Chapter 22: Step Back In Time

Author: Mallory Keaton
Date: 13th October 1997

"Erica sighed contentedly as she got out of the taxi, enjoying the sensation as she squeezed her firm thighs together."

Backspace. Backspace. That wasn't how Erica would think, Patrick decided, even though that was what he would think if he was her. I mean, if I was a woman, Patrick thought, I'd just lie around feeling my tits all day! Realising how laddish that sounded, he sighed and not the for first time, wished his experience of the opposite sex extended beyond the occasional conference fling and chat room flirtation. Or else that Erica had stayed the babe on level 5 whom he hoped to see in the lift. Back then life was good, a new operating system was a thrill, his life choices were more Wham! than Trainspotting and Australian Psycho was just going to be about Ivan Milat. Start again.

"It was a brunette. A brunette to make Fred Nile kick a hole . . ."

Backspace. Backspace. Raymond Chandler was too dated to merit a homage and he didn't know enough about post modernism to do an ironic (though not in an Alanis Morissette way) rip-off. Anyway Tarantino had done that.

Like most bad ideas, this one had started with vanity. A month back he was flattered to have been approached by Rich Davey, a magazine publisher for whom he'd written an article about bondage Web sites. Davey might be sleazy bastard, but he was a sleazy bastard with a knack for picking the next big thing. He wanted Patrick to write, under his coordination, a serial novel to be published weekly on scanner.com, the only counter culture site with an impressive hit count and an equally impressive lack of red on its balance sheet.

"It's the Dickensian thing coming back in style again," said Davey. "Even Peter Carey is doing it."

Even better, or worse, depending on where you stood, was that Davey wanted it to be not fiction, but faction. Mostly true, except when it got too libellous, complicated or boring.

"This is hot shit, mate." said Davey. "The literary equivalent of snuff films. It's the only way to top American Psycho."

He knew that would work.

"Think about it - when ER taped live it rated off the chart. Look at Funniest Home Fatal Accidents and Real Life. Everybody loves this shit!"

Davey gave Patrick a contact to start off -- Riekelt van Slooten.

Now Patrick was up to the second chapter. And he had fuck all idea how it would finish.

A red Mazda MX-5 was sitting in the driveway of a greasy truck stop on the Pacific Highway halfway up the NSW central coast. Had anyone cared to watch, they might have seen it rock slightly, then stop. It rocked again, and then stopped for good. Rex had decided to give up struggling and conserve his strength for the destination, wherever it might be. Goddamn that woman had an unnatural strength, he thought, as he lay behind the driver's seat, tied up with his own SupaTuff dental floss. His own floss! Christ! She probably had used the spare too.

Mikka emerged from the shop, eating a meat pie, and walked to the car. She untied the cashmere scarf that was gagging Rex. It was the cashmere scarf Kerri-Anne Kennerly had given him, he realised with fury. That bitch was gonna pay! Bigtime. Goddamn, that pie smelt good. Mikka spoke.

"How long until we are arriving at Byron Bay?"

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