Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wish You Were Here (1.3)

bar car blues

Who lost who during that fateful trip from Paris to Moscow?  A handful of sleepless nights aboard a train clacking from one old city to another.  A handful of groggy mornings in the bar car, coffee my only breakfast.  I watched for him there, as always, in the one place I knew he'd turn up, the one place he couldn't resist.  The place where addictions could be fed, not only for alcohol, but for smoke, drugs, and women as well.
Jesus.  I swatted them away like flies during those early hours.  The type guys like him went for: a little insecure, a little dumb, a little needy.  Fuelled by alcohol's fire, these women were looking for their ticket to a life they felt they always deserved.  Looking for a guy with money.  And lots of it.  Even in my worst suit I couldn't keep them away.  Unshowered and unshaven for four days, these women still flocked.  Money: the answer to all problems.  They could smell it, and they swarmed, a real infestation.
Then I saw him.
His frame, his face, his style.  Dressed to stand out.  In a crowd of black, only he would think to step out in a neatly pressed, cream linen suit.  At two in the morning, the peak hour of desperation for these women, there he was, immaculate, new.
I observed him for a couple minutes to verify my mark.  He was a conductor leading a symphony.  A diabolical combination of bestial smiles and graceful movements.  An intoxicating mix of feral attraction and supernatural presence.  Fiendishly, unreasonably, attractive with his unearthly tan painted on unblemished flesh.  His too-perfect hair and immaculate teeth.  Those eyes, ghastly grey and empty.  From where I was sitting, it was all so abhorrent.
I switched my small camcorder on, to record what I don't know, and those terrible eyes instantly turned my way, curdling the contents of my stomach.  The blood in my veins grew hotter and hotter, and my hands began shaking so violently my camera clattered to the table.  It was as though my brain's operating system froze, and the whole machine needed to be restarted.
My mind was still trying to register what happened when I lost him in a quick crowd of hangers-on.  In a second, I was on my feet with the hot of my coffee dumped in my lap, rushing forward, stumbling.  Through the crowd, the glint of gold from a watch.  An exchange of money for drink.  A glass of amber liquid raised in toast.  I forced myself through a bevy of bimbos only to discover the drink being raised was not raised by him, but by another man.
And Lagan was gone.
A frantic racing down darkened corridors ensued.  A trying of random doors, a throwing open of others.  Flannel pyjamas and the pasty moonlit flesh of startled tourists met my eyes at every turn.  I was breathing heavy, near collapse.  Finally, subdued by security, I was confined to the infirmary for the remainder of the trip.

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