A  H O R R O R  S T O R Y

Celeste and I are very, very, very old people.

Sometimes I wonder just how old we are. Celeste must be nearly eight hundred years old, maybe a bit more. I am certain that I am no older than four hundred. We sit together on the park bench tossing a few crumbs to the birds. They bob and jump at our feet to get to the small amounts of food we despatch to them. I wish we would feed ourselves as well as we feed them. We sit in perfect silence.

We sit in the sun. It is warm. It is Berne in 1974. There are no bombs and no slaughter. Once in a while we are acknowledged by a passer-by.

Slowly, I stand up to go. We do not touch. We do not speak. She obediently follows me. She asks no questions.

We arrive in our tiny house and sit on our chairs. We have no fire. We say nothing. We do nothing but sit and stare ahead of ourselves, eyes still. We are merely glad that each other is still alive.



I first met Celeste one summer's day, in June. We were in Cologne.



I first met Celeste one summer's day, in June. We were in Cologne.



Or was it Berne?



We used to dine in Shaufheiner's bistro, restaurant, diner thing, near the main line to Berlin. She used to correct the waiters, who were a slovenly lot anyway. If they brought schnapps then she would want coffee. If they brought brandy she would want a beer. She got on their nerves and frequently made me embarrassed, which is very easy to do.

Other times, she would take me to the Radja in the heart of the dangerous ghetto. We were a different foreign colour but I didn't mind. For two dollars you could get a meal, a dance and some drink if you like.

We'd walk home in the dark. One night I asked her to marry me.


One fine day in 1982, Celeste and I went into Cairo with the intention of buying a large carpet. We were much younger then and had no real idea about priorities or anything much. We ended up in a cinema, having spent all our money. She spent all my money. She spent all the money I ever had.

I said to her, 'Why don't we go for something to eat?' She said, 'I'm not hungry anyway.' I said, 'But I am.' She said, 'Well, go away yourself.' and she would try to ignore me. I would go off, but I am so afraid that she would get lost and we'd never see each other again. I'm afraid she will find someone else.

I was afraid.

But I will always be afraid.

She takes my concern in the wrong way. She thinks I am 'soft'. 'You're soft,' she would say, 'really soft.' And with that he would stalk off, nose in the air.

I have never been very good at knowing when to please people.

Life is a difficult mixture of pathetic decisions.

Sometimes, we would go to a concert, into the bright white light night busy summer warm humid exciting black clinging sky music drink street sexy busy friends song dance free city. Throughout the performance I itch to leave; to be able to walk in the street with Celeste on my arm. To show the planet that I have woman who might love me properly. She urgently whispers at me to sit still and not to move. She likes to maintain those appearances. The music isn't important to me. The orchestra blurs into the background. Appearances may deceive but sometimes they are all one has.

She hates me staring at her. She even hates me looking at her. She hates my admiring eyes. She takes my admiration in the wrong way. She thinks I am 'soft'.

'You're soft, ' she would say, 'really soft.'

I believe she hates my admiration because she is afraid of scrutiny. She may not stand up to the examination, the psychological peeling off of the manners and clothes that, coupled with being male, I find becoming increasingly difficult to deny myself.

We drink together sometimes. We go out to meet her friends and my friends. We talk separately to them, sometimes coming together to talk as two halves of a couple. People tolerate, even enjoy, our strangeness. I feel that few people like us as a pair, though as individuals we are more interesting to the fleeting observation of a casual visitor.

Her friends tolerate me. My friends tolerate us.

Life is an infinite mystery, a constant aggravation that is lessened only by our sleep and our fucking. Between those two sharp punctuations, those harsher accomposites, I find despair, humiliation, impotence and sadness. Such is that life, they say, such is that that we know so dearly. If life can be so empty, how shall we find death? Will it be a release, the final letting go of all the worries that we cling to, or will I find it sad - sadder than I have ever managed to imagine? With such pressure from myself it is no wonder that we find ourselves descending into personal fantasy, a self controlled dreamland that allows you to win at everything.

But even those fantasies are below standard. Even in the lesbian tennis locker room lust I am spectator to event rather than participant.


Threat of conviction. The ever present gloom of reality. Celeste. Celeste. Incredible disease. Unfathomable joy. Penis envy. World champion. Celeste. I awoke one morning. Arrive on the scene. Drug culture. Soft culture. Tune in. Phases and lull. Wax and wane. The moon in tune. Celeste. Personal tragedy. Threat of conviction. Gloom of reality. The church of the unplanned disaster. Celeste. Personal Fantasies. Celeste. Personal Tragedy. Celeste.




Thinking through everything that has ever occurred to me leads me to the undeniable reality that frightens me.

There are two snakes in the centre of the room, surrounded by curious faces. Each snake is consuming the other by the tail and is eating the other alive, with no regard as to its own imminent death.

The faces speak.

The biologist says ‘they are each fighting for their own survival’

The philosopher says ‘they are both attempting to merge with the infinite’

The mathematician says ‘they are both attempting to represent a calculus expression, approaching an unapproachable zero limit’

The physicist says ‘they are becoming a practical zero limit, approaching a point of singularity’

The commonality say ‘fuck knows’

I say something else. I say, ‘They are both me. I feed from my fantasy and my fantasy fights back.’

I look to the hammer and the hammer strikes back.

Regardless of the discussion about them, the snakes chew onwards. Although we disagree as to their individual motives, we all agree that they will die at exactly the same time. Not all of us find this equally funny.

As we approached the summit we found that there were people already there ahead of us. She looked at me, and for a second I thought that the blame was about to fall on my shoulders yet again. She turned back to those up in front of us and shouted something out at them, but the rush of the wind stopped her words from reaching me. No one turned to look at us. She shouted again and one person stood up and waved back at us. She looked at me again and seemed to be almost pleased.

The shock of her recognition woke me almost immediately and I found myself, as usual, alone in a cold bed. For reasons I haven't yet worked out I felt compelled to utter the word 'vainglorious' three times. We might return to this episode later, if I can summon the courage.


Explain the differences between the author and the raconteur.

The author reports, the raconteur tells.

Are they one and the same?

That doesn’t matter.

It matter here – the author is losing his grip.

All he has to do it report; no synthesis is required.

Thank you Dr…erm….



Soft. That's me. Soft.

On one autumn's night, she said, 'You're a real loser sometimes. I care for you but I cannot help you or save you from yourself. Don't deny it. I can't help you anymore. But I can bring you back to this real world. I can...look...touch me

there...yes...there.. ..yes...yes...push...up..yes.. ...there... yes..touch me...yes...'


Life is a series of unspoken beliefs and a series of quite unbelievable contradictions.

Who am I kidding here?

Life isn't anything I can lecture about.

Life is everyone else.



Celeste and I are very old. Maybe too old for numbers.

We are glad each other exists, glad that we aren't alone and glad that we have an intangible love. Celeste slowly stirs in her chair, turning her eyes, her watery, sad grey eyes to me. The skin on her neck twists.

And then she speaks to me for the first time in three hundred years.

And this is what she says.


Once we were in a bistro - not the last one, another one - in Nice drinking rum. Why run, heaven knows, but that's what we were doing.

A dirty young man sat in the corner singing sweet songs to the tune coming from the worn down guitar. Sad French songs. The rum was cheap and tasted bitter. It was always going to be a hot summer. Horseflies droned in the bird song heat. Cars passed. And then for the first time, she told me something sweet.


Feel the lash bite your skin. Feel the rope tense and bite on your wrist. Supplicate yourself to the wills of a grander force than yourself. Wallow in my glory. Know what it has always meant to suffer the consequences of another.


Life. An intangible fantasy. It is something that impels me towards you, Celeste. Something that stirs in my heavy heart to love you. And then she speaks to me, for the first in three hundred long, dead years.


'I love you.'


We taught each other a dark and malignant philosophy that stretches the very bounds of reality itself. Christ knows, this is not a pleasant story.


In that mad year of denial I built you from nothing as you built me. Celeste lies on her nude back and places her hands on her stomach. The involuntary tragedy. The precious loss of precious magic. Threat of conviction. Gloom of reality.


I first met Celeste one summer's day, in June. We were in Berne.


I first met Celeste one summer's day, in June. We were in Berne.


Or was it Cologne?


Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all. Oh to have nothing at all.

Celeste was a fine woman. So far, from what I have told you, you might think she was selfish, petty, annoying, childish, a strain on the temperament and loyalty, demeaning, humiliating, whining, deliberately infuriating, pathetic, demanding...

She was all of these things.

But there is one thing about Celeste that I have not told you. The real reason that I wanted her to be a part of me. The one thing that forgave her all of these things.



Celeste was, quite simply, the most beautiful woman in the whole world.



If I am starting to sound trivial and aesthetic then I beg you to tell. Don't let me forever make a fool of myself. I am getting better at it. This actually might be my only gift.

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

What was the use in trying to change her? Now we are older than the stars and I know the same fire that fueled her stupidity is now buried in the


as it was burning her soul to pieces. Her personal funeral pyre. A monument to helpless, devoted slavery.

In here. Within this horrible blackness that I call mind and which dwells within the land of imaginations. It challenges the real and bludgeons you into my own personal sleep. Come into me. Know what it always meant to suffer as I have suffered. Find the consequences I have always known and deal with them as best you can. Into me.

Into me.

We went to Verona for a daytrip one day in the summer a few years ago. She was trying my patience even then with her demands. Dogs barking in the sun. Children playing. Then she said something sweet. Or was it Berne? Or Cologne?

'You're soft, really soft.'

I made friends with a mouse that was living in the hotel room. She burst in the door, stunning me senseless with her eyes, clamping her vagina like a steel manacle around me. I look at her face but she will not let me see her tortured fantasy ecstasy, her face betraying the sneering pretentious soul that lurked and smouldered within her angelic body. I was someone else and she was anything and anyone I cared to name.  She wore a face she learned from someone she had never met.

I was soft. I was really soft.

Celeste was presented with an Oscar at the ceremony by Steven Spielberg. He read a speech which said she deserved it for her unselfish work in the protection of the free enterprises that we all cherished. She would not accept it, though, saying that she was protesting at the Argentinean political involvement in South Africa . (which of course none of us knew about)

She went on a peace-seeking mission to Northern Ireland with a hand held Exocet missile. The hand to hand combat which was promised to an eagerly awaiting world was a lie. She was unfortunate enough to get blown up by a land mine and was lucky to escape with her underwear from the mad fanny-fiends that stalk the streets of Dublin (which had been moved to Belfast in protest over the Chernobyl mishap). Let's face it, it was all bound to happen.

Wasn't it?

She became the 'it', the established certainty. She embodied all that we had tried to oppose. It would appear that we were trying to implement something we didn't really understand. She turned around and found her hating herself, so much in fact that she declared civil war on her own body and threw small screwed up pieces of paper in the air to land on her. Well...she didn't actually get round to it but we did have great fun planning it.

'I awoke one morning and found myself famous.'


She and I studied and dismissed the law so we tried to formulate a new kind of Philosophy that she called Publicism and she tried to enforce it in some underdeveloped country full of damned bloody niggers but it didn't work as they weren't as impressed by the sight of a female breast as I was. She discarded the ideal and sold the manifesto to Karl Marx who bastardised the copyright and then threw it away as well. We later learned that, disguised at Trotsky, he had an ice pick slammed into his ear. Trotsky ran away to sea and later on to Highgate. We never tried to act cleverer than we actually were ever again.

Life sometimes takes me by the throat and tears me to pieces. Christ, why do I get up in the morning?

I later telephoned the Head Fucker Of Indonesia to tell him that I was going to arrange for him to come to this country on a state visit some time in the summer. I said that I was arranging for a small dingy to be dragged behind a herd of whales to take him here. It all fell through, of course. The whales were on a work to rule and decided to hide from us in protest at the American uninvolvement in the worsening state of affairs in Korea. They were later reported to be notoriously uninformed and hence stupid. In any event, it was never going to matter to anyone else so they never bothered.

The President called last night. He was at an official dinner held in honour of the latest pressure group to appease his support in return for them not mocking him. He left a message for us. 'Well done, ' he stuttered through a mouthful of port and braised lungfish. 'I knew I could count on you...' He hung up. Later, when she returned, I told her and she laughed out loud at him. Such is the fuel that drives the engine that turns the wheel. Human contact. I know not what I do.

We returned his call later that night, even though we were both drunk on Bordeaux and giggling like silly, errant children. She fed me the lines and I simply swallowed and repeated them. When the receiver on the other end went 'click' we fell about laughing, albeit for entirely different reasons.

I bought a new car (this is where the horror begins) to drive us to and from our self appointed takes every day. I was making advertisements for Heinz food products and she was busy in making some kind of new toothpaste for the government. She said, 'I might be gone for a day or two but I have enough money to get by. I'll be home in a little while, okay?' I said okay so she got out the car and left. I was free of her. And I was sad. In fact, I was so free and sad that I sped the car to the nearest brothel where I could freely practise in the revolting and unnatural habits she refused me.


General Bothari (or whoever it was - the names are totally unimportant) watched as the satirised murder show performed in front of him. The trained soldiers in a loose moment of freedom. We watched from the wings, enjoying the mad and funny diversion we had co-ordinated ourselves. Even mad fascist dictators will find a need for political cabaret. Celeste and I watch the proceedings with a great satisfaction (we engineered the whole scheme). Whilst the mad Fascist watches all the buffoonery his entire family are being (justifiably) slaughtered in their home in the name of the republic.

'Viva la revolution! Viva la liberte!'


(I well recall those poor little screams as she was thrown into the car by the four rather stern and conservatively dressed gentlemen from the Ministry of Heartfuck. As they took her away in the car her children thought she would never return. I thought they didn't know about all this. They knew that I didn't. I followed later and also got caught. Her children were later rounded up and routinely murdered. I was always happier that way.)

'Caveat Emptor'

She was later reborn as a French-speaking Canadian, that day. That didn't count for much as she was handcuffed to the Surte's Officer In Chief. They beat her until she bled and tortured her mind until it twisted. They broke her and shattered her and spat and stamped on all that remained of her. Interpol knew nothing of her. According to their records (and who are we to question their records, indeed) she never existed. She never paid taxes, never held a passport, marriage licence, car registration or birth certificate. As a result she was defined as a Political Agitator which is a way of saying that they couldn't properly control her mind or deeds and didn't clearly understand what she told them anyway. The Surte, on behalf of the free world, decided that the best remedy was to tear her to shreds instead of defusing her as they would any other normal political danger. When they eventually released her some weeks later, they had not one. They had not won, despite the unbroken series of beating, kicking, raping, spitting, starving, twisting, screwing, tearing and electrocuting. She had retained her will and resolve intact. She said something sweet.

'You're soft. Really soft.'

Gloom of reality. Threat of conviction. The great unselfish divide. Homage to the recording revolver. Long live the leveler. Who dares wins. Celeste. Printed and pressed. Thin and transparent. Darling Celeste. Descent into dreams, warped reasons, Celeste. Warped and neglected reasons. Gloom of reality. Threat of conviction.

Life is a crock of horseshit.

Life is a mirror through which some of our actions are reflected as memories, suffering distortion and neglect with the decay of years. All that remains is a shimmering emptiness in place of that which we once cherished. Cave quid dicis, quando et cui.

Horseshit. Like I say. Horseshit.

I curse silently to myself and hit the wall. Then I say the words I am imagining and hit the wall again, this time harder than the first. Then I say the words once more and restrain myself, stopping only to gaze at the stranger's face that looks back at me from the clear, running patch in the steamed mirror.

She has left some of her things around the room, as a playful reminder that she may return, although exactly when or if, I do not have the ability to predict. Her subtle scent plays around my mind as it drifts from the small plastic bottles and colourful cellophane packets, neither of which I can bear to discard.

She is playing with me and I know it. The game is all part of the same thing; she plays with me and I know it, and she knows that I know it and she knows that I will do nothing about it. The game is playing me.

She wants me. She wants me not. She wants me. She wants me not. She wants me. She wants me not. She wants me. She wants me not. She wants me. She wants me not. She wants me. She wants me not. She wants me. She wants me not.

She returns to her old loves sometimes and leaves me waiting for the phone to ring. But it never rings when I expect or want it. She leaves me waiting in my dark rooms, expecting the metallic clang of the

bell through the early morning darkness as the beckoning call to find her, summoning me from whatever it is that I am doing.

Or not doing.

If I were even half a man I would ignore it. But I never ignore it. I cannot afford to ignore it. I cannot even will myself to ignore it.

I am soft. I cannot stand up to her because I cannot stand up to the prospect of losing her. If I were even half a man I would let her know all of this. If I were even half the man I would like to be then I wouldn't be the man she wanted.

And this is the story of my existence; always staring in the same steamed mirrors, always wishing for the sound of her voice, always begging myself not to leave her.

But do I love her? Jesus Christ, I do. Jesus Christ, I do. Jesus Christ, I do. Jesus Christ, I do.


This life is a miserable existence.

But so exciting.

The clock counts out the seconds. In the darkness of the cold room my anger subsides. It even gives way beyond the miserable self-pity I find refuge in so often. This time, it is the worst kind of despair, the sort without object or intent.

I try to imagine her beside me. Printed and pressed. Thin and transparent. Cold. Impressions. Hard. A gloss reflecting the dull glow of the streetlamp into the mucky, particulate air of the sleepless early morning.

Just waiting for the sound of her scant charity to get my attention.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Berne. Cologne. Verona. Cairo. Ugly rooms. Lonely lives. Nowhere.
She is the sort of person that would think of her life as that to be committed to the halls of paper and knowledge, broadcast to the few as a moving and uplifting public ceremony to the great celebration of the Unbreakable Spirit of Woman, perpetuated as Great Art and dissipated over the centuries.

I know not of what I speak. 'They know not what they do.' After the flashing lights, shocks and broken bones, all I know are feelings of disgust and empty sympathy for her, mingled with those of the generic; sorrow and humiliation. This old body, this ancient body of mine is old and its soul is so tired. I have always been ready to let go, but not yet, no not yet. I still have something left to do, the final radical act of unmitigated mercy.

I have to kill her.

Indignity and squalor are all we know. We have lived like rats, spent long nights like pigs, eaten like wolves and fucked like dogs. Dirt followeth dirt and gloom seeketh misery.

I love her worse than I love myself.


We hit the Autobahn into Cologne at about 190 kilometres an hour. The heavy Porsche cruised across the tarmac, gluing itself into the bends, embracing the ribbon of road as it swung through the empty lands of Westfalen. Inside the car, we sat silent.

'Where did you hide the diamonds?' she asked, 'Did you do it properly? I'm not having another fuck-up like last time.' I did not face her. She is incandescent.

'They are well hidden I assure you. I have the deposit key in my pocket here. I think it's about time you learned to trust me.'

'Fuck off.'

'I'm serious,' I said, 'I hate the way you don't trust me. You have no reason for it anymore.'

'Just fuck off.'

I sat in silence, watching the factories in the distance walk smoothly over the landscape. Their chimneys great erect monoliths to their poisoning and perverse existence. As we entered the outskirts of the city, the Rolling Stones were on the radio. I have just remembered that radio and that song.

The city extended its morose soft welcome far beyond us. The dearth of soft reality and its consumption of that soft which lay soft wasted soft around it stood as soft vindication for my soft tears.

Yes, don't bother to tell me, I know what I am, thank you.

We got to the First New Bank of Cologne about three or so and made our way to the inquiries desk where there sat a a fat German woman who knows nothing except how to answer foreigners.

She went up to her and streamed off a string of German words. I don't speak the language so don't expect me to tell you what she said.

The German cow took us to another German cow who told a German bastard to take us to the vaults where they kept the deposit boxes. A dirge. We were taken by a German bastard who wore a gun from his belt. Two further German bastards let us in and asked for the key. I could see from the corner of my eye her half expecting me to have lost it, but I remained calm and produced it. The first German bastard opened a small door in the wall, one of about four or five thousand, and pulled out a drawer from which there came a metal box. He gave it to us and let us open it in private on a small green baize covered table in the furthest corner.

We opened the lid and, to her shock and horror and to my anticipated sneering satisfaction, out dropped another key just like the


Threat of conviction. Gloom of reality. Fat faced bitch. Sailing boats on the river. Bubbles. Water filled sympathy. African drums. Black and white movies. Streetcars and desires. Heard so much before. Past creeps up behind you. Not really needed. Past could got out the fucking fucking window. Am I making you blush? Laying the very foundation of a pretty relationship.

Life used to be a multicoloured mixture, all tasting different from each other. All painted a band of happiness. Now, all colours gel to one shade of grey and a bland tastelessness that stinks, frankly.

You've been such a marvelous audience. It's all just the Queen's speech at three on Christmas Day. It's being near you in our bed when you are asleep and I talk to you, words I can't even hope to let you understand when you are well aware of what I am saying. When you're tired and cynical, sneering and irritating. I lie beside you, a million miles from you away in another world, another time, another reality.


The car flamed along the strip at two hundred and twenty kilometers an hour. (The horror I referred to earlier steps up several gears at this point) She was really angry. She wore that furious face.

'I just can't believe you're being so fucking stupid about it.', she snarled. I smile in a counterfeit happiness. I don't enjoy it but it makes me feel superior with that glazed look on my eyes. I feel more confident. Less scared of you.

'I've got to hold the advantage', I lied to her, bitterly. 'I couldn't trust you anymore.

She looked at me directly and said, 'You fucking little bastard. I hate you and I want to see you dead for this.'

Piss off, Celeste. These last words, even only as thoughts fill me with the thrill of a fearful new weapon. She is trying to be complicated but she isn't half as good at it as I can be. I only choose to do it less. She speeds the car up even more, getting angrier and angrier with me. She passes a string of Mercedes Benz motor cars filled with Germanic bastards and cows.

'You fucking little bastard, I hate you.'

'Hello?..Hello..Look, I'm hitting a rough spell right now, I can't produce the goods just yet but I'll deliver promptly before Friday. Strictly C.O.D you understand. Good. Yes. Yes. Uh-huh. I know exactly what I must do. Yes. And To Her as well. Good. I'll maybe speak to you from Munich. Ciao.'

What a pretentious bastard we can all be when we want it. We can all live in the fancy bricked house in Hampstead, if we really want to, can't we?

Well, well, well. We have struck that vein of courage and conviction now, haven't we? What are we?

We get to the airport after a while. She is still managing to smoulder with anger. She hasn't said much. We get to the baggage security lockers and search for number SA6583. We find it eventually. 'Right,' she says, 'Give it to me.' I casually produce the second key that we were so shocked/pleased to discover in the bank deposit box. I do not give it to her but open the door of the lock myself.

Inside the locker is a briefcase. I know that in the briefcase are some files, some large incriminating photographs, a small leather pouch with 173 flawless and uncut diamonds worth several million Swiss francs, and eighteen pounds of triggered and timed plastic explosive. I handcuff the case to my wrist, explain the situation to her and get back to the car. Already, her anger gives way to a grudging admiration. I can tell this by the way her eyes start to sparkle more as she looks at me.

I'll be watching you when you don't know it. I'm watching you watch me. I know your mind. I know your thought. I know your very brain patterns. I watch you watch me fabricate your life, extricate that which you hold dear and frame it, patching the gaps with imaginary victory and electric fantasies. I'm watching you, my love. I'm watching you too, my son. I'm watching you make a fool of yourself each day. Every dawn you construct another chasm for reality to bridge, another distance from the Human Race by your driest of designs. This is no accident, this is an attack. This is no passive alteration or distortion of reality. This is the last asylum. This is retreat. I know you and it is not unknown to me. I'll be watching you.

This is meltdown in mind, this is destitution, this is refuge - this is Celeste.

I have loved her too.

Reality check. Her face stares at me from the pages of the glossy magazine. Her face betraying her soul, her posturing, naked body betraying her face. The picture says 'I am wonderful. Love me. I promise something marvelous will happen.'

Back in my horrid mind again. Life becomes easy and simple to bear. There is nothing I cannot withstand in this cavern that I have created. I can challenge reality with my imaginary strength. I am fused to it and I welcome you to my strange interior, the dark wet sewer that feeds and sucks off the losses and deprivations that my poor and torn love has to suffer. 'Don't cry about it,' says Celeste, 'It doesn't really matter to us, does it? So long as we're together, it doesn't matter. Shall we drink to that?'

Yes, let's drink to that and everything else. Let's drink to the fall of Gods and Governments and the fall of all mankind. Then let's drink to the people in starving countries and wealthy businessmen. Let's drink to my filthy stinking conscience that will not leave me alone. Yes, Celeste, let's drink to it all, you bitch. Let's drink to my suppressed and unique vision of love. 'You always take things so heavy,' says Celeste, disapprovingly. 'Why not relax and let life do all the work. Enjoy yourself.'

Enjoy it. Sure, we'll enjoy ourselves alright. We'll make very sure we enjoy ourselves. While half the world can satisfy itself in the fact that it is starving the other half to death we can all live fast and die young. Celeste, you don't know life. Life, as I keep telling you, is a complicated mixture of simple component parts; love, death, greed, hunger and contentment. Life is the great leveler. Long live the leveler. A complex mixture of some of the most banal - even mandatory - elements that exist for your utilisation. Some take life by the throat, some let it walk all over them. Some let it dig the grave and flower the sepulchre, while others let their lives do all the living for them. I am not like this. I am not setting out a great dictum here. I am no didact. This is no great thought, no big feeling. This cannot be my mandate for I cannot commit us to paper alone. 'You couldn't commit yourself to anything,' says Celeste. 'You're soft. Really soft.'

Soft. Thank you and goodnight, Celeste. Let us return to the real world for a few moments.

It will not let me return. I cannot claw back my heritage anymore. This life is getting too difficult. Thank God I'm an asshole.

The bracelet is getting sore on my wrist. The metal digs into my skin as the car takes us into the Munich environs. Not much of an environ. A resentful town, this is. City, town. Differences?

(Soft. Hard. Softer. Harder. Softest. Hardest. Soft. Hard.)


The Porsche is doing 210 again. 'You bastard.' she hurls at me. A pause. 'Light me a fucking cigarette.' I light the cigarette and give it to her, allowing her the pleasure of promptly grabbing it from me. I love it when I annoy us.

It comes as a great comfort to know that I carry, attached to my body, pounds and pounds of effective explosive. A perfect and limitless credit card.

We are off the Autobahn at last. Descending down through layers of progressively thinner roads we enter a dirty little place. We pass the apartment and screech to a halt. We ascend the stairs and enter the undecorated old flat. There is a bare table and chair in its peeling, single room. Behind the table, on the chair, sits a man. A man who has been sitting there for a very, very long time indeed.

Talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk is all we do. It's all just talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk. True, that's all it was, just idle and useless talk. Now, in the vague silence of senility we cannot even murmur words to each other that are not a rank caricature of our past venom.

Life to death to sex to power. We're not as young as we used to be, Celeste. Your mind is wandering, your figure sagging. Don't lets wallow in our lost landscapes of life. Let's build on the ground we have conquered.

'Tomorrow is always waiting for us. We act upon the present. It's no good whining about the good old days nor is it worth your while always hoping that the future holds a brighter tomorrow. It is now, here and today that matter. So, I cannot agree with your point of view that by preserving the past, the future is secured. By preserving the past we never escape from our mistakes. We will never learn anything.'

Never learn anything? Ha!

bullSHIT. bullSHIT. bullSHIT.

'Spill them.'

You just wouldn't want to defy this man's tone of voice. I obediently let the delicately glistening stones drop over the tabletop. He gazes at them in rapt dejection. He tiredly and slowly takes off his spectacles and opens a file he has lying on the floor.

I watch Celeste who is nervously watching this man. We have become aware that there are three heavies standing against the wall behind us at the door.

'How much?'

'Seven and a half million.' she says.


'Naturally - Swiss. It was agreed.'

'Naturally...' He pauses again and sighs. 'Seven and one half million Swiss francs.' He repeats himself drily, tiredly. 'Well...' He looks at the file slowly, turning the pages with consummate care. His glasses are taped. The heavies' presence is weighing heavily on my mind. What if they choose to hold me helpless while they force me to watch them beat Celeste...or worse? Celeste isn't worried. Nor nervous anymore. I feel I can hide behind her bizarre and incongruous mask of confidence.

'Seven and....one half..' He looks straight up at me.

'Are you sure you're fucking serious?' I don't know what to say.

I turned soft.

Too old for numbers, maybe. A brightened new confidence trick and a dawning morning. I was being happy, or at least, getting better at it. To be glad for the want of purest joys. Glad I exist, glad I am not alone and glad of my lost love. I slowly turn my head and face that old empty chair that I would like to be filled with that dream. A silly dream that I have lived for my life, a dream that has become my reason for existing on this Earth.

My life with that fuck-witch of no consequence.

We were glad to escape that little room. The man gave us a few sighs and so on then wrote out a cheque for Celeste to cover our expenses. He gave me the seven and a half million in Swiss francs. It was in a black suitcase with the documents for the deposited account sitting expectant in a large building in Zurich. (I would have asked for Bearer Bonds but I was shushed into acquiescence by me better conscience) We ran down the stairs and leapt into the car. The tyres screeched as we shot from the room, the building, Munich, Germany and out of the world, landing somewhere soft and deep, safe within the blackest womb-garden.

My life is crumbling. Like my body. I share with you a fantastic secret.

I have been dead for centuries.

Celeste comes to me. Naked nude and bare Celeste comes to me that night. As rich people do, we make love on the rug in front of that huge and wild carpet in front of the fire. She cries out loud, wildly tearing at my skin with her nails.

We have Berlioz, 'The Damnation of Faust' in the background, white wine chilling peacefully in a bucket with two glasses standing watchfully over it. Fresh peaches to eat. A momentous and sudden transmutation from chemical, sexual creature to a self-imposed refinement we call civilisation. Kings of matter, Lords of the polymorphous. This is what I call the saddest kind of solitude. The emptiest, most desolate kind of loneliness. One that is cold, dead, bare and loveless. As I wetly enter Celeste for the fifth time that night I wish that she were with me now.

I would give everything to be anything but that which I am. I would give anything to be anywhere but where I am now. I would give nothing to be what I ought to be.

I talk to her at night, if I can be bothered. If I have finished with my physical demands (which are hardly ever fulfilled) and with my neurotic contempt of her and all she ever will be, then we'll talk. Mainly about me. I diagnose myself and she always agrees with me. Celeste, Celeste..I love you so dearly but sometimes I may as well just talk to myself.

Together we have learned the fuller meaning of the Christ. We have discovered God and the marvelous way in which He works His daily miracles. We discuss the marvelous guidance the Lord can bring. We can afford to discuss ridiculous principles and talk of Stupid Things.

God is Power and Power is Love, so beckons the clarion bell, sounding over the iron fields. Throughout the history of our wars and fighting, He has fought on every side for every cause in every situation. Don't talk to me of your prejudice.

As I stare into your eyes I find myself wondering if this 'you', this spontaneous chemical reaction within you is THE OBJECT OF MY DESIRE. I find it a harsh and punitive state of affairs, an uncivilised alteration to the bloody burden called 'organisation'. I find it a heavy myth to sustain but with every second of my life do I vindicate it. I am preserving it and perpetuating that myth, that which embalms our scant relationship.

'I know, ' said Celeste, 'I know.'

How prescient can you get?

We lie on the bed and stare at the ceiling. We can hear the drunks outside singing the usual cacophonous dirge. Bottles clink. Voices are raised. Doors open and close. Music rumbles from behind muffled curtains and distant happiness becomes more distant than ever.

We then start to talk crap about love. I find my life starting to revolve around her less and less since that episode with the emeralds or sapphires.

Or were they rubies?

I don't know. Anyhow, we talk crap about love. I ask her to marry me. She says something sweet. Gloom of reality. Threat of abortion. I find myself together and alone. The rumbling music comes to a close and the voices dither into the gloom again.

Life is alone.

Life is an aesthetic seascape. A beautiful intrication like a conch or something. Something dead that once housed life. Beneath the colours and patterns lie only the barest traces of life. Long gone.

No. It's not. Life is staring at the pictures of you that I only collect in order to remind me of what we might have been had we ever met.

There comes a point in time - I'm not sure when - but there is that point when self-deception ends and unreality takes over. You stop playing the game only to find that....the game is playing you.

'I awoke one morning and found myself famous.'


Oh how it dealt me a cruel hand. A vague and indecisive hand. I'm getting sick of this game that I cannot control anymore. I am afraid of every cupboard in the house, every dark corner..in case she should step from within its darkened shroud to haunt me again.

I am far too old for this. Too old for the game and too old for numbers. The chair is empty. It has always been empty.

I have been alive and I am still alive. But yet, I find that I am my own ghost. I only survive so that a dead, non-existent fraction of me shall haunt the rest. I cannot see any way out of this.

Unmitigated mercy. Thought of doom. Threat of conviction. Murderous bitch. Murderous cow.

Boom of Reality. Sweat of Conviction.


It's midnight. She is in bed. I will stay on the sofa tonight. I am already tired of Paris. In the morning, no doubt, we will make love with a renewed vigour of enthusiasm and vitality. We will shower together and, for a time, all will be as I wish it to be. But I know that, sooner or later, the truth will catch up with me.

She drives the car up to the front door of the apartment. I am already quite drunk from the party. 'Enjoy yourself?' she asks. I even think she means that sincerely. 'Of course.' I say. We run upstairs and open the door to my flat. Oh to be in England. Everything is quite suddenly alright again. We have become rich through gold, been famous at a dance and met a King. Quite enough for one day.

'So turns the wheel. So turns the life.'

Solomon had all the wisdom anyone would ever have needed. In the background I hear the opening bars to the movement again. The paper rustles in my hand. Once again her face stares at me from the pages of the glossy magazine. Her face betraying her soul, her naked body betraying her face. Her name is carved above the series of pictures. It may or may not be her real name. All I know is that it is the name by which I have always known her.


They know not what they do.


We return to Shaufheiner's bistro, restaurant, diner thing, near the main line to Berlin. She still corrected the waiters, who are still a slovenly lot anyway. They still bring schnapps instead of coffee, brandy instead of beer...but in spite of this, we no longer infuriate anyone as we are now famous celebrities.

The Radja lets us in for nothing. We eat, dance and drink until we can do no more. Then the owner insists on paying our bill. In spite of our fame we still know all the old crowd and mix freely with them. We have altered everything. We are manifestations of invincible, indestructible and unconquerable resolve. Let's face it, it was bound to happen.

'What are we going to do today?' she asks as she yawns and luxuriantly stretches in the bed. 'I don't really know.' I answer. 'Aren't the world's press coming to pester us again?' 'I shouldn't think so - that was yesterday. They won't come back..after all, the show is about over.'

You have a good point there, Celeste, you know; 'The show is over' is both profound and quite ridiculously true. This is where it all ends. With the world's press in a conference. Jesus! I wonder how old we'll live to be? Where will the landscapes lose us this time?

'And so, ' she says to the gathered House of Commons, just as the report was drawing to a close, 'And so, the matter comes to a close. This country's wealth is intact and our spirit has not wavered, even under the greatest pressure. We have vanquished and have triumphed over their inferiority...'

(Two strangers doze off in the distance. A mile away a cat purrs in front of a soothing fire.)

'...those who sought to plunder, corrupt and deprave these islands have been destroyed, their legions laid to waste.'

(One life peer watching the proceedings on the television squirms in embarrassment at this. Two people on the opposition front bench look at each other and roll their eyes.)

'...we have won the strongest moral victory over the considered forces of corruption. The England dear to us has been preserved, the England that lives and rests while the rest of the planet fights and exists in that turmoil we can only imagine. This sad little island of melancholia, living that deep, deep and dreamless sleep, mimicking a nation, perpetuating that lie within which we are now gathered, in that place where men are men and everyone expects that everyone else will do their duty. Oh to be in England in the summer with my love. Hoist the flag and raise your glass. Let's drink to this endless never of England. England, where no one starves and where no one is made to kneel to another. This England, this paradise is all we will ever know. God bless you England. As long as the flowers shall sweep in the wind over Flanders, over the Somme, over Ypres, so shall the sun never set on the brave flag that colours the sky over this land of our hearts. Bring me my bow of burning gold. Bring me my arrows of desire. Outside this land, nothing lasts. Now go to your homes, to your families and kin and live in peace. Live in hope and heart with the pride of the though that 'I managed to keep England alive'. Be proud. No one else will be. God bless England and God save the King.'

(The cat sleeps. The peer sleeps. The opposition rests.)

It was a lazy night that night. Full of sad eyes and sad staring. We were the only people on the Earth that could see through it all. We were the only ones gifted by God to see the huge and fabricated lie summoned around us. The supreme jest, the greatest conspiracy. For a while we talked theotechnics. We wondered why it was allowed to happen. We wondered why the Lord wanted us to see through it all. Why were we the chosen ones, from all of His creation, allowed to see the futility of life, to see that His greatest gift turns out to be His most venomous curse. We enjoy talking like highbrows.

It was at about this time that we started to grow old.

She said something sweet. It was while we were in the threat of our convictions, the gloomy dawn of soft reality that softly lets us into the soft secret that falls on the soft and the unsoft yes i know what i am thank you you little bitch you get out of me get out bitch get out of me.

Ah, Celeste.

How soft it is lying in bed with you, how warm our bodies, how smooth our skin, how gentle our breath, how secure we feel. It is when you sleep that I love you the most, that I desire you back again. When the day's vitriolic sentiment is dry and dead. How you can frighten me. How you can always frighten me. I can hear the gentle rain playing on the window pane. I cannot hurt you, I cannot hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you. I only wanted us to be happy. Why do you always make things fucking complicated? Grow up for the love of sweet Jesus Christ Almighty, grow up and let's live free. Grow up. I have to.

She turns slowly to me and smiles. An ancient death-smile. I breath my first, you breathe your last. It is logical. As one comes, another goes. You say something sweet. I'm watching you and you cannot know it. I try to touch you, and my hand passes through you.

Life as I knew it drew to a boring close that magnificent day in July 1974 in Berne, Cologne or wherever. No bombs and no slaughter. Peace as if we never knew it. We were young and life was an exciting game to embark upon. A great future unfolded like a magic carpet, beckoning and encouraging us to shake off our ludicrous constraints of the life that we led. We became magical that day. Spirits, almost. Well, you did anyway.

We saw those wild thoroughbred horses that day. We wished that we could ride them over the hills and into the next valley. We wished that we could gallop off on those powerful beasts into the middle of the setting sun. We wished that we could escape and thrill ourselves.

How little we knew Celeste, how little we knew.


I remember that day. It all started that magnificent day in Berne. That huge and important and safe day in Berne when you kissed me and said something sweet.

I know, I know. She cannot stand me being near her, it makes her seem frail and womanly. She hates my love, though she thrives on it. 'You're soft, really soft.'

So what did we do? Did we conquer the world? Did we bring the true religion to the masses? Did we enlighten the planet?

What could we contribute as mortals?

That is your advantage over me, Celeste. Flesh and blood, spirit and air. It is so logical and true.

She cannot stand me. When we met in Cologne that cold spring morning her eyes wrote despisedness on my heart. That desperate night she held my hand with a claw and kissed me with a beak. That was when I knew it had to end.

Her sad grey watery eyes still gaze at me from across the room from the old, old chair that holds her old, old body. Celeste stirs slowly in her chair, turning her eyes, her watery, sad grey eyes to me. The skin on her neck twists.


And then she speaks to me for the first time in three hundred long, dead years.


And this is what she says.