I take two or three good tokes and hand it on to Alaia: strong, for sure, and very nice, though it doesn’t feel like anything so unusual.
I glimpse a kitchen down a corridor at the back, where I think I can see glass bowls of corn-chips on a counter-top. “I’m going to the kitchen,” I tell the other two and wander off across the den to the start of the corridor. Then swiftly but smoothly over the next few seconds, I come to a point where I cannot feel my feet on the floor at all. I stop and peer down: I am not levitating, but I have no sensory evidence of this, except through my eyes. I reach out and touch the corridor walls on either side of me, to guide myself, and set off again. There’s a problem, though: my ability to feel my hands on the walls is also disappearing. At this moment, out of the track that just came onto the sound system, there erupts the single-word lyric, BABYLON! in a voice of thunderous charismatic depth and power, resonating with fantastic volume and sensuality, welling up out of driving drumbeats that seem first to belch the word out and then to be flattened by it… I come to a halt again: I wasn’t expecting that. Now the word returns, thrown up by that driving beat, surging up the short corridor from behind me like the deep-bass explosion of a volcano: BABYLON! I realise I don’t want or need to move anywhere, if this sound will be coming back to me again here (as I suspect it will be), because it contains everything I need. Yes indeed, here it comes: BABYLON!… I feel I could listen to this, repeated, for hours straight—but I also begin to wish that this explosive aural feast had chosen a more convenient moment to visit itself upon me, for all I have here, pretty much, is visual data: proprioception has gone out of the window, leaving just a conscious head floating in a hallway above an unrelated torso.
Before I can think about whether and how to extricate myself from the tune-in, I see that I’m looking at Lucan’s memory of first meeting Angel, two or three years ago on Kingsley Street, and I cannot look away … for he seemed to you, Lucan, like a sexy little fly. You saw him as a creature whose natural habitat would be hovering above a steaming-hot pool of blood and honey, sending his feelers down into it like the snouts of a voracious alien. And those killer eyes on him—so startling in close-up! Those big, brown, vital eyes, so dark and alive and dangerous and watchful, beneath long black eyelashes; the curve of the eyes echoed and magnified underneath by the fuller convexity of pale brown-olive skin curving outward over his cheekbones, then quickly back in and down in slanting arcs to the reticent mouth and smooth sharp chin; and the delicate jaw-line rising around behind, past small ears to the flame of black hair above a round intelligent forehead. That animal immediacy, that play of flesh and electricity combined, that scything sharpness and tang within a wrapping of organic yield and warmth, which knew that it grabbed your own gaze and licked it back.
I should probably get up and return to Alaia and Evelyn, before they wonder whether I’ve crashed out somewhere; but having just seen Lucan’s memory of first meeting Angel, I decide to sneak the quickest of peeks at Angel’s first memory of meeting Lucan, as I did yesterday evening with Kim’s and Shigem’s memories … and you’d seen Lucan here and there around town, Angel, but never from as close as when he stopped on Kingsley Street and looked you up and down. Planted there in front of you, surrounded by his entourage, he struck you as a drummer on a stage in a cone of light, with all the band beneath him and the curves of his biceps drumming with a slow aggression, face remaining shaded till he tossed up his head with sexy arrogance, flinging up droplets of sweat in slow motion through the spotlight.
You saw him, all in all, as a vision of perfection. You dreamed that he would sweep you off your feet and that you’d lie draped lasciviously across his powerful arms, like a fairy princess swooning when she’s rescued by a prince.
Then, to your shock, this all occurred, for many months.
Then during its occurrence, Lucan’s laughter in the dark welled up behind the air and echoed all across the sky, deep and wicked. And along with his laughter came your first intimation that your new position here with him, despite its nightly ecstasy, provided scant protection from the murderous dangers inherent in associating with him.
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