Pinballs. The good ones; with real time flippers. What is it about this lost drunken art? The flair and exhilaration of persuading and caressing without tilting. Screaming symbols; tangible authenticity. The abandonment of ideals and aspirations beyond the violent satisfaction of meeting a careening and forceful object with a deft and timely retort.
And I knew an artist. Her name was Gregoria.
She had long black hair and pale Celtic skin. She had dragons, roses, and Mexican skull tattoos all over that pliable canvass; starting at her neck under her chin, they followed a languid spiral through her breasts, around to the small of her back, across her stomach, and then down the outside of her thigh to her calf. She took me dancing. I’ve never been a dancer. But she took me anyway.
We would meet, consume equanimity, and then make a dollar last all day amongst the bells and lights. I would smoke while she racked up the credits, and ensure that the glass of vodka and tonic she placed on the drink board behind the machine never went dry. I once asked her ‘why never gin?’ She replied, ‘because there is vodka.’ When she beckoned me, I would take her place at the machine.
She would turn and smile, jaded green eyes glistening, and take a step back from the chrome, opening her palms towards the flashing metallic insignia of the backglass. I wasn’t great, but I understood the basics, and I was enthusiastic; the perfect foot soldier. I don’t really know what part I played, but I think it must have been of some import. As I would step up to the machine, she would brush by me, squeezing my hand or stroking my forearm, and then she would walk the length of the arcade, the coloured lights ablaze on her exposed skin, stopping along the way amongst the silver ball freaks, offering advice. And sustenance. Always with her red leather satchel; even when playing, slung over her shoulder. Whenever I held it for her it intrigued me how something so light could be so essential. Then she would be back. With her bag. ‘Let’s go dancing’ she would say, and I would always reply ‘but I’m not a dancer’. And then I was.