Mae wanted to talk about his old club a little. No Danny. Boo.
I put my head back on the dry grass and inhale deeply. There’s a faint ticklish throbbing in the tip of my right ear. Somewhere due south of the Chrysler building the sun is breaking through the indifference of the white sky. Dr Darthadúliel continues to research her paper now she has caught up with patient M.
Deedee started giving us all acupuncture over a year ago. We were all somewhat sceptical at first – “This is gonna make me stop turning tricks?” – but we agreed to let Deedee assault our ears with her pins because she seemed so excited by the idea of doing a research paper and we wanted to help her out.
“It’s not going to stop you honey, it’s meant to calm you and build up your self esteem.” She was very big on our self-esteems. She seemed to believe it was a vital force within the body to be nurtured like the humours of old.
“It’s like your immune system,” She explained one day. “It’s your defence system against the pathogens in the environment.”
“I don’t have an immune system, Deedee.” I replied.
“All the more reason you need to work on your self respect.”
We got used to it after a while. Monday afternoons from two till three everyone would sit around with needles sticking out our ears. It was relaxing, although nobody was suddenly overcome with the urge to wait tables at Starbucks. Mostly we just lay back and chatted. They were good chats too. Not confessionals, but not small talk either. We talked about what was important to us. Little things. Maybe it was good for our self-esteem to get these tiny parts of ourselves out into the open, to see them as worthwhile. As the nominal leader of the group, I had to keep one eye on the video screen that checked for custom walking down the stairs. Most often we were left to it. It’s a very dedicated philanderer who seeks out a whore on a Monday afternoon.
“How you feeling?” Deedee asks as I shut my eyes against the sun.
“Good.” I say after a while into the translucent red of my eyelids. “Good.”
The pain drains out of the world after a while. Oh Deedee, I think who is ever going to read this paper? Aren’t sex workers supposed to feel sad and dirty and penitent? It’s how the word feels most comfortable with them. Nobody’s going to want the recipe for a tribe of happy hookers.
Desdemona might, I think.
Then I decide to leave the pastoral care of prostitutes to the experts and let my mind drift. Somewhere in the distance someone is cutting grass, I can smell it fresh as laundry day. There’s the smell of burning sugar from the caramelised peanut vendors, warm and sweet and smoky. I sigh. The heat from the sun presses its fingerless caress against my skin; the light shines down into the black holes of uncertainty in my soul.
I could fall asleep against the grass.
“Tired?” Says Deedee from somewhere high above me.
“No.” I say. “It just feels nice not to worry.”
That’s not quite true. It feels nice not to have this terrible scratching on my conscience that somehow I’ve done something foolish. It’s good not to have every object I rest my eyes on look back in condemnation, you’re selling your soul, you’re selling your soul. Not that I live my life being ordered around by the sensibilities of tabletops and tourist ponies.
I’m making a terrible fuss about all this, I think. If Oberon and Tatiana can fight over their fondness for a little orphan boy why can’t I indulge in a little afternoons coddling of a human’s child without feeling like I’m betraying myself? If I’m condemned to sit in the eternal drawing room of immortality why shouldn’t there be a few parlour games to pass the time? Charades Danny? Or how about dominoes? Lay us down end-to-end, matching bodies different souls. He’ll be gone in less time than our poets call a year leaving no trace of my indiscretion.
I feel a faint flush thinking of Daniel’s body. The trouble is, I think he’s too good to be a plaything of the fairies.
So what? Says a voice in my head. Yes, at the end of the day so what? The earth is comfortable and the world smells of spring. My Fea decides to stop regarding the parts of itself that have grown sweet on this messy headed mortal as a virulent cancer on its being, relaxes, and accepts. The taint fades from life; like bitter dark chocolate or mouldy blue cheese, I acquire the taste. I feel very refined.
Like sodomy, the voice in my head says, it takes some getting used too. I smile.
After a while Deedee takes my pulse again. She growls.
“Not the expected result?” I say with my eyes shut.
“It’s supposed to go down.”
“Oh.” I feel bad for disappointing her. “I do feel very relaxed.”
“Maybe you could try a little harder to exhibit physical symptoms of this.”
“Okay, I’ll try. Don’t I mess up your data anyway?”
“By not being a human.”
“No worse than English did.”
English was really called John, or at least that’s the name he gave us. He was given his nickname not only on account of his nationality, but because he was, unmistakably, English. The dust of a thousand museums hung shabbily on his coat. He was the English of Bob Cratchet, the little man, staring into adversity with a thin sense of embarrassment at his own unflappability in the face of despair. His hair was mousy verging on translucent and his eyes were pale grey and looked out with the tranquillity of the resigned. He had the calm of one who has chosen to view life as an ironic joke at his expense. I suppose that could have made a lesser mortal cold, but you always got the feeling Johnny English was laughing along with it in that self depreciating way of his. Christ with a few stiff brandies in him.
Jian and Attie Koszeg used to put “England’s Rose” on our stereo and croon it at him.
“At least I was spared Prince Charles,” He’d say.
It didn’t make him cold. He might have been blond when he was younger and he certainly one to fall for those public school bad boys. He’d told us that much with one of his anaemic little smiles. It made him untouchable, as if he had practiced Englishness as a religion of self-denial and reserve and was now close to achieving a nirvana of eternal tea and hot buttered toast by the fireside.
Well, that’s how he looked at first glance anyway. It turns out he had worse problems than a stiff upper lip and a fetish for rotters.
“You really had problems getting a representative sample didn’t you?”
“No,” said Deedee. “I got a representative sample alright.”
“Do you think there are many elves and werewolves selling their asses in the cellars of New York City?”
“Ssh!” She said. “This is supposed to be your time to relax.”
Mae is going to go home now, thus ending Deedee's current involvement in the tale.
Also, the editing on this should now no longer suck.