Not All Of What Follows Is True

A recurring journal of mixed veracity.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

This Is The Way – Step Inside
Stephen O'Brien


I found it all right – there was a map on the back of the flyer. The front of the flyer said "The Atrocity Exhibition" in narrow red letters. Underneath, italicised versions of the same spelled out the invitation "This Is The Way – Step Inside". How could I resist?

It was down a fashionably narrow, fashionably cobbled street. There were two doormen, who, despite the sinister name of their establishment, looked no more villainous than anyone else in their line of work. They didn’t try to stop me as I passed through the gunsight-shaped doorway.

Ahead of me, on the far wall, a picture was projected. Taken from above and behind, it showed the head and shoulders of a man sitting in a limousine. Off to one side there was a bar, behind which a middle-aged man in a frock coat and top hat was cleaning glasses. He nodded slightly in acknowledgement.

I took a seat at a table beneath a blown-up photograph of a burning airship, grey canvas skin being consumed by grey hydrogen flame. On the far side of the room a Slavic-looking man with a greenish uniform and extensive moustache was haranguing someone. The man he was haranguing was smaller, dressed in an earth-tone robe and Afghan hat, with a straggly beard. He looked like he was only half-listening.

A shadow fell across me, and I turned round. Of course. Brown uniform, glacier-blue eyes, black hair overturned in a side parting, minor-league moustache. He held a silver tray.

"Mine’s an absinthe and lemonade." I said.