TOO MUCH SNOW IN VIENNA from “Showroom of Perfections”

5 05 2011


Payne is on a deadline, like usually. A Playboy interview with an American Movie Star – the darling of all my daughter’s moms – has to be turned in by the end of the week.

This means I’m on my own. I meet friends I haven’t seen in years, but after a long negotiation that involved sexual favors, I manage to drag Payne to meet my ex-boyfriend, the big love of my life before I went to America. He has become one of Austria’s most famous painters and he still looks as hot and sexy as he did ten years ago. He and Payne immediately size each other up. Underneath their charmful conversation and stilted friendliness, the jealousy is obvious. They both stake out their territory and this amuses me. Usually, it’s me who has to let other chicks know who Payne’s women is – me, of course – but Vienna is different. I’m in my element and besides, nobody knows Payne here, so there is none of the fan annoyance going on.

Christian invites us both to his studio, but Payne declines. I’m surprised. Is this another test he conducts on my faithfulness?

He cuts it short and returns to the hotel. “Work”, he sighs. But I know better. He doesn’t like to waste his time on people who are nothing more than my friends. If it’s not about his business, or an event about him, his patience and ability to communicate with people who are not stars or agents, is very limited.  He gets antsy and eventually nasty. So I don’t protest when he excuses himself.

“Baby, just go without me. I’m sure you have a lot to catch up on”, he smiles benevolently and I know this means “Come back to the hotel with me if you know what’s good for me”

I pretend not to understand and slip into my coat to go with Christian. His studio is just a few blocks away. We immediately fall into our comfortable and delightful banter. Over the years, we have developed an easy friendship.

Even though, a year ago, when Payne and me were broken up once more, I got myself and my broken heart to Vienna and spent a few nights of uncomplicated sex and fun with Christian. Our connection has weathered years of distance and countless relationships, even my marriage to Lilly’s dad and as soon as we see each other, we are back to a time when we were young lovers, living in a commune, sharing girls and boys, art school, drunken escapades and philosophical discussions long into the morning hours. He makes me laugh. He likes who I am. No doubt, we still love each other. This is my other secret (besides the bulimia) that I keep from Payne. I need something that’s mine and mine alone.

I always loved Christian’s art. He has grown as an artist and even though I liked his paintings better, the ones he did when we were so crazily in love, the very conceptual paint cubes that he has worked on over the last years and have made him a star – the youngest Austrian artist under 40 with shows and collectors all over the world – are admittedly genius. I admire his studio, filled with hundreds of sculptures and paintings. He pours himself a quite large glass with Whiskey and we crack up when we discover his cat that got her paws stuck on a drying painting. It takes forever to free her, mostly because we laugh so much that out efforts are not very effective.

We broke each other’s heart a long time ago and there is still a part inside us that regrets this. We were so young and ambitious. We decided that we had to be on our own to develop into serious artists.

Our love got in the way. It made life too sweet and all of us believed that only unhappiness could create serious art. We decided to split. Real artists can’t be side tracked by romantic love. That was the mantra we and all our other art school friends stated as a rock-hard rule and most of us adhered to it. So we broke up. It was the most heart wrenching decision and of course, we went underground and secretive with our love. Even though we both dated and slutted around with countless partners, we always ended up in my bed somehow.

Eventually, we managed to develop a deep friendship. But whenever we visited each other in LA or Vienna, we slipped into our passionate love affair. Every time I took him to the airport or left Vienna, I would cry for days.

But now I am so into Payne, so totally taken and pre-occupied by our vertigo inducing on-and off drama, that Christian can’t get to me anymore, regardless of his handsome charm, impressive art and fame.

I’m Payne’s women. I’m intimidated by his constant jealous accusations and way too scared to rock the boat.

Christian lights a fire in his fireplace and pulls me down next to it. I scoot away from him.

“Sorry, baby. I can’t do this anymore. Payne is here to meet my dad and the rest of my family. I can’t fuck this up.” I say with fake strength in my voice.

“I don’t like him. He’s fake and vain. Honestly, he’s an asshole. A Hollywood climber who loves only himself” Christian puts his arm around me.

“You don’t understand, Christian. He’s had a really hard life and managed to climb out of it. People look up to him. He saves lives. He has a god heart, he really does” I remove his arm from my shoulder.
“Come on, you know he cheats. A guy like him! Baby, I know. It takes one to know one and he! He’s a cheater. Believe me.” He teases me, but his face is serious while he hangs up my coat.

“No, no, he’s not. We have our problems, but he loves me and besides, we have sex all the time, so often, every time we see each other. No way that a man in his 50ies could be able to fuck around after what we do. I’m not leaving him with enough energy, believe me”, I laugh.

I see the hurt on his face. I would not want to hear about his extremely satisfying sex-life with another women either.

He holds my hand and catches my eyes “Are you happy with him?”

“Yes, of course” I say way too fast.

“You don’t look like you are. You’re tense and nervous. You don’t trust him and even if you can’t admit it, it shows. This is not a happy relationship” he plays with my hair and kisses my neck. I brush him off and after a long look into his way too smart eyes I admit it.

“You’re right. I’m not happy. We fight all the time and we break up every view weeks and I really wish I could change this. I don’t know how to go on like this. There are so many times I wish I could off myself, but there is Lilly and she doesn’t deserve a suicide mom”

I don’t want to cry. Here in this safe place with a man who has known me for 20 years, I could easily break down. What if the truth of my sad life overwhelms me to the point of making a change? Like staying here in Vienna? Lilly has the right to have a mom and a dad. My overwhelming obsession with Payne makes me hate and judge myself as worthless and stupid.

“You know you can’t change a man like this. Or any man. If you’re not happy after – how long has it been, ten years? – You’re not going to be. Ever. You hear me, Monah? Ever. Sorry to pop your bubble, but I’m telling you nothing you don’t already know.”

We embrace, but when he starts to kiss me, I turn away.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do it. He’d know. I can’t hurt him like this” I mumble as I reach for my coat.

“Hurt him? Are you kidding? This guy hurts you and you protect him? Stay here. Stay. We can have a really good life here. I still love you. Vienna is a big city now. There is room for brilliant fashion designers like you. Lilly would love it too.”

Christian downs his drink and throws another log into the fire.

“Let’s get married,” he says, “ I mean it.”

“That’s the whiskey speaking”, I laugh, brushing his sincerity away.

I leave Christian’s studio after just one passionate kiss and flee from what I know is the truth. I’m not willing or ready to make a change. I’m caught up in the most addictive circle of domestic violence. Hardly any woman has the strength to leave once the pattern of heaven and hell has become a reality that cannot be escaped. By now, I’m also financially dependant on Payne – another shameful and soul-destroying secret that eats me alive.

By now the snow is falling so heavily, it silently covers the sidewalks, the buildings and street signs. The tears on my cheek freeze faster than I can wipe them away. I love Christian. There will never be a man like him. Payne has a hold on me that isn’t about love. But I run back to him.

Hotel Trieste is like five minutes from Christian’s studio. My coat keeps me warm, but as I drag my boots in knee deep fresh snow, I realize with growing panic that I don’t remember how to get back. I try this street and that street and I vaguely remember where I should be. But it has been almost 20 years and after an hour of walking in circles, I have to admit that I’m hopelessly lost.

I turn into a tavern and feel the looks of the drinking patrons in my back. I sit down and order hot chicken soup. I’m hungry.

It’s the kind of place a women who wants to be let alone doesn’t enter. The waitress, a huge whale of a woman slides the bowl towards me and eyes me with ever so slight contempt and curious interest.

“What’s a women like you doing in here?”

“Where is the hotel Triest? I seem to be lost” I ask in English because I don’t want her to think I’m a floozy slut or worse, a prostitute, trying to rake up business in this questionable establishment.

She understands enough English to answer me.

“You are way away from it. I can call you a taxi?”

“I am? I thought I’m so close” I wonder “But please call me a cab, right now!”

I call Payne from my mobile and to my surprise the switch to international connection on my blackberry has finally kicked in. Even more surprising, is that he picks up.

“I’m lost, Payne. I don’t know what happened. The snow makes everything look strange and unfamiliar. But they are calling a cab for me. No reason to worry, I’ll be there soon.”

“Lost? You’re lost in the city you grew up in? That’s kind of strange. But I’m not surprised.”

“What do you mean? You’re not surprised? I’m really lost,” I almost cry with fatigue and frustration.

“Yeah. Lost with Christian. It’s ok, baby. I knew all along that you would fuck him and I don’t hold it against you. Just come home when you’re done,” he laughs with sarcastic bitterness.

“Payne. I’m really lost. I haven’t fucked Christian. It’s snowing so heavily; I can’t find me way back. I swear.” I sob.

“I see you when I see you. No need to rush” he says coldly and hangs up.

I tuck into my soup when the taxi shows up. I pay in a hurry and jump into the cab. We get to the hotel in about four minutes. I was close after all.

I step into our suite and Payne hammers away at his laptop. He doesn’t turn around when I say “Hi”.

I can’t stand the coldness and his punishment. I don’t know what to do with myself. Except what I always do when my feelings freak me out.

“I’m hungry. I guess I’ll go downstairs and have a bite. You want to come with me?”

“Naw. Not now. I’m in the flow. Gotta take advantage of when the gods of writing have mercy and give me a few minutes of ease,” he mumbles.

I grab my keys and take the elevator downstairs to the dining room.



One response

5 05 2011
rene diedrich

You are a mystery and a wonder Monah This shows remarkable growth as an artist. It is typicAlly annoying to read romantic triangles and this cod easily become a Jackie Collins genre best seller. It’s the kind if mainstream veal you like yet its so much more. You really captured this couple and the man is now rendered as a complex character not just another generic asshole. There are just so many striking details. The artist needs a concession or two. This will show the narrator is round too
If you are really brave you will use mire inner dialogue and put your real secrets on blast. Bulemia does not provoke same scorn as slamming narcotics unless one lives in third world country.
I think its an accident but in the cafe the narrator slips info a Austrian brand of u bonix. It is very authentic as is the antagonist. She really doesn’t get him between the culture and the pain. Which I’d like to note has indeed transformed you into an artist. Pardon my typos Its 4am and I have to use a phone because all things electronic turn on me. Now the pc is shocking my fingertips. Isn’t that so much as the spun cursor pattering text all over the page. It makes latent Lester bangs and James Joyce seem cogent and focused.
Anyway you may be some sort of deranged genius and frankly we value very different things but I am impressed by what you are doing in more ways than one. It’s ur story. You have a right maybe even a need to tell it. By telling the truth but telling it slant as Dickinson suggests you not only made art you told the story honestly. Still need to work in titles. That tend to come with the last of the psychic vomit. Keep the names satirical. Don’t sensationalize it by saying so and so. Show don’t tell. Off we ho info the wretched world where even art cannot save us. But congratulations you did something altruistic when you created it here. Keep going!

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