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The rules of attraction bret easton ellis



НазваниеThe rules of attraction bret easton ellis
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'What about Marie?' she asks, tender, hand on his wrist. I look over at Marie, who is talking to Trav about the book.


'Oh,' Vittorio says, looking over at her, then abruptly looking back at Lauren, 'I will miss her very much . . . very much.'


I want to say the same thing to Lauren, but yawn instead and drink more of the Beck's feeling drowsy, and a little high. It's over, definitely. I'm about to tell her but Stump jumps up and puts on a Circle Jerks tape which no one can listen to, and Mona and Trav want to listen to Los Lobos, so everyone compromises and we listen to Yaz.


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Stump starts to dance in the now darkened room with Mona and Trav and the two editors try to dance to the music also. Stump even urges Marie to come join them but she just smiles and says that she is very tired.


Vittorio's laughing about the music and making everyone fresh drinks. Marie lights candles. Vittorio leans over and whispers something "in Lauren's ear. Lauren keeps looking over at me. I'm now drinking whiskey from Stump's flask and on the verge of falling asleep. I can't hear what the two of them are talking about and I'm grateful. I keep washing the taste of the cheap whiskey from my mouth with the rest of a warm Beck's. Later everyone makes a toast, wishing Vittorio good luck on his trip, even Marie, who looks sad as she raises her glass and mouths, 'Mi amore,' to Vittorio, married, father, Vittorio. This is the last thing I remember clearly. I pass out.


I wake up and find myself sweating on Vittorio's bed, I get up and look at my watch and see that it's close to midnight. I stand up carefully, then stagger down the stairs and into the living room. Everyone's gone except for Lauren and Vittorio who have now moved to the couch talking, candles on the table in front of them still burning. How many beers had I drunk? How much whiskey? Soft Italian Muzak comes from the stereo now. Had I actually tried to dance? Had I actually finished the whiskey from Stump's flask? I can't remember. 'Just get up?' she asks.


'What's going on?' I say, steadying myself as I sit down. 'Drinking,' she says, holding up a glass of - what in the hell is it? Port? 'Want one?'


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I can tell that she's drunk because of the rigid way she's sitting on the couch, trying to maintain what's left of her composure. She sloppily lights a cigarette, and Vittorio pours himself what little red wine is left in the bottle. How long have they been sitting on the couch like that? I look at my watch.


'No,' I say. I pour myself a glass of tonic water with shaking hands and sip it. 'How did I get in Vittorio's room?'


'You were really drunk,' she says. 'Feeling better?' 'No. I don't.' I rub my forehead. 'I was really drunk?' 'Yeah. We decided to let you rest awhile before we left.
' We? What does 'We' mean? Who's 'We'? I look around the room and then back at her and notice that her shoes are off. 'What are your shoes doing off?'


'What?' she asks. Who me? Little Miss Innocent. "Your shoes. Why - are - they - off,' I ask, spacing each word out.


'I was dancing,' she says.


'Great.' An image of her slow dancing with Vittorio, his stubby fingers caressing her back, her ass, Lauren sighing, 'Oh please,' in that soft way Lauren always sighs. 'Oh please Vittorio.' This all flashes through my mind and my headache worsens. I look at her. I don't know her. She's nothing.


'You . . . you have wonderful . . , wonderful feet,' Vittorio murmurs drunkenly, leaning over her.


'Vittorio,' she says, warning.


'No .. . no, let me look.' He lifts one of her legs up.


'Vittorio,' she says, what seems to me coyly.


Vittorio leans down and kisses her foot.


I stand up. 'Okay. We're going.'


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You want to?' She looks up while Vittorio begins tojM fondle her ankle, his hand moving up her goddamn kne&Jj


'Yes. Now,' I demand.


Vittorio, we've got to go,' she says, trying to stand up.


'Oh no, no, no ... no, no, no -... don't, don't go,' Vittorio says, alarmed.


'We have to, Vittorio,' she says, finishing her drink. 'No! No!' Vittorio cries out, trying to reach for her hand. 'Jesus, Lauren, come on!' I tell her. Tm coming, I'm coming,' she says, shrugging helplessly. She walks over to the chair I was sitting in and starts to put on her shoes.


'I don't want you to ... to go,' Vittorio calls, from the couch, eyes closed.


'Vittorio, we have to. It's late,' she says soothingly. 'Put them on outside,' I tell her. 'Let's go.' 'Oh Sean,' she says. 'Shut up.' 'Where's Marie?' I ask. 'Don't tell me to shut up.' 'She drove Mona and Trav back to their place.' She reaches for her purse on the table.


Vittorio starts to get up from the couch but he can't balance himself and he falls over against the table, crashing onto the floor, starting to moan.


'Oh my God,' Lauren says, rushing over to him. 'I don't want to go to Italy,' he bellows. She kneels beside him and tries to push him up against the couch. 'I don't want to go,' he says again.


'Lauren, let's get the hell out of here,' I yell. 'Don't you have any compassion?' she yells back. 'Lauren, the man is a drunk,' I shout. 'Let's get out of here.'


22B


'Don't go Lauren . . . don't go,' Vittorio groans, eyes


shut.


'I'm here Vittorio, I'm here,', she says. 'Sean, get a washcloth.'


'Absolutely not,' I shout at her.


'Lauren,' Vittorio repeats, still moaning, crouched up like a small child. 'Where's Lauren? Lauren?'


'Lauren,' I say, standing there, above them, completely offended by the scene.


'I'm here,' she says, 'I'm here Vittorio. Don't worry.' She runs her hand along his brow, then looks at me. 'If you won't get a washcloth and if you're not going to help me, you can leave now and wait outside if you want to. I'm staying.'


It's over. I tell her that I'm leaving, but it doesn't matter. I walk to the front door and wait to see if she'll come. I stand there for three minutes and only hear whispering from the living room. Then I walk outside, down the path and out the -gate. It's cold now, and I put the jacket I had taken off back on. I sit on the curb across the street from the house. The lights in Vittorio's room go on, then after a minute, go off. I wait on the curb, not knowing what to do, staring at the house, for a long time.


I go back to campus, find Judy in The Pub, and we smoke some pot and then go back to my room, where there's a threatening note on my door from Rupert ('UOWEME'). I crumple it up, and hand it to Judy. Judy asks me who it's from. I tell her Frank. She gets sad and starts crying and tells me that Franklin's over with, that she never liked him, that they should have never gotten together. After she feels better, she starts coming on to me.


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'What am I going to tell Lauren?' I ask, watching her undress after we've made out. 'I don't know,' she says. 'That I fucked you?' I suggest. 'No. No,' she says, though I bet she likes the idea.


LAUREN Lying naked in my bed. Late. Twelve-thirty. Room next door someone is playing the new Talking Heads record. Finish the cigarette I'm smoking and light another one. Look at Sean. He looks away guiltily. Leans his head against the wall. Sara's cat, Seymour, walks up to the bed and jumps into my lap, meowing hungrily. Stroke the cat's head and look back at Sean. He looks back at me, then to the space on the wall he's been staring at. He knows I want him to leave. He has that distinct understanding etched across his face; get dressed, go, I'm thinking. I yawn. In the next room the record skips, begins again. I don't want him to see me naked so I pull the sheet around me.


'Say something,' I say, petting the cat.


'Like what?'


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The cat looks at him and mews.


'Like why are we always in my room?' I ask.


'Because I have this awful French roommate, that's why,' he says.


'Is he awful because he's French?' 'Yes,' he nods.


'God.' Look at the cigarette I'm holding; the gold bracelet on my wrist dangling. He's looking at me. He knows I'm smoking the cigarette just to irritate him, blowing smoke his way.


'You know what he did?' he asks me. Smell my wrist, then fingers. 'What?' 'Since it's Halloween tomorrow he carved a pumpkin he bought in town and put one of those French hats on it, a chapeau, you know, one of those berets and he put it on the fucking pumpkin, and wrote on the back of it, "Paris Is Forever."'


This is the most I have ever heard him say and I'm impressed, but don't say anything. Why is it that Victor's seeing Jaime? I like him more than she likes him. That's crazy. I concentrate on Seymour, who's purring, content.


'What's worse than a Parisian for a roommate?' he asks me.


'What?' Barely muster the interest.


'A Parisian for a roommate who has his own phone.'


'I'll have to think about that one.'


'What's worse than a Parisian for a roommate who has his own phone?'


'What?' Exasperated. 'Sean?'


'A Parisian for a roommate who has his own phone and who wears an ascot,' he says.


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In the next room someone starts replaying side one again. I get out of bed. 'If I hear this song one more time I'll scream.' Put on my robe, sit in chair by window and wish he would leave. 'Let's go to Price Chopper,' I suggest.


He sits up now. He knows for a fact that I want him to leave. He knows that I want it badly, as soon as possible. 'Why?' he asks, watching as Seymour climbs into his lap and mews.


'Because I need tampons,' I lie. 'And toothpaste, cat food. Tab, Evian water, Peanut Butter Cups.' I reach for my purse and oh shit, 'But I don't think I have any money.'


'Charge it,' he says.


'God,' I mutter. 'I hate it when you're sarcastic.'


He pushes the cat off the bed and starts to dress. He reaches for his underwear, tangled in the bedsheets and puts it on and I ask him, 'Why did you push the cat off the bed?'


He asks back, 'Because I felt like it?'


'Come here kitty, come here Seymour,' I call. I hate the cat too but pretend to be concerned just to bug him. The cat meows again and hops onto rny lap. Pet it. Watch Sean get dressed. Tense silence. He puts on jeans. Then sits on the side of the bed again, away from me, shirtless. He looks like he's getting the awful feeling that I know something and am pissed off about it. Poor baby. Puts his head in his hands, rubs his face. And now I ask him, 'What's that thing on your neck?'


Tenses up so noticeably I almost laugh. 'What thing?'


'Looks like a hickey.' I'm casual.


He walks over to the mirror, makes a big deal out of touching his neck, inspecting the mark. His jaw twitches slightly- Watch as he stares at himself in the mirror, at his dull beauty.


'It's a birthmark,' he says.


Right, lame-o. 'You're so narcissistic.'


Then it comes: 'Why are you being such a bitch tonight?' He asks this while his back is to me, while he's slipping on his T-shirt.


Stroke Seymour's head. Tm not being a bitch.'


He walks back to the mirror and looks at the small purple and yellow bruise. Wouldn't even have noticed it if I hadn't heard the news. And now he's saying, 'I don't know what you're talking about. This is not a hickey. It's a birthmark.'


And now I come out and say it, getting none of the expected pleasure I thought I'd receive. You fucked Judy. That's all.' I say this quickly, really fast and offhand, and it throws him off balance. He's trying hard not to flinch, or do a doubletake.


He turns away from the mirror. 'What?' You heard me, Sean.' I'm squeezing Seymour too tightly. He's not purring anymore. 'You're sick,' he says.


'Oh am I?' I ask. 'I heard you bit the inside of her thighs.' The cat screeches and jumps off my lap; pads across the floor to the door.


He laughs. He tries to ignore me. He sits on the bed tying his shoes. He continues to laugh, shaking his head. 'Oh my my. Who told you this one? Susan? Roxanne? Come on, who?' he asks, innocent smile.


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233


Dramatic pause. Look at Seymour, also innocent, sitting near the doorway, licking its paws. It looks up at me too, waiting for my answer.


'Judy,' I say.


Now he stops laughing. He stops shaking his head. His face falls. He puts the other shoe on. He mutters, 'I have not bitten the inside of anyone's thighs. I haven't bitten yours, have I?'


'What do you want me to do?' I ask, mystified. Tell her to spread her legs and let me check?' What are we talking about? I don't even care that much. It seems to be so minor that I don't understand why I'm harassing him like this. Probably because I want this thing to be over with, and Judy's a convenient marker.


'Oh Christ,' he's saying and he looks disappointed. 'I don't believe this. Are you serious or like having your period?'


'You're right,' I say. 'I'm having my period. It didn't happen.'


The moron actually looks relieved, and says, 'I thought so.'


Trying to look crushed and heartbroken, I say simply, 'Why did you do it, Sean?'


'I'm leaving,' he says, unlocking the door. Steps into the hallway. People are in the bathroom cutting their hair, making noise. He looks freaked. I light a cigarette.


'Are you really serious?' he asks, standing there. 'Do you really believe her?'


I start laughing.


He asks, 'What's so funny?'


I look at him, think about it, stop laughing. 'Nothing.'


234


He closes the door, still shaking his head, still muttering,


'I don't believe this.'


I push the chair away from myself, put the cigarette out, then lay on the bed. In the next room someone takes the needle off the record and starts to play side one again. There is Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the hall freezer that I plan to steal and eat, but I can hear him standing outside the door, listening. I sit still, barely breathing. The cat meows. The record skips. His footsteps sound up the hallway, clump down the stairs; downstairs door slams. I move to the window and watch him head towards his house. Halfway across Commons he changes direction and moves toward Wooley, where Judy lives.


PAUL While in town one afternoon early in November I happened to pass by the pizza place on Main Street and, through the flurries of snow and the pane of glass and the red neon pizza sign, saw Mitchell sitting by himself m a booth, a half-finished pizza (plain cheese; that was how Mitchell always ordered them; bland) on the table m front


235


of him. I went in. He was tearing open packets of Sweet'n'Low, pouring them out and dividing the powder into long lines that resembled cocaine. I assumed he was alone.


'Are you lost or something?' he asked and lit a cigarette.


'Can I have one?' I asked.


He gave me one but didn't light it.


'How was the party last night?' he asked.


I stood there. How was the party? House crammed with drunk sweaty horny bodies dancing to old songs aimlessly wandering around blindly fucking each other? Who cares? I was entrusted by Hanna to watch her seventeen-year-old brother, who was visiting from Bensonhurst to see if he wanted to go to Camden. I was attracted to the guy but he was so straight (he would inquire about certain ugly girls, all of whom I told him had herpes) that I pushed whatever kinky thoughts I had out of my mind. He talked about the basketball team he was on and chewed tobacco and had no idea that his sister was Queen Lesbian of McCullough. We went back to my room to have a final beer. I went into the bathroom and washed my face, and when I came back he had taken off his sweatshirt, had poured what was left of my Absolut out and was using the empty bottle as a spittoon, asking if I had any Twisted Sister records. Needless to say, he had a great body and he drunkenly initiated a rather hectic bout of fucking. In between moaning 'Fuck me, fuck me,' he'd alternately whisper, 'Don't tell my sister, don't tell my sister.' I obliged on both accounts. How was the party? 'Okay,'


Mitchell had taken his American Express card out and slapped it on the table next to the two lines of Sweet'n'Low


236


and he looked at me with such vehemence that I felt like a blip, a fart, in the course of his life. He tells me that this lawyer who he'd been seeing last summer in New York (before me, before us), a real jerk who liked to light everyone's cigarettes and who winked all the time, just got back from Nicaragua and told him it was 'dynamite' so Mitchell might be heading down there for Christmas. He said this to irritate me, but I didn't wince. He knew that was a real conversation stopper.


I didn't wince even when Katrina, that blond Freshman girl who told everyone I couldn't get it up, sat down in the booth, slipping in next to him.


'You know each other?' Mitchell asked.


'No,' she said smiling, introducing herself.


SEAN I'm in the middle of having lame nightmares when the phone rings on the other side of the room behind the green and black striped parachute Bertrand hung up earlier this term and wakes me. I open my eyes hoping it'll pass, wonder if Bertrand's answering machine is on. But


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the phone keeps ringing. I get out of bed, naked with a hard-on from the nightmare, walk through the slit in the parachute and lean down to answer it. 'Hello?'


It's a long distance call and there's a lot of static. 'Allo?' a female voice calls out.


'Hello?' I say again.


'Allo? Bertrand?' More static.


'Bertrand's not in.' I glance over at the pumpkin with the beret on it. Jesus.


'Is it Jean-Jacques?' the voice calls out. 'Allo? Qa va?' 'Jesus,' I mutter. 'Qa va? £a va?'


I hang the phone up, walk back through the slit in the parachute and lie down. Then it hits me: I remember last night. I moan and cover my head with the pillow but it smells like her and I have to take it off my face. Why in the hell did Judy tell Lauren? What in the hell was going through that girl's mind when she told Lauren? I tried to talk to the bitch last night but there was no answer when I i stopped by her room at Wooley. I moan again and throw the pillow against the wall, depressed and tense and horny. Move my hand over my hard-on, try and jerk off for a little while, reach beneath my bed and pull out the October issue of Playboy, reach a little further and find Penthouse.


I open up the Playboy to the centerfold. First I check out the girl's face, though I'm not sure why since it's her body, tits, cunt, ass, that seem so much more prominent. This girl is okay-looking; contemptibly pretty; her tits are tan and big and smooth; the flesh looks salty; run my hand over the thick, glossy paper, the small triangle of hair between the legs is carefully brushed and fluffy. I don't like


238


the legs too much so I fold part of the centerfold over. This girl thinks she's smart. Her favorite movie is Das Boot, which is weird since a lot of these girls' favorite movie has been Das Boot lately, but she's obviously retarded, even though she does have nice tits. Spitting on my hand I think she might even look slightly horny, and I move my hand faster, but spit always dries up and I can't find any Vaseline in the mess of my room so I hump the discarded pillow instead and check out her measurements. 35-22-34.


And then I see it: Next to the measurements, next to height and weight (is that information supposed to turn us on? maybe it does) and color of eyes, is her birthdate. My mind does some quick subtraction and I realize that this girl is nineteen and me, Sean, is twenty-one. This girl is younger than me, and that does it - instant depression. This woman, this flesh was always older and that was part of the turn-on, but now, coming across this, something I'd never noticed before upsets me more than thinking about the conversation Lauren and Judy must have had. I have to close the Playboy and reach for the Penthouse and flip it open to the Forum section but it's too late and I can't concentrate on the words and I keep wondering if I really did bite the inside of Judy's thighs and, if so, then why? I can't even remember why it happened or how. Was it a week ago? It was the night of Vittorio's cocktail party. Had there been anyone else since Lauren? Shut my eyes and try to remember.


Throw the Penthouse across the room, where it accidentally hits the stereo, somehow turning it on and it's Journey and then 'The Monster Mash' coming from a station in Keene and I have to moan again, my erection completely


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deflated. I drag myself from bed, put on my underwear, walk to the closet, open it, look at myself in the mirror hung there, finger the hickey Judy (or was it Brooke or Susan who I saw last night after stopping by Judy's place?) gave me, scowl at the reflection. I reach for a wire hanger, for the tie draped over it, a brown Ralph Lauren tie that Patrick sent me for a birthday I've forgotten. I tug it, stretching it, toss it away. Pick up another tie I got at Brooks Brothers and it seems stronger. I tug it, testing its strength, then knot it carefully, making a noose. Take the fern that some girl gave me off the large gold hook that some other girl stuck in the ceiling and place the dead plant on the floor, slip the part of the tie with the knot around the edge of the hook. I go to my desk and hurrying, pull the chair from it, stand on the chair, put my head through the pink and grey striped cotton noose and, about to hang myself, have a memory of a Christmas mass, why? 'The Monster Mash' still coming from the radio, without any more hesitation, close my eyes and
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