v
Chapter 20- Aftermath


The speech was very successful. Everyone wanted to meet me, greet me, and treat me. I received numerous invitations to dinner, to parties, to join this or that organization. I was pitched business deals, investment opportunities and an astonishing assortment of offers I couldn't refuse. An endless parade of hot pneumatic flesh in tight, low-cut dresses palmed their phone numbers to me as they passed. There were also innumerable packets, gifts from drug dealers with knowing winks. I stuffed everything in my pockets. To keep me from sampling the unknown, at least that part of it they knew about, Dominique or Caroline frisked me regularly and disposed of all of the above with their usual obsessive efficiency. Marilyn just took them and, I suppose, used them herself.

The center impressed everybody. It looked like what it was supposed to, an elegant shrine to money.

To Get it just right was an enormous task. I didn't make it easy on anyone, including myself. Never satisfied, I felt like Hitler might have as he and Albert Speer created the Third Reich architecture. Every day the architects grew more crazy eyed as I changed major elements of the design. For trackless hours I cruised the unfinished labyrinthine buildings by golf cart, shadowed by some secretary or another. She took copious notes as I changed the layout of rooms, the color scheme and width of hallways, the lighting designs, the pattern on the floor-tiles and the distance between the lavatory sinks and mirrors. I even inspected the latches on the closet doors to see if they worked smoothly. I haunted the studios of the artisans who made the furniture, rugs and wall hangings for us, and got everybody stoned on whatever drugs I happened to have on me. More than once, I drove one of them to tears with my suggestions and demands.

To the construction supervisors I was a nightmare in progress but the crews loved me. They got paid no matter what I had them do so it didn’t matter what problems I gave them. Plus, everybody got high and, as a result got paid overtime for all the extra time we wasted. Endless problems resulted. There were numerous things not done, half done, badly done, cost over runs, etc., etc., etc., but, nothing got by me. Eventually, they corrected everything, no matter how long it took- no matter how high they were- no matter what the cost.

I could always count on Dominique to give me a hard time about being over budget. I didn't feel any more sympathy for her pissing and moaning than I did anyone else’s. Why should I? To find the money was her problem. Mine was to have enough to spend.

As I wandered through the intermission theatrics I shook a lot of sweaty hands. Carolyn and Marilyn were either in serious conversation with someone or giggling about something in a corner like a couple of kids. Occasionally I caught glimpses of Dominique, always surrounded by a crowd of people, mostly men, who devoured her every gesture. Once, I spotted her behind a potted fern with her hand down somebody’s pants. I didn't even attempt to guess what that was all about.

Suddenly, with her usual ability to appear seemingly out of nowhere she was next to me.

“King, I want you to meet Gerald Game.”

Dominique leaned close and whispered. “He’s ready or you.”

With her was a narrow stick in a perfectly tailored tuxedo. He was very tall, even bent over as he was. He looked as if he carried the weight of the worlds' sins upon his slumped shoulders. A maze of scars stitched his face- as if it had been put through a shredder and then stitched back together. He greeted me with a curious, chill smile.

“Gerald, this is Robert King.”

“Hello Gerald.”

“Yeth.” He lisped. He grasped my hand carefully with gaunt, bone hard fingers and gently lifted it up and down once as he squinted at me. Thick glasses shielded his dead gray eyes.

“Gerald produces movies now.”

“I see.”

“Yeth,” He said again, and twisted his pale lips in a caricature of a smile. “Sexth filmth.”

“I see.”

Then I realized who he was.

He was the son of Parker Game, one of Dominique’s earliest clients. The immensely wealthy old money aristocrat who died, during the early 60's. Gerald was the only heir to his 2 billion plus fortune.

I wondered how he got the scars?

The edge of her tongue traced the outline of my ear. “Please talk to Gerald. He knows no one here and feels quite out of place.”

She smiled and vanished into the crowd.

I was tired and needed a pick me up but, business was business. Although Gerald was quite strange, he was also richer than God.

“Come on Gerald, let's get out of here.” I grabbed his jacket sleeve and pulled him toward the door.

“Yeth.” He mumbled.

Back stage, Gerald tripped over a cable snake and then banged his head on a light tree that was too low for his stooped body to pass under.

I got behind him and pushed him through the maze. I wanted to go to the roof. I shoved him into the elevator and activated the panel with my key. Gerald gasped, breathless, his face pale. Sweat stood out on his sour milk skin.

“God Gerald, sorry to have exhausted you.”

“No pwablum Waburt.”

“Call me King.”

“Yeth Waburt.”

I sighed.

“I'm not vewy healthy wite now,” he continued, “But I enjoy the wush of your energy. I move so swoly.”

“I'm always moving too fast myself. Here, this might help you catch up.”

I unscrewed my silver inhaler and tossed it to him. Surprised, he fumbled and nearly dropped it.

“What should I do?" He asked.

“God Gerald! Shove it up to your nose and breathe hard.”

“Good, now the other one.”

He handed it back to me. I blew a few hits and put it back in my pocket.

We exited to the roof. The air tasted of ozone, smog, and rain. Landscaped planting beds filled with trees and flowers hid the glass and stone roof top eyrie.

Inside, I changed out of my stage clothes. I poured champagne. We sat on a gray velvet couch. In the distance the Hollywood hills reflected off the ocean of smog that flooded the valley. Overhead, a jumbo jet slashed the sky.

“So Gerald, how did you get the scars?”

The blunt question startled him but what was I supposed to do? I was curious about his Frankenstein face.

“Do you know Waburt, you are the first person who has asked me about them. Evwy one else avoids the subject like it wath the plague.”

“Well, I don’t fuck around Gerald. With me, rudeness is a virtue.”

“I appwiciate that Waburt. Fow me it huts when peopow look at me out of the corner of thew eyes, ower wispuh to eath othuh. I'm not a FWEEK Waburt!”

As tangible as flesh and bone, pain was a sudden, palpable presence in the room.

I tossed him the inhaler.

“So? Are you going to tell me or not?”

He took two double hits. His face flushed.

“Goodness Gwasus!”

His tormented eyes were wide and blood shot. Suddenly he did a spastic dance upon the couch. His feet, the heels pressed together, fanned in and out like flippers as his system overloaded.

“Cool it Gerald. You're not used to that much coke. It’s a special blend.”

“Goodness GWACIOUS!”

He was a sweating, smiling cadaver.

“Hay Gerald, are we having fun yet?”

“YETH!” He said with a crazy grin.

After a long silence as he methodically inspected each of his fingers he looked up shyly and said,
“I hab always wuved Dominique Waburt. Did you know that?”

“I know you have known her for a long time.” I said with inscrutable patience.

“Yeth, A vewy long time. I was 12.”

“Really. I bet to meet Dominique for the first time was quite an experience for a kid.”

“Yeth, I will nebuh fowget huh.”

“Me neither."

Iridescent moonlight streamed through the sky-light and illuminated his features.

I knew what it must have been like, I too had memories.

Gerald smiled at me.

“You love huh vewy much don't you Waburt?”

“Does it show?” I said, avoiding the issue.

“Yeth, I feel as if we shawer something spesow.”

“Good.”

“Do you know anything about my fathuh Waburt?”

“Only that he was richer than God.”

“Yeth.” His lips twisted.
“And now that he's dead I'm wicher than God, but I would twade it all fow one moment of weal love fwum him.”

“What do you mean?”

“My fathuh wath a monstow Waburt. I would wake up in the night to heaw my mothuhs scweems- the sound of the stwap as it cut into huh back. He used to beat huh Waburt. Beat huh until she passed out. He was always vewy cawhful to avoid huh face. Nothing showed except in huh eyes. My mothuh hurt so muth Waburt. My mothuh hurt so muth!”

He trembled as he laid his head upon his knees and folded his hands over his head, as if to shelter himself from the pain.

I gripped his skeletal shoulders and shook him roughly.

“Gerald! Stop it! Enough!”

His head snapped back. His eyes were wide and wet. His slack lip's saliva smeared.

“Waburt!”

He was ready.

His eyes pleaded with me as he sought an understanding that I was more than ready to provide, It was my job.

“Stop it Gerald. Everything is all right. I’m here. I will always be here. I will always protect you. You will never hurt again. I am your father now.”

My eyes fed him everything that he wanted to find. It was easier than I thought, almost like downloading a computer program.

At that moment Dominique appeared, like a velvet shadow against the sky- the silent predator.

“Hello my love.” She whispered.
I rolled my eyes.

Dominique turned to Gerald. In the moon-light her hands draw her dress away from her breasts.

“Come to me, you poor child.” She whispered.

“Bye bye.” I thought, and slipped into the darkness.

Exhausted, I reached in my pocket and found a joint. One of the gifts, that Dominique had missed when she picked my pocket. I lit it and took a deep drag.

Finally, I put out the roach and stuffed it in my pocket.

I took the elevator to the main floor. I felt restless and strange. In the lobby the magpie cacophony was overwhelming. I had a headache. The voices were too loud, the clothes too perfect, the hair artificial, the teeth too white. The fragments of desultory conversation didn’t make sense.

I was annoyed that I never did find out how Gerald got his scars.

I wanted Carolyn. Where in hell would I find her in the chaotic maze of passageways and rooms?

The light was murky and lurid. Smoke choked the air. Elegant, exotic, expensively dressed beasts stared at me, then turned to growl behind their paws. With outstretched grasps and hypocritical smiles they grunted at me like old friends. Predatory women with bodies made of gold and bloodless eyes leaned against the oily, paneled walls like prostitutes. Women with razor taloned nails and brittle voices sneered at me. Bloodstained red lips vomited cruel, meaningless laughter. Hard faced, tight, tanned bodies showed too much flesh. Enormous rings trapped menacing claw-like fingers. Garish bracelets handcuffed their arms in the bondage of obsessive, designer perfection.

Where was Carolyn?

I glanced into rooms that looked like market stalls in some dirty, third world bazaar. Small, intent groups, nodded their well-coifed heads, opened and closed their perfectly painted lips, and haggled with patient, hungry eyed merchants.

Where was Carolyn?

I stopped at one of the lobby phones. Carolyn was never without her phone.

“SATISFACTION®, may I help you?” the cheerful, eager voice said.

“It’s King. Find Carolyn.”

“Hello.”

“Carolyn, where the fuck are you?”

“King! What's the matter?”

“Just get down here.”
“Where are you?”

“First floor.” I looked for a sign. “By conference room C.”

I leaned against the wall.


“King! Are you all right?”

“Get me out of here.” I whispered and gripped her shoulder.

She flinched.

She led me down the hall. Suddenly we were alone.

“Lock the door.”

She turned on the lights.

“Lock the damned door! And turn off those fucking lights!”

“King, what's wrong?”

The desperation in my eyes must have been obvious because she quickly embraced me.

“Don't worry. Everything is all right.”

I took a ragged breath and sagged against her. Her hard nipples pressed against me.

She led me to the couch.

“Thank God.” I whispered.


“King?”

“What?”

“You need to wake up. We have to get back to business.”

I opened my eyes. Nestled against Carolyn's' warmth I must have fallen asleep. I felt a little better.

“Ohh! I've got such a headache.”

“Did you take anything King? You were really acting strange.”

“I think I still am.”

“What happened?”

“After I left Dominique and Gerald I smoked a joint.”

“Where did you get the joint?”
“My jacket. It was one of the party favors that got stuck in my pocket back stage. Dominique took everything else but she missed that.”

“You mean it wasn't one of your own?”

“No. You know I haven't smoked weed lately.”

“So you don't know where it came from?”

“No.”

“Or what was in it?”

“No. What do you want from me Carolyn? I just found it in my pocket and smoked it. OK?”

“King, why do you think Dominique clears your pockets during these public events?”

“She doesn't want me to get high?”

“Are you brain dead?”

“O.K. O.K.. She doesn't want anybody to slip me something that hasn't been checked out first. Blah, blah, blah”

She nodded.

“And why does she do that?”

“I know why, Carolyn. Don't treat me like a child!”

“That's not the point.”

“That's why I have you around.”

“Yes, that's one of the reasons, but, we can't be with you every minute-especially now. There’s too much to do”

“I know, I know.”

“We could hire somebody to run interference.”

“No thanks! I don't want some baby-sitter telling me what to do.”

“Well, there's got to be some way to deal with it, King. Do you have anything left of the joint you smoked?”

I rummaged in my pocket until I found the tiny roach. Carolyn sniffed it, then ripped open the paper and touched the bright green weed with the tip of her tongue. She made a face.

“Ugh!”

“What's the matter?”

“PCP.”
“Are you sure.”

“Yes, I'm sure.”

“No wonder I got strange.”

Carolyn opened her purse and pulled out a pill container. She selected a pill from among the rainbow within.

“Here, take this.”

I swallowed. “What is it?”

“Thorazine.”

“Oh, shit.”

Carolyn got up. She shook her head.

“Don't lecture me Carolyn!”

“I'm not going to lecture you King, but you're worse than a child.”

“Right. Not that you mind that. You love playing mama. I'm not stupid.”

“Well...” She said.

“Nobody fools me Carolyn. It's the incest part of it that turns you on isn't it?”

“Well...”

“Right.”

I stood up and grabbed at her breast.

“Come on Mom, let's do it.”

“Stop it!”

She laughed and twisted away.

“We've got to get back to business.”

“Oh God! Here we go again.”

We took the elevator down to the second floor and walked to the main staircase. A theatrical sweep of plush gray carpet descended from the lofty second story auditorium balcony entrance to the main floor, 60 feet below.

“Come on, let's give them a show.” I said and pulled her toward the steps.

We waited for the milling, self involved herd below to notice us. I studied our reflections in the huge mirror on the opposite wall. Carolyn was, as usual, stunning: immaculately groomed, haughty and gold maned. My disheveled black hair, black silk suit, black tee shirt, and handmade black, kid-skin loafers combined to give me an aura of elegance, mystery and danger.

At the foot of the stairs Dominique watched us. An inscrutable, Mona Lisa expression masked her face.

Gerald wasn't with her.

We started down the stairs.

Below us, the huge lobby was like some fantasy out of Mad King Ludwig's' dreams.

As we descended into the fray the sharks below began a complex but subtle struggle for position at the bottom of the stairway. They sensed that it was in their best interests to be there when I arrived. They fought a desperate but subtle battle with others who, just like them, struggled with relentless determination to get first blood.

I turned to Carolyn. Her face betrayed nothing.

“Hay Carolyn.” I whispered.

“What?”

“Remember the St. Francis?”

“Why?”

“Oh...nothing, I was just thinking.”

Her eyes grow smoky and hot.

“I'm sure.” She said.
astonishing assortment of offers I couldn't refuse. An endless parade of hot pneumatic flesh in tight, low-cut dresses palmed their phone numbers to me as they passed. There were also innumerable packets, gifts from drug dealers with knowing winks. I stuffed everything in my pockets. To keep me from sampling the unknown, at least that part of it they knew about, Dominique or Caroline frisked me regularly and disposed of all of the above with their usual obsessive efficiency. Marilyn just took them and, I suppose, used them herself.

The center impressed everybody. It looked like what it was supposed to, an elegant shrine to money.

To Get it just right was an enormous task. I didn't make it easy on anyone, including myself. Never satisfied, I felt like Hitler might have as he and Albert Speer created the Third Reich architecture. Every day the architects grew more crazy eyed as I changed major elements of the design. For trackless hours I cruised the unfinished labyrinthine buildings by golf cart, shadowed by some secretary or another. She took copious notes as I changed the layout of rooms, the color scheme and width of hallways, the lighting designs, the pattern on the floor-tiles and the distance between the lavatory sinks and mirrors. I even inspected the latches on the closet doors to see if they worked smoothly. I haunted the studios of the artisans who made the furniture, rugs and wall hangings for us, and got everybody stoned on whatever drugs I happened to have on me. More than once, I drove one of them to tears with my suggestions and demands.

To the construction supervisors I was a nightmare in progress but the crews loved me. They got paid no matter what I had them do so it didn’t matter what problems I gave them. Plus, everybody got high and, as a result got paid overtime for all the extra time we wasted. Endless problems resulted. There were numerous things not done, half done, badly done, cost over runs, etc., etc., etc., but, nothing got by me. Eventually, they corrected everything, no matter how long it took- no matter how high they were- no matter what the cost.

I could always count on Dominique to give me a hard time about being over budget. I didn't feel any more sympathy for her pissing and moaning than I did anyone else’s. Why should I? To find the money was her problem. Mine was to have enough to spend.

As I wandered through the intermission theatrics I shook a lot of sweaty hands. Carolyn and Marilyn were either in serious conversation with someone or giggling about something in a corner like a couple of kids. Occasionally I caught glimpses of Dominique, always surrounded by a crowd of people, mostly men, who devoured her every gesture. Once, I spotted her behind a potted fern with her hand down somebody’s pants. I didn't even attempt to guess what that was all about.

Suddenly, with her usual ability to appear seemingly out of nowhere she was next to me.

“King, I want you to meet Gerald Game.”

Dominique leaned close and whispered. “He’s ready or you.”

With her was a narrow stick in a perfectly tailored tuxedo. He was very tall, even bent over as he was. He looked as if he carried the weight of the worlds' sins upon his slumped shoulders. A maze of scars stitched his face- as if it had been put through a shredder and then stitched back together. He greeted me with a curious, chill smile.

“Gerald, this is Robert King.”

“Hello Gerald.”

“Yeth.” He lisped. He grasped my hand carefully with gaunt, bone hard fingers and gently lifted it up and down once as he squinted at me. Thick glasses shielded his dead gray eyes.

“Gerald produces movies now.”

“I see.”

“Yeth,” He said again, and twisted his pale lips in a caricature of a smile. “Sexth filmth.”

“I see.”

Then I realized who he was.

He was the son of Parker Game, one of Dominique’s earliest clients. The immensely wealthy old money aristocrat who died, during the early 60's. Gerald was the only heir to his 2 billion plus fortune.

I wondered how he got the scars?

The edge of her tongue traced the outline of my ear. “Please talk to Gerald. He knows no one here and feels quite out of place.”

She smiled and vanished into the crowd.

I was tired and needed a pick me up but, business was business. Although Gerald was quite strange, he was also richer than God.

“Come on Gerald, let's get out of here.” I grabbed his jacket sleeve and pulled him toward the door.

“Yeth.” He mumbled.

Back stage, Gerald tripped over a cable snake and then banged his head on a light tree that was too low for his stooped body to pass under.

I got behind him and pushed him through the maze. I wanted to go to the roof. I shoved him into the elevator and activated the panel with my key. Gerald gasped, breathless, his face pale. Sweat stood out on his sour milk skin.

“God Gerald, sorry to have exhausted you.”

“No pwablum Waburt.”

“Call me King.”

“Yeth Waburt.”

I sighed.

“I'm not vewy healthy wite now,” he continued, “But I enjoy the wush of your energy. I move so swoly.”

“I'm always moving too fast myself. Here, this might help you catch up.”

I unscrewed my silver inhaler and tossed it to him. Surprised, he fumbled and nearly dropped it.

“What should I do?" He asked.

“God Gerald! Shove it up to your nose and breathe hard.”

“Good, now the other one.”

He handed it back to me. I blew a few hits and put it back in my pocket.

We exited to the roof. The air tasted of ozone, smog, and rain. Landscaped planting beds filled with trees and flowers hid the glass and stone roof top eyrie.

Inside, I changed out of my stage clothes. I poured champagne. We sat on a gray velvet couch. In the distance the Hollywood hills reflected off the ocean of smog that flooded the valley. Overhead, a jumbo jet slashed the sky.

“So Gerald, how did you get the scars?”

The blunt question startled him but what was I supposed to do? I was curious about his Frankenstein face.

“Do you know Waburt, you are the first person who has asked me about them. Evwy one else avoids the subject like it wath the plague.”

“Well, I don’t fuck around Gerald. With me, rudeness is a virtue.”

“I appwiciate that Waburt. Fow me it huts when peopow look at me out of the corner of thew eyes, ower wispuh to eath othuh. I'm not a FWEEK Waburt!”

As tangible as flesh and bone, pain was a sudden, palpable presence in the room.

I tossed him the inhaler.

“So? Are you going to tell me or not?”

He took two double hits. His face flushed.

“Goodness Gwasus!”

His tormented eyes were wide and blood shot. Suddenly he did a spastic dance upon the couch. His feet, the heels pressed together, fanned in and out like flippers as his system overloaded.

“Cool it Gerald. You're not used to that much coke. It’s a special blend.”

“Goodness GWACIOUS!”

He was a sweating, smiling cadaver.

“Hay Gerald, are we having fun yet?”

“YETH!” He said with a crazy grin.

After a long silence as he methodically inspected each of his fingers he looked up shyly and said,
“I hab always wuved Dominique Waburt. Did you know that?”

“I know you have known her for a long time.” I said with inscrutable patience.

“Yeth, A vewy long time. I was 12.”

“Really. I bet to meet Dominique for the first time was quite an experience for a kid.”

“Yeth, I will nebuh fowget huh.”

“Me neither."

Iridescent moonlight streamed through the sky-light and illuminated his features.

I knew what it must have been like, I too had memories.

Gerald smiled at me.

“You love huh vewy much don't you Waburt?”

“Does it show?” I said, avoiding the issue.

“Yeth, I feel as if we shawer something spesow.”

“Good.”

“Do you know anything about my fathuh Waburt?”

“Only that he was richer than God.”

“Yeth.” His lips twisted.
“And now that he's dead I'm wicher than God, but I would twade it all fow one moment of weal love fwum him.”

“What do you mean?”

“My fathuh wath a monstow Waburt. I would wake up in the night to heaw my mothuhs scweems- the sound of the stwap as it cut into huh back. He used to beat huh Waburt. Beat huh until she passed out. He was always vewy cawhful to avoid huh face. Nothing showed except in huh eyes. My mothuh hurt so muth Waburt. My mothuh hurt so muth!”

He trembled as he laid his head upon his knees and folded his hands over his head, as if to shelter himself from the pain.

I gripped his skeletal shoulders and shook him roughly.

“Gerald! Stop it! Enough!”

His head snapped back. His eyes were wide and wet. His slack lip's saliva smeared.

“Waburt!”

He was ready.

His eyes pleaded with me as he sought an understanding that I was more than ready to provide, It was my job.

“Stop it Gerald. Everything is all right. I’m here. I will always be here. I will always protect you. You will never hurt again. I am your father now.”

My eyes fed him everything that he wanted to find. It was easier than I thought, almost like downloading a computer program.

At that moment Dominique appeared, like a velvet shadow against the sky- the silent predator.

“Hello my love.” She whispered.
I rolled my eyes.

Dominique turned to Gerald. In the moon-light her hands draw her dress away from her breasts.

“Come to me, you poor child.” She whispered.

“Bye bye.” I thought, and slipped into the darkness.

Exhausted, I reached in my pocket and found a joint. One of the gifts, that Dominique had missed when she picked my pocket. I lit it and took a deep drag.

Finally, I put out the roach and stuffed it in my pocket.

I took the elevator to the main floor. I felt restless and strange. In the lobby the magpie cacophony was overwhelming. I had a headache. The voices were too loud, the clothes too perfect, the hair artificial, the teeth too white. The fragments of desultory conversation didn’t make sense.

I was annoyed that I never did find out how Gerald got his scars.

I wanted Carolyn. Where in hell would I find her in the chaotic maze of passageways and rooms?

The light was murky and lurid. Smoke choked the air. Elegant, exotic, expensively dressed beasts stared at me, then turned to growl behind their paws. With outstretched grasps and hypocritical smiles they grunted at me like old friends. Predatory women with bodies made of gold and bloodless eyes leaned against the oily, paneled walls like prostitutes. Women with razor taloned nails and brittle voices sneered at me. Bloodstained red lips vomited cruel, meaningless laughter. Hard faced, tight, tanned bodies showed too much flesh. Enormous rings trapped menacing claw-like fingers. Garish bracelets handcuffed their arms in the bondage of obsessive, designer perfection.

Where was Carolyn?

I glanced into rooms that looked like market stalls in some dirty, third world bazaar. Small, intent groups, nodded their well-coifed heads, opened and closed their perfectly painted lips, and haggled with patient, hungry eyed merchants.

Where was Carolyn?

I stopped at one of the lobby phones. Carolyn was never without her phone.

“SATISFACTION®, may I help you?” the cheerful, eager voice said.

“It’s King. Find Carolyn.”

“Hello.”

“Carolyn, where the fuck are you?”

“King! What's the matter?”

“Just get down here.”
“Where are you?”

“First floor.” I looked for a sign. “By conference room C.”

I leaned against the wall.


“King! Are you all right?”

“Get me out of here.” I whispered and gripped her shoulder.

She flinched.

She led me down the hall. Suddenly we were alone.

“Lock the door.”

She turned on the lights.

“Lock the damned door! And turn off those fucking lights!”

“King, what's wrong?”

The desperation in my eyes must have been obvious because she quickly embraced me.

“Don't worry. Everything is all right.”

I took a ragged breath and sagged against her. Her hard nipples pressed against me.

She led me to the couch.

“Thank God.” I whispered.


“King?”

“What?”

“You need to wake up. We have to get back to business.”

I opened my eyes. Nestled against Carolyn's' warmth I must have fallen asleep. I felt a little better.

“Ohh! I've got such a headache.”

“Did you take anything King? You were really acting strange.”

“I think I still am.”

“What happened?”

“After I left Dominique and Gerald I smoked a joint.”

“Where did you get the joint?”
“My jacket. It was one of the party favors that got stuck in my pocket back stage. Dominique took everything else but she missed that.”

“You mean it wasn't one of your own?”

“No. You know I haven't smoked weed lately.”

“So you don't know where it came from?”

“No.”

“Or what was in it?”

“No. What do you want from me Carolyn? I just found it in my pocket and smoked it. OK?”

“King, why do you think Dominique clears your pockets during these public events?”

“She doesn't want me to get high?”

“Are you brain dead?”

“O.K. O.K.. She doesn't want anybody to slip me something that hasn't been checked out first. Blah, blah, blah”

She nodded.

“And why does she do that?”

“I know why, Carolyn. Don't treat me like a child!”

“That's not the point.”

“That's why I have you around.”

“Yes, that's one of the reasons, but, we can't be with you every minute-especially now. There’s too much to do”

“I know, I know.”

“We could hire somebody to run interference.”

“No thanks! I don't want some baby-sitter telling me what to do.”

“Well, there's got to be some way to deal with it, King. Do you have anything left of the joint you smoked?”

I rummaged in my pocket until I found the tiny roach. Carolyn sniffed it, then ripped open the paper and touched the bright green weed with the tip of her tongue. She made a face.

“Ugh!”

“What's the matter?”

“PCP.”
“Are you sure.”

“Yes, I'm sure.”

“No wonder I got strange.”

Carolyn opened her purse and pulled out a pill container. She selected a pill from among the rainbow within.

“Here, take this.”

I swallowed. “What is it?”

“Thorazine.”

“Oh, shit.”

Carolyn got up. She shook her head.

“Don't lecture me Carolyn!”

“I'm not going to lecture you King, but you're worse than a child.”

“Right. Not that you mind that. You love playing mama. I'm not stupid.”

“Well...” She said.

“Nobody fools me Carolyn. It's the incest part of it that turns you on isn't it?”

“Well...”

“Right.”

I stood up and grabbed at her breast.

“Come on Mom, let's do it.”

“Stop it!”

She laughed and twisted away.

“We've got to get back to business.”

“Oh God! Here we go again.”

We took the elevator down to the second floor and walked to the main staircase. A theatrical sweep of plush gray carpet descended from the lofty second story auditorium balcony entrance to the main floor, 60 feet below.

“Come on, let's give them a show.” I said and pulled her toward the steps.

We waited for the milling, self involved herd below to notice us. I studied our reflections in the huge mirror on the opposite wall. Carolyn was, as usual, stunning: immaculately groomed, haughty and gold maned. My disheveled black hair, black silk suit, black tee shirt, and handmade black, kid-skin loafers combined to give me an aura of elegance, mystery and danger.

At the foot of the stairs Dominique watched us. An inscrutable, Mona Lisa expression masked her face.

Gerald wasn't with her.

We started down the stairs.

Below us, the huge lobby was like some fantasy out of Mad King Ludwig's' dreams.

As we descended into the fray the sharks below began a complex but subtle struggle for position at the bottom of the stairway. They sensed that it was in their best interests to be there when I arrived. They fought a desperate but subtle battle with others who, just like them, struggled with relentless determination to get first blood.

I turned to Carolyn. Her face betrayed nothing.

“Hay Carolyn.” I whispered.

“What?”

“Remember the St. Francis?”

“Why?”

“Oh...nothing, I was just thinking.”

Her eyes grow smoky and hot.

“I'm sure.” She said.

Aftermath