It was Oscar night - the Hollywood equivalent of New Year’s Eve, The Fourth of July and Christmas Day all rolled into one. A chance for self-satisfied studio executives to don rented Armani tuxedos and to pat each other on the back for having had the consummate brilliance to have hired someone vaguely literate who had actually bothered to read a screenplay and to have deemed it worthy of ‘development’.
It was also the one night when starlets with silicone tits and Restylane lips congratulated themselves on finally picking the right cock to suck as God knows, that was always a gamble. Forget kissing frogs, it was blowjobs that were the real currency of male / female interpersonal relationships in this town. Angelika wondered how these girls did it as she couldn’t imagine putting any dick into her mouth that didn’t belong to a body she loved or was at the very least intensely attracted to.
As she evidently hadn’t sucked the right cock, Angelika wasn’t invited to any of the A-List parties. There’d be no Vanity Fair shindig or Governor’s Ball love-fest for her. She was more than a little bit peeved at this, as she secretly would have loved to have been invited, but she wanted to see her own name in calligraphy on the gold-edged invitation, not as some bi-polar schmoozer’s plus one.
But Angelika had been invited to one of the lesser events by Simon, one of her habitual coke buddies. Simon was the cadaverous scion of one of Hollywood’s classier film dynasties, but Simon himself just concentrated on developing a gargantuan drug habit and amassing a large and seedy phalanx of rich-kid coke-fiend pals. Angelika did like Simon as he was amusing and sophisticated and could always be relied upon for a virtually bottomless pit of cocaine with which he was more than generous; and he’d always give credit, if required. His inherited mid-century modern house in the hills above Sunset Plaza was party central, a 24 hour maelstrom of chemical depravity. Angelika had never seen any physical evidence that Simon actually ate or slept at all, and even in her less than balanced state, she harboured a few motherly concerns for his future health and well-being.
Angelika had agreed to pick Simon up in her car, as his was a vintage Cadillac Coupe de Ville which was perpetually in the shop. He rarely drove it anyway as everybody always came to his place, such is the pervasive power of the drug holder. Angelika was wearing one of her favorite gowns, a silver strapless Antony Price number which she’d bought when she’d first started making big modeling bucks and she looked very beautiful, pale and elegant, in spite of the fact that she could have definitely used another ten pounds on her skinny, white frame.
Angelika sped up the winding roads to Simon’s house anticipating her first, juicy line in three days. Simon always had good shit and she was dying for that initial, delicious taste. The first hit was always the best, as one’s brain instantaneously clicked from fuzzy boredom into crystalline confidence and a loquacious clarity. After that, it was simply a matter of trying to recreate that original, all-powerful buzz. This is the reason coke users keep snorting and snorting until there is nothing left; they’re hopelessly chasing that first unrequited love.
Angelika’s body responded with a Pavlovian reflex of needing the bathroom, as she mentally pictured the pure pink-white cocaine that Simon had promised her and that he was probably right now in the process of distributing into tiny brown glass vials for their delectation over the course of the evening ahead.
Angelika pressed her silver-sandaled foot down hard on the gas pedal as she dangerously sped around a tight corner which abutted the steep driveway which then led inexorably up to Simon’s front door and the illicit pleasures that lay waiting within.
The Academy Awards party was held at a newish West Hollywood restaurant called Atlas which was generally considered to be a hot, happening venue, but at which on this night of nights, only C-List celebrities would be in attendance. Angelika tried to force away this harsh truism as she entered the dining room with Simon. Although she had come to the realization that fame was not her particular drug of choice, she still dreaded being considered a has-been; and she harbored a sneaking suspicion that that was exactly how her head-shot and resume were currently being mentally filed by those in the Hollywood know.
Simon immediately scored two champagne cocktails from the open bar and they drank them thirstily as they stalked the parameters of the elegantly glitzy yet modern dining room. The crowd was most definitely C-List; there were some glamourous Heidi Fleiss girls, a gaggle of lesser talent agents, several washed-up TV actors and a cadre of Simon and Angelika’s late night, trust-funded fellow drug abusers. They soon located their allocated dining table and they presently sat down with their cohorts. Angelika looked around at their demonically glittering eyes and at their fiendishly grinding jaws and reflected that it was highly unlikely that anyone at this particular table would be partaking of tonight’s lavishly catered repast.
Angelika air-kissed her neighbour, Antonius - a pretty, aristocratic English boy with a very expensive and imaginatively varied drug habit; Antonius was already twitching and they hadn’t yet announced the Best Supporting Actress nominees. Angelika wondered how this particular phenomenon continued on such an overtly grand scale. Didn’t the parents find it strange that they would send their expensively-schooled golden youth off to a big, bright future in the land of opportunity only to have them return six months later with at best, horridly bad skin, a virulent dose of herpes and a heavily depleted bank account? There would swiftly follow the inevitable trip to Clouds, The Farm or The Priory, where they’d be sluiced out, brain-washed and then sent back to Los Angeles or up to London for some more of the same. At least I buy my own drugs, thought Angelika proudly, my Daddy’s not supporting my dirty little habit.
The evening progressed in a frenzied blur. Simon had come through as promised and Angelika was holding in her quilted Chanel purse a vial of some of the purest Peruvian Flake
that she’d ever ingested. Antonius and the others became exponentially more fascinating as her trips to the bathroom increased in regularity. Somewhere along the line, Dustin Hoffman won the best actor statue, but nobody paid his obsequious speech much mind, apart from the agents, who were frothing at the mouth in their desperation to convince Heidi’s hookers that they were close, personal friends of “Dusty.” The girls didn’t much care as they were all getting paid anyway, they just had to pretend to be enthralled, which was a piece of cake with Colombia’s finest being shoveled incessantly up their perfectly sculpted nostrils.
New people started showing up and joining Simon and Angelika’s table. It was a speeding merry-go-round of chemical fun as they swapped seats, went to the bathroom, ordered more vodka, bitched about their friends, slagged off the winning movies and almost as an afterthought, tried half-heartedly to get laid.
Simon had by now met two nurses from Orange County who were so spookily out of place that they might have been beamed down from Mars. Jenna and Tiffany couldn’t have been more Orange County if they’d worn fluorescent cardboard signs stating the fact pinned to their garish, tiered prom dresses. Lee Press-On Nails, huge frosted hair and way too much purple eye-makeup? Angelika couldn’t actually remember the last time she’d seen anyone dressed like that, outside of a bad B movie. Didn’t Conde Nast deliver to Orange County? Actually, where the fuck was Orange County? Angelika made herself a silent promise never to visit the wretched place.
Simon was obviously charming the two girls, and they gazed back at him with bovine adoration. He was undoubtedly impressing them with his family’s extensive resume. It worked every time, admitted Angelika grudgingly. By now he’d probably promised them screen tests, or at the very least the chance to meet Steven Seagal. Whatever works, thought Angelika, knowing that people tend to believe what they want, and if they’re stupid enough to buy into that bullshit, then they deserve everything that they get in return; which is generally an embarrassed morning-breath kiss, a hasty fumbling for cab-fare and a transparently insincere promise to call really, really soon.
The party was winding down now, but not for Simon, Angelika and their two new best friends. The plan was all back to Simon’s as usual, where they could imbibe their drugs openly. The public bathroom ritual did hold a certain clandestine charm, but waiting in line for a stall was sometimes interminable and most of the better clubs and restaurants now employed minimum wage attendents who were definitely watching you, if not passing on lurid personal information to the tabloids. One never really knew what these peons were up to and God forbid one didn’t have change for a tip, when their resulting scowls could freeze the blood. Angelika wasn’t cheap, but she resented this practise, as she was now and always had been perfectly capable of extracting her own paper hand towel from the dispenser.
The festive group eventually managed to reclaim their cars from the over-priced valet and headed in a convoy back up the hill to Simon’s palace of infinite delights. Angelika drove, twitchily paranoid as ever as Simon groped Tiffany, or was it Jenna? in the back seat. The other girl sat in front and launched into a fascinating discourse as to some of the more visceral aspects of her job at the hospital. Angelika, though slightly irritated by having this Martian forced upon her, did find herself rather engrossed by the finer scatological points. The girl was definitely very high on some whole other level as she kept sliding off the seat mid-sentence and onto the floor of the Rabbit convertible while bumping her head on the dashboard. Angelika kicked herself for having kept the car’s soft top down as her passengers were mounting quite the bizarre and erotic cabaret.
Mercifully, they eventually arrived at Simon’s in one unbusted piece. Angelika parked the car and helped pull Simon and Jenna/Tiffany physically out of the back seat. They appeared to have formed quite an attachment to each other. Lovely, thought Angelika, desperately wanting to get inside the house so she could snort some more coke in peace. She really wanted to dump this badly dressed nurse who mistakenly thought that Angelika was to be her new best friend and glamorous entree’ into exclusive Hollywood nightlife. Now that makeover, thought Angelika, as she waited impatiently for Simon to locate his fucking key and open his fucking door, would require a height of resolve which I simply do not possess.
Finally, they were admitted and Angelika immediately sat on the edge of the brown leather sofa next to the smoked glass coffee table where she proceeded to intently chop out a couple of long lines. Simon joined her while the nurses comically staggered about on the shag pile pretending to appreciate his family’s eclectic post-modern art collection. The two girls were finally rendered ecstatically speechless when they came upon an expensively framed photo of a teen-aged Simon with his scrawny arm wrapped firmly around mega-star, Harrison Ford who was clearly wearing his Indiana Jones costume.
Simon and Angelika snorted the coke and then she indicated the girls, saying sotto voce, “Interesting choice, Simon. Feeling altruistic, were we?”
“Don’t be a bitch, Angel,” replied Simon, his practised finger pressed hard over one well-used nostril, “they’re really nice.”
“They’re really wasted,” she spat back, “think they can keep their mouths shut?” Angelika resented the unwelcome presence of civilian outsiders as she’d been the victim of unsavory leaks to the press more than once.
Simon grinned wickedly, “They won’t remember a thing, darling. I gave them each 3 tabs of X.”
Angelika shook her head in horrified disbelief, “Brilliant. You gave fucking nurses Ecstasy. Three tabs. Don’t they get tested?”
Simon looked momentarily abashed, “Never thought of that. Oops!”
Angelika snorted another line and stood. “Fine, on your head be it.” The doorbell suddenly rang and Simon made his escape. He hated when Angelika gave him a hard time, she could be so fucking sensible sometimes.
Angelika poured herself a drink from the bottle of Absolut vodka that was floating in a bowl of melted ice on the wetbar and then she started racking up the coloured balls on the pool table. She loved the game and she was miraculously good at it considering her less than stellar eyesight. On all those nights spent wired at Simon’s, one needed an outlet for all that pent up energy and pool was the perfect antidote. It constantly changed, offering her endless new challenges; but mostly she just loved beating the boys at what they thought was their own game. That was a delicious victory and one of which Angelika never tired.
People started pouring into Simon’s living room and Angelika knew most of them, products of some of the most expensive and exclusive public schools that England and the East Coast had to offer. Their parents must be so proud, thought Angelika cynically, but at least these rich-kids knew how to party and they usually paid for their own drugs, except towards the end of the month when the old allowance was wearing a mite thin. There were also a couple of girls that she knew and liked, Dina in particular, who although she was from a monied background and was supported by a father who had made his millions from a successful TV producing career, Dina was well on the way to doing the same, only on her own merit. Dina was smart, hard working and entertaining to converse with, even at five am. They greeted each other warmly as Angelika handed her a strong cocktail.
“Line, darling?” inquired Angelika.
“It would be rude not to.” replied Dina, winking.
Angelika shook some more coke from out of her vial onto the table. The last, lone chalky rock fell out and she said, "Shit."
“We can always get more, darling.” soothed Dina, while rolling up a fifty with the dexterity of an origami expert. “I’m sure Simon’s good for it.”
“That’s not the point,” replied Angelika, carefully crushing the rock with the bowl of a tiny silver teaspoon that lived in a lucite box on the coffee table precisely for this purpose, “this was half full. I gave it to fucking Antonius at dinner.”
“Well that was your first mistake, wasn’t it?” responded Dina, after snorting the coke with gusto. The girls smiled at each other.
There were at least thirty people in the house by now. Simon had amped up the stereo, filling the room with his signature heinous classic rock din. Under normal circumstances, Angelika would have commandeered the sound system, as she was extremely serious about her music, but with Simon it was a losing battle. He didn’t even own any music other than Seventies hair rock. Angelika tried to focus on something else, but shot Simon a filthy look anyway, for old times’ sake. He always took a perverse joy in winding her up.
Dina and Angelika then started playing pool and many hours passed as more coke was bought and consumed, couples attempted to take them on, pouty posh boys lost, grown men crumbled and the girls were invincible. Angelika did occasionally resort to underhanded tactics like leaning suggestively over the table so her opponent would get a distracting eyefull of cleverly cantilevered cleavage, but mostly they won on skill alone.
Exhausted and puffed up with triumph, Angelika finally squinted at her watch. It was six am by now and she desperately needed to go to the bathroom. Angelika excused herself from the game and passed her cue to a Harley-riding hairdresser who earlier, had leeringly promised her a free trim. She then glanced around the living room which was looking more than usually sordid in the early morning gloom; cigarette smoke hung heavily in the stale air, fag butts littered the tables and floor and half empty glasses seeped liquid into the thick carpet. Same old, same old, thought Angelika, pitying Simon’s poor maids, but where was everybody? She’d been so engrossed in her game, that she hadn’t noticed that Simon, the nurses and most of the guys had mysteriously disappeared. Angelika found a vacant bathroom and opened the door.
The wastepaper basket was overflowing with paper napkins, broken plastic glasses and crushed Marlboro Lights packets and there was something gross floating in the toilet bowl that was just begging to be flushed. Simon’s monogrammed linen hand towels were all soiled and had been balled up and left on the bathroom floor. Angelika pushed down the handle on the lavatory, while studiously looking away from the offending object and then she sat on the toilet seat and tried to pee. Her bladder was fit to burst, but she was so numb from the coke that it was taking a concerted effort just to make herself urinate. Angelika sat there a long time, shakily snorting coke from her long pinkie fingernail that she’d dipped into the vial. Her heart was beating really fast now that she had nothing else to concentrate upon and she tried to breathe deeply, but her nostrils were clogged and painful. Finally, the pee mercifully started to trickle out and Angelika relaxed a little.
Suddenly, the door sprang open and one of the nurses, her dress half undone, stumbled into the bathroom.
“Excuse me! Ever heard of knocking?” said Angelika, who felt that all ablutions should be, by their very nature, private affairs. The girl just stared numbly at Angelika, mouthed ‘sorry’ and then she hurled herself at the sink and started vomiting violently.
Lightweight, thought Angelika, while discretely wiping herself on the last square of clean toilet paper. But the poor girl was still vomiting and she did not look good. Angelika, who although thrououghly disgusted by the rookie display, managed to find an unbroken glass that was sitting on the side of the tub, rinsed it under the faucet and then filled it with water and offered it to the sick girl.
“Here sit down, Jenna.” said Angelika gently and the girl blinked up at her through smudged mascara’d eyes. Her black pupils were enormous, with no areola of colored iris visible. The girl then collapsed onto the closed toilet seat and gratefully took a tiny sip of water from the proffered glass.
“It’s Tiffany.” she whispered as the tears which streaked down her puffy cheeks dug track marks through her thick orange foundation. Tiffany then started to shake uncontrollably and Angelika wiped her face with the cleanish corner of one of the discarded hand towels. Under all that makeup, the girl didn’t look more than nineteen.
“Are you okay?” asked Angelika.
Tiffany looked away in what apeared to be shame and then she shook her head. Angelika then helped the girl to modestly straighten her cheap and poufy taffeta dress, tenderly pulling up her bra straps over her plump, sweating shoulders.
“What happened? Did you get too high?” continued Angelika, “It’s alright, you’ll feel better soon. Drink this.” Tiffany looked down, her lower lip trembling; it was also swollen and Tiffany winced as she touched the edge of the glass to her mouth. Angelika immediately knew that something was very, very wrong.
“Where’s Jenna?” she asked, but the girl just looked terrified at this and about to black out and she started to slide off the toilet. Angelika grabbed her and forced her upright. “Tell me, Tiffany, now.”
“Bedroom...” whispered the girl.
“OK. You have to stay awake,” replied Angelika, “I’m going to find Jenna. Please Tiffany, don’t go to sleep.”
“Don’t leave me…” begged Tiffany, clasping at Angelika’s hand.
“Just for a moment, I’ll get Dina to stay with you, okay?” Angelika then gave her a soft kiss on the cheek and gently pulled her hand away. She exited the bathroom as calmly as possible and then she walked stone faced into the living room.
Dina took one look at Angelika’s expression and rushed over. “What the fuck’s the matter?” she said, searching Angelika’s glittering, angry eyes.
“Go to the bathroom, look after the girl.” replied Angelika, her lips were unusually tight and hard, “Find out where they live, call them a cab and put it on my credit card. I’ll explain later.” Angelika then handed Dina her cocaine-smeared Gold American Express card and walked down the hallway towards the closed door of the master bedroom.
The sweet, rank smell of crack cocaine hit her first and Angelika tried not to breathe as she squinted into the near darkness of the room. Jenna the nurse lay spreadeagled on the bed, her pudgy limbs splayed in inelegant disarray. The full skirt of her prom dress was hiked up around her waist, and the ruffled top of the garment was pulled low, exposing her breasts. She didn’t appear to be conscious. Angelika’s first impulse was that the girl was already dead, but Jenna’s toes twitched as Simon repeatedly plunged an empty glass bottle of Coca Cola into her vagina. Nine other men, most of whom she knew, were lounging around the bed, firing up the crack pipe and gazing with anthropological fascination at the humiliation of the Orange County girl, who was most definitely not of their kind.
“Simon.” said Angelika, her voice quietly cold with anger. Simon continued to be transfixed by his new toy and didn’t look up. None of the other men had yet registered Angelika's presence
in the dark, smoke-filled room.
Angelika shouted, “Simon! Leave her alone.”
Simon finally looked up at Angelika with black eyes that were dilated and somewhat
confused. “What?” he muttered, brattishly irritated by her intrusion.
Angelika then strode to the bed and pushed Simon off Jenna. She was too incensed to speak and she finally knew with red-tinged clarity what it felt like to want to kill another human being.
With shaking hands she covered the girl’s pubis and breasts and then she attempted to pull her up off the bed.
Nobody moved to help Angelika, they simply stared in fucked-up torpor at the latest chapter that was unfolding in their squalid human drama. Jenna’s stoned eyes fluttered open and then she smiled weakly up at Angelika, who smoothed her damp, dyed-blonde hair back from her face.
“Come on, Jenna,” she whispered, “time to go home.”
Jenna struggled to her feet, but her legs gave way beneath her. Angelika pulled her up once more and then helped her walk away from the bedroom, without once looking back. Jenna stared wild eyed at Angelika, as they swayed drunkenly down the corridor.
“You are so lovely. You’re the girl in that commercial aren’t you?”
Angelika then put her arm around Jenna’s waist to steady her and replied, “No, Jenna. I’m definitely not that girl.”