Again, this doesn't really fit. It's Mae taking 1000 words out of the story to polemicise.
He introduced me to his bed like other lovers might introduce their new beloved to their friends or pets. He bundled me up in it at once then jumped in beside me like we were entering a space ship or a time machine.
“What do you eat?” He asked.
I think he’s getting off a little on this not-quite-human thing now. He won’t be dumb enough to admit to himself that he’s in bed with an alien being, that would be a deathblow for the rules of reality he needs to keep his mind on the level. But he does know something odd is afoot. And I think he finds it quite charming, well parts of his anatomy do anyway.
After all, the existentialists are very much on the reading lists of rock stardom, and Danny looks like the clean, thoughtful boy who’d do his homework. He’s steeped in the mythos and the glamour of alienation, stewed like a week-brewed tea bag. It’s only a small step from that to finding aliens themselves very sexy.
Of course then there’s the fact I’m a whore and as a species we’re supposed to be slightly removed from the practicalities of life. Few people have concerned themselves about our diets, or whether we eat at all. (And the feeling on the street is we generally don’t. We exist on a miasma of sexual energy, supplemented by a little seminal fluid and the odd rum and coke.) We’re not supposed to have a practical side. Admitting we like spaghetti carbonara as much as the next person makes us altogether too earthy, too human. Too much like someone the tricks might know.
“What do you eat?” I replied.
He laughed. Rock stars too, in popular mythology live only off China White, Jack Daniels and the Ambrosia of fame.
“I normally just have juice for breakfast,” he said “But you order what you like.”
From somewhere beneath an afghan blanket he produced a cordless phone.
I felt like such a hick I was sure I blushed.
After breakfast, where I cut little triangles out of my egg-covered muffin and fed them to Daniel –“You need to keep your strength up” – he settled back into a comfortable doze on the pillows. I was very impressed by his complete lack of self-consciousness, snoozing in front of a stranger. It was like he could not imagine how such a set up could go wrong.
I toyed disinterestedly with the idea of looting the place. There probably wasn’t much to steal, not stuff that would hurt anyway. The tasteful furniture was eminently replaceable. He probably didn’t really know what it looked like. I thought about investigating the refrigerator, my old standby, but the blankets were heavy and the mattress too comfortable. I woke to find him stroking my face, clinging to me with his ferocious orphan’s need. I was mildly surprised it was dark already.
“Hey Michael,” he said. “Hey lover.”
I blinked incredulously. Since when was I this boy’s lover? Could he not see the obvious, the cash nexus, the million reasons why in this set up I would not be showering my love on him as innocently as if we had met strolling in the park?
His brown eyes looked up at me cloudlessly. Clearly he couldn’t. I thought it was innocence at the time, but I don’t now. I think it was damage.
Isn’t it the classic story of the Lost Boys of rock? They’re always missing something; orphaned or neglected in some way, perhaps that’s what makes them so fierce, their voices so poignant as they reel out the clichés about the stonehearted woman and the whisky and the streets being strange. And they become famous with this little piece missing, this emotional ratchet that would connect them to the rest of the world. They like warm things, cosy places, being safe in the dark. They think Camus wrote Le Etranger about them. They never listen to warnings, for if something feels nice, feels good in their world that’s so filled with greyness and ennui how can it be wrong? How can it be anything but the one strand of happiness they deserve in a world that hurts more than we know?
I was Daniel’s sliver of joy in a blank world; he saw this happiness as a miracle, like the Lady of Lourdes or the face of Christ in a cracked window. He believed in it utterly, it was his talisman, his luck and his fortune. No wonder he couldn’t believe I might be tied to him for altogether more practical reasons.
But it’s hard not to love a boy with the sun in his face. It’s hard not to adore someone who is lit up by a vision of bliss. So even if I managed to restrain myself from loving Daniel, it was hard not to care deeply for him when he basked so gloriously in this warmth. His passion for his dream made it, not come true exactly, but connected us. He was always far more than a blank cheque.
“Have you tried heroin Danny?” I asked as he lazed on my chest.
“Why have you got some?” He’d have done it if I had, no questions asked.
“No.” I smiled. “I got opiates out of my system a long time ago.” I’m really not into any drug that reminds me of recovering from Thangorodrim.
“I did once,” he said. “It made me sick as a dog. Horribly sick.”
“Good,” I said, stretching my legs out under the duvet. “You stay away from that Danny.”
So I broke his heart. But I probably saved his life too. Because anyone with a passing glimpse at the rock pantheon can tell you where Daniel Newman’s story was heading the night he walked into club Xyro. And don’t tell me he’s such a nice boy, of course he’s a nice boy, it’s the nice boys that get caught. They don’t see the tangled web of their stories entrapping them until they’re caught and bound fast.
(Take for example Brian. Now I’m pretty sure that Brian has experimented with every pharmaceutical that can possibly give some sensation to the body. I’d hazard a guess he can chase the odd wrap of heroin without vomiting once. But he’s a pro. He knows when enough is enough, when it’s time to chill out by the beach for a week. Danny has none of that self-preservation. He just knows what feels nice.)
Perhaps Daniel’s more of a survivor than I give him credit for. Because I think he knew it too. He knew as he was striding into that celebratory party that the story of Arch was about to lurch from Comedy to Tragedy. Maybe Brian did Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech in the car on the way. He must have known his appointed role as fated rock hero at the apex of his powers was now to fall swiftly and irredeemably down into the darkness. And he chose not to. He chose instead to tell himself a fairy story about love, in which I really had only a walk on cameo. He chose not to join the heroic and futile dead.
Who am I to condemn him for that?