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Terms of Contract, Subsection (e) [Jul. 16th, 2008|08:35 pm]


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Title: Terms of Contract, Subsection (e) 
Author: Miss Solipsist
Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction comprising characters based upon the living and dead members of the music group Pink Floyd, without their knowledge or permission.

It was in that bluish half-light, when the sun sends its vanguards ahead to announce its impending arrival, that he had first come to the other world, a fresh-faced disciple of Mind Expansion, the new ten-minutes-or-less, guaranteed-or-your-money-back, put-it-on-your-tongue-like-this path to enlightenment. It was in that early-morning gloaming that he had laughed and wept and rolled in the grass, discovering Jupiter in the rind of an orange and Earth in the shine of a plum. Now the pastures were years and miles ago, the miles in his mind much further than those on the motorway. Now there was no enlightenment, there was no discovery. Now he sat, simply dosed into catatonia, legs dangling feebly off the roof's edge like a ventriloquist's dummy, numb to the cold and the mist and the beauty of a day being born.

Wet bum, Syd. Gotta get up. He pulled his feet in underneath him and stood lazily, as though his smooth leather soles and the wet granite roof edge could combine in nothing but positive ways. Pausing for a moment, he craned out over the edge, to the blackness below. Is it that much different from the blackness above? The blackness within? He turned and jumped down onto the roof, the heels of his Gohil's crunching that thought into the cinders.

Inside, the party was still full throttle. Music, streamers of glossy silver paper, flashing lights, sweaty bodies, sex, acid, love. Happy New Year. Happy Nineteen-Sixty-Fucking-Seven. A giant purple duck handed him a glass of opaque brown liquid and he drank it in one. Over in one corner, two hyenas were shagging, or attacking something. Syd pushed his sweaty hair off his clammy forehead and squared his hips for the big wave. Here it comes, the part where you feel. He spotted three Waters-es chatting conspiritorially in the corner, and ducked into a bedroom to avoid eye contact with whichever one of them was real- 

The door clicked- 

There was a man sat on the bed- 

"Sorry, mate, didn't know you were in he.."

 "Alright, Syd? Having fun?" Think quick, Barrett, who's this? RecordExecClubOwnerMusicianLandlordFan, Christ, do you even know him at all? He was familiar in that sort of 'youlooklikethisblokeiknowblahblahblah' way. He was unshaven and looked weary, but not old, dressed in clothes that Syd could tell were once regal, once lovely silk and satin like his own, but were now stained and smudged and a bit torn at the seams. His blue velvet trousers were threadbare at the knees and his flowery shirt had obviously not been washed for some time. His fingernails were dirty and his hair, the same rich brown as Syd's own, was shoulder-long and tangled. He fixed Syd with a paralysingly hollow set of grey-green eyes, and his lips, the only thing that looked moist and inviting about him, opened again. "Happy Sixty-Seven, yeah? This is gonna be a big year for you..." Syd's mind raced-eleventy-two, eleventy-three, how do I stop him talking to me?-and he pounced on the man, clutched his face and listened to his own too-loud, too-manic voice fill the room.?

"Right, three, two, one, Happy New Year!" Syd dove in and kissed the man, fully expecting to be shoved, perhaps kicked, into the wall, and to finally be left alone. But the man didn't howl or pull away. He thrust his hands into Syd's soggy curls and dragged him down onto the bed, his kiss more insistent and urgent than Syd's own. There was something about the way his fingertips trembled as they danced down Syd's neck and over his collarbone that was soothing, as if by his own unconscious admission of nervousness he eliminated any tension thickening the air in the room. A curious tide of liberty marked Syd's shore as he unbuttoned his shirt and hurled it into the corner. The man took Syd's lead and unfastened his own shirt, revealing a sweaty, pale ribcage and lean, hungry stomach. He smiled and opened his mouth slightly, as if about to reveal a secret, but then thought better of it and pressed his lips against Syd's shoulder. There were moments that night when the man seemed to sink into Syd's body, become a swirling, seething part of him, and then slowly lift out and be whole again. Outside the window, the dawn's messengers had brought back bad news, and the sun remained hidden underneath the horizon's watchful eye.

 When there was no more of the man to see, to feel, to discover, Syd sat back against the wall, his legs crossed on the mattress in front of him like Siddhartha under the bo tree, and began to enlighten himself.

 "So...how do you know my name...I mean, what's...erm..yours?"

The man smiled and looked down at his dirty hands for the answer. Finally he looked up and, through a tangle of hair that had fallen over one eye, he said "Roger. My name's Roger."?

Heh. That's wayzie-crazy with sparkles and daisies, so's mine!"

 "I know. Listen, Syd, Roger, Barrett the Ferrett, I've got to tell you a little story. Its rather why I came tonight...to give you something nobody gave me, and to tell you my little fairy story."

"Come on, man, its the New Age, you don't have to call yourself a fairy just because we-"

"Listen to me, Syd." There was something desperate in his voice that rattled Syd, brought his acid-hazy vision into focus on the haunted-handsome face across the bed. "I said this year was going to be big for you, and it is...what I mean to say is, what if you, if the Floyd got really successful, and you had to be a proper pop star? What if that happened this year? Its close, you know. I've heard it round."

 Syd scratched his cheek, looked at his reflection in the window, mock-fluffed his hair. "S'pose I'd pull loads of birds and jump round onstage for a while. Be a bit of a laugh, eh?" He pulled a monkey face into the window and collapsed into giggles. "Lord Sydknee Mountbarrett, Pop Star to the Universe! Da-da-da-daaaaaaaaaaaaaa-dummm!"

 "What if the birds didn't really care about you, or getting to know you, what if they just fancied a go? What if the Floyd wasn't as fun as it is now? What if it got to be like a job -"

"What if my auntie had bollocks? It doesn't matter, does it? Really?" Syd furrowed his eyebrows together and looked at the ceiling. "All I want to do is hop round and have a laugh and make new sounds with my guitar. All the rest is someone else's trouble, innit? I mean, its not as though we're going to be a proper serious music group with full-length-album explorations into the nature of humanity, are we? I just write pinky-purple nursery rhymes and then we all make sounds around them. And I like it. Its fun. Alright, they're beginning to hassle me a bit about singles, but surely when I explain to them that I'm not a 'single-making pop star' they'll leave us do what we like." Syd's forehead was beginning to crease. "And anyway, its only for fun, then I'll take the money and open a painting studio, maybe teach some classes..."

"Syd." The man had grabbed Syd's face with one hand and turned it round to meet his gaze. "I want to ask you a question. If you had this choice to make, what would you choose? If you could be a pop star like you wanted, 'till it stopped being fun, and your music would stand alone forever as beautiful and unique, but in exchange you would spend the rest of your life alone, misunderstood, and shunned by all the friends outside that-" He nodded towards the throbbing music seeping muffled through the-"door? If you had to spend from the moment it stopped being fun until the moment you die lost inside your own head, never sure what you wanted to do, to be, to eat for tea? If sometimes your head screamed and raged and you couldn't make it stop? If everyone thought you were mad? If maybe you were mad?"

Syd ran his hand down his bare chest as though smoothing the fabric of his skin. He looked at his fingers and back at the man. Slowly, incrementally, his enormous pupils focussed on the man's nose, his eyeliner and the way his lips curled up as though there was a mischievous smile waiting round the corner with a frying pan...slowly Syd began to see..."Roger, who are you?" Syd's knuckles went white as he clutched the edge of the mattress-

 "I'm Roger." He brushed his hair out of his eyes and sat up straight, the first weak rays of sun sparkling on his shoulders. "Roger Keith. I used to be Syd. I thought someone should give you the choice before you roll down the banks and into the river. I would have liked to have known, not that it would have changed my mind any at all..." 

Somehow the acid or the early morning sun made his words seem possible. Syd leaned in as the man whispered to him, softly, gently, like a lover. "What I mean to say is, I have been you and you will be me, if you choose to be Syd Barrett. To be Syd is to be the paradox - world-famous and eternally alone. You can go back to being Roger right now, who paints and loves a pretty girl in a pretty house forever. But there will be no more music, and nobody will know your name." A thick, gleaming tear slid from his eye and impaled itself upon the stubble of his cheek. "I know its an unfair choice, but...will you sacrifice your life, Roger Syd?"

 Syd put his hands to his face and realised with a start that he, too, was crying. Do I sign away my life for some glamour and some fun? What is life without fun and shiny days and sun and music and bubbles and laughing and tripping and swimming in the Cam with Dave and uncomfortable silences with Waters and.... "Yes. 'Course I will. It'll be a lark, and I don't mind to be by myself...I'll get some proper painting done, anyway...yeah...I..." Syd trailed off, his mouth finally opening and closing silently as the man he was to be leant forward and looked reassuringly in his eyes. He clutched hands with his future self and leant in. As he fell onto the bed, he was aware that the man-Syd was gone, melted away, and below him instead was-

"Fucking look out, you pillock! I just bought this cravat!" Waters shifted jerkily, like a child does when pulling a toy away from another. "Well, at least you're bloody out of that trance, you gave the birds a fright! I've never seen two superfine birds vacate premises so bleeding quickly, you wanky fucker! Or was all that babbling about loneliness and sort of drooling a bit, was that all a ruuuuse to get me alone?" He winked in a sort of over-the-top, carnival way that made Syd shudder and laugh simultaneously.

"Fuck off, Waters. You and your cravat can fuck right off the edge of the white cliffs of Dover." Just don't leave me alone yet...give me one more year...I'm not quite ready.....