The Soul Recovers Radical Innocence
\Parts 1 & 2 are at exquisitepandemicarchive.com]
as Luca always referred to our life with him in his palace of a brownstone by the Frick Collection on the Upper Eastside. ‘His girls,’ a collection of dancers, models and actresses Luca would watch out for, all rowdy and gorgeous.
A svelte older guy with a greying ponytail, Luca, a major actor of Indie films, always dressed to perfection, loved his girls. He had flushed Genet out of hiding, offering her money to return to New York to testify against Offices. The months she spent in his home were happy ones. Most of the girls were younger than Genet. In their early twenties. armed with glasses and bottles of champagne, they would troll the entire city through the night until dawn. They would have massive, epic dinners, stretching into the next day.
Luca was the bastard son of a Gambino capo. He found his mother there on the family doorstep knifed to death at the age of twelve. He got his revenge in a brilliant acting and directing career, often rocking Hollywood. Agile, discursive, chatty. Genet could not follow his talks, full of recent gossip nor could she make any sense of his take on the latest films. Careers going up, careers going down. Often these same celebs would appear at their parties, yet Genet didn’t know and did not bother to catch their names. Luca was the badboy of the Indie scene.
Breathless, barechested boy in a tuxedo jacket at Warhol’s side. Blond hair askew, chiseled face. ‘Pimp, Cold,’ was the magnificent black and white photo of Luca hanging in the dining room. Here, in the browstone hewn of pure crystal and marble, the arcades featuring tiny Dali paintings, a wall of searing Helmut Newtons, lights were kept lowered.
There were five other girls besides Genet, content to share the high-ceilinged apartments with French windows, fireplaces, luxurious bathrooms. The finest of kitchens was supervised by a Sicilian, Angela who could speak at most five words in English.
His favorite was Piera who he had discovered once she reached twenty-two. She had been touted as a singer, then an actress, but was hopelessly mediocre. Millions had been poured into her career with no result. She had been featured in Luca's film ‘Skin’ along with Sela, a so-called avant-garde examination of exploitation. The film was laughable, barely getting distribution. Yet the one night Luca streamed it, Genet realized she’d seen it years earlier. It seemed Sela played her part in the film of the story of Offices.
Yet she’d been too long in hiding. Putting up shows, teaching in various studios across the country. Often sleeping in those studios. Using a fake ID to work in convenience stores, motels, cooking in diners. Getting by on almost nothing after being officially ‘murdered’, it was a relief to be able to return to New York as a normal person, yet it was evident once she let her guard down again, she could be grabbed up again easily. Thrown into prison, executed.
* * *
He took Genet out to the big dining room, seating her at the table. He goes into the city. Sylvie, the wife, the heavyset blond with the trying smile, keeps laughing. Maria, the Mexican lady who did the cooking, joined them at the table. Genet ate slowly, picking at the sandwich and the dip while Sylvie talked of her life, then sitting back with a dreamy smile while they spoke. Genet still wore the same pajamas, the robe, the slippers. Clothes, dresses and blouses, skirts and underwear, all bought for her, remained untouched for days.
Sylvie going on about her job at AP the time Hoult ran Homeland Security. Hoult just kept turning her down the biggest for an interview. But Sylvie got mad, got in, as she told her story, got her man.
Afternoon this Sylvie started drinking her scotch, telling more stories. He bought her that massive diamond, did you know?
By midafternoon, the dishes are cleaned and taken away. Sylvie is pacing up and down the room by now. She’s gotten soused running around with her third glass of scotch, is going on about what mistakes she’s made in her life. But then, Genet can keep smiling hard as the flatscreens shriek the stories of pipelines breaking, the ruin of drinking water and earth, mass shootings. Funny, they think of it as leaving no evidence, the mass grave they’ve created, thought Genet. Yet the evidence is massive. The planet and population all wiped out. None of it, not a trace will survive, Sylvie shrieks ecstatically. Why can’t they just be civil? Democrats are poisoning everything.
* * *
Pimp, actor, producer, serial murderer. Luca himself. How she was to help him shoot up his heroin.
This paid her keep while Luca had her in town to testify. Not a bad deal, but he wasn’t too happy how she ran out of the courtroom, ending up saying nothing.
So Jenny came down and took the needle out of his arm, and put another one in. Told Genet to get her stuff, go. But then she had given Sela only a half dose there in the next room.
Remembered as she got her clothes and things and was running out of her room. That Sela would come out of her stupor.
The other girls, all of them, were hurriedly packing, leaving. She would never see this house again.
So, what did she see weeks later at a Chinese laundry, but the long grasses of a Long Island beach in the dark on the television. Various inserts appeared, mostly women. There, she recognized Piera from the house, but then it was a photo of Luca himself. That would be ‘the Shelf,’ the strip of beach where the victims of Offices, many bodies of the serial killer were found. The strange thing was that Sela was pictured, still alive, being led off barefoot, undoubtedly naked, in a blanket.
That Sela lay naked on that grass, alive, is all, wondered Genet. The strange miracle.
* * *
It is almost two a.m.
He sits in the dark, watching an old movie on the television when he sees her appear. Her door opens with some hesitancy. He sits staring as she goes for the fridge, looking to neither side. The heavy glare of the light suffuses her as she slides the plate into her arms, stops to open a drawer, grab up a fork.
“Come. Sit by me,” he says.
She pours herself a glass of water, then comes to sit.
He puts his arm around her shoulder for a minute, then lets her eat.
He follows her into her room. He takes her into the bed, feverishly undressing her. Removing the sheet. Rubbing her hard with his erection, and then mounting her. The room is filled with the whitest light of morning.
Slamming hard, hitting at her against the headboard.
“DEAD,” he shrieks. “Can’t I make you feel?” He sobs and sobs, holding her hard.