Excerpt from a novel – Ibiza

Posted on July 26, 2010 by


4.45pm Sunday. Ibiza. I guess some people are just built to let others down. Somewhere in the middle of the swimming pool, insufficient buoyancy means that, every couple of minutes, cold chlorinated water seeps past the back of my head. It’s not altogether unpleasant. I can see surfaces and they are all white, except for the floor-to-ceiling windows that form the south aspect of the villa. All are smooth, all are angular. In front of me, fir trees guard the perimeter of the property, giving way to heat-parched fields where tiny dust storms kick up. Up in the hills, this is the only building in the near vicinity, although in the distance there are boxy yellow low-rise rectangles reaching right down to the sea.

My sunglasses are heavy as I angle my head so I can see Zucker Flailing and Jamie Valentine throwing a ball around with two Spanish chicas, over to my right.  The dull ache is still there but the panic attack I had earlier has subsided, after a couple of Jack n’Valiums on the plane. The girls are laughing, splashing around. I glance at my watch, and the realisation that it is Sunday afternoon and that, instead of lunching with my father and my girlfriend, I am instead at a private villa in the Balearics, stings when it hits.

            ‘Learn to throw’ says Zucker, pausing to drink from a glass of vodka. ‘Jeez, even Jared could do better than that! Only joking, Jar’

            The girl glances at me, and then slaps Zucker playfully on the upper arm. She picks up her glass and moves towards me through the water, and then pauses, looking at me, her head on one side. I watch her brown torso and feel a prick of sexual excitement which is fortunately not followed up by an erection, given the brief pair of zebra-print D&G swimming trunks I have been lent by Jamie Valentine, whose place this is.

            ‘Ah, but Mr Jared is so cute. You may have the brawn, Zucker, but he is most certainly the most beautiful.’

‘Pretty boy Montague does it again’, shouts Valentine, although he appears to be doing quite well himself, the other girl, topless, gloriously contorted around him.

            I wonder if the girls are hookers and decide that they probably are. I manoeuvre my inflatable to the side of the pool where I take a drink from the bottle of vodka I have left there. The thought that none of this, the drugs, the prostitutes, the blackouts, the waste of money, is likely to make me any more popular with the public crosses my mind for a second, but the enormity of trying to process it seems so tiring that I push it from my mind. I also dismiss all thoughts of the ‘what if they could see you now Jared?’ type. Instead, I call out to Valentine and ask if he has another ecstasy tablet. He does; I pop it in my mouth and lay back, enjoying the heat on my face, and the mellow house music which is playing quietly from discreet speakers: soft, rounded, like pieces of tasteful furniture.

            I sleep. Time passes, and when I open my eyes again, the inflatable has drifted to the side of the pool, and the sun is stained across the sky weak red like blood spilled in water. It’s cooler now, and my legs are pricked with goose pimples. I shiver, enjoying the feeling. Zucker Flailing is sitting next to me on another inflatable, and they bump into one another occasionally like boats moored in a marina.

            ‘So how you finding it, Jared?’ says Zucker. He’s smoking a long spliff, perfectly rolled like a miniature ice-cream cone.

            ‘It’s great here – I come out a few times a year. We film the show here sometimes and…’

            Zucker laughs. ‘I don’t mean here – I mean your life. You’ve done pretty well. A TV show. A nightclub. Women. How is it?’

            I stare out across the pool and into the distance, where I can see Es Vedra tear up out of the water like a shark’s fin.

            ‘Forget about me – next to you, I don’t even exist!’

            He laughs and pushes the water back out of his eyes. His hair is a tight afro. I follow little trails of light around the curls. He has a heavy silver diver’s watch on, three rings, and a chunky bracelet. His physique is hard like wood. His tattoos speak of destiny, unity and purpose. A breeze hovers over the pool and I shiver again.

            ‘Can I ask you something Zucker? Do you ever get scared? All the attention you get. Does it ever, you know, bother you?’

            ‘Bother Zucker?’ He laughs again, the chest rising, an almost hydraulic demonstration of strength. ‘Are you even weirder than you come out on that weirded out show? Man, I love it.  The fans, the girls, the clubs – man, I’m gonna come and check out your place soon too. See what kind of pussy you guys have got hiding down there!’

            ‘But don’t you ever feel watched? All the time? It never gets you down? You never think why me? Do I deserve this?’

            ‘Now you’re starting to freak me! I do what I love – as simple as that. I’ve been kicking a ball around since I was a kid tearing up the streets in Clapton. I like to be watched. Of course I deserve this. Man, what are you talking about?’ He pauses and takes a drink of beer. ‘Dude, stop questioning everything. There’s two sides, and you’re on the right side. That’s all you have to remember.’

            I nod, nausea bubbling up in my throat, which I swallow. Now is not the time for sickness – I know from experience. Now is the time to be strong. Just one more onslaught. Nearly there. There is more night but soon you will finish. Soon lights dim around the villa and the smell of pine and Eucalyptus coalesces with the tang of Vodka, the chary smoke of duty-free cigarettes and the waft of cannabis. Oh to have smelled the sea – I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t. Instead the laughter, about what I forget, tinkling, silly. Instead the SUV, its outsized wheels crushing dust and sand, taking us to the black worm of motorway which winds across the island, passing infrequent lights, her mouth on my mouth, my hand on her bare leg, passing infrequent towns, until we reach the starry port. Yachts plumped up proud like gulls. Floating motorcades, naked parties, skinny-dipping. And now the club, the line of losers queuing, and they see me and they start calling my name, Jar-ed, Jar-ed, emphasis on the second syllable, like a voodoo chant in a dream. I can’t believe they exist, their slogan t-shirts, their straightened hair, their happy talk. And we reach the door and my back is slapped, my hand is shaken, and I am walked through into a glittering box of sound, and I forget everything else, except one minute when I open my eyes and look at myself in a mirror in the bathroom, and I’m not there.

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