The Bloodstone Papers by Glen Duncan

– I’m not averse to making money, but I am congenitally lazy. Also, what will change do except remind me of brevity, ephemera, death? Endings.

– Life was something else, the feeling of significance you got at odd moments…

– It hurts. Not Daniel specifically, just the tingling electric aura all their young lives have that my life doesn’t. They have a Friday night to go to, parties, drugs, sex. There is for each of them the absolute certainty of his or her centrality in the universe. They don’t even need love yet. The adult realisation of your own radical non-centrality is bearable if love arrives. Love is being the centre of someone else’s universe and having them the centre of your own, in which case the universe, whether it’s owned by God or physics or Ronald Mcdonald, can take a hike. But as I watch them go – boys with a rubbery testosteronal lope, Louise’s sashay, Kate’s hunched shoulders […] – I see that they’re still running on childhood’s myth, that their lives matter, superlatively, objectively, that if not God at least their eager, significant future is watching, waiting for them to reach it and fully blossom, even if it be the terrible glamorous blossom of suicide. What couldn’t they be, in the future? What adventures in ecstasy and despair aren’t they destined to have? The idea that their lives will be more or less bearable like more or less everyone else’s is to them intuitively absurd. I remember what that was like and it’s not like that anymore.

– I’m leadenly soaked by its ordinariness, by the weight of my unexceptional heartaches, by, yes, the commonness of the disease of remembering the way things once were.

-I sit down, hand her her drink, take a sip of mine and wait for the single malt flower between the lungs which opening says, shshsh, be calm, all is well. There it is, testifying once again to the reliability of alcohol.

– She’s away to one side watching but occasionally returns to within herself, looks at me with what seems genuine unanalytical imprisonment at the moment. God knows whether it’s doing anything for her down there. Her getting-pleasure face – slight frown, flared nostrils – is like a little girl’s you’ve-offended-me face, but I’ve seen the expression on other women’s faces before, that hurt look as if the pleasure’s an affront or a perplexing betrayal.

– This had relaxed him, too, that there were such women in the world, but at the same time depressed him because he knew he wanted something more, something fierce and private, a contract against loneliness, against, if he thought about it, death. He wanted, her supposed – the word was a shock to him when he arrived at it – love.

– bodies in superficial allegiance.

– she disengaged, stepped back, leaving me open-mouthed leaning out into nothing. Light from where a window-board had slipped came in and gave one half of her hair a nimbus.

– Already life was starting to mutter, the insistent prosaic substructure.

– ‘And you liked it with those who were paying you?’

‘Only very occasionally.  But I had men who weren’t paying. I had boyfriends when I wanted them. I’m being misleading. Pleasure wasn’t primarily the incentive. It was that I was good at becoming things, what they desired. That, believe it or not, is empowering; or at least it creates an illusion of empowerment.

Anyway the novelty wears off. It becomes impossible to see non-paying men as well as anything that furtive or repressed versions of paying ones.’

– God doodles baroquely in wood grain and stone lode but there was room in creation for amusing little circles, too, ten years in your life but a split-record whim of his.

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