IF I BUILD IT YOU WILL COME
*nnnnnnightWORDSbubblein..pushedround ear like a stick..to stir me from a whiskey-painted sleep. I open my eyes and I'm not in bed at all. Not even close. I'm still folded into the far corner of the St Johns Tavern half-focusing on the slope of chair legs paused on their frozen march across drying tables. The new barman is shaking a phone in the air - about to get a bloody ambulance. Prize off the papers crushed against my chest. Blueprints. Always blueprints, the Dog And Pony Show.
I'm fine - I'm getting up and I'm up going home and I'm home but I don't go home. I walk to the end of the street. To where it tucks up the Holloway Road and runs like a river down into the City. Carless hours. A local mini-cab glides across the orange wash and furtive eyes meet mine for a second. I descend.
There's the light, the light is on. And I knew it would be. I hold the bell and look up till the light disappears. The face looms up and circles round Nick - alright? and the face is replaced by the light again and something clumps down the stairs.
Have you been drinking? Nicky the Dreamweaver can't drink. He's taking something for his bi-polar disorder. He says Have you been drinking? like he wants to follow that with What's it like? Good? And it's not just booze it's everything. Working here from home. He made it as far as a newsagent's window once. Nick Papliontiou. Computer Programing and Advisor. Nice Guy. No Hastle. Any job - BIG or small. Primarily he sells dupe software - a rocking smirk-eyed innocent, chuckling through a trapful of takeway. Like a teen drug agent in the suburbs, it's mostly so you'll be his mate. He knows his stuff but you'll be there for hours. Being a mate while he copes with his thing. His bi-polar. Nicky's thing. People? Another fist of Doritos. What are they like? Good?
He closes the door and we follow the faint smell of Shake'n'Vac back up the staircase and into the first floor studio flat full of computer-orientated peripherals and manuals and drives and bits marked Misc. stacked into odd columns like Greek ruins, holding up a frieze of forgotten Tango can, sneaker, screw and sound card. To a lamp bent into a chevron across his box-VDU-knocked off sub bass woofer-burner-printer-blank discs-modem-external drive altar. An altar where interacting reverts to co-acting. Where he's a kid in a sandpit of code. But sometimes, I have no doubt, it shackles him like a Port-au-Prince goat, a voodoo paket.
I've got the new Flash if you want it. He fills up the kettle as I find somewhere to sit. It's not that, Nick. It's..simpler. I realise just how drunk I am. I want to escalate this thing up. Make it really bang. Like a craphouse door in the wind - he proposes. Absolutely, Nick. Though I was thinking more like the grave voice of Orson Welles patiently testing radio's potential. Or Elvis Presley making the cathode ray go fucking nuts.
Anything's possible I suppose. This is why I come round here. So what's the plan? he asks. I flap open the St Johns Tavern blueprints and try to focus on my notes. 1. SORT DRIVE 2. give cds to Dermot's mate rob (?) he knows Xfm bloke. 3. phone poeple an stuff 4. strings
Nicky brings black coffee. Listen there's something I'm working on, it might help - as a .. promotional tool. He picks up a CDR and taps it. Another scam to get on Graham Norton? He cuts in - More like Time and Newsweek, mate. I feel queasy. Let me explain. It's what I term a NanoVirus. It utilises the nanospace between the zeroes and ones in any byte. I am too drunk. I am not hearing this. Between the zeroes and ones.
Yes the space between the zeroes and ones. No, I'm wrong. THIS is why I come round here. It's never been done before, but if I crack it it will be unstoppable. It should reach every desktop, every home and every office, within a matter of hours.
DP3 - on every desktop, every home and in every office, within a matter of hours. We're talking unstoppable. Bigger Than 'I Love You'. Craps All Over 'Anna Kournikova'. Nick lights a cigarette and points it at me. Mate - You Will Fucking COME.
It's bigger than I love you and it craps on Anna Kournikova. I feel like I'm going to be sick so I get to the bathroom and sit on the edge of the bath in a sweat. I grab a washed out old Ninja Turtles towel off a radiator, soak it cold and press my face into Michaelangelo. I think.
How long am I there for? I vaguely hear Nicky at the bathroom door. Feel like there's a bomb dropping somewhere and I'm just waiting. Just when I define that feeling, the doorbell rings. I raise my face out of the towel. I hear Nicky scraping off his chair, but the studio door knocks almost immediately. Hello? I hear him open. But I though..
Then my ears explode with the first, shocking slug. Bam. Someone drops heavily to one knee. Bam. Another. Someone keels over and sends something crashing and some feet turn to descend the stairs.
Fuck. Focus. Breathe. Quick. My body is suddenly freezing, like it's been replaced by pure air. My senses have been ripped open. I confess I look to the window for escape but it appears to be painted shut. Fuck. I look around for a weapon. Pointless defense. My heart starts to beat very fast. I listen for the feet descending the stairs. But hear nothing.
I continue waiting, breathless. After ten minutes, I ease through the bathroom door. Nicky? I look down, expecting to see a pleading, bleeding hand outstretched at an angle off the floor. But there is no pleading. No blood. Nothing but the blink of a cursor on the altar. I step forward. Nothing. No new disturbance. The studio door is slightly ajar. I stand back and kick it gently.
I don't realise it's 'You're So Vain'. At first. Till it gets more intense. The song of a mobile phone, lurking deep in a pocket of some jeans folded up and slung somewhere. Get it, stare through it in terror. Digital chirp. *Don't You? Don't You?* Why the fuck is this happening? And where is Dreamweaver? *Don't You? Don't Y-* - Hello? I'm moving down the stairs, softly turning the latch, easing open the door and gradually inclining out into the Holloway Road. Motionless. Quiet, but for the distant crunch of a night bus shifting gear as it climbs. Hello?
A sigh. Woman's sigh. The gearbox of the night bus finally catches and it rushes past. Silence. Woman's sigh. Lovely chatting 'n' stuff but right now I'm kind of - busy. I'm about to switch off the phone and make the run for it. Run. As fast and hard as I can. I could be bursting though my own front door in - oh - seven minutes. Down the hill, in the glow, the far distance, over the river, the Eye seems to still be turning. Who can tell.
It's the saddest thing. Her voice is different. Really such a shame. Is that her? I thought Guy would bring me someone .. with the .. capacity. I start to walk. Not some stupid busker talking to himself. My heart, on a gallop, can't continue. I prefer the term Naked Artist, I offer. HA!, she livens, then let the Naked City have you....
Before she can finish, stereo sirens seem to rise up abruptly in all directions. Coming in fast.
Down at the junction I see speeding patrol cars flash off shop windows. The wailing intensifies. Up Archway, they break round a corner, three of them.
Bon chance. Michaelangelo. HA! - cut off