Chapter 24- Ship Of Fools

Like a fire in the sky
she burns me with her eyes.
I sigh.
Times are tough in the land of love.

Robert King

We decided to go for a cruise.
As we prepared for our trip to the marina it was the same involved process as everything else we did. Dominique had to change her clothes. Carolyn wanted to take a bath. We couldn't decide what we wanted to eat. I insisted that there was always plenty to eat on the boat. Dominique wanted to bring extra champagne and so we called the kitchen. Then Dominique thought it would be nice if she and Carolyn dressed in identical outfits. They wasted another half an hour to figure out what to wear. I paced the driveway, crushed bugs under my heel and imagined it was them.
George was going to drive but he had a sore throat and needed to go to the doctor. Then Armand was going to drive but Dominique’s limo was in the shop. George didn't want Armand to use mine. He said Armand drove like a speed freak. Armand denied it and they went off to talk it over or beat each other up, or whatever it was they did to resolve issues like those. Then Jayne, Dominique's air head pet of the moment drifted out and wanted to come along. She hung on Dominique and pleaded like a needy little girl desperate for love and attention. Dominique let her suffer until she cried and then she said patted her on the head and said she could come.
Then Dominique insisted that they change clothes again as Jaynes tears had stained her blouse.
By that time it was late afternoon. I was pissed. I sat in the limo and tried to get loaded while Jayne tried her best to seduce me. Carolyn and Dominique finally exited the house dressed in identical white sundresses, identical black Wayfarer sunglasses and open toed white sandals. Both of them carried closed white parasols. They were the strangest combination of twins I had ever seen. Dominique's wild black hair glistened in the bright sun. Carolyn’s frosted blond mane, bunched up in some kind of Heidi the goat girl bra, didn't make a bit of sense to me.
Marilyn joined them and they milled around as they tried to connect the dots.
Finally they were ready.
At that moment Armand appeared with a cooler packed with champagne and a glazed look in his eyes as he took in the scene in the driveway. Dominique and Carolyn were contemplating their toenails, which were painted the exact same shade of black. I didn't know where Marilyn was.
By this time I didn't have the foggiest idea what was going on. Jayne had finally gotten tired of trying to get me horny. She was, instead, opening and closing the window on her side, playing with the buttons that locked and unlocked the doors and raising and lowering the tinted separator window between us and the front seat.
“God damn it Jayne stop that!” I screamed.
I was fed up with all of them.
From behind a curtain of hair Jayne stared at me with round wet eyes. She looked like a frightened deer in the headlights of a runaway train. Like a gone Lolita her pink tongue licked her lips.
“I'm bored.” She pouted.
“You’re bored! What else is going to happen on this ship of fools?” I yelled.
I was sick of the whole idea of going anywhere.
Dominique and Carolyn paraded up and down the driveway like models on a runway as they opened and closed their parasols and Marilyn photographed them with a huge camera. When they opened the parasols their shadows on the asphalt looked like their heads were exploding. It looked like there was an antenna growing out of their skulls when they closed.
I had had enough. I didn't want to go anywhere.
I got out of the limo and walked past them without saying a word. I went into the house and started up the main stairway. It seemed like it would never end. It bored me. I decided to have it replaced with an elevator. On the third floor I went straight to the target room. I had Silvia bring up a sack full of grapefruit and set them up on the target bar. For ten minutes I blasted away with my new 9mm Biretta. The new Black Talon bullets Armand had gotten for me made a huge mess of them. Every time one exploded I thought of the idiot crew downstairs and smiled. None of it made the slightest bit of sense.
I discovered later that the reason they had acted so strange is that while Carolyn and Dominique were upstairs digging through the clothes Dominique found some Quaaludes and they both had taken a couple. That was why they were so dingy. Not that it made any difference. It was just another day.

Later. We were in the living room, one big happy family again. A huge log blasted explosions of sparks against the fire screen. I was on the couch. Dominique, Carolyn and Marilyn sat on the carpet as they stuffed themselves with popcorn. It was a cozy little slumber party. Dominique hummed tunelessly to herself. Carolyn brushed her hair. Marilyn updated us on the progress of SATISFACTION®.
“So far SATISFACTION hasn't been plugged into any of the franchises. I thought it would be best to try it out ourselves for a while to work out the bugs in the system.”
“I tried it a while back and it worked fine.”
“What did you do King?”
“I made up a trip for two to the Hamptons on a private jet helicopter with a picnic lunch of French food and...”
“You did not actually take this trip did you?” Dominique asked.
“Why? What difference does it make?”
“It sounds like something that I would have liked to do too.”
“Oh please Dominique, when have I been out of your sight long enough to take that kind of trip?”
“Yeah King. We've all heard that line before. Who'd you go with? Jayne?”
“Oh God Carolyn, too much time with that dim bulb and I'd start taking Quaaludes just to get stupid enough to relate to her.”
“She is not an dim bulb King. She is just a child.”
“A child...right.... Thank you mother Dominique for your words of wisdom from the neither world.”
“So, did everything work out?” Marilyn asked.
“With what? Jayne? She keeps trying to jump my bones. What’s the matter Dominique, can’t get it up?”
“No, not Jayne, your call to SATISFACTION®.”
“It seemed to. I liked the voice on the phone. I liked it when she asked me what I needed.”
“Did your code work.”
“Must have. She called me by name. I liked the whole process.”
“What I need to work out is how the financing will be put together to fund it.” Marilyn said. “It's one thing when the input is limited but what happens if we add people who might abuse the system?”
“We can't add people until there's enough funds. Otherwise it will end up like Social Security.” I said.
“So...what's the plan?” Carolyn asked.
“So far we have brought in nearly $ l0,000,000.00 from the franchise operations. That plus the home study program sales of $9,670,000.00 for the first quarter of this year and the seminar fees of approximately $14,745,650.00 plus the book sales of $3,555,090.00...”
“What book?” I asked.
“That’s just the hard back. We haven't gone to soft cover yet.”
“Soft cover is tacky.” Dominique said.
Marilyn shrugged.
“Is that all?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s ‘all’ greedy.” Carolyn quipped.
“Not quite. Marilyn continued. “There’s the vacation cruise seminar. That, by the way was a great idea, Dominique. A package cruise to the Bahamas with a study program The customers tie it to their corporate training programs, bingo, A great tax write-off! We couldn't package enough of them. Oh, by the way, we bought the cruise ship?”
“We bought the LOVE BOAT."
Marilyn rolled her eyes.
“It's not the LOVE BOAT, King! Although there was probably a lot of sex after the seminars.”
“Oh Yeah,” I said. “Especially after Dominique's demonstration of bondage as a meditation aid.”
Marilyn giggled.
“I still can't believe you did that Dominique.” Carolyn said.
“It worked did it not?”
“Worked! The understatement of the century. Everybody loved it!”
“What about the boat?” I asked.
“It made sense to buy the boat. We were being charged too much for the
package lease so I arranged to finance it.” Carolyn said.
“Out of whose pocket?” I asked.
“It better not be mine!”
“Oh shut up Marilyn! You're so tight with your dividend. You watch every little thing.” I said.
“Little! You mean like the hit I took when you spent $56,000.00
on cocaine for my birthday party and then I found out it was out of my dividend? Ass hole!”
“EXCUSE ME! If it wasn't for me you wouldn't have anything!”
“Oh God! Here it comes again. The ‘all that I have done for you’ speech.”
“The fucking money. What does it all add up to?” I asked.
“$38,503,420.00.” Carolyn said.
“What, no cents?”
“Nope, we don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“Carolyn,” I said, and shook my head in feigned amazement, “You're better than a calculator.”
“Oh, thank you sir.” She batted her eyes at me, stuck out her tongue and reached down to bite Dominique's neck.
“Hay!” I yelled. “No fooling around! This is business.”
“What fooling around? I’m serious.” Carolyn replied with a lecherous grin.
“Right! Just like the rest of us. Seriously ill.” Marilyn said.
“Speak for yourself Marilyn.” I said.
“Please, all of you. It is a wonder we are all not brain dead from all the drugs we take.” Dominique said.
I stared at her. My mouth sagged open. Drool ran down my chin.
“Drugs? Do you take drugs? I’m shocked!” I said.
“Disgusting.” Carolyn said.
“Speaking of drugs...”
Marilyn reached into the pocket of her robe.

Ship Of Fools