a voice... "I cannot be known better than you know me. Your eyes in which I journey have given the roads a meaning detached from the earth."
Paris. My neighbourhood. My block. My stairwell.
I don't want your number (no) / I don't want to give you mine and (no)
Someone has painted a crude Hand Of Fatima in what Madame Burgalat suspects to be period blood on the door to my apartment. "Algerian cow" - she feels like crying, looks about the floor clutching her mouth - but eventually manages to glance up to thank a concerned-looking couple for bringing the matter to her attention. "This is shameful. This is a good block, Monsieur. Madame."
I don't want to meet you nowhere (no)
She struggles down the corridor towards the apartment where music is pounding and slaps hard on the door.
I don't want none of your time (no)
There is no response. "I feel sorry for you." She waits alone, looks back at the Hand Of Fatima, then decides to use the old lift back to the ground floor. It seems to take forever to arrive and when it does it stinks of perfume.
Oh yes son I'm talkin' to you
"When?" Six knees. Three legs cross. Cupped pairs of hands drape forward around each of the upper knees. The chauffeur of the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow waits for an answer from any one of three impassive, perfectly made-up mouths. Marianne Castro looks through the side window at the moon, catches her own reflection in the glass. Her face, she always thought, was pretty but curiously unfinished.
"People! - On The Move." .. my eyes open .. begin to focus on the space around me
Where am I? I try to turn my head to see. I am tied, hands behind my back. A darkened, l-shaped room, mid afternoon light, curtains closing. The wall around a messy table is hung with adjoining scrolls on brown wrapping paper, with clippings, headlines and marker pen notes between the various scraps of information. Bold red handwriting across the top serves to give this map of disjointed texts a name - Brainstorm (Me-Centric°).
1933 Roosevelt declares US bankrupt - US monetary power enters the hands of The Shadow Bank (Rockefeller/ Rothschild / Carnegie / Morgan)
"Look. Here's Mrs Pott, the baker. Who's this? It's Roger. Morning, Mrs Pott. Morning, Roger, lovely weather."
1939 Backing for Hitler and Stalin (Rothschilds / Warburgs / Krupps°°)
I see a man's head and shoulders silhouetted before a television. He turns in his chair slightly. "Ah, you're with us."
1941 US enters WWII
1973 Rockefeller forms TRILATERAL COMMISSION (TLC)
The floor of the room is a baroque lattice-work in electrical wiring, socket boards, banks of aging apparatus and books. A dwarf rose-tree. I can see an unmade bed.
The man turns slowly back to some children's animation flickering on the screen. "I used to make the bed. Then I started wondering who I was making it for. Perhaps you can tell me. Mr Me will join us in a moment. He's kind of omnipresent. Who isn't?"
"I'm all out of lovely Battenberg fancies today I'm afraid."
So this is the lair of Leopold Me.
1976 Carter appoints Brzezinski (TLC) National Security Advisor.
"But they're my favourite."
1977 Carter signs US charter removing US sovereignty under UN military command
"They've all been stolen, Roger."
The man stands. He is wiry but aging, dressed quite correctly as a valet. He removes and begins to clean his glasses. "People On The Move. Czech in origin. Legend has it the tapes arrived in the UK soundless. Stories were improvised, dubbed on in a hurry by a junky art student by the name of Chessington Glover. He never worked in television again. I find his voice.. consoling. Compelling."
"I have one Battenberg fancy, Roger. In the back. Kept special. But it's for Reverend Derek."
"Please, Mrs Pott. I'll do anything."
The valet replaces his glasses. "Everything's made for America these days. What would America make of this? What does America want? In my opinion, Glover's only match across the pond was Alan Oppenheimer - who was both the voice of Skeletor and the Transformers Warpath and Seaspray. Even guested as the President in the much-overlooked Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos."
"I need that fancy, Mrs Pott."
1981 Larry McDonald calls for congressional investigation of TLC
He rubs his hands. I try to move. My mouth is taped. "You missed She-Ra. For the honour of Greyskull! Honour. Unfortunately, Princess Adora was never taken quite as seriously as her own kith and kin, He-Man - possibly because the writers deliberately infused the series with a regular dose of humour."
He comes closer. His eyes are ice blue but friendly. "That's sad."
"Would you scrub my Fluffer? He's filthy."
1983 Larry McDonald killed in Korean Air Lines flight 007, shot down over Sakhalin Island. All bodies recovered except pilot and co-pilot. Parachutes seen from the Aleutian Islands, Sea Of Japan. Flight recorder recovered, classified by CIA.
He removes and folds his jacket, begins rolling up his sleeves. "Samuel Beckett was once standing at the end of a pier, his head filled with problems. He said that in a flash, an instant, all the secrets of life and of our universe came clear and made sense to him. For a moment he understood everything. But. He forgot. He tried to hold it in his mind long enough to write it all down but he - forgot."
"Fluffer. Come here boy."
He wheels around a trolley on which I can see something which looks like an old field telephone with a mini-generator. "That's not surprising. Answers like that would be designed to be forgotten. We have to get on with things."
"Get in that bath. He won't get in the bath, Mrs Pott."
1264 The siege of Safed: ninety Templars refuse to deny Christ.
He uncoils some wires, blows off some dust. "Sometimes it feels like we're all engines within engines. Producing. Saliva, tears, libido, hunger, desires, - yearning for sex, security, love, understanding, escape, appreciation, our daily bread, our daily worship - the organic cogs turn the financial wheels through the gears of ideology, oiled in the media, beliefs - it all rewards and nurses our senses. It's good."
"He'll only do it if you get in there with him, Roger."
He chuckles, holds up Anne's diaries and reaches behind a bookcase to throw a switch. "I still don't know why I make the bed every day." The field telephone generator begins to hum. I look around the corners of the room for my bag, the semi-automatic.
"Well, OK. As long as I get that Battenberg fancy."
Note: In the trial of any Templar, two phases must be distinguished. (1) The royal commission and (2) the papal commission.
He hooks ECG wires to the diaries and begins cranking a lever. A dry hum wavers through levels of intensity until a required note is reached. The first pale hint of a smoulder. The valet looks at me as the leatherette begins to stink and a single blue triangle of flame appears between columns of darkening smoke at one corner of the first volume.
"Oh, you'll get it alright Roger."
I can only watch in horror as he runs down the field telephone, unhooks the wires, lifts the now-burning volumes between tongs and sets them into a steel waste bin, where they continue to flame.
He opens my shirt and begins adhering the wires to my chest. "I have a remarkably vivid recurring dream. I dream the whole thing stops, Corbeau. For the briefest second there is nothing. No desire, nothing being produced. No engine. An odd dream to have but it's a remarkably peaceful place to find oneself. Something has to wake you out of that dream like that. One can't stay there."
*Passing through Alexandria, Egypt and into Spain at Cartegena, entrusted to the bishop of Seville, then onto Northern Spain to escape the advancing Moors.
Electricity. I instinctively struggle. "Spittle may shoot around your mouth, your body temperature will rise to eighty degrees. The protein in your blood will thicken to constipate your blood vessels. Your brain will begin to harden. Smoke will waft off your hair."
He draws a bucket closer with his foot. "I may wretch at the smell of your skin burning. We've been watching you for a while now. Taking notes. I know you don't like curious children, running round the house, looking into things."
"Reverend Derek! What are you doing here?"
I try to speak through the tape. Shake my head. My cousin sometimes visits. Her children throw things about. Is that it? "In a way you're selfless, Corbeau. But in a way you're all that matters. And it's all gone nowhere. So what have you got to hide? You and I are going to find out. Find out why we make our beds."
"Why, I've come for my Battenberg fancy, Roger."
**The placement of (both) blood and lymph stains will suggest torture and pollen grains will test (both) Palestian and prior to the sixth century. A tumbleweed Gundelia tournefortii and a bean caper Zygophyllum dumosum. The two species coexist in very limited areas, most notably Jerusalem in March and April.
The valet closes, then opens his eyes at his pocket watch - draws back a chestful of air very slowly. "There is only one fear, a fear from which other fears are subsects, refractions. The fear of living. Even - I believe - the fear of death is the mind suddenly confronting all the products of one's fear of living." He begins cranking up the field telephone.
"Do you fear living, Corbeau?"
"There's only one fancy, Reverend. And I'm scrubbing dirty old Fluffer for it."
My feet are bound. I try to swing the chair away from the wires. I see death as a string of every thought I have had on my own mortality. Not to witness violence brought on others, but dark nights trying to play out nothingness, childhood accidents, the wrath of silence.
"You don't need anyone - do you, Corbeau? You can do it all. You are a rock. An island. A one man band."
"Old Fluffer looks exceptionally filthy, Roger. I think you'll need another pair of hands."
"What's inside Corbeau? You walk the walk. Talk the talk. A good soul, a lady's man." He points to the burning books. "I think you secretly liked your baggage."
I increasingly feel warmer in my internal organs and break into a sweat. Pins, needles, a riot of ants in my skin - electrocution shakes me at an intimately slow rate. I stop struggling against the ropes.
"What's the matter, Fluffer? Stop growling at Reverend Derek."
The valet looks into my eyes. "What did your parents do, Corbeau? Children don't really care what their parents do. What children need .. what children need is two people who sometimes dance in the kitchen. Beautifully simple, no? Parents who sometimes dance in the kitchen. Welcome to the world."
He cranks harder, my chest and shoulders buckle, severed in shock. Gradually other parts of my body feel cut off. Dislocated. "You and I are going to dance in the kitchen, Corbeau. Let's go to California. Get some sand in our shoes. Get you a tan. It's alright you'll be Saved By The Bell."
"Fluffer is host to the Antichrist, Roger."
Another shock jerks .. legs inside their bonds. Instantly aching, my head .. like it's about to burst apart. I have a deep tightness across my chest. My ears block, I stink.
He touches my face tenderly, moves his ice blue eyes over mine. "Why do I make the bed, Princess? My boss wants power - with no revolutions."
"I am talking now to the imp in Fluffer. Out, I command thee. Shackle him to the mast, Roger."
He rips off the tape. I spit, cough. "And people keep coming back for something brand new and original. Gummi Bears. Sylvanian Families. Tell me what you know about The Anti-Oedipus."
He puts a ferocious wave through my body. I have not heard of this. "I .. know nothing like that. It's not my job. Go to Paris and ask Anne Renaud."
"Cast thyself asunder beast."
"She's busy on a sequel. Tug of love against the backdrop of something a long time ago and important. Where - exactly - is the production of surplus value?"
"Right now it's on fire in the corner of this room." My mind begins the shut-down, the free fall.
"Wrong." Think, Corbeau. He begins to crank the telephone. Christophe remembers everything Anne says. The little details. It's kind of a shock.
"It's an old pamphlet in a ski-boot box on a high shelf in rural France."
"Hobb. Nick. The 'bub shall breath fowl flavours from the jaw. Scrub, young Roger."
"That was words. Try harder. Power - with no revolutions." He cranks.
Another shock cracks my body about. I come back filled with a desire to kill this man.
"Mr and Mrs Pott!"
"Now, I think, we're getting .. somewhere."
"Where's your boss, grease monkey?" I find it difficult to speak.
"When you stop asking what's behind things." I cough, a vessel in my nose breaks and blood spatters up along the valet's forearm.
He grimaces, wipes himself with a tissue. "It's funny, my boss has controversial views on menstruation. As a practicing feminist, he says it should be stopped."
He punches me once, hard, on the nose. Snort it back and spit, I recall, don't blow. But enveloped in such pain, I pass out again.
Chessington Glover awakes face down in his inky jotters and sits up with a start. Sometimes he dreams other people's dreams. They aren't his, so he doesn't remember them. He rubs his neck, confronted by the pages pinned to the wall around his desk. "Sort your fucking life out five years ago, twat."
He lowers his face back onto his inky jotters. One eye moves across the longhand.
"Monsieur Dix can hear the front door. Brigitte enters the house.
She slings her bag across her bed. She sits there and rolls her neck. Flopping back she looks along an anti-vivisection poster on the wall. She stands and begins to remove it, rubs off four blue blobs of adhesive tack and squeezes them into a ball which she sticks on the edge of her bedside cabinet.
"Sweetheart." Monsieur Dix picks up his flexible white cane and uses it to guide him down the edge of the corridor until it draws left and leads him into her room. "How was London?"
She stands and kisses him on the forehead and passes through to the kitchen where she pours herself a glass of milk.
She looks through the kitchen window and thinks about two strangers who sat down opposite her on the metro from Gare Du Nord. She tries to list all the reasons strangers never just kiss. Not knowing who. What others would think. Not having a reason. Desire. Being spoken for. Environment. Selection. The geometry of someone's face. Body image. Confidence, self-image. Sending signals. Reading them. Interpretation. Trust. Absorption in other things. What would it lead to. What it would mean. Physical distance. Pride. Prejudice.
She finishes the milk and looks at the clock. Coming back always seems quicker than going."
Chessington Glover sits up. Sometimes he dreams other people's dreams. They aren't his, so he doesn't remember them. He rubs his neck again. "Get out of bed NOW." He looks at the clock.
Some dreams Glover won't remember ~
Carlie Reward unfolds another fan letter, begins shaking - * yOur bUM is hEAven*
An exchange student working in Pigalle considers Alain Renaud's request to finish on her face.
Looking through a conjurer's tube, Leo Me leans against a post box in Soho Square. He turns to his companion as a group of girls walk past. "I spy the spit of Sarah Michelle Geller."
"The white Converse."
On the grass in Soho Square he invites the girl to look through the conjurer's tube - which he then puts to his lips and blows confetti from. Her friend seems more impressed than she does.
Later Leo's friend says he isn't keen on her personality. "She gives it too much of that," he explains, making a talking motion with his fingers.
Julianne pauses by the Foreign Language section in Borders Oxford Street, picks up Les Amants Du 68.
Someone cuts up Paul Me on the Euston Road. He revs his scooter and draws alongside. "It's not a competition, cunt." The driver raises his middle finger. "Right. I'll fucking have you."
Bea Slimmers pushes two fingers into her throat and throws the last of her Thai hot and sour shrimp soup into a lavatory bowl.
Mandy Me curls a child from a ladies cervix. The girl falls back on the bed, begins crying. Her husband mops her brow and kisses her face repeatedly. Mandy wrinkles her nose and smiles. "It's a girl." The proud father lights Mandy's cigarette in the carpark and watches the smoke curl it's way into the night sky.
Marianne Castro, Poppy Franco and Tanith Cash stand in a solemn circle around the dying body of Madame Burgalat. Marianne holds the rabbit close and kisses his nose.
Madame Burgalat groans and tries to turn on the carpet. "Let me. see your. evil faces."
Poppy Franco straddles Madame Burgalat, picking hair from the butt of a revolver.
"That's so not going to happen."
Oh yes son I'm talkin' to you
Glover thumps the wall repeatedly, and waits for the music to be turned down. Nothing. He pulls on some baseballs boots and a black raincoat and saunters down the stairs. He leaves the house and walks towards a public house. Night is falling, he can see the moon.
I am sitting at a table in a public house. I feel different.
I check my bag, Anne's diaries are gone.
I feel good, though. Somehow free, lighter, happier. The barmaid looks over. She smiles, a little warily. I feel compelled to blow her a kiss. She frowns.
The jukebox stops playing 'Satellite Of Love'.
She was out of my league and there will be no-one like her. I will always hold dear the days we spent together. I am glad that I have felt love in my life, for some never do. But whatever she meant to me, whatever she signified, whatever I had buried so no-one else could have it. Whatever.
Glover seems to be staring at me. Then he looks away, slurping on a bottled beer.
As I reach for my own beer, see an open magazine on the table.
Anne Renaud, curled on a rock, some wild grey horses cross behind her. Without make-up and in a simple baggy sweater, she looks somewhat sadly though the camera lens, past an opening shutter and onto a briefly-illuminated rectangle of black and white photographic film.
"'Like Monet, I am doomed to illustrate my distrust of memory, rather beautifully. But I feel I find a spirituality here in tax-sympathetic Ireland that I have never felt before. I gave up a young man I adored - for ambition. Writing my best-selling love story made me realise that.
I had an honest, selfless friend prepared to stand by me when I had nothing. But the little girl I am inside chose to run. Always, always running. What the western world sees as success means less to me every fiscal year. With Shiu Chu ginseng and Goddess Parvati's love energy I am peace. But if I could press rewind and make things right I would. I'll always be running, falling, lost in the forests of Jura at heart. Now I have to keep my daughter at the Lycee Louis Le Grand she is accustomed to but my sorrow folds like a mitten full of frost and dewdrops, as if silver swords of sobs might navigate the ghost of my true Shiva o'er the seas of indignity.'
Renaud, 53, recently submitted eighteen documented counts of infidelity to solicitors acting for publisher husband Alain Renaud. Divorce papers have been filed. The defendant contests on grounds of constructive abandonment."
The room seems to take me in a sway. Glover stands. Looks at the clock.
They often say that when a person stops waiting for something - that is when it will happen. I close my eyes, feeling faint.
~ Anne and her daughter thank their advocat, descend the court steps filled with an unspoken sense of equilibrium, sated with relief. They pause under a tree at the edge of the boulevard, where Anne begins to look along the lines of traffic for an unclaimed taxi. Something catches her eye. She turns her head, concentrates - by increments, transfixed. On the other side of the traffic flow, I leave the shade of a cafe doorway, remove my sunglasses. At first she stiffens, then her muted concern softens into a humble smile. A single, quietly delighted - Christophe. I try to cross the road. One car honks. It was always you. I lower a fist on the bonnet. It halts. Anne begins to open her arms. You know it was. I step up on the bonnet, meeting her gaze. Nothing can stop us.
A burly driver leans out, irate. I look to him, a special man-to-man look. That's the woman. I LOVE . His face changes, he gets out and begins halting the other cars. Man in love! Cars break, the traffic stops. I jump across them as they sound their horns. On the boulevard, passing Parisians watch on. Oh, Christophe. Anne smiles, drops her case and throws her arms wide as I leap ever-closer. When I step down into that embrace, everything there is to know about this world is suddenly enough. Drivers lean through wound-down windows, smiling and honking. A passing mime begins an impromptu juggle. Someone bends up to a French flag flapping on the roof of the court house, compelled to salute.
Wha - ? Anne's daughter has pressed one fingertip into my shoulder. Her narrowed eyes scout my face with unflinching mistrust. The honking stops. The hand in salute suddenly curls back. The burly driver leans forward, sets a knuckle between his teeth. The court house flag wavers it's last, folds and tumbles in resignation. The mime freezes, dropping his jaw and allowing three foam balls to bounce off his head and into a gutter.
I look to the girl with a plea. She sighs, rolls her eyes and takes her mother's elbow. The burly driver removes his cap and shakes both palms around in anticipation. She raises Anne's hand, unscrews her wedding ring and flips it over one shoulder.
They leave their vehicles, cheering. The burly driver punches the air, honking erupts with an unforeseeable ferocity and the national flag sways back into motion as I step closer. Anne Renaud. All around, music fills the pavements, the Funky Family come-on pedestrians to body pop en mass. I stand square and look into her eyes, place an arm around her waist, move in on those lips. The mime begins filling a revolver. Eyes close, Paris inverts, breath is held - her lips seek mine. We.
Kiss. The mime spins to and fro, discharging rounds randomly into the sky. Two Dassault-built Mirage 2000-5 fighters have swooped down to check things out. Briefly, our lips leave this chaste kiss, then come together again with real hunger. The pilots glance at one another, thumbs aloft, bank sharply to rip upwards through the French skies. I open my eyes - find the delicate awning of skin that covers Anne Renaud's - close them again. A pilot nods and slaps his cabin glass. C'est Paris! The other breaks into a primordial yodel, begins banging hard on his Thales Detexis countermeasure system, which targets and launches a pair of MICA multi-target air-to-surface missiles directly at the sun. ~
I open my eyes, stand and try to walk - with a shifted centre of gravity - towards the door of the men's toilets. The barmaid stops me. "Is there a problem?"
"Nope. Problem over, one way or another." My voice is light, different.
"You've had enough. The ladies are there." She points to another corner of the room.
I look down. Over my breasts, a grey velvet a-line skirt and a pair of white Puma trainers. I turn to see myself in the mirror running the length of the bar. Look, Corbeau. Brigitte. "Eeep!"---
I am sitting on a toilet. I look at Brigitte's hands and arms, feel their weight and test their reach. I play with her hair. I look down at the folds of her skirt, her thighs.
I feel aroused and consider masturbating. I do not know how. I touch the curl of hairs over her vagina, pull her t-shirt up and uncup her breast to look at it. I trace a finger around her nipple. I clear the pubic hair, gently open the sides of her/my vagina. I half-stand, leaning my back against the toilet wall, legs forward but closed. I prepare the tip of one finger, ease it down over the clitoral area and begin drawing it back and forth. I close my eyes and cup my breast again, touching around the nipple. At the first moment of pleasure I hold back to check her watch, then continue fingering and continue trying to think of a story to tell myself.
I open my eyes. I am curled inside the bed of the now-darkened l-shaped room. Fewer wires cross the floor. Late afternoon light reaches through the curtains around the bend of the wall where just one scroll of paper hangs - various markered lines and notes connecting a hierarchy of names. All people I know - Anne, Renaud, Choux/Nitrate. In the centre - Corbeau.
Shadows move as the curtain closes. An unclassifiable foreign accent.
"A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fly. There's more than a million stories down there in London. A million little successes picking over restaurant decor. A million big failures seeing red in the streets. A million elites keeping everything exclusive. A child being beaten. And a million lonely hearts. They all come and go, on the move. In here it's different. There are no codes. And we make our own rules. The engine waits at the door."
A large figure in a dark green flying jacket and helmet rounds the corner of the room. He is carrying a church candle which throws an undulating globe of light about on the ceiling and walls. "Sleep well, princess?"
He approaches, falls to one knee. "Virgin Queen. I cannot be known better than you know me. Your eyes in which I journey have given the roads a meaning detached from the earth. The Rose Circle Protectorate have been silenced. The Windsors are fallen, family values corrupted, the union crumbles. This night we make history - the rabbit entrusted to the Wise Angels of Quebec has found our true deputy and heir."
There is a knock at the door.
my eyes open briefly. Dislocated, waves of pain. The valet is whispering to someone through a partly opened door. "He's beginning to talk."
"Sure? Is the tide out?"
The Rolls Royce Silver Shadow glides away from my neighbourhood. Poppy Franco draws a finger along the rabbit's back. Tanith Cash lowers the window slightly and looks at the moon. Marianne Castro takes the rabbit, holds it to her cheek.