A man in white djellaba crossing a high rise balcony. A view from a compound window in Tucson. Wagtails dying by the motorway. ‘My name is Mieko Tan. Welcome to my crazy world!!!’ The last spire of Venice slipping beneath the waves.
Not long into his stay in the retreat, Morgan realised where he’d first seen Elena Fisk. She sat near him at lunch: a tall, pale, gently muscular woman with sedate grey eyes behind narrow retro glasses, her black dreadlocks twisted into the shape of a tortured spider. She shared a table with another recent arrival, a Swedish man, who, during those first lonely days Morgan had entertained himself by imagining as a Scientology spy. He’d always felt a flutter of recognition whenever he’d seen Elena around, and during the meal, while the residents conversation droned through the long dining room, while cutlery chimed upon plates and someone improvised on a guitar, he searched his memory. He was feeling a little dazed, a comedown from the prescribed hallucinogens he’d taken the previous evening. He’d taken too much, too quickly: the excesses of a middle-aged man chasing his youth. As he sat in the canteen, toying with his vegetable pilaf, he felt humiliated and slightly forlorn. A group of people next to him talked about William Reich. The high windows looked out over the sea. The light glowed like a flare of magnesium through the panes. Across the room, Elena turned her head, smiled at something the Swedish man said. Morgan realised: he’d seen one of her clips.