June 21, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 35 (Kite Meets Pigeon)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 35 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index .

With the OMNINet meeting on Saturday – just two days from now – Kite knew he’d have to act fast. With the help of Hummus and Chaos, he collected everything he could on Sasha Pigeon and arranged a meeting.

When they spoke, Pigeon seemed distant and cold as Kite explained why he wanted to meet him. He gave some very peripheral comments about wanting to catch up with Eddie, but also referred to the idea that he was writing a piece on Eddie for a magazine article.

It only took Kite a few minutes to get from their hotel to where Pigeon was staying. His apartment was located in an old loft on the periphery of the Chelsea district, about eight blocks from his own beaten up hotel space.

The building was a dump, at least to Kite’s standards. The outside was surfaced with old brick and the mortar was crumbling beyond the point of repair. He looked at it and knew it wouldn’t be long before this shell would be torn down and a new condo building or over-priced loft project would push the existing tenants out onto the street.

As Kite entered the main stairwell, the smell of urine was overpowering and signs of late-night one-night-stands – used condoms, lost belts or ties and other miscellaneous pieces of clothing – were everywhere.

When he climbed to the second floor of the building, he entered into a massive, empty space that lay in the middle of the building. The space was bigger than a football field and looked like it may have been used for it.

“You’re marveling at the arena, aren’t you?”

Kite turned around to see Sasha Pigeon for the first time. It was obvious that he had faded to a miserable puff of smoke, he was so skinny and malnourished that a rush of wind would blow him away to nothing. He stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame, like he needed the extra support. He wore New York Rangers pajamas that would fir a ten year-old boy a little better, and sported large, hairy slippers on his feet that Kite could only guess were rabbits. Large brown rabbits.

Kite hadn’t seen many people with AIDS, especially in such a dramatic state, and he hated himself because of his initial reaction of repulsion and discomfort.

“Welcome to the Thunderdome,” Pigeon said demonstrating with his arms, trying to do his best Tina Turner imitation. “We use the space in the middle for hockey games and rollerball during the day and then for big, wonderful and colourful parties on the weekends.”

“Interesting. I wouldn’t have thought of my home as place for a rave, but here you are,” Kite said trying to smile as genuinely as possible. “My name’s Carl Parkfield. I spoke to you earlier?”

“Absolutely. I’m looking forward to giving you all the dish on ‘The Man’. Come on in, dear,” Sasha told Kite as he stepped into the door frame and took on the temporary role of a two-by-four in order to let Kite pass into his ‘apartment’.

“I know. It’s not Park Avenue. I had to find something after Eddie left me. It ain’t easy being a part of the scene and living in Jersey or White Plains.”

“Well, let’s see if we can make an arrangement that will help you,” Kite offered, again as genuinely as he could.

“That sounds delightful, my saviour. Let’s see if you can cure me,” Pigeon said as he turned into the apartment, wryly referring to Eddie’s miraculous cure.

The inside of the apartment was a dump. Anyone who ever said gay men were neat had never seen the abode of a devastated ex, dying with AIDS, and so broke that he probably couldn’t buy a tomato or bag of chips if his life counted on it. And it did.

Pigeon sat on a couch that looked like it came from a frat house yard sale, one end propped with books, the other shredded by what Kite hoped was a cat and not a large rodent.

As he sat, a small puff of air and dust whooshed from the cushion. It was unlikely that Pigeon exerted any real mass so Kite simply assumed the springs were so spent, they offered no resistance. Pigeon curled into a corner of the couch and pulled a tattered and stained blanket over his emaciated arms like it was a shawl.

He pointed to the chair opposite and said “Please … sit.”

Kite almost laughed. The chair was a near perfect Herman Miller ash and leather studio chair. If it was original, it’d be worth at least five thousand. If Pigeon sold it, he’d probably be able to eat for a year or two.

Pigeon read Kite’s mind: “If I sold it, I’d lose the last valuable thing in my life. I’d have nothing. God knows my health’s not worth anything.” The self pity was pretty rich, but Kite still detected a hint of elitism.

Kite was at a loss for words. He sat and looked at Sasha. He had to look down after a few moments, part out of politeness, part out of the notion that if he kept looking, he’d come to a startling realization that he was human and that he’d start to weep at the pitiful site before him.

Kite forced himself to look up, and he took in the rest of the apartment. It was a single room, encased in a tomb of rough grey and black brick, probably made more than a hundred years ago. The walls and the floor were painted a nice battleship grey that went with everything and was wanted by no one. It was the kind of colour that mistints were mashed into with a bucket or two of white just to create a basic skin for the old rock and mortar.

There was a small carpet in between the couch and Kite’s seat and it may have been pretty once. It looked like it had bright Navajo colours like indigo, fuchsia and blue, like the sunsets in New Mexico, but today it was a bland messy blur of earth tones that have been spilled on it over the last few months.

There was little light coming through the small windows wood-framed, single-paned windows. They were covered with a thick layer of newspapers and paste. Very little covered the walls, but there were a few small 4×6 pictures of what looked like a young proud lion of a man with a number of even larger men dressed in various leathers and spikes. Kite guessed that they were pictures of Sasha at various Pride parades.

In the corner of the room, there was a small pedestal sink and two plate burner that didn’t look like it got a lot of use.

Clothes were tossed everywhere, which actually had the effect of bringing some colour to the room.

The only other sign of life was the bright orange hair of a cat.

“I had to get rid of Bes. He’s named after the Egyptian god who is the defender of everything good and the enemy of all that is bad. Maybe I should have kept him, but I couldn’t afford to feed him anymore. Pathetic, isn’t it?. I used to be the Queen of Church Street in Toronto until Eddie made me move down here for that fucking monstrous company.”

“And then … two years into living here, he dumps me. That was less than a year ago. He never told me why, but I know it’s because of those churchies. Those Nazi religious freaks that surround him at the OMNINet.”

Kite didn’t really expect the deluge that he was getting but he wasn’t going to resist it either. He prodded for more.

“Eddie didn’t offer to take care of you?” he asked.

“Are you kidding? Eddie doesn’t even know I’m sick. It took hold surprisingly quick, but as far as he was concerned, I ceased to exist when he made his choice to make money and not love.”

“But I know Eddie …” Kite tried to answer, “he would have given you …” Kite struggled to think of the right term. “A separation package.”

“He did,” Pigeon answered smartly. “Twenty grand. And I spent it. On drugs.”

Seeing the look on Kite’s face, Pigeon answered quickly “Nooo … not like that! Come on! I’m no junkie. OK … here’s what happened.” He paused long enough for Kite to lean in to listen more attentively.’

“I let loose after losing Eddie. I was crushed and the best thing to when you’re crushed is to seek a little … ‘inflation’.”

“I wasn’t careful and fucked just about every fag west of Times Square and barely two months after he left me, I knew I had contracted AIDS. I went to see my MD, but there was really no need. I had dealt myself a death sentence and knew that I didn’t have much longer to live.”

“Anyways, my MD, which was some dude at a walk-in clinic that refused to touch me, prescribed a new treatment that would cost about a hundred grand a year. I think it even came from one of the OMNINet’s pharma companies.”

“So … through some creative credit card management, I was able to get an advance partial supply, but I’ve run out and the MD won’t see me any more. He says I’m too much of a risk and he also claims that the OMNINet isn’t producing the treatment anymore. Apparently, they were citing lack of market. Well, when you charge the price for a house for a few small pills that are made in China to consume on a monthly basis to keep you alive, it’s no wonder no one wanted to buy the damn stuff. I know they pulled the plug because they didn’t want to support fags in any way. So … here we are.”

“And now I’m dying. A long, slow painful death. It seems God’s vengeance is upon me. Which Horse do you think is beating down my door? Is it Pestilence? Or maybe it will be Famine? I know it certainly won’t be War, because I’m a lover, not a fighter, baby.” Even close to his end, he was finding a way to make light of his situation.

Again, Kite choked, despite Pigeon’s attempt to lighten the mood. He had no idea that someone’s plight could affect him like this.

“I can help you,” he offered. He was almost pleading. No one should have to live like this, he thought to himself. “I have a lot of resources that will help you get better. I just need your help.”

“Ah, yes,” Pigeon answered sarcastically. “Where would we all be without The Trade? You win. I win. The pharmacy companies win. Win. Win. Win. It’s more like whine, whine, whine, but what do I really know.”

“I’m ranting … how can I help you, honey?”

Kite wanted to punch himself. He knew he could have found a better way to deliver his request.

“Touche. I’m sorry.”

“No worries, hon. I’m being a little snippy because I’m feeling like someone in a giant voodoo lounge is poking red-hot irons under my eyebrows. How can I help you?”

“Thanks. I’ll be honest. I’m working on a project that involves Eddie’s workplace. I need to get into the OMNINet after hours and I can’t because their security is too tight.”

“Why Carl … you devil. You want to do some espionage, don’t you?” Pigeon had a unique way of pronouncing his words like they were being recorded by a writer at Architectural Digest and he wanted to emphasize certain splashes of colour.

“I can’t admit to anything that will incriminate me, but basically, that’s what I’m after. I need to get into a meeting that’s taking place this Saturday night. Eddie will be there along with about twenty other relative unknowns in the OMNINet management chain. We don’t know what it’s about, but we think it’ll be big.”

“Why didn’t you just say so, dear. I’ve got everything you need.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh don’t be coy with me, Carl. If that is your real name. It sounds more like a porn name, by the way.”

Kite grinned. Pigeon’s level of perception was a little too frightening.

“I have old Citrix cards, ID tags, VPN access codes, IP addresses, basic hacker info and a tonne of other info that people like you would just kill to get.”

“But first … you have to tell me why. And don’t tell me it’s all about the money.”

“You know,” Kite started, “it was. It really was. I used to think I could earn enough to bring me to a point where I could just cash out and buy an island somewhere, but it’s no longer like that. I hate corporations and I can’t stand the OMNINet, mainly because of what they do to people like you and Eddie and others in the world just to ‘pay the mortgage’.” Kite had to stop himself. He didn’t want to get into too much of a rant.

“Good answer, my friend. I can help you out.”

“Can I ask one thing?”” Kite begged.

“Absolutely, sweetie. Go. You have the conch,” Pigeon said bashfully, making a mild reference to the Lord of the Flies .

“How did you get all this stuff?”

“Oh come on … I thought you were a bright boy. I caught you looking at that picture earlier and I bet you thought the little one was me.”

“Well … yeah.”

“Well … yeah … you’re wrong. I’m the big buff one there. In the security outfit. I used to work for the OMNINet’s tech and tracking department, which included the development of all of their access information.”

“In fact, what you didn’t know is that I used to work for Eddie. And as you can see, he didn’t just break up with me. He fired me too.”

(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 36

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

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Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .