Singh Moonga and A Frances G were lolling off in the upper room whilst below the stranger walked around.
'He's sniffing out the scenery, sniffing its green baize,' said A Frances G, expecting tragedy any minute. She lolled back in the drab chair. It was autumn outside, and dusk. Singh Moonga was a grim tour of manners and courtesy, an old hand. He pulled a face and told her that if the stranger downstairs wasn't dead or dying then he was baked badder than even the baddest those twins might come up with. At which A Frances G looked tired, as if old fragments had failed to dissolve into her younger blood.
'He's the Mourquet. He prodded the whole thing into us. He was the one brought us all the Polinchinelle universe,' said Singh Moonga. A Frances G seemed to push herself further down into the chair and the look of the naive confronting the sentimental crossed her face. He saw her change. He tried and failed to find a comfortable gloss.
'These zines,' - and he pointed to the slim samizat magazines strewn across the carpet pile like pocket sized coprolites inscribed with weightless titles such as 'The Doll Plague,' Gosschen Faces,' 'Geography,' Diablerie Fairy stories,' Hebephrenic Suburbia,' Pellagra Urbia' - ' they are his dreams. His world. They are what he has created. I always knew the strange and perverse ways in the years past were best known inside heads. Heads like ours,' he said. A Frances G looked at her hands. She was working out a way of lobotomy through auto-suggestion. She was wanting to split herself in two right there in the skull cap and then maybe one side of her might escape. The zines were the real world . Everything had fallen into their precise subjectivity. Reality was just a matter of thought bubbles and (occasional) speech bubbles raised hysterically above the rotten cracked heads of people such as these.
In the room below there was a figure. There had been rumours of it having been Reichmann. There had been reports for years. This was merely one of hundreds, thousands. Each was investigated. Reichmann was important. Reichmann had done this. This is what A Frances G understood, that there was nothing outside of Reichmann. Until Reichmann had been eliminated there was no other world. It was a special place. It was everywhere. A Frances G closed her eyes and tried to blam it out.
'Gesta Reichmann. The deeds of Reichmann. All this stuff makes for something of a negative chansons de gestes, exemplum, romance. He is the reverse coin. He flicks us out,' muttered Singh Moonga. He fingered his assassinational device in its neat black polish. Night was on its belly outside. The moon was just a question of identity.
'He invented the doll plague. He was heard to laugh years ago but never since. The rumour has him holding his head in his hands and he weeps loud and long. He is very upset. He cannot sit down he is so upset. There are tears for every minute of our time. These are the strangest things. He has a face so weary you would think it would just flake away, would just fall to the ground in a heap of dust. You would imagine him as having a life to envy but look what we have found,' he said, pausing so that she, A Frances G, would really see, would really feel the effect of what he was saying, ' We have found a man broken and in the ditch of life. He has nothing. There are no people trying to love him. He has no friendship, no kindness. His life is a miserable shriek of pain and more so. He is on his hands and knees. His last legs. This place is a dump and yet it is the best he can manage. To us, we would be ashamed to be found in such a place as this. The roaches are ashamed to come to a place like this. But he is here. He is not in a palace. He is in this place. He is a broken backed mammal. His route is negative, a grim emptiness. There is nothing he can offer. There are no reasons for his living. What could he be wanting from a life like this? There are so many pleasures to be had, so many pleasures,' and again he broke off, this time gazing with a twinkle which may not have happened at A Frances G's leading - lady thighs - before continuing, '...but if this is Reichmann we have down there there are no pleasures to be had. None at all.' He stopped. A Frances G kept her eyes shut, her knees jammed together.
They continued with their stake out, listening intently to the person in the room below them. Each of them in their own way wondered how long this operation would take before final curtain. A Frances G wondered if she should not just go shoot the stranger anyway. But then no one would ever know the truth. There would be just a scorched hole left behind if she acted irresponsibly. She shuddered at the thought of such temptation. She wrung her hands. Singh Moonga watched her with his own thoughts tucked up inside his head one by one like babes in the wood.
'Who is that Mourquet reference? It appears nowhere on the files. I have no idea where it comes from,' said A Frances G. Singh Moonga chuckled at the damned ignorance of the younger generation. He tried to catch the breathing patterns of the stranger down below.
'Maybe the fellow is a damned spook. Maybe he has stolen another person's identity. Perhaps he comes from some place quite different, perhaps from the far North or else from the sparkling East. Perhaps he is wearing a disguise. Perhaps he has trumped up some ridiculous mask to throw us off the trail. There are many thoughts we need to organise here. Disorganised thoughts could lead us into a pretty pickle. Yes indeed.' He remained in his chair. A Frances G pulled a face as she always inclined to do when inaction was the order of the day.
It was the dawn, vituperative against the cult of beauty and mysticism, coming at the night like a Filippo Marinetti sports, and it brought A Frances G to her senses. She jumped to her feet and raced out onto the landing, ignoring the rising panic in the screams of Singh Moonga. She swirled down the stairs and began to strike the door of the stranger with increasing hysteria and violence. The door finally splintered and fell at an angle before her. She stepped over the wooden wreckage and crossed the threshold.
She let her thoughts blend with the stagnant dankness of the interior. She felt Singh Moonga had betrayed her by refusing to descend earlier. Having had to take the initiative she felt that she had no longer any need of the older agent. She was junking her partner. The new world was this dreary room. The new world was the shredded zines all over the floor and the leaking pipes and the reddish water spurting over the floor over by the far off sink. She fell back against the wall, suddenly afraid of the leap she had made. There was no one to help her now. She stared through the white gleam of the deathly hush. There was no one at all. She kept her eyes scanning each particle. No one. Yet there had been no way the figure in the room could have escaped.
She found a doll by the window, fully the size of a human man, dressed in a filthy shirt and soiled trousers. The stink made her eyes water. Yet there were signs that the strange wooden figure had been dragged to the half open window. There was no easy way of explaining by whom or how. But there was only this doll.
Singh Moonga stood in the doorway.
'You dreamed the zine stories. They were as much yours as his,' he said. She looked back to him. He seemed far off. She was unclear what he was saying. She said nothing but frowned as if puzzled. She flipped back through everything she knew. Reichmann's 'Invisibility Project' was his attempt to radically alter parameters of existence by reversing the controls of the Warhol injunction to fame. 'Oblivion for fifteen minutes,'promised Reichmann. After fame, the fall. And through that, relief. Sequencial identities, deep subjectivity, brain fusion based on chemical diet and weird encounters blissing in meat space. Meat as time machines, space travellers.
'Look, all over the place. All these papers. Looks like he ripped them to pieces before he tried to escape. I can't help thinking that he might have made it through the window had you not acted as you did. You saved the day,' he said. He was trying to grin. But he was clearly displeased and unsettled by the whole thing.
'But there's no sign of Reichmann here. No sign of anything except this bloody doll,' said A Frances G.
'Looks like we should have considered even that,' said Singh Moonga after a while. She looked at him and then down to the stiffened, broken doll. A look crossed her face, half way between a stranger and something more recognisable. There was an odd sound from the back of her throat but she couldn't get out the words until much later.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Selima Kyle wears leather and enjoys weird pleasures but she also writes throughout the night. She works at a well-known University library in the USA which shall remain nameless. At twenty four, she feels she's got a little time left. This is her third story at 3am. There are many more to come…