One Decadent Life: Part Two



When Angelique woke up the sun was shining, birds were singing, and David was shrieking into the telephone:

“You are ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to talk to about ANYTHING! I FORBID you to come down here! I don’t WANT you here!

Angelique moaned softly as a warm breeze of jasmine drifted over her face… she did not want anyone else coming down, to interrupt her idyll. Her obsession was being realized, alone at last with the Beloved… though it was not (yet?) as perfect as she would have wished.

She pulled the white fluffy pillows over her face. If only she could sleep some more, and then be carried out to the beach by four handsome slaves, where she’d sleep some more…

Marigold was shocked, “shocked… that in your time of need you did not call me to come and help you. Aren’t I, your sister, more than anyone in the world, more than your worthless thing, Tere… interested in your well-being?”

David groaned into the telephone.

“Aren’t I the only one, amongst all your friends, who really wants you off drugs? How could you have been so stupid? To take Tere — as if SHE could have helped you at all?”

“She did help me… you think it’s so simple…”

His sister ignored that, “When I saw Marilyn at the Hurtsome opening last night, she told me how Tere ditched you… well I HAD to have your number. When are you going to understand that Tere is constitutionally incapable of living in any way, even APPROXIMATING anything like STRAIGHT? She was BORN bloody twisted.”

“There is no need for you to be mean and awful about Tere. She has just as much of a chance as any of us …”

“Ha! Oh ha, ha and ha, yeah right except there’s a catch, David: where there’s a will, there’s a way. And she has no will. Miss Face-of-the-Year is never going to stop doing the Drug-of-the-Decade.”

“And how do you know that, Miss Brilliance? Did it come to you in a dream induced by one of your sleeping pills? Yes, your mother’s little helpers,* and your Doctor Feelgood.”

“My prescription medications are carefully titrated by one of most respected doctors in Washington DC and he is NOT a ‘Doctor Feelgood!’ ” **

“Oh, ‘titrated.’ Right. You’re just as bad a junkie as any of us Marigold!”

“THEN I had to hear from Marilyn that NOW you’ve invited some other dreadful creature, Angelique from Mars… Marilyn said she’s a DOMINATRIX? One of those witches who turn men into animals, crawling around on all fours, with no mind left? Is she doing heroin too”

“You don’t know a thing about it so stop being so judgmental. She is totally white *** and a brilliant writer.”

“Hmmm some brilliant writer is she? I don’t know a thing? But what about that OTHER business David I mean you should NOT, I mean, well your NAME should NOT be so closely connected…”

“Oh please my head is POUNDING… you are giving me a migraine!”

“YOU have a migraine? What about MINE? All I can think is this PERSON whatever she is must have some sort of major CRUSH on you to go running down there to hold your hand. I mean she would not have just dropped her whip or whatever to rush to your side UNLESS…”

“Marigold can you please turn down the volume… and it’s ME having the nervous breakdown? Do you care at all, you make such a fucking huge case about how much you fucking CARE — and now you’re yelling at me!”

“It’s for your own good. You’re not having a nervous breakdown, you’re kicking heroin. I’M the one having the NERVOUS BREAKDOWN!”

David wanted to reach through the ‘phone receiver and strangle her. “I’m hanging up NOW, I’ve had just about all I can take from you today. I did NOT give you this number — so DON’T call again!”

“I’m coming down, I’m getting on the next plane…”


Angelique was ascending to the main floor, and avoided going into the grand salon. In the kitchen she quietly greeted Eunice, who was putting finishing touches on two plates of french toast. Angelique glanced in David’s direction and raised an eyebrow, and Eunice laughed,

“Izz hiz sistah…”

“A sister? How tedious,” and she put a strawberry in her mouth. “What day is it anyhow? When’s Christmas?”

“T’day’s Monday, twenty-third. Wednesday.”

“So what do you’all’ins do down here for Christmas?”

“The Mayor’s son, Luc, he frow a huge party on his yacht… all along the shore at de Porte Gustav’, be partyin’, dancin’, food and drinkin’…”

“Did you say ‘Luc’?” Angelique sat up expectantly.


The two women tried not to giggle… Angelique replayed, “This Luc? The Mayor’s son? I think I met him in the St. Maarten airport. Very slim, light brown hair… Luc de something-or-other, aristocrat?”

“Ol’ Frensh family. Luc he a play-boy, mebbe he be the Mayor heah, when his Daddy go.”

“Oh is it a monarchy on Sain’ Bar’s?” Angelique was picking up on Eunice’s eliding sing-song…

“Maight be.” She glanced up at Angelique, “Gal, that chicken-skin o’ yourn gonna FRY on de beach!”

Angelique accepted her plate of toast with syrup, mango and strawberries, and sat down at the kitchen table. She took her first bite and nearly choked as David howled, “I AM NEVER COMING BACK TO NEW YORK!” Eunice rolled her eyes in hilarity, though Angelique’s mien grew serious — she really hoped that wasn’t so.

Marigold capitulated, “Alright, alright. It’s Christmas and I can’t leave my family anyhow. We’ve got parties every day… I haven’t even wrapped the presents.”

“Yes, the presents, better stay up there and wrap your god-damned presents.”

“Well do you want me to come down, or not? Not that I relish the idea of spending my Christmas with a witch. What’ve you got planned for today? Human sacrifice?”

“Yes and if you show up down here, you’ll be the main course,” and he slammed down the ‘phone.

From the kitchen he perceived a weird sound… What is that? Laughing? What are those two laughing about? Are they laughing at me?

He quickly descended to his room; he rather preferred not to speak to Eunice first thing in the morning. She had helped him in his weakness; but when he tried to manifest gratitude, being kindly or nice, he felt a heavy contempt fall upon him. The hugeness of her shape, her expressionless (to him) face, that imponderable HM HN HUH! issuing all-purposely from her gut — she knew everything. Of course, that was her job… she went on cleaning up after the junkie, feeding him, mixing up the cocktails to order. But then he would catch a look on her face, like some black basalt idol’s, requiring some awful homage? What that might be, he couldn’t begin to fathom and he beheld her with terror.

…and then when I saw her dancing with the Heroin Demon… He was shaving, trying to make himself semi-presentable when he heard the ‘phone ringing upstairs. He went out into the hall and screamed, “DON’T ANSWER THAT!” It rang and rang, stopped, then started up again as he finished his toilette.

He thought about his sister, her hypocritical concern. She’s always hated Tere… now she’s going to fixate on Angelique. Such pitiful little moral stands women make, in order to feel superior to their sisters. Nothing excites a straight woman like a whore.

So Angelique’s a whore, a witch… to my gigolo and warlock I guess. A perfect match.

By the time he got back upstairs, Eunice and Angelique were gone. Next to his plate, covered in a silver dome, was a note:

Angelique at beach. Mrs. Marilyn called, says call her tonight.

Great! Who knows what scurrilous gossip she’s passed on… As he walked down to the beach, his mind compulsively replayed Marigold’s ravings. He felt irritated by her all over again. He loved his sister, but she was no longer very loving to him. Ever since their mother had died, she’d taken on an obnoxious role, mothering him in an imperious fashion. And she had passed that attitude on to Paula… God, and Paula — what is going on there? Should have heard from her at least ten times by now. She hates Angelique too.

So I’m doing something outrageous, am I, having Angelique as my friend? An infamous flower of corruption, is she? In his degenerated mode, David was nothing if not negatively suggestible. The resistance Marigold was putting up catalyzed into an impulse to be seriously nice to ‘the whore.’

He looked for his friend along the beach; she wasn’t hard to miss. Aside from the fact that there was no-one else in sight but one bored life-guard, she was glittering like a disco-ball. Her Boucher-shape was molded into a heavily-boned vintage bathing costume from the 1950s; its febrile pink material could have been mistaken for skin, though it was studded over lavishly with rhinestones.

“Princess Perfect! Must we blind the seagulls?”

When she caught sight of him she began to laugh, rolled over on her belly and pushed her toes into the powder-white sand.

“And you — you call that beach-attire?”

David had swathed himself in black silk lounging trousers, the black satin kimono, a long orange chiffon scarf, and a wide-brimmed black straw hat, trimmed with glass cherries.

“Oh, this?” he indicated the chapeau, “Just one of Marilyn’s thinking-caps?!”

“No, I mean – socks? Aren’t we going to go swimming?”

He feigned horror, “Christ on a cross, woman, you must be mad!”

“I think the reigning metaphor this week is ‘Jesus Mary and Joseph.’ ”

“Bloody Christmas! And my sister calling… she wanted to actually come down here!”

“You have a sister! What’s she all about?”

“Married… to a nightmare. One boy. Or should I say two. She treats me like another baby…”

Angelique watched as he settled himself beneath two umbrellas, stretched out and sighed, the heels of his Botticelli loafers digging into the sand. “Aren’t you at least going to take off your shoes?”

He observed her slathering on sun-block lotion, “Alas but not all of us are blessed with the foot of Trilby,” and reached out and flicked the corner of her beach-towel over her feet.

This tiny attention charmed her; then, an unexpected, courtly apology:

“I’m sorry about last night, I was really a very poor host. I am a veritable zombie, you know…”

She waited for the full disclosure, the confession of his addiction, the reason for his calling upon her, the fear of suicide… She indulged herself in gazing upon him, memorizing the line of his hand, gracefully holding a cigarette aloft against the vivid hot sky. Corrupt, tormented, brilliant David Manfred, lifting his face to a shaded sun, like a pagan ruler. Despite his vaunted angst, the rampant self-hatred, still he lived within his Genius.

Lying at his feet she felt suddenly like a kind of exposed sacrifice. She began to drape her body in a large gauzy scarf, when his lazy voice startled her:

“Better we should cover you in gold-leaf.”


An hour passed; any expositions, rational discourse, any witty by-play? The breathy hush of the repeating ocean was the only sound. Angelique dozed… a faint snore from the life-guard’s chair woke her, giggling…

“M’sieur! Madame!” Angelique shielded her eyes against the noon-time glare. A very pretty, dark-skinned boy appealed to their attention; he lugged a basket full of glass jars filled with pink fruit-drink.

David hissed at him, “Get on with you! Get out of here!”

The boy didn’t understand David’s words, but taking their meaning, began to move off.

“Wait! I would love a cooling drink!”

“Don’t buy that stuff, it’ll poison you. Eunice is coming down with lunch and cocktails in a minute.”

As Angelique took up her purse, the boy glared at the man in black in the shade. David watched her in pantomime with the boy, who was seemingly entranced with the pink hair, the rhinestones…

“It is NOT a good idea to encourage the locals!”

“David, really!” Again that loathesome despotism. She paid for two jars of the stuff, partly to annoy him.

“You’ll see. He’ll be back by dinner, trying to sell you a monkey.”

“And maybe I’ll buy the monkey. David, really, why are you so terrifying —?”

“Are we criticizing? Don’t. An attitude like mine take generations to develop.”

“Yes… I’m beginning to understand. I’m only first-generation entrepreneurial sadistic… I still remember the working-class are humans.”

”Yaas… nouvelle sadique, versus old-school. “

“That reminds me… that fellow Luc, well apparently he is the son of the Mayor, and that party? Well according to Eunice the whole island goes….”

“Great. Partying with the maid and her pals… Remind me to skip it.”

“David, I’m sure it will be something to see! And he said he would send a car.”

“A car! My goodness well then — I’ll just HAVE to go.”

“Aren’t you even curious?”

“You go, my dear, don’t worry about me. I have my own means of entertainment.”

His tone was neither dismissive, nor imperious… he sounded only weary. She let the matter drop. Perhaps he would change his mind. Of course she wanted him to come with her, but then again… this man Luc intrigued her. If David was not along to chaperone…

Quite suddenly the day was clouding over, and they decided to pack up; seeing Eunice at the edge of the beach, gesturing… Angelique felt her spirits as well in abeyance. She was not yet certain how she had gotten to that beach: it was still for David to tell her. He had called out to her, in a state of acute suffering — but rather than confide, he seemed instead to be using her as a distraction.

“Storm comin’ in…” Eunice called out as they trudged along the sand that whipped up in little whirlwinds, stinging their faces.


* Mother’s Little Helper: title of, and line from a Rolling Stone song circa 1966. Euphemism for prescription pills taken by middle class women to wake up, go to sleep, “uppers and downers” et cetera, the phrase gone into common usage.

** Doctor Feelgood: euphemism for a doctor who unethically writes prescription for the mother’s little helpers.

*** White. Addict terminology for someone who does not get high.







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