“Pesi Lao, where are your people now?”
Lao had been considering this problem for some weeks in the only way she knew. She walked the alleyways of her side of Nova Grendoza, keeping a careful account of the discarded empty beer cans, and bottles but mostly cans, that she found either crumpled amongst the leaf litter or hung in carrier bags, blue of black in colour, from railings and broken tree branches.
She sounded the subways for evidence: the tags on the damp walls, a big metal door halfway down the subway unlocked and waiting for the unwary, the ubiquitous fisheye mirrors at each entrance.
Following the courses of muddy streams, clogged up with shopping trolleys and unwound VHS tape, she found new vistas; the pulse of life, Italian furniture, Halal butchers, the Saturday Market, but where were the fixies? Where were the latter-day baxboys snapping selfies? She was not a hundred miles from Grokiztan but she was at a loss to account for their absence.
“Vous avez suffisamment?”
Lao had to admit that she was busy enough, and while she had taken a pay cut and her income was no higher in any real or imaginary sense, the spiritual feeling that the concrete ogives of what the local rag, unreasonably in her opinion, called a “sink estate” gave her was something of an epiphany. It could all be saved. It could all be recast in her own image.
Perhaps these people, here on the sink estate, there in the municipal synagogue, everywhere unseen in the alleyways leaving their beer cans like vapour trails in a clear blue sky, were her people. And the skies were still blue once in a while.
“Und du bist ein Sonderangebot!”
She picked up the video-CD, its cover depicted a smiling girl, a young man in the background wearing a fawn-coloured pullover draped casually over the shoulders of a night blue shirt, a sports car parked beside him. She couldn’t read any of the writing other than the number 95 and the words “video-CD”, it might have been Chinese or Taiwanese, it might have been her sister from the other side.
Everything was going to be tickety-boo.