Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 16 (Mr. Kite: Between Assignments)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 16 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.
Kite was between jobs.
It was during times like these that he would turn to the one thing that gave him a sense of stability.
John, Paul, George & Ringo. Live At Budokan. Ska, punk, 80s glam, shoe gazers, jazz, classical. ABBA to Zappa. U2. The Broken Social Scene. Daniel Lanois. Radiohead. Oasis. Primal Scream. The Manic Street Preachers.
Wherever he went, whenever it was, he could call them up and they’d play a tune or two for him.
He could pick any range of emotion, from any era and it would dovetail with his state of mind.
His network was tight for a long time, because the only bands he met were Top 40 and approved by the FCC as family friendly.
He was a teen in the 80s, which meant he was the last generation of kids that would be spoon-fed songs from an industry that was hungry to have him buy vinyl, tapes and then CDs.
He had influences from music that were current, but he also grew up being inundated with ‘blasts from the past’, soundtracks for people that were twice his age. He was took an odd enjoyment out of the idea that he could name an older person’s favourite bands, but they were clueless about his.
Because of his ‘job’, he always had to limit himself to a few dozens CDs so that he could move them around at a moment’s notice. Sometimes, they didn’t like the rough treatment, but if he had to move, he had to move. But in the long run, they’d always be near him and he’d find them when he needed them most.
And then one day, the entire universe of music fell into his lap.
The era of music downloads had begun.
His first MP3 player was home-made, constructed out of a portable drive, a USB connection for earphones (which cost a small fortune early in 1999), and a cheap set of headphones. He swears that it was copied as a prototype for the iPOD, but he never made an effort to prove it because he really didn’t feel like getting any publicity. A past like his would catch up pretty damn fast if his face was on the cover of Wired Magazine.
His next investment in something related to music was, ironically, an iPOD. He was able to dump his favourite albums and artists on to it, but he still had a tonne of space and he went downloading and started researching every band that had within six degrees of his favourite styles.
He continues to be stunned by the volume of music he missed as a kid, but he made up for it once he knew who they were.
His library now reaches about 40,000 songs, give or take. This was unfathomable in the days preceding digital.
Out of the multitudes of music genres, he could zero in on a specific tune and the artist would speak to him and him only.
You can’t buy that kind of reliability, he’d tell himself. A tune that carves right into your heart or pumps it full of joy will stay with you longer than any partner ever will.
And they did so much more. They would make him laugh. Or mad. Or cry. Like when he was a little kid and a neighbourhood friend died and he went to the funeral and the songs that he heard that day were welded to his DNA and would stay with him in that context until he vanished from the earth.
They joined him sometimes when he went to the movies.
They were in the malls singing to him and sometimes, he’d sing right back, unconcerned about the people that were watching him as he made a duet into a trio or quartets into quints.
He loved music. Even though he tried, he could never play anything, but he now possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the world of pop tunes.
He’d log into chat rooms and sites like songmeanings.com and post comments about favourite bands, looking for interpretations of his most beloved but mysterious songs. Or he’d go to sites that offered ‘sounds like’ references and every new diversion from a band or genre would create a ball of roots that would hold up a 400 foot-tall tree.
And what did he need now?
Kite was feeling blue. His “shoegazer” collection was playing. Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Primal Scream, the Boo Radleys and Mogwai repeated their mopey lyrics – or at least the ones he could understand – and kept him company while he got his personal belongings organized.
He had just packed his possessions – all two boxes of them – and a large suitcase for a wardrobe, along with his laptop and a backpack full of miscellaneous items like power adapters, mini cameras, portable copiers, his toothbrush and his Mach 3 handle.
He had to move because he had screwed up in his most recent job.
His actions were sloppy and he was concerned that they may have drawn some attention to who he was, what he looked like and where he was. They might also help him get caught.
In fact, he had even come across a few news stories that were about a subway burglar that was pick-pocketing commuters. Even though he was careful to avoid being caught on camera, there was his backside waddling down the platform.
Oh sure … he knew the story was doctored by the company he had been hired to infiltrate, mainly so that they wouldn’t face public humiliation about lax security or leaks in valuable corporate information. That kind of thing can cost companies millions in credibility in the marketplace.
That said, the truth was before him: he had fucked up and any comfort level he might have put in the bank was completely depleted.
With local authorities having that kind of hard evidence on hand, he knew he’d have to disappear for a while.
He’d been working in Toronto and he decided to move to a small town about two hours away where he could take a break for a bit.
Living in Canada worked perfectly for him because he could access the US at any time via Windsor to Detroit or Fort Erie to Buffalo without drawing any attention. If he felt really anxious about the level of security, he could drive up to Ogdensburg or Cornwall and have some friends with the native reserves boat him across in the middle of the night. Once he finally did make it to the US, he could fly anywhere he wanted using his fake ID.
However, in the prolonged years of paranoia following 9/11, living under the radar was getting very tricky indeed.
Taking a break in a major metropolis was risky, hence his choice to move to a smaller town.
When Kite arrived in any location, he usually either stayed in trailer parks, apartment co-ops or campgrounds. He called them ‘lower dem’ (short for demographic) areas and he used them to stay away from the limelight. Few mega-companies that he’d be hired to infiltrate put their offices in slums and fewer rich folks that might recognize him from previous jobs would ever find him here, simply because these aren’t exactly locales that they frequent, unless they’re after a cheap hooker or a few lines of coke.
He also liked these places because they gave him a chance to talk to ‘the salt of the earth’, people who were well educated and well-intentioned, but put out of work because they showed up five minutes late or they were injured on the job in unsafe environments or they suffered some kind of health disorder because of the toxicity of the products they had to handle just to make $7.75 per hour.
Finally, lower dem areas gave him a chance to relax a little and, on the rare occasion, share some of his stories about previous engagements as he and a crowd of others hung out around a camp fire or chatted outside the building in a smoking area.
Most people cheered when he told them the ‘newspaper revenge story’.
He liked these people because they made him want to do good things. They helped him shed his previous lives in the corporate world and helped him become more human.
Possibly the kindest thing he ever did was give a young woman a receipt for a deposit he made to a bank account on her behalf. He decided to make the donation because he had seen her several times, on her own, struggling with a 1960s version of a pram which was barely capable of holding her young daughter. These days, this kind of random charity was becoming more of a challenge, particularly in the US, mainly because the number of needy has grown so much.
However, the episode with the young mother happened several years ago. He had spoken with her a few times, mostly in the elevator, and believed that she was a good person. However, she couldn’t get ahead in life because the father had left her for another woman and simply didn’t come home one day. She was kicked out of the apartment they were renting, baby in arms, desperately seeking cover for the two of them and unable to get a job because she had no one to take care of her child.
Had it not been for a women’s shelter and the co-op building, it’s likely that they would have both met an early end. Kite had convinced himself that they would have both wound up selling themselves if they didn’t get a proper push forward.
With twenty-five grand waiting in the bank for them, they’d get ahead a little sooner.
That still didn’t redeem Kite, though. He was always looking for another way to sell himself to the next bidder that wanted to bring down an organization.
That time would come soon enough.
In the meantime, he would work on a few projects of his own.
(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.)
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.