I surface from Kim, impressed at finding such resonant depths where I had wrongly expected something a little more bovine. I must have been extrapolating from his placid surface. I see Shigem is now wandering away to join Rik, Evelyn and Alaia across the room, where Rik is working spontaneous electronic magic: from different angles, two small camcorders point at a tipsy Evelyn sitting cross-legged in front of a TV screen that is being fed in split-screen mode by the camcorders themselves, resulting in two infinite regresses of her half-profile, now being further tweaked by various exotic pre-set effects from the camcorders.
“Evelyn, are you satirising my studio set-up?” I call.
“No, Jaymi, you’re still being supremely ignored. Hey, Shigem honey,” she says as he approaches her, “you coming to join me on TV?” Shigem shakes his head with a passion. “OK, well what about Alaia? Give us a wail now, girl!”
“We don’t have sound-proofing in here,” Rik reminds her.
“Well she can just sing quietly, then,” says Evelyn.
“What shall I sing?”
“I don’t know, something cool like you’d sing for Jaymi on screen—only it’s me instead!”
“In that case, how about ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer’?” suggests Rik, and Evelyn throws a pillow at him.
“Oh, Jaymi,” says Kim beside me on the sofa. “I’ve been meaning to tell you, I saw something weird at Pippa’s.”
He pauses. “I was going down that hallway … and there was this little door in the wall. Not short, but narrow. There was a faint light coming through the hinge, though you couldn’t see through. There was a big keyhole in the door, and I felt a really strong urge to look through. So I bent down and peered in, and I nearly screamed, because inside was some kind of toilet cubicle, and it was just dimly lit, but there was a person sitting there, naked in a wheelchair, right close in front of me, staring at me with these weaselly eyes, level with the keyhole… You remember when Lucan’s gang was across the street from us?” I nod. “You know which one Angel is?” I nod again. “Well, this figure looked just like an identical twin of Angel. I didn’t know what to do. I thought, he must be able to see me out here, he’s so close to me—but his eyes weren’t showing any signs of seeing me. Then I remembered it was really dark out here in the hallway, and light in the cubicle, so of course he wouldn’t be able to see me. I also wondered if this person was unconscious, or in a trance, or maybe some kind of vegetable who wouldn’t be able to see me even if the light were on my face. Or maybe he’d be able to see me, but he wouldn’t be able to look like he was seeing me, because he was paralysed or something. I remembered where the hallway light-switch was, from seeing Pippa turn it off earlier, so I crept along the wall looking for it. And as I went along, I noticed there were no squeaky floorboards and I know I always move quietly, so I thought that with no light and no sound, maybe that figure still doesn’t know I’m here? Then I found the light-switch and flicked it on and crept back to the door and started bending down again—but I stopped dead when I was halfway down to the keyhole, because right there in front of my face, on the door handle, was this small smear of stickiness… It looked like it was congealed blood, or something like that, I couldn’t tell. I jumped back, feeling freaked-out, then I just flicked the light-switch back off and ran up the hallway and back into the sitting room and joined all you guys again.”
“Wow… Who the fuck was it?”
He shakes his head and gives a shudder.
“How well d’you know Angel?” I ask. “Could he have a twin?”
“I’ve never spoken to him. I’ve only been here a month. Shigem says he hangs out at Downstairs, but we never go there. Last night on the street was the closest I’ve ever come to him. I told Shigem about it on the way home from Pippa’s, and I should have waited till this morning instead, because it totally creeped him out and gave him nightmares that kept waking us up—he was thrashing around the bed. He scares so easily.
“Action,” calls Rik, and I turn to see that as the camcorders start to roll, Evelyn slowly crosses her eyes and does her trademark insertion of tongue-tip into nostril, as I saw her do earlier, while Alaia begins a rendition of “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
I knew they were satirising me!
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