We Can Be Heroes

We Can Be Heroes

A thousand windows of a hundred hotels face me all at once, black, punctuated by a flickering pulse on identical ceilings, blue, in synchronised media fulfilment. All I can see are his legs, thin, with tight black jeans and simple white shoes. A bare wooden floor. The ornamental façade of the Jubilee hall obscures his top half and so I watch the legs with interest as they begin to dance, alone in an empty gallery, hot-stepping fifty metres from one end to the other, and a succession of bewilderingly fast twists and back steps in front of the mirror at the end. Fireworks explode above the marina, visible between the towering buildings on the waterfront, most half-finished and exposed at the top, baring girdered claws. And still he's stepping out, out, and out again.

The menu is in arcs of colour, green & white, with a cartoon figure of a man crouched, running, menu held above him, and it advises that 'in case of rain' it can be used as a Makeshift Shelter™. I have always considered the phrase 'in case of' confusing, no matter how correct it is. I guess others thought the same, as the signs outside elevators now say, 'If there is a fire, do not use this lift,' and this is brutal in its clarity. The lifts here say neither, casually omitting warnings as easily as they shed the fourth floor, the fourteenth. Sometimes the 24th is there.

I duck as the bassist turns back toward the bar and almost clocks me with his guitar.

"And who are you, whitey?" says the girl that has elbowed her way past the sound guy and into the tiny area of clear space from where you can shout at the old man behind the bar. She is small, curly black hair, and a trio of tiny cuts curling, ragged, toward her left eye, bisecting freckles, and only a day or so old.

"Dan," I say.

"Just Dan?"

"Just Dan."

"Well that's no good," she says, "Much too ordinary. How about I'll be Star, and you can be Dare, and we'll be superheroes."

"But I have no superpowers," I point out.

"This is okay. We can work with this. All we need are the outfits."

"I'm not such a fan of outside underwear."

"Oh, that's such old-school thinking. We've moved on. Moved up."

"To?" but she has caught the old man's eye and is engaged in vigorous explanation of how, exactly, she wants this cocktail to be served. Bamboo culms, inked so finely they look like a photograph, stretch across her shoulder-blade and out of sight, and they flex in time with her gestures of affirmation.

I turn back to face the man with the Mohawk and the microphone, all muscles, and black gloves, and neck stretches, and I look for superheroes in the crowd