This was originally going to be Track 6 of Radar Doesn't Believe In The Supernatural, but was dropped as its sole purpose was to serve as a midpoint recap of the first half of the novel. I do like some of the character interactions that take place before they go see the movie, but it's obvious that this chapter does nothing to advance the story in any meaningful way. Regardless, I hope you enjoy this deleted scene from Radar Doesn't Believe In The Supernatural.
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Track 6: Girls
Koi closed the file that contained Ryan’s play. Was he actually going to have it performed? Was the audience – the random people on the bus – supposed to understand that it was a play? Koi did not understand the purpose of it. Ryan told him that the play was to be performed twice and not to be recorded in any way; the only documents of its existence were to be the play itself and people’s memories of it.
Ryan had sent the play to him a few days ago but Koi had only managed to get around to it now. He had not actually seen Don or Poe since the night of Poe’s concert.
His buzzer let out a time-stretched quack, bringing a sudden sigh to his breath. He apprehensively left his desk chair and shuffled to the buzzer, expecting it to be his father or step-mother requiring the same old assistance with their computer; they usually called about once a week for this reason, but Koi had left his phone off the hook since the day of Poe’s concert. He figured his parents could do with learning how to unplug their modem, wait thirty seconds and plug it back in on their own.
‘Uh, hello,’ Koi said into the matted beige screen of his buzzer.
Koi hit the button. He opened his door and peeked down the hallway to see Don and Poe animatedly discussing the merits of distortion, acknowledging his existence only when they were but a few feet away from him. He opened his door wider to better accommodate them and nodded in greeting.
‘Koi!’ Don greeted back in high spirits. ‘We’re here to listen to your tracks!’
Koi’s eyes lit up. He could hardly believe that Don and Poe – the two friends he saw the least of – would come all the way to his apartment just to listen to his weird noises. Koi closed the door behind them and went into the kitchen to fetch some drinks.
Asked what he’d most like to drink, Don asked if ‘blue Pepsi’ still existed.
‘No,’ Poe told him. ‘It tasted like acid-flavoured freezies and was taken off the market before anyone else died from it.’
‘I thought it tasted like Gummi Bears.’
Koi opened his fridge. His drink selection, vast as it was, ranged from ginger beer to alcoholic beer, cola champagne to Coca-Cola, orange juice to milk. There were also a few cans of green tea hidden away in a crisper.
‘What’ll ya have?’ Koi asked his friends in a stilted mock-bartender voice.
‘Blue Pepsi,’ Don said.
Koi put the kettle on and gave Don a glass of cola. After Don further argued the merits of blue Pepsi, Koi led them to his computer.
‘This is, uh, where the magic happens.’
He opened up a folder containing a track he had been working on earlier that day. He double-clicked on the track, the track opening with a whistle that gradually built up steam. Soon the whistle became a high-pitched cry, unwavering, cutting through the few beats that could be heard underneath. Koi paused the track but the whistling continued.
‘Er, what type of tea do you want?’ he asked Poe.
‘Ginger, if you have it.’
Koi placed a tea bag in a mug and poured in the boiling water. Poe then serviced his mug, stirring his concoction with a tablespoon, the spicy scent filling the apartment. After the steam rose to his lips and his smile bloomed sincerity, they returned to the computer.
‘Okay,’ Poe said.
‘Wait,’ Don said. ‘Start from the beginning.’
Koi clicked Stop and then Play. The track began anew, this time with a more intentional whistling, building in volume as it followed a minor synth melody.
‘That’s, uh, me whistling,’ Koi said.
The popping sounds of obvious cuts and edits entered into the mix, giving way to stuttering hip hop beats that glitched more than they beat, yet somehow it all worked. It worked far better than any standard hip hop beat ever could, and it did not take careful listening to tell that every jagged edge had been meticulously crafted and placed. Both Don and Poe struggled hard to resist the urge to hum along to Koi’s recorded whistling.
‘What is this?’ Poe asked in a daze once the track had ended.
‘Well, uh, this track is glitch-hop. I was inspired by an artist on Teleport Records called 4:30am. It’s basically, uh, hip hop that’s been glitched out.’
‘It sounds amazing,’ Don said. ‘It is amazing.’
‘I’d love to remix this, actually,’ Don added thoughtfully. ‘Could you put it on my usb key?’
Don detached the usb key from his keychain and handed it to Koi, who set about adding the track.
‘So who was that girl you were with?’ Poe asked as the file – a massive, uncompressed wav – slowly copied itself onto Don’s key.
‘She was kind of hot, if you don’t mind me saying,’ Don said.
‘She’s, uh, Haskell. Trevor Noirchild’s sister.’
‘Are you joking?’ Poe asked in disbelief.
‘I don’t get it,’ Don said.
‘Trevor Noirchild was one of Ryan’s characters back in high school,’ Poe explained smilingly. ‘He’s not a real person.’
‘Does that mean Haskell isn’t real?’ Don asked.
‘It’s, uh, not his real name. He’s a musician that Ryan knows.’
‘Hm. Is she your girlfriend?’
Koi felt his face fall into the flames of embarrassment.
‘I guess not,’ Poe said, smirking.
‘I want to hear some more tracks,’ Don said. ‘Put on more tracks!’
Koi played an example of each of the styles that he had drifted through since he began making tracks. Don and Poe could hardly believe what they were hearing – he had mastered every genre and sub-genre he had stumbled upon so far. Everything he touched – whether a mainstream hip hop sample or some random sound he had recorded himself – turned into gold. He was an awkward, unwitting King Midas.
‘What do you use to record?’ Don asked.
‘Uh. I’ve been using a mic. Haskell, uh, brought it over for me; it’s under my desk somewhere.’
He searched for the microphone. It was buried under a stack of William Gibson novels he had never gotten around to finishing.
‘What were you trying to record?’ Poe asked.
‘Er, I was trying to record a party in the apartment below mine,’ Koi said, rubbing the back of his neck. ‘I figured it would, uh, add more atmosphere to a track I’ve been working on.’
‘That’s brilliant,’ Don said.
Koi grinned at the compliment.
‘I’ll have to hear it.’
Don then looked at his watch, a retro-styled bit of plastic with a tiny calculator built in.
‘We have to get going,’ he said.
‘Where are you going?’ Koi asked. ‘Uh.’
‘We’re going to see a movie at the Rainbow,’ Poe said. ‘It’s supposed to be a big budget film, but . . . Well, it’s not a science fiction movie, so we didn’t think you’d be interested.’
Koi dabbed his nose with a tissue.
‘Uh, I’m interested,’ he said. ‘What’s it about?’
* * *
The film cold-opened to a sun-warmed scene: a playing field in the downtown of a big, clean city, the field’s blue stands rising high around it like the great walls of some forgotten temple. The brightly-shining tops of skyscrapers and other office buildings, the white tops of massive apartment buildings – these were all that could be seen beyond the stands. Above, the yellow sun burned hot and bright and sometimes blinding; there were no clouds, but there were airplanes with their cotton trails, each line caressing the sky.
The title card cut in, unexpected and exciting, a single word on a yellow background. The word was orange but it was not orange. Koi could not remember what the title was after it appeared and never bothered to ask Don or Poe; part of that had to do with how scared he was – the film was so perfect, so frighteningly personal.
The track on the field was an elongated oval, burning black tarmac with traces of shining grey. All around it was grass, soft and cool and mown, and in the middle there was more grass, and in the middle of the middle grass there was a tree. Standing by the tree, with their bare feet on the grass and their bare feet on the tarmac and some with one foot on the grass and one foot on the tarmac, were girls, girls of all colours, shades and races. All of them wore white t-shirts with black shorts. Their shirts had small black insignias on the upper right, where a pocket might have been.
There were thirteen of the girls, some of them talking, some whispering, some laughing, some giggling, some looking up at the sky, some looking down at the grass between their toes. An ambient hum warmed the scene as much as the sun, and watching it – hearing it – Koi could feel how hot the tarmac was and how cool the grass was.
One of the girls sat by the tree, but the camera did not focus on her. The camera did not focus on any of them – all that it cared for was the scene itself, the background, the warmth that surrounded the girls until the girls surrendered to the warmth.
Two of the girls ran out of frame and a pink light seeped in, bursting the bright colours into watery dyes. The scene changed. Now Koi was looking at the outside of the field, or what he assumed to be the outside: the walls were the same blue, the sky the same sky, only now he could see a street, golden grey, upon which blue and yellow and white cars coasted.
The camera panned up: up past a fragile glass skyscraper until there was only sky in the frame, up, up until the top of another building entered the frame upside-down. Even in its inverted state, Koi immediately recognised the building: it was under construction, it was ominous grey, it was everything that he did not need in his life. Why was it in a film that took place in a city he had never even heard of before?
The following cut jumped from the exterior of the apartment building to the interior of an apartment. The minimalist design, layout and furnishings of the apartment were readily familiar to Koi. The sound of rushing water filled the soundtrack like the rustling of a thousand leaves. When it abated, drifted, dropped out completely, Haskell stepped out of the shower, her black hair dampened and slightly wild yet somehow perfect, the thickness of it sticking jaggedly out the back of her head. Tactile. Even with his hands on his knees, Koi could feel her hair on his fingertips.
She wore a white towel around her body, the towel a shade brighter than that of her skin. She strolled the stretch between the washroom and balcony, the dew on her shoulders glistening beneath the white of the ceiling. When the sun fell upon her, the weight of Koi’s love for her fell heavily upon him, and that strange feeling he felt in his chest was impact. Haskell ran the ivory comb of her fingers through the perfect blackness of her hair. She turned to face the camera, hand in hair, Haskellian smile on her lips. Like she had just played the most sensational practical joke. She brought her hand to the top of the towel and pulled it artfully downwards, exposing a single breast, the action more maternal than sexual. She let go of the towel and walked casually out of frame.
Koi was too busy freezing the image of Haskell’s breast in his mind to notice that the film had continued without him: the scene had changed from an apartment consciously devoid of clutter to a cluttered blue bedroom, wherein a stuffed animal guarded each of the room’s four corners – a kappa, a Totoro, a Garfield, a platypus. The bed was blanketed with moons and stars. The dresser had a large mirror bordered with colourful stickers from photo booths.
A girl was leaning out the room’s window. The room was dim even though it was bright outside. The girl wore white pants and a blue shirt and the camera followed the graceful curve of her bending spine to the back of her blonde head.
The next shot was that of Dana’s face, gazing intently at the lawn beneath her window. The camera panned slowly downwards, from the set seriousness of her face to the bright yellow water balloon she held tremblingly in her hands. Panning down, down, down, the camera continued its descent until it reached a model Koi recognised from various clothing ads. She stood with her arms crossed, staring unhappily at the camera.
The water balloon landed on the model’s head and slid off without bursting. She looked up.
The next scene was that of Ryan’s humbling abode. A gleeful Nancy was going through the process of adding silver and gold decorations to the Christmas tree, a fat, real thing that stood in Ryan’s office. After the requisite faux-elegant decorations, she attached meaningful ones from her well-preserved childhood: a dirty Miss Piggy, a rock-hard snowman cookie, handmade decorations from her elementary school days. She wrapped a white blanket of fluffy fake snow around the tree’s base and positioned presents in attractive piles on the blanket. Behind her the fireplace flickered, lovingly lighting the overweight cat curled up in a mass of fat and fur. Nancy picked up the cat and nuzzled its neck as it meowed loudly in protest.
A door opened in the background. The scene changed. Now Koi was viewing a cliché composition from high-above, a commuter train moving through a blue city at night, its yellow windows lighting the rails. The subsequent shot jumped into the interior of one of the commuter train’s cars, the camera positioning itself squarely in front of a fleetingly-seen face. Bright billboards and advertisements and neon lights from the past, present and future passed over the face of the Korean girl that Koi had seen on the bus. She looked tired and pretty. She rested her elbow on her knee and her chin in her hand. Strands of her long black long red hair dropped from the side of her face to blind her. She did not bother replacing the hair, instead opting to close her eye, shutting off everything but what remained in the peripheral.
A girl in a translucent blue dress bounced across her, bells jingling with each springing step. The Korean girl opened her eyes and turned to look at the girl as she bounced effortlessly to the other side of the car. The girl in the blue dress opened the door to the next car and disappeared into it. The scene changed when the door closed behind her.
The next scene was that of Vasilisa scrubbing a log floor in a cabin. The cabin was filled with the type of Halloween-level paraphernalia one would expect from a witch named Baba Yaga: skulls were turned into candles and set on steel pokers; still-breathing, still-struggling rats were nailed to walls as a form of warning to other meddlesome creatures; in the middle of the room was a bubbling cauldron, its bubbles eyes, its pink liquid a mixture of pus and blood; everywhere were cobwebs that had apparently trapped bats, the bats being eaten by the largest household spiders Koi could have ever personally imagined; a radio was tuned to the hoarse apologies of the damned; and a plate of lovingly-iced gingerbread cookies sat amongst it. Vasilisa, innocent and naïve, scrubbed indescribable stains of all colours and textures.
Having accomplished about half of her chores – the entire left side of the cabin – Vasilisa paused, sat up straight, arced her back in a popping stretch and wiped the sweat from her forehead. Her hand reached upwards like a remote-controlled missile, gingerbread-seeking fingers feeling the table for the plate of cookies. Finding it, she pulled it closer, grabbed a cookie and gobbled it down, the cookie the most satisfying reward she could have hoped for.
As it had been out of focus in the background, Koi did not notice the door behind her until it began opening. While it opened he could make out the silhouette of a stocky, bulky figure just beyond its frame, a pointed hat fixed crookedly upon the silhouette’s head.
The scene changed. This new scene took place in the living room at his father’s house. His father was missing from the scene, however – instead the humans occupying the frame were his mother and step-mother, the pair caught in some sort of heated argument. As all traces of sound had been dropped from the film, Koi was unable to determine what exactly the pair was arguing about, though he assumed that all the silent yelling was in some way about him.
A large dog trotted casually between the women as they shouted at and over each other; whilst hurling what must have been the most hateful, hurtful words at her disposal, spittle flew out of his step-mother’s mouth and landed on the dog’s back. The dog snarled at Koi’s step-mother, Koi’s step-mother looked suddenly fearful and the dog went for her gut. The scene changed before anything unwatchable happened.
Koi was now watching gameplay footage from a videogame he had never seen before. The footage followed a fleet-footed female ninja as she threaded her way through various forest paths. Sometimes bats would swoop down to attack her, but they were swiftly dispatched with well-aimed shuriken. The moonlight of an artificial, unseen moon fell upon the ninja girl with an ethereal glow as she toed her way past a clearing; the lightness of her movements was practiced and perfect, the successive steps for each foot exactly the same as the ones preceding them.
Past the clearing was a small fortress, and the ninja girl’s goal – appearing on the screen in big, bright, flashing red letters – was to infiltrate it. Koi felt himself overwhelmed with the desperate urge to play through this part on his own.