It was one conversation, Hey Het, but they were travelling in opposite directions, it was familiar territory, Terra Nostra, and yet they were both headed for unknown regions. What do people get out of your songs, the one travelling in a westerly direction asked, but dissatisfied with the way the question sounded in his ears he began again, What do you give them in your songs.
I don’t give them anything, she replied, speaking in English but with a strong accent from the direction of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean or Middle East, People take what they want from them.
As he had begun to ask his question, the interviewer had imagined a pre-established value, a price that was set on her songs, and there was a material truth in it, how else would she earn the bread she needed to live by, and the value fluctuated according to an unpredictable and unseen force, the force of desire in the heart of every listener, and both could claim equal possession, and mostly did, according to ancient historical rights, the rights of property, and so on, so that conflict and violence appeared endless, Palestine was everywhere, the constant threat of terror and war.
Then there was the point in his asking when he paused, a moment of insight and drawing back, in this libidinal economy it was the moment when disgust exceeded the power of his sexual desires, and he softened his question, and made it into a gift, a hand-out rather than a form of exchange, although it was still clear that he intended to keep the upper hand.
Her refusal was shocking, and once she might have been locked up for replying in such a way, as a street walker, and for singing such songs, it had happened in the past, she might have been stoned or burnt, but now everyone had a radio, and the airwaves were full of her songs, and other songs like hers, and noone was punished, or only rarely, it all being the same will to expand in every direction, yet as if all lacked potency.
Until the last part of her reply, those two walking fish had intervened again, the infinity of her resource, the obvious and unremarkable answer.