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The rules of attraction bret easton ellis



НазваниеThe rules of attraction bret easton ellis
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'Anyone know what the movie is tonight?' asks Getch.


'Beats me,' says Tony.


Norris comes back with the coffee and whispers, 'Creamed in it.'


I sip it and smile. 'Delicious.'


'I don't know. Night of the Dead Baby? I don't know,' says Tony.


'Can we shut up?' asks Tim.


'I heard from Roxanne that The Carousel's closing,' I offer the table.


'No way. Really?' Norris asks.


'Yeah,' I say. 'At least that's what Roxanne says.'


Why?' Getch asks.


'Freshmen and Sophomores don't drink anymore,' Tony says. 'Sucks, doesn't it.'


'I think it sucks too,' Getch says. He always looks cheesy


44


to me for some reason. I can't explain it. He shakes the Etch-a-Sketch.


I say, 'Rock'n'roll.'


Tim laughs, 'The horrah, the horrah.' Tony says, 'It's just another example of this place going to shit, that's all.'


I tell him, 'Deal with it.'


Tony's losing his patience, getting all political. 'Listen, do you realize that we're getting a fucking weight room? Why? Do you understand? Can you explain? I can't. Do you realize that I just came out of a student council meeting where the Freshman reps want fraternity houses installed on campus? Do you understand that? Do you want to deal with it?'


I cringe. 'It's all dumb.'


'Why?' Tim asks. 'I think a weight room's a good idea.' 'Because,' I explain, hoping to cool Tony down, 'I came here to get away from jock idiots and frat assholes.'


'Listen,' Tim says with an ugly leer, 'Girls work out on that shit for those inner thigh muscles man.' He grabs at my leg and laughs.


'Yeah, well,' I'm suddenly confused. 'Still, a weight room.' I don't really care.


Tony looks at me. 'Who are you to talk, Sean? What are you majoring in? Computers?'


'Reagan's Eighties. Detrimental effect on underclassmen,' Tim says, shaking his head.


It really doesn't piss me off as much as he wants it to. 'Computers,' I mimic him.


'What are you majoring in?' He's daring me, the big fucking baby, finish your salad, asshole.


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'Rock'n'roll.' I shrug.


He gets up, disgusted. 'What are you, a parrot?' 'What's up his ass?' someone asks. 'Didn't get that part in the Shepard play,' Getch says.


Deidre appears out of nowhere, to save the day? Not quite.


'Peter?'


The table looks up and falls silent.


'I thought my name was Brian,' I say, without looking at her.


She laughs, probably high. I can see her hands, her fingernails aren't painted black anymore. It looks like cement color. 'Oh well, yeah. How are you?' she asks.


'Eating.
' I point at the plate. All the guys are looking at her. This is a highly uncomfortable situation.


You going to the party tonight?' she asks.


'Yeah. I'm going to the party tonight. You going to the party tonight?' Meaningless.


Yeah.' She seems nervous. The guys are intimidating her. She was actually okay last night, just too drunk. She's probably good in bed. I look over at Tim, who's checking her out. 'Yeah, I am.'


'Well I guess I'll see you there.' I look at Norris and roll my eyes up.


'Okay,' she says, lingering, looking around the room.


'Okay, see you there, bye,' I mutter. 'God.'


'Okay, well,' she coughs. 'See you.'


'Go away,' I say under my breath.


She goes to another table. The guys aren't saying anything. I'm embarrassed because she's not that great looking


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and they all know I screwed her last night and I get up to feed more coffee to my impending ulcer. Rock'n'roll. 'I need a double bed,' Tim says. 'Anyone got a double bed?'


'Don't smoke pot,' someone else says.


'Yabba Dabba Do,' Getch says.


////The feeling is neither icy nor hot. Yet there is still no inbetween. Just this bland pulse that fixates in my body at any given time of the day. I have decided to put notes in his box every day. I imagine him pinning these notes somewhere, perhaps pinned to a white wall in his room, a room I wish to live in. Are these devices sufficient? I ask myself, sickened, left punctured and cowering after I deliver these notes into his box, his pocketbed. My will is an ambulance on emergency call. But I often try to forget him (I have not met him, will not meet him until later, have not dared open my mouth to confront him, sometimes I want to scream, sometimes I think I am dying) and I try to forget this beating from my heart, but cannot and get sick. The space I follow is black and arid. My obsession (I do not know if it can even be considered that, that word does not seem quite right) though futile or ridiculous to you takes the mystery from nothing. It is simple. I watch him. He reveals himself in dark contours. Everything I believe in floats away when I witness him, say, eating, or crossing the boundaries of a crowded room. I feel a scourge. I have his name written on a sheet of pale blue paper that is tissue thin, fallen poplars I've drawn surround the letters. Everything reminds me of his being: there is a dog that lives across the hall from me. Its owner registered it as a cat (canines are forbidden at this place) and took a fuzzy photo of it and it is small and white-violet and has gremlin ears. I fed it Bon Bons once. I take that person's actions as a hint and because of that I speak to no one. He is beautiful, though you might not think so. There is something circular about him, like moths fluttering in the clear Arizona night. And I know we will meet. It will come easy and soon. And my resentment - my terrified, futile resentment - will float away. I write another note after dinner. He must know it is me. I know his brand of cigarette. I saw him buy a Richard and Linda Thompson tape in town once. I was standing, looking through a bin I didn't care about, and he didn't notice me. I listened to them in high school. When Linda and Richard were still together. They broke up, like John and Exene, like Tina and Ike, Sid and Nancy, Chrissie and Ray. That will not happen to me. His name is a word on top of a page and it signifies a poem started, stated, started but unfinished since the typewriter will not type anymore. I kiss my hand and smell it and smell him, oh I pretend it is his scent. His. His. I don't dare go to his house or pass his room. I will walk by him and not even look. 1 will pass him in the dining hall with a nonchalance that shocks even me.////


PAUL. I tried to talk to Mitchell at the party at End of the World tonight. He was standing by the keg filling a plastic cup. I already had a beer and was standing alone, where The Graveyard started. 1 poured the beer out and walked over to the keg. 'Hi, Mitch,' I said. It was cold and my breath steamed. 'What's going on?'


'Hi, Paul. Nothing much.' He was filling two cups. Couldn't the helpless bitch get her own fucking beer? 'What's going on with you?'


'Nothing. Can we talk?' I took the tap from him.


He stood there holding the two beers.


'What do you want to talk about?' he asked with that


famous blank stare.


'Just about what's going on,' I said, concentrating on the beer and foam coming out of the tap. A girl came by and waited. 1 gave her a look but she wasn't looking at me, only at my hands, impatiently.


48


'I warned you, Paul. Remember that,' Mitchell said. Yeah, I know,' I said and laughed quickly. My cup wasn't even half-full but I handed the girl the tap anyway. 'Wait, you warned me about what?' I asked. I could see Candice standing by the edge of End of the World, behind her and down, the Valley of Camden, lights in the town. I didn't understand how he could prefer that because Mitchell was, admittedly, too good-looking for her. It was beyond my comprehension. I took a gulp of beer. 'I warned you.' He started walking. 'Wait.' I followed him. He stopped by one of the speakers. The Pretenders were coming loudly from them. A small group of people were dancing. He said something I couldn't hear. I knew what he was going to say, but I didn't think he had the nerve to say it. Had I been warned? Probably, but not in any verbal way. In the way he would recoil if I touched him in public or after he came. Or if I bought him a beer at The Pub and the way he would throw a fit and tell me that he'd pay for it and push a dollar across the table. How all he would talk about was wanting to go to Europe, take a term off, and then how he would always add, stress, alone. I had been warned and I hated to admit it to myself. But I followed him over to where Candice stood anyway. He gave her the beer. She looked so trashy or maybe she looked pretty and I was having a hard time accepting this. Mitchell was wearing a T-shirt (was it one of mine? probably) and an Eddie Bauer sweater and he scratched at his neck nervously.


'You two know each other?' he asked.


Yeah, hi,' she smiled and he held her beer while she lit a cigarette.


'Hi,' I smiled, genial as ever. Then threw her a severe look when she wasn't looking, hoping that Mitchell would catch it, but he didn't.


The three of us stood there at End of the World, past that came the slope that headed down toward the valley, and then the middle of Camden. It wasn't steep but if I was to push her, accidentally say, inconspicuously, over the knee-high stone protector, it would cause more than slight damage. The Pretenders turned into Simple Minds and I was grateful because I could not have stood there if there had been no music. Parties are, in their own right, perfect grounds for confrontation, but not this one. I had lost this one. I had probably lost it a long time ago, maybe even that last night in New York. Someone had strung dim yellow lights up and they illuminated Mitchell's face, making it seem pasty, and washed-out. He was gone. The scene of us standing there was too real and too pointless. I wandered away.


SEAN The girl's name is Candice. I'm standing by the keg with Tony who's giving Getch a long speech on the


51


effects of drinking too much beer and I watch her and block Mitch Allen out of my line of vision. She's dressed too nicely for a Friday night party and out here on Commons lawn she looks classy, really nice, maybe too conservative and uptight in that Jappy sort of way, but also in a good, sexy way, like you look at her and you know she'd be wild in bed or something. At any rate she looks too good for Mitch, who isn't really all that handsome as far as I can tell. He always reminded me of a high school dork who was trying too hard. I wonder if she really likes fucking him. Then I think maybe they're not even fucking. Maybe I can just go over there and start talking to her and maybe she'll accept my offer and tell Mitch that she'll see him later. And thinking about all this is killing me, almost. Down another beer and another Jap, Roxanne, comes over to the keg, and stands next to me. Then this girl is walking away from End of the World, following him. They can't be leaving, I'm thinking, it's too early. But they aren't leaving, they're just walking away from someone. Too early for what? I wonder to myself. They'll just go back to his room . eventually (she probably has a roommate) and she'll let him fuck her. I'm so horny I'm not even excited, just weak. I look at Roxanne, who I owe lots of money to. She's wearing too much jewelry and looking okay. I wonder if she'll fuck me tonight. If there's even a slight possibility. She's smoking a joint and hands it to me. 'What's going on?' she asks.


'Drinking beer,' I explain.


'Is it good? Are you drinking a good beer?' she asks. 'Listen,' I tell her, getting to the point, 'Do you want to go back to my room?'


52


She laughs, drinks her beer, bats her thickly mascaraed eyelashes and asks me why.


'Old times?' I shrug. I hand her back the joint. 'Old times?' She laughs even harder. 'What's so funny? Jesus.'


'No, I don't, Sean,' she says. 'I have to pick up Rupert anyway.' She's still smiling.


The bitch. There's a bug, a moth in her beer. She doesn't see it. I don't say anything. 'Lend me a couple bucks,' I ask her. 'I don't have my purse with me,' she says. 'Right,' I say.


'Oh, Sean. You're still the same,' she says, not being mean, but it makes me want to hit her (no, fuck her, then hit her). 'I don't know if that's good or bad.'


I want her to drink that bug. Where did Candice go, damnit? I look back at Roxanne, who's still got that goddamned smile, thinking to herself, happy that I asked her, happier that she has the power to say no. I look at her and am genuinely repulsed.


'Do you have any morphine?' I ask her.


'Why?' she asks, spotting the bug, pouring the beer out


onto the lawn.


'Take some. You look like you could use it,' I tell her,


walking away.


'I have something for you to pick up, sweetheart,' is the


last clear thing I hear.


My line was neither quick or effective and I cannot believe I actually saw that girl for a while. It was when she started dealing coke so she could lose weight. It had worked, sort of. I think she still has a fat ass, and can look dumpy, and has dried-out black hair and writes awful poetry and I'm pissed off that I let her get into that position of denying me. I go back to my room and slam the door a couple of times. Roommate's gone, snap on the radio. I pace. 'Wild Horses' comes on the local station. I flick the tuner. 'Let It Be' is on the next station. On the next is 'Ashes to Ashes/ then some Springsteen dirge, then Sting crooning 'Every Breath You Take/ and then when I turn it back to the local station, asshole D. J. announces he's going to play all four sides of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall.' I don't know what comes over me but I pick the receiver up and hurl it against the closet door, but it doesn't break and I'm grateful even if it is a cheap stereo. I kick it, then grab a box of tapes, unwind one I don't like and smash it with my boot heel. Then I take a crate of singles I own and make sure I have them on tape before I snap them all into two, then, if possible, into four. I kick at the walls on roommate's side and then break a doorknob on the closet door. Then I go back to the party.


LAUREN Me and Judy. Stretching canvas. My studio. Judy just did her nails so she is not really, as one says, into it So we stop. Another Friday night. She brought two Beck's over and some pot. I like Judy. I do not like Mother. Mother called earlier. After dinner. It depressed me so completely that I could only walk around in a stupor and smoke cigarettes until I came down to the studio. My mother had nothing to say to me. My mother had no pressing information to pass on to me. My mother was watching movies on the VCR. My mother is crazy. I asked her about the magazine (she runs it), about my sister at R.I.S.D., about finally (big mistake) my father. She said she didn't hear me. I did not ask her again. Then she mentioned that Joana (father's new girlfriend) is only twenty-five. And since I didn't groan or throw up or try to kill myself, she said that if I approve of what he's doing why don't I just stay with him over Christmas. By that time the call had already degenerated so completely I told her that I had a class to go to at midnight and hung up and went to the studio and looked at all the shit, the completely shitty shit I'd been doing all term. I was supposed to be doing the posters for the Shepard play but the dyke who was directing it really bothers me, so maybe I'll give her one of these unfinished pieces of shit. I cry out, 'It's all shit! Judy look at this. It's shit!'


'No, it's not.' But she's not looking. Tou're not looking. Oh god.' I open my second pack of the day and it's not even eleven. Last thing I have to worry about is lung or breast cancer. Thank god I'm not on the Pill.


'I'm changing majors/ I say. Look at what I've done. Jackson Pollock freed the line, remember that, someone told me in Advanced Painting yesterday. How can I free


55


this shit? I wonder. I stand back from the unfinished canvas. I realize that I would rather spend my money on drugs than on art supplies. 'I'm changing my major. Are you listening?'


'Again?' Judy says, all concentration on rolling another joint. She laughs.


'Again? Did you have to say that?'


'Don't make me laugh or else I can't do this.'


'This is ridiculous,' I say.


'Let's go to the party.' Whining. Judy whining.


'Why? We have everything we need here. Warm beer. Music. And even better, no boys.'


I change the tape. We have been listening to Compilation Tape #2 we made Freshman year. Bad/Good memories come from it. Michael Jackson ('How many songs off "Thriller" can you name?' Victor asked me once. I lied and said only two. After that he said he loved me ... where was that? Wellfleet Drive-in, or were we walking down Commercial Street in Provincetown?), Prince (having sex in the campus van parked outside a Friday night party with good-looking boy from Brown), Grandmaster Flash (we danced to 'The Message' so many times and we never tired). Tape depresses me. Pull it out. Put something else, Reggae Tape #6, in.


'When is Victor coming back?' Judy asks.


I can hear music coming from Commons and End of the World and it sounds tempting. Maybe we should go. Go to party. There was always the book of sexual diseases with gruesome explicit photographs in them (some of the close-ups, pink, blue, purple, red blisters were beautiful in


an abstract minimalist sort of way), which always works as a deterrent to a Friday night party. Victor would be a deterrent too. If he was here. We'd probably go to the party and have a good time. Flip through the book. Close-up of girl who was allergic to the plastic in her diaphragm. Yuck. Maybe we would have a good time. I picture poor handsome Victor in Rome or Paris, alone, hungry, somewhere, desperately trying to get in touch with me, maybe even screaming at some mean operator in broken Italian or Yiddish, near tears, trying to reach me. Gasp and lean up against the posts in the studio and then throw head back. Too dramatic.


'Who knows?' I hear, myself saying. 'What does this stuff remind you of?' I ask her, standing back. 'Degas? Seurat? Renoir?'


She looks at the canvas and says, 'Scooby Doo.' Okay, it's time for The Pub. Get a pitcher of Genny and if we haven't forgotten to cash a check, maybe some wine coolers to get drunk/sick on, then a pizza or bagel? Judy knows it. I know it. When the going gets tough, the tough go drinking.


So we go to The Pub. Someone has written in black letters Sensory Deprivation Tank on the door and I don't find it funny. Not many people are here because of the party. We get a pitcher and sit in the back. Listen to the jukebox. I think about Victor. A joint left unsmoked is in Judy's bag. And we have the same conversation that we always have on partyless Friday nights in The Pub. Conversations that only recently, now that I'm a Senior, am I tiring of.


57


J: What's the movie tonight?


Me: Apocalypse Now? or Dawn of the Dead, maybe. I. think.


J: No. Not again, god.


Me: So, who are you in love with?


J: Franklin.


Me: I thought you said he was a geek, a bore. Why?


J: There's no one else to like.


Me: You said he was a geek, though.


J: I really like his roommate.


Me: Who's that?


J: Michael.


Me: Why don't you go for Michael?


J: He's maybe gay.


Me: How do you know?


J: I slept with him. He told me he likes boys. I don't think it would work out. He wants to be a ballerina.


Me: If you can't be with the one you love, honey .. .


J: Fuck their roommate instead.


Me: Are we going anywhere or not?


J: No, I don't think so. Not tonight.


Me: What's the movie tonight?


58


PAUL. I first met Sean when I was standing by the keg, watching Mitchell and Candice leave. They walked past me and Mitchell smiled good-night and waved half-heartedly. As did Candice, which I could take as either a kind, pity gesture or as a victorious, gleeful salute. (Victorious? Why? Mitchell would never tell her about me.) I watched them walk away and started to refill my cup. I looked over and remember seeing Dennis Jenkins, this scrawny, ugly drama-fag staring at me. (Dennis Jenkins was one of many reasons why I despised being a Drama major). I sighed and told myself that if I went to bed with him tonight I would kill myself in the morning. I finished filling the cup, which was mostly foam since the keg was running out, and when I looked up Sean Bateman was standing there, waiting. I had known Sean like everyone knows everyone else at this place, meaning we had probably never spoken to each other but knew of each other's cliques, and we had mutual acquaintances. He was handsome in a vague, straight way, always spilling beer and playing video games or pinball in The Pub, and 1 wasn't much interested, at first.


'Hi Sean,' I said. If I hadn't been more than slightly drunk I probably would have said nothing; nodded and walked away. I was fairly sure he was majoring in Mechanics.
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