Seated on the lower sun-deck behind the house on Zeus Drive, held aloft by its metal struts built out from the precipices underneath it, Jaymi accesses Ain’tTheyFreaky!’s Downtown L.A. environment onscreen.
Within this, he crosses a pavement and stops at a kerb, looking out over Hope Street where lines of cars wait at a stop signal. Right in front of him is a cab’s roof, its illuminated number close enough to be out of focus. Up ahead on the right, above the red burn of the traffic-light, is a huge feminine face, hovering on the city’s fabric… It’s the Platinum Raven! Or rather, it’s her brand-new visuals, evidently pirated from Jaymi before he’s even finished her creation cycle, let alone incarnated her. She’s been brazenly incorporated here by Herb. And sure enough, minuscule at the top left of her image, he can make out a small, vertically-oriented attribution, “Copyright Bang Dead Games”.
Pirated—and at such a tender stage in her very existence. The outrageous cheek of it!
His outrage is put on hold for a moment, while he stands there enraptured by her. How enormous is this projection of her platinum transcendence, up there on the unwindowed side façade of a seven-storey building—a structure in the American Perpendicular style, grimy and handsome in the functional elegance of the high grid of windows on its front façade. She is painted bright and pale onto a height of three full storeys above the lower adjoining building. She’s expressionlessly serious in close-up, caught in a simulacrum of spontaneity. With pale brown eyes, luxuriant eyelashes, black eye-liner and dark-chocolate eye-shadow blended into the curves of her cheekbones and temples, she’s waiting, expectant, blank, as her creator stares up at her and she stares down at him. The longer she dangles him inside her affectless stare, the more surreal it is, too—even spooky. She is immensely alluring. So much so, that Jaymi has to force himself to look elsewhere within this field of view he has: at the other buildings, at the red traffic-light, at the top of the cab with its illuminated number … but all these things seem just to shrug his gaze off them straight away, whereupon it zings back onto her.
Only now does he realise the billboard where she’s been placed is an animated one, as text flashes up across her face without warning, followed by a flashing logo and a phone number: “Trying to conceive? Let’s face it: as a woman, your life just isn’t complete without children. Call us for help.”
Jaymi recoils, yanked back to his laptop on the terrace, almost snarling at its screen, as he straight away pictures Kelly in her Sunset Boulevard office. This is her, fucking with his Beasts’ visuals again, he can sense it. This time, it seems, she is doing so with a new permutation of Dreariness: she’s stolen the Platinum Raven’s artwork, no doubt with help from Herb’s hacking, and has incorporated it into a tacky advert bombarding women with cynical lies.
Pursued by Kelly, Jaymi spirits the Platinum Raven through the limits of the industrial city of Vernon and down the concrete river’s curves to the docks at Long Beach, veiling his creation amidst barrels and hides, in scents of pulp and seaweed, rum granules, coffee grounds and ships’ tar. He shakes Kelly off when he doubles back from the docks, then way north, beyond the Inland Empire to the San Gabriel Mountains. There, up a stone-edged ledge of grass a mile long, backed by a thin straight wall of trees, she and Jaymi reach a hidden country house—a pastiche of many eras, raised into being through a huge reclusive wealth from the early days of film. Glancing off the mountains to verify her smudger is gone, they sneak across a peaceful terrace, slip through the door of an elegant rotunda, and step into a candle-lit ballroom inside.
Waltzing underneath the chandeliers, hand in hand and toe to toe with this Beast he created, while the strains of a long-gone string quintet fill the little dome above the dance-floor, Jaymi Peek feels he is dancing with his very own transcendence…
Returning his attention to his surroundings here on the lower sun-deck behind the house on Zeus Drive, he again pictures Kelly beavering away at her image-editing program in an attempt to cheapen and impoverish the Platinum Raven.
The glint in his brown eyes hardens, then he spits, in a grand curve: over the railing of the sun-deck, and on down the slope of the canyon below.
For more about “The Beasts of Electra Drive” by Rohan Quine, see
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