52. Dawn at the End of the World

IT WAS ALREADY LATE at the Minotaur when I ran into a guy who called himself Le Socle. I’d met him before in the same place, sitting at the very same seat, or so he told me because I couldn’t remember. He remembered my name, where I was from, what had brought me here, and listed the topics of conversation we’d talked about: if it was possible for a language to be more beautiful than another (he said I'd argued it wasn't); if it was possible to love more than one person at the same time (I’d argued it was); if it was possible that the universe, which is infinite, is merely one of an infinite number of infinite universes (I’d argued it wasn't). He said we’d spoken for several hours until after the bar had shut and the doors had been locked and only regular customers were left drinking behind drawn blinds. After he told me all this I said I didn't believe him, as I disagreed with all three of the positions he said I'd taken. Le Socle seemed to take this as encouragement, because he told me he wanted to take me to a party at Blanes. I told him I was at that time in love with a man who had just that day confessed to having given all our money to a Filipino transsexual he thought he was in love with, so I agreed to go to the party. In the back of my mind, I thought maybe I would see this man I loved there, or on the way, or on the way back. When I am in painful love like that I live in the constant hope that whoever it is I am in love with will walk around the next corner. As a result, I am restless, constantly moving, and utterly unable to sleep, for the one place I will definitely not bump into my lover is in my dreams. So we drove to Blanes in silence. It was dawn but an ugly dawn. The streets of Blanes were nearly deserted. As soon as we arrived I realised the party was a ruse. There was no party. The idea of a party at this time of morning in Blanes was laughable, I realised. The only sign of life were party-goers going home and cleaners heading to work. Le Socle said it looked like the end of the world. The end of the world will be more beautiful than this, I said. You think so? I’m convinced of it – the end of the world will be dripping with beauty. There will be beauty everywhere and it will all be in vain, which will only make it more beautiful, and more painful. The end of the world will be ironic, deeply ironic, but only for the living who are ready to die. Those of the living who are most unwilling to die will of course be unable to see the irony of the situation. You seem to be an expert on the end of the world. Oh, I am, I said. No one knows more about the end of the world than me. Ask me anything about the end of the world. The obvious question, he said, is when will it be? I have my theories, I said, but it’s best not to be too precise – at any rate it won’t be in our lifetime, or only if we live into our eighties, which speaking for myself I have no intention of doing. How is it that you know so much about the end of the world? Oh, one only needs to think about it to become an expert, I said. Le Socle admitted he'd never thought about it. He said he preferred not to dwell on the inevitable. As we spoke, he drove around in endless random circles and figures of eight, until finally I asked him where we were going and he said he didn’t know. He had that kind of expression on his face that men get when they are deciding whether or not they should tell you they are in love with you. I asked him if he would take me to the beach. He said yes, but we should stop by his apartment on the way. He lived in a studio apartment in one of those modern three storey apartment buildings resort towns are infamous for. Every single square inch of the walls were given over to his record collection. He said he owned 4103 albums of heavy metal music. I told him I hated heavy metal music. He took it philosophically. Most women do, he said, especially beautiful women like you. Have you brought many beautiful women here? No, he said ruefully. Do you have anything other than heavy metal, I asked. Yes, he said, I have some Miles Davis. I only play it when I have women over. He found the record, took it out of its sleeve and placed it carefully on the turntable. Actually I hate Miles Davis too, I said. He flicked on the radio and started turning the FM dial for some music to listen to. I stretched myself on his cheap couch and closed my eyes. When I woke up it was mid-afternoon, or at least it felt like it – I don’t wear a watch. The apartment was stifling. Le Socle was standing on the balcony, talking to someone on the phone in short, sharp sentences. I said we should go to the beach. He agreed, but there was something he needed to do on the way. We drove along a road that hugged the coast and pulled into a supermarket carpark where a man in a blue tracksuit was sitting astride a beautiful blue scooter. Le Socle told me to wait in the car and to keep my head down as it would be best if the men didn’t see my beautiful face. I lowered my head and watched him in the side mirror approach the man on the blue scooter. They shook hands as if they knew each other. I tried to guess what they were saying from their body language but of course it was impossible. My attention wandered to the dunes, and the sea beyond the dunes. You could see the beach from where I sat, dotted with holiday makers. Suddenly the conversation between the men became heated. In the side mirror, Le Socle was bent over the scooter driver, who was slumped over the seat of the scooer. I saw Le Socle withdraw a knife from the man's stomach, wipe the handle, throw the knife into a nearby dune and run towards the car. The door opened and Le Socle slid into the driver’s seat. He was breathing quickly and panicky, checking the mirrors. His tshirt was specked with blood. He revved the engine and reversed out of the carpark and onto the road, driving away from Blanes. I have to go away for a while, he said, I don't know how long, possibly a long time. Where would you like me to drop you? I can’t remember what I said. Possibly I didn’t say anything.