12 Relentless wakefulness in the belfry

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12   Relentless wakefulness in the belfry

After the Times Square ordeal, I decide I shall put Jason's "other stuff" out of my mind and just focus on the imminent Sound & Vision. Through rehearsals, Alaia's and my mutual responsiveness has evolved into a fertile give-and-take between our eponymous sound and vision, evoking cathedrals of beauty and power, leading us to a tentative confidence that this will be a uniquely beautiful audio-visual spectacle, the like of which we have never quite seen or heard before.

The night before the broadcast, when we have no more rehearsing left to do, Marc phones me. "Great news! Public expectation for Sound & Vision has reached such a height that I've been able to set up a second broadcast event for you both, to be aired this coming Thursday evening."

"What? Marc, that's four days' time! No, we need far longer than that. This first one's taken weeks."

"Nonsense. This is show business, Jaymi, you have to crank it out!" He cackles raucously. "No, seriously. Jason's assistant tells him you've been moaning that you have too much material now for just one broadcast. Am I right?"

He is sort of right, in fact. "Well, I suppose that is true, as far as it goes. But—"

"There you go, then. Beware of answered prayers, eh? Hollywood calls only once, you know, and you'd better say yes when it does!" He cackles again; he's having much too much fun here. "Look, you and Alaia will be experts at this, after tomorrow night. You'll put the second one together in time for Thursday, don't you worry. So, do I have your agreement?"

"Well, OK," I sigh, "but—"

"Excellent choice." Those words echo strangely in my head, as he continues, "Console yourself that I've resisted setting up a third broadcast event, until we can gauge public demand and optimise its timing."

"Please continue to resist that, Marc. Have you told Alaia about the second broadcast?"

"I'm just about to call her."

"Shall we see you down in Asbury Park?"

"Alas not, dear boy, I have too many commitments. Our two Pacific Rim divisions are de-merging just before midnight tomorrow. Good for the balance books, don't you know. I shall have to be on hand here. But I assure you I shall be with you in spirit, and I shall certainly take a break earlier in the evening, to watch a little television in the office here. Which is a fitting honour for you, by the way, as I haven't even plugged the damned thing in for months, so I hope I can remember how to do so!"

Since my first big encounter with him in his office, I have felt an odd aversion to the idea of tuning in to Marc again. That first meeting was such a legendary bull's-eye that the prospect of revisiting the same ground in any way has always felt more than just unnecessary: it has felt like a perilous proposition, even sacrilegious, as if it might in some unforeseeable way endanger my position on this precarious pinnacle where I find myself. Also, with the two grand broadcasts now facing me, my poking around in Marc's head would feel as off-putting for me as it would be for an actor on stage to think not about his character but about the financial structure of the theatre itself. As he speaks on the phone, however, I do permit my sight to reach in and grab one tiny salient picture from him. It comes from not much deeper inside him than my daily image of him from outside, residing just within the shallows of his surface, as it were ... and in a high square tower in your mind's epidermis, Marc, are bright white walls, and in the centre of this belfry is a never-sleeping, desperately alert white head, rooted there in the floor, whose job it is to keep an eagle-eye upon the distant mountain valleys to be seen through the unglazed embrasures in the belfry walls. The head is wide and solid, in its sixties, Marc, its features somewhat flattish. It is powerful, reporting to no one, a head to be respected—yet I also feel, somewhere, a tiny fleeting something of pity at the spectacle of such relentless wakefulness.

"So onward, then!" he booms. "Good luck tomorrow. Get some sleep."

Just for an instant I hear this last word as "sheep", but then realise it's not. "Thank you, Marc."

"Oh, you're welcome. You're only making us all money!"


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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