In a dark summer night I found myself counting stones. One stone, two stones, three stones. One by one we dug out the cobbles and threw them into the canal. ‘Why are we doing this?’, I asked Adrian. ‘Because this party is boring’, he answered. ‘and because we are doing nothing in the name of no one and we couldn’t care less.’ I nodded. I knew that Maria was around somewhere. Probably drunk and dancing with every single person she could find. Male or female. A cobble splashed into the water. Cobbles make a strange sound as the water swallows them; swampy, low pitched, weak in a way. I invited Maria for this party because I was madly in love with her, but it was way too serious, what happened to the feather light parties of only a couple of years ago, parties that were equally high on hormones, but also plenty of banter. I missed Vince, he would have been perfect now. He would probably have suggested to talk to a random bloke and ask his opinion about a non-existing book. It was not a question of daring it without him, it was just so much more fun with him around.

I got up, leaving Adrian behind and walked back in. Fool’s Gold was filling the room, a claustrophobic basement with white walls. Nobody was laughing. People were dancing or drinking too fast. Janet was operating the stereo installation, behind crates stacked with CD’s and records. She looked bored, as if the designated DJ left her there. She winked me over. ‘Play some records, please…’ The sweetness in her voice insulted me. I leaned over and replied: ‘a blowjob in the bathroom will be my reward I guess?’ She grinned. ‘Didn’t you receive too much already, my dear, won’t you please me for a change?’ I stepped back, pretending to be hurt. Janet smiled. ‘Just play some records, I will buy you a beer’.

I loved spinning records. It was a ritual that gave me the opportunity to stare at the dance floor and think. Playing interesting records was much easier than dancing or drinking in an interesting way. My dancing was too serious and definitely non-sensual. My drinking just hard and fast, without paying attention to anyone. I connected through music, effortlessly. Make them move with a classic song, play another party classic to keep them moving and then confuse the shit out of them with an obscure B-side. If the dance floor was still packed after that third song, then I was effectively given permission to increase the tension and play more obscure songs. All of this while negotiating ‘song requests’ in parallel. Boring ones to be ignored, interesting ones to be played just like the ones coming from nice girls. That was the job: half an eye on the record being played, half an eye on the dance floor, searching for something new to play, all the while searching for and negotiating what to play next.

Janet returned with the beers and asked about the party, did I like it? The violence of my reaction surprised me. ‘Adrian is sitting outside throwing cobbles with a carelessness that is normally reserved for the homeless, Maria is shaking her hips like her fertility will end after tonight, complacence is dripping from the walls, so what should I say? Great? Couldn’t be better? If it was up to me I would happily strangle everyone!’ Janet smiled. ‘Good boy, tolerant as always!’ She turned and walked away, knowing very well she had my full attention. I shook my head. Did I really need her, this strange nihilistic creature? Having no girlfriend made me volatile like the stock market; I could still fall in love like a madman, but the feeling could also be gone in a flash. All rules and all consistency were gone.

From the other side of the dance floor Maria watched me think. She slowly moved her hips back and forth to the rhythm of Road to Nowhere. She was smoking, a sight for sore eyes. I watched all of her moves. How she slowly raised the cigarette, put it between her lips, sucked up the smoke without even inhaling, kept the smoke in her mouth for a moment, carefully studied the people watching her with a mixture of carelessness and boredom, and finally exhaled forcefully. It always activated a latent desire. Some women know every trick in the seduction playbook. Our eyes crossed. She knew I was looking at her, totally absorbed by mind, body and soul. I winked her over and asked:  ‘will we leave soon?’. She nodded. I picked a last record, Blue Monday,12 inch version; good enough to fill the dance floor, long enough for us to disappear. Outside we found Adrian, head between his legs. He didn’t move. Without saying a word we left. The air was heavy, filled with clarity. Truth didn’t exist in my world. I knew I wanted to make love to Maria. Too bad it wasn’t raining; lust is so much more exciting in warm summer rain.

Talking was not necessary. It would be just a scene full of endless wandering through the city, past black canals, run down buildings and spooky old churches. It would be a scene packed with creatures of the night. We would share cigarettes, exchange looks, laugh drunkenly and in the end kiss under a bridge somewhere. It happened so many times before and if anything, we were only amazed it never resulted in a real relationship. We only ever existed in the spur of the moment. It suddenly struck me and for whatever reason I wanted to get of this certainty. I wanted to destroy my own comfort and put myself back in the eye of the storm. I Looked at Maria and said: ‘I’ve seen an angel’. This was of course complete nonsense. Maria didn’t even respond.

It didn’t stop me. ‘I keep myself in the numbness of comfort. I know everyone in my orbit, know exactly who they are and what I want from them. Friends, colleagues, girlfriends or special occasion acquaintances, it works the same for all. All has to be nicely arranged and predictable. But it doesn’t calm me down. In the end I want what I don’t have. I keep hunting and when people, women, don’t want a role in my world it literally makes me sick. But now…I met an angel and for the first time I begin to realize what love is, or could be, for the first time I’m able to look at someone without the need to explain, frame or investigate. Who she is, what she does, the way she looks, it is all irrelevant. I want to see her fly, that is my only wish. It makes me feel scared and incompetent. I feel something that’s not narcissistic, for the first time in a long time..’ Only then did I notice the cigarette Maria was holding in front of me. She smiled, offered me a light and only then replied. ‘I know you’re not on drugs so the question is: why are you telling me this? Why are you talking about fantasy life? Wouldn’t it be nicer to just close your eyes and kiss me? She was right, of course, all was fantasy, but then again, all history was fragmented and I just experienced a postmodern blend of different stories from different periods. What was real?

I looked at Maria again. She seemed happy. She didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. She knew nothing about my surreal resurrection out of this blend of past, present and future, the formation of a self that was authentic. I would kiss her, later, conquer the night in doing so, and end up in irreconcilable worlds. I thought about my angel, I couldn’t let go of her, she was with me, I carried her around. It felt like freedom. No more hunting, just comfortable with being found. ‘Just in time’, I thought, ‘enough sampling, need to bring the remix to a close. Follow my path to result and consequence.’

All of this happened in silence. Maria just looked at me. After a while I suddenly asked her: ‘do you remember that morning after a party, when I walked you home, all 5 miles of it?’ She nodded and said: ‘that was a beautiful morning, I remember the stars slowly fading and kissing you in front of my parents’ house. ‘Did we kiss back then, wasn’t that in our platonic phase, or to be more precise, in my shy and your obedient phase? ‘Who cares, as far as I’m concerned we always kissed!’ I halted and thought for a second. ‘I think it all started when you were 17, early ‘90’s. I remember your ex, Rob, being mad about something.’ Maria smiled. ‘About you of course, your tendency to ignore conventions and morality and the ease with which you seemed to get away with it. He never got over it.’

We again stopped talking and inspected the empty streets. Moon and stars just gave enough light, every now and then a fellow night owl passed. That was the beauty of the night; like minded souls all going their own way. I stood up and offered Maria my hand, which she grabbed to pull herself up. We walked to the church, crossed the road and continued to the park. The silence of the night felt heavy. ‘Where are we going?’, I finally asked. ‘I take you to the park’, Maria replied, ‘because even though it doesn’t rain I want to kiss you there, under the bridge. Just imagine raindrops like tears trickling down my face. This dress is too thin for rain, even in summer, but a true romantic knows his way around illusion.’

This scene, did it take place? Did it? It certainly had illusionary qualities. Deserted park in moonlight. Two barely lit people on their way to a place they knew very well. Déjà vu in reverse. What surprised even me was that my excitement was not for that moment, but for what would happen afterwards. I didn’t long for the kiss, I longed for the crash. My flickering personality seemed to reveal new options. I felt like a flashbulb at the end of its life.