As I thread through the people thronging Washington Square, the white Triumphal Arch looms. Approaching it, I drink with a rush the vista framed by its high stone: Fifth Avenue, running up the centre of the city, dead straight, like a spine. I steer around the Arch and up the vista, which fans to take me, reconverges after me and elongates ahead. Walls and windows tower either side—angles yawning downward to slide me up between them. If I glance left or right, a street unfolds to take my glance. Dangerously ascendant, I can hear the zeroes singing for me. Horns blare, engines pound and tyres grind sharp into black tar: visuals and music for my march towards a building whose approach I can feel.
A helicopter’s clatter like a jagged scratch on velvet cuts the sky; I feel my clothes against my body and a drip of sweat trickle down the centre of my back.
The GE Building soars up ahead, and then around me as I push through its doors. Everyone inside is like a clockwork toy from a museum cabinet, gesticulating jerkily behind the dusty glass that seals them off from the obvious thunder’s roar of what is coming, what has pulled me—what the destined meeting is whose thudding spreads already through the walls and through the city’s groan, to grimy wire-fence city-limits and beyond.
How come all these people hear so little?
OK then. Stepping lightly on the sheen of stone, in rhythm with the thud, never hurrying, I pad through the lobby, under cameras, to a bank of lifts.
An open lift-door comes in frame. I enter, push the “close doors” button, hear a ting through the thud, and press the very highest button. The panelled wooden doors close. The lift moves and gathers speed, hissing up the shaft of the tower, like a piston. The heartbeat on the soundtrack grows in volume. Scarlet numbers flash: ten … twenty … thirty … forty … fifty … sixty … to a few unnumbered floors at the top. The lift glides smoothly to a halt. The doors open, I step out, the thudding ends.
I’m in a long, quiet, upper lobby, much more exclusive than the one downstairs. I am calm. I’ve come to try my abilities out, that’s all. Well, why not? Wouldn’t anybody else want to do so, in my shoes?
A receptionist sits at the far end of this lobby, with an alert half-smile. I pad softly over the stretch of thick crimson carpet, towards her.
Seeing the words “General Network” prominent on the wall, I remember whom I sensed downtown, whose name I murmured then, and whom I’ve come to see.
I reach the half-smile. “Hi!” I twinkle sweetly, “I’ve come to see Marc Albright.”
Marc Albright. You don’t just drop in on him out of the blue and expect his receptionist to buzz you in to him—assuming she wishes to keep her job, that is. What she won’t have expected, however, and what she’s just about to find out, is that on this occasion she’ll have no choice…
Last week in a magazine I read a detailed profile of him that I shared with Alaia, including many photos from over the years, and I found myself fascinated to imagine what it feels like to run as ubiquitous a media empire as the General Network, and to exert such power over so many people, through what they see and hear. And knowing all this, I find that I can direct my senses to identify, locate and enter his presence here… Yes. I know which of these walls he’s sitting behind—that one at the end of the corridor there, behind the yucca. Furthermore, it seems that my knowledge of who he is and what he looks like allows me to see the office he’s gazing around. He’s staying late at work, as usual. And I can tune in to his thoughts at this moment. In fact, before this receptionist makes her futile protest, I shall pick this up on the other side of the wall behind the yucca, right there—
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