And meanwhile, slanting from the billboard on the highway, the film-star flickered down upon you like a whip, and you were certain they would find you sprawled dead and hard beside the grey electric fence behind your trailer-home, his image burned tiny on your retina.
There’s a place of enchantment, you knew, where the Full Moon in Scorpio irradiates the brightest, with wisdom and secrets, ancient powers and some smoke and mirrors too. So you ran through the night streets and flat deserted waterfront, through lanes of yellow lamps, always looking for this place—felt its whisper round the corner, heard its giggle from the next block, retreating—caught its black velvet breath around the angle of the bricks before it whisked away. Running, running, running, always gaining on it, slowly… And still the little boy-girl inside you runs the streets at night, seeking that retreating thing, and gaining on it, slowly. (But I found it first, in Manhattan, and that’s why I’m seeing into you—and why you saw the broadcast and watched me with avidity enough to twist the knife of your own rich pain.)
Back at school, when the teachers bade you drink your poison up like a good girl, you’d slip through the alley-way where hypodermic syringes and empty lipstick cylinders would crunch beneath your boots. There you built heaps of trash you named as your enemies and then, one by one, set them toxically ablaze with a yelp of splashed gasoline and matches. Sudden blotchy hands gripped the window-bars beside you, from inside that shack of cinder-blocks, and you screamed and fled, and later you were jittery with excess coffee in the smudgy cracked window of the Coffee Cup Café, the ashtray heaped up with spent cigarettes you’d sucked to death.
But straight away a picture of yourself in the New York winter flickered up: a figure floating through, swathed tight in a long coat topped by a sleek-boned she-male face, unfocused, in among the cars across the oil-slicked pavement, desperate and gorgeous, up and down the tangle of expressway ramps by the Macombs Dam Bridge upon the southernmost concrete rind of the Bronx… You shook your head and landed back at Kingsley Street and Asbury Avenue, where Tillie grimaced down at you and seemed to shake his head. Something in that picture of yourself made you sense it: New York would kill you, somehow. No, you’d stay here for now.
Then Lucan saw you one night, summoned you and scooped you up, plucked you out of Damian’s, installed you in his own house, and no one ever messed with you again. Then you rode high: you travelled round town in Lucan’s car, had respect and more money than you’d ever had. Throughout that first month with him were warm thunderstorms and muggy heat, and every clap of thunder announced your arrival here as someone whom the others had to know and take account of, whose power, crime and glamour stood plain, written high across the sky. They were avid to explore you and the trouble in your eyes. The beauty you’d exploited as a whore was now legitimised by Lucan, growing legendary beside him, as the girls watched in envy. God you looked fantastic! The downtrodden past was gone, and wide countryside opened up, lit in flashes on the summer sky across which you fluttered like a little black metallic butterfly.
How your life then accelerated. Lucan and Angel—untouchable power and untouchable glamour. What a legend! Oh, that Dark Summer, soaked in Ecstasy and petrol fumes, semen and sweat, while the music pumped relentless through the warmth of the air around the corners of the buildings and the flashbulbs popped—till the alcoholic glamour of the white and yellow lights streaking by you through the night swerved down into red-shift and gorgeous splintered-metal smells of sex-drenched death…
You’ve always jumped the ship’s plank first, while the crew goggled safely down at water that you alone would brave—green, sticky, glowing water, pregnant with tentacles and eyeless-headed long necks of algae-smeared flesh, with curling mist and bubbles gulping up from the deep. Every day you’re down there, and every night you climb back alone to the pirate ship, unsung … but I shall make you one of my chosen four, I promise, Angel, so I at least shall sing you, to the camera!
For more about "The Imagination Thief" by Rohan Quine, see
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