So instead I gather up my sight and throw it out like a lasso towards Shigem’s house, where he’s waking beside a still-sleeping Kim … and you wake to the sound of the birds in the trees, Shigem, remembering: today’s the day you go to Newark Airport, then fly with Kim to London, to start a whole new life! Despite being well aware that your face now looks as much like a car-crash as it ever did aged fourteen or twenty-two, you are nonetheless joyful, verging on giddy—first because you were not murdered in your bed, and secondly because you’re becoming tentatively hopeful of remaining unscathed by Lucan until departure tonight. Kim’s sleeping blond head is on the pillow facing you, a tingle of pleasure runs through you, and I smile. “Kim and I are flying together into the sunrise!” you think. But dare you believe this? Isn’t there some problem, some catch, hitch or late disaster here, that you’ve failed to notice? There must be. After all, there usually is. Yet sometimes, here and there, genuinely golden luck and happiness do roll up and park themselves on top of a person and just stay there like a pool of light … and perhaps this has happened to you, with regard to Kim? “It’s happened to me,” you say to yourself. “It’s happened to me!”
Then you squirm and stretch, reach out your hand towards the blond head beside you, and stroke its inhabitant (your boyfriend!) awake.
Kim’s eyes open at your touch; he sees you and knows you, and his eyes and face and movements start doing Kim things after their previous sleeping anonymity. “I was having a dream,” he says, closing his eyes. “I met a skinny Asian boy with wide eyes, who was standing in a porthole with his hands and feet splayed inside its circle, peering down through the glass. We felt immediate attraction and embraced each other. Then we looked through the porthole and panicked because a vast tidal wave was approaching down the estuary, looking as if it would swallow the building we were in. But strangely, it just dissipated when it reached us: it surged up a kind of escarpment towards us but then it stopped when it splashed up through the blackthorn at the end of the garden. We felt so lucky…”
“Was he me?” you ask.
“Not really, no.”
“You mean you’re not faithful to me in your dreams?”
“Fuck it—I’ve just remembered,” says Kim. “We weren’t both meant to go to sleep last night. I was meant to stay awake all night, following our plan. How did we forget? Remember our plan? Damian could have killed us!”
Inside the moment he takes to say this, you give him a clear-eyed look, more simply and directly than usual encompassing his presence, shape and appearance, his hunky body and the smooth skin of his face, and you feel peace and ease and rightness: this is your boyfriend, this is your best friend, your ally, your playmate in this demanding, complicated, dangerous and frequently unpleasant world into which you were each dropped without being consulted. His normal masculinity feels like a sort of house that protects you; and although you’ve always been comfortable with the lack of this in yourself, it’s restful to feel you can expand freely in his presence without needing to glance over your shoulder in order to watch your own back. You know that you tell him regularly, in words and through affection, that you love and value him; but now on the brink of your journey east, you remind yourself not to forget what you have here, not to miss out on the pleasure of remembering it in general, beyond the particularities of individual conversations or activities. There are things about the other that each of you might want to change in an ideal world, but that’s of lesser importance. You’re constructing a successful and loving partnership that’s making your individual passages through life easier, more fun and less lonely, with more security, help and laughter than each of you would have had alone. It feels surprisingly strong already, this partnership, though it’s only three months old. But never get cavalier, you tell yourself—for things can fuck up, and they do so, all the time. Be careful and watchful, but simple and sweet. “Don’t worry,” you reply to him, “Damian did kill us. We’re both dead. It’s better this way.”
The strange affair of the spokes-sheep, in short, has been nothing but a ceremony of secrets and lies, concealments and half-truths, from start to finish!
Still, none of that changes the fact that there’s violence in the air—I can sniff it.
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