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John Foxx > The Quiet Man > Film (Two) > Text
A red brick terraced house. Lancashire town outside the darkened bedroom. Thin, green cotton curtains, drawn against the light. Airborne dust motes illuminated along a few pinholes of sunlight coming through. Swirling and setting slowly in response to every movement inside the room. Intermittent tonal hiss of passing traffic on the wet motorway nearby.

Always in transition here. Constant restless vehicular movement against this background of recently bypassed stability.

A room with faded floral wallpaper. Wooden chest of drawers in a corner. The film is in the top drawer coiled inside a thin metal container. He can sense its presence in the dark. Takes it downstairs to the projector in the front room. Opens the speckled tin. The film looks black, opaque and shiny. It has the disconcerting smooth texture of resilient organic material such as fingernails or insectoid exoskeletal armour.

Thread the film carefully across the reels. A faint smell of metal and vinegar stays on your fingers long after. Then a whirr of electrical machinery and a smell of burning dust on the hot bulb as light flickers against the walls. The films plays again, illuminating the room.

He is drawn instantly into the movement and colour. There is a great seductive pleasure in recognition - all those scenes - and some new ones. Of course it has changed since the last time, reassembles itself constantly. Every time you view the film it is different.

The film plays onto the floral wallpaper, dim and clicking - faint and juddering at first, then slowly gaining definition until the images have a reality that appears to supersede that of the surrounding room.

A rose garden emerges, initially flickering and dim, then gradually incorporating the wallpaper, emerging from it, illuminated, until the surface of the wallpaper appears to move, then dissolve, revealing other angles and vistas.

White roses. Infinitely complex mist and light moving in slow paralallax. A man and a woman, their breath mixing with leaves and mist, beams of sunlight and the translucent petals.

He puts his hand into the projected beam and feels it go away from him. His hand is in the film. He steps in front of the beam and is transfused softly into the garden, lit among the mist and roses, breath moving across diffused sunlight. He is delighted by the gentleness, by being lost again. Breathes in the Autumn air, breathes out a mist that further confuses the complexities of flowers and light. He can move away now. Into the city beyond the gardens, slowly making his way toward the tall buildings...

He walks into a cinema off a side street. He knows he can always come in here to watch the film. Plays here all the time. He walks to the front of the cinema, then up a few steps and along to the side of the glowing screen. Takes a long slow breath.

So - stand in front of the projector, now. Let the film play over the suit. Feel the gathering interplay of various resistances and interceptions. Maintain position. Stay there, no matter what.

Blinded by the sudden intense light, a powerful magnetic force disrupting his entire nervous system, negating any muscular strength and coordination. Absorbing it.

Shadows of someone moved into place like a broken umbrella, dragged into superimposition and merged with the images. Right across the cinema, then far beyond. Magneticism of light and movement... Somehow breaking into two... Fallen between thin light and the wide heat of faded places.

Someone walking under a cast iron elevated railway. Dazzle and shadow. Appear and reappear. Trees moving too quickly in the wind. Spots of light. Momentary blue flutter of a frame splice. Click into dim conversation - film quality changes radically - grainy monochrome streets to a woman with red lipstick... Fast scratches... Section of clear film. Random frames, then some blurred pornography in a green apartment. A few scenes in slow motion, many times superimposed over previous, fading sequences. Repeated across the years.

Opens a door against the sunlight he knows is beyond...

It was Springtime and he walked out into the rain. A fine warm rain, sparkling in the sunshine. It was still dry under the trees along the avenues. He stopped at a cafe, sat there for a time watching the streets. No-one there, of course. Empty city. Silence, but for the shimmering rain on leaves. Some birdsong.

He walked by the river, crossing over on the wide bridges. Paris, I think. Sometimes London. Sometimes New York. Certain streets. His shadow moved along the walls. Flickered across roads. Longer as the day moved on. Her shadow moved ahead of him, unseen.

He went to the top of a tall building to look over the city at sunset. Remembering the snowstorm over New York from the Rainbow room bar. Sitting in the comfort of the glass lounge as the snow obscured the panorama outside. Like sailing on a huge ocean liner over the city. Snow on the 65th floor. By the time it arrived at street level it had become rain from the city's rising heat.

His shadow grew thin, merged with the dimness. Someone almost there. I can feel you breathing. I could hold out my hand and touch you.

He was standing in the garden from 1950. He wore, of course, his grey suit. He had made the garden. This was where he had spent his last years. Planted white roses, wisteria, Virginia creeper, eucalyptus and birch. There were arches festooned with roses. There was an overgrown fountain with a mossy stone head, a deep pond full of fish and frogs with a halo of water lilies and dragonflies. Misty green hills in the distance.

He breathed in the cool air. Beautiful, clear scent of the living evening. Moon in a sky of Disney blue. Moths in the house. Windows open, curtains blowing. Good to be back here again. For a time. The time it takes.

He looked down at his hands.

Into the labyrinths of London now. Half-light of a Winter's afternoon. Shadows falling on shadows folding. Drone and hiss of traffic. Wet light. Not sure where to, what for. Walking by these places a thousand times, as I grow old. As I go away, return, walk again.

He'd seen her in Rome, that day. Didn't quite realise it then. He also knew she recognised him too, from a new mind, new body. Even through all this time.

Their eyes met in passing and he had seen something dawning in them. She was surprised, a little confused and he could see that she did not quite remember. He realised then that he was helpless. Becoming aware of the massive layers of time and place. Still only beginning, just marginally aware. Glimpsing something much bigger than he had been aware of before.

She was in her late twenties - exactly the same age he had last seen her over a quarter of a century ago, and he was over fifty years old now. He had remained there for a moment, looking at her, before reluctantly walking away.

She watched him go with a faintly puzzled expression. When he turned again she was still looking. Intermittently obscured in the drift of the crowd. They were both with someone else. Another life. Helpless. An absurd situation.

He stopped and looked back across the sunlit ground. All in slow motion now. She was turning away. Still hesitating a little, as if almost remembering something. Glancing back. The man she was with waiting. Looking at her. Groups of people drifting between them now. Out of sight. The stream moves on.

Walking through these cities all this time and he had seen her only that once. Only once.

Still recovering fragments and piecing them together. Too many gaps. Simply hadn't taken account of the fact that she might not remember.

There is just a moment before the door closes. Then the stream moves on. Patterns reform. A movement in the mirror, dim behind the lights and flowers and shadows. Elevator rises. A long corridor. Faint sounds of traffic far below. Apartment door opens easily after so long.

I will think of you less and less as time goes on. We are different people now. That time is gone. That city no longer exists. Until a twist of a moment like this reveals that other patterns and streams have been moving just beneath the surface all along, completely unsuspected.

Places his hand gently on the wall. Feels the quiet, slow movements beneath. This is just the surface of things. Everything is reforming, reverberating, shifting. A liquid. Forever pouring itself into the waiting mould of the next moment.

And in these shadows I wait. Until the time comes around again. Until I step out of the shadows and put my hands over your eyes. I will feel you smiling. The cool scent of a cotton dress and an endless moment of recognition.

Moving toward some kind of resolution in the Summer dusk.

Infinitely thin light burns through his suit right away. Bubbles of wool tar. Swift, rippling coils of acrid blue smoke. Searing stink. Coughing, he falls to another floor, somewhere else. The film is too sharp, too hot. Can't get to the projector... Eyes streaming... Trying to reach through the layers... Several intersecting gravities... Light cuts away at you... Never again... Hair beginning to burn... Awful stink of igniting organic materials... Floor alternating between corridor, carpet and underwater sequences... Different levels... Difficult to regain balance.

Then the light cuts out and he falls down, suddenly released. Suit wet and burnt, hair smoking. Scorched hands in a puddle of water on worn green linoleum over cold flagstones. Lancashire 1972. Then the morning train. Grey Winter light. No-one will sit next to him - sodden suit, awful burnt, wet stink. he stands in the train corridor, legs trembling. Brushing back friable crisped strands of hair with cold wet hands. Unsure now what is projected and what is real - Smoke... City... Train... Woman.

Some music... Broken film episodes... Falling away into place... All filmed in reverse. Moving away down long avenues. Trees in an evening wind. Towards a dim horizon. All in reverse, faster and faster... Vertigo and panic beginning to rise. Metallic taste in the mouth. Tries to pull himself out of the film. So difficult, requires maximum resolve and gathering of energies precipitating a sudden, total, wrenching effort - like turning over in deep sleep when unable to breathe properly.

Deep panic, now... Colour wrench of time and displacement... Pushing... as hard as he can... against the fabric of the film... Suit rips suddenly and he falls out in acrid blue smoke onto the hard cold floor, suit edges still locked into torn, projected zones. A woman speaking again... In the background now... Voice faint... Lost... projected onto smoke... Blurred violet dress unfurling as she falls away... White against the blue cityscape.

Mechanical noise like a film editing machine, ripping and re-splicing. All very abrupt - efficient as a good typist. He suddenly appears on the screen. The scene is from a few days ago. He watches, fascinated.

Click click... Here he is walking down a street... Click... then the same scene again, but later... walking by another route... a different sort of weather.

Click... Mixed with the previous year... inserted close-up facial expression allows a different reading of the same event. Adjusted circumstances spreading out like networks of roads and pathways, connecting neatly with other altered events.

Click... Another apartment... sunset over the city... I was never there, in that place... time altered... locations changed... voices different. These people were not present at the time... not there.

Click... Meeting someone... a discussion... don't recall saying that - at least, not in quite that way. Restructured circumstances... the scenes are being rewritten, re-sequenced.

Click... Different routes and coincidences... premise altered... fine adjustments. Not certain now what the previous sequences were... small beginnings build to unforeseeable consequences much further down the line.

Click... Altered architecture of events and memory... renovations... versions... interfering with recollection... all fits so well... actually makes better sense of the whole thing... another story.

Begin to accept these altering circumstances... get passed around... affirmed. Memes... stories reshaped... accounts retold... Click.

Colours, scenes, angles, all alter over time. Sounds become indistinct... begin to merge. Some scenes, places and characters pass into the background as others emerge to get the star lighting, the close-ups. Others are plainly superimposed over previous fading episodes, all receding and emerging in mid-transition.

A long parade. Jerky, sharp, faded, dim, distinct, grainy. As if seen through a snowstorm. Scratched and broken, or clear as water... The long violence of memory.

Loud flutter of failing film.

Can hardly get to his feet. Takes some hours. Barely remembers what to do. Dry your hands before rewinding the reel. Must do this. Dry yourself properly. Movements slow and uncoordinated. Switch off the projector. Fingers thick and clumsy. Now, pull the plug out. That frayed fabric lead, a dangerous antique. Must remember to renew it all.

The film moves under his hand like a scorpion. Put the damn thing back in the tin. Back in the drawer upstairs. Clean up carefully, then leave the house again, just as it was. Walk away.

Modulated hiss of the motorway in the distance. Still interior, curtains drawn. The coiled film moves in the dark, reassembling, re-editing. Constantly making slow adjustments over time, always different. A living biological medium. Always reassembling. In the dark.
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