Her eyes were clean like water, plane like mirrors, and icy- shining
reflectants, with a touch of bitterness revealing the angryness in her
mood, but he was madly in love with the unpityful brightness of this
sort of sight.
Never mind if she was so tough- girl with a rebellious attitude towards AD Police; never mind if she was completely reluctant when he spoke to her; never mind if he was constantly rejected by her: she was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, the ' thing of beauty' he was dreamt of in all of his life, a life of a dedicated, frustrated special- crimes inspector, a pathetic, poor single- man' s life, with no beloved woman in it.
But, in despise of an adverse, ironic Fate, he was hoping in her to build a future together.
And, in truth, despite her external coldness, he knew that she was a caring person inside: once, he noticed her near the boardwalk playing with a wild kitten, which was trusting her without any fear; and she loved children, and she sent roses to her friends even only for greetings them to have done little tendernesses in her regards.
No questions: all of this touched him in an intense, eerie way.
Leon McNichol wasn't never rid of listening to her sensuous voice: her last album, ' Mad Machine' was a real masterpiece who has projected Priss and 'The Replicants' rock- band in the universe of the stars, and she was having a carreer, a great one, a good real, real good, as he could see in specialized magazines and recently also in the newspapers.
But her voice on a track- record was all he could reach or, at least, so he thought.
Twilight was passed, leaving only big visions of the architectural soul of the metropolis: evening felt down, revealing a sour obscurity lightened by artificial lights.
Leon was driving in the main road, the city was glittering in the darkness, quiet and silent, the Genom Tower standing imponent in its coldness, an industrial vision of what cyber- genetics could do in good an evil, every skyscraper luminous and perfect in the purity of the balanced streamliness, concealing the human trash and the cyberpunk who afflicted the developed society.
But MegaTokyo that night seemed quite a normal city, no Boomers' messing around, no hightly- sophisticated robots born to serve and kill, so he could collect himself, and thinking to his own problems, and his own heartache.
There was no chance for Leon to invite Priss to go out with him: every time it seemed they were destined by chance to cross their paths, but after a while she soflty slipped away from him, with no reason, in the lights of the night, under the boardwalk, maybe in infamous shooting galleries going among junk people, or escaping in the squalor of an abandoned underground, or even alone on a lonely motorbike, pointing at the desolation of Aqua City, the Tokyo bay where polluted water brought trashery from a black, dead ocean.
This wasn' t normal for a girl, except if she was… a bioroid.
After all, this is the epoch of the artificial intelligence, he thought, frantically, pondering the hypothesis.
No, that' impossibile, murmured then, rejecting vehemently that abstruse concept, that mad idea floating in his brain.
She was human, 100% human being.
Her strangeness was depending on other circumstances, he was sure of it: even if she was having success, she remained a wild child at heart, an extravagant creature closer to ethereal, aiming dark atmospheres, visiting strange, sinister people, wandering down- town better than uptown.
Oh, my sweetheart, Leon breathened, and began searching for the ruined pack of Luke Strikes in his leather- jacket' s pocket.
Priss was different in her special manner from every other girl he had ever met, so mysterious, so evanescent, so strong and frail in the same line, with no words and a handful of unspoken secrets which were covered by a veil of spotty fogg.
And simply she was so London- like, the quintessence of the weird, with such an eccentric aplomb, very distant from everything except her own interests.
She was such a girl, thought Leon in his inner, and shook his head: no way she could change, no way for him to arrive in Priss' twilighty, alluring world.
Driving quietly, he was maybe hoping to see her motorbike surpassing him in excess of limits, only to have the excuse to chase her, to stop her… to talk to her.
There had been too much misanderstandings between them.
Strange, those feelings… Leon never expected to have such a crush in someone so difficult to reach.
But he was strangely calm: he has learnt to watch after her in a special manner, without forcing events.
And, maybe, this could be the way to obtain faith from her, and win her proud, suspicious heart.
He remembered her gentle feminine features, who he had immediately appreciated, her artistical gestures, her body which was to die for, the seraphic glimpse of her cat-like eyes: and took another breath, be patient, man, he said sadly to himself, you can' t manage this thing only rushing into her life… or she will feel danger, and she will become berserk.
Oh, he was so sick of waiting for the right moment to arrive.
He has dreamt of her a lot of times: and he was never able to see the end of the dream.
He lighted the cigarette, changed music, listening to a sort of heavy- metal band which he knew the male leader: how many times has Evil Lancelor said to him ' Change perspective!'? How many times Daley Wong, his collegue, said to him ' You cause yourself in thinking to that girl… find another more simpler to understand.'?
But no, he wasn't able to change his mind: he knew he was jealous even of Priss' past, he has never enough to take informations on her, and fortunately Nene Romanova wasn' t the person who deserved this to him.
Nene was one of the best friends of Priss, but less- conscious of Priss' complex behaviour.
' Why is she so rude with me?' Leon wonders, but there was no evident answer to him, apart of the difference of her way of life… and the brutal wounds of her soul, which he didn't know, ' cause she was too hermetic to reveal herself to someone she wasn't trusting at all.
Infact, Priss had no faith in Leon at all, and he smelled this with a sort of inner pain.
' Are you sure you can comfort her, man?' Daley said once, and he wasn't able to answer a secure yes: he was a simple man, nor an intellectual, nor a psychologist, not the man who could be perceptive on feelings and emotions of a so strange girl.
Man, it' s a lost battle, he thought again, struggling in the muddy paludes of his heart: she was lost, lost, and never found… she was gone for good… he felt like he couldn' t have seen her again.
The city was lying ahead, skyscrapers and big visions of a vulnerable future seemed to show monuments to human power and costant loneliness: Leon stopped the AD Police patrol car near the road, on a parking place, and took a deep breath: he wanted to change CD, the only thing who could cancel his exile was Priss' voice, the bittersweet symphony of her melancholic, cyber- gothic art.
He came back before the first lights of dawn. Opened the door, entered
the dark waiting- room, looked at the gorgeous Danish- dog sleeping on
the couch. His life was always in such a way: work, work, work, then
home, then having an escort- preferably a bioroid with no feelings to
hurt- to live the illusion of a normal sexual life, then
listening to silly friends and superficial people.
Man, what a mess, he thought, yawning, while the boots were trashed away in the corner: his flat was abandoned and trashy, cans of beer on the floor, men' s magazine impiled on a chair, half- ratty clothes all around. All abandoned and trashy, like him.
And cold, he suggested to himself, cold as a crypt, as if living people never enter it.
He barely noticed the sheets of his bed wrapped around the weights he used for exercising his muscles. He took off the shirt, posed the gun, jumped on the flex, and suddenly all the tireness of a distressing night ran through his arms and legs.
Fortunately, for two days he was off- duty, ' cause working by night was like living in a false biorithm.
Far, so far from him, the vague noize of a plane which was leaving the airport reported to him the melancholy of the travel: when he was younger, he had a frenzy to live around the world.
Then, growing, he discovered with a hint of frustration that his world was all there, in that sultry city.
He wonders if Priss was on that distant plane, or waiting at the gate with her passport in hand and her group at her side: in five days The Replicants started the European Tour, and she was returning in her beloved UK, where some voices murmured she was planning to remain… he had read an interview she had released where she stated she needed to escape from sadness of her life, and reconstruct a future on a neutral territory, but she didn't intend to explain the reason she wanted to quit Tokyo.
Leon felt the old sensation of a little painful bit in his soul.
Ah, this life… my life… my life is empty and hollow…
Eyes were slowly closing, forces were flying down, and all the rational thoughts were rushing in a cloud of sleep.
Ah, Priss… come to me, if only you could be mine, even for a while… Priss…
Last image in Leon' s mind was a hauntingly beautiful, painstakingly cover of British Vogue on the front wall, were a marvellous young model, dressed in white and long, was watching him with a hint of lust in her mid- open lips, dreams of love in her tantalizing, icy- shining eyes.
Before giving herself to music, she was a model.
A successful one, in truth: but she suffered the absence of her proper voice.
She was only a beautiful image, fixed up in glamourous glossy pages: she was highly paid to strike the poses, highly paid to look in the camera, highly paid to be simply ' Superbe! Divine!', as the french couturiers were used to say when she was in Paris to model the collections.
Priss led the good life in the fast lane before having the age to understand what' s real and what' s not.
But baby- models don't think, they aren't paid to claim a stop and focus on their too easy bucks, or voltures around: skin is excellent at underage, and fifteen- sixteen years old come once in life.
So, live fast, ' cause it won' t last, sang a vintage Seventies song of Blondie: and Priss did it, ' I' m sure one day you will be The Next Big Thing', sadly said her friend Johanna when Priss received the invitation to visit a major agent in London.
Priss felt sorry for her: she was sure Johanna wanted to be herself among all them glittering, but she wasn't pretty enough.
So, Priss had to left her behind: ' You have got the right face, the right body, the right look, and this ' don't give a shit' attitude that costs a month' s rent in a luxury flat near Bond Street', said the little gay talent- scout who discovered her while she was rushing in a tash- market in Rotterdam, during a brief holiday.
In six months, she had graced the cover of British Vogue twice, British Elle once, and Harper's quite at every new issue.
She was the face for My Dior's advertising campaign, the body for John Galliano's couture house, the shack, voluptuous image for every visionary photographer with enough romantic nightmares in his head to make a film only on her special ahura.
She was, definitely, a state of Art, but she wasn't the Artist. She was The Creature, but she wasn't The Creator.
No cleverness, nor intellectual efforts in what she was doing: she needed to be simply perfect.
Shut up and smile.
This, she got on and on for five years or so.
Then, things started to change.
In the beginning she became erratic, and frantically the fashion world is built on simple norms: be strange if you want to set a trend, be strange the necessary to construct a dream and to sell out a product, but don' t be so strange to subvert the frail equilibrium which is the base of an ephemeral business- and, on the long distance, discontinous efforts in works can create a damage in fashion, even if you have got this extraordinary look, and you are this extraordinary girl, as all the people who support your well- paid job are well- inclined to say.
Then, time passed, and she was pissed of the biz: more happily she exchanged cool parties with grunge or metal events; she made friends more among freaks, poets, musicians and outsiders in politics than among the politically correct upper class; she stopped to wear Valentino or Neiman Marcus' outfits to convert her wardrobe into a more dark, gothic- like personality; she mixed with nonchalance cool and trash, and her behaviour also changed, bringing her into a sort of sinister coldness, and she became acting in an umpredictable, bitchy way.
Her last period under the glitters of runaways was remembered by her desolated booker like the ' terrifying days of this dishonorable punkish debauchery, or something similar'; and when she quitted, nobody remembered her name, except if it was paired with the euphemism of ' that gothic- model', a lithe term designed only to conceal the disgust she had created among the capricious, snobbish world of the catwalks.
But for then, she was gone, leaving all the nuisance of the bad chattings and the vacuum of the field to the young stars who were raising behind her; and naturally all her fatty cachets vanished in a whirl of changed wind, and she was suddenly, from a day to another, a simple next- door' s girl, with no stylish make- up on her icy eyes or perfect lady- like hairdos: the ephemeral, sustained fabulousness in which she had lived for five years was gone, totally an has- been experience lost in the foggy- cloud of high- style souvenirs.
Leon woke- up three hours later. He was destroyed, so he wasn' t able to relax and sleep.
The siren of a patrol car was urgently hurling in the long distance.
The city was rage- aholic as usual, caos and silence, crisis and biz, crime and police fighting in the human madness; the futuristic chic of a cybergoth vision of the metropolis he had appreciated during the night was vanished in the air like magic, leaving only the tom tom of an early trafficked wake- up.
He gave himself a fast shower, reached the kitchen covered only by a towel, searched for a cold, instant coffee to warm up, looked at himself in a little broken mirror, and saw his clumsy, grey- coloured face, as if thin ashes of the polluted atmosphere has congestioned permanently his underskin tone.
He looked like he had grown into it, in some way: he wasn't changed much from twenty yrs old to thirty- five, even if his features were distressed by the terrifying life he led, and in certain mornings he wasn' t able to recognize his proper image.
He had done another dream on Priss.
It was exhausting, but in some way, when he dreamt of her, he had the illusion she was there, in the flesh, and suddenly touching the prize could be real.
He pressed the button of the stereo, listening to a sad symphony played by Vangelis.
Leon was relieved to be single, he was too much attached to his own freedom. But, strangely, that girl appeared in his dreams like a melancholic spirit who needed to be rescued from such a past, and he wasn't able to escape to this temptation.
' Rachel' s Song' was in a certain way linked to the frail, spirited ahura Priss had around her.
Coffee was murmuring in the moka. Leon took a cup and became drinking it, reading the newspaper: in the Entertainment pages they were reporting Priss' tour as one of the major shows of the season.
Then, while reading, he remembered the strange dream he had just done.
The tall, gorgeous woman dressed in black was watching under their
Valentino's aviator- sunglasses the AD Police drug- section
bringing out of the gate a drug dealer who had eaten five kilos of
pillols with cocaine in them. Dogs were barking against this
apparently- normal type, and agents were stopping the curious people
around, while the inspector was scribbling down a report on the crime
The woman looked like a dark, but a sophisticated one: she was waiting for a little breakfast before dawn, until she hadn' t left Tokyo.
She was sure the inspector was an old acquaintance to her.
The guitarist of her group came next and sit down, while the others were ordering black, strong coffees and still- hot plum cakes.
Noises of glasses and cups, people walking with their trolleys on the floor, everyone with his own business, announces of the speakers camping in the hall: while the city was still sleeping, the airport lived its own atemporal life, subverting day and night.
' Morning papers, Priss', the guitarist said briskly, ' Hey hey hey. All the tabloids and magazines are just babbling about us…look at ' Rolling Stones', they confess to have had a special interview from us…'
He allonged the papers to Priss, but she took them without answering.
She was looking at the inspector, she knew his name… if she only could remember…
The bassist came also, already smoking in a so early hour.
' Can't you take a sandwich, for instance?'asked the guitarist, looking at ' no smoking' advices in good vision above them.
' Before leaving I need nicotine, I can' t resist all that turn- over of hours in pressurized cabin…'
He began murmuring with the guitarist, looking at the articles, commenting caustically, ' all this bullshits… no, no… no reason to write this… let our manager see this, and they will have an entire bunch of lawyers suing 'em…'
The inspector not too far was having a discussion with the captain of the section, ' I told you he was already put under control, we had some anonymous segnalations he was involved in an illegal traffic of body- parts for bioroids… Sexaroids, I think… that case was in Leon' s hands, but got nothing, ' cause we didn' t find any proof… we must call him to have the number of the practice…'
' Daley Wong!' she suddenly said, remebering that face; the other components of the band, who were reaching them, looked at her with interest.
' You know someone?' asked the drum player, looking around the hall, bringing with him her coffee in hand.
' Hang on a sec', she answered, and standing up she walked the distance between her and the inspector.
' Hey, what the hell, she' s hooking with that gay- type there?'asked the drum player giving a disgusted glance to the feminine attitude of Daley Wong, and the bassist made a strange noise with his pierced nose,
' She has always some moronic gay artist or designer to greet, ya know… drink your coffee, and give me hers, I don't believe she want it anymore.'
She came closer.
' Daley Wong', she said with a deep, quite apologizing undertone in her precious voice, ' Sorry for the disturb…'
Inspector Wong turned to see the young woman who called him by name, and suddenly the main page of a specialized music magazine came to his mind.
She was ' The' Priss.
' Priss! You are Priss of…'
' Please,' she prayed, with such an attitude, ' I' m in incognito…'
' Of course.'
There was nothing Daley Wong had to say to this strange creature, except that Leon had all the kind of photos of her on his confused, messed- up office desk; that had a glorified version of her when she was a model in his bedroom; that had put her on the screen of his computer; and wasn' t able to stop talking about her when he was off- duty.
' I need to have an information, if you can handle it to me…'
Daley Wong had the strange impression Priss was blushing under the sunglasses which, despise the turquoise, foggy- lens, couldn' t conceal at all her cat- like eyes with long long long trembling cils.
There was no homosexuality which could misunderstand Daley from seeing why Leon was so reluctant to forget this girl.
' If I can, surely', he said briefly.
' I need to know… about… that woman… Raven… you know what I mean…'
Surely, he knew. Raven was the Boomeroid, half organic half mechanic, which has lived with Leon for a little period before going berserk and being retired, as the police called all the operations linked to the destruction of Boomers and Boomeroids.
Daley felt the pain in the question, and the weight to answer.
It could be a tattletale, but also the truth.
' Y' know… ehm… Boomeroid… artificial women… don' t escape as… as real women… and it' s much simpler to avoid to take care of them… and to break with them, if things goes out of hand… It is sad to say, but… can you figure it out? The ideal solution for a man who doesn' t want to settle down with a woman, but doesn't want to remain all alone in the same… Sexaroid Boomers have no human feelings.', he finished harshly, performing a forced smile, quite in apologize for his own friend and collegue.
In what way was possible to tell her Leon was in love, but unable to share it to her?
It was a gift, or a gain, to have the bravery to live life at full trottle, and maybe Leon had courage only in his job.
In Priss' water- clean stare, a diamond' s tear floated for a single moment, or Daley believed to see it; then, the reflect of the ice passed on, and she became jaded.
Daley Wong could feel the coldness emanating from her suddenly nordic ahura, and made a step behind.
And so, he thoughts, she is The Priss, the Top Model, the Singer, but definetely the Last Diva of the Millennium, so starry- distant from humans and so sideral- looking, so perfect and so icy and so… horribly sad.
' I' m sorry…'
He felt the needing of bubbling an apology, and he didn't know why: it was Leon' s fault, not his.
' Thank you', she answered seraphically, before being reached by her companions.
The Replicants weren' t alone, an average man who Daley knew as the agent of the group talked to her:
' The gate is open, we have to wait for the check- in, don' t forget the fly, Gigi.'
Daley Wong saw the band, strictly under incognito behind dark sunglasses and vynil- trench- coats, making circle around her, the most reknown of the group, and walking through the hall, direction Gate 5 for European flies.
He snorted, shaking his head. This wouldn' t be good for Leon.
After the coffee, the phone rang.
' Leon, it' s me, Daley… this night, before dawn, we have found the drug dealer who was also under suspicion of recycling body- parts for illegal assemblation of Boomers…'
' Where was it?'
' At the airport… he was trying to exit the country… maybe it was not only drug… come to the General Inspector, when you can.'
Daley Wong stopped, remaining in stand- by modality for some seconds. Leon too seemed fixed in denial.
' Ehm… Leon?'
' I' m here.'
' Yes. I saw another thing… Priss with the group.'
'… She… she has gone. I don' t think she will come back. '
Leon breathened hardly, and closed his eyes. Daley waited for a sec, then, listening a loud sigh of regret, slowly picked up the phone.
It was non- sense when, after some days, the international press
reported the tragic notice of a famous model- turned- singer that, high
on barbiturics and gin, flied down from the terrace of the Palace Hotel
in London leaving all her fans stunned and upset.
It was more non- sense that, the same day the press released the news about the Star who fell down like a suicidal angel, Daley Wong found his collegue Leon McNichol shooted on the floor, gun in hand.
It was put in AD Police data- base as a suicide.
( ' Shrine to Bubblegum Crisis' )