And so I wrote the e-mail.
Regarding the book.
I brought up identity-theft and how the thief could be a location.
I spoke of Prince Jellyfish, real motorcycle gangs and people who would stomp you or commit heartless acts of arson as soon as look at you.
I reminded them that the "Mama Please Stop the Screaming in my Head" quartet of poems would increase interest in the book.
Screaming at the Gateway.
Screaming Desires and Hollow Fulfilment.
The Screams of the Suffering.
The Confusion and Illusion of Authentic Recovery.
would not be released without a deal.
Alongside the book, this was going to be real cult stuff - Billy Corgan would be talked into doing the score for the musical version and Tim Roth would doubtless play the lead male just for taxi expenses.
I mentioned in the e-mail that in June 1987 Thompson informed us of a very rare photograph taken at the funeral of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, showing four living American presidents standing in tight focus in one 35mm frame - Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Three of the four had already been chased out of the Whitehouse in defeat or disgrace or both and the fourth was ready to go. I told them he wrote about Nixon being a crook, Ford a shameless fixer and Carter an awesome bungler who gave values like “decency” and “honesty” a bad name. Reagan, however, is the one who tells a reporter for People Magazine that this generation may see the end of the world.
The book picked up on this eighties’ sentiment, this burger-flippers’ confusion, disenchantment and extreme lack of concern for others… and it was all about the book... and the sticky issue of a reasonable fee. I told them I had already put out a challenge to the young, aggressive revolutionary scribes, the ground-breaking artists of the quill, the cream coming through the red brick of the 21st century - and tumbleweed skipped down the streets.
Sure any upstart could undercut me, but even if some pseudo-genius did appear from the haze of pub-golf, their version of eighties’ nights and sexual frustration, none would be able to find their way into the mire like I could and this would be exactly what was required for sales.
I explained in the e-mail how I had always been closer to the filth than the heavens and that The Addicted could instinctively tell that I was one of them.
The fee had to reflect the risk; if the writing was going to get done, it had to be dangerously aggressive and as I no longer had Chef around to back me up, danger-money was what they'd have to show. At any time of night, my car might be ripped apart under the bedroom window or a long, lonely drive taken with three, brute strangers into the dark countryside.
The thing was, I was the only one in the institution who could deal with that - it was the suits that bothered me - the suits were my ante-up. This is where the real danger-money comes in I told them. Sure, some Mummies and Daddies might be connected to the judicial system, but I'm exactly the kind of degenerate that they want to send down for many, many years.
So show me the money.
Red brick? English Society? Chords and elbow patches?
The fees were tripling and the contact time halved.
Show me the money and you'll get your book, I said.
Moreover, show me the money, I'll be out of your hair before you know it and in the meantime leave you something which will enable you to start trading on reputation again... just like the old days. Detatch and cash in.
I'll show you what's under the table without having to name names.
I ended the e-mail.
By the time I got home, there was a nice, shiny-black card propped up against a plastic triangle on my desk and no forced doors. Gold letters were embossed expensively on the smooth card Lucifer's Paper Mill. A small note lay behind it, on thick beige paper with an indecipherable water-mark, stating that the paper-work for the deal would arrive within three working days.
I scheduled a meeting with Chef by calling him out of the safe-house - and out of hiding for good.