part of group exhibition One Roadblock from Heaven
The Performance Space, 1988
a ficcion full of passive resignation turning to resistance (the pleasure of wisdom)
This one has to do with a person, X, who goes to the East to sing. She has heard she could do some nightclub singing there. She also heard Y was living there, and arranges to stay with him. She has her memories, but hopes for nothing. Beyond belief, a world away from no hope no fear.
He lives in a shoe box. She sleeps on the floor. He, unexpectedly has a japanese girlfriend whom he hadn't previously mentioned.
He was too tall. He was always too tall.
She knows a little of what happened to him after she cast him away from her room by the sea. She knew it didn't take him long to take up with someone else, someone on the lonely downward slide, that trip to hell. And he, who she remembered as reading Rimbaud, jumped on the other's drunken boat, into the arms of that final vanity.
This is the story of the realisation of something lost, always many years later. Always.
He was a musician and she had loved him. Had loved him when she asked he and his friends to come to her party, perhaps her 20th birthday party. He was so awkward in his huge frame, but capable of the most peculiarly beautiful melodies . On the piano. He played the piano.
Remembering the party. Leaving the party (but then X had a habit of leaving her own parties) and heading towards the sanctuary with these boys she had only a vague idea of . At that time she allowed herself the pleasure of dreaming her life - that space of veiled air, drifting through veiled air with perfumed garden, before an iron gate clamped shut.
Years later in Japan they talked. About how he would come to her in the early hours of the morning, somehow he would clamber in the window, so drunk he could hardly speak or stand just fall asleep into sleep. Until she couldn't stand him anymore.
Well before that though they had busked as an income attempt with electric piano, synthesisers and X on the echo mike. The words billowing out into the air of kings cross, the words from MARAT, reading the speeches of Charlotte Corday and the Marquis de Sade : and when I die I want all trace of my life to be wiped out. The same text she ravaged upon the back of the bedroom door of the house they took over, her and the girls. A house was a house. A room with a view. And a boy to climb in the window.
'I thought it was something about romance, you know, romeo' he said in what seemed dead earnest later, in Tokyo.
It all began quietly enough. He was the excited host taking her to see the miles of neons in Shinjuku.
Going and drinking in small bars and the beginning of an unease. Unable to recall where it began. Sleeping on the floor in the tiny room. The room's small fridge, going shopping to the japanese supermarket, all he ever ate was tinned food, fried eggs, hamburgers, packet spaghetti with packet sauce. Into cafes for a $6 coffee. They started drinking vodka together, he explaining about the city and how bad the english newspapers were, the Mainichi Daily News in particular, he laughing hardly able to get the words out to tell her just how bad was the Mainichi Daily news. Watching television. The daily pornography. Unable to avoid each other's physical presence, the slow erosion of her work ambitions. To sing. X was forgetting how to sing while looking forward to their nights, she still sleeping on the floor of the tiny room.
Trips to the local bathhouse. Wearing everything she owned outside on the winter nights, the strange calls of the sweet potato seller in the snowy air, to the bathhouse where she bathed with the women. Their actions refined, ergonomic, no game for the young this cleanliness ritual. A slight curiosity , discrete glances of curiosity and admiration which seem to be the same in women's bath houses/ change rooms everywhere. He telling her about the way the men just stare and sometimes laugh at his huge and hairy body. She had to laugh too, imagine.
After the bath walking home through the silent suburban houses, everywhere was discretion.
While she was still on the floor, asleep, he came home. One foot in the door woke her up, one foot took up a lot of room.
He'd spent hours at the local bar playing records. The bar owner had a good record collection. X accepts Y now as he is. Those hands that had played music a music of such fragile melancholia were now just a phantom of memory.
He had put his electric piano in to be fixed months ago at Akihabara and had made no effort to get it back. It would have taken up room. He had none of the tapes or records they had made. Nothing except a few old things. He was beginning to get nostalgic, unspoken.
The night she woke when his foot blundered in the door she pretended not to. He shook her, cajoled her to open her eyes. His father is a pilot, he had met him much earlier in the evening and had brought home a slab of prime australian beef steak. He is holding it in front of her face as she opens her eyes, dripping blood in a plastic bag.
Then he starts to cook it. Frying it. The only way he knows. And then he makes her eat. After 3am, they eat, he tells her incoherent stories that make her laugh and they drink the last of the vodka.
He makes her play backgammon with him, she didn't want to, no never, not with him, not then, so X falls asleep in her sleeping bag on the floor. X is dreaming now, she is in a body bag being taken home in a plane, a casualty In a plastic body bag her body in pieces slabs of dead meat in a bag. Then she is whole again in some prime australian bush setting, olive drab scrubby trees, low slung bunker buildings, grey. She is still but not for long. Running from him with all her strength, he is approaching with an axe, terminally they are running, she and another woman, someone also running from him. Into a car they became the quick and the dead as he smashes at the car a maniac with the axe and the car begins and they are gone.
She woke up shaking. He was on the bed in the tiny room dead asleep. She knew it was time she should leave that any longer here would be no good.
But of course she went away nowhere.
Something lost something gone from him in the way he lived in this little room.
And he knew that she knew.
He told her that he'd come here as it was easier to resist. Instead, alcohol was everywhere, vending machines on the most unlikely street corners. Suntory Vodka. Whisky bars.
Then he gets really sick, an internal eruption, organs not just giving way but losing interest in attempting to support this wayward giant of abuse. He landed unconscious in a Japanese hospital. Almost dead. Operated on and out of his hands he went. He hallucinates for three days straight. He thought they were going to kill him. He would yell at them to tell him what they were doing when he was conscious. They only spoke Japanese, and he couldn't, though it would've made no difference. He was western meat. He tells her this story. He was watching a film of all these beautiful women bathing in a river. Everything was soft. In came some kind of bunch of hillbillies, they gave him a gun and he could not help but shoot the most beautiful women at close range and watch her bloody body go everywhere. He said that the pleasure and horror and truth of these dreams disturbs but fascinates him. She should have known then to go. But didn't.
Instead they went out to the supermarket.
Earlier on X had made a few forays into the possibility of nightclub singing in Tokyo, but when she did that there was something not quite connecting. She even had made half hearted attempts at arranging other accommodations.
He forgot arrangements he had made to meet his girlfriend.
X had a belief that once there was some current between people, perhaps existing only in the fact of life shared over time, then that could never be destroyed but is always there. Dangerously. Somehow dangerous.
Everything was rising.
With so much between them, and moreso that knowledge like a grindstone that they were not the people they once were. They had never known the people they once were. So they could never have known what this change would bring. They had no after when she cast him out of her room by the sea. But this being together both in this small room in this silent suburb with the sweet potato seller wailing into the night, had brought the inescapable back to them there. And with no relief. She cried one afternoon hysterical with him there. Don't do it, no don't do this to me but it had gotten out of their control by then. Out of their control and down the hill.
Final betrayal to inevitable circumstance:
Slaves to Love:
As you already know, X leaves.