Absolute Zero Cool

Absolute Zero Cool Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Absolute Zero Cool Read Online Free PDF
Author: Declan Burke
Tags: Crime Fiction
the morning?’
    ‘It’s for your own good,’ he says. ‘You’ll live longer.’
    This new ban has nothing to do with my health and everything to do with his, because he has a sickness for which orders obeyed are the placebo du jour. Who am I hurting by smoking in the overflow car park? I’m hurting me, sure, but I’m killing him.
    ‘If you can tell a man how he should kill himself,’ I say, ‘you can tell him to do anything. You’re just hanging around waiting for someone to tell you which window to jump out of.’
    I do not say this.
    ‘You’ve had your warning,’ he says.
    ‘Can I super-size that, with extra threat?’
    But he’s not listening. My line for today comes courtesy of Aristotle: No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.
     
    •
     
    ‘We should probably kill the Aristotle bit,’ he says. ‘I don’t know if people respond all that well to insanity, not unless Russell Crowe is playing the lead. And the foul language, that should go too.’
    ‘No lunacy,’ I say, making the appropriate notes, ‘and no swearing. Anything else?’
    ‘Just one thing.’ He reaches into his backpack and comes up with a sheet of paper. ‘I took a stab at this last night. Something I remembered about Cassie. Want to try it?’
    ‘Sure, why not?’
    He makes to hand the page across.
    ‘No,’ I say, ‘it’s your stuff, you read it.’
    ‘I don’t have much of a reading voice,’ he says.
    ‘You want to be more real, don’t you? More authentic?’
    He crosses his eyes, mocking himself, then grins. ‘Okay,’ he says.
     
    •
     
    Sometimes Cassie sings in her sleep. The words are incomprehensible, the melody non-existent. There are moans, yelps and high-pitched squeals. None of these make sense in themselves. Nor do they make any more sense when heard in sequence. If a straight line exists between the static of the cosmos and a Mozart requiem, between pointless hiss and perfect design, then Cassie belongs in a choir of whales.
    She might not sing for two months, then sing three times in one week. It might last for five seconds or minutes at a time. Why?
    I have recorded her singing without asking permission. An unforgivable invasion. Except Cassie doesn’t know that she sings. If I tell her, she might never sing again. What then?
    I’ve slowed the tape down, speeded it up, played it in reverse. None of the manipulations yield any semblance of meaning. So far I have eliminated the following possibilities: hymns; pop songs; TV theme tunes; advertising jingles; nursery rhymes.
    All I know is that her singing is not intended to be heard. It is not even the unselfconscious cries of a baby, because a baby is at least aware that it is crying, and that its inarticulate bawling signifies hunger, wet or pain.
    In the darkness I wait for Cassie to sing. In the there and then of my waiting occurs the tangent point where I intersect with the human race, that unique breed aiming out along an arc designed to contradict nature’s irrefutable logic.
     
    •
     
    ‘Well?’ he says.
    ‘You got the tone right,’ I say. ‘And I like the way you’ve made yourself sound like a tender pervert.’
    ‘You don’t mind?’ he says. ‘Me chipping in now and again, I mean.’
    ‘Not at all. The more you write, the less I have to do.’
    ‘Hey,’ he says with that shy, goofy grin, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I ended up writing about how I don’t want to be a writer?’
    ‘Get me a whalebone corset,’ I say. ‘I may have just cracked a rib.’
     
    •
     
    This morning a thick mist rolls down off the hills, a faint but pervasive drizzle. The kind that’d go through you without so much as a bounce. I stand well back from the window with the lights off, sipping my coffee and watching Billy read over something he has written, now and again glancing up at the chalet.
    Around eight-thirty he leaves, slouching away around the stand of bamboo beyond the goldfish pond, shoulders hunched against the
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