Where the hell are we?
The black and white chequered bathrobe hanging on the bunk-bed post bore the monogram: Hotel Formule 1 – Dandenong.
Infuriatingly and colossally, the fog of unknowing began to lift.
Bo Dean finally engaged his PLO.
“Monsieur Bo Dean?” a strange man’s voice barked. “I trust I have not disturbed you and your frankly very attractive colleague?”
Dazed, Clint looked at the ceiling clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been asleep for twenty six hours, but he felt like a million dollars. Which was odd. Memories of his triumphantly orgiastic liaison with Enya flooded back into his pelvis, forcing him to sit quietly on the lower bunk.
“This is the Hotel Formule 1 security office, monsieur. I would apologize for this late call however you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent.”
Bo Dean’s tongue still felt furry. His eyes focused now on an empty condom packet on the floor. Beside it was a flier advertising some talk or other:
THE DANDENONG RANGES YOUNG POETS GROUP PRESENTS
CLINT BO DEAN, AIR POET FIRST CLASS
(AND SUPER SPUNK)
The last line, Bo Dean could see, had been written in pencil. Enya, who had been watching him closely, began to snigger.
Bo Dean groaned. The lecture – a Powerpoint presentation on the French Symbolistes and their influence on Australian poetry – had possibly tugged on a few forelocks in his (large) audience. More likely, some European poetry expert had followed the two of them back to the Formule 1 in order to get his rocks off.
“I’m sorry,” Bo Dean said, “but we’re very shagged and-”
“Mais monsieur,” the security guard pressed in perfect French, lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Your guest is an important man.”
“Who is he? And why are you speaking to me in French?”
It was merely a rhetorical question. Bo Dean had little doubt. His books on the vacuous nature of today’s airport novels were seen by most within the shady vanity press industry as the thin edge of the wedge. His inflammatory views on Wilbur Smith, JK Rowlings and others had made him a reluctant celebrity in the poetry world – a hero to some, in fact – and in the last year or so Bo Dean’s visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Booker Prize awards ceremony. Since then, his stream of consciousness rants against the publishing industry had prompted historians and art buffs to begin hailing him as a modern day guru. Fame, it seemed, was never-ending.
” Mais monsieur, he says his name is Dan Brown.”
“If you would be so kind,” Bo Dean said, also doing his best to sound French, “could you take the man’s Minitel number, and tell him I’ll try to email him before I leave Dandenong tomorrow? Merci.”
He hung up before the security guard had a chance to say that Mr Brown was already on his way up.
Captain Enron threw down the sheaf of type-written pages on his desk, while Bo Dean looked on impassively.
“So. Chief, what seems to be the problem?”
“Bo Dean, you know very well what the problem is. This story is a direct rip-off of The Da Vinci Code.”
“AND POSSESSION OF ANY OF HIS BOOKS HAS BEEN BANNED BY LEGISLATION SINCE 2006!”
“I KNOW, AND THAT’S WHY I DOWNLOADED THE FIRST CHAPTER LEGALLY FROM MINITEL!.”
With a withering look, Enron signalled for the guards to take Bo Dean’s earplugs out.
ìBo Dean, let me make myself clear: Minitel is a French technology utilizing phone lines to provide Internet services to householders. It cannot be used in Australia. You have therefore downloaded The Da Vinci Code from the Internet illegally. You are fully aware of the penalties for possession of such a tract, even in electronic form. Would you mind explaining to me, in twenty words or less, what the hell you think youíre playing at?
ìWell, okay, surely even you remember how people went berserk over that book when it first came out? It seemed a shame not to make it more, I donít know, relevant to todayís airpoets? Like, relating it back to poetry and so on? Kind of po-mo. Somebody help me here.î
ìThat was fifty words.î
ìYouíre good with numbers.î
ìBo Dean, this is even worse than the original. Whereís the flair, the rhythm, the rhyme that your generation claims to possess? Whereís the feeling?î
ìBoss, are you in love, by any chance?î
The look that Captain Enron gave Bo Dean at that moment could have boiled milk. Clint, however, was looking out the window. Enron turned instead to Enya.
ìAnd you, Ms de Burgh?î
ìWhat have you got to say for yourself?î
ìWell, let me read you something we found in your locker and then weíll see if youíre feeling a little more chirpy, hmm?î
The Captain turned to a second pile of papers and again commenced reading aloud.