Accounting for Myself

Strange but ultimately rewarding dream: I was walking through an unfamiliar City of London; for some unknown reason I’d been summonsed to a city bank. Finally tracked down their towerblock, took the swift, silent lift up to some unimaginably high floor then ascended a perilous staircase, one side open to the bottomless void, even higher and higher.

There at the top was John Reddihough and Gill. John wanted me to account for a whole bunch of invoices paid by Olivetti some ten years ago, Gill was acting as his over-eager assistant, digging out incongruities. I wanted to tell her to ease off a little but I couldn’t, I felt watched and listened to at every step. Piecing together my memory was a slow and arduous task, but I managed it. I might have slipped in a few untruths, but they were damn convincing ones. I finally felt like I was cruising, so I slipped out onto a balcony via a toilet window for a celebratory cigarette.

There was a commotion inside the toilet, I came back inside to find crowds gathered there, old people, children and tarted-up women. Somebody had just been sick. I went back to check up on John and Gill. They were wrapping things up, everyone had to give a handprint and a signature in a block of wet clay from Guanatamala (a bit like Guatamala, only shittier) as legally-binding proof that they’d followed due process and told nothing but the whole truth. I was wary but–what the hell. As a part of the ceremony, my shoes were swapped for a pair of sparkly red party shoes not unline the ones which took Dorothy back to Kansas. The bank’s staff explained to me seven times what impressions I had to make in the clay and where, I still didn’t understand it. I had a bash, but put my name in the wrong place. It was their fault, they’d explained it wrong, they went off to get another slab.

As I waited nervously, the hallway I was standing in filled up. Cloned men and exotic women from Essex chattered past me on their way home. The crowd ebbed and I was on my own. I tired of waiting and went to find somebody: “sorry, they’ve all gone home”. The manager apologised and absolved me of any further duties. Along with his staff had gone all knowledge of where my original shoes had been put for safe-keeping.

I just beat a couple of stragglers onto the staircase, took my life into my own hands by sliding down the bottomless bannister just so I could put some space between us and bagsy an empty lift. When I reached the bank of lifts, somebody was just nipping into one and I suddenly chose to put haste before privacy. The lift doors tried to close before I reached them, but luckily the woman in front of me had placed a pile of books between them so they rebounded, allowing me to step through.

The lift inside was so much bigger than I’d remembered, and so full: almost 100 people there. As we descended I was aware of every pair of eyes surreptitiously eyeing my glittery girl’s shoes. I still had in my hand the remnants of my earlier cigarette, and I puffed away until it was unsmokeable then ground the butt into the floor of the lift. Still they all stared. I made a big decision, better to speak out loud about the cause of my embarassment than to melt away with it still intact. I explained why I had the shoes on, and everyone felt pity for me. The ice had broken. Somebody over on the other side of the lift started performing circus tricks, pulling pairs of childrens’ shoes from a bag and making them dance on the floor. I shouted out, half-joking half-hopeful, “I don’t suppose you’ve got a pair of men’s size nine or ten in there?” They did, some funky plimsols not unlike the brown-and-orange ones Gill bought the other day. I slipped out of my heels and, thankfully, into my new brown shoes. Everything was right in the world again. I was back in Kansas.

We hit the ground and this crowd also started to melt. I’d finished tying my laces and was about to leave the lift when a teenage wide-lad approached me. I recognised him as the boy who’d given me my cigarette. “Oi mate, don’t suppose you could give me back that lucky cigarette butt?” “I’m sorry, it’s on the floor over there somewhere, but I’m not sure quite where. And anyway, the luck that you make is worth more than the luck that you find.”

Awake. Arise.

I wonder whether any of this had anything to do with the fact that I convincingly beat Gill at chess last night, first time I’ve ever done that (she claims she’s never beaten me before, but I know very much different). Felt good that, especially the knowledge that I achieved it via some sort of strategy, felt like I was playing chess at a different level than I had ever done before (ignoring for a moment that fact that I haven’t played chess in nearly ten years).

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