2.46 “Weird scenes inside the gold mine,” I said to myself. I had been getting used to the tight demarcation of Brogan’s capacities. That she would throw burning men from buildings was one thing (see Pampas 2.24); that she had, in any wise, a hinterland ran counter to my sense of sense. When Brogan intimated that I was, in some way, familiar to her beyond the purview of our brief acquaintance, there were only two respectable explanations. 1. That her perimeter was porous whereas I had considered it thoroughly circumscribed 2. That we had had prior business in her capacity as ‘Brogan’ of the heavily streamed and boxed ‘Brogan’. “Brogan, let me say this: no way am I your cousin. Okay?” I said.

2.47 So I went down the stairs to get Jean and Max. I was looking forward to seeing them greatly. I first met them in 1979 then lost touch for 24 years then lost touch again. Now, another 12 years on, they had knocked on the door of the apartment to which Brogan had access when she was waiting for the next thing. Perhaps they would be able to get to the bottom of the terrible burning out from within of Big Vague Michael (see Pampas 2.39). Or the drifting away of the still, barely lightly breathing Amy on the floor curled up. Of their type they were the tops. If anyone could sift the solute from the solvent, it was they.

2.48 It is apposite that this morning, Andy Wilson, director of key episodes of ‘Ripper Street’ and ‘Wallander’, should have enquired kindly about Hugh, whom he knew well in the heyday of Jean and Max’s ascension to prominence in the field of collaborative investigation wherein Max would theorise quickly from the facts as he saw them whereas Jean would see the local in terms of its relation to the pattern, the scheme, the grand elusive overall. It was the loss by Hugh of his diary (not his calendar, Andy) that led to some of the finest work of the inquisitive partnership. Hugh hit it off with Susan, who lived near the equator. It was she who partially resolved his anxiety by taking him to a number of stationery shops.

2.49 I had never seen them in the street before. Jean. Taller than Max by some way. The tumbling hair. The age she had been she was. And Max too, no change in his height. And as if the years had not passed through him. “David, we never die,” said Jean. Her deep voice. I said, shaking my head, tearful “You don’t, Jean, you don’t.” Max took my hand. “No. It’s really good,” he said. Still muttering. Terrific tailoring. I clasped them both to me and they me to them. I put my hands round the backs of their necks and stood away. I was shaking my head. And I hadn’t even asked. It was because of Brogan. “She’s upstairs,” I said. “She really loves your work.”

2.50 So Jean and Max (see Strength Weekly Long Read and Seasonal Treat ) came up the stairs with me and there was Brogan. Who knew them. They exclaimed and hugged, said “Wow!”, shook their heads like I had (see Pampas 2.49). Max got out a sealed packet of frozen Cinnamon Buns from the Ikea food section just beyond the checkout at least it is in the Wembley one. “Why are they so cold?” Brogan asked. “You have to heat them up,” explained Max, “They come from Sweden.” Brogan said “I’m not Swedish (see Pampas 2.43).” Max heated them and when Brogan bit one she threw up.

2.51 Max was taken aback. “It’s just a bun,” he protested. Brogan was supporting herself on the arm of the cream sofa, onto which she had voided the morsel. “She doesn’t eat,” she gasped. “Who?” Max and I said in unison. “Brogan,” she replied, “Did you ever see her eat?” “You don’t eat?” Max, nonplussed. “It’s never been the next thing. She only does the next thing.” The next thing we knew, Brogan straightened up and was gone. “Keira!” I cried. Because there she was. “Johnny. Wow. I’m fucking starving. What have you got?” said Keira. Then she hugged me. “Who’s Johnny?” asked Jean.

2.52 I had to think fast. “She calls me Johnny,” I blurted. “So much better than Colin,” offered Keira. “That’s got to be true,” Max confirmed. “I never called him Colin,” Jean went. “That’s two of us then,” Keira a dit. Jean goes “Did they shoot those horses?” “What? In the movie?” asks Keira surprised. “I suppose they couldn’t take them home,” Jean concluded. “You had that great dress,” Max goes, “The green one.” Jean goes “I was in Entre Rios, on the pampas, the gauchos have the bolas in addition to the lariat. They call the cows ‘Hola Agustin! Hola Victor!’ and if the cows do not come they entangle them, tripping them by their thin ankles on the evening plains.”

2.53 “We thought we’d see Brogan,” Max said. “She was sick on the sofa,” I said. Jean glanced across the room, “Looks alright.” Keira is looking around too. “What is this place? A show home?” “It’s Brogan’s,” I said. Max shook his head “She had a place in a mews. Full of knickknacks.” “As far as I can tell,” I mused “It’s kind of where she came in between things.” “Like the green room,” suggested Keira. “Not quite. But sort of,” I said. “Anyway!” Keira yelled, “I could eat a scabby horse between two bread vans.” “What about Nando’s?” Max went. “Love it.” Keira swept us down the stairs.

2.54 “David,” began Jean in the cab. “Who’s David?” enquired Keira. This time round I thought better of blurting out a response and went instead for a measure of half truth. But before I even began to speak I had to work out how to deal with the accent problem. Keira expected me to have an American accent but Jean and Max knew me as British. I decided, with no great originality, to go for mid-Atlantic. I have a Canadian friend who has lived in the UK for thirty years or more and speaks with an English turn of phrase rendered in a faint drawl that places him beyond these shores yet fails to make landfall in the west. As a model this could be useful, but perhaps only to a skilled mimic. It is indeed both a blessing and a curse to bear an uncanny resemblance to an A-list Hollywood film star.

2.55 “Well, Keira,” I said in the cab to Nando’s, “First we must conjure a time when all phones, known then as telephones, were attached to the wall with a wire. Of the various marks of sophistication to which the aspiring sophisticate might aspire was the longer wire, consisting of twined, fabric-covered cords and enabling the caller to step at least three or four feet away from the fixed body. Similarly impressive was the advent, in 1979, of water in a bottle. Those of us emerging from Austerity 1.0 had been used to walking from one building, such as the home, to another, such as another home, without experiencing thirst. Had we, en route, become thirsty which, by and large, we did not, we could not, using the Favourites list, send a message ahead requesting that a glass of water be taken from the tap in readiness for our arrival.”

2.56 I could tell that Keira was fascinated by my account of the social hydraulics of the simpler times. She pressed her slender, wiry frame – I thought of Amy – against me in the cab, as I continued to expatiate. “In common with all children I was urged by my parents not to hesitate, when feeling thirsty, to knock on the door of a passing house and politely ask for a glass of water. Often the householders would invite the child in, pressing biscuits and fancies upon them and sometimes unopened Christmas presents resulting from sad bereavements. I was shown lawns, wedding dresses and carving tools while my friend Susan saw radios, a spaniel and lavender. In this way communities were forged, their bonds enduring after the manner of what were then the new epoxy glues.”

2.57 “In fact, on one occasion,” I recalled, “Susan, having walked from one town to the next one along, started to feel the beginnings of thirst. She turned into the gateway of Christine and Christopher Gilchrist whose friends, Susan would learn, called them both Chris. Chris opened the door and without hesitating agreed to arrange a glass of water. Chris sat her down and Susan slipped her socks off. Susan said “Is your name an adjective?” and Chris said “Not in my case.” “Phew for that,” a dit Sue. “Do you know oude genever, Susan?” enquired Chris. “The Swittish city,” Sue a dit reasonably confidently. Chris laughed in a non-condescending way. “It’s actually a pleasant drink,” he said, “From the Netherlands.” Max said “I see where you’re going now.” Keira said “You’re well ahead of me then, Max.”

2.58 Susan sipped and savoured the small drink but felt it was too raspy for her tastes. Some time later I too had occasion to walk to that town and chanced to knock for water at Christine and Christopher Gilchrist’s. Christine said that Susan, who had her own room at the Gilchrist’s, had gone to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. I went into a bar in De Markt where there are many bars and in the winter a rink and in the spring stalls. In a low-ceilinged one with green light I approached a man and woman and said “I am looking eagerly for Susan.” The man said “She’s gone. But I’m Max and this is my associate Jean.” Soon Susan was just something that happened and I began to relish my chance acquaintances.

2.59 Max explained that Jean had a capacity to evaluate in depth both the vital and the morbid signs of individuals and groups by considering the tremors which immersed them. These engulfings, explained Max, were not to be confused with the ray, the waves, the force field, the spirit level, the plumb bob, the bridle of the tidal, the outgush, the secret life of flow and eddy, certain glands. He gave an example, “It’s like – how can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?” He nodded, straightened his tie, chartreuse on a fern pinpoint oxford, glanced at his links. He said “I go more for the footprint, the stain.” Jean said “Max would press a key in wax.”

2.60 And Roy, of course, is a drifter. Essentially a drifter. Of no fixity. And now that he is allowed up (which is not to suggest that, had he not been genuinely incapacitated as a result of the colliding, he would have heeded the mild admonitions of the nurses: he would not, as we have come to expect, have given a fuck) he has taken to wandering the wards, eager to bench test the healing powers he had acquired since gaining access to the cleaning cupboards adjacent to the buffing machine bay wherein he had found the silicon-based mould release agents which, applied in gel form to the gums and fingered into the nostrils, brought about a purging so intense that it descaled sclerosis at every level of his being and put Roy in touch with his inner Christ.

A post on the Pampas series dated 11/02/16 was removed from this location on 12/02/16 due to an unevenness of quality that in the view of the Editor constituted a reputational risk.
Readers are advised that the Editor of Pampas seeks to maintain only the highest standards for the series. The series is, furthermore, subjected to rigorous quality control procedures prior to each episode publication.

2.61 Let no one imagine that Roy was a creature of impulse. Despite his preference for the forest gladeless, he was not a sociopath. He looked down on those fetid nomads and their fireworks, foot soldiers of fuckup, peevish outbursters commando in their polyester, call him Rover he comes when you whistle. Accordingly, when the medical social worker, finding the psychopath Roy unforthcoming when she enquired as to whether he would like to talk to her in confidence about anything that might be troubling him, suggested that he keep a Feelings Journal, he did not gank her though his stare was rather cold.

2.62 Instead, Roy fell to considering his livid spots. These were not issues that might compel him to declare “Actually I have a problem with that” but the patches of inflamed flesh that, since he had opened himself to Christ with strong ointments, had begun to course along his limbs, flushing and mottling, sometimes lingering at the neck at others simmering even across his eyelids inevitably suggesting unsettling expressions that he was not in fact expressing. These eczemas flowed over him through the day and would be seen in some circles as a language but Roy himself said contentedly “They are my jewels.”

2.63 Roy sent blood down into his body to the parts that would benefit from the force and freshness. He was familiar with the Harveyan schema wherein the blood moved in a circle thanks to the heart pump, and he considered this credible but contemptible insofar as as it removed from his domain an eminence. The passivity of those who surrendered corporeal sovereignty to a presumptively autonomous system – within their own bodies for fuck’s sake – pissed him off. By a system of grimaces, contractions and selective tightenings he wrested control from the pump and was pleased to see that his jewels now traced the new pulsions as they rolled down from his reddened head.

2.64 Flushed with his vanquishment of autonomous blood circling and encouraged by his developing capacity to situate distinctive skin colourations at will, Roy turned his heightened attention to the actual quality of his blood rather than its tides and was upset to find that while it was itself sterile there were ranged around it, in the arrangements of tubes and vessels and suchlike such as also the skin itself, life forms teeming in their billions in their several dozen teeny types. Seventeen alone in the : ! And Roy knew that the walls of capillaries are only a few nanometers thick so how come, he wondered, life forms did not get into his sterile blood? For all he knew, they had. They had. For all he knew.

2.65 What especially vexed him was the notion, widely bruited in the microbiological literature, that ‘the normal bacterial flora of the adult human clearly benefit from their host’. Just look at them bacteroides fragilis makes you think of weakness bacteroides oralis how dare they bifidobacterium bifidum makes you think of two dogs salmonella enteritidis the sandwiches are off again but I didn’t have a fucking sandwich propionibacterium acnes is that a pony with boils I mean come on enterococcus faecalis you’re fucking kidding me proteus mirabilis too late now son they’re all in it’s fucking open house. Roy set off for the cleaning cupboard. Scorched earth.

2.66 In the cab a few minutes away from Nando’s Jean goes affectionately “David, you’re wearing well,” and I go “Jean, you’re too kind but your own unlined skin speaks of an enviable and luminous tranquillity.” Max goes “She’s not. Tranquil.” Jean comes in “But I’m luminous, Max, like he says.” And Max comes back “You can dress in the dark. That’s got to be useful.” Then Max says to Keira “You’re fabulous too, Keira.” And Keira goes “You’re sweet, Max. And so is Johnny.” And Jean looks at Keira “I love how you call him that.” Keira says “It’s just what I feel.” Apart from the driver, who was quite properly concentrating on what must be achieved, the rest of the people here, Jean and Max and Keira and David, looked at each other approvingly.

2.67 In those moments of easeful calm I felt the four of us were somehow of a piece with each other, that our differences were inconsequential, that we moved with grace across each other’s bounds then unbound flowed hither then thither in golden worlds. I was familiar with the idea that there is within us a yearning for a lost past in which we enjoyed a mysterious oneness with all that was and all that we encountered but perhaps this nostalgic melancholy is simply a tissue drawn across unpalatable hunger whereas here, in this taxi, it was as if I were actually in the minds of Max and Jean and Keira and Keira and Jean and Max were somehow all in my mind.

2.68 While Keira was ordering Chicken Butterfly off the bone, drizzled with the peri-peri oil that she loved, I asked Jean and Max how their lives had shaped up after 1983, when we last worked together. Jean said “At first we had momentum. We saw dust devils dancing and damped them down. We breezed through bodies locked in rooms from the inside with no footprints in the surrounding snow or windows. But where once we were driven now we were derelict, deadheaded. The engine fell from the chassis, the car coasted to the verge with no majesty. In Groningen I said to Max ‘What would Jean do?’ and Max said ‘Ask Max.’”

2.69 But what did Max mean? When he said ‘Ask Max’ in response to Jean’s question ‘What would Jean do?’ it may be that he meant that Jean would ask Max what to do. On the other hand, he may have meant that he, Max, would ask Max what to do, thereby suggesting that Max is outside himself looking at himself. If this is the case then it is as if he believes that the Max who is looked at may hold the answer to something that eludes the Max who is observing the more housed, less vagrant Max. All of which suggests that Jean and Max, investigators once blessed with what is now an ailing complementarity, having lost the plot are, in only a figurative sense, both in search of an author. Strewth.
(This passage was remodeled 05/04/16. See notification above.)
A post on the Pampas series dated 04/04/16 was removed from this location on 05/04/16 following the identification of substandard components. In the view of the Editor these latter were compromised as follows:
The textual material referred to a complex situation in a complicated rather than accessible way.
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2.70 Keira has all sauce and everything round her mouth. “Johnny,” she says “Doesn’t this remind you of St Vincent? Yeah? With Orlando?” Max is weeping and pointing to his mouth because of the Very Hot he overdid. Jean asks “In Florida?” Keira replies “The actor. We used to go to the Flowt after we wrapped. Me and Johnny and Orlando. On the beach.” Jean cocked her head quizzically. This was getting to be something of a trial. I loved them all but this whole masquerade thing was fucking with my head. Jean breathed in. I had a light bulb come on. “Keira,” I went, “You remember Brogan?” She came “Well, naturally.” I squeezed her hand and reached over and then I squeezed Jean’s hand. I said “So you’ll understand what I have to do.”

There is a limit to the Reader’s patience. The Flowt is a beach bar to be found in St Vincent & the Grenadines (not to be confused with Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps) and patronised by Keira, Johnny and Orlando after shooting on location for ‘Nearby Pirate’.

2.71 I know this guy I said. You’d like him. I winked at Jean, including Max who was drinking from a jug. Yeah, you’d find him interesting. He has a tale to tell. Yes I said to myself I do. I had been weakening. I needed a safe place. Free from exposure. Sometimes you read a book and you think yeah I’d like to live in that world. Not necessarily all animals and landscapes and beauty but where shit can happen and relationships but it’s only a book so no matter how harrowing and of today etc it’s a book it’s not like here. It’s art. Where you can hide. Or other people’s lives. That you like the way they live. Much the same. I mean I liked Jean and Max’s life. And their personalities. I mean I realise they are complements and not full people but were there ever? They had been to Holland, South America you name it. Iceland.

2.72 (Interim Orientation Advisory) I reminded Keira of our discussion (see 1.104 (26/07/15)) wherein I had suggested that, given the dearth of capability in the worldscape and the abundance of problem solving in the fictosphere, actors should extend the scope of their impersonations so that they might step into everyday life and apply their strengths there rather than on the screen where people know it’s acting. I then suggested that this could be constructively countered by civilians, who would undertake to participate in artificial situations so that their lack of skill would ground and possibly neutralise some of the deleterious effects of prolonged masquerade. A fluid exchange of this sort would not, I felt, perpetuate a separation so much as promote a mutuality.

2.73 I told Keira that I couldn’t wait for her to meet my friend David, a civilian friend working with Jean and Max. She welcomed the suggestion. With an enormous sense of relief I let Johnny go and became myself again. I still looked like him, of course, but I didn’t have to pretend I was him any more. “We’re just off,” David explained, “Will you come with us?” Keira said “That would be lovely, David. Can Johnny come along?” David said that Johnny was not there at the moment. Okay a dit Keira. Now Jean and Max would relax and Keira would have a new but attentive companion. One who was not living a lie.

2.74 Jean and Max led the way and David was with Keira as they went off with resolve. They had foodpuppies with them and sports drinks. As well they had coats and tablets. Max thought it was ‘fuckpuppies’ but Jean told him to pay attention. Max as he went down snapped off the damp and velvet like young antlers extrusions and popped them into his mouth. Musty you’d think but like water chestnuts to the teeth. Put my hand in a tree. Jean sees a dog. Keira goes “Hey.” Fairly safe. Who remembers coincidence? What it was like. Don’t have coincidence now just a lot of things. If they coincide it’s like so what ? it’s not a fucking surprise is it. They’re bound to be in your head.

2.75 In the evenings out there the foodpuppies start to glow a faint purple. No more than a wristwatch. You can use them as a neck stole. Keira asks “Who is in there?” The guys go “We don’t know, ma’am. We figure they been in there three days, four.” Jean says “It must be so quiet.” The guys say “We look at it ma’am and it kind of has this calm effect.” Max comments “Some of the drives are long. You just want to be cool.” Keira declares “I’m going to wave.” She waves at them. At first it’s just still then you can see waving back. “They’re waving back,” Keira is pleased. Max demurs “It’s reflections.” Keira glares “Fuck it Max, look again. See? Waving. Am I waving? Is there waving in this group? I thought not.” And yeah, you could see it. White hand going to and fro.

2.76 Keira takes off her dress and slides into the water in an oyster silk slip. She circles the car then surfaces. “It’s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. The Sedanette,” she announces. Max asks what’s the water like. “It’s okay. Better than expected.” Max is down to his boxers and before you can say wow primark jumps in. Keira says “I think it’s a family down there.” Max asks “How many?” Keira says “A father a mother and two children.” Max duck dives and swirls around then “Yeah. The two in front have got rings on.” Keira asks “Did you wave?” Max replies “Of course.” Anyway Jean and I get in we’re generally splashing about. Jean says “The kids are both reading.” Keira asks “Can you see what?” Jean says “They’ve kind of got them in their laps.”

2.77 We’re lying by the pool drying out. The foodpuppies are under a tree. Jean is on her stomach with one arm in the water. The air is still. Maybe a lark. Max has nothing to do. He’s sitting up. He says “All those years, with Jean, after we stopped working with David. When I cut myself, on the arm, I could see titanium. Shiny. Blue.” Keira who had been staring at the sun looked round at him. “Did it feel good, Max?” He nods. “Oh yeah. You could do things.” Jean nods too. “Max says he feels vague now, don’t you, Max?” He shrugs. “Something like that. Yeah.” Keira goes “I don’t think you’re vague, Max.” Max says “Well, you know. Maybe.”

2.78 Jean reached for a foodpuppy and moved round the perimeter of the pool towards the front of the car below. A breeze rattled the birches briefly. I held a sports drink. She dropped the foodpuppy and it skeetered from side to side in the green water as it drifted down. “Did they see it?” Keira asked. “Yes,” said Jean, “They’re indicating that they did.” And it is certainly the case that when you looked down to them in that world they were nodding as if pleasedly to say “You are very kind. You should not have bothered.” But of course we bothered! It is a pleasant thing to meet others where so few go! Jean who had been dipping down came up and said “If only you knew how strange it is to be there. It is not life but its shadow, it is not motion but its soundless spectre.”

2.79 Then again Keira dove deep and grasped the mirror on the passenger side then gasped then pointed then shook her head as if to say “You’re kidding me!” Which maybe she did say that. But back on the land she said “It’s Winona! Can you believe that? Fucking Winona!” There was a cry somewhere. Max looked puzzled. Night fell. From the sunken Sedanette there streamed green light. Max said “Phosphorescent algae.” Keira said “She used to go with Johnny. Between 1989 and 1993. Not that I’ve looked it up.” Jean asked “Is she okay?” I said “I’m sure she’s fine now.” Max said “Yeah, Jean and me saw that in the case of the glowing body on the pebbles at dusk as the sea came in and back at night not so long ago. Didn’t we, Jean?” Jean goes “Yeah, he’s right.”

2.80 Max isn’t wiry he’s like stocky. He goes down following this glow and gestures to the person everyone says is Winona, which I believe she is. I mean Keira should know. We all should know: Heathers, Little Women. I’m thinking is she old now or what? I go “Max! Is she old or what?” He goes, through the water, “It’s not great visibility what with the night.” I go “Yeah, right.” He opens the door and helps her out and she comes up and says in a murmur “I want to sleep deep sleep.” Max says “There’s this kind of jelly.” Jean enquires “What?” Max responds to her “It’s like a film.” Keira goes “Well, that is the territory.” Max shakes his head “All over her body.” It was kind of glistening. “Can she breathe?” asks Jean. Max goes “Yeah. Obvs.” “Should we peel her though?” someone says. Max says “I guess.”

2.81 Max and Jean start to pull away the turbid caul. The Roadmaster is the 1949 model but that would mean Winona is 67 but which is ridiculous based on the idea you are as old as your car which is ridiculous though I say so myself. Nobody is that old they would change their car from time to time. Jean is very careful she gently pulls and the film comes away from first the brow then gently over the face and Winona is pale you can see her pores and then down her neck but she has clothes on, a dark green dress. Her eyes were open even during when her brow was covered so presumably she could see through the film. How long has she been down there I wonder with her companions. “Lovely eyes,” Jean says. “Probably Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir,” Keira says, “she’s his face.”

2.82 Foodpuppies are pleasing to touch in their smooth weight and so Jean placed two in the damp lap of Winona as she haltingly revived. “Her Grandpa was Timothy Leary,” Max said helpfully. Folded away the years of bead and veneration. When afghan was a coat. Rewrite the world. “Who says?” Keira says. “It’s known,” Max said firmly. Then Max says “I’m not saying that because a person’s Grandpa was something that the person is like that.” “0n the other hand Keira says there could have been acid in the sugar carelessly. Or on the stationery I’m thinking of the blotting paper here.” Max snaps his fingers. “No. He was her godfather. Yeah.” Winona now carefully peeled of film looks at me. She frowns then goes hesitantly then more certainly “Johnny?” Fuck I go in my head.

2.83 It has not been my wish, in the course of these writings, to dwell on the personal. Even so, I should explain that over the years I have been regularly mistaken for Sting of The Police, particularly when that group enjoyed currency in the so-called post-Punk era. Youngsters would frequently come up to me, thrusting into my hands copies of Zenyatta Mondatta for signature. I would politely decline, saying “I’m not him.” They would say “Why did you dye your hair, Sting?” I would say “I didn’t. I’m not him.” After a while I just signed them – it made things simpler and it pleased the youngsters. Is that so wrong? I think not. Readers may appreciate, then, that the ‘Johnny Depp period’ which I have attempted to chronicle here, while fraught with both ferocity and felicity, was not unfamiliar. That is, until Winona.

2.84 Winona extended her hand toward me and the foodpuppies fell from her lap by the waterside. She stroked my cheek. And said slowly “For a while I got to be something different.” Her hand was cold to me. She pulled at her hair and it came off but it was a wig and underneath was beautiful black hair kept dry by the wet wig now falling away through the water. She murmured Johnny and seemed not to notice anyone around. And I said But now I’m just me again. Keira is putting her dress on she puts it on and says I’m going in there once more. She gives a little swift smile and goes down. After a while I go down just to see and she is in the Roadmaster. Are you coming up I say. “No,” she mouths I can’t hear her. “You go on,” she says. I wave and she waves. I go back up to Winona. I swim back up there.

2.85 Jean and Max who I had known for a long time and they knew me agreed with me. “She was a terrific girl,” Jean said. And Max said “She’ll be fine. She’ll have that film to cover her.” I had worked with them in the 70s in the 20th century. We really knew each other. They were not judgmental people. We sat and looked out over the pool remembering her not saying much for a while. After a while Jean said there are good people down there it’s not as if. Max said “There are kids down there. With their books.” The sun was coming up through a watery sky. It would help to dry Winona. Some early birds cheeped somewhere. You never know where they are you just hear them.

2.86 This time I was really sure. I realised that my uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp was not something that I should just go along with. Of course it had had its advantages – I had enjoyed the company of a number of beautiful and personable women, not to mention their colleagues – giants in the field of entertainment. Winona, shifting in and out of sleep, still pale, feverish, could not take her eyes off me. “I’m not him, Winona,” I said, as plain as plain could be. She squeezed my hand and nodded. I felt a great relief. We could be man and woman now. We would walk together in an ordinary way that was deep and close and I would not be her Johnny. If I reminded her of the Johnny with whom she had been from 1989 to 1993 after Edward Scissorhands together then that was just something I had no control over. I would simply be her David.

2.87 Winona said My time in the Buick Roadmaster Sedanette was uneventful but then I was offered the possibility of going further down. I would live in a system of tunnels, constantly burrowing and subsisting on tubers. I found the prospect repellent despite my confusion. Jean said What confusion is that Winona? Which was when Winona dropped a bombshell. “I have she said for some time been aware that my perceptual apparatus is delivering sensory information pertinent to situations that have no relationship at all to the milieux in which I gather I am physically present.” My lamb said Jean. Max asked Are these things happening somewhere else then? “Winona said Yes as far as I am concerned Max obvs but there is the fear that they are phantasmal. At the end of the day.”

2.88 Max said “While you’ve been away there have been some developments.” We were beside the car pool. “Such as what?” I enquired. Well Jean said “Max and Winona have been getting on famously.” “Which is good,” I ventured. “Oh it is Jean said.” Max said “She is several months into the family way.” “You’ll be great, Max I said, Won’t he Jean?” “He knows I will always love him in a sisterly way as a brother Jean said.” I turned to Winona who was there too her feet were in the pool to the ankles. “That’s great Winona” I said, “It’s a real adventure.” Winona said “I kind of thought Well you are not Johnny David but Max is Max.” She said And that feels right. And I said I’m kind of sad Winona but perhaps we’ll meet again sometime and look back on this.” “Yeah said Winona

A Selection of Single, Double and Triple Panel One-Offs
Pampas Season 2: part 1