Sunday, 30 November 2014

...of an alternative

Tired. Sulphur. When you're tired, the body thick, you smell sulphur. Bellocq did that. Always. Two in the morning three in the morning against the window of the street restaurant he'd rub a match on the counter and sniff it in. Ammonia ripping into his brain. Jarring out the tiredness. And then back to his conversations about everything except music, the friend who scorned all the giraffes of fame. I said, You don't think much of this music do you? Not yet, he said. Him watching me waste myself and wanting me to step back into my body as if into a black room and stumble against whatever was there. Unable then to be watched by others. More and more I said he was wrong and more and more I spent whole evenings with him.

The small tired man sitting on the restaurant bench or the barber chair never saying his scorn but just his boredom at what I was trying to do. And me in my vanity accusing him at first of being tone deaf! He was offering me black empty spaces. Revived himself with matches once an hour, wanted me to become blind to everything but the owned pain in myself. And so yes there is a need to come home Webb with that casual desert blackness.

Whatever I say about him you will interpret as the working of an enemy and what I loved Webb were the possibilities in his silence. He was just there, like a small noon shadow. Dear Bellocq, he was so short he was the only one who could stretch up in the barber shop and not get hit by the fan. He didn't rely on anything. He trusted nothing, not even me. I can't summarise him for you, he tempted me out of the world of audiences where I had tried to catch everything thrown at me. He offered mole comfort, mole deceit. Come with me Webb I want to show you something, no come with me I want to  show you something. You come too. Put your hand through this window.

[Coming Through Slaughter, Ondaatje, M.]

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