Friday, 14 September 2007

White Lego

There are ghosts in the wiring. There is electricity in the weather.

She crosses the Tappan Zee bridge, cantilevered over the Hudson. On the station at White Plains, there's a brown paper bag, simple, beautiful, almost as if it has been ironed. Her name is written on it in kanji. Inside, there is an iPod and a Sony Vaio. She puts the iPod in the assymetrical pocket of her Commes des Garcons jacket. She puts the Vaio in the nearest bin. There were moments to go with that post-ironic techno-wonk hipster routine, but there are limits, she thought. Microsoft was the limit.

"Vista," she said, making it sound like a swearword in Lithuanian. Hasta la vista.

Manhattan looms, way Ballardian. Now she stands before the door of the Brill building. Why not? It's very cool. Hours of hand-rubbed Brasso have burnished the entrance; you can smell the money, taste the decades of bubblegum pop in the air.

She's bluetoothed in now to Humungous Bigmouth is showing up on the brushed chrome caller ID.

"There'll be a car there any minute," he says. "Can you see a Bugatti on the corner?"

"No," she subvocalises, through the ceramic bone mic hardwired into her Ray Bans, from which she has meticulously filed off the logo.

"It's customised slightly. A client in the former Macedeonia. It looks like a cement mixer."

"I see it," she says, glancing automatically behind her, where the man in the DKNY suit and the Ralph Lauren shirt and the Calvin Klein underpants has stopped to look in the window of the Bauhaus reproduction furniture shop for the third time. Too often, she thinks.

"Underbuilt, by current standards," says the old man, who is suddenly at her elbow, clutching a styrofoam cup of coffee. He pushes the Bulgarian gun into the pocket of her Prada raincoat, which she had had specially vulcanized in Prague so that it looks like a Burberry rip-off picked up at Changi airport.

"The man, or the vehicle?" she asks.

"Both, if necessary."

"What the fuck's going on?" she says. It is as if a dark shadow, like a Black Ops helicopter passing overhead, has moved in on the scene.

"Search me." Standing there on the sidewalk, he gives the impression that he's sitting in a Ray and Charles Eames chair and has his feet on the matching recliner. "There's this odd film on the internet that might explain it. If you speak Russian."