Jason Zodiac: Lost In The Supermarket


EXCERPT # 5: The following is an email received by FUGUE magazine, May 20–.

FROM: t-morgan@waitrose.co.uk
SUBJECT: FAO Mr. Jamie Carter – Appeal for Information (Zodiac)
DATE: —-/5/14
TO: info@fugue.com

Dear Mr. Carter,
First, let me say what a great job you’re doing with the Jason Zodiac articles for Fugue. I have fond memories of both the Banana Sundial concerts and The T-Service TV series, and I show copies of your magazine to all my friends.
You gave out an email address in the magazine and appealed for information regarding Jason Zodiac and his whereabouts. Well, here I am, because I have a story about not only Jason but also Joe Strummer of The Clash, and I think you might be interested.
My name is Terence Morgan and I’m over fifty years old now. You wrote in your article on the Sex Pistols that you would never forget the day you heard God Save The Queen. Well, I can tell you there’s one day I will never forget– and that’s the day Joe Strummer died.
I was in Naples at the time, of all places. My wife Julie and I had gone to Italy for our Christmas holiday with the kids, and we’d driven over from the Amalfi coast. In fact, we’d just got into the room, put down our suitcases, and sat down on the bed. We flicked on the TV and the BBC worldwide news, and there it was. Joe Stummer passed away at age fifty after a heart attack. My wife and I jumped to our feet and screamed ‘WHAT?’ – we couldn’t believe it. I still remember the shock of it all.
You see, I knew Joe Strummer. I met him on maybe four or five occasions, enough to be on first name terms – and he and Jason saved my life. Let me explain.
I’ve been a record collector all my life. The first seven-inch single I bought was David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and the first album I bought was T. Rex’s Electric Warrior. I started buying Punk singles in 1977; it took me a while to get into Punk, but when I did, I didn’t mess about. The Clash, The Jam, The Stranglers, The Damned, The Buzzcocks, Rock Against Racism gigs; I saw them all at least three times each. I got to know Julie, my wife, through the records and the gigs. Our first date was a Clash gig at the ICA. Afterwards we went back to my student flat, I put Working for the Clampdown on the turntable and she started singing along and imitating the way Mick Jones swung his guitar about on stage.
That’s when I fell in love with her.
I studied economics at University College, London, and lived in a run-down student house in Hammersmith. In the summer of 1979 I had a part-time job in a corner shop in Pimlico. It was run by Mr. Gill, a huge Sikh with thick NHS glasses and mustache, turban, the full monty. He looked a bit scary and he was dead serious about money but as a boss, I’ve met people far worse.
Anyway, it turned out The Clash were working just down the road, in Wessex Studios. They were recording the London Calling album. They used to play football in a little park across the square and call in the shop afterwards for beer and crisps and ham rolls. Brilliant, eh? My claim to fame. I’ve got all their autographs on shop receipts and flyers – Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon. And Joe. Poor, wonderful Joe.
Let me get to the point. On the last day of August that year I started work at five, as usual, looking forward to knocking off at ten, getting over to the Black Horse for a couple of pints and back to Colin’s flat for a weekend spliff. About seven o’clock – Mr. Gill was in the back room stocktaking, and the radio was playing I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats – Joe Strummer walked in. This time he wasn’t with the band – he was with Jason Zodiac. I was gobsmacked. I knew from reading the NME that they were mates, but even so, I never expected …
Joe came in wearing black drainpipe jeans, red brothel creepers, lemon yellow T-shirt and matching socks – and that famous jacket from the photo shoot, the one with PASSION IS A FASHION stenciled on it and a few razor blades and safety pins artfully placed around the lapels. Jason had never been into Punk gear, as you know. Jason’s look was instantly recognizable, and kind of timeless – the denim cut-off with the Banana Sundial logo painted on the back, the long black hair, the tanned brown skin and shades perched on top of his long, Roman nose.
So anyway, I could tell they’d both been drinking. Joe saw me behind the till and came over. “Hi Terry, you all right?” He was great like that. Always remembered names. We started chatting away about stuff but I noticed Jason wasn’t buying anything. He seemed more interested in the door he’d just come through. He squatted down, muttering things like ‘far out’ and ‘heavy’, then got up and came over to the till.
“Mr. Zodiac,” I said, trying to keep cool, “you don’t know me, but …”
“No, I don’t know you. What’s your name?”
“Terry. Terry Morgan.”
“Well listen Terry Morgan, can I ask you a question? How long has that graffiti been there?”
“What graffiti?”
He beckoned me out from behind the till and over to the shop’s only door to the street. I wasn’t supposed to leave the till, and we had about five customers in the shop at the time, but … well, I went over to the door and we both knelt down and he pointed to what was bothering him.
It was a weird mess of circles and criss-crossing lines drawn in black marker pen. There were words as well, two lines of what looked like Arabic, which made me think of Mr. Gill – but he wouldn’t graffiti his own door.
“How long has that been there?” Jason asked.
“I’ve no idea. Never seen it before.”
“So it’s recent?”
“Could be.”
“In fact, do you think it was here before Joe and I came into our shop?”
I shrugged. I didn’t know what to say, so he stood up, and so did I. “Try the door, Terry.”
I did like he said, pushing the handle, expecting the little bell to ring as it opened into Pimlico High Street. It wouldn’t budge. I kept pushing at it as hard as I could, then I checked the lock, and stood back, baffled.
“It’s stuck,” I said.
Jason turned his shades on me and grimaced, the smell of alcohol and patchouli wafting into my face. “Bit more than stuck, I’m afraid.”
He walked back to the till. Both Joe and I were a bit befuddled by this time. I mean, you expect rock stars to act weird, but there’s different kinds of weird, isn’t there?
“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” Jason called, raising his voice and waving his arms. “Can I have your attention, please? Can you all come over to the till?”
There were six people in the shop: me, Joe, Jason, a middle-aged gypsy looking woman, a black woman a bit younger, and a hippy guy about my age. They all looked a bit miffed as they came over to the till with their shopping baskets. Then there were seven, because Mr. Gill came out of the back room where he’d been stocktaking. “What’s all this bloody noise?” he yelled.
“Listen to me, everyone,” Jason called. “The shop has been sealed off by the sigil of an Elder God. Anyone who’s walked past the freezer and around the chocolate bar counter in the last few minutes has added to the power of the Sigil – a bit like spinning a prayer wheel, really. Anyone know what a prayer wheel is? Well … okay, forget that bit. But basically we’ve been taken out of normal time and space and pretty soon, the dimensions of this shop are going to warp and distort and … well, I’ll try to get us out before the worst happens. Any questions?”



About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
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