June 18, 2008

Mark McGuire was well into the swing of things.

His large screen was full of Layla’s face. She pointed at him, over-seriously.

“I can put it in two ways… Said The Actress To The Bishop.”

[McGuire, at one o’clock]:
“Oh pleeaasse, that’s ridiculous. Don’t let go yet. You can’t do that to me.”

[Stream Layla, at one o’clock]:

[McGuire, at two o’clock]:
“Enough already. What’s your tat? Tell me what you want me to do?”

[Stream Layla, at two o’clock]:

[McGuire, at threesies]:
“Stop. You’ve gone too far. You’re hurting my head.”

[Stream Layla, at threesies]:

McGuire had spent the weekend and three nights scouring repository scenes trying to uncover Layla’s tat. Of course, he had access to much more than Brian Pain’s little leak. He had an ocean… true it was expurgated by the junior Janette… but billowing nonetheless. Goodness gracious, the things he had seen. He went about his quest with an increasing intensity that couldn’t have made business sense.

Besotted by the beautiful Layla, a pattern of intoxication had emerged. He would fold up work negotiations by mid afternoon and head home to settle into an evening of discovery… an abundance of whiskey sours to hand. He would imbibe the incredible Layla scenes in an ooze that spread from mild meditation to outrageous orgy. In the end, as he passed out, he had no idea whether it was the repository or the whiskey that was talking. Either way, it was an ecstatic addiction where even the strongest sadness provided profound solace.

Yeah, look, as trite as it would sound to him, it was a spiritual awakening. Indeed, he woke up just this morning, struggling and sickening, wretched… but astounded to find himself the overnight author of this Laylapian Lyric:

Imagine her face, indented

From one horizon to the next

From the top of the sky

To her nose touching the dirt

It’s gigantic

The extent of it

I sense the volume of this sky

It’s smile-magnificent

How’s that for soul stirring creativity? I’ll keep that. I’m a bit like God at times. Thought he. Well, it gave Mark the analgesic to shake off his stupor, clean up for work and, more importantly, make bayat to the One World Warrior… giving his heart and mind over to her outside business hours.

Tonight, Layla and her STATB childishness was exasperating McGuire. She had deteriorated over the course of an hour. First there was the tippy toe impersonation of a blinking, beeping lighthouse. Then, ten minutes of flag waving semaphores; culminating with the successful navigation of a blind man into an elevator. Followed by a rousing rendition of Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, can-can style, with a chorus of people plucked from Winona.

And now bawdy STATB.

“I’ve no idea what you are doing.”

Agitated, Layla offered McGuire a token curt STATB before dropping to a squat on the floor. Itching her head insanely till she jumped to her feet with an idea. She wiped an imaginary blackboard and indicated that McGuire start anew, charades-style.

She put up an outstretched palm and beckoned him, then beckoned him again and again. Look at the hand dummy. Okay?

“Five words?”

Layla put her fists on her hips and gnarled at McGuire before reverting to the spanned hand position. Now, here’s the hand, the hand again, the hand again. After which she elaborately guided both hands, as missiles, to their target… herself. There followed an impromptu and exaggerated talk-and-chuckle act into a pretend communicate. A stomping Layla turned directly to McGuire… not in a nice way… and presented a wide, say-cheesy smile.

[McGuire, in a huff]:
“Okay, 555-LAYLA it is. You know you only had to open your mouth and we could have avoided all this. And… NO, DON’T… I’ll say it… STATB.”

McGuire keyed in the La La number and much to McGuire’s bleary eyed amusement, it connected and was answered by an older man. “Hello”.

[McGuire, affecting some sobriety]:
“May I inquire who this is?”

[Stream Man]:
“No, you can’t. Who are you? You haven’t got your vision on. You are?”

[McGuire, tossing yes-no]:
“I’m McGuire. Mark McGuire.”

[Stream Man, dubious]:
“I see… Is that you Fadl? Not funny. We’re right in the middle of packing up. Go on Ammar, put the vision on… and make it secure too.”

[McGuire, scampering to enable communicate security]:
“I seem to have a problem with vision at the moment. I am indeed Mark McGuire in New York. Layla gave me your number. ”

[Stream Man, realizing this probably wasn’t Fadl]:
“Layla? She’s with you? Look, I’m going to insist you put the vision on. I want to see yez both.”

[McGuire, in a moment of enlightenment, a broad Australian accent acting as catalyst]:
“I’d really prefer not to. You are… you must be… Joel Underwood?”

The Stream Man stood about impatiently fidgeting. Wait. Wait. Wait. McGuire conceded and switched the vision on. The Stream Man recoiled.

“Whoa. You okay mate? You look skunk.”

[McGuire, embarrassed]:
“I’m tired. Been an intense few days.”

[Stream Man, chuckling nervously]:
“Yeah well, no worries, I’ve had a few frothies myself recently. First time in a long time. Not quite the pleasure I’d anticipated… had to chuck out the last couple. But yeah, I’m Joel Underwood. Well g’day Mark. Can’t say it’s not a surprise but hey, when she’s involved anything can happen.

So, where is she? Why didn’t she communicate herself? Where have you been hiding her? What’s the go with this whole repository thing?”

“I don’t know where she is. I’ve got no answers. I’ve only met her through the repository. She gave me this number and, hey presto, turns out to be yours.”

[Underwood, squinting skeptically at the inebriated man]:
“Talks to you through the repository? Course she did. Any idea why?”

“Well, if I had to guess, I’d say she wants you here but she’s not talking to you. I’m the go-between. She gave me some… incentives… and it seems I have to get you here.”

“Yep, that’d be right. Look, I’ll pay that but don’t expect me to dance to your tune. You have a reputation that doesn’t lend itself to being taken at face value. Aargh, I was hoping you might have some news about her.”

“Yeah, I suppose you must be worried. Man, you have a strange set of relationships. If it was me I’d be with her… I wouldn’t hide behind convention.”

“I don’t want to discuss it with you but, for what it’s worth, if it was me I wouldn’t have left her either. And how many ex’s have you now McGuire, three?”

“Somewhere between five and seven. Yep. One on each continent.”

“Mr Commitment.”

“Touché. Here, Joel. Here is something that might help you. I can’t say for certain but I believe she is alive. The repository… it’s still growing. Problem is… all we can see is noise. My bet is she’s waiting to talk to you. “

[Underwood, adamantly]:
“Show me. Show me the noise.”

“I don’t have it Joel. It’s at the office.”

[Underwood, dejected]:
“Listen Mark. I should have known you wouldn’t play straight with me. I’m full up to pussy’s bow with misdirection and scheming. Okay, so you’ve found out I’m no longer part of the Baha’i House of Justice. Look, there’s no way I’m going to dish any dirt. I’m heading back to Oz with my wife tomorrow for what I expect will be a very, very low-key existance. Move on to your next schmuck.”

“Baha’i House of Justice? That’s important, right? No, I don’t know anything about that. Good luck to you with it all. Hey Joel I’ll back off. I’ve done my job. I can get back to my life now. If you ever want to talk again you have my number. But you really think I’d conduct a business transaction in this state?”

[Underwood, observing vulnerable, disheveled McGuire]:
“It doesn’t really matter does it? It doesn’t matter what you could or couldn’t do… what schemes you would or wouldn’t hatch. If there’s a possibility Layla needs me… I need to be there.”

McGuire nodded empathetically.

“Joel, I was wrong. My job’s not done here. I’ll communicate again in the morning. I’ll be able to give you proper respect and attention. Me thinks this will be my last drink for some time. She needs both of us. The good guy and the bad guy. Till tomorrow.”

[Stream Layla]:
“See, that wasn’t so hard after all?”

[McGuire, sleepy head]:
“STATTB. No more stats tonight love… no A’s, B’c or… Staten Island. Haven’t been there in a while.”

McGuire’s last remembrance was of a hundred thousand people, dressed as tarts and vicars, lewdly applauding every snoozing snore. Damsel Layla in front… declaring him her hero. What an affront. They were taking the piss now.


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