“You have no proof, more than that, to persuade me to promise you some protection for him?… OK! OK, Evelyn—very interesting… No, no, nothing. All I’m saying is, you know, he still coulda got someone else to plant the head, or it still coulda been his idea—I can’t rule these things out… Well I dunno, maybe Paradise paid him to scare business away from Downstairs, why not. OK, gotta go now Evelyn, kiss kiss,” and he cuts her off.
Lucan pockets his phone with a slow-growing shine of thought in his eyes and turns towards you, who have quickly pulled on your black vinyl bra and a skinny black polo-neck and are climbing into a pair of black leather trousers, looking heated, still horny and seethingly hassled. “She never mentioned the video of Shigem on the DVD!” crows Lucan. “The video of him and Jaymi at Paradise, the night when the first wax head showed up. That video shoulda been her proof that he never came to Downstairs then… She’s busting her head on the phone trying to prove he’s innocent, and she never even mentions that video? I pushed her, you heard—and she still didn’t. Why not? All she could say was, oh he’d never have done it, and oh people could swear he was in Paradise…” In his enthusiasm Lucan has been absent-mindedly flicking the wax Angel’s nipples with his fingernail throughout this speech, until you notice this in the mirror where you’re brushing your hair. Hairbrush in hand, you flit across the room in renewed anger, bat his hand away from the nipples and slide the model along the divan away from danger. “And you know what that tells me?” continues Lucan, hardly noticing this. “Evelyn doesn’t know we got the wrong disc!” He claps his big hands together and rubs them in glee. “She still thinks we got a disc with only you and me on, like Alaia promised.”
You pull your mind reluctantly away from the flicked wax nipples and force it to wrap itself instead around these elusive abstract hypotheses, whose very slipperiness reminds you immediately of nipples again.
Seeing you both outside on Summerfield Avenue, I’m struck by what a stunning pair you make: Lucan striding fast through the bright summer sunlight, shirtless in black jeans, whistling a lazy tune; and you, Angel, half-running after him, breathing onto and polishing the lenses of the mirrored sunglasses you’ve just snatched off the waxwork.
As you approach Main Street where Damian, Flames and Kev are waiting, a trace of affection flickers somewhere behind the hardness of Damian’s eyes—some fossil of wistful gallantry attaching to his memory of your renting a room in his house, once upon a time.
“I was just telling the others about Huntsville, Texas,” says Damian, when you and Lucan reach him. “My kind of town. Every man, woman and child there knows: when the electric chair is used in the great prison there in Huntsville, every electric light in town flickers when the switch is pulled, and every TV picture shakes, and every fridge gives a quiver. And folks remember to trust no one, because they’re all on their own!”
The light dims and you all look up. The bank of clouds I saw this morning across the ocean has rolled westwards across the summer sky towards us, so that its dense upper billows are just now moving across the sun’s disc overhead. And as you all stare up, it seems remarkably as if there is an entire nativity scene piled on the clouds behind the billows—ass, ox, Mary, three wise men etc., with a halo round the whole group and shafts of Jesus-light fanning out in all directions. The five of you stand by the wayside a moment, your mouths hanging open to varying degrees, before you lower your gazes to one another, shifting slightly on your feet. Then you all turn towards a miniature blaze of golden light in your midst, emanating from where a dedicated beam of sun strikes Lucan’s crucifix pendant. Damian turns his eyes to the ground—hunted, humble. Lucan’s face assumes a hint of the messianic; Flames looks earnest; Kev picks his teeth.
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