Duke sat down in his usual spot in the studio satisfied with the responses to his last performance. In truth he’d been feeling used and taken for granted, always in the background while someone else gained credit. To hear his name and nobody else’s felt like vindication and he wanted to enjoy the moment…enjoy some acclaim. Looking over at the small group of people in the studio, Jack, Dr Connie and him as they deliberated over the meaning of some of the audience comments added to the sense of satisfaction…what did they know? They’re not the ones up on stage, vulnerable…exposed. Nor were they the ones that had the camera pointing at them in the quiet moments backstage. Duke knew what all this meant, pre-performance, performance, post-performance, whatever it was called, Duke knew the truth and it was amusing to watch someone else trying to make sense of it. SWITCH Duke walked into Dr Connie’s office…silent as usual. “Oh God!” Dr Connie jumped slightly at the sudden appearance of the figure she had been researching, “I wasn’t expecting this.” Duke sat down at the spare desk, since he had escaped from the studio and headed to Brighton he had been awoken to the idea that there was a world outside of the studio at the BMI and he now felt that he had licence to roam around the building at his leisure. He stared broodingly at Dr Connie as she gathered herself, and then some old papers, together and came over to sit with him. “So, I found this old interview that you did and just wanted to ask some further questions.” Duke said nothing. “I really like when you talk here about what the essence of real comedy is.” Dr Connie looked up, still nothing. “There’s reference to a film here that you made called ‘The Laughter Man’? What was that?” Duke instigated a slow ascent from his chair and then turned towards the door. He looked back for a moment and Dr Connie thought she could see the outline of tears forming in the base of his eyelids, but just as soon as he arrived Duke had gone. SWITCH Duke opened the sketchbook and selected a page with a space next to a live shot of him on stage. The image showed his figure from the waist up looking out to the audience whilst clutching his hat…it was almost like a shield he thought to himself as he gently placed a finger onto the surface of the page and ran it along the edge of the image. Duke picked up a purple pen from the desk and started writing. It was a message really…a message for him… SWITCH Duke hated T.Rex and he was extremely irritable after his quiet contemplation was broken by the sound of Marc Bolan’s voice filling the studio. Over at the desk in the studio he could see him typing. Duke smirked to himself with contempt, he struggled to understand why this whole process had to be put out there…he genuinely wondered who was reading anyway…to Duke this was a personal matter between him and him. Duke didn’t know the name of the song…why would he? Watching him singing along and earnestly trying to approximate the same vocal delivery as Bolan just added to Duke’s irritations. “Is it wrong to understand, the fear that dwells inside a man. What’s it like to be a loon, I liken it to a balloon.” What a load of childish nonsense thought Duke. SWITCH A week had passed since the studio door had creaked open and let the light in from the quiet corridor outside. Duke glanced over from his spot in the studio and waited, hoping that he would be provided with a cup of tea or at least spoken to…sometimes they engaged with each other but other times they just co-existed in the studio without any form of mutual acknowledgement. Today he spoke as soon as the light switch clicked and light blinked into the space. “Morning Duke. Tea?” He walked over to the desk and deposited a number of bags before moving over to the kettle. “We’ll have some visitors in the next couple of days, so please behave. None of your games please.” Duke felt a sense of contempt rising again; he accepted the tea but refused to acknowledge the request for compliance in welcoming guests into his space. Duke sighed to himself, he wanted out of this, he didn’t ask to be discovered and he didn’t want all this snooping into his past to become something that was common knowledge. Duke felt exposed and vulnerable and he knew what that meant…he’d been here before and knew how things would go…either he was about to do something wonderful, the best work ever, or something that sabotaged everything that had been worked on here at the BMI. SWITCH “Ian wants to photograph both of us for his work…remember Ian, he was here earlier?” Duke didn’t respond, “well, I tried to convince him that you wouldn’t be up for it but he wants both of us…he’s going to confirm a date, I’ll let you know when he does.” Duke hated being spoken for and immediately took comfort in knowing that he would be able to steal the show when the photographer appeared, after all it was Duke Kinsey that people were interested in now…no-one else. SWITCH Duke had collected the key from reception and locked himself into the studio. The receptionist was new and didn’t know who was who in the building; Duke had exploited her nascent awareness and convinced her that he needed to collect the key. He managed to do this without saying a word, just a nod and a raised eyebrow at the right moment whilst he wrote the key number and scribbled an illegible signature on the sign-in sheet had secured him the key and Duke now listened from inside with amusement as he remained frustratingly barred from the studio, “Duke! Duke!? I know you’re in there…I can get the pass key from downstairs…Duke?” Duke sat down with some amusement as he heard the sound of agitated footsteps dissipate gradually, he coughed and spluttered awkwardly in his chair…he was tired and he knew that time was running out for him...it had been a long time, all this, and the inevitable was approaching. SWITCH Opening his sketchbook on the desk forcefully, he glanced over at Duke who was now dozing in the corner of the studio. Choosing not to disturb his tormentor he flicked through the pages, ready to start work. Something caught his eye as the pages flew by. Purple words…he hadn’t got a purple pen here? Flicking back through the pages at a slower pace he spied the purple words again. The remembrance of being a bird, the regret of no longer being one, the will to be one again.