Damian dragged Angelika into the state of the art, blindingly-lit stainless steel kitchen and she squinted painfully as her eyes became quasi-accustomed to the glare, but she still desperately wished that she’d thought to bring her Persols. It was way quieter in this room and people were using preternaturally hushed tones in the presence of the great Sean Penn. It was almost churchlike, at least it seemed that way to Angelika, who’d never actually stepped foot inside a real church, except for the odd wedding.
She peered through half closed-eyelids at the very short, sandy-haired man who was currently holding court while surrounded by a group of fawning acolytes. It was HIM and he appeared to be exuding a strangely angelic glow. Maybe he is a god after all, thought Angelika, who suddenly found herself on the verge of genuflecting.
“Sean! Yoo hoo! Sean!” waved Damian.
Sean glanced up and managed a brief grimace at his esteemed host, “Damian.” he nodded coolly. Damian then dragged Angelika over to where Sean was standing.
“Sean. This is Angelika.” Damian indicated a very uncomfortable Angelika, who was now smiling spastically as she’d suddenly lost the power of speech and any modicum of rational thought. Sean looked Angelika over in a vaguely interested fashion, but The Acolytes took one glance at this hot, young mute chick and decided as one homosexual that they most definitely did not approve. Then Damian continued, much to Angelika’s eternal chagrin,
“Angelika's an actress.” Real surprise in Hollywood, thought Angelika, Sean Penn must be absolutely riveted.
Sean then put out his hand towards her and Angelika took it, mesmerized. Sean Penn was holding her hand! She attempted to be cool, although her legs were shaking uncontrollably and her mouth suddenly felt like that of a Saharan camel.
“Really?” said Sean, “Have I seen you in anything?” Angelika was a mere milisecond away from answering, but loquacious Damian just couldn’t contain himself.
“She's the girl in the Funky Guys Jeans commercial!”
Sean immediately dropped Angelika's hand as if it were contagious. She smiled, cringing and then The Acolytes immediately turned away in self-satisfied unison and resumed their cerebral discourse.
Angelika stood rooted to the spot, grenadine-red with mortification, but she found that in spite of her abject embarrassment, she couldn’t stop staring at Senn Penn as there was something going on with his hair. It was dancing. The samba. Tiny Latino dancers and a full band with a horn section were in mid-tune. Angelika gazed at him, fascinated and delicately reached out to touch them saying,
Sean then whipped around as if slapped and immediately checked his hairline in the stainless steel refrigerator door. This subject was patently just a tiny bit of a bete noir.
“What, it's receding? My hair’s not receding. My hair's great. It's thick.” Sean glared at Angelika, who was now cast as the architect in charge of viciously exposing his human frailty.
“Uh huh.” concurred Angelika, who was standing utterly transfixed by Sean Penn’s amazing dancing follicles. In a lightning flash of clarity, she knew that she had to get the fuck out of the kitchen and pronto. Angelika suddenly caught sight of a closed door at the far end of the kitcken. Blessed sanctuary! She smiled weakly at Sean and then she bolted for it, opening and closing the door behind her in one frenetic motion.
It was pitch dark on the other side as Angelika stood breathing hard, her back flush against the closed door. What the fuck was this? Was this one of those creepy sex dungeons she’d heard speak of where Damian lashed up his rent-boys and performed on them unspeakably decadent and illegal acts? She fished in her purse for her Zippo lighter and ignited it; it flared up dangerously as she apprehensively looked around at her surroundings.
Brooms, Comet, mops, bleach, squeegees? It was a fucking broom closet! She was in a fucking broom closet in the middle of the kitchen; while Sean Penn, her brilliant yet unwitting captor, stood sentinel on the other side of the door. Angelika sat down, lit a cigarette and weighed up her options.The way she saw it was thus:
One: she could spend all evening in the broom closet until he left. But then how would she know he’d gone? It was highly unlikely that even a great thespian such as himself would invoke a “Sean Penn has left the building” type of announcent over the home’s stereo system.
Two: she could brazen it out, but she knew full well that she couldn’t face seeing any of those bastards ever again for the rest of her mortal existence.
Or three: she could stay in the closet until the cleaners arrived in the morning and try her hardest not to startle them. That would give her plenty of time to figure out what to say to Damian. And Samantha, of course.
This last option was by far the most appealing and she had resignedly decided to make a closet-bound night of it when she made the fatal mistake of glancing down at her shoes. Her feet were melting into lovely, gentle pools of starlit water. A smiling frog gaily jumped off a lily pad and sploshed into the pool of eddying water. Angelika reflected that she certainly hadn’t countered in the prospect of slap-happy amphibians and a rising water level and she realized that if she stayed in there she’d drown, or worse, the frogs would get her. That meant that there was only one course of action left open to her.
Angelika stood, anxiously supporting herself with a broom while she attempted to shake the shimmering water from off of her melting feet. But the broom suddenly mutated into a grinning palm tree which was waving in the...Caribbean breeze?
“Oh shit...” she muttered, her panic escalating and then gingerly, she pushed open the closet door.
It was intensely bright in the kitchen and reflected rays of fluorescent light caroomed violently off the polished stainless steel surfaces. Angelika emerged from the broom closet squinting myopically like an insomniac mole who had spent the long winter months hibernating while sporadically helping itself to copious quantities of Valium. She blinked inanely, sensing that something was very, very wrong. In the short time since she’d entered the broom closet Sean, Damian and the fawning Acolytes had all somehow become demonically transformed; their shapes were now vibrating and mutating from good to evil and from human to animal.
Sean Penn himself was now a huge psychedelic hedgehog, replete with long glistening whiskers and a pointy black nose.
”Are you okay?” he asked Angelika, while extending his soft, furry paw.
Angelika stared in horror at the large spiky creature, hysterically wailed “Aargh!” and then ran screaming from the room while the sounds of diabolical laughter reverberated in her sensitive ears.
Angelika hurriedly shoved her way through the jostling crowd towards the French doors that opened onto the torch-lit pool. She knew that she had to get into that welcoming water at all costs because she desperately needed to be cleansed physically, emotionally and metaphorically. Ripping off her expensive designer dress and uncaring that she was sans underwear, she sprinted across the obsessively manicured lawn towards the water and dived in. Several drunk revellers clapped and hollered appreciatively at her impromptu striptease, but for once she was blissfully impervious.
As Angelika looked up from the depths of the swimming pool, she watched in fascination at where the miniscus of the water had exploded as she’d dived in. It was dividing and pixilating into entirely new Milky Ways of light. Strange, otherworldly images of light, seen through layers of rippling water and the haze of psychedelic hyper-awareness. It was hypnotically, incandescently beautiful.
Her heartbeat's comforting thump was the only sound that Angelika could hear as she swam gracefully underwater, while her glistening body was naked and innocent as a baby in utero, and gurgling air bubbles gently escaped her smiling mouth.
And then all at once Angelika felt fine because she was perfect again. Everything was suddenly crystal clear...this Hollywood thing just made her uncomfortable. She couldn’t play their game as she couldn’t pretend to be anyone other than who she was. She enjoyed the money that her success had brought her, because money equated freedom; but fame just seemed faintly ludicrous and counter-productive. How can one be an artist, when the very nature of the artist is to observe? If you become the observed, then how can you create? And Sean Penn was just a man after all...or was he in fact a massive, spiny hedgehog? Anyway, she realised that whoever or whatever the great Sean Penn might be, she would eventually have to come up for air.
Angelika’s grinning face broke the surface of the torch-lit pool and a strong male hand reached down and grabbed her small, delicate one in his. The hand belonged to Marlowe and he smiled expansively at her.
“You cool, little starfish?” he asked.
Angelika beamed into his eyes and then after a long moment replied, “Never better.”
Angelika and Samantha lay on the perfectly manicured, violently green grass, both marveling at the impending sunrise which was rapidly bleeding into the slate grey sky east of downtown LA. The windows of the high rise buildings glowed gold-orange and flamingo pink in the pure morning light and for once, Los Angeles actually looked like a real Metropolis, albeit one that was flagrantly on fire.
They were sharing a joint as Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend” played softly from somewhere near the terrace. True to Hollywood form, the expensive yet invisible stereo speakers were camouflaged as rocks or ferns or garden gnomes or something. Marlowe lay with his eyes closed by the girls’ side and he may or may not have been taking a nap - it was hard to tell with Marlowe as he was the epitome of that laid-back LA dude and Angelika envied him his easy relaxation, as she could barely sleep even when it was pitch dark and she had cotton wool puffs stuffed into her delicate, all-hearing little ears.
Samantha then started to sing in an Irish brogue, ”Oh Sean, Sean with the dancing hair...” Marlowe giggled uncontrollably, thus revealing hmself to be awake after all.
Angelika then tried desperately to be serious as she said firmly, “Shut up! The pair of youse!”
Samantha continued, “Oh Sean, your Irish hair is dancing...”
Angrlika started to laugh, “Sam...you ruined me...you totally fucked me up!”
Samantha looked questioningly at Angelika, “I think I did you a big favour.” Angelika looked away and then said begrudgingly,
“Well, I did have a Road-to-Damascus style epiphany.”
“See. I worry about you out here, y'know.” replied Samantha.
“Why? I'm fine.” smiled Angelika. Samantha took another toke off the joint and then passed it onto Marlowe.
“Yeah, yeah...you're always fine.” responded Samantha, “Divine, darling! Perfect! When was the last time you got laid?” Angelika shushed Samantha as Marlowe’s ears had most noticeably pricked up. “Well?” continued Samantha.
“Julien.” whispered Angelika. Samantha made an incredulous face and rolled her eyes.
“Julien. And that's healthy, is it?”
Angelika said, “I've been really busy.” But she looked down, suddenly feeling rather squirmy and teenager-esque.
Samantha turned to Angelika and forced her to look at her. “All the time I've known you, you’ve always been so lovely, but you're remote, you know? So cool, nothing fazes you. I hate to tell you this, but a lot of people think that you're a cold bitch.”
“Thanks for your support.” pouted Angelika, who was hurt to the core by her best friend’s words.
“I know you're not, babe,” replied Samantha, smiling encouragingly at Angelika, ”but
stop trying to be so fucking perfect. Show them all how deeply squishy and wonderful you are.”
stop trying to be so fucking perfect. Show them all how deeply squishy and wonderful you are.”
Angelika who was touched, responded, “Fuck off, Sam. Stop being so boringly.... existential.” She hated when people tried to probe her soft underbelly; God knows what might come spilling out for all the world to pick over and disect. Samantha had long ago become inured to Angelika’s evasionary tactics and so she decided to let the matter drop. She knew that she’d got her point across but she also knew better than to try and push her friend into ‘sharing’. Angelika was entirely capable of totally clamming up.
Thank God my family’s normal and boring, thought Samantha, eternally grateful for her solid, loving upbringing. Samantha abruptly changed the subject.
“Anyway, that's enough about you. I've got something to divulge.”
“Well?” replied Angelika, relieved to be off the hook, as for an actress she did have a committed aversion to the spotlight.
“I'm getting married.” Samantha said quietly while looking Angelika in the eye.
“Yeah, right.” laughed Angelika in disbelief.
“I am. I've met him. The One.” Samantha was grinning like a little kid.
“The One? Really? But what about all this?” Angelika spread her arms wide to encompass the beautiful panorama that was now dotted with the hollow shells of spaced out night-crawlers. Not the most brilliant of examples, she had to admit, as one of said night-crawlers was currently peeing noisily into the pool.
“All what, love?” replied Samantha, “I've done all this. I don't need it any more. I'm a hard-wired Catholic girl and I mean to have some babies.”
Angelika was stunned as she had never expected this, at least not yet. Surely they were both too young to settle down?
“Christ.” she eventually muttered.
“Exactly. Ave Maria.” Samantha crossed herself. Angelika and Samantha laughed heartily at their stupid joke and then Angelika turned sadly to Samantha and murmured,
“I am really, really happy for you.” The girls then put their arms around each other and hugged a long time.
At this, Marlowe opened his eyes and muttered, “Cool...” Now this he liked very much.
Samantha subtly indicated Marlowe and then she whispered, “He's cute...” Angelika looked over at Marlowe, who had definitely perked up at the thought of a bit of girl on girl action and he winked at her. Would he do? Would he help her get over the hump, as it were? Did she really need to be so desperately in love to enjoy a bit of harmless sex? But that was something that she’d have to analyze in greater depth later, because right now there was a star-studded spring wedding for which to shop.