120 mini-synopses of 120 mini-chapters in The Imagination Thief

 

The Imagination Thief by Rohan Quine is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people’s imaginations and memories. It’s about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.

Buy The Imagination Thief in paperback or ebook format.

 

(These 120 little mini-chapters are ever so short, nibbly and snackable…)
 

I.  GHOST TOWN ARRIVAL: SPOTLIGHT WITH ALAIA

 

1.  A funny turn at the office

At his New York law firm JAYMI PEEK feels sudden disgust at the stale corporate-world trivialities around him, then (after a chemically sweetened coffee) is overwhelmed by light-headedness and visionary perceptions. This leads into a transcendent feeling of clarity and empowerment, which he resolves to use to achieve a “voltage and revenge” whose nature is unclear as yet.

2.  The hunt for what my eyes can do

When he looks into the mirrored façade of the building, his visionary perceptions crest higher, with the realisation of some enormous increased power in him; he recalls the name of an entertainment industry mogul named MARC ALBRIGHT, whom he recently read about in detail, and sets off to find him.

3.  So now I’m on a mission

Following his newfound instinct, he homes in on Marc’s office in the Rockefeller Center, from which Marc runs the General Network. Gate-keepers melt aside, until Jaymi finds himself in a lobby on one of the topmost floors, aware that Marc is in his office just the other side of a certain corridor wall.

4.  Sneak peek into a mogul’s mind

As tuned in to by Jaymi, Marc is buzzed by his lobby receptionist and told there is a visitor he will want to see; waiting for this visitor to enter, Marc sits staring out of his window across Manhattan, contemplating his global media empire.

5.  How to slap a mogul around

Jaymi surprises himself as well as Marc, when he whirls Marc on a hypnotic journey around Marc’s imagination. Then Jaymi makes an outrageous proposal for a live, prime-time, one-hour broadcast next month, after international publicity, in which exactly this kind of mesmerism will be served up to a global audience through of a close-up of Jaymi’s face in real time, staring into the camera lens, to the live soundtrack of Jaymi’s friend ALAIA DANIELLE doing the kind of powerful and beautiful wails and swoops that have started to earn her a cult following in New York. Every viewer will be hypnotised by it differently, according to their own imaginative landscapes. Jaymi appeals to the tycoon’s profit motive, but also presents this project as furthering man’s self-knowledge and evolution. Marc says yes.

6.  My absent default personality

Jaymi arranges to visit Alaia. While on the subway he analyses the basic parameters of his new powers, with fear and excitement, and realises that he has lost something of his natural instinct for how to behave and speak as himself in his own default personality.

7.  Telling Alaia what’s hard to believe

Jaymi tells Alaia the amazing news of his powers and the broadcast, and asks her to look at him…

8.  The statue of black sugar

As proof and demonstration, he whirls them both through a couple of her own private memories and an intimate fantasy of hers.

9.  Alaia gets excited

In contrast with that kind of active and forcible hypnotism, Jaymi explains that if he’s with somebody or knows their identity and appearance, then he can also tune in passively to them, seeing inside much of their mind, imagination, motives and fantasies without their knowing he is doing so. Recovering, an amazed Alaia consents to collaborate with him on this live broadcast.

10.  Angles of glamour

Jaymi and Alaia meet the General Network’s V.P. of Live Events, JASON CARAX, whom Marc has anointed as executive producer of the project. Jaymi has a brief cautious tune-in to him and is tickled by the smoothness of operations on view there. The broadcast is to be recorded at an Asbury Park sound-stage.

11.  Lunch with a shark

By threatening to kill the broadcast off, Jason blackmails Jaymi into agreeing to use the Asbury Park trip for a secret, second purpose: he must pick four unknown townspeople; spy into their minds and imaginations; and then project this material into camera using the kind of projection he used for the broadcast, thereby recording/thieving it. This imaginative stuff, once digitised, will be used in a piece of artificial imagination software being developed by a big commercial client firm as a new interactive corporate logo or spokesfigure (a “spokes-sheep”, as it happens)—a use of his gifts that Jaymi finds tacky. Jaymi is not to mention this to anyone, including Alaia and Marc.

12.  Relentless wakefulness in the belfry

The day before the broadcast, now named Sound & Vision, Marc alarms Jaymi by telling him that a second big broadcast event has already been set up for next Thursday night.

13.  The silver van to the ghost town

EVELYN CARMELLO picks up Jaymi and Alaia in her van, to drive them to the extremely run-down seaside resort of Asbury Park. The high-end General Network sound-stage facility there, inside what looks like a disused hotel named the Metropolitan, is where they will stay until the second broadcast, having been instructed by Marc to remain indoors to prevent Jaymi being recognised and the building being mobbed.

14.  The smashed violin

In the van Jaymi tunes in briefly to Alaia, catching her apprehension at this big live performance and then her determination to nail it, before he sinks into ominous half-asleep memories and apprehensions.

15.  Evelyn’s tour of the ghost town

Evelyn drives them around Asbury Park, which she herself has much affection for, having grown up there; and they enter the Metropolitan.

16.  Ready for our close-up

Evelyn introduces Jaymi and Alaia to the facility’s broadcast engineer, RIK CHAMBERS, who is also her boyfriend. Jaymi and Alaia settle into their adjacent rooms; then soon the four of them are in the studio. Communicating with a playout team in New York, Rik positions Jaymi and Alaia in front of some high-tech audio-visual equipment, prepares them and psychs them up into calm and focus to go live on air.

17.  Sound & Vision

Technical wizardry combines with Alaia’s inspired wordless vocals and Jaymi’s most actively hypnotic gaze, to create an indescribably beautiful and powerful audio-visual explosion just as spectacular as Marc has promised the public, calculated to sweep each viewer along through an intense whirlwind tour of the most primal and highly-charged scenes at the core of his or her own private imagination.

 

II.  SUNDAY LATE: AFTERGLOW WITH ALAIA

 

18.  The warm dome of smile

Jaymi and Alaia return to earth and the studio, and speak with Marc on the phone about the success of the broadcast, which was watched by an estimated thirty million viewers in the U.S. alone.

19.  Flames, Lucan, Kev

Defying Jason’s instructions not to show their faces outside the Metropolitan, Jaymi and Alaia sneak out into town, where they meet the wired FLAMES ALLEYNE, the piggish KEV BANTON and their leader on these streets, LUCAN ABAYOMI. These all saw the broadcast this evening, but Jaymi establishes dominance over Lucan by hypnotic means, ensuring that Lucan and his gang will be discreet about Jaymi’s and Alaia’s presence here. Lucan suggests they both come along to a dive-bar named Downstairs.

20.  Paranoia by the wire-netting fence

Kev drives them in the gang’s Cadillac to pick up the grim-mannered DAMIAN WEST, who also saw the broadcast but will likewise follow Lucan’s lead in being discreet about their presence.

21.  Angel’s wings in the dive-bar

During the bonhomie at Downstairs, during which Jaymi keeps himself carefully in the shadows, the group is joined by ANGEL DEON, while Damian deals drugs from a pungent men’s room.

22.  No enchantment without ordeal

Jaymi tunes in to the transsexual Angel, taking a lurid and detailed tour of the darkness, poison and sensuality of his nature, and seeing his embattled upbringing here in Asbury Park, his past work as a street whore and then his marked rise in power as Lucan’s long-term partner.

23.  A declaration of war against Lucan

Without warning, a gruesome realistic wax model of Lucan’s head, with two daggers stuck deep into its forehead, is uncovered on the bar, put there by hands unknown. In view of Lucan’s gang-leadership and status in town, this is a major provocation and Lucan vows to hunt down whoever left it.

24.  On the sky, that face

Evelyn appears and spirits Jaymi and Alaia away to the nightclub Paradise, where KIM SOMERVILLE is a bartender visiting from London. Jaymi tunes in to Kim’s boyfriend, the club’s colourful host SHIGEM ADELE, who will soon be leaving town to live with Kim in London. In this tune-in Jaymi discovers Shigem’s rapturous recognition, while watching Sound & Vision earlier, of a vision of perfect beauty as projected and elicited by Jaymi, which Shigem has harboured throughout his life while always believing it to be privately his own alone. This establishes an enchanted unspoken bond between him and Jaymi.

25.  The figure in the crowd in the mirror

In the mirror behind the bar, Jaymi sees himself eerily as being somebody else, while on this side of the bar Evelyn, Kim and he talk.

26.  Shigem and I on the dance-floor

While Shigem is on the dance-floor, Jaymi completes his tune-in of him, seeing his bright childhood fantasy life, his challenging but sociable adolescence, and the strength and beauty in him.

27.  A devoted fan of Alaia and me

Evelyn arranges to take Jaymi, Alaia, Kim and Shigem to see her friend PIPPA VAIL. When the five of them pass Lucan’s crowd on the way, Lucan makes a self-decapitation gesture at them. This frightens Shigem, who assumes it is aimed at him; Lucan notices his fear and seems to construe it as guilt regarding the wax head. Finding himself and Angel a little apart from the others, Jaymi mischievously hypnotises Angel into the belief that Angel has known of Jaymi and Alaia for years and has been a fan of them throughout that time.

28.  Wet green eyes of Pippa in the take-away

The five of them run into Pippa. Among other things Jaymi notices her black silk gloves and the fact that she seems somehow emotionally damaged.

29.  Flight from Arverne

Pippa takes them to her place, high in a high-rise block. Jaymi notices that the table is laid for two, though no one else lives here. He tunes in to her, finding memories of her arrival here as a child with her parents, their death, and the loneliness and sadness of her depressive but whimsical personality. Kim looks troubled when he returns alone to the sitting room from down the hallway, but says nothing of why.

30.  The small black toothbrush

Kim, Shigem, Evelyn and Alaia leave Jaymi alone with Pippa. In the bathroom he notices two toothbrushes hanging by the basin. Seeing behind her tears the beautiful place she wishes she could go to, Jaymi suggests a picnic for the two of them and she agrees.


III.  MONDAY: ALAIA LEARNS MY SUBTERFUGE

 

 31.  We’ll all adore you

In the studio Rik tells Jaymi and Alaia that for variety this Thursday’s second big broadcast, now named Big Bang, will not be live but an amalgamation of three shorter non-broadcast recordings done over the next three evenings—tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday. They do some preparatory work for this.

32.  Evelyn picks imaginations to thieve

Evelyn and Jaymi discuss Jason’s secret imagination-thieving deal, and she selects Pippa, Shigem, Kim and Angel as targets. The fact that she chose these as the “balanced, family-rated” targets Jason asked her for suggests to Jaymi that she is no more keen on this project than he himself is.

33.  Theft one, and how to be ignored

Without Alaia’s knowing, Rik films Jaymi’s first secret projection of material he absorbed last night from Angel, Shigem and Pippa, which turns out to be rather an emotional process for Jaymi. He learns that Rik and Evelyn avoided watching his eyes for more than a moment at a time during Sound & Vision, so as to stay focused on the job of filming. Jaymi tells Alaia he is thinking of tuning in to a few people here, to re-learn the possibilities of normal human personality; of which “spying” she disapproves.

34.  Big Bang: song of death

Rik records Jaymi and Alaia in the first of the three official Big Bang recording sessions. It comprises darker material than Sound & Vision, mostly because Alaia takes the lead in their performance.

35.  Cheap champagne at Evelyn’s

At a celebratory gathering at Evelyn’s and Rik’s apartment, a slip of the tongue by Jaymi means that Evelyn is obliged to take Alaia aside to explain to her that the secret imagination-thieving is happening.

36.  Kim’s dead suburbia

While games are played with camcorders and the TV screen in the apartment, Jaymi tunes in to Kim, seeing a childhood that featured considerable solitude in bland suburbia.

37.  Flash of weasel eyes through the keyhole

Kim tells Jaymi that through the keyhole of a closed narrow door in Pippa’s hallway he saw a dim cubicle in which somebody resembling Angel’s identical twin sat naked, staring back at him with weaselly eyes as if in a trance, like some vegetable, while a smear of red stickiness sat on the door-handle.

38.  Kim’s amber days

Jaymi finishes his tune-in to Kim, seeing his halcyon days at college and afterwards in London.

39.  Your painted face alive and smiling

After talk of the curious arrival of the General Network facility in Asbury Park, Jaymi tunes in to Evelyn, seeing the raucous good times she had partying here in Asbury Park while growing up, then her gritty survival through working the streets with Angel, then her coming to work for the Metropolitan.

40.  Alaia gives me a grilling

Having had Jason’s imagination-thieving project confessed to her by Evelyn, the high-minded Alaia expresses her resentment at being kept in the dark about it, and her disapproval of this spying into private minds and thieving their intellectual property. Jaymi says Jason would otherwise have sabotaged the broadcast, and Evelyn implies that Alaia is stuck-up; but the discussion ends in hilarity.

41.  It’s only a shell

Tuned in to by Jaymi as they walk home, Kim’s and Shigem’s chitchat includes Kim mentioning that he told Jaymi this evening about having seen that mysterious figure at Pippa’s.

42.  The last music Kim heard before Shigem

Jaymi tunes in deeper to Kim, delving into his inner life while he used regularly to listen to music alone at top volume late at night in London during the period leading up to his first meeting Shigem.

43.  Malaysian chilli peppers

Jaymi continues to tune in to the pair of them until they get home and go to bed, as they mix the earnest with the ridiculous in the course of their characteristic just-newly-dating style of excitable chatter.

44.  The five times I hypnotised someone

With Alaia, Evelyn tells Jaymi that she hears Lucan is on the warpath against him because Jaymi’s use of a hypnotic gaze on him when they first met made him lose face in front of the rest of the gang. They all three decide to go to Downstairs now, to try to nip this in the bud. Mirth and exasperation flow when Alaia and Evelyn start lecturing Jaymi about the dangers of using his active hypnotic gaze in public.

45.  A declaration of war against Kev

At Downstairs Jaymi remains again in the shadows. Evelyn says Lucan is rumoured to be blaming Shigem for the head, and they discuss how they could help protect Shigem from this. Jaymi tells them about the figure Kim saw through Pippa’s keyhole. Jaymi tunes in briefly to Angel, who is dancing lewdly on the night-time street outside. Suddenly a second life-size wax head is discovered, depicting Kev with a dagger in each eye. Kev maliciously suggests to Lucan that the culprit was Angel, to whom Jaymi continues to tune in while Angel heads home to Lucan’s house in a state of exhaustion.

46.  Another furtive escape

Evelyn, Jaymi and Alaia slip away, discussing this second head and the real violence it may ignite. In the van Evelyn browbeats Jaymi into agreeing to the work-out involved in recording a second dose of new stolen imaginative material as soon as they get back to the Metropolitan.

47.  Pippa goes to greet a gentleman caller

As they drive past Pippa’s, Jaymi tunes in to her and takes in landscapes of great loneliness and depression, including a cruel self-delusion that a gentleman caller is coming up the stairs to see her.

48.  Does Lucan hate Shigem?

Jaymi realises that while tuning in to Pippa he forgot to look out for her narrow door. The three of them discuss whether or not this second wax head will end Lucan’s suspicion that Shigem planted the first head, and they discuss Lucan’s hometown loyalty and mixed feelings about Shigem.

49.  Theft two, and nattering about bikinis

Awoken at home, Rik makes a second unofficial recording of Jaymi projecting imaginative spoils absorbed from his targets—Kim, then Kim and Shigem together, then Angel, then Pippa. Afterwards Rik, dog-tired, is comically exasperated by the delay of Alaia’s and Evelyn’s chattering while he just wants to lock up the studio and return to the sleep that was interrupted for this recording.

50.  Unnerving things in Pippa’s bedroom

Before sleep, Jaymi tunes in to Pippa in her depressing, cluttered bedroom. Since the bedroom door is shut, he cannot see her hallway or that narrow door from her vantage point, so he casts about within her mind in search of anything coherent or illuminating … but in vain, as her churning half-sleep is yielding up no more than semi-dreamscapes of extreme spookiness, tending towards lunacy.


IV.  TUESDAY: ALAIA ACTS TOO HASTILY

 

51.  Evelyn’s fling with Flames

As Jaymi walks with Pippa to the picnic they have arranged, he notices Evelyn and Flames on the street, and in Evelyn’s memory Jaymi looks at the brief but elegiac fling she and Flames once had.

52.  Morning picnic with vodka and burning tyres

Jaymi and Pippa have a surreal and gently drunken lunchtime picnic on a miniature golf-course in one of the most wrecked areas of town, enjoying the whimsical side of each other’s character. He notices a tiny smear of blood-red stickiness on one of the mini-wheels of Laughing Cow cheese she has just picked up with those black silk gloves she always wears. He promises to lend her a DVD of Sound & Vision.

53.  The meaning of a spotlight

Jaymi and Alaia watch Sound & Vision, awed by it. He sees that his projections, aside from stirring up the audience’s internal magic, were a celebration of his own world view, whose meaning consisted mostly of his good luck in being the one enabled to express it. With Evelyn and Rik they then view the imaginative material recorded last night, which amazes Evelyn as she knows all the subjects well. Alaia confides worry to Jaymi that Lucan is mistreating Angel, which she can sense from the material.

54.  Big Bang: return of the giant ship

For the second of the three official shorter sessions for Big Bang, Alaia’s vocal music takes its lead from Jaymi’s projections, which present visuals of equal sublimity, centring on the reappearance of a magical giant ship from Sound & Vision.

55.  A sighting of the weasel

Kim calls Jaymi to say that late last night, from near Pippa’s high-rise, he saw her sitting on her balcony beside a smallish swarthy figure—surely the weasel-eyed Angel he saw in that cubicle.

56.  Lucan’s and Angel’s sumptuous fight

His curiosity piqued, Jaymi tunes straight in to Angel, wondering whether he will find himself on Pippa’s balcony or behind a keyhole, but instead finds he has chanced upon an extremely violent emotional and physical conflict between Angel and Lucan, in the midst of which Jaymi delves deeply into Angel’s mind and marvels at the decadent grandeur he sees living within the injury and poison there.

57.  How Kim met Shigem

Jaymi tells Alaia she was right to fear Lucan’s abuse of Angel. They visit Shigem, who is packing his life up for London. Shigem admits he has been stressed since Lucan’s decapitation gesture, especially in view of Lucan’s suspicions about Shigem’s culpability in planting the wax heads. Jaymi tunes in to Kim, observing the beauty and excitement of his and Shigem’s recent meeting and romance in London.

58.  How Shigem met Kim

They chat about the figure Kim may have seen on Pippa’s balcony and the creepiness of her apartment. Having just tuned in to Kim’s memory of his first meeting with Shigem, Jaymi now tunes in to Shigem while the conversation continues, to compare their different memories of the same time.

59.  Theft three, and Alaia lands Angel in the shit

For his third secret recording session Jaymi projects new material from Pippa, Angel, Kim, and Shigem. Upset by the abuse she sees Lucan inflict on Angel, Alaia leaves the studio without warning, phones Lucan and begs him to stop it, revealing to him her knowledge of a detail of his and Angel’s fight. When she returns to the studio and says she has done this, a horrified Evelyn explains that Lucan will now assume Angel gossiped about their private fight and will punish him even more. Wanting to stop this, they agree that the only way Lucan will believe it’s their spying rather than Angel’s gossip that’s to blame for Alaia knowing the detail about the fight is if they give Lucan a copy of the Angel footage showing this detail. So Rik burns some copies of the footage onto DVDs and Alaia leaves the studio with one of these.

60.  Rik’s and Evelyn’s genius at hang-outs

Jaymi enjoys a funny and good-natured hang-out at Evelyn’s and Rik’s flat upstairs.


V.  WEDNESDAY: I LEARN ALAIA’S SUBTERFUGE

 

61.  Alaia bites the bullet and calls Lucan

Alaia calls Lucan and says she will come to his door to give him a DVD proving she learned of his fight from Jaymi’s sight, not Angel. Lucan invites them to his party tonight. Jaymi notices that the disc Alaia is about to deliver to Lucan is one of those onto which all four targets’ material was copied, not one of those containing just the promised Angel material. Before he can work out why she took this disc from the studio, Evelyn puts him onto the phone with Marc and then asks him out for a walk.

62.  Pleasure to be you

As Jaymi and Evelyn walk, he doesn’t mention that wrong DVD. They meet Flames, and Jaymi tunes in to Flames’s consciousness of the sunny centred pleasure Evelyn takes in her own body and mind.

63.  I puzzle out Alaia’s subterfuge

Returning to the Metropolitan, they pass Lucan’s crowd and observe a crass attempt by Kev to pick up Pippa, which meets with general derision. Jaymi realises Alaia picked up that wrong DVD because she reckoned that if Lucan saw the full extent of the spying, then he’d react in some extreme or unpredictable way that would sabotage the whole imagination-thieving project.

64.  Big Bang: run to the sun

Alaia confirms she delivered the disc to Lucan. Then she and Jaymi record the third and final official session for Big Bang, for which he takes the lead, ending the project by conjuring up visions and sounds of indescribable grandeur and incomparable exuberance.

65.  Home in a nowhere town

Shigem tells Jaymi and Alaia that last night Lucan made another self-decapitation gesture at him, more aggressive than the first, which has left him terrified. Without mentioning the disc she delivered, Alaia says she hopes Lucan’s heat will be withdrawn from Shigem because she visited Lucan today and vouched for Shigem’s presence in Paradise on Sunday night at the hour the first head must have been left in Downstairs.

66.  Rain on corrugated iron

Lucan’s party is swinging and surprisingly relaxed. Jaymi tunes in to a dancing Angel and is pleased to find him blissed-out for once, adoring the music and luxuriating in Lucan’s unusual geniality, albeit aware that this won’t last.

67.  Overheard through the corn-chips

A lot more stoned than he intended, Jaymi finds himself tuning in spontaneously to Lucan and Angel while he eavesdrops on them, catching intense memories of their first meeting each other. In the course of this, Lucan mentions to Angel that Alaia “gave us the wrong disc”, indicating that he has seen the whole DVD and is assuming that Alaia hadn’t intended to give him more than just the Angel material.

68.  Movements through the wall

Telling Alaia some of this, Jaymi gives her a chance to admit something of her deliberation in giving Lucan too much material; but she confesses nothing, staying on at the party for a while after he leaves. Overhearing her return to the Metropolitan later, he faithfully refrains from tuning in to her, but is conscious of disjunction in the air and mistrust through the wall that separates their rooms.


VI.  THURSDAY: SECOND SPOTLIGHT WITH ALAIA


69.  Alaia fakes for two audiences at once

With Jaymi, Alaia answers an unexpected phone call from Lucan, during which Jaymi is aware of her simultaneously presenting the requisite differing pretences to Lucan and himself. After the call, Alaia tells Evelyn and Jaymi that what Lucan called to say was that the DVD has indeed now exonerated Angel.

70.  Coldness on the beach

On a walk on the beach with Evelyn and Jaymi, Alaia behaves coldly towards him, making him reflect on the odd undercurrents that seem to have arisen between him and her since they’ve been here. He tunes in to Evelyn, picking up first the bewitching song elicited within her by Sound & Vision (and her knowledge that this song was a lie), then other deeply enchanted places in her imagination.

71.  Alaia swirls in decreasing circles

Jaymi wanders to an island on a small lake. Alaia calls and confesses that Lucan’s message on the phone wasn’t just Angel’s exoneration: he also threatened to go public about the General Network’s spying into people, unless the company paid him off. She failed to relay this to Jaymi and Evelyn, because she thought that if she relayed it then Jason would simply buy Lucan’s silence and the spying project would stay secret, whereas if she kept quiet then Lucan would go public and the project would be sabotaged. She confesses to a childish resentment at the initial plan to keep her in the dark about the spying. She now fears, however, that her delay will be discovered and that Evelyn and Rik will think her duplicitous and weak. She runs through a neurotic set of possible outcomes. Saying he won’t tell, Jaymi conveys qualified forgiveness.

72.  The weasel at the window

Kim calls, saying that a moment ago he looked through binoculars at Pippa’s place and there did seem to be a figure behind her window, like the one he saw on her balcony with her… Meanwhile he and Shigem are about to turn their phones off and go sunbathing. Jaymi tunes straight in to Pippa, hoping she will be in her sitting room so that he can see through her eyes the figure in question; but she is in her bedroom, thinking of a man she often watches in another high-rise she can see, on whom she fixates to no effect.

73.  A naked Angel on the front path

Walking, Jaymi sees that on the front path of Damian’s house a third waxwork has been left—a life-size, full-body model of a naked, hermaphroditic Angel. Returning to the island, he realises this figure must have been what Kim has been glimpsing at Pippa’s during these last few days. This must mean that it was Pippa who also made those two wax heads, of Lucan and Kev. He is glad her mysterious weasel has turned out to be so innocent; but why would she be acting so provocatively towards Lucan and his gang?

74.  Golden on the beach for the last time

Jaymi tunes in to Kim and Shigem who are lying on the beach, and his attention hovers there throughout an idyllically romantic afternoon in the sun.

75.  Attitude on the phone

In a phone call where a certain impatience flows both ways, rumours of the third wax model are conveyed to Jaymi by Alaia. After this call, Jaymi realises there was not enough time, between Kim’s use of binoculars this afternoon and Jaymi’s own discovery of the wax Angel on Damian’s path, for this wax Angel to have been transported there from Pippa’s high-rise, so whatever Kim saw behind Pippa’s window must still be there; and Jaymi realises he is the only one in a position to know this.

76.  The pussy-cats lost in translation

Jaymi tunes in to Pippa and finds her hiding under her duvet from a life she hates. Seeing this pain makes him sorry for her; he no longer wishes to go snuffling around her mind, hunting for her mysterious hidden weasel. Instead, despite knowing he cannot do the requisite active hypnotic gaze at her because she cannot see him right now, he nevertheless tries projecting a piece of fun involving singing cats.

77.  Snatching the divine on the corner of the street

Jaymi tunes in to Kim, catching a moment of enchantment between him and Shigem.

78.  Theft four, and Alaia extricates herself

Jaymi projects new material from Angel, Pippa, Kim and Shigem, Pippa again, and Kim again. Evelyn says Lucan is starting to blame Shigem for that third provocative model. Since Kim’s weasel-spotting and the wax Angel have revealed that the wax-modeller was Pippa rather than Shigem, the easiest way to protect Shigem would be to tell Lucan this … but then Lucan might hurt Pippa. Evelyn suggests that since Lucan was persuaded by the Angel footage, they could now give him the footage of Shigem in the club at the time the head was left in Downstairs; but Alaia dissuades her from this, fearing Lucan would then reveal that he has already seen this Shigem footage, which would further reveal to Evelyn and Rik that the first disc Alaia gave Lucan was the wrong one. Evelyn says she doubts Shigem would snitch on Pippa to protect himself.

79.  High voltage for Angel

In his room Jaymi tunes in to Angel, delving deeper into the self-lacerating and obsessive qualities of his inhabitation of his own physicality.

80.  Who could ask for more?

Jaymi, Alaia, Evelyn and Rik watch Big Bang in the Metropolitan’s screening-room. It is sumptuous and slick. Afterwards Jaymi could almost believe he’d be content to die tomorrow, as Sound & Vision and Big Bang feel to him at this moment like the reason he was born.

81.  A farcical audition for Rik

Alaia and Jaymi enjoy a mirthful stoned hang-out at Evelyn’s and Rik’s place.

82.  The Supreme Ruler and her space-cat

They all go to Paradise, where Jaymi senses Shigem is aware that Jaymi tunes in to people, probably including Shigem himself. Jaymi’s stoned state tips him into a spontaneous, very “cuckoo” tune-in to Shigem.

83.  Low-budget snarls in the nightclub

Starting to come down, Jaymi sees that the colourful results of his tune-in revealed as much about his own state as they did about his subject. His and Shigem’s inconsequential chatter and the DJ’s part-ironic music-selection conspire to ruin any remaining chance of coherence or seriousness tonight.


VII.  FRIDAY: ALAIA RECEDING


84.  Angel tries to use me

Jaymi decides he must visit Pippa, to try to find out what he can. Alaia is no longer cold, but feels somehow to be receding. Big Bang’s audience having been even larger than Sound & Vision’s, Marc fixes to meet Jaymi and Alaia on Monday to discuss a third broadcast. While Evelyn gives him a lift to the island, Jaymi tunes in briefly to her, seeing her love for people generally; but he is interrupted by a call from Angel, who asks him to spy into Lucan so as to find out something that will assist Angel in the face of Lucan’s abuse. Angel is bitter when Jaymi refuses to start interfering actively between people like this.

85.  Lucan spreads poison in the morning

Tuning in to Shigem, Jaymi catches him being woken by a phone call from Lucan, who tells him that Jaymi is spying on Kim and Shigem with his sight and that Kim gave Jaymi permission to do this in exchange for money. Lucan relays to Shigem a detail from a dream of Shigem’s that Lucan could not have known except from the footage—a character called the Mint Man. Closing with a threat of harm, Lucan hangs up, leaving Shigem concerned about Kim’s honesty because Kim was the only person Shigem ever told about the Mint Man. Both waking fully, Kim and Shigem discuss whether to cause Lucan to find out that those wax models were Pippa’s. Such snitching would put her in danger, but otherwise Lucan may yet hurt Shigem instead.

86.  Stared at on an empty beach

Taking in the thoughtful, slightly pessimistic cast of his mind, Jaymi tunes in to Kim wandering among the ravaged sights of Asbury Park and half-deciding to snitch on Pippa to Lucan by himself.

87.  Fixing the weasel hunt

Wanting to visit Pippa before Kim shops her to Lucan, Jaymi pockets a copy of Sound & Vision and “bumps into” Kim outside. When Kim admits he is considering snitching on Pippa, Jaymi suggests they visit her beforehand, and Kim agrees. Jaymi arranges with her on the phone that he and Kim will visit at three.

88.  An interrupted drama and a dubious portent

Jaymi and Kim separate. Jaymi tunes in to Angel at home, where Lucan is having a phone conversation with Evelyn. From his words it is evident that Lucan is trying hard to make her mention the existence of the footage proving Shigem’s alibi, but that she is just not going to mention it. After the call Lucan tells Angel he’s sure this means Evelyn simply doesn’t know that Alaia gave Lucan the wrong disc. Jaymi’s tune-in to Angel concludes with Lucan and Angel going out to meet Flames, Kev and Damian, when the customary sensuality and anguish of Angel’s internal life is counterpoised by the group’s somewhat comical silent awe at an ocean cloudscape resembling a kitsch vision of the Christian Nativity.

89.  Hunting the weasel

Jaymi and Kim rendezvous at Pippa’s. While Kim stays with her in the sitting room watching Sound & Vision with the volume up, Jaymi slips into the hallway and looks through the narrow door’s keyhole, but can see only darkness. He tries the handle but it is locked; he gives a quiet knock and murmurs, listening hard for any vegetable Angel grunt or shriek in reply, but hears nothing.

90.  Pippa on the brink of no return

Outside, Jaymi and Kim separate. Jaymi tunes in to Pippa, finding she has gone straight out for a walk and has now reached a state of such extreme depression and loneliness that she is starting to lose it.

91.  My lies about the Mint Man

Again unaccompanied by Alaia, Jaymi visits Shigem, who tells him and Evelyn about Lucan’s threatening call and odd knowledge about Shigem’s Mint Man dream. Evelyn confesses that the Metropolitan did arrange for Jaymi to spy on Angel, of which Lucan became aware, but (she lies) it never arranged any spying on Kim and Shigem. Jaymi suggests Lucan must have overheard Shigem talk about his dream while drunk. Amid amusing prattle, Shigem says that although he is terrified he may hear a knock on his door from Lucan or Damian, still he couldn’t snitch on Pippa to Lucan. When Jaymi and Evelyn leave, Shigem whispers in his ear, “I don’t care if you did!”, referring to the possibility that Jaymi has spied into him.

92.  Alaia slithers out of Lucan’s grip

To Jaymi outside, Evelyn wonders whether Alaia has spilled something about the spying, and a certain distrust hangs in the air. At Downstairs, Lucan corners Alaia and Jaymi alone, saying he has worked out, from the way Evelyn was talking on the phone, that Alaia hasn’t yet told Evelyn about having delivered the wrong DVD to him. Alaia smoothly dissuades Lucan from informing Evelyn of this, by pretending to have been concerned simply not to look like a dumb-ass in Evelyn’s eyes; this is understood by Lucan, who buys her lie that she has nonetheless obediently conveyed to the General Network’s management Lucan’s threat to go public about the company’s spying unless he is paid off soon. Lucan also asks Alaia to snoop around at Evelyn’s and let him know if there are any wax-modelling materials there.

93.  Angel’s Baby Doll

Outside Downstairs, Jaymi tunes in to an exhausted Angel: first being driven home, then half-asleep in churning fantasies that are soon cut short by the sensual brutality of a typical arrival home by Lucan.

94.  Theft five, with suicide and soup-of-the-day

Rik films a fifth secret spokes-sheep session, perhaps the last, with new material from Angel, Shigem, Kim and Shigem, Kim, Angel and Lucan, Pippa, and Angel again; while Jaymi says, to Alaia’s pleasure, that he should give his four targets back their privacy. Then Jaymi visits Evelyn’s and Rik’s place for a mellow hang-out, with red wine and conversation both silly and serious.


VIII.  SATURDAY: ALAIA IN HIDING

 

95.  Spanish baboons and tiny creatures

Meeting Evelyn, Jaymi tunes in to her and sees an enchanted dream she awoke from this morning, which featured her ex Flames.

96.  An inferior decapitation gesture

To monitor Kim’s and Shigem’s wellbeing, Jaymi tunes in to Kim while lying in the sun, and explores how Kim’s contentment at his own general good fortune doesn’t stop him looking forward to death, as bringing the cessation of a struggle whose design has so many cruelties. Jaymi joins him and they set off for Shigem’s, passing Kev who makes a Lucan-style self-decapitation gesture at them.

97.  Lucan and Angel on the big screen

To seek any damage brewing for Shigem, Jaymi tunes in to Lucan, but all he can find there at the moment is the screening of a trailer for a Hollywood action blockbuster movie starring Lucan himself, which is incongruously broken into by Angel.

98.  Porch-geese and Vietnam

Abandoning his plan to accompany Kim home, Jaymi boldly visits Lucan’s henchman Damian, to maintain a look-out for any plans there in Shigem’s direction. Damian’s paranoid manner has an element of comedy until he gives an eloquently grim description centring on what he saw while serving in Vietnam.

99.  Pippa a zombie through internal damage

Jaymi calls Alaia with trepidation, so much in hiding does she now seem; and this impression is not belied by his brief visit to her, despite her not-unfriendly account of phoning Lucan to “report” that Evelyn has no wax-modelling materials. Restless and sensing change in the air, Jaymi tunes in to a glassy-eyed and corpse-like Pippa, who seems to be staring straight at him here in the Metropolitan, and he sees into a sinister dream of hers, including a glimpse of a pit of vile horror related to that narrow door in her hallway.

100.  Evelyn’s dance, with minimal effect

Jaymi meets Evelyn in the night-time hallway and asks if she thinks Alaia has been planting the wax models, since he himself is not allowed to tune in to Alaia. Evelyn bids him look at himself and Alaia and see if he realises something. She lets slip that she will be giving Marc not only the master recording of the first broadcast but also the “secret” recordings—confirming that these were instigated and known of by Marc all along, not done by Jason behind Marc’s back. Departing, Evelyn urges discretion on this; and he tunes in to her as she drives away, taking in the rhythmic sunlight within her.

101.  Desire as disease in Angel Deon

To keep an eye on the Angel-Lucan household while Shigem is still in town, Jaymi tunes in to Angel in the midst of another fight with Lucan. During the physical abuse Lucan inflicts, Jaymi delves deep inside Angel, perhaps for the last time, as Angel blacks out while dreaming of an infernal descent. Angel’s return to a delirious consciousness of Lucan’s continued sadistic play has such a flavour of death and sensual entrapment that Angel sees it will never let him out and will probably kill him.

102.  Shigem’s unimprovable situation

In contrast, Jaymi tunes in to Shigem, to maintain a watch over him, and finds him lounging in affection with Kim before they go to bed, where Shigem’s mind sinks through lovely nonsense into sleep.

103.  Theft six, with ambiguous bowing and curtseying

Alone with Jaymi after a final quick studio recording of material from Kim, Pippa, Angel, and Shigem, Alaia seems sad and emotional, but still the wall between her and him is not quite breached. In bed, Jaymi reflects on the global reach of his two broadcasts and the contrastingly local colour of the characters he has met and so intimately spied into, but drifts to sleep before he can puzzle out the meaning of it all.


IX.  SUNDAY: CLIMAX ON THE CARCASS BUILDING

 

104.  Violence in the air

Seeking the source of the violence in the air, Jaymi tunes in to Alaia. He finds her lying beside him, just the other side of the wall, analysing him in her journal with surprising care. On a violence-seeking mission, however, he moves on from her, tuning in to Shigem awakening to his last day living here. Shigem is reflecting that Angel called him yesterday and said Alaia had supplied DVD proof that Jaymi was spying on Angel, Shigem, Kim and Pippa. From this, Shigem concluded correctly that in doing this Alaia was going behind Jaymi’s back; and it relieved Shigem to find Kim thus cleared of responsibility for telling dreams to Lucan. Shigem forgave Jaymi for any spying, decided not to think about Evelyn’s involvement in it and also not to mention all this to Kim, whom he now contemplates with pleasure on this eve of their building a new life together. Jaymi muses on all the secrets and lies involved in the strange affair of the spokes-sheep.

105.  The trolls in the warehouse

Jaymi helps Rik annotate the thieved imaginative material, prior to its being handed over for the design of the sheep’s inner life. Tuning in to Pippa, he at last catches her approaching that narrow door, but she walks past it, blocking it out. She goes outside, either in reality or not, for a lunatic trip away from Asbury Park to give a lurid performance for unseen trolls who are hiding behind black warehouse windows.

106.  A gunfight and a snippety exchange

A breathless, no-nonsense Alaia calls Jaymi to say Lucan has just nearly been assassinated, which is rumoured to be gang-related; and she impatiently chivvies along Jaymi’s understanding that Shigem will surely now at last be freed from Lucan’s suspicion that he left the wax models, because Lucan will start assuming they were planted by the rival gang so as to destabilise his own heroin operation here.

107.  Flicker of murder in Angel

Tuning in to Angel, Jaymi sees danger in his eyes alongside awareness of the violence in the air. Angel fantasises murdering Lucan and carving his own symbol into Lucan’s stomach, and by degrees he resolves to do so, which fosters an unusual calm in him before his exhausted and half-sleeping mind sinks him back into troubled visions of apocalyptic beauty and darkness. Then Angel jumps up, pockets his gun from its hiding place and slips out of the house.

108.  I’ll never see your eyes again

Still concerned for Shigem’s safety from Lucan and Damian, Jaymi tunes in to Shigem and Kim, catching the moment when they both escape from the former’s hometown indefinitely in a car bound for the airport. As well as picking up a final rich subtlety of Shigem’s nature, Jaymi resolves he won’t tune in to them around the world and into the future, but will let them both have their privacy.

109.  A screech of tyres

Gunshots ring out, three or four blocks from the Metropolitan, then the screech of a get-away car. Jaymi tunes straight in to Lucan, who is speeding out of that area with Kev and Damian in the Cadillac, bound for Downstairs. They speak of how they have succeeded in crippling the Red Bank operation, but Damian is full of hatred for Kev’s having shot Pippa dead in a needless mistake.

110.  What it’s like to die by gunshot

Shocked to have heard that, Jaymi tunes straight in to Pippa, who is indeed lying on the street, having been caught in the crossfire and wrongly assumed dead. As she fades, Jaymi sees that although she’s in pain, she is happy to be going. He reads through her eyes a note she retrieves from her pocket, which reveals she has long had a private love-obsession with Angel. She seals this in its envelope and flings it away from her. Then she dies, with a sense of peace through the hallucinatory babble in her mind.

111.  What it’s like to die by shriek

Jaymi scribbles down everything he can remember about her. He tunes in to Damian, in case Lucan has sent his henchman after Shigem, but finds Damian in bed in the depths of a nightmare: waking, Damian finds, however, that the nightmare continues, as a foul vision envelops, paralyses and kills him.

112.  Stealing evidence from the crime scene

Out of respect for Pippa, Jaymi and Alaia go late at night to try to rescue the sealed envelope she flung away. Luckily he finds it, just outside the cordoned-off area of what is now a crime scene.

113.  How to bungle an assault

Jaymi and Alaia run into Angel, whose manner is highly charged and unpredictable. When Jaymi refuses Angel’s plea for help against Lucan, Angel reaches for his gun. Angel is close enough for Jaymi to be able to rip the dark glasses off Angel’s face and direct a blast of hypnotic power into his eyes. However, Angel is wearing mirrored contact lenses and Jaymi’s power bounces right back at him, almost knocking him over: something is short-circuited, and Jaymi’s special sight is suddenly gone.

114.  Alaia and I are kidnapped

Jaymi sees that his powers have been transferred into Angel—a dangerous place, in view of his dark and violent state of mind. As Angel comprehends his new powers, Lucan and Kev appear and he tries out these powers on the two of them, hypnotically pinning them where they stand, then he sends them away with promises of great suffering for both. Next it is Jaymi’s and Alaia’s turn, as Angel leads them to the adjacent eleven-storey concrete shell of a new but long-abandoned building and points them upstairs to the top of it.

115.  Shrieking eyes in the ghost town

Up there, Angel conducts a strange three-way dance of mind-games and power. Amid the visionary and emotional voltages of this, he mesmerises Alaia into starting to team up with him against Jaymi: she begins vocalising to accompany Angel’s hypnotic gaze at him, just as she used to accompany Jaymi’s gaze from the TV. Such is the intensity of the atmosphere that it almost seems natural when they all see, or think they see, a supernatural-looking object blast past them inland from across the ocean. Jaymi alone then sees, or thinks he sees, another huge supernatural-looking object far out to sea by the horizon. He struggles to process these objects in his mind; but whatever they were, all that three-way voltage has been earthed, Angel’s new power has been removed and the three of them are once again small, human, equal and tired. Angel tries to hypnotise the others one last time but fails; the gun feels quite irrelevant. Jaymi and Alaia return to the Metropolitan, leaving Angel on the high platform, small and hunched against the dawn sky.


X.  GHOST TOWN DEPARTURE: REVELATION OF ALAIA

 

116.  Revelation in the breakfast room

The return to normality is distressing to Jaymi. Marc’s visit here today was to have fixed a third broadcast, but Jaymi explains to him that there will be no such thing: global TV events, special sight and raising the world’s self-knowledge are all over. With Alaia, Jaymi realises that he has fallen in love with her and that she has been in love with him since Sound & Vision.

117.  That narrow door

After a romantic walk, Jaymi and Alaia meet Marc in connection with legal paperwork, before finally leaving the Metropolitan. Evelyn and Jaymi visit the dead Pippa’s spooky flat and find behind the narrow door a life-size, full-body wax model of Angel, similar to the one on Damian’s front path but wearing a wedding-ring. It is sinister, though they fail as yet to see how sinister it is; instead they snatch it up in order to donate it to Angel, speaking of the obsession that this model indicates Pippa had with Angel.

118.  The feet beneath the sheet

Being driven back to New York in the van with the wax Angel across the aisle under a sheet, Jaymi sits between the window and a sleeping Alaia. He reflects on how the broadcasts will tower on indefinitely, as recordings, independent of him and Alaia. He also realises with joy that, in tandem with the vanishing of his special sight, he has rediscovered how to inhabit his own personality naturally.

119.  Savagery, mystery, death and confinement

Just as he did on the outward leg of this magical mystery van trip, Jaymi sinks into a half-sleep of ominous visions and apprehensions.

120.  A ring, two spires and a wedding gift

He awakes on the approach to Manhattan, recalls a funny anecdote told by Rik, whom Alaia and he will be seeing again soon, and contemplates warmly the imminent chapter of brand-new love he and Alaia will share. He inspects the note inside Pippa’s envelope. When the sheet slides off Angel, Jaymi’s gaze rests again on the wedding-ring Pippa put onto Angel’s left hand. It presses snugly into the wax … but there comes a stab of horror when Jaymi realises what Pippa did to herself behind that narrow door, before he ever met her, revealing the extraordinary depths of obsession and sadness in the infatuation she harboured for Angel: she adorned this waxwork with one of her own fingernails. Feeling anguished compassion for Pippa and a sense of powerless vertigo at the depths of pain in certain people, Jaymi responds by kissing the sleeping Alaia beside him; while the Manhattan skyline at dusk rises ahead of the van with a cold, hard beauty that continues, apparently, quite regardless of that pain.

 

Rohan Quine - The Imagination Thief - ebook cover (literary fiction, magical realism, horror)

 

The Video-Book versions of mini-chapters 1-60 of The Imagination Thief, which are linked to from inside the novel’s ebook format, may be seen in the Vimeo playlist The Imagination Thief—Video-Book version of mini-chapters 1-60” and in the YouTube playlist The Imagination Thief—mini-chapters 1-120”:

 

The Video-Book versions of mini-chapters 61-120 of The Imagination Thief, which are linked to from inside the novel’s ebook format, may be seen in the Vimeo playlist The Imagination Thief—Video-Book version of mini-chapters 61-120” and in the YouTube playlist The Imagination Thief—mini-chapters 1-120”:

 

The Films in The Imagination Thief, which are linked to from inside the novel’s ebook format, may be seen in the Vimeo playlist The Imagination Thief—films inside the ebook” and in the YouTube playlist The Imagination Thief—films inside the ebook”: