When I first arranged to meet CADE for an interview regarding his project which is now known as “Neo London” I had to wait a long time. I had been led to believe that he was ever precise in time-keeping, and it was certainly an inconvenience for me to have to wait in Café Reality on the Old Kent road, (the only place anyone ever meets CADE by prior arrangement,) for over three hours on a drab Tuesday morning. The meeting itself had been difficult to organise because, amongst other things, CADE has no permanent residence and the only way to meet him is by leaving messages in likely places all over town - in bus shelters, old-fashioned East End public houses, sacks of refuse, under loose paving slabs or in those corners where things collect - but even this system is not entirely reliable, for CADE variegates the range of his territory and one can never say with certainty the places he is likely to be sniffing around. It was with no small feeling of delight when I eventually received the letter of acknowledgment some weeks later, slipped under my door and characteristically sealed with phlegm.
I had of course been sceptical about the efficacy of a personal meeting, for it is common knowledge that CADE has nothing to say. Whether by choice, trauma, lack of personal charisma or by some defect in the organs of speech hardly seems relevant here, but as I was waiting in the Café that morning, shot through with the heat of the grills and the odour of batter and saveloys I was of course given to speculating on that characteristic for some time. What should I say to him? The futility of not receiving any form of response disheartened me and I suppose I entertained the idea of simply giving up several times before I convinced myself it was better to stay. At least I might perceive something if I learned to read him correctly, for it must be the case that his communicative powers have been sublimated into some form of sign-making no matter how subtle, and I were better off changing my attitude to accommodate his peculiarity. I practiced initially by watching the people at the other tables to see what I could read in their behaviours and made notations as I went.
I did not get far in my observations before the street door opened and a shabby man shuffled in, followed by several mongrel terriers. I checked my watch and it seemed several hours had elapsed without my noticing them. The man, who I presumed was CADE not by sight but rather by feeling or instinct, did not immediately approach me - but rather stood half-turned towards the door as if to check where it was in the event of emergency or sudden need to escape. The twisting of his body and the line of dogs at his heel, (which he may not have been aware of, being as they were always out of his view at the rear,) cut a curious figure, and I stood up to introduce myself. Avoiding contact with my eyes he shuffled past to the table and began rummaging through my research notes that were spread about with his soiled fingers. Remembering my decision to be observant I stood and watched for a time.
The plain carelessness he exercised when handling my research notes - the way the corners became dog-eared and torn, photographs becoming dirtied with fingerprints, the ink bleeding into new and illegible forms from the mucoid droplets dripping from the end of his nose – the way the dogs had each gone to sit and beg at the other tables, alternately pining and cackling like hyenas – and the strange rooting to the ground I experienced whilst being made subject to this scene all informed me at once that this interview, for which I had so carefully prepared, was being hijacked by CADE and was to be conducted on his own terms. This relieved me of my several apprehensions and I felt grateful for not really having to do anything but stand and watch whilst the scene played out.
At the same time as I observed CADE and the way in which he was influencing the scene in the café, I grew faintly aware of an argument taking place in the back kitchen between a man and a woman. Whether it was the door which separated the two rooms or some other impediment that caused it I cannot be sure, but it was impossible for me to understand a single word that passed between them, but could hear instead only the sound of bestial oblivion seething and grunting in that other room. Curiosity led me to the door which I carefully pushed open to be confronted with a clumsy act of fornication taking place on the food preparation work-surface. Despite my presence being obvious in the tiny kitchen the couplement continued nonetheless what they had begun, the woman writhing on a batch of steaming but now mashed saveloys whilst the man, all reddened with his toil, mashed them still further. The woman looked at me several times during their engagement. I said nothing but continued to watch until the end of the act.
Returning to the dining area I was saddened to find that CADE had departed. Perhaps it was better that way, for the short episode, (which measured three and half hours by my wristwatch, though it must surely be defective,) left a vivid series of impressions upon me, much of which might have been lost had it gone on any longer. I had a strong inclination to examine my papers immediately and without delay and, placing an order for luncheon, I began.
My first impressions were that of dismay. Not only had my work become practically illegible – I could no longer read my own writing - but everything had been disorganised into a state of complete disarray and the physical nausea of the begrimed sheets was extremely invasive of my analytic powers. The pungent sour odour that riddled everything about the table gave rise to the impulse to throw my research in the bin. When my lunch arrived at the table I was somewhat heartened, and began to copy what was left of my writing into a fresh notebook, (for somehow the prospect of food made the chaos seem less daunting, and I was again able to discern some small fragments of text,) and careful not to prejudice or anticipate the possible results of this seemingly futile labour, began to reveal new impressions from my old words. As I was doing so however, to my surprise I discovered a tiny folded-up piece of paper concealed within the egg yolk on my plate. Blotting it carefully on a serviette to remove the fatty fluid I unfolded the note, (which presumably the woman had slipped in to my food before bringing it out, perhaps without the knowledge of the cook,) and laid it carefully amongst my other papers so as not to attract the attention of the other diners. In neat capital letters, the dirty note said:
WHY DON’T YOU GET FUCK OUT OF HERE?
I looked about me in anxiety. I was being scrutinised after all; the men in the diner were staring at me as though I had spoken the contents of the note out loud, and a sickly feeling gripped my inwards. Two eastern European men, who had been sniggering quietly about something or other up to this point, were now looking over at me and silently passing a bottle of cheap whiskey between them which dribbled down their chins, their gulps being so large, and I could feel the burning sensation in my own belly. The group of workmen immediately opposite, between the exit and the wall, had set fire to their table and just sat whilst the flames engulfed what remained of their Evening Standard. I withheld the immediate impulse to get up and leave and instead thought that, if I looked at myself just as everyone else was, I might be able to blend in with the rest of the crowd. I fumbled for the compact vanity mirror in my handbag and looked back at myself. This ruse seemed to work, for almost instantly everything returned to how it was. Looking again at the folded-up note, I noticed it said something different to what it had done moments before:
07834653271 CALL ME.
Junior Under-Research Supervisor