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The International Writers Magazine

Missing Time
Roger Duncan
White lights go on messing up my mind

White Light /White Heat crackles down the hall; the sounds of the Velvet Underground score my arrival.
And then my mother, acting like a mother, but not really, violently whispers ‘Cry…cry…cry god damn you!’
And then my father, pretending to be a father, but not very well, pinches that newborn skin and growls ‘Act like a child’s supposed to damn it!’
It’s on the screen, recorded on the tapes, hidden in the archives, repeated in the re-runs. Not a natural birth, mine was a historical event. I was born on cue.
Tune into the Shimmering Light new season premier special event as Roslyn Nightly and Harry Jordan of the world’s most popular soap opera Shimmering Light have their first child live on camera. Drama and reality meet as the world’s newest daytime television star is born. Don’t miss it!

Now there’s just me. Me watching an out-of-focus me on the television screen fascinated by an out-of-focus me on the studio monitor. Bewildered.
An indistinguishable face under studio lights disturbing the world with blurred ambivalence. The Velvet Underground crackled down the hall.
White light go on messing up my mind. I felt the engine grunt of acted laughter—bomb whistle sighs—wave crash breaths—power drill sniffles—the chainsaw roar of cheers of acted joy. Then the sear of silence.
Don't you know it's gonna make me go blind? New eyes reflected white masks—white cardboard walls—white actors in white coats—white stressed producer hair—white burning under white fluorescent back-lot lights.

White light move in me and drain. A blood rush to the head. An ejaculation to the ears. A panic of fever flushed with anaemia. And now, now, thirty years later now when legs, eyes, and muscles, weaken—flicker—collapse, it’s like White Light/White Heat rushing out of control.
White heat, it tickles me down to my toes. Alone. Lost in a reconstruction of a glimpse of a world made up of sets, scripts, story boards, and screens…and I escaped being rushed from the studio, hooked up to an incubator, and splashed in living colour on front pages for two days.

White light is lighting up my eyes. Don't you know it fills me up with surprise? The doctors gave my parents the news on camera. My sickness was reported on every six o’clock news program.
He may have severe narcolepsy – we can’t be certain at this stage – the symptoms may subside, but there is a strong possibility that they will persevere with maturity – it’s unclear. If it is narcolepsy it may be caused by an over-stimulus of emotion – which may or may not result in narcoleptic seizures that incur nightmarish hypnagogic hallucinations where the notion of reality in the patient may become – blurred.
My character never returned. Narcolepsy. The newborn star was sent to live with an aunt in the country. They’d never forgive me for destroying their world.

White light, I tell you now, goodness knows. The Velvet Underground collapses under overstilmulation. My velvet underground is the glimpse of black between the end of a scene and television ads, the gaps between words of a soap opera script, the missing time it took to take a newborn child from a hospital to a hospital set.
© Roger Duncan March 2004

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