The last of your innocence I see was aged six, when on golden days you’d picture a ride upon an ostrich through the sands of Arabia. Sun-birds would shriek and coo, electric flies would buzz, and sylphs and gnomes would speak in dimpled voices from the undergrowth (for this was your very own version of Arabia). Once you saw a chanterelle beneath a mauve rose: you dismounted from your bird and ate your tulipe à l’orange. Through the woods you spied a lake and scampered over to its shallows, where shubunkin and raspberry-tangerine-coloured ribbon-fish with helicopter ears buzzed and scuttled in the weeds, leaving spiral wakes. Glow-fish wiggled and a silver scallop winked from the sandy lake-bed. You looked up and dusk had fallen: tiny black horses and a mincing giraffe ringed a carousel built upon a cloud near the moon. Puffballs of shadow swelled huge among the hills, and rose and burst in the night in coloured fire.
Cut to age thirteen, and the sky-eggs are gone: I see you wander past the strip-bar Seductions, through its pool of seedy neon light, your face breaking out all over, just at the start of your eleven years of acne, while above you on the glass was the scarlet neon outline of a nude recumbent woman. In reply to her, across the street in Cindi’s Beauty Parlor, now closed for the night, a neon sign “PRETTY NAILS” flickered, weak and pink behind the dusty glass. “Pretty nails,” you murmured, gazing vacantly across at it, your legs and arms quivering inside as you spoke.
Coming up to date, I see you not long before your recent London trip, sitting lonely on the platform in Asbury Park station, across wet tracks from a northbound train that was pulling out, pulling away the beautiful boy who held your gaze unblinking as he disappeared forever, down the tracks and into a point. And you never even spoke to him or knew him. Follow the tracks to nowhere, your tiptoes on the rails, Shigem. Amber, red, green in the mist—flee this town, through the asphalt metal night beyond the railroad crossing.
Because of this, would it not be classier and kinder if I introduced us now, within the music on the dance-floor, with neither talk nor ceremony? Yes.
I step from my perch here, down to the dance-floor, and move across towards you. You see me, and before your astonishment becomes a thing emotional to comment on or act upon, I’ve grabbed it with my eyes and pulled our gazes up inside you—up, where you leap high and streak through ice and sand, where the telegraph wires sing with frost, bodies scurry, wind soughs through the branches like a million years ago, magic circles curl away, and the planets sweep and turn and the stars spin and fly.
The last two long hard dance tracks are slamming, with the dirtiest and deepest thumping bass I’ve ever heard and stabbing hooks of merciless, ecstatic, driving power. For these two tracks, you and I dance together, never touching, never smiling, but staring at each other’s eyes with clarity and ease. As the crazy-deep climax of the last track comes, we are easy in the knowledge that we don’t need to speak about the broadcast at all, and we smile for the first time.
Here, several hours after Sound & Vision ended, you conclude a high-speed journey: you accept that although I can’t be Kim for you, I yet return to you the love you poured in my direction when it bounced off the glass of your TV screen at home.
—But of course, I can make you into another of my chosen four here in town, as I vowed tonight I’d do for Angel too! OK: your lovely image, my Shigem, will spread its fire and fluid far beyond your life, I shall ensure it. Fifty light-years in all directions, the broadcasts of fifty years ago hurtle outward in a huge swelling bubble. From the tops of the spires of the old stone cathedrals is rising a vast new cathedral of airwaves, multiplying, reconvening, splitting, being mirrored. Through Rik’s camera, this bubble will be fed with your image, so the rhythms and the visions of your dreams will run forever there, memes in proliferation, standing out Shigem-shaped, hard against the blackness, twisting outward further, mating light with other memes and surging out of sight beyond the curvature of space…
For I love you, Shigem, across the world or here in Paradise, forever; and I’ll never leave your side or let you down, throughout eternity.
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