quote:There was an ornate desk, she supposed Victorian, at which sat one or another of the club’s quietly attentive employees, young men for the most part, often wearing tortoiseshell spectacles of the sort she suspected of having been carved from actual turtles.
quote:whose expensively forgettable façade reminded her of a sleeping face.
quote:Sunday, February 01, 2009 CRICKET posted 9:46 PM The room-phone began to ring. It was a collage, something else Inchmale dubbed steampunk. A massive, nautical-looking handset of rubber-coated bronze rested in a leather-padded cradle atop a cubical box of brass-cornered rosewood. Its ring was mechanical, and tiny, as though you were hearing an old-fashioned bicycle-bell, far off down a quiet street. She stared hard, willing it to silence. “Intense hysteria,” she said. It continued to ring. Three steps and her hand was on was it. The handset was as absurdly heavy as ever. “Coprophagia.” Briskly, as if announcing a busy department. “Hollis,” he said, “hello.” She looked down at the handset, heavy as an old hammer and nearly as battered. Its thick cord, luxuriously cased in woven burgundy silk, resting against her bare forearm. “Hollis?” “Hello, Hubertus.” She pictured herself driving the handset through brittle antique rosewood, crushing the aged electro-mechanical cricket within. Too late now; it had already fallen quiet. “I saw Reg,” he said. “I know.” “I told him to ask you to call.” “I didn’t,” she said. “Good to hear your voice,” he said. “It’s late.” “A good night’s sleep, then,” heartily. “I’ll be by in the morning, for breakfast. We’re driving back tonight. Pamela and I.” “Where are you?” “Manchester.” She saw herself taking an early cab to Paddington, the street in front of Cabinet utterly deserted. Catching the Heathrow Express. Flying somewhere. Another phone ringing, in another room. His voice. “Manchester?” “Norwegian black metal,” he said, flatly. She imagined Scandinavian folk-jewelry, then self-corrected: the musical genre. “Reg said I might find it interesting.” Good for him, she thought. Inchmale’s sub-clinical level of sadism sometimes found a deserving target. “I was planning on sleeping in,” she said, if only to be difficult. She knew now that it was going to be impossible to avoid him. “Eleven then,” he said. “Looking forward to it.” “Goodnight. Hubertus.” “Goodnight.” He hung up. She put the handset down. Careful of the hidden cricket. Not its fault. Nor hers. Nor even his, whatever he was.
quote:Tuesday, February 03, 2009 THE GABRIEL HOUNDS posted 10:08 PM Milgrim, wearing the khaki trousers and Harris tweed jacket he’d bought in the Brooks Brothers in Via Vigna Nuova the week before, stood considering dog-headed angels in Gay Dolphin Gift Cove. Their heads, rendered slightly less than three-quarter scale, appeared to have been cast from the sort of plaster once used to produce alarmingly detailed miniature busts of pirates, Mexicans, turbaned Arabs. There would almost certainly be examples of those here as well, he thought, in the most thoroughgoing trove of roadside American holiday souvenir kitsch he’d ever seen under one roof. Their bodies, apparently humanoid under white satin and sequins, were long, Modigliani-slender, perilously upright, paws crossed piously in the manner of medieval effigies. Their wings were the wings of Christmas ornaments, though writ larger than would suit the average tree. They were, he concluded, facing half a dozen of assorted breed, intended for purchase by those wishing to sentimentally honor a deceased pet. Hands in trouser pockets, hoping to look casual, he swung his gaze from the dog-headed angels to the wider visual complexity of Gay Dolphin Gift Cove. He noted a great many items with Confederate-flag motifs. Mugs, magnets, ashtrays, small statuary. He was apparently alone here, though he knew that there must be Gay Dolphin staff nearby. How old did something like this have to be, in America, to have “gay” in its name? Some small percentage of the stock, he judged, had been manufactured in Occupied Japan. Half an hour earlier, across North Ocean Boulevard, he’d watched child-soldiers, wistfully clad in sad skateboarding outfits still showing the factory creases, haggling over Chinese-made orc-killing blades, spiked and serrated like the jaws of extinct predators. He’d wondered how many young men had had a winter afternoon in Myrtle Beach as a final treat, before shipping out for whatever theater of war. Wind, the sand of the Grand Strand, the boardwalk, the peculiarly sub-aquatic light in amusement arcades where some of the machines might be older than he was. The smell of chili-dogs. Some of Milgrim’s own angels, not the better ones, detected an ancient and deeply impacted drug-culture, down in what little was left of the carny grime of the place, interstitial and immortal. Sun-damaged skin, tattoos unreadable, eyes that peered from faces suggestive of gas-station taxidermy. Old school. He was meeting someone here. He had no idea who, though they were supposed to be alone. Somewhere, nearby, Oliver Sleight, the fit of whose clothes bothered Milgrim, was watching. On a website, hence on the screen of Sleight’s iPhone, was a Milgrim-cursor, generated by the funny battery they’d put in his own new phone, back in Florence. The circuitry reduced the talk time considerably, but Milgrim made, and received, very few calls. He moved off through Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, away from the dog-headed angels in their cabinet, past articles of a more natural history. Starfish, sand dollars, sea horses, shells of all kinds and seemingly of every ocean.
quote:Sunday, February 08, 2009 FIFTEEN posted 7:30 PM “And she called him?” asked Sleight, behind the wheel of the Taurus X, from the center of a goatee he regularly trimmed with the aid of a size-adjustable guide, held between his teeth. “She indicated she would,” Milgrim said. “Indicated.” They were headed inland, toward the town of Conway, through a landscape that reminded Milgrim of driving somewhere in Los Angeles that you wouldn’t really want to get to. This abundantly-laned highway, lapped by the lots of outlet malls, a Home Depot the size of a cruise ship, theme restaurants. Interstitial detritus still speaking stubbornly of maritime activity, the farming of tobacco. Fables from before the Anaheiming. Milgrim concentrated on these leftovers, finding them centering. A lot offering garden mulch. A four-store strip mall with two pawn shops. A fireworks emporium offering its own batting cage. Loans on your auto title. Serried ranks of unpainted concrete garden statuary. “Was that a twelve step program, where you were, in Basel?” asked Sleight. “I don’t think so,” said Milgrim, assuming Sleight was referring to how many times his blood had been changed. More like fifteen.
quote:Monday, February 09, 2009 SPECIES posted 8:48 PM Toweling off, applying moisturizer, she listened to BBC through an ornate bronze grate. Nothing of catastrophic import since she’d last listened, though nothing particularly positive either. Early 21st-century quotidian, death-spiral subtexts kept well down in the mix. The species of clueless motherfuckers to which she herself so fully belonged, in the end more adroit at bringing about the extinction of other species than anything else, it seemed. And now the Americans had broken capitalism, fucking with it. They’d already broken sex, according to Inchmale.
quote:Tuesday, May 26, 2009WHAT'S IN A NAME?posted 3:25 PMZero History, a novel in progress, by William Gibsonhttp://members.shaw.ca/wxy123/...e_Foods_Dystopia.jpg image: Alan Nazarian, 2009