We could hop a train for Barcelona, watch the mighty Messi play and then have a Pernod in a hotel cafe, show the bartender how to make a proper rusted gin and tonic and tell everyone we were in Afghanistan during the ’03 invasion. Regale them with false stories of villagers rescued and Taliban captured. Make friends with a small wealthy man whose business we never quite make out. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of the local bars until we end up at a suspiciously swank flat in a suspiciously dark neighborhood. Late into the night someone suggests a yachting trip, and we find ourselves drunkenly dodging tugboats on the Genoa line. Throwing gin bottles against lumbering rusted hulls, crying out that we are pirates and would like permission to board and capture their ship.
“Send down your libationary provisions and the fairer maidens, and we shall let most of your men live!” we cry at a silent command deck. The small wealthy man tries to urinate on a passing hull and is cast over by its shrugging wake.
“Man overboard!” we roar, tossing life preservers off every side of the ship but the one he fell from. The man paddles in circles, observing happily that he cannot swim and will likely drown. You leap toward him limb-splayed, landing man-side and dragging him helpfully underwater. I prepare drinks for your return, taste each to ensure proper proportions, and then finish them to settle my nerves.
But the reporters, they were the worst. They always wanted to open the doors he’d locked tight. They’d crowd around, What’s in this room Steve? Nothing, he’d say, or just an old closet, nothing to look at in there. But they’d tap their pencils and push up their glasses and try to peek through the keyhole or under the door and he’d say cut that out will yah, I wanna talk about the picture. Our readers just want to know the real Steve they’d say, lips stretched thin over bloodthirsty fangs.
In his dreams there was a curtain at the back of a stage and it opened onto another stage, and another, and another, and each one held shapes in the dark more hideous than the last. Black-suited men moved great silhouettes around as the ice-white spotlight caught him in the eyes and and blinded him. Our readers are your fans, Steve, they just want to know the real Steve came the booming voice from the balcony. He tried to clutch the curtains closed but they kept springing open and the dream wouldn’t end until one of the silhouettes crashed into him and he awoke in a pool of sweat with the room cool from the Santa Ana winds, and he reached again for the bottle on the nightstand.