"By this time, she had stood up from the stairs, and I could see just how extraordinary she was. Slender and imperious, yet there was something disarmingly gentle, soothingly authoritative about her. No matter what she asked you to do, you’d do it – but not before you licked her hand and swished your tail against her leg!"
I stopped spinning, having gasped out loud and nearly lost my balance. There she was, sitting in the hallway, at the bottom of the first flight of stairs. I could have screamed. To quote Not Chicken George, one of my occasional commentators on this blog, it was “Kidman, man, Kidman”!
“How?” I said.
“What am I? But this can’t be? How did I get here? Are these the questions you’re asking? Sentences would suit you, Steph. All this clipped shit really doesn't,” said this imaginary Kidman.
It would have been one thing just to have the presence of her. Unloquacious, unassuming, spectral, trying hard to communicate but failing. This verbal bombardment made the apparition all the harder to deal with. I use the word ‘apparition’, yet there was nothing other-worldly about this Kidman. She was flesh and blood. Rhythm. Poise. Gravitas. Edge. Flair. Spark. I’d describe her for you, but she very quickly did that for herself.
"There was nothing other-worldly about this Kidman. She was flesh and blood. Rhythm. Poise. Gravitas. Edge. Flair. Spark"
“Hold on," I said, trying to assume some control. "Try not to speak for just a couple of seconds and let me clear up one thing. Are you, or have you ever been, or, could you possibly be …”
“Kidman, man, Kidman! Right here. Oh, come on, it’s unmistakeable! Look! The angular, dynamic eyebrows, arched for both sensuality and inquisitiveness. The long, cinematic nose - dramatic looks just slide down it and leap off out of the celluloid and into theatres across the world. My magnanimous, indefatigable titties: not too big that I look like I keep small, exotic dogs inside my bra, but not too small that I have to SPEAK LOUDER OR WAVE MY ARMS ABOUT A LOT to make men notice me. Oh, and the hair: sumptuous, silky twirls that’ll make you dizzy if you try to follow them with your eye, and containing a sweepy swooshiness that has been described by the supermarket tabloids as ‘sweeshiness’. Dramatic height, don’t forget the dramatic height! Just enough to make short men dream of passionately tonguing my navel, but enough to make tall men feel that they’ve met a woman they can really wrestle with in the boudoir! And I love to wrestle the big lads, Stephanie! Oh, yes, I really do! It’s me all right. Kidman.”
By this time, she had stood up from the stairs, and I could see just how extraordinary she was. Slender and imperious, yet there was something disarmingly gentle, soothingly authoritative about her. No matter what she asked you to do, you’d do it – but not before you licked her hand and swished your tail against her leg! I’d often imagined what she looked like in real life, but Jeez Louise, she looked just great in imaginary life!
Pardon? What? What did I just write then?
She could sense my consternation. “I know what you’re thinking, Steph. I know you must be confused.” Thank God, she understood! Maybe she could enlighten me about all of this and help me to understand! “You’re wondering how I keep my bum so small and tight when I lead such a hectic life! Easy! I do this move!” And she demonstrated something involving squats and buttock clenches, alongside something highly inappropriate that she did with her fists.
"Slender and imperious, yet there was something disarmingly gentle, soothingly authoritative about her. No matter what she asked you to do, you’d do it – but not before you licked her hand and swished your tail against her leg!"
She wore a dress that wasn’t from any movie I’d ever seen her in. Let me describe it for you. As she bobbed up and down I could see that the dress -
“No, no, darling. Let me describe it. You’ll balls it up no end if I let you depict this classic number for your readers!”
And then she spoke, word after word after word. So many words just in order to say that it was a long dress of a light salmony kind of colour, but not too vicious for her red hair, and that the dress draped all the way down to her ankles, and that it was tight around her wrists and with a lowish neckline. Lastly, that it looked as if it would not be too susceptible to wrinkles – great for long-haul flights, and with a slight thickness of fabric for when it gets a little cool during the night. Oops, one last last thing, it was gorgeous! Oh, and with the tiniest little trim on the hem, so slight you’d hardly notice it. Sorry, she should have said that there were no belt-loops and that there was the merest hint of a gather at the shoulders, just enough to ensure that it looked classy as well as functional. Did she mention that it was a kind of light salmon colour? Yes, she did. Okay. Okay. That should do.
"Where was my mind now? Where had I gone? Why was I here? What place was this, that looked so real and yet where the air seemed so drunk on fable?"
“Why are you here? This isn’t right! I put your name in the title of this blog because I thought you would play the part of me, Stephanie Fey, in the movie of what's happening in this house! I didn't expect you to enter proceedings and bug me during the actual story that inspires the movie! Who’s going to play me now that you’ve shown up? Now you'll have to play yourself in the movie and that's just damned weird!"
She shrugged. “There’s always Julianne Moore. Or Lindsay Lohan? Well, if the production has a low budget, that is ..."
I was already walking away from her by now and hoping she wouldn’t follow. Where was my mind now? Where had I gone? Why was I here? What place was this, that looked so real and yet where the air seemed so drunk on fable? Damn! I could still hear her voice echoing down the corridor after me!
“... Geri Halliwell without make-up? Prince Andrew's Fergie, but with a glandular disorder round the hips and arse? How about a fat Tilda Swinton? Oh, I know: Wilma from The Flintstones! But with psoriasis!”
I stopped. "I don't have psoriasis!" I hollered back.
"Oh. What is that then? Just exceptional dryness?"
Don't listen to her, reader. She's just being cruel. There's nothing at all wrong with my skin.
I started to tell myself that all of this was just lack of sleep. Knitting-fever, perhaps! A well-known condition, I'm sure. There are write-ups in medical journals all the time! Aren't there?
Suddenly I heard the tone in Kidman's voice change as it echoed down the hall.
“You know, Steph, you gave up very quickly on solving the mystery of the dead astronaut. Very quickly indeed. That shows lack of character, Steph. Of facet and nuance. Something I don’t suffer from. No, I don't suffer from that. My character, in fact, is lumpy with facet and nuance – like other people have cellulite, I have facet and nuance! That’s what they say about me – ‘That Kidman! Lumpy with facet and nuance, so she is!’”
I stopped and turned towards her. Even at a distance, this Kidman seemed regal and with an unearthly confidence about her. I didn't move towards her though, so now there were two voices echoing down the hallway.
“Mystery? Why do you keep saying that? There’s nothing to solve, I tell you. It’s all been in my head! Like you are now! You just dropped out of me and I need to put you back in somehow! It’s all just a metaphor or something.”
“Oh, a metaphor! Well, of course, everything’s that! But that doesn't mean that it’s not true, that it’s not at the same time real. Don't you believe that metaphors are fundamentally real, doll?”
Doll? That was a term that people in Glasgow often used towards one another. I struggled to understand any of this. I had an imaginary Nicole Kidman demanding that I investigate the mystery of a dead astronaut haunting an old house in Scotland, and using Glaswegian expressions such as 'doll'! And demanding that I investigate!
Then as I opened the door to my suite of rooms, I heard her call again. “Isn’t it lovely how Glaswegians call each other ‘doll’? They must love each other very much to be so sweet to one another! Don't you think?"
Should I investigate? Could I? Was there any point? Any point at all? When I had first seen the library in the neighbouring town, I had thought then that I would find answers by doing research. But I allowed myself to be turned off course. I needed time to think. Think. Think! So I turned away again, saying nothing, but, I suspect, muttering things to myself.
"Uh, one question for you, Steph: where do you think the keys to the rooms in the basement of Mordan House could be? And don't you think it's odd that those rooms are locked?”
I stopped in my tracks, with my hand still on the door handle. The two rooms in the basement? Now that I thought about it, they were the only two rooms I had encountered in the house that were locked! Yes. Why were they locked?