yearzerowriters

Jatinder Singh

Anxious wreck.

 

[Issue 2]

 

INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM HURT

[Немногая укол не повернуло вверх.]

I walked into the editor’s office and told him I had nothing. Everyone I had thought of had ignored my e-mails.

“E-mails? We’re a magazine, Jay. Phone them up, talk to them, get someone. Krist!”

I went online and searched for people releasing something soon. There was Daniel Wu and Jackie Chan. They had a film out that was set in Japan. I pictured myself meeting them together, one on each side, flanking me. I pictured meeting Wu on his own. He was American, he could speak English. How would I cover up my mistakes if he could understand everything?

My hands were wet. I wiped them on the cushion of my chair. Then I felt under my arms, careful not to touch the shirt too hard. It wasn’t damp but I could feel the sweat forming on the skin underneath. Oh Krist…

I clicked away from Chan and Wu, and searched elsewhere.

The photographer walked past my desk and smirked. I ignored him. Another celebrity came up on my screen. William Hurt…he was in town for a few days, speaking at the local film festival.

Why was that bastard smirking? He didn’t remember, did he? The thing in the hotel with Tony Leung…nothing really happened, he couldn’t know…

William Hurt, Krist. If we could get him then…

I got up and went to the toilets and looked around to make sure it was empty then stood in front of the mirror. I pulled the arms of my shirt up and looked for damp patches. There were some spots, nothing huge, but it was noticeable on white. Oh God, Oh God…

“No, don’t…they’re just spots. Nothing big. Just go back, sit down and don’t lift up your arms.”

I walked back to my desk and saw the picture of William Hurt on the screen. He was behind a desk, at some other festival somewhere, and there was a microphone poking right in his face, and his mouth was half-open…he was saying something to them. The picture didn’t show it, but I knew there was a hundred, maybe even two hundred faces there. Two hundred faces, four hundred eyes…oh God, oh God…

William Hurt. William Hurt. He was serious, Krist, I had heard he was very serious…he was American, he’d understand, he’d hear my mistakes. He’d feel the sweat on my skin as I shook his hand. Would I have to shake his hand? Of course, of course I would. And he’d feel it…he’d know…

I felt the sweat underneath my shirt…it was growing…

The photographer walked past again and stopped at my desk. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“What? Yeah, course.” I didn’t say anything else and he went away.

Krist, everyone knew.

I got up and walked back into the editor’s office and told him that I’d bagged William Hurt. He was impressed and told me to make it special. Right, special. Two days later I’d tell him that he hadn’t turned up.

 

[Issue 3]

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT DOWNEY JR

[Немногая укол не повернуло вверх.]

Words by Jatinder Singh

“This is the one, Jay, don’t fuck it up,” Oli told me.

“You know I won’t.”

“Don’t interrupt, don’t intrude, don’t interrogate. Just let him talk.”

“Right,” I said and left, already sweating. That was my mission. The three I’s. Don’t even think about it.

I was in the hotel lobby waiting to be called up to the room. He was up there with another journalist now, another digger who had found out he was in town.

Robert Downey Jr. Back on form. He was out, now he’s back in. Oh krist…I felt under my arms. It was damp. I looked around the lobby for voyeurs, but everyone was busy with themselves so I slipped down into my chair and checked the armpits. Nothing there.

One of the staff came over and said he was ready to see me now. I nodded, picked up my water bottle and tried a line to get myself talking.

“What kind of mood’s he in, do you know?” I asked.

“I’m not sure, Sir. I’m working at the desk.”

“Oh right, yeah.”

I took the elevator up to the fifteenth floor. There was some shiny metal in there. I held up the underarms of my polo shirt and checked again. They were damp, I could feel it, but in the reflection, nothing.

“Krist, I fucking love you…” I said to my black polo shirt. “Fucking black as night.”

The elevator doors opened and the other journalist was there, playing back his tape. We said ‘hey’ to each other and I asked him if Downey was in a good mood. ‘Not bad’ the guy said back then stepped into the elevator. I looked back at him before the doors closed and saw that he was looking at my shirt.

What was it? I checked again. Nothing. Krist, stop it, Jay, there’s nothing, you’re home free.

The corridor ahead was empty. ‘You can’t fucking trip me, Downey, you cokey cunt,’ I said in hard, quiet breaths as I walked.

In the room, he was sitting on the couch, waiting for me. He smiled, got up and went for my hand. I put the water bottle down on the table and apologized for the wetness of my hand. ‘Water, y’know?’

‘Gotta drink it,’ he said back, fast.

We sat down and he waited for my first question. But I couldn’t remember it. I was in a room with Robert Downey Jr. We were going to have a conversation. Oh krist, what was my question?

“Sorry, did we switch roles?” he asked.

“No, no, it’s-…I’m just thinking of-…I’m just…y’know, planning the-…” planning the what? Krist, krist, black shirt, black shirt, calm down. “…first question.” I raised my voice, “and here it is…” I laughed, he jumped. “err…now that you’re back, like Iron Man and…the others…do you fear the old way coming back?”

“I’m sorry, old way?”

“Yes, the old way, the bad times, I mean. Do you fear something will destable-…derail you in…in some way?”

Krist, he was staring at me. Robert Downey Jr was staring at me. Black shirt, black shirt…

“I’m not really sure if I’m getting you here, your question’s a bit out of whack, but I think you might be trying to spin this round to the drugs stuff, right? That’s what you wanna know? Am I reaching for the coke again?”

“Yes, yes, the drugs,” I said, elated, sweating. He understood me.

He pulled himself closer, his hands playing with each other. Was he nervous too?

“Listen, man, normally you guys like to play nice for a bit first then broach the crack questions, and that’s the way I like it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll talk about anything, I’m gregarious on Iron Man, Chaplin, coke whatever, but I appreciate a little respect first.”

I didn’t want to, but I looked into his eyes. There was no make-up. Dark circles, dark eyes, he was mad. I couldn’t hold it and looked away.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do that-…I didn’t mean to start at that…at that moment,” I said to the couch.

Black shirt, black shirt…

“So the answer is, yes, I’m scared of drugs, but no, I’m not using anymore. Ok?”

I nodded and said sorry again.

“Next question.”

Next question. I looked at my notes. There were questions written down, but I couldn’t make sense of them. The words were dancing out of place, they were blurred, they had no meaning. I couldn’t understand anything. Then a thought. What if you can’t ask another question? He’s waiting, he’s looking at you. What if you physically, mentally cannot ask another question? Oh krist.

“Do you have another question?”

Black shirt, black shirt. But it wasn’t the sweat anymore, it was the room. I was trapped. I wanted to leave but couldn’t. He was there. He wouldn’t stop me, but I couldn’t leave. There was a deal I had made, an arrangement with reality, to ask a set of fucking questions. It was the same as being trapped in a box, only the lid and the sides were expected procedure, not physical blocks. Expected procedure? Krist, stop, stop…

“You really haven’t got the hang of this interviewing thing, have you?”

The words danced on the page, they danced in my head. They wouldn’t make sentences. The only words I had were panic and infamy. Black shirt, black shirt, black fucking shirt.

“I’m sorry, can I use your bathroom?”

I stood up and walked over there before he said I could. I heard him muttering something behind me, something about the interview being over. I blocked it out and just tried to get to the bathroom.

 

[Issue 4]

INTERVIEW WITH SHAWN YUE

[Немногая укол не повернуло вверх.]

Words by Jatinder Singh

“Forget Downey, Jay. Forget him,” Oli said. “It happens to all of us…”

It’s Downey-town, man. Forget it, I thought, closing the door, picking the notepad off my desk and walking out of the office.

Three interviews in the next week. All locals, all small-time. Thank krist.

Outside it was cold. Not arctic cold, but cold enough. I pulled the jacket tight around me and smiled.

The first one up, Shawn Yue. I’d googled him the day before and the stuff I found wasn’t too intimidating. A local, plucked from the streets as a teen, a singer then an actor, ‘Infernal Affairs 2’ and other crap, not the smartest guy around.

I walked into the café and saw what I thought must be him sitting in the corner. I waved, he nodded.

“You found me fast…” he said as I shook his hand and said hey.

On my hand was the glove. That beautiful fucking glove. Under the glove, a little sweat. I could feel it grouping together on the palm…but, shit, he didn’t know that.

“I’m good with faces,” I said back.

He didn’t say very much in the interview. And what he did say was naïve.

Not the smartest guy around, ha. But what about that heat? Wasn’t it getting a little hot in here?

I asked some more questions, looking around when he answered. Where were the vents? I looked upwards. Was there one above me? Krist, there wasn’t, but the heat…what were they doing?

“I’ve spoken to Edison a few times since what happened and I know for sure he’s sorry about it all. I mean, he’s a good guy, a really good guy.”

The small-timer was speaking, but I couldn’t hear him properly. I could see his mouth and I could recognize the words, but, krist…krist, it was all code, I couldn’t understand any of it.

“Are you alright?” he asked me.

I could feel the sweat on my head. I knew it wasn’t as much as I was imagining, I knew it wasn’t visible, I knew it wasn’t bad, I knew it-…

“Are you hot?”

“What? No…it’s not…” I looked upwards again.

Krist, it wasn’t possible, it wasn’t. I had it in the-…in the palm of my hand. He was dumb, I was in command, I was commanding, confident, calm, but…it turned, he turned it. No, they turned it. The heat. Krist, the fucking heat. Turn the cold on. I can’t take off the jacket. I can’t. The sweat, it’s…it’s under there, I can feel it. Krist, it’s a swamp, a fucking swamp, it’s…

“You wanna take your jacket off or something?”

“No, no, I’m fine. I’m ok.” I watched him stare at my head.

There was a tissue on the table. I could pick it up. Wipe my head. Couldn’t I?

“Nah, you should take your jacket off, man. It’s cooler that way. ”

Krist, think. The shirt was wet, a swamp, there’s no way that could come out, but the head, my head…that had to be fixed. It had to…I could feel it. Dripping. Krist, dripping off my fucking head in a fucking coffee shop in the middle of fucking winter while everyone else is fine, normal…krist, they’re normal, they’re all so fucking normal and I’m strange, I’m not right, I’m strange, they know it, and it’s all gonna break open this time, it’s gonna break and I don’t know, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but it’s bad, it’s gonna be real bad and they’ll all see…they’ll see, and krist, my chest, my heart, my fucking heart, it’s beating too fast, way too-…it’s beating…it’s, krist, it’s kicking out of my chest, it’s…I’m gonna…it’s…

I held out my glove and told him I had to go.

“You’re done already?”

I didn’t answer. My head was a lake. My shirt was…I walked out of there, bumping chairs as I went.

I sat at home on my sofa, alone.

December 23rd. Christmas in two days. Not that it meant anything. I had cancelled everything I’d been invited to. Parties and dinners and all that.

The TV was on. Someone was holding a meeting in Cantonese.

I watched the boss man. No jacket, no black shirt, no panic. He talked to his men, fifteen, twenty of them, thirty, forty eyes all looking at him and his plain white shirt.

Krist, a plain white shirt. When was the last time I wore one of those?

I picked up the glass of red and thought about the other two interviews. I couldn’t cancel, I’d lose my job, so…

I tried combinations. Black shirt and jacket. White shirt under a jumper. Black shirt under a jumper.

The boss man picked up a pen and drew something on a whiteboard, the underarm of his shirt exposed for them all to see. Nothing there.

Krist, it’s me, isn’t it? It’s completely, utterly me. But is it really that…I mean, is there really no way out? It won’t always be this way. People change all the time, things change, situations change. It won’t be like this forever, it can’t…

I stood with my waist pushed tight against the wall and looked over. What? Seventy, eighty feet down? It wasn’t the highest place, but it was high enough.

It was cold, but my palms were sweating. I wiped them against the cement, leaving wet prints.

Krist, it would have to be head-first, wouldn’t it? If I jump then turn, it should…or do I dive down? Would I spin back round to my feet if I did that?

I climbed up and lay sideways across the wall. There wasn’t anyone around to stop me. Only the cars and trucks below, but they couldn’t do anything.

I’m stuck, I think for the billionth time. It never goes, it never goes…it never goes, it never goes…

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