Odyssey of the Fly, Prose
London, 2014
It’s around 3 in the morning. I talk to a verbose Irish man who invokes his crucifix and tells me he’s scared to go back to his family. He doesn’t want them to ‘know how he lives’. Around us hovers his colleague, a Londoner, who’s deep into his second four-pack and is talking to the buildings. A hybrid car swings round the corner and stops a few feet away from us. The driver is distant and, by rote, says to the two men, ‘I’ve got a job for one of you’. He then notices me and asks, ‘He’s not police is he?’ I tell him no and the Irish man backs me up, then murmurs to the Londoner, ‘You can take this one’. The Londoner moves urgently to the car, straightening his coat, and climbs into the passenger seat. They depart without another word and the Irish man turns his attention back to me and carries on, unfazed. After some time, he makes as if to leave. I give him the coins I have in my pocket and tell him to take care.
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Odyssey of the Fly, Prose
Milan, 2012

A disgruntled Italian girl deposits us into the room and wordlessly hands over the keys. She vanishes before we can utter a word of thanks. We’re sharing the room with a burgeoning Chinese entrepreneur who refuses to put on clothes. He squats in his briefs, socks and bumbag, hands us a business card –

Lung Trading Co.
隆商貿有限公司

He’s already met the older 6-foot Caribbean tenant next door and they share jokes as we habitually kick our rucksacks out of sight. Once our cheerful neighbour has retreated back into his room to pack for check-out, Lung turns his attention to us. My friend does all the talking. I peel back clean white curtains to be caught off-guard by the sharp sunlight. Black bars decline our request to step out onto the balcony. I catch a comment from the conversation behind me.
‘Oh, you study arts? Where I come from, you study arts — you fail.’
We seep out onto the empty street and, after searching for something like a meal, settle for an empty restaurant nestled in a sleeping estate. This place, like the whole district, is hibernating at the height of summer. We’re courted by a clutch of restless waiters. I can’t dismiss the idea that the air is thicker here, as though the streets have been permeated with xenon. We leave for the station the next day and it occurs to me, then, that I never saw Mr. Lung with his trousers on.

 

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