Thursday, 28 June 2007

Big Lights, Bright City

You're very late. But you're writing in the present tense and the second person, so there's this sense of urgency. The elevator is being none too urgent, though, and the facts on the twenty-ninth floor aren't getting checked.
Not that they're going to get checked. Not through this headache, sour stomach, coke smell in the nose. The sunglasses are too heavy on your nose.
You should have called in sick. Do you think she'll come back? You don't think she'll come back.
Those first months the elevator seemed so full of promise. Now it's buried beneath all that flotsam; the old files, the wastepaper baskets full of first drafts, the bottles of Dylan Thomas memorial whisky. It's going too slowly, or too fast. You've forgotten.
The doors are opening now and you forgot Meg's damn bagel again. You think about turning back down for it, but it's five forty-seven pm and you should really get to your desk before anyone notices you're late getting in. Too late.
"Come over here a minute."
Caught.
Hup, two, hup, two. You wander over.
"Hi, Toots."
"Never mind Toots, young man. Are you sure that Munich is the capital of France?"
Why does she have to break your balls like this? Tough it out.
You could do with a Valium. "Bien sur," you say.
She can see through this bullshit. She never believed in that summer job you said you had as Professor of Contemporary Thought at the Sorbonne, you can see it in her eyes. But no one ever got sacked here yet.
You think about breaking in tonight to hide an alligator in the bottom drawer of the film critic's filing cabinet. See if he thinks that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is implausible tomorrow. Yeah, right.
Your hangover from the Waldorf, and then that bar on West 43rd, and then that club on East 59th, and then that tranny joint in Chinatown and then that illegal drinking den in the submarine at the bottom of the Hudson and then those places you can't remember. And how did you come to be wearing this Ralph Lauren jacket that's two sizes too big, with the pocket ripped and coke spilled all down the front?
"Are you sure your wife left you and you had that heart to heart with your mother before she died?"
You're a bit too blasted to work out who's asking by this stage. You crouch past the bar, mumbling and spilling, and hide in the restrooms. You look at yourself in the mirror for a long time.
You hear your voice saying: "I checked, I checked it yesterday. A tomato is definitely a fruit."
How did it get to this point? And in so few pages?
You sense that this is going badly. You wonder if this is how Scott Fitzgerald started out, but you kind of know it wasn't. You've missed several calls, and been sacked at last, but it's nothing a little more blow won't sort.
Or can you get freshly baked rolls down at the docks at this time in the morning? Perhaps you should call that girl about it.
The rolls aren't very good.
You think maybe everything's going to be all right after all. You think maybe this is all you need in the 1980s. You may get to kiss famous people like Julia Roberts someday.
But do you think it will stand up in a few years' time?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable. Did anything in particular bring that on? McInerney's not dead is he?

mckie said...

He's been boasting about snogging Julia Roberts, and I reread Bright Lights to see how it stood up. It took about 3/4 of an hour. Do you know, I don't think it's really all that great, though it certainly has the ring of truth.

Anonymous said...

How ungentlemanly of him. And yet again, my deficient grasp of celebrity gossip lets me down.

mckie said...

nice of you to take an interest. who are you, by the way? if you don't mind my asking

Ailsa C said...

Sorry, missed this. I had to leave off visiting interesting blogs and go and do some work. Actually, I was feeling guilty for posting anonymously, as it seems a bit cyberstalkerish, particularly as we did know each other at school and university in Glasgow. No discourtesy intended. With all best wishes.

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