CAMUS & AYONA

I went dancing with her once. Her name was Ayona and she smoked long, thin cigarettes. She told me she was Mongolian, but I wasn’t sure. She thought her eyes, wrapped in slits of dark yellow flesh, were her best feature (she told me so), but it was her lips that I found most attractive (I told myself so). I liked the way they moved — slow and awkward twists at the ends when she spoke, and extended at the centre when she got angry with philosophical irony, a subject she said was ‘totally useless in consecrating any meaning to our already fucked up existence.”

Getting back to the dance … Ayona called late in the night. I knew it was her because she would call and hang up twice and then at the third time she would pick up and say, “Hey chimpanzee boy …,” in short, erratic breaths. That night, our conversation went beyond our mutual interest in Albert Camus, specifically The Outsider , which she claimed she had read 103 times. Like me she was a loner, so I was surprised when she asked me to go to an “invitation only” party. I looked in the the old cracked mirror above the phone as I spoke to her, and my face metamorphosed into hers; her lips moved and gave their twists, but no words came out.

“Are you there?” she said over the line breaking me from the trance.

“Yes, ok then, I’ll go the party,” I said.

“I’ll pick you up on a motorbike,” she said and hung up.

As I dressed in my black outfit, I could hear her motorbike outside. It was as if she had flown here. Maybe she had. I pulled the curtain aside. She was in all black (leather) too. The helmet was also black with two silver arrows on either side coming out of similarly coloured crescent moons.

Her eyes were not visible through the dark visor. I said hi to her. She didn’t say anything or perhaps she did but I couldn’t hear it through the helmet and motorbike noise. She handed me a helmet. It had music, soft trance, playing in it, and Camus’ words, “picture the exact moment when the beating of my heart [will] no longer be going on inside [your] head,” rotating through the track.

We took the first bend sharply. I held onto her waist. As we entered the highway, she turned up the volume. The music exploded in my cranium, the inner eye resonating a large sunflower and then an explosion of it, large petals flying in all directions.

She braked sharply and dismounted the motorbike. I did likewise. Still with the helmet on, she walked towards an ornate wooden door with a large lion head at the centre of it made of copper. She knocked three times. I took my helmet off. She took hers off too. It wasn’t Ayona, but a man I’d never seen. He had peroxide-blonde hair and a dark handlebar moustache, and spoke in a language I couldn’t understand. I nodded in agreement as he knocked again.

The door opened. Ayona stood there in a flowing red dress framed by an indigo blue light. I could hear “LA Woman” playing in the house. “Come on in chimpanzee boy,” she said.

“Who’s that?” I asked, as the motorbike took off.

“Paco-Chino,” she replied, handing me a drink. “Did you like the ride?”

“Yeah!” I said perhaps too excitedly. “So, where’s the party?”

“Right here chimpanzee boy,” she said.

She commenced to dance under the dim light, swirling from right to left like a sufi dancer. “When you dance in these swirls,” she said, “it symbolises the earth’s rotation of the moon. Did you know that?”

I said I didn’t and sat on the couch and had another drink and then another and then another and then another … and then I lost count, while I watched her dance. “Hold my hands,” she said. I got up and danced with her for many hours in those swirls, and then it all got blurry and I blacked out.

I woke up on a green velvet couch. There was reggae music playing over loud speakers and a drunk man standing over me. He had three teeth, a long pointy nose, and stunk of tobacco.

“Who are you?” I said, alarmingly. “Where’s Ayona?”

“You were off your rocker last night weren’t you boy?” he said.

I looked up at the mirrored ceiling behind him. There was a bar to my right, an old bald man busying himself with an ice bucket. Behind him sat a Hispanic-looking lady smoking a long, thin cigarette like Ayona’s. I got up and went to the bar, grabbed some crumbled notes from my pocket and ordered a scotch on the rocks. I ordered a drink for the drunk man too. When I asked them where Ayona was they all began to laugh. They finally stopped when I ordered another scotch, this time a double, and then another and another, until I commenced to dance and fell to the ground.

It was a familiar voice. I opened my eyes. My psychotherapist stood over me. He said, “That was some trip you had my lad, it really was! I want to hear a lot more of it on your next visit. “ He began to laugh and I laughed with him. “Alright,” he said handing me my jacket, “you may leave now.”

I followed my long shadow on the empty streets. I arrived home and went to the fridge. There was a handwritten note on it, held by a magnet, which read:

“ It is better to burn than to disappear… I hope you had a great night. A.”

There was a big bright moon between a break in the curtains and I saw Ayona swirling around it, over and over …