One Decadent Life: Chapters 21 through 25


Chapter 21


Angelique’s Diary, Thanksgiving, November 28th, 1985

We are meeting for Thanksgiving dinner at the Grand Ticino… as I was getting ready, that Indian phrase ‘wife of the heart’ clutched at me… it felt oppressive. To be with him compels me, but it is not happy; I feel bound to him, exactly like some wife.

When will I, when could we — be free again?

My heart began pounding so hard I had to go lie down, in bed I am writing this… I feel uncanny, trapped in some logic I do not fully grasp.

Except that I see… I am none other than his female counterpart, another nerve-racked rafinee, but one WITHOUT the solace of junk.

I look in the mirror, my face has a tight, pissed-off look, my skin’s yellowy-white, transparent. My eyes are glassy and darting like something in a cage.

And there’s this feeling, like the last time I was going to meet him, that something awful is going to happen.

In honor of these morbidities I swathed myself head to foot in black.

I ought to stop fighting it, just accept it… it is love, anyhow love, all the symptoms are banal, my poor passionate, trite heart.

As a discipline I am going to force myself to stop writing about him! Nothing more is to be gained from expression, I do not need to manifest this on paper, no more weepy diary-entries!

November 29th, 2 AM

At nine-thirty we met at The Grand Ticino. David too was all in black, and seemed wrecked — nervous and exhausted. We acquired a suitably lugubrious waiter. The man’s basso tones were too solemn for its task of describing the Thanksgiving specials. We both decided against turkey.

Once our first bottle of Gevry-Chambertin (Clos St. Jacques, 1980) was uncorked… David began the evening’s festivities by declaring that it would be best for us both if we just gave up and committed suicide.

This argument, however compelling, was an hors-d’oeuvre not altogether to my taste. Though there’s no doubt that one should plan to die.

He was adamant, repeating his favorite incitements, such as ‘The Age of Mediocrity,’ and what an insult it is to be alive in this era and so forth.

For the sake of argument, I inquired as to why these wretched conditions might not better inspire us to rally? As lone geniuses, together? “Since you are possessed of the Divine Spark, your visionary soul must have some insight into the causes of this modern, mass mediocrity… is it not our duty, therefore…”

“Oh YES!” he exclaimed, feeling the wine, laughing wickedly, “…yes you WOULD come up with damned DUTY. So tell me, what is it? What is our bloodie responsibility…? And TO WHAT?”

“To your Spark… the Divine Spark.”

He battened sarcastically on my words, “Divine Spark indeed. That Spark is exactly what compels me now, to divest myself, of this time, this flesh!”

When I again attempted to clarify, that despite the Dark Ages, we still must perpetuate Brilliance, Genius, Excellence — he only grimaced and lit a cigarette. Regarding me with a mixture of admiration and pity, he flatted:

“…can’t do it anymore.”

I told him how Wagner, in his Art of the Future had predicted that the Artist of the Future would be the Mob, “Except that Wagner imagined the masses would be better educated, an evolved species.”

“Well they are, aren’t they, all of them with their little college degrees, their busy little complicated lives? But they’re still Philistines with neither eyes to see, nor ears to hear!” my adorable genius roared in reply.

I thereupon asserted I would gladly kill myself tomorrow, but I was not at all certain that physical death would make an end of it, quoting the poet Aleister Crowley:


Stoked on alcohol, warming to my persuasive task, I then lit into a description of The Testament of Magdalen Blair, wherein Aleister horribly delineates the perpetuity of consciousness after death. Through the especial torments of a particular disease, into a complete molecular dissolution, Magdalen’s ESP follows her dying husband through every agony, into death, and through the realization that every human cell is imbued with, and retains its consciousness forever.

“So Crowley believed there may be no death?” I had made my friend extremely upset. As I began to dissertate further, he stopped me, “Please, don’t! I can’t hear anymore of that, not now.”

I took one of his cigarettes and lit it, smiling to consider how when Magdalen did not want to fall into her hypersensitive state, she would use tobacco to erase those visions of death’s eternal after-life.

“If I can’t count on death to end this torture…” he began, and fell into potent silence.

“Then change your life now.”

We got quickly to the bottom of the bottle, and smoked, and smoked…
Dinner came, and went, David barely touching it, which rendered our funereal attendant moreso. While polishing off a second bottle, his humor seemed to revive; and as if I had never registered my opinion on the issue, he began to outline for me his plan.

He will check into the Drake Hotel — his parents’ honeymoon suite, if possible, “Where I was begotten, so there shall I depart!” He’ll have at least three hundred dollars’ worth of heroin with him. The hotel maid will find him, and he’ll leave her a substantial tip for her trouble.

As to The Final Note, he will not leave one. When I remarked that could be cruel, to leave his reason open to speculation, letting people blame themselves perhaps — he disagreed. Apparently some friend of his had recently killed herself, in much the same manner – hotel room, drugs – and no note was left behind.

“You can’t imagine what a relief it was, to not have to know exactly why. To not hear any last complaint, or excuse, or accusation…”

Terrible life!

All this made me think of a curious trend in the Italian folk-talks of medieval times, and I related how these stories all end in exactly the same manner: with the death of one lover comes the instantaneous death of the other.

I remarked how I could not think this was merely a literary conceit; that there had to be some basis in reality for the fact of synchronicity.

Did he think that in those simpler, more passionate times, that there were more occurrences of such double deaths? And wasn’t that — almost logical?

For the first time all evening I saw his lips curl up in joy (irksome, derisive joy) and he snickered, “Well, SOME PEOPLE can die like that. Yes, SOME PEOPLE can — and probably WILL!” and he seemed to go off his head, laughing at me.

Just like a man — they like you better when they think you’re ridiculous. I asked him cooly why he thought it was so funny.

“One day, when you’re burnt out like me, you’ll understand. You’ll see why the idea of ‘mating for life,’ or ‘dying for love,’ are among the most pathetic fantasies on earth.” His sarcastic delight extended then to my person, how little I was eating, how pretty were my pale-orange gloves; I half-expected him to say I was cute when I was angry. Anyhow I was semi-glad to see him cheerful, even if it was at my expense.

This blithe mood however fell strickenly to earth by the sudden appearance of that dwarf, Tere Gaya. I really do NOT think that she was “just passing by and saw you inside.” The Grand Ticino’s few windows are just below street-level — one descends to enter the basement restaurant, and they are obscured with heavy grill-work and plantings. Plus we were sitting in the back!

And it’s way off the beaten path of the night-club circuit. She was in some sort of bland couture, and presentable but for too much black eye-shadow, and a boyfriend of sorts with a halo of blue spiked hair. The grand servitors and maitre’d were not amused.

David appeared to be displeased, but I think it was an act. He snatched up the check and we left immediately. So I missed having one of their celestial tiramisus.
I rather can’t STAND her, especially as she does most unworthily own quite the Alexandrite — an incredible ring, on a hand with broken fingernails.


Angelique’s Diary, December 1, 11 AM

I did not call him nor did I hear from him until this morning when he called me at the hideous hour of 9 AM… to say he needed to apologise for what happened that night. It seems Tere, whom he claims he is so bothered by, has a key to his apartment. Allegedly she’d needed money, went to his apartment, looked in his appointment book and found out where he was.

He explained she never gets modelling jobs anymore, and that he’s had to
pay her rent for the last few months. “I’m floored that she’d trail me to a social engagement! What if I’d been with one of my collectors, like Boo Boo, who hates her?”

“Why did she need money at midnight? To go clubbing?” I gave him the benefit of his alleged bafflement.

His exasperation waxed dramatic, “I really have no idea WHAT for!”

I was insistent however, and told him I knew she wanted money for heroin.

“WHAT are you talking about? WHO told you that?” he faked.

The night of our dinner I had suppressed my irritation when our pleasurable moribundity had been so rudely dislodged by her. But the early hour allowed me to crab, and I replayed the obvious: the way she had ‘magically’ appeared, how the conversation had ground to a halt —

“And you jumped to do her bidding.”

“What are you saying, do you think…”

“David, you did not even allow me to have my dessert, and why was that? Because you had to go with Tere and get some heroin.

“So what else can I say? It was insulting. You’re sorry. It will never happen again. Maybe.”

There was a long silence on his end of the phone, and then he apologized for not getting me a taxi. Yes, I had been left standing all alone on a street-corner, while they set off in the opposite direction.

“I’m a big girl who’s gotten her own taxi before. I don’t need an apology for that.”

“Well what do you need an apology for?”

I could not bring myself to say it… that I knew what was behind it, that I knew why he left instantly. I waited for him to confess. It seemed to me he was not feeling the full humiliation of Tere’s domination. When the silence continued, I decided to egg it on, apply more torture.

“So Tere IS a heroin addict.”

“No… oh God… yes Angelique. She is.”

“So, you got high with her?”

“No! We used to. I mean I Used To Have A Problem. But now, I’m trying to Help Her Get Off.”

I laughed out loud; so awful how drug lingo permits of ambiguities like this. To ‘get off’ can mean both ‘getting high,’ and ‘getting clean.’ Peculiar, disgusting sort of sensibility — how they can use the same phrase to tell the truth, and lie.

“So how is it helping her — to give her money for drugs?”

He denied that completely, “I don’t KNOW what she wanted the money for. You don’t understand Tere. There’s something about her, I can’t explain it. But when I’m around her, I just start to feel confused.”

This was so depressing to hear I just wanted to ‘get off’ the phone! But he launched into a long, boring, convoluted reasoning as to how he had once promised Tere’s mother “ever since she got the sex-change” that he’d always look after her. So he thus HAS to remain her friend “even if she is a junkie.”

When I wasn’t responding with my usual admiring tones, he insisted that
“Tere needs to take drugs, to get her weight down, for her modelling career.” So she sacrifices her health and well-being to the trivial world of the magazine photograph? What do I care?

And how can I care for a man with these kinds of attachments? To quickly end the conversation, I asked him point-blank,

“So you don’t get high with her anymore?”

“After I got her cash from the cash-machine I went home and took two Valium and went to sleep.”

This answer came too fast. I wonder why he needed two Valium. I feel ashamed for policing him, but if … or should I say SINCE he IS a junkie, that would be the subtext of his desire to die.

Being hooked on heroin subverts his intellectual complaint, that he reviles this life in the ‘Age of Mediocrity.’ So it’s not a philosophical stance; it’s a physical sensation. He feels dead from the drugs; and what could be more mediocre than being pathetically in bondage to what is really, “the drug of the masses?”

This unsatisfying conversation ended at last, with his inviting me to his studio, wanting me to view his work. He said he had changed the locks on his door so Tere couldn’t get in anymore. I would consider these submissive overtures to be pathetic, if I didn’t understand that I might be one of the few people he knows who does not use heroin.





* from The Diary of a Drug Fiend
by Aleister Crowley
(excerpts from a poem)

She is it, she, that found me
In the morphia honeymoon ;
With silk and steel she bound me,
In her poisonous milk she drowned me,
Even now her arms surround me,
Stifling me into her swoon
That still _ but oh, how rarely !_
Comes at the thrust of the needle,
Steadily stares and squarely,
Nor needs to fondle and wheedle
Her slave agasp for a kiss,
Hers whose horror is his
That knows that viper womb,
Speckled and barred with black
On its rusty amber scales,
In his tomb_
The straining, groaning, rack
On which he wails _ he wails !

Horror indeed intense,
Seduction ever intenser
Swinging the smoke of sense
From the bowl of a smouldering censer !
Behind me, behind and above,
She stands that mirror of love.
Her fingers are supple-jointed ;
Her nails are polished and pointed,
And tipped with spurs of gold :
With them she rowels the brain.
Her lust is critical, cold ;
And her Chinese cheeks are pale,
As she daintily picks, profane
With her octopus lips, and the teeth
Jagged and black beneath,
Pulp and blood from a nail.

One swift prick was enough
In days gone by to invoke her :
She was incarnate love
In the hours when I first awoke her.
Little by little I found
The truth of her, stripped of clothing,
Bitter beyond all bound,
Leprous beyond all loathing.
Black, the plague of the pit,
Her pustules visibly fester,
Cancerous kisses that bit
As the asp caressed her.

Dragon of lure and dread,
Tiger of fury and lust,
The quick in chains to the dead,
The slime alive in the dust,
Brazen shame like a flame,
An orgy of pregnant pollution
With hate beyond aim or name_
Orgasm, death, dissolution !
Know you now why her eyes
So fearfully glaze, beholding
Terrors and infamies
Like filthy flowers unfolding ?
Laughter widowed of ease,
Agony barred from sadness,
Death defeated of peace,
Is she not madness ?

She waits for me, lazily leering,
As moon goes murdering moon ;
The moon of her triumph is nearing ;
She will have me wholly soon.

And you, you puritan others,
Who have missed the morphia craving,
Cry scorn if I call you brothers,
Curl lip at my maniac raving,
Fools, seven times beguiled,
You have not known her ? Well !
There was never a need she smiled
To harry you into hell !

Morphia is but one
Spark of its secular fire
She is the single sun_
The type of all desire !
All that you would , you are_
And that is the crown of a craving.
You are slaver of the wormwood star.
Analysed, reason is raving.
Feeling, examined, is pain.
What heaven were to hope for a doubt of it !
Life is anguish, insane ;
And death is _ not a way out of it !





Chapter 22


Chapter 23


Angelique’s Diary, December 3rd, 1985, 11 PM


Impossible to recount all that’s happened since that evening I called him back, and he demanded:


And I went, at three o’clock in the morning.

I spent that morning, through dawn, into the day and most of this evening
with him… have not slept but for a little nap in the afternoon, on his sofa, in the Temple…. yes, a twenty hour lapse into another world, and another time.

That former time when we knew one another

He remembers Marie. He remembers Salvatore, who is himself.

Long-lost passionate desire, unrequited love has created our point of contact.

As Marie Alexandra and Salvatore we have already possessed one another, and our conjunction now is towards an entirely new end.

What was it he said to me, when we at last parted? —

It is now our task to express the highest spiritual reality. Through Our Work. That is What we are here to do. That is Why We Know one another.

Like that passage I wrote down from “Realms of the Living Dead” —

“ The great aim of evolution is to make the personality
the earthly expression of the Spiritual Soul,
to the same degree that it now expresses the animal soul.
Yet every form of energy must be directed, must be applied, with integrity, to the full satisfaction of its destiny.”

Marie died before Salvatore could make fullest use of her. He thought, at the time, that her death was his triumph. But now David sees me, Angelique, in a state of advancing corruption: we discussed, in detail, the profession of sadomasochism, and its primary functionary: the dominatrix.

He told me he considers it his fault, an extension of that former influence.

(…and if so, what is he going to do for me, to make up for it?)

For moments the sense of a profound recognition was unbearable, my loved waxed ecstatic, trembling and sublime in the Knowledge. Though there are many things neither of us can analyze, as we unravel these lives. But we sat together, and read together, out of the manuscript, our ENTIRE PAST HISTORY… As I have written it, he agrees with it.

He was a sorcerer then and I was his victim.

I am still very dissatisfied with the ending. But Her Red-Pencilness is not going to let me anywhere near a re-write. I think their bad ending is going to make people dislike the book.

The re-write has to be now. But with David.

I’m curious — will we be ALLOWED to change it? When I asked as much of David, he argued the point:

“I hope so. I still have to be punished. For what I did then — to you, and others, I have to repent.

“But I cannot — I have no faith in anything.”

I told him, “You can write that ending… I can write it. WE can! “

He was adamant, “My karma can’t change. I still have to suffer.”

Marie Alexandra was corrupted and ruined. She was not driven to suicide, except that she could not let him go, sickened from his influence, and so died. She loved “too well,” as they say, or does that only mean… it was a bad love?

How can we undo it?

I promised him I would not write of what he showed me. That I would hold to the Fourth Law, “To Keep Silent.” He Dared to open certain doors for me…

We Willed the renewal of the rites … a sacrifice was required of me, and from him.

And angels came to minister.

End Diary Entry


At three o’clock in the morning the rooms of those we love hold a hermetic charm, a private world of strangely perfected pleasure —

“While all the nice little people are asleep, we make out mad pacts..” **

David was very relaxed — very — when Angelique arrived at his apartment on East 15th Street. She was somewhat disappointed he had but one room, painted a strange vivid blue, that he immediately announced “… is a protection against the Evil Eye.”

But what protection? The genius was on junk. She saw that at once. The seductive, careless langour was familiar to her, the lax neck that makes the head so charming, almost coy, the hands drifting lightly as if in a stream.

He greeted her, “Marie!” and kissed her full on the mouth, shocking her, thus losing the moment to respond. She felt thankful for that — even when she looked into his eyes, and recognized, with a start, that he loved her.

No… he loved Marie!

She controlled her confusion by examining his altar, which he had placed, correctly, behind his front door. As offerings placed thereupon were crystal gems, black bird-feathers, a Buddha, a jar containing a reddish substance, two tall, tarnished goblets, and a stack of unopened bills. Other idols included a dish of tobacco, small leather religious books, and a few old paint-brushes. The array was covered in a coat of fine dust.

David and Angelique read:

“ ‘My Beloved, Salvatore — how shall I describe him? I am so sunk in his influence it is hard to step back. Is he handsome? I think he is not. But to me… he is very tall, with wide shoulders thus set imposingly high, and preternaturally slender. His head recalls the bust of a Roman Emperor, hair flattened in that marble fashion, waving sharply over the angles of the skull. The sharp, slant-cut of the jaw gives some refinement to that square, while his eyes — the only real beauty in his person — skew to an unexpected emotional depth the lugubrious cast of his large male person.

“But the hands terrify me. They seem uncannily long, as though possessing an extra joint. Colored greenish-white, to my glammered eyes they sometimes resemble heads of snakes. The left hand, for some reason, appears more bonily articulate. His skin is livid pale, though I have only seen his face and hands. I could not say what the rest of his skin…

“He calls his left hand ‘my Royal Hand.’ I have watched him privately caress it.’

“What Marie did not understand was that her fear of his hands was the instinctive reaction of a creature scenting its natural enemy. She and others at Court had been told that a childhood injury had deformed his left hand, to its bizarre perfection. In truth, it was the emblem of a woman, her defense against his sadism — a determining injury he had not willed to receive.”

From the comfort of his couch, wrapped in kimonos and cashmere blankets, David finished reading aloud and dropped the manuscript into his lap —

“Had I ever told you about ‘the Royal Hand?’ ” and he held up his left hand. The thumb jutted out strangely, seemed too long and twisted.

“Yes, yes you did, but…”

“I know. You wrote this before you met me.”

He held the weird hand up to her regard. The misshapen form, the pearly whiteness, lent it a claw-like, reptilian cast.

“ ‘The Hand That Does Not Work.’ That’s all you need to add, and I would feel like I was reading my diary.”

“Later on Salvatore tells Marie it is ‘The Hand That Must Be Served.’ “

David writhed slightly. The words she chose, the way she sat, her muff, her shoes… all of her acutely riffled his nerves — deadened by junk though they were. She got through to him. He could not take his eyes off her. The beauty and the genius enmeshed were throughly daunting.

“I’m glad you like it…”

“Like it? LIKE IT? David glared at her. “Oh we are so terribly modest, aren’t we. There is no question that it is exquisitely written. But what it MEANS, to me — it means that — YOU KNOW ME.

“And I want to know how it ends.”

“You’ll have to read …”

“NO. I need you to tell me. NOW.”

David observed her lighting a stick of his best marijuana and inhaling sharply. He watched her getting high. It seemed to increase her reserve, That was good. He told himself he detested people who got loose, sloppy, sexual when they got high.

She coughed, as she probably always did, when she smoked. It strangely endeared her to him, it felt like something he loved about her. He realized he Knew her, too — she was now a sister — though she had once been something else.





** From the film, “SPECTRE OF THE ROSE,” written by Ben Hecht.





Chapter 24: THE UNITS


“One Final Degradation”


Though we’d like to forget about those other people, that is, anyone other than David and Angelique (like her, we wish for just those two, in this universe) we cannot.

And so we are once again in Anya’s Salon, sitting around that stinking table, watching the junkies suck up their pleasure which allows them to forget everything… who they are, where they are going… THEY can forget. We can’t. So much the worse for us

Anya’s idea, of how to rid herself of Lola is percolating to fruition. She’s invited the woman over, as if in friendship, or at least business-friendship… as in: Maybe they’ll team up! Maybe Lola’s business can be increased, or improved! A new location? And so forth. So the bait went.

The rumors abroad that Lola was talking to the DEA have been confirmed. The woman was dealing to a significant population in Downtown Manhattan — one that Anya would like to take over — AND she was doing it as an informant. Upon learning such salient truths, Caroline was poised to set the organization’s machinery in motion. To their way of thinking, such trash would be collected, and ground to mulch.

Tere’s sitting at the Salon table, about to go out on her rounds, with over ten thousand dollars of both heroin and cocaine in her big Gucci satchel. Once the night (and morning) was done, the profit to be split would be forty grand and better. No, David wasn’t going to have to worry about paying her rent anymore. Nor was she having to concern herself with tedious modelling jobs. She could stay out all night, get high and stay high, and not have to think about how her complexion was reacting to it. No, for Tere life is good; our chick is rolling in it.

One of Tere’s johns, a cokey broker, had readily given her the cash for her initial investment. So she had him and all his Wall Street pals as clients. There were multiple venues for sales: a dozen fashionable night-club hotspots, and when they closed, all-night restaurants through five, six, seven AM. There were also the very rich junkies, who could not be bothered to go out and ’cop:’ Tere could literally live with these clients, hanging out, keeping them high, never going home… Their swanky pads were fully equipped with comfy sofas, beds, televisions, stocked bars and fridges; not to mention hot showers, clean towels… and a telephone.

[For the twenty-first century reader: the long-range beeper, or ‘pager’ had not yet been put into general use, hence Tere’s need to circulate constantly, or make direct phone calls to potential clients.] *

So, beyond Anya’s earlier expectations, Tere had been working very well in her first two weeks. She brought the payback in rapidly, daily, and had been turning it over, each time, for more product.

The hours for Anya’s clientele were over; it was past eleven, so Tere was a little startled when the doorbell rang.

“I want you to wait a moment, Tere… there’s something you ought to see.”

“Okay yeah but will it take long?” Tere was hyped on a speedball, and raring to go: she had her whole evening mapped out to the half-hour. She had learned to unload as quickly as possible, anxious that something could go wrong: she could lose the stash-purse, get mugged, or even get busted. She wasn’t really comfortable until the drugs were gone, transformed into stacks of cash, and she was in a taxi to Anya’s.

“Not too long. But I guarantee you. This will be an education.”

Li brought in Lola… with her was Paula. Anya drew in her breath sharply, and gestured to Li. There was a brief conference in Cantonese, and Li left to make a phone call.

“How are you Lola, Paula how nice to see you.”

Lola was peeved; her supply had again dried up. She suspected it was Anya’s ploy. Both she and Paula needed to get high. Paula looked abashed; she still owed Anya money. Not that Anya gave one damn about any of that, at the moment.

I’m killing two birds with one stone… or is that, with one van? She suppressed her impulse to laugh out loud. But the truth was, she felt hilarious.

“Sit down, sit down, make yourselves at home.”

She offered the two women some of the Persian Brown, with all the accoutrements for smoking.

And then she waited, as impatiently as Tere, though one would never have perceived it. Her calm was that of the victor. Tere was giving her a look, as if to say, So what’s the big deal? Two old-babe junkies getting high… can I go now?

Anya was perusing the women’s fingers, ears, their necks… their jewelry, and watches. Lola had a decent-looking Rolex. Paula was wearing a ‘tennis bracelet,’ a thin strand of small diamonds… and what looked like a copy of the marquise diamond she’d given Anya in exchange for drugs. She’d had to have it made, to fake out her fiance.

Paula saw her looking at it, and confirmed, “Cubic zircomium.” Anya watched her pull in a third toke of the Brown.

“Well dear, I still have your ring, whenever you want to bring me the cash…”

“Well, I didn’t really know because we never talked about it, how much you were giving me for…” and as she blew out a cloud of smoke, her head gave a wobble and dropped to the table.

Tere exclaimed. Lola looked stunned, realizing all at once that she too was a little too high… she got up from the table, started to turn, staggered and fell full length along the floor.

Tere stared at the two prone forms, gasping, in dread What The Fuck? and again the doorbell rang. It sounded horribly in her ears. But Anya was all business, walking to her study, coming back with a pair of long canvas bags.

“Anya, you are KIDDING ME …”

Three tall, well-built Chinese men came into the room and without further delicacy crammed the inert bodies into the bags. Li stood watching from the doorway, a disgusting smirk on his girlish face. He and Anya exchanged a few sentences. Tere was frozen to the spot, terrified at what might come next… Anya noticed her fear:

“Tere, don’t worry. They’re not dead. “

“Well THAT’S good to know, but what”

“Come along with us, my dear, so you’ll know, for certain.”

The men had finished their packaging, and Tere watched, stricken, as the one containing her old friend Lola was thrown over the biggest man’s shoulder. She did NOT want to go anywhere with Anya, these men, or the two bags. She wanted to get out of there and into a taxi and never come back. Not ever.

“Come along, Tere.”

Li was coming too. They were locking up, it seemed. He was pulling a large plastic cooler. She had no choice.

Anya put her arm around Tere’s slim waist; she shuddered at the touch.

“Now I want you to know Tere, that this little demonstration was only designed for LOLA… and it was just Paula’s bad luck, and Lola’s stupidity, that brought her into it. I have NOTHING against Paula. She’s just another junkie, just another slave, and she’s mine for life. She’ll be fine. Yes she owed me money, but nothing significant. Eventually she’d have sold more jewelry…

“No, Tere, it was Lola I was after. She disrespected Caroline, very deeply. I’m only telling you this because, well dear, you’re one of us.” Tere felt like puking as Anya’s had tightened around her.

“… we have solid evidence, from an inside source, that she was a DEA informant. The Feds, Tere! Do you know what that means? The bastards were allowing her to deal, to get information, mostly about Our Organization. They’re after Caroline… and others, too. ‘Friends of ours,’ as they say.

“So, you see, she could NOT have been allowed to go on. Don’t you see that it was very, very foolish of her? To think she could trick such as She… my cousin?”

Behind Tere on the stairs the other men were carrying Paula between them. Your typical rolled-up carpet. Tere was about to vomit. Then they were out on the sidewalk, just like normal people at midnight. Tere looked fearfully up and down the block. People walked by chattering, on their way to bars. Cars drove past with kids from New Jersey, on the town for fun. No one glanced at their group for more than a second.

Just in front of Anya’s building was parked a large silver ‘recreational vehicle.’ The man with Lola slung over his back unlocked the side door, went up two narrow metal steps into the interior. Anya followed him, and turned to Tere,

“Come along!”

“Anya, I would rather not, really… I don’t want to know.”


“No way, I mean, I’ll see you later…” and she took off running down the block.

Anya giggled: … really can’t blame her. Too bad… wanted to see her reaction.

And really, Tere could be next.

Within the gutted vehicle, along its two longest walls, were four padded operating-type tables. A tall steel medical cabinet with frosted glass doors was the only other furnishing, besides a leather recliner chair. The two victims were slid out of their body bags, and placed head to head onto the two tables along the right side. Leather manacles quickly held their necks, feet and hands bound and immobile.

From the cabinet Anya produced two hypodermic syringes, and injected their arteries with sedatives… The Persian Brown they’d been given to smoke had been laced with rohydra, an herbal form of the synthetic rohypnol, popularly called ‘the date rape drug.’ It would keep them out for possibly six hours, but the liquid Valium would extend that sleep.

She thereupon proceeded to divest the women of their jewelry, even removing Paula’s small diamond stud earrings. She snapped Lola’s Rolex on her own wrist. One of the men was going through their purses, removing the wallets and all ID cards — anything that would tell a total stranger, such as a policeman, or custom agent, who they had been. He cut up the plastic cards into little pieces with a scissors.

Anya saw to a few other preparations, and paid out to the driver a thick chunk of cash. Li wheeled in the cooler full of sandwiches, fruit, ice and drinks. The driver settled in, started up the engine, while the other strapped himself into the passenger’s seat. The third took his place in the recliner chair, to keep an eye on what would henceforth be known as ‘The Units.’

It would take them a leisurely three days to drive to Florida, to the Port of Tampa on the Gulf, to a shipping container, outfitted much like the RV. The inert forms would be loaded in, with possibly several other Units, to be attended by a nurse who would accompany them to their final destination: Cayenne, in French Guiana.

The container’s manifest would assure any inspector that food was its cargo; refrigeration modules seemed to verify that. Not that it mattered. As bribes were forthcoming, even invoiced, on a monthly basis, the Organization’s containers were specifically marked as not to be opened.

Once in the capital city port, those two once called Lola and Paula would be delivered to a Chinese brothel owner. Though neither were particularly young nor beautiful, they were white, healthy American women, and they’d have their uses for a few months. Because both had convenient heroin addictions already in place, they might actually last a bit longer than the average American captive.

Upon delivery, ten thousand dollars in payment for each Unit would be wired into one of the many laundering accounts of the Organization. Anya would receive a token cut of that sum for providing the basic materials.

Thereafter each Unit would fetch from both South American and touristic consumers about $20. per contact. At ten to twenty customers per day, say for six months, before they died of unnatural causes, they would be netting both their purveyor, and the Organization several tens of thousands. No Unit ever saw one nickle of that, being kept like farm animals, naked, chained, and fed from bowls, without utensils. But they were provided with enough cheap and plentiful heroin to keep them passively, continuously useful.

Anya loved this method of disposal, which had stood in place since time immemorial. Or at least as long as the Organization had existed, which in China she understood, had been for over a thousand years. Never once had any Unit come back to tell the tale. Anya had promised herself, one of these days, she’d go down to Cayenne and look the place over. Her imagination delighted her enough, but she wanted to see, hear, and smell the reality.

So much for two of those other people. We know it’s very wrong for Anya to dispose of her inconvenient friends so harshly. But it’s even worse that this Author lets off Lola the dealer, and Paula the addict so simply. I mean, where’s the moral of their stories? Drug addicts deserve to die miserably? Some of you may even doubt the existence of white slavery…

In life, such nightmares will happen. But in fiction there’s got to be consequences.


Tere was hysterical as she called David from every phone booth she passed… she got to his apartment and rang his bell, crying, trying to get into the building.

Goddamn David why did you take my keys away?

He’d been so right, she wanted him to know, and now she had to talk to him, she had to tell somebody the horror… But most pressing of all, she had to figure out how to divest herself of Anya, Caroline, and the Organization, immediately. Tere knew she could not just take the stash of dope (exciting idea) or the money (forty grand!) and run. They’d find her.

Calm down, calm down, do your rounds… have to calm down, sell everything, as usual, pretend nothing’s out of the ordinary. I’m probably being watched…

Take the cash to Caroline, NOT going back to Anya and then get the fuck out of town.

She had no doubt her two friends were dead. Or about to become so. She wondered about that ‘education’ Anya had snickered at her… What was THAT supposed to have been all about? A threat? What could happen to me, if, if…. well forget it, I’m not sticking around with THAT hanging over my head.

She could not stop thinking about it, the images of the big, impassive men, the slaves of Anya, toting those bags out like they were garbage. But Tere managed to calm herself down, sitting on David’s stoop she felt protected.

She wanted to take David with her. …we could have a fantastic time on the twenty thousand, could disappear for the rest of this damned winter

But how could she convince him to go?

She went to the corner and called him again, cursed at the constant ringing. No answering machine. That meant it was turned off, that meant he was home. As she walked back to his building, she saw someone coming out and rushed forward. Maybe they had a key and would let her in… but she was too late.

She sat on the stoop again, trying not to cry, got out her compact and fixed The Face. Have to do the rounds, pretend everything is normal.

As she thought longingly of her friend, she realized… because he really wants to kick, he keeps saying he wants to kick… well, I’ll pretend I want to kick too.

They could fly to St. John’s, to Bramwell and Marilyn Causewell’s compound. Where Rene spent his season in hell, a hell with maid service, fully stocked with food and booze.I’ll call them up, tell them me and David have decided to kick. David’s an artist worth saving — wasn’t he? And I’m his friend, an artist too, sort of, aren’t I?

Anyway, she’d never heard of anyone being told No.

It wouldn’t mean that Tere’d actually have to kick. But it was a way to get out, get away from New York and its criminal freaks. What better hideout — and as well having David all to herself?

If he does get clean, that’ll just be a bonus.

What the Causewells and David wouldn’t know it won’t kill them, they can freaking afford it… I’ll pack enough dope to see me through a couple of weeks, before I decide what to do next.

David can kick, and I can watch.

Tere took a last glance into her compact, waved down a cab, and headed for the first nightclub of the night.





* Pagers Footnote:

When were pagers invented? Not in widespread use until 1990, five years after these events. From the Motorola website:

“By 1980, there were 3.2 million pager users worldwide. At that time pagers had a limited range and were used mostly in on-site situations for example when medical workers communicate with each other within a hospital.

By 1990, wide-area paging had been invented and over 22 million pagers were in use. By 1994, there were over 61 million pagers in use and pagers became popular for personal use.”





Chapter 25


Analysed, reason is raving.
Feeling, examined, is pain.
What heaven were to hope for a doubt of it !
Life is anguish, insane ;
And death is … not a way out of it !

The sky was lightening hesitatingly, as though seriously considering whether or not another day was worth it… or if the earth should be abandoned to twilight, once and for all and for its own good.

The rattling can of one lone derelict, working on the first few cents of the day was the only trace of the importunate seethe that would be Fourteenth Street in a few hours’ time.

As Angelique gave the man a dollar, David wondered aloud, “Why do they go on?”

“However feeble or degraded it may seem to us – even such as he still anticipates the possibility of some pleasure.”

“What good will a dollar do?”

“What good won’t a dollar do?”

They came to the twenty-four-hour pizza parlour at University Place, which was closed. Both of them wanted ‘a slice,’ and kept going along Fourteenth. There is something about pizza, after an all-nighter…

Three bums were warming their hands at a trash-can fire, and passed a pint bottle. The sky tried to go on brightening, but the day would be cloudy.

David took a heavy drag off his cigarette and threw it in the gutter, “Is pleasure enough for you? I think I may finally be over it. These past weeks, I’ve been feeling positively alien.”

“From another planet?” David sighed. “Just a metaphor for alienated. Once you begin to Work again – really WORK I mean – you will come back to us. “

David wondered at how she’d perceived he wasn’t working. How did she know that? She hadn’t even been to his studio.

“Tell yourself this present aridity is one necessary part of your genius.”

But the genius was on junk and snapped at her, “You are so positive and I fear naive. To begin again —- you think it’s so simple. Start Working again? LIFE ITSELF is now forbidden me.”

Angelique denied it, and he insisted, “Because you still have some feeling for humanity. But I afraid I am no longer amongst you.”

“So, use solitude as a discipline.”

“Is that what you do?” She took it as a slap…. and David felt furious… “I hate to be alone. When I’m alone, it seems as if something is punishing me.”

“Or could that be — SOMEONE?”

David was stunned to hear her refer to God.

“Let’s say solitude is being imposed on you, from without, as you say, as a kind of punishment…do you really think, if that is so, that you are really able to escape … His or Her Hand?”

It was clear to her that was the entire issue: heroin was used as the perfect escape from one’s ultimate Will.

While he was far behind, only quailing, as in: What if there really IS a God?

He resisted the pull and lashed out —

“I just want the world to end,” David insisted, gesturing at the mercantile avenue, “Don’t you? Do we require the trash of Fourteenth Street? Does it really matter if any of this, up to, and including our feeble intellects, is wiped from the face of the earth?”

They stood on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth; from off the Hudson a stiff breeze pierced them. The streets seemed awash in garbage; every kind of trash swirled, as if in glee. The vision was desolate: the city old, and dirty, and cold.

“Well, ah, yes David — it matters. But no, it does not matter. Something else would come to take its place.”

“You think so? But anyhow… we must act upon the insult. The insult, to have been reincarnated into this Age of Mediocrity!”

She felt utterly irritated by this anthem of his, “If, when, we factor in reincarnation — David you understand — you have CHOSEN to come back now.”

“I can’t believe that. First of all, how could I have CHOSEN those hideous parents? And these times, my situation? You can’t tell me I chose this! My existence is intolerable!

“For starters, do you understand that if my next show is not a success, I may actually have to get a job?”

That spoiled squeal, his sense of privilege, the infantilism … this aspect of his character repelled Angelique.

She gestured at the next derelict, fast asleep in his cardboard cocoon, “Well, at least you are capable of working.”

“No, that’s just it, I’m not! I’m not capable! It will kill me as an artist, you don’t understand. I would have to leave Manhattan. I’d be ruined, I’d never recover from it.”

“You’re getting hysterical … you will go on Creating, you will Overcome the Trials of the Marketplace again.”

“I don’t want to.”

They have been up all night, and it is now fully dawn, which in December comes as late as seven o’clock. Sunday morning, no commuters rushing, stores closed. Angelique is exhausted from working all night, and David’s heroin is wearing off.

But still they kept on, the talk was its own engine, the communication essential in some way beyond either of their vehicles. They were sounding out into their world, and though it seemed only they heard what was being said, it was not so. For this Medium brings it back, to tell the tale.

She is dressed half in black leather, the rest starchy white, the latter a bit crushed and grubby. We see a long white linen skirt, a black leather corset… He has on his rumpled, dirty black silk Italian suit. She is wrapped in her big white coat, on top the fur toque. He’s bare-headed, in an old cashmere of his father’s. The man hasn’t had a bath in three days. He is unshaven and shaking; she is caked with make-up, and her lipstick line wobbles.

From the outside, their coupling is incongruous. Few may imagine what’s really at Work here… and neither do they care about being Known, or Seen, or Understood — except to one another.

“I mean … what I wanted to show you … is the only place where the slightest vestige of my former Will can still be made manifest.”

Now they stood on the north side of Fourteenth Street, and Angelique’s gaze was directed to a building on the opposite side. At street-level were the usual vulgar shops full of horrible toys, cheap clothes and bright decorative junk. On the second floor a huge, dusty picture window displayed stacks of brown cardboard boxes.

Stone there dominated the aluminum expediency of the modern shopfronts — old, intricately carved stone. So that around the dull boxes was a scrolling picture-frame of grimy cornucopeia and languid, smiling cupids, holding aloft garlands of black.

And Angelique’s eye travelled up, up, to gasp at the eighth, ninth and tenth stories, where gloried a small Greek temple, fronted with columns of rare green and red marble, supporting a classical pediment. The windows of this Temple were plywood – but still, a Temple! Small, abandoned, and lovely, hovering ten stories above the ghastly avenue.

David was sick, and disturbed, but rightfully so. “Outside that room–” and he pointed to the Temple, ten floors above 14th Street, “nothing means anything anymore.”

“Of course ‘nothing means anything, haven’t you learned that by now? ‘Life is meaningless. But, so what!’ ” she quoted. “Our lives are NOT important.

“So, since we have decided NOT to kill ourselves, we must find happiness in trying to be of service to others.”

He stared at her. With amazed disgust, “I never would have imagined such a thing falling from YOUR –”

“From the mouth of a decadent, the mouth of a whore?”

“I would never say THAT darling, it’s just –”

“You should understand, my dearest… that We who have lived most constantly in the Underground are hungrier than anyone else for the Ideals of Beauty. Because all we really have ARE those Ideals.

“They are the one Reality that stays with us, and it costs nothing — but self-discipline. “

“St. Angelique, martyr to literature!”

“My crimes have supported my literature habit.”

Now David crossed the empty street, fishing in his pocket for a key. The address was Fifty-Two: 52 West 14th Street, near Sixth Avenue.

Between the two shops was an almost invisible wooden door, barred with grille, graffiti’d and begrimed. The lock was giving him some trouble, and to her glamourized eyes it seemed he was breaking through encrusted ancient layers of paint… now they stood in a narrow, stuffy vestibule, leading to a stairwell that she perceived as filthy before the door slammed shut.

Did she hear him drop a bar across it? She stood in perfect darkness, felt his hand on hers –

“Go carefully now … ten flights up. There is no elevator.”

The entire building was uninhabited. The vagaries of Manhattan real-estate had allowed, via arcane tax-breaks, the structure to remain unviolated but for the cleverest, most insinuating of squatters – the artist. Basil had rooted out this aerie; it was David’s only legacy from his friend.

Accumulated commercial trash gave way to nothing but Manhattan’s sooty black dust. Bright crusts of morning sunlight came in stingily through painted-over windows and the grime of decades. Angelique’s limbs were strangely leaden, a lugubriousness clung to her in the dust … the dust of hundreds of years. The air, though dense, seemed charged, as she rose through a hermetic suspension, percolating up, above the world —

They stopped halfway up to rest. His match flared at the tip of a cigarette. A long, slightly tremulous sigh escaped him, and his voice reached her at a slow pace, as if from an infinite distance –

“You want to know me… you think you do. But if it is true that I WAS your murderer? If I am that seventeenth century priest… why come anywhere near?”

The ‘parasite word’ rose to her lips… because she still loved him, of course. But she could not say it. It had never been allowed.

But she tried, “Perhaps because — you did murder me.”

“Did I? So why wouldn’t I kill you again?”

“Is that why you’ve brought me to your dungeon?” Angelique managed to convey a calm she did not feel.

He ground the cigarette into the floor, “No…” a sudden nervous laugh startling her.

They went on climbing, Angelique clinging to the bannister, going by feel and trust. When she looked up, completest darkness gave her the sensation of an endless space. But it was an infinity enclosed by something malevolent.

“It IS odd that I don’t hate you now,” she managed to gasp, “especially since everything in the story is true.”

“Since? ‘Since?’ So you really believe in your own work, then?”

“Ah yes of course, I mean,” she was gasping for breath in the close atmosphere. Above she heard him working more locks. “I mean, Salvatore, do I have to hate you…?”

“No, I don’t want you to. Marie never hated me,” his voice pressed down upon her, “Marie always loved me, no matter what I did –

“…and, Marie, you still do.”

She gained the top of the stairs and rushed at him, to embrace him – but met only retreating footsteps.

She was within a wide open space where every wall had been taken down. In the area of her heart she felt a strong constriction, her throat closed, she tried to cough.

The southern windows were not boarded, allowing the pallid morning onto the dusty floor. But this lack of light did not account for the eclipse of spirit in Angelique.

David walked the perimeter of the room, lighting candles as he went. “No electricity,” he explained, “which has turned out to be salutary. Modern electricity does interfere with the subtler magnetic fields that we developed here.”

An entire wall of frescoes leapt to life. Angelique cried aloud as she recognized the scene. The dried-blood-red of the Odeon’s banquettes! And its golden walls, and every familiar personage from that especial year: 1980.

All those would-be fabled would-be geniuses, addict-artists, great debauchees – their contemporaries –

All dead.

“My superstars,” David indicated them grimly, “from that era of unprecedented sexual indulgence, never before manifested on such a massive scale. Not even at Pompeii.”

Angelique did mark something, early-Christian or Byzantine, in the formal postures of the figures, as they sat ‘At Suppertime in Hell,’ David introduced them.

The flat, candid use of earth-tones and bright cadmium blue… but there was too a certain devilry in the heavy black band around each figure, a Munch-like shadow-self, black aura of the poor in heart.

The only still-living character amongst them was Tere; Tere, glamorously sullen, pouting in the face of doom.

David had painted her twice – once as a woman, facing the viewer, a second time in a mirrored column beside her, her profile that of a faun-like boy, Angelique marvelled at the time the painter had taken to paint her white-golden hair — “You’ve never exhibited this style – you really should!”

David snorted, “I guess you don’t understand art history. Don’t you see, this style is a total anachronism? Do you think I would be taken at all seriously if I showed portraits?” He groaned sarcastically, “Well that IS something I could always do … Paint Park Avenue beldames in Chanel, dandling their poodles!”

To be capable of such virtuosity – and never to be appreciated? Angelique understood all at once the essential tragedy. Genius, reviled by its own age… yes the cliche was pathetic, but like all cliches, true.

His carelessness towards his genius as well showed in the fact that he had painted directly upon the crumbling plaster, over the peeling wall-paint. As if there were no call to preserve such work. “Let the vision crumble with the edifice,” the painter murmured, reading her thoughts, “This is my Pompeii, waiting for its volcano.”

“The Villa of Mysteries,” she evoked that buried Temple of religious sexual Rite.

“Yes – and a poor Villa it is for us, this dirty, abandoned place… where every Rite has been debased. Poor Aleister Crowley! He imagined that the Schools of Initiation would be reopened — poor dreamer!

“He believed so earnestly in a new age of Magick!

“Initiation? Into what Secret could we possibly still be initiated? Everything is known, every secret has been plundered.

“In this degenerate age, to have knowledge of a thing like God makes a person only banal.”

The dead stares of his painted Company seemed to elucidate his point. Guttering candle-flame made their flat eyes flutter and seem to jeer, as David went on ranting, “And that ancient inducement, ‘To Know Thyself’? HA! That pigsty? No, no and NO! Our purpose now is to devolve to the animal, to become more stupid, more base. To simply breed and feed.”

“Oh please you can’t mean that! Your spark!” she murmured, resisting the grind of cynicism, “Your spark! You must keep it safe.”

David caressed the paint, ran his hands along the lineaments of the manifest bodies. “I know, you’re right — I don’t really mean all of that. At heart…

“But aren’t you afraid? Don’t you see it coming?

“The mediocrities shall inherit the earth — our kind is dying off —

There will be no artists.”


Angelique settled herself into reverie… David smoked a couple of cigarettes. He could offer her no refreshment but water in that aery dungeon. They had no heroin, they had no pot. Outside the horn of a car blared, a petty urgency … it might have been a thousand years ago it sounded.

They were both nervous wrecks, but there was something more important…

“My Salvatore of the novel was a defrocked priest, an impostor.” David smiled as Angelique continued, “I was never able to clear up the details. of how he came to be accepted into one of the greatest courts of Europe.”

“And I imagine you would like me to help you figure that out… what a little surgeon you are! Don’t you ever stop digging?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to aggress.”

“There is something to be said for doing nothing. Every moment needn’t be turned to utility, or profit!”

Angelique fixed her eyes upon his angrily wavering shape; a beam of light beneath his chin suggested the white collar of a priest…

And suddenly he was answering her, “It had to do … with the King, you know. With Louis’ fascination with things magical. The truth is he was a thoroughgoing Satanist. It amused him that his Court would receive Communion from a heretic and murderer – this Father Salvatore.”

“I don’t agree with you… Louis was actually quite devout.”

“Since when… are religious fervour, and Satanism… mutually exclusive?”

To the front of the loft he led her, and drew back long draperies of black velvet. Between two boarded-up windows stood an Angel, a painted, winged perfection, his Angel, ten feet tall, a thing of androgynous beauty. Around its head glowed a spiky halo molded from gesso and thick with gold-leaf. Full and tranquil aquamarine eyes followed the viewer bemusedly.

“The Princess Ax-Eld-Entl’A – an Egyptian goddess. She is known by the scholars of the British Museum as The First Alexandra.”

The Angel gazed knowingly over their heads, as Angelique, in terror, stared into Her face. It was her own face – her own, with Marie’s black hair!

David turned and faced the Angel, “You are Her door. Through you, she may at last come to me.”

“And if – when she comes to You – what will happen then?” Angelique asked of her beloved gently… but as she took a step towards him, he cringed away –

“You’ll hurt me!”

She stopped, stunned by the passionate energy… But her mind, leaping from high gear, switched over into violence; so broke she the restraint and was finally embracing him.

She clutched at him in a sudden void. But they did not draw away from each other. They were as they had always been, in a strange suspension, extremely calm and still. Attraction countered by repulsion left both in limbo.

David then reacted, “Marie – we would only be repeating ourselves. You know that. The point is now for you to loathe me. For I would hurt you – again. You know that,” he repeated, drawing away from her.

“It’s true that I love you.”

Oh God she’d said it – the parasite word! Two hundred years flew by, she was falling, she fell alone, David’s knees buckled and almost dropped her.

His voice came to her from afar, “I find … your love … most FLATTERING.” She ground her teeth in the humiliation of it. “But the point now is … TO RESIST.”

But neither did he move to leave – and she assuredly did not want to leave him. Yet they were nervous now, to be alone together, in what they may not have yet realized as their tragedy.

But they did not part, staying up talking through that morning, most of the afternoon, and into the evening, nourished by a few bottles of water. She clarified her ‘service to others’ as an oath to present. and preserve Beauty — for is that not the highest service? And he pronounced again his Swedenborgian theory that present life was not a hell, but The Only Hell. Together thus they knit the elements of their private Kabala … in discourse both trivial and exalted.

Around four o’clock, as the day darkened, Angelique was watching the painter, watching his masterpiece… as she worked on the start of a poem. The sun, disheartened, crept out of the sky again. Its light upon the sorrows of the world had changed nothing. And for a while together the two Angels slept, each upon their separate couches. They dreamt of nothing. Their lives were dreams.





* Opening quote is from the heroin poem
in Aleister Crowley’s
Diary of a Drug Fiend