gbsteve (gbsteve) wrote,

Memory is currency in the Palace of Drugs

We were sitting there in Barcelona with our backs against the sunny wall of the zoo, watching the signoras traipse to the shops and back in the heat of the morning sun. And we were laughing. It was something to do with a seagull and the noise that a walrus makes when surprised. I guess you had to be there. So I turned to Geoff and he seemed to have wandered off somewhere. And he still had that thing of mine.

Later, in Tirana, I managed to get a sixth from a guy I know who works for the Ministry of Culture. He had a handheld device, partly made of bone, which he jabbed into my armpit. He said the drug came over the mountains on asses, at which point I had a brief but bizarre vision of a naked woman on a white horse sweeping down the main street. She was standing on the its back like a circus performer with a big plummed headress billowing out in the wind. Holding the reins in one hand she ... but then it was gone. I was going to ask the man about Geoff but he'd already turned his back and was disappearing back inside the Ministry.

And there was Geoff again, his face damp with sweat as we lugged our backpacks from the train. The Swiss policeman eyed us suspiciously but we had the correct paperwork and so were free to wander the streets of Zurich. Geoff was adamant that the Cabaret Voltaire could still be found in the backstreets somewhere but the journey had tired me out so I sat down at the nearest bar and ordered a beer. He came back some hours later to report that dAdA was now sponsored by Swatch.

I looked at my watch. The face grinned back at me and said, "Memory is currency in the Palace of Drugs." I paid up and that's the last thing I remember.

The Turk sat back into the shadows and stroked his chin and considered my offering. The souk was cooler now and the hustle and bustle of the day was pretty much over. Languidly he motioned to the side and another wirier man came and took me by the hand. He lead me into the room and pushed me down onto a matress. There was another man in the room. He looked dirty and ill. He lay on his side on another mattress. One of his eyes was closed but the other was open. He looked at me. I looked back. Maybe he had my thing. The device stood on a trolley next to him.

The thin man wheeled the device over and hooked me up. The membrane felt cold on my eyeball and I felt the momentary disorientation. Perhaps one never forgot this part. Perhaps.

The next day I found a rough twist of paper in my hand. It was a flyer for an all-nighter at the Dublin Castle. I couldn't work out what that was. I untwisted the paper. In the corners a brown sand had collected. I poured this out into my hand and dribbled some saliva on to it. It foamed momentarily, wild notions in the vapours spun through my mind. Madrid, patatas bravas, a cold night in Helsinki, vodka and dancing. Smoke, shoes - green ones with a star. And coloured ribbons streaming round a tree as children screamed. There was no Geoff, or perhaps I was Geoff. In any case, I don't know how but I had memories. I had something else to trade.

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