hypnogeographies [ 6 ] [ lullaby ]

He was sitting next to the gas stove in the corner of the kitchen of the flat in Womerah Lane, with guitar, writing a song. Even though he looked nothing like the wizened old rhubarb—pencil-line moustache, black hat, quizzical eyes—of the photographs, I recognised him instantly. Nor was his voice, when he sang, that of the antediluvian reptilian croaker familiar from the recordings. Still, I didn’t say anything, just asked him how it was going? He showed me what he was working on: there were lines of lyrics and then cloudy spaces in which the words had not yet appeared. I considered telling him about the dream gadget I invented, the Emmental Effecter, that makes the right ones come; but then thought better of it. Who was I to advise the Master? Anyway, he said, the words would come, it was just a matter of making the place ready for ’em. My sons were over by the door, each also with a guitar in hand, singing sweetly, in harmony, like junior bards: a nursery rhyme they’d written themselves. They put up their instruments and said they were going to the studio to work on it some more. Trepidation: it was the dark of the Darlo night outside, they were just boys, would they be alright? Of course we’ll be alright, Daaaaaad, they drawled in affectionate derision, and left. He also put up his guitar and went out into the hallway: a tall, elegant young man who carried himself in the full knowledge of his isolate splendour. Something about him reminded me of a Scottish friend, from Glasgow, who also moves in the consciousness of his particular difference from the rest of us. It isn’t arrogance, it isn’t pride or scorn, just a sombre recognition of the code immortals must live by. Now he was joined by his girlfriend, tall, elegant, lissom as he was. They stood in the bathroom door, turned away from me, and bared their backs to show me their tattoos. I don’t recall ever having seen 3D tattoos before, though I have read of them in books. Samuel R. Delany springs to mind. His was a red cockerel rampant on a dunghill below a halo of stars, like a barnyard version of the logo of Paramount Films; hers, the letters of her own name—R A C H—inside another starry marquee. Somehow, standing side by side together like that, they made their tattoos merge into one image: the Chanticleer of the Boulevards with his Hen. Trailing ambiguous clouds of noblesse oblige, they sashayed back down the hall, through the kitchen, along the cat walk and out into the clamorous night. And then we found ourselves waiting at a bus stop, stranded under yellow neons on Parramatta Road, Petersham. I thought I should be calling a cab so that these immortals might return to their Olympus; or else a rainbow. He said: I like to stay a night or two sometimes with anonymous friends; I like it even more when they show discretion. I said I had to go and see where my sons were at. He said he was sure they would be fine and to send along a copy of the lullaby when they finished recording it. And then we parted in the yellow gloom outside the Marco Polo Motel. Just before I woke I saw words begin to form in the empty spaces he had left for them: Well now what’s the use in dreamin’ / You got better things to do / Dreams never did work for me anyway / Even when they did come true . . .


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