Friday, 14 November 2008

Paul Simon


It is about two weeks after Halloween. Paul Simon has moved into a smaller apartment. The apartment is on the top floor. Paul Simon is suddenly able to stand at his window and look directly into another top floor apartment. There is a woman in the apartment. The woman is younger than Paul Simon. She is not sixty-six. She is wearing a purple cardigan. 'When’s Halloween?' Paul Simon thinks, peering through the blinds. 'Make the cardigan disappear,' Paul Simon thinks. Paul Simon squints at the cardigan and makes a small noise in his head. He tries to make the cardigan disappear. The cardigan stays on. The woman draws the curtains.

'Halloween,' Paul Simon thinks.

Paul Simon has not left the apartment now in about two weeks, since he first moved in. He’s been busy moving boxes around and plugging things in, and trying to get an internet account sorted out over the phone. 'The internet,' Paul Simon thinks, as he walks down the stairs towards the communal door area where all the mail is delivered. It is about twelve in the afternoon. There is a big parcel in the communal door area. 'The internet,' Paul Simon thinks. The parcel is made out to 'Paul Simon'.

It is mostly silent in the new, smaller apartment that Paul Simon is renting. Paul Simon has been trying to put the song 'When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)' by Percy Sledge on repeat, but the song is on an LP and for it to be on repeat, Paul Simon would need to just stand by the record player all the time, lifting the needle and putting it down again.

Paul Simon sits down on a salmon-coloured leather armchair and opens the parcel. The internet -- a modem and a CD rom and some leaflets and something else -- is in the parcel. 'Hooray,' Paul Simon thinks. Paul Simon does a small moving around dance with his arms and hips, whilst staying seated in the salmon-pink armchair.

The first thing Paul Simon does on the internet is to type 'what day is halloween?' into Google.

'Fuck's sake,' Paul Simon says, out loud, once the results are displayed.

The second thing Paul Simon does is to log into Facebook. Paul Simon squeezes his knees a bit as the page loads. Paul Simon has one new message. 'Three weeks,' Paul Simon thinks. 'I haven't been on Facebook for three weeks. One lousy, new, piece-of-shit, you-haven’t-written-a-good-song-in-over-twenty-years, message.' Paul Simon opens the new message, hoping it’s maybe from an attractive twenty-year-old fan of his music. The message is a group newsletter from a small literary magazine. 'Fuck's sake,' Paul Simon thinks.

The song 'When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)' by Percy Sledge is playing a tiny bit in Paul Simon's head, kind of looping around on the chorus part.

'I can't even remember what the old Facebook looked like,' Paul Simon thinks.

A moth flutters against the windowpane. Paul Simon has bought a new electric guitar. It has a small picture of Jane Fonda sellotaped onto the back.

'Percy Sledge sounds a tiny bit like Randy Newman,' Paul Simon thinks. 'Just a tiny bit. Occasionally. Not the voice, just the melodies.'

Paul Simon takes out his mobile phone and searches through the contacts until he finds Randy Newman. He presses 'call'. The phone rings. It eventually goes to answerphone. Randy Newman just has the official computer-voice answerphone. Paul Simon feels panicked. 'Oh, hi, Randy,' Paul Simon says. He leaves a pause. The moth is going crazy over by the window. 'It's nothing,' Paul Simon says.

Paul Simon sits for a long moment on the armchair. He feels very small on the armchair. He searches for Randy Newman's phone number in his contacts again and selects 'delete'. The phone says 'are you sure you want to delete this contact?' Paul Simon presses 'yes'.

'Halloween,' Paul Simon thinks.

Paul Simon goes into the center of
Los Angeles by bus. He is looking for a pumpkin and some red food colouring. He goes into large supermarkets. He goes into convenience stores. Paul Simon passes an H&M and decides to go in, even though he knows there will be no pumpkins or red food colouring inside. Paul Simon ends up buying an exact replica of the jacket he already owns. 'What the fuck am I doing?' Paul Simon thinks as he waits for his credit card to be accepted. Paul Simon eventually finds a pumpkin. Everywhere is out of red food colouring. Paul Simon takes a taxi directly home, feeling strange and excited, the pumpkin very solid and wonderful and comforting on his lap.

'A cat face,' Paul Simon thinks. 'With whiskers and everything.'