We sat under the wide shade of a broad tree, looking down the hill into the town below. The longer you stared down at the buildings and streets below, arranged haphazardly and all different colours like a diseased mouth, the more movement you saw from people… cars. Everything remained still and peaceful until you fixed on a point and watched everyone rushing around seemingly at random like disturbed ants.
She reclined next to me, bug-eye shades obscuring most of her face, idly picking at a seething spot on the end of her chin. In her armpit she cradled the bottle that we shared, whilst the air around us hung heavy with the most recent smoke. Flags fluttered, trees swayed, the town buzzed and hummed with nervous energy but inside our chemical bubble everything was still and silent and warm.
Crap ideas are currency in this town, she said to me. Crap feelings, crap emotions, crap art. Everything is designed around rubbish… not even negativity, just plain…crap. Waving a hand vaguely in front of her, as though shooing a dribbling child from an immaculate wedding dress, she continued; …just crap. What’s that monstrosity of a sculpture in the middle of the town? Crap. What feelings does it engender? Anger and hatred. Who gets it? All of us.
I raised an eyebrow and leaned over. The spot picking stopped and the bug eyes spun to face me. I said; You’re just a born again hooligan, only to be a Queen again.
She spat on the floor between her legs and passed me the warm bottle. I wouldn’t rule over this. I wouldn’t want future generations to remember my reign and remember me being responsible for all of this.
I laughed. For someone who loves chaos and disorder I’m surprised. What part of this don’t you admire…? The senseless wandering… the public art thrown together like a hurricane through a scrapyard… the duality of the insurance salesman who wants to protect you Monday to Friday and then beat the shit out of you on a Saturday night…
She took a deep breath and put the shades on the top of her head. You really want to know who I admire? I actually saw one the other day…
…Priests? Painters? The morbidly obese?
No, she snapped. And don’t interrupt me mid-flow. No, I’m talking about trainspotters.
Silence. I took a sip of warm, flat sparkling wine and waited until she realized I was looking at her.
I’m serious. I saw one the other day at the station. Just a dude… no anoraks or beards or any of that cliched shit. He wasn’t old and he didn’t smell like the inside of a packet of peanuts or a cut of old meat. He was just a normal dude, a normal clean guy… writing down numbers… train numbers. She counted out on her fingers. Numbers, models, times…
…and this is admirable, how?
Because, she began, they are making sense of *their* chaotic Universe in *their* own way. It’s so simple. Thousands of trains going here and there, spitting in two and collecting others, changing lines and speeding to the far corners of the country, breaking down and being replaced. And yet, for them, it’s all about the numbers, a pen and a notebook. Imagine being able to control any aspect of the world, no matter how complex or simple, with just a pen, a notebook and a few numbers.
I handed the bottle back to her. So all this time I’ve had you wrong? You want to control the Universe?
No, she said softly, as the glasses came back down onto the bridge of her nose. I don’t *want* to control anything. I just want to know that I can.