Alaia asks him if we can bring our recording forward a bit tonight and suggests we view the material straight afterwards.
“How about half past three in the morning, like last night?” suggests Rik. But it’s cleared with Evelyn on the phone that we shall instead do it next-ish. I go upstairs to freshen up, then back to the studio to find Evelyn has joined us; and before long I’m in front of the camera, projecting what I’m relieved to count is only four tune-ins since our marathon spokes-sheep session last night…
First off, here comes Pippa last night: her emotional machinery filling half her bedroom; her fire-escape in the sky, a stair to death; and the demon in her abdomen.
Then from today comes Angel being beaten up, his hijacking Lucan’s tongue but losing anyway; his aristocratic darkness, but no rest from Lucan.
Here’s Kim’s first meeting Shigem in a nightclub, their romance and nightlife, their London rooms, the music of their early days.
And here is Shigem’s first seeing Kim, in a café; his fear, early on, that such romance must surely end … and the Mint Man.
It’s a work-out for me emotionally, as both times before. During the Angel material I become aware, however, that I am not alone in this emotional involvement, as I can sense from across the studio that Alaia is also becoming very much other than cool despite her taking care not to move. (I’m pleased to find this awareness of mine doesn’t affect my focus as projectionist.) As soon as the camera is turned off, she gets up, muttering “Lucan is disgusting,” and heads for the studio door.
“Where you going, girl?” says Evelyn.
“I’ll be right back,” she replies and then is gone.
We all stare after her. “Do I sense she failed to pay the closing Kim and Shigem material the full attention it deserved?” I ask.
“Well, that Angel footage was quite something,” says Evelyn. “I knew that that was basically the scene there, but it’s another thing seeing it.”
“Maybe we should help Angel?” wonders Rik.
“I think if someone wants to be in that kind of relationship,” I say, “then they should be left to make their own decision.”
“Anyway, Angel doesn’t want to leave Lucan,” agrees Evelyn. “I know what he’s like.”
After a few more minutes, I say, “Isn’t Alaia being rather a long time?”
At this moment Alaia comes back in. “I’ve just called Lucan,” she announces. “I told him I know about the abuse and I appealed to his better nature to stop it.”
Evelyn claps her hands to her mouth. “You did what?” she hollers… “Oh shit, you don’t know what you’ve done. ‘Lucan’s better nature’! What better nature?… Why didn’t you say you were going to go and do that? Now the shit’s gonna hit the fan.”
Alaia looks down. “OK, I know I should have said. I was just in the heat of the moment, doing what I thought was right.”
“That’s all we need,” says Evelyn. “What did he say?”
“Well … at first he laughed and said something dismissive about me being an out-of-touch bitch from Manhattan or something. Then he said I was talking bullshit—how could I know what he did at home? So I said that I wished he had lost the end of his tongue, as it would have been an appropriate price to pay for half-killing Angel like that—”
“Oh fuck,” groans Evelyn.
“Then he became a lot quieter, and before long he just hung up on me.”
Evelyn sighs. “Alaia … Lucan will now assume Angel must have gossiped to you about their home life. How else would you know about the tongue?… He won’t like that! He’ll punish Angel for it. You’ve probably landed Angel in deeper shit than we saw tonight.”
Alaia sinks to a chair. And so a war council begins, seeking what we can do in the way of damage control. Calling Lucan back right now is quickly ruled out by Evelyn as being likely to inflame any anger Lucan may already be venting on Angel. Yet we feel we have to do something, because the victimisation that I’ve just projected, though wrapped up with love, was great enough to cause concern for Angel’s safety, even before Alaia’s phone call—Lucan being not unaccustomed to murder, after all.
While I follow Rik and Evelyn towards the back stairs, I look back over my shoulder to watch her receding quickly alone, in the opposite direction down the long dim corridor. Near the very end, she wheels around without warning, sees me watching her, doesn’t smile, then wheels back around again and vanishes into the marble hallway, sending a chill up the back of my neck.
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