I have less communication with Alaia after this Big Bang recording than I had after yesterday’s, for as soon as it is finished she announces she is going out for a walk on the beach and slips away. I reflect upon this, as I enter my room upstairs, but am distracted by my mobile phone flashing on the table. Glancing through the incoming message symbols, I find a text from Kim requesting I call him. I touch his number. “Hallo,” he says.
“Kim, it’s Jaymi.”
“Oh, hi. Yeah, I was just calling to let you know the latest weirdness with Pippa.”
“What is it?”
“It was some time really late last night. I couldn’t get to sleep, so I finally went out for a quick walk, and somewhere a block away from Pippa’s tower I turned a corner and just stopped dead, because there she was, perched on her balcony, up near the sky, looking so spooky that I nearly cried out. For a start, it looked like she was too big, for the distance between us … but I guess that must have been a trick of the light. She was lit up bright by a balcony light on one side of her. Then on the other side of her, in her shadow, was a small, darkish figure, and I swear it looked like it was in a wheelchair. I was certain it must be that weasel-eyed person I saw in the toilet cubicle—that vegetable Angel, or whatever it was. I was too far away to see any more, but then when I crept further forward, the front of their balcony would creep upward and block my view of the pair of them. I did think of shouting up at them, but then that seemed pointless and dangerous, and even … I don’t know why, but it even felt as if it would be somehow obscene. I wished I had binoculars, so I could return to the other corner of the street, further back, and see them better. I pictured all the stuff lying around the flat here waiting to be packed, to see if I could remember binoculars that I could run and fetch before she left her balcony… But I couldn’t remember any binoculars, so I just went home and got back into bed and made sure I was somewhere in contact with the warmth of Shigem.”
“Wow. We need to find out what’s happening there—for the good of Pippa, but maybe also for the good of … whoever that person is.”
“Yeah, we need to. By the way, if you and Alaia want to swing by later this evening, you’re welcome. All we’re doing is packing. Just give us a call before you come over.”
“OK, thanks, I will.”
I’d like to see those two again this evening; I hope Alaia’s on for joining me. (And nice to see these cosy reflections busying themselves to defer my thinking about that creepy figure Kim saw—oh yes, that figure.) I haven’t heard her return to her room yet. I go down to the breakfast room, discover the silent Mexican girl playing a videogame on a handheld console in the adjoining kitchen area, and respond to her quizzical look by requesting a big round of hummus on toast. Soon I am sitting alone in the breakfast room, tucking into a meal that more than lives up to my hopes, while she returns to a furious manipulation of her console.
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