The Pulse: Paris
Kenneth suspected that Martine was patronizing him. So he decided to turn a few screws. "Let's see if I can explain this in terms of Jean-Marc's scholarly interest in Michael Jackson, manga artists, and Japanese schoolgirls.” Martine bristled, but was curious.
“Let’s start with a scenario that I’m sure Jean-Marc would appreciate: a vampire stalking a wide-eyed school girl. Both of these characters are ruled by essentialism: one's a crippled soul that lives forever and the other's a stereotype that can't seem to die." Martine made a little face, but Kenneth ignored it. He'd listened a dozen times to Jean-Marc talk about how the wide eyes represented the Japanese cultural reference to something or other. He figured it was his turn to turn Japanese culture into whatever he wanted.
"Let’s call him Lestatique and let's call her Alikiko. She lives in a little apartment and walks to the nearby university. I won’t draw a picture of her, as you know it already: her eyes are anatomical impossibilities, since they cover about two-thirds of her face. She looks about ten years old, but has enormous breasts and acts like a suppressed nymphomaniac. When she eats seafood, octopi reach up from the plate.” Martine’s jaw tightened, and a slight pink flush brought out the beautiful vein on her forehead. The vein reminded him of Julia Roberts.
“Tired of trolling the Paris subways for fresh young bodies to feed on, Antonio Lestatique decided to create a new life for himself in Japan."
"Yet the city was too crowded. It didn’t have the dark underground churches and palaces that you find in Paris. There was no Brad Pitt and no Antonio Banderas."
"He was just another old vampire, past his prime, trying to make it in a world of iPhones and Instagrams, Hello Kitties and sparkling manga. He had to come up with a new way of enticing his victims. No one was interested in the simplicity of the dripping fang anymore. He had to offer them The End of the World. It had to be a Cultural Apocalypse, a Ragnarok with VR head-sets and Radioactive Kittens with Super-powers."
"So Lestatique tried a new strategy. He pretended to bump accidentally into Alikiko. His bright drawings scattered over the pavement next to a Jungian stairwell. Two of his most glittery drawings slid over the edge and down into the well. The drawings were of a girl in a red cape, but Alikiko didn’t really care for literary anthropology. It was the colours she liked. Sparkling red. Like cherries frosted with golden sugar. One of the cherries was labeled, EAT ME."
Kenneth sat back in the velvet chair and waited for a reaction. Martine was annoyed but asked nevertheless, “Fine. What happens next?”
"Well, what options does she have? She can keep her tartan skirt on and do her math tables, or she can let herself fall into the well, into a dark world of crimson borders. Down there she doesn’t have to swim like the fish in the school. She doesn't have to read dull books with no drawings or dialogue. She can refashion herself, become exactly what she wasn’t supposed to be. She can wear black lipstick and have sex with the Devil himself."
"So what you’re saying is that women are just like men: predictably, they want security and they want escape. But what they get is a choice between a norm and a stereotype. It’s predictable that an overworked Japanese university student would fantasize about the blood-drinking demons of the Parisian underground on her way to her class in Business Management."
"But what'll make her choose? Is it random chance that she met a man who offered her what she thought she wanted? Or was she meant to respond to lace and crimson hearts, meant to find herself in the fantasy art that's replaced Shinto sticks and Buddhist heavens? Or is there a third option -- something incalculable, something that defies probability?”
Kenneth looked at the necklace between Martine's breasts.
The kyanite drew him into her world. Everything he said seemed to make an argument like the one she made when she put her fingers up to her lips and told him about the ring.
He couldn't admit it, but he didn't know the answer to his own question. He didn't know why he felt the way he did. He wasn't sure of anything. All he knew is that he wanted to stay with her, drinking bottle after bottle of wine. And stop her from going to see Jean-Marc.
He didn't give a damn about his lecture or about Pascal's God.
She thought to herself, And he thinks he's superman.
Next: Mirror, Mirror