Viral John

The crisp line of folders held his thread, his life's trace. Love, Pop, i-D, Dazed, vice, Boat, PIN-UP, mono.kultur, Printed Pages, Granta, Paris Review, Rolling Stone, Guardian, LRB, Frieze, ArtForum, Sunday Times Magazine, Interview and Vogue. Inside were smaller files called notes, contacts and bigger more important files, .docx one, two sometimes even three. These big documents became articles and had titles like: The African Tea Invasion, Coffee was Invented by a Poet: Rimbaud in Harar, HoJo: the New Power of Female Sexuality, Ice-Shirt or Greenland's Summer Streams, The Secret Code of Pattern, Jonathan Meese is the Bomb, Long Tail: the Economics of Infinite Choice, Failed Artists: the Engine Room of Culture, How Prenzlauer Berg Killed Berlin, DJ Mi$oZoop on the Slide, and many more just like them.

There were other folders on his computer, ones he avoided, ones that stung a hidden place, a forgotten spot. Fiction, Novels, Thriller. Poems, Longer, DADAesque, for example.

Files evolved into folders of their own from his most important most used location, Pitches. They became longer files which upon acceptance effected a transfer of funds to his bank account, that was their purpose. Bits for cash. You gotta eat. One has to eat. That was his father or perhaps brother. Their sneers. Well, you have to eat don't ya?

He had been out at an exhibition opening, a young South Korean artist Fat Tang at Maureen Paley. Fat Tang made pictures using jig-saw pieces from random sets to make new unrelated images. Over half the huge accompanying catalogue was comprised of his texts and it was the second time he done such extensive work for the gallery. He held hopes that finally he would get a permanent part-time appointment. The work was interesting and a stable income stream would be welcome.

But he left the event earlier than he'd have liked. There was a lot more talking to be done, more time at Maureen's side needed, chatting to people she picked out as important which meant people with money who might actually buy something, working the whole scene. He really wanted to do more of that but ugly tasting snot started pouring down the back of his throat and collecting in his lungs. He felt a bad cold coming on and picked up extra vitamin c plus zinc, orange juice and paracetamol on the way home to go to bed and fight it off early.

In the lift to the twenty-fourth floor he started to shake internally, fever beginning. He closed the vertical blinds blocking the twinkling lights of the City and St Paul's across the river, covered the sofa with a fresh sheet and curled up inside his favourite cotton blanket. He didn't want to sweat all over his bed.

Even with medicine the fever deepened until he felt cold everywhere, ice bones, sleet blood, frost skin. Involuntary groans escaped. His teeth chattered, clacking stupidly. A remaining slice of functioning consciousness told him, don't worry it's just a virus.

Through the night his body shook. A few stumbled runs to the toilet, dry retching. Coughing and coughing. Wet all over, his balls paining like bells.

It could have been another night or two. Or five. His consciousness emerged from the safe place where it had been hiding and resolved into a spinning wheel. Dizzy, vertiginous, spinning.

A wheel, highly polished chrome. Alcoa wheels on a Volvo FH12 460 Globetrotter heavy rig. Deep metallic green with gold detailing, complex swirls and filigree. T.J. Mills Trucking Co. Up the rear of the cab painted in precise gleaming airbrush a huge grim reaper with hidden face, flowing robes and glinting scythe. The Reaper, his favourite rig to spot.

The Mills depot was just outside their village, down a side street off the road where their house had frontage. He was ten, he'd watch all weekend, camped outside in the garden spotting those heavy duty trucks. The Reaper, the Wizard, the Hawk, the Lady. His mother had to call him in for lunch and tea.

The big Mills trucks were immaculate, crisp, pristine, big heavy strong and tough. He too would drive, he would haul, buy his own rig one day, work as an owner-operator for Mills. He wanted King Arthur wielding Excalibur painted on his cab sleeper.

There was always a girl presence with him in his future, close to him, holding him, in a white cotton dress, a large yard with turning space and huge garage. The kids, their kids, running out to greet the huge air blast horn with jumps and yells of Daddy. Masses of hair and children and smiles. The road, miles and miles, the networks of highways and ferries, the big run to Russia. Trucking a big rig. That was his candy sweet future at ten.

The wheel kept spinning, bright chrome wheel. He jigged his fist up and down from the elbow. The flowering hedge scratched his back, insects vibrated, grass smells wafted on the heated air. Honk. Smiled and waved. T.J. Mills Trucking Co.

There were at least three bodies, the boy at ten years, the man supine and fevered on the couch and some other thing, perhaps dis-embodied is a better label for it. It saw them both, the other two plus one made three.

From a specific location in space and time a ring disturbed molecules in waves. It hurt his mind, a piercing wail. It stopped then started again. Weak legs lifted his rag body and he floated feetless to the phone picking it up, not saying anything.

Mark, it's Jamie Craw from Dazed. What the hell is going on? We expected an early draft two days ago, you know we go to the printers in five days right? He said nothing. Mark, is that you? Who? Mark, Mark Bizon? Sorry, there's no Mark here. But this is his number, that's his landline. Who are you? Sorry, there's no Mark here. Mark, Mark!

He hung up and went to sit on the edge of the sofa. He recognised everything, the super flat screen curved fifty inch tv, the desk with the large iMac, the stainless steel benchtops in the kitchen contrasting coldly against the warm buttery wood fittings. Everything seemed familiar, lived in. But something was absent. Some thing.

His stomach growled hunger, he responded without conscious deliberation. A drawer in the kitchen island, takeaway menu, pizza. He rang the number.

22 New Globe Walk? Yeah, that's right. Bizon? What? The name, Bizon? Oh, no, that's… that's old, it's not right. Ok…? Can you change it please? Sure, to what? Silence, empty space he could hear. Johnny, he said finally. Johnny Bones.