As Kim heads for the door, I realise I’ve stuck around with these two for much longer than I was intending when I sat back against this tree and started what I thought would be a quick tune-in to Shigem alone. I’ve been with them for an hour or two, as if I were just zoning out in front of some reality TV show with my mouth hanging open.
I shall now get back on track with a quick look around Kim, but this time on a properly-focused, single-tune-in basis … and in no time, Kim, you are wandering the bank of Wesley Lake towards the sea, past the Heck Street footbridge. The low-growing pines by the lake jog a memory: alone on the platform, the wind and the rain on your sad and lonely face, at the station in Southport, with a little black case in your hand, to move to London. There were low-growing pines there too, across the tracks while you waited on the platform. The train came; you went, and you never thought again about the pines, till now. Then alone in London at the window of your bed-sit, you watched the lights reflected on the surface of the wet streets. You met friends and others, and you partied and ran around, but still in many ways you were alone, as you liked to be. Then, by and by, you met Shigem, loved Shigem, came here in a dream and are together now. Yet in many ways you’re alone inside, as before; and that aloneness is a rich, peaceful place. Moving on, you run your right hand gently through the pines, while your left hand makes to clutch a little black case.
Soon you reach the Boardwalk and sit halfway down it. Away to your left, amid the pastel terracotta on the walls of the Convention Hall, are green copper sculptures of winged seahorses and lanterns; away to your right upon the shell of the Casino are reliefs of ships and seashells; and there on the windows of the shuttered Carousel house, Medusa faces. All these were designed, produced and fixed up in a flurry of labour and care, then left there immobile for seventy or a hundred years, while swathes of people were born, grew up, ran around, fought, laughed, fell ill and died. The Medusa faces look at you, impassive. Soon enough, you will die too, perhaps from illness or suicide, murder or old age or accident. Maybe then they’ll still be here, staring out, or maybe they’ll have been pulled down, crushed and buried somewhere. Either way—for what?
You rise to your feet. “Maybe,” you think, “just maybe I should tell Lucan myself, that Pippa made the waxworks.” You turn inland, hesitating. Directly behind you the waves lap and sigh; while behind you on your left, those Medusa faces watch you go, swivelling their empty gaze to bore into your neck.
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