Seven Nights At The Flamingo Hotel. (Wednesday morning. FAME!)
It is 515. The digits click. The alarm whines and after a moment the radio kicks in.
The day is going to be blustery with some showers. A small child on a bike has been hit by a motorist. Another deer has been spotted. It entered a local newsagents and caused devastation with its antlers. Members of the public are advised to approach with caution.
“Ok,” you say. “Wow. Oh boy.”
You lift your hands from under the covers and make certain gestures through the air. You are the deer whisperer. You are Hiawatha. You are the last of the Mohicans.
Except you feel small, a tiny dot on the face of an overwhelming planet, the flame of a candle newly extinguished, and overcome with this existential angst you reach over and pop three of the old lady’s blue pills.
You wipe your nose, laugh in an hysterical way and, noticing Dave is not on the pile of cushions and clothes you have formed into a makeshift bed, you take another two of the pills and put them up your bum. Afterwards you sniff your fingers. They do not smell. Your nails look tidy. Gradually the existential angst fades. It is going to be a beautiful day.
You are on your way to the toilet when you remember you are to be a witness at a wedding later in the day and you need to be in tip-top shape and so you get down on the floor and do a single press up.
This winds you and lying there breathless and searching for inspiration you remember, as people like you always do in situations like this, the opening sequence of popular American tv show Fame.
Title music starts.
Irene Cara belts out eponymous track.
Shot of hands on musical instruments.
Shot of dancing feet.
Shot of legs dancing around fountain.
Exterior shot of School of the Arts.
Exterior shot of busy New York street.
You do three more press ups.
You want to die.
But Fame was your favourite TV show when you were a child and for many months you begged your mother to knit you some leg warmers.
Done two months before she was murdered they were the only thing your mum ever made for you.
Being dropped off at the school disco you thought you looked the bees knees but the grand entrance was ruined when two older mean skinny boys who had previously terrorised you in the games cupboard with a used cricket cup, grabbed you, bent you over the fruit punch table and mimed butt-fucking you. Then they stripped you of your leg warmers and each stretched one over their heads to form a kind of hat.
All night you could see your leg warmers above the crowd on the dance floor.
They were a sensation.
And to think that could have been you.
And yet this is the thing.
One of those mean skinny boys went on to be the manager of the TSB bank and was killed in a robbery gone wrong. He was hit on the head with one of those metal boxes in which the notes were kept. It took him several days to die and when he did he was surrounded by his family who all said he was quite a guy, and what a tragedy it was that this should happen to someone like him. The other of the mean skinny boys became a skinny bum and sometimes you would spy him, stinking and ragged, outside the train station. Then you would pretend to drop 20p in his cup, making the clinking sound of coins in your pocket, and he would call out ‘God bless you sir’ and you would mutter under your breath, asking him if he believed in karma, him and his friend.
On all fours now you perform an athletic crab-walk into the bathroom where you do another press up and this time you crack your head with sone force on the toilet.
When you wake up you find one foot planted on either side of your head and above those feet are a pair of legs and above those legs is Dave sitting on the toilet.
“I’m sorry,” he says, looking down at you between his knees, “I didn’t want to wake you.”
His last word is elongated and accompanied by a groan as he squeezes and there is a sound of a plop and somehow, miraculously, like you are in a sacred place and you are being anointed with holy water, baptised, you feel a wetness on your face, a whole gurgling mountain stream of it.
You tell this story many times later in your life when you are giving a prime example of the inequities you have been subjected to and people do not believe the water part and you swear that it is true and that you can still feel it now, running down the bridge of your nose, across your lips, seeping into the corner of your tightly closed mouth.
You sit on the edge of your bed. You belly has many rolls in it. Your legs hang down. Your toenails are long and crooked. If a stranger happened to pass by your window then and looked in they would have thought you ugly.
As you stand at the sink to wash you examine your face. Your eyes are too high up, like on certain kind of dogs. But you have nice nostrils. They are perfectly round. You will ask the wedding photographer to highlight this feature.
“Make sure you get the nostrils in! Shall I step forward into the light? Raise my chin?”
You open one drawer. You open another. You take out all your clothes and you lay them on the bed. You have some fashionable socks.
At the wedding you will meet a lady. She will be poor like you but she will have a good heart.
“What nice nostrils you have,” she will say. “And nice socks.”
You do not know if this will happen. It is rare that you meet people who are able to hunt out the good in others.
It is one of humanity’s dying arts.
“Up in the morning for work, back home at night for bed, I’m getting out of this game.”
Deadeye Dave’s single eye has an entrepreneurial glow, like Richard Branson’s when a new train penetrates a station.
“Six months from now I’m going to be a millionaire,” says Deadeye Dave.
“Seventy-five per cent of new business ventures fail within the first six months,” you say. “And eight out of ten billionaires are dyslexic.”
You have started reading the business section of The Guardian. You are keen to share your knowledge with Dave.
You see a point in the future where you will be revered as a source of public information.
But so what?
Your hands are sweating. There is a pain in your chest. While Dave’s back is turned you slip forty-five pounds out of his wallet and you jog at quite a clip down to the car park. It is not far but you are out of breath.
“Everyone knows,” you say to yourself. “Dave owes me.”
You have a toothpick in your mouth in the manner of a gangster. You move the toothpick from one side of your mouth to the other. Then back again.
“He owes me big time.”
You try to think of situations from your past for which Dave owes you big time but they slip from your memory like spaghetti down a drain.
Because you fear the kind of shopping where you have to take off your clothes and come under the close scrutiny of staff you pop into The Commodore Club for just one drink and you are surprised to find are scraps of bunting up on the walls, several heart-shaped balloons hug the ceiling, and a kind of stage has been made with old forklift pallets. And everywhere are photos of Eusavio and the girl he introduced to you as Peggy-Sue.
She looks even younger in the photograph, barely more than a child, and you wonder what events could have led to this hasty marriage and you decide that there is only one event and this is that Peggy-Sue is with child and in a flash you see this child’s future and this future is bleak.
But when Simon saunters over and asks you if you will be attending the ‘happy event’, fingers made into inverted commas on either side of his head, you do not like his tone and you tell him that indeed you are going to the wedding and you are just on your way to buy yourself a suit because you are going to be witness to this glorious marriage. Then Simon sniggers and you tell him curtly his snigger is impolite and not worthy of his seafaring brother, if he even exists, and Simon leans across the bar and he tells you he has good reason to snigger because, having being asked to be a witness prior to you yourself being asked, he knows for certain that Eusavio was specifically looking for a gay witness.
You are bowled over by this and you do not believe it to be true but at the same time you remember Eusavio walking past your room and Deadeye Dave lying legs apart and naked on your bed and you are cast down and seeing you cast down Simon’s eyes become cruel and bitter and he tells you how he has heard from the horse’s mouth himself that Eusavio is not the father to this child that Peggy-Sue is expecting but he does not know who is and he does not want to chance that the man who witnesses their marriage might be the father of the child he was to raise as his own and that is why he is looking for a gay, like you.
“Like me,” you say and you do not know why, because Alan Turing and Jimmy Somerville and Holly Johnson singing The Power of Love on Wogan, and Alan Ginsberg are heroes of yours but you begin to sob and through the open door of the bar you see a car pull up on the car park and out of it get four little people.
They might be midgets or they might be dwarves.
At this distance it is hard to tell.