The air is humid today and grey clouds are visible far across the Atlantic, but here on the shore the sun still beats down. I cross the footbridge to my island and settle down with my back to the trunk of my tree. The sunlight dapples my arms through the foliage above, which stirs in a faint breeze. No one is around. I breathe in and let my eyes close.
Picturing Shigem, I feel my sight dragged sideways and very slightly up, to his apartment on First Avenue … and there you lie, Shigem, half-awake beside a sleeping Kim. It’s clear why you went heavy on the glamour make-up last night in the strobe-lights of Paradise, as your stress at being targeted by Lucan has made your face erupt more than ever now, resembling what I saw in your memories of your adolescence and early twenties. Your phone vibrates on the floor. You reach down, grab the phone, inspect it, frown, roll yourself out of bed, dart to the doorway, pull the door shut and answer in the next room, “Hallo?”
You stop dead. “Oh… Hi.”
“Thought you’d wanna know Jaymi and Alaia are spying on you, with his sight… Jaymi paid Kim, to get his permission to spy on you. Maybe Kim wants power over you…”
“Lucan—that’s not true.”
“‘Oh look—we get a mint!’” he simpers, mimicking your voice.
Shigem brushes his hair out of his face, then back in front of it again. “I’d like to be a bird in a cage,” he muses, stretching luxuriously.
Kim reflects. “Would you? In a cage?”
Shigem squirms around to face Kim, buries his face against him, and qualifies this: “Well, I mean a golden cage. With the door always open, of course.”
“You’re the loveliest thing in the world. I don’t have a golden cage in London, but I do have an old rabbit-hutch. Would that work?”
“Only if it’s a golden rabbit-hutch.”
“It was for golden rabbits, but the hutch itself isn’t golden. We could paint it.”
They make love, then Shigem says, “What most turns me on is being loved and having someone to love. It’s so sexy, so gay, so beautiful. For years I daydreamed about it.”
“Oh, hold on—I had a fun dream while I was asleep,” says Kim, closing his eyes. “What was it… Yeah, I remember. I was a little blue animated elephant, being grilled across a desk by a scary officious woman with glasses, about what on earth I was good for. I felt quite hot inside while I explained to her all the things I could do with my blue trunk and pushed the general idea that I had a valid place in the world. Then later on a beach, I saw the scary woman again and she stared at me through her glasses and said, ‘But I never knew little blue elephants liked the sea?’ ‘Yes!’ I trumpeted. ‘But—that changes everything,’ she said, ‘I shall have to go and think about this.’ And she beetled off, and I was so proud and squirted seawater up from my trunk, in case she was going to turn around and look, which of course she didn’t.”
Shigem makes his arm into a substitute for an elephant’s trunk and pretends to squirt seawater around the bed. Kim joins him and the bed becomes a small blue elephants’ beach party.
“OK then, so let’s hit it,” says Kim, getting out of bed and pulling Shigem slowly up after him.
“Oh…” murmurs Shigem at the mirror. “Thanks, Lucan. And even worse, it’s a bad hair day: look at that fright-wig. The moon must be doing press-ups in my chart today. I need a Hair Supervisor. Maybe even a Hair Theatrix.”
So they go out, turn up the Avenue and hang a right on Main Street to the Diamond Chinese take-out. On the way back they see Evelyn’s van at a red light, perhaps returning with the new locks. “Hi gal-pal,” says Shigem through the van window.
“Hi Flowerpot.” The light goes green and she steps on the gas and zooms off.
“How long have you known her?” asks Kim.
“Forever. We shared an apartment for a short while, years ago. She’s so sweet, we used to have girly chats in the morning—she’d be there for me if the shit hit the fan, and I’d be there for her.”
“Seems like she knows everyone.”
“Yeah. No one dislikes her, either. That’s unique.”
When they’ve eaten in the kitchen, Shigem says, “I have to be here between two and five, to let the guys in from the moving company, to pick up the full boxes so far. They’ll pick up the rest tomorrow. But you don’t have to be here the whole time, so if you want to wander out somewhere, go.”
“I should be here as much as possible, just in case. But yeah, a wander would be good. OK, I’ll do it now. Back soon.”
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