(from early this year, recovering from pneumonia)
It's happened again – glittering dark insomnia hanging in the bedroom air.
Nn thom nee yah
Nth omni ahh.
It's a tantalising energy. It makes my thoughts and senses feel desperately precious at night and then it deadens the hours of the following day.
It's like leading a secret life. I sit at my desk, dishevelled and strange, and perform bland actions to fulfil my work obligations. An automaton with rumpled clothes and a bad haircut.
In the late afternoon I step out into the warm orange sunlight with vague plans for the evening.
I exercise. It's what I'm good at. I do an elliptical trainer for twenty minutes, then run on a treadmill for half an hour. I lever the muscles of my upper body against various weights, then go home and cook red meat and eat it.
There are people in the flat. Flatmates and visitors. Loud and silly friends. A villain who leans against the doorframes and watches us, hating us. There are girls – the White Queen and the Black Queen – both so pretty it's maddening. They stand apart from each other like pillars in a tarot card. Like some kind of doorway.
A warm pulse has started up. A great hungry volition. Volition for god knows what, I don't know, I can't make head or tail of it. It's there, waiting for me to do something. I have no idea how to appease it.
Every film I watch is a searing lesson in life as it should be lived. People walk through tall grass, touch, kiss, and the hairs on my arms prickle up at the sight of it. People crash into each other, bite and punch each other. They sweat and shout and make loud promises. They get injured, and they heal. It's wonderful. I feel like I'm waiting for the right moment, when the moment comes I'll lunge up into the screen and join the commotion.
The streets are teeming with women. I watch them go by, their motion, the colours of their clothes. The pitch and articulation of their voices as they talk into their iPhones. I look up and see the men also watching. Their faces are calm and proud and despondent and contorted with anger, slack from drink, clean shaven and bristly, red and sunburnt, feral, lips curled in disdain, mouths hanging open with laughter.
The volition is watching and waiting. Something immense is going to happen. Art and life will switch places and we'll all be cast into some big, dangerous story.
Drinking. Winding down. Checking the clock. I've been so tired these days, I should really get an early night. I've joined a DVD rental club, I have a couple of films I could watch in bed.
Our resident villain stares as I walk to my room.
“All right?” he asks.
Why the question? What does he want? He probably doesn't know. Probably he's stuck hanging like the rest of us. Hanging off his door frame.
For the tenth night in a row I cue the film (Tenebre), but once again it's a trap. Too tired and wired to do anything but lay back in bed and check out the shimmering darkness and the quiet roar of my tinnitus.
To wait as the black air starts unfolding into hundreds of ideas and suggestions. Insomnia. Bolts from the void.
I love this place, this thing, and the thoughts it gives me. I love it so much that I've often imagined it as a person. A woman with black, black skin and round white eyes. Long fingers. Teeth. A white summer dress dirty with sweat and dust. She's out in the warm-and-cool night, standing by an unlit road, and the busted-up sign beside her says:
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