

"But you're a big girl now, Evelyn, I'm sure you could handle the journey in the daytime?"

"He's not worried about me, dummy, just the master recording! He knows what gold dust it is. In fact he's made me hire a small armoured van, just for this one trip. And get this: as soon as I've arrived, he's actually going to come along in person with me to the security vault in Queens and personally take charge of locking away Sound & Vision and all the spokes-sheep masters. The Great Mogul himself, in an industrial cold-storage facility, in Queens, in the middle of the night!"

Aha! I think. I stare at her. "Er, Evelyn... You just said he's going to lock away not just Sound & Vision but also the spokes-sheep recordings. That's what you just said, and I found you convincing." She closes her eyes in a longish blink, like a computer screen going momentarily blank for the duration of some necessary squirt of internal processing. "But I thought our secret spokes-sheep recordings were just Jason's gig, happening behind Marc's back..."

Looking at me, she puts her finger to her lips. She rises, pecks me on the cheek, chirps "Night night sweetie! Sweet dreams!" and leaves the room, pulling the door closed after her.

So Marc's ignorance of the "secret" imagination-thieving deal was a lie. That being so, Jason's claim that another company commissioned this thieving may well have been a lie as well, I realise: the General Network probably instigated it. Such maximisation of the value of my gifts has Marc's logical and energetic inventiveness written all over it. Even the "spokes-sheep" figure itself, that ridiculous presence or absence that has loomed so comically over all my dealings here, could have been a fiction too, all along—just something cooked up by Jason for his Times Square meeting with me, designed to sound as goofy as possible in order to amuse me and distract me from enquiring any further into the uses to which the company was really going to put the fruits of all this ethically dubious spying. The G.N. could be planning to use it within their own Global Market Research and Intelligence division, which I read about in the magazine article that first informed me about Marc; or they could be selling it onward to the military, for intelligence-gathering software development; or even selling it onward for nuclear weapons research... One way or another I've almost certainly been a tool of the military-industrial complex, and I have to say I'm cheesed-off about it.

I sit on the window-seat in one of the shuttered window-bays and tune in to Evelyn in her van on Main Street ... and as you drive, Evelyn, you feel the engine's rhythm and you feel at peace. Stopping at a red light, you notice certain men who are out for the night, and your fingers drum the wheel and you purr within yourself and the engine purrs back. In your mind, music rises: a beat pumps, brass swells and voices float down to you, as flame lights you up inside and spills from your eyes and your fingers like a fountain. You let go all arguments, even the good ones, and picture the eyes of those around you. Brown? Blue? Green? Another colour? You project to them a picture of you stroking shut their eyes and then kissing them—you know their eyes deserve it, for your own are the same. If everybody else did this... Of course you don't forget that their hands may stab you, while you're stroking shut their eyes; so you're ready all the time to dodge away or stab them back. But you dance in your mind, to make your kissing and your caution spin together, and you're agile in your dance, so you find what love you can within the colours of their eyes, while your mirth ripples up and out and chimes between the stars! Trumpet ripples through your body, lazy and fluid, while the bright dome of stars above you spins through the aeons, and your squeak is in its symphony.

I reopen my eyes upon this darkened breakfast room, with a renewed sense of peace. Then again, what effect does she really have, when the immense pain and sadness elsewhere just carries on regardless?

I enter Shigem's home number. "Hallo," says Kim.

"Hi, it's Jaymi. Just checking you're both doing OK."

"Things are a bit jittery, but no ominous knocks on the door so far."

"Good. I visited Damian after I left your place, and I went in and had tea with him."

"Really?... As one does."

"Yes, it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Anyway, I couldn't see any indications of him being in pre-'hit' mode."

"I hope that indicates he isn't—though I'm aware there are still plenty of fine opportunities left for him. Thanks for doing that."

"OK, good night, Kim."

"Good night."


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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