Saturday, March 31, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment nineteen)


I had avoided Elendele’s bad turns for quite a lengthy chapter and her afterscent had duly dissipated. My only contact with the merry band of maladroits was at a party thrown by Maynard and Sleeping Terri. Unfortunately, it was only Cassius who lacked the good sense to ignore me.

Then, suddenly, Elendele had taken her incest public in the form of an advertisement in a glossy fashion magazine, featuring herself and Saturn in suggestive poses against the backdrop of a hot dog stand.

That Cassius had done it. He had gotten the magic eye focused on them. Now the troika could begin financing the ignoble venture of exploiting the abundant femininity in their possession and could continue to do so as long as he could manage to keep the eye’s attention.

Just after that, I got a call from Whitey McEntee. “Dominique,” he pried me, “whatever happened to that wonderful syndicalist with the curly hair you became friends with?”

“You mean the one that got you arrested?”

“Yeah, great girl.”

“Buccaneer strumpet.”


“Never mind. What’s up Whitey?”

“Well, ya see,” she shaded me, “we’ve got a little problem down at the Catholic Archdiocese and the solution calls for just her kind of action.”

The thought made me shudder. Elendele and churches just didn’t mix. What could he want with her except the worst kind of deed? I shut my eyes, closed her out and subcontracted the whole affair to Whitey. I gave him her number and stood aside.

It was being said, and was true, that I had gotten smarter.

This approach failed me, however. Elendele’s principles prevented her from teaming up with a working-class sellout like Whitey and he was back on the phone with me a week later.

“She’s a purist. You gotta help. You gotta get involved,” he begged. “What’s your price baby? Ya need some money? Ya wanta get one of those crazy gals a good tipping job down at Perinos?”

I collapsed. It all seemed kind of inevitable. “I’m gonna do this for you Whitey, but keep this avalanche to yourself. I don’t want to play a part in a one-act with a director like that.”

“This,” he crossed me, “ain’t a play baby and it ain’t no movie either. We’re talkin’ real time.”

I called Elendele by the phone and Saturn answered. There was still a sleepy lynx in her hello. She was glad to hear from me. Elendele wasn’t there. She had gone to Reno with Cassius to buy a luxury car cheap at a police auction there. And why hadn’t the seen me of late? And why hadn’t I come to any of their parties? She wanted to know.

“I had no idea there had been any parties,” I informed.

“Oh c’mon Dominique. Cassius has been throwing them here at our place. He’s trying to get us some more exposure, you know, meet some more people, and maybe make another break for us. He said he has been inviting you.”

“Oh those parties,” came the comebacker. “What do you mean another break? That shyster’s using your real estate and money to have parties and further himself.
What’s it all gotten you?”

Haven’t you seen this month’s READ magazine?” she tested. “The ad for the Japanese designer Miyaka next to the story about our eroding Bill of Rights?”

“No I haven’t seen it,” I lied, but that I would be sure to look and I would be sure to attend another party as soon as one was thrown, I said, sinning three times in sequence now.

Talking to her and thinking about all of them left a bushel of bitter almonds in my mouth. I was in a hurry to get off the phone and bid her a fair adieu.

“Dominique,” her voice crackled as I was about to release the receiver. I returned it to my ear. “I miss you. We miss you. I don’t think you understand this Cassius thing very well. You know Elendele, you know how she is. Flavor of the month.”

Last month’s vanilla, I said, “Yeah, but the flavor of Cassius…”

“You’re the one who said we needed an agent,” she reminded me anew. “Give her a call. You two run deeper than this.”

“And us?” I asked, uncomfortable and trying not to think about the curly menace.

“Us?” Oh we’re just playmates,” was how she sunk me.

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