21 08 2011

 

LIKE A GIRL ON A WIRE

 

L. C. is my man. I own every record by him. I have at least tried to learn to play all his songs on my guitar. It is 1979 and L. C. is out of style, killed by punk-rock. I try to fit in with my friends, to dress  more punk-rock than  romantic hippie dresses, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. Even though it should, because I am always angry. Anger is my life force. Deprived of its logic and its livid energy I question my survival.

That’s why I listen to L. C. only at home, secretly and I don’t talk about it. I don’t wanna share him with anybody anyway. I know of course, that a singer worth his money is supposed to make  you feel like that he sings only for you alone, but still…

My  first almost-ex husband is the only other person who is allowed to share  my love for him. Last time we kicked dope for two days, he listened to “You Know Who I Am” and “Bird on a wire” so many times that it got him to cry. Not that you need any songs to make you cry when you go through Heroin withdrawal, but he is a tough guy who needs a lot of help to cry.

But tonight L. C. will be performing at the ‘Koncert Haus’ and my husband is out of town on some  bizarre project with the alcoholic sculptor, he’s been working with on and off for some time. Of course I’m broke but I show up anyway in the hope that somebody will get me in on account that I’m young, cute and dressed like a true seventies groupie.

I wear a dyed purple silk dress, that I made this afternoon, slightly tattered on purpose and a purple fur coat from the flea-market, falling apart at the seams. On my feet are purple vintage boots, laced up in the front on high stiletto heels. I have dyed them purple myself. My hair is long and henna red, cut straight with long thick bangs that hang over my eyes. I look like Cleopatra in rags. This look always works for me. People always say I look mysterious.

In front of the ‘Konzert Haus’, where I show up without a ticket, a crowd has formed. To my relief, I recognize a group of people I have met before at the academy. I work there as a nude painter model, since I myself haven’t found the courage yet to show up for the yearly entrance tests. This way I’m getting paid just to stand around at the academy of applied arts without having to find out if I have what it takes or not.

One of the group knows somebody who knows somebody who knows the drummer in L. C’s band and the two of us run off to find this somebody and I cant believe my luck, but we do. He is an older, very handsome man and it turns out that he manages the band’s show here in Vienna. He is dressed in a suit, just like L. C. and I introduce myself. His name is Daniel and our conversation ends with him offering me a ticket and an invitation to join him later, after the show backstage. This really is  my lucky day, but then again, I have never had to pay to get into a show so far. It certainly helps to be 20 years old and to be a painter model.

I float through the show in my plushy seat in one of the front rows. The only thing that’s not perfect, is all the other people in the same room. Like I said, I don’t like to share L. C.

Backstage after the show, I stand by myself, while my new friend Daniel talks to a group of woman in evening dresses and there in the middle of the small crowd is L. himself. He is holding a drink in one hand. His other hand dances over the exposed skin of one of the older women. I experience a wave of jealousy so immense that it makes my eyes sting. But the tour-manager has caught sight of me and waves for me to come over. On shaky legs I swim through the crowd and then I’m there in front of my fantasy, holding out my hand to receive a much needed drink. I say ‘Hi!”, because that’s all I can say right now. I hardly speak English. The only English I know comes from trying to understand L. C’s , Sex-Pistols and  Donovan songs. There was also one summer in England with a strange and kind family – a very long time ago.

And even if I would speak his language, I wouldn’t want to waste my words with banal bits, like “I really liked your show”, or “How do you like Vienna?”, but obviously, I would like to be able to say something, that makes me sound more interesting than a nervous school girl. But I delay to worry about that because L. looks at me, smiling. He asks Daniel something, while he keeps his eyes and his smile on me.

“L. wants to know where you’re from” Daniel translates for me and I turn to L.  I’m not sure if I even understand this question. But L. laughs and Daniel explains that he thinks that I don’t look Austrian.

“What do I look like from?” I ask both of them.

“He thinks you could be from Russia or from Mongolia or even an Eskimo”

“OK. My mother is an Eskimo and my dad is an Indian chief. But don’t tell anybody. My parents don’t know that I know that I’m adopted” I say, while I fish for my cigarettes. There, my English is not all bad.

L. lights my cigarette with a match from his breast pocket and drops the matches into my bag. He grabs two glasses of wine from a uniformed waiter and toasts with me. He takes my fur-coat and drapes it over his arm. He leans against the wall, watching me. There is some response between us, I feel it each time I meet his sad looking eyes. I respect the power of songs, the vibrations, all the things one cannot see. Occasionally those things are more powerful than all the rest – you either bow to them, let them in, or their force will break you. It is hot and noisy in here.

“Do you want to take a walk?” he asks into my eyes.

“Yes, outside!” I smile back.

He takes my arm and outside the cold winter air hits my flushed face. He helps me into my fur coat and I have no idea where to go from here. My curiosity is roused by not knowing the outcome of this. I have suffered for this – more than once – yet my impulse remains, has even strengthened over time.

My idol, this old man decked out in a suit, with sharp and very deep lines in his face, this L. C. kisses me right outside the ‘Konzert-Haus’ and I don’t even have to stand on my toes to reach him. His hands grab for my hair and I place myself entirely into his hands, pretending not to know it, pretending to think that I am in charge. I have learned enough about seductions over the years to know this: real desire, the kind that gnaws and lasts is nearly always mutual. We exchange another tangled kiss,  a kiss that opens a series of doors to a series of rooms, so that stopping is difficult and torturous. He reaches down into my dress and holds my breasts. It gets way too cold to keep standing outside, even loved and desired like this.

“I wish I knew where my hotel is” he looks at me and laughs “Opera hotel or something  like this…?”

“Oh!’ Hotel bei der Oper’! I know, it is not far, we can walk!” I know a lot more English than I thought.

We walk through the ‘Stadtpark’, where a thin layer of ice has formed on the little lake. His arm over my shoulder and both my hands under his shirt, we are slowly making our way to the hotel.

When we get to his suite, I drop my coat to the floor and L. calls room service for more wine. On the windowsill stands a little plant, a citrus tree that fills the air with sweetness, much sweeter than the little lemons growing on it. He lies down on the velvet sofa, arms at his side, staring at my face. I lay down beside him, not touching.

“No, stand there and take your cloths off!” he points to the French door that leads into his bedroom. He lights cigarettes for him and me and I unbutton all the tiny little buttons on my special dress. I make it last forever. Then I unclasp my bra and roll down my panties. Thank god I wasn’t too scared of the cold to not wear stockings. I would hate to have to step out of some ugly pantyhose in front of L. C. I want him to see what I would like to be: a beautiful young girl from Vienna, naked but for purple stockings and boots, smoking.

“Yes! Now come over here and stand in front of me!”

I love standing naked in front of a so much older and fully clothed man. He is still in his suit and tie and this feels so deliciously nasty and ‘verboten’. Most of the time I can’t  tell if I even like all the sex I’m having.

Ever since I have found out that my husband is gay, I’ve fucked my way around Vienna. There are a lot of cool bands and artists that I run into when I go out at night and I never, ever return home by myself. But I hardly ever feel  turned on and I’ve never had an orgasm with anybody but myself. I connect with the people I fuck on some other level, but sex is just the vehicle. I  do it because I don’t know how to do anything else to not feel lonely. And I kind of enjoy the kissing and touching, its just when it comes to actual sex, I turn off. It hurts. It just hurts and I want it to be over. Fast. That’s why I always pretend to have great orgasms, because I want them to be done and think I’m a great lover. All I really want, is the cigarette afterwoards.

Now when this man looks up at me with all the lust and desire in his eyes, I feel turned on. He reaches up, harshly and pulls my face down on his shoulder. He strokes my back while he keeps on smoking. I lift my face from his shoulder and kiss him. First lightly, a feathery lip-brushing baby kiss, then a kiss of deeper inquiry. Than as if a drawer has fallen open in him, dislodging its contents, he suddenly kisses me back, pushing his tongue deep inside my mouth. He runs his hands down my back until he grabs my ass. A bucket of desire empties over my head, covering my eyes. I reach down grabbing him through his pants but he takes my hand, lacing our fingers together. “Not yet!” he says. He places me so that he lays behind me, kissing my neck until I cant stand it and press my ass against him. His laugh fills my ear with warm breath. He pinches my nipples until the block in my body, a block that had been solid ever since the rape, melts slowly away. When he reaches down between my legs I find it almost unbearably sensual. I shut my eyes and let the wetness and my greed for more dance through me. Blood rushes to my face and makes it ache. In an never ending universe, everyone must choose a few coordinates and I choose mine:  to lie next to L. C.

He breathes my smell “Chocolate?” he asks. “Perfume” I say “from Vienna”. I feel the mattress trembling beneath me. I’d been afraid all along of wanting it more than I’m used to, but he doesn’t know that.

“I love it” he says and takes my hand, which is hot and dry. He rolls me over to face him. He holds me for a long time. I sense that he can feel my strength, the pounding heart inside my small frame and at that moment he recognizes me at last: the innocent. I know in my skin that he feels an impulse to protect me, to shield me from an overwhelming danger. But he has only himself to look for strength.

This time when I reach for his fly, he helps me to undress him. He dims the light even more and when he is totally naked, he spreads the cover over us. He makes me get on top of him and I ride him, slowly,  trying to feel some more of what I got a taste of before, when we just kissed and he wouldn’t let me have more than that. I feel a little bit. It doesn’t hurt! I fake that I’m coming, because I have no idea how not to fake it. I almost really feel that I could maybe come, if I would keep going slowly like that, with him kissing my neck and holding my breasts. For now that possibility makes me giddy with joy and satisfaction. For now that’s as good as it can be.

We lie naked in bed and drink some more wine. We try to talk, but every attempt ends with us laughing and giggling because of the language. We fuck some more, drink some more, fall asleep, have sex again, fall asleep and next time I wake up, I climb out of bed, silently so not to wake him and get dressed. I don’t mean to sneak out, but I don’t want to be there when the daylight shatters through the windows.

Fully dressed, I tiptoe over to the bed and kiss him lightly on the cheek. He hugs me, half asleep and mumbles: ”Thanks for the sweetest Vienniese pastry I ever had. Thank you!”

At least that’s what I hear him say.

 





“HOTEL TRIESTE, VIENNA” “SHOWROOM OF PERFECTION”

27 05 2011

HOTEL TRIESTE

I slip out of the hotel and hop across the street through the still heavily falling snow. I remember from the morning, before the snow started to fall and covered the city in quiet darkness, that there is a bakery. It is still open, thank you god.

Hotel Trieste is really expensive and even though I’m mad at Payne, I don’t want to waste his money on over priced hotel food. It’s not that I’m afraid about being found out – he never checks hotel-or restaurant bills. Or any bills.

He always just pays without ever wondering how a rat-exterminator could be as expensive as 1800$ to remove one dead rat. I recognize the greedy look in the carpenter’s face when he checks the house that Payne just bought and estimates how much the dark wood floorboards will cost. “Rich white stuck up asshole” say his eyes as he charges three times more than he usually does.

Payne tips 50$ bills to bellboys and maids and gets embarrassed at their surprised gratitude. I kind of love him for this generosity but at the same time, I feel contempt when I watch him buying this fake kind of love and admiration. It is so obvious, so totally transparent and especially here, in Europe, he draws more looks of hidden pity than respect. People laugh behind his back about the rich and clueless American. I hurt for him whenever I catch this.

I don’t want to waste his money on my binge. I already feel guilty about that airplane ticket and the expensive hotel and his always-bad mood, which is even worse here than in LA.

I buy a few bags of Viennese pastries, as many as I can stuff into my bag and run back across the street.

Inside the hotel, the afternoon hipster crowd has started to gather. A tiny yearning stirs my chest – I want to sit amongst friends and strangers at the overcool bar and have conversations and connections. I’ve been quite lonely because Payne does not like people in general and especially not with me around. A few people look at me as I walk by in my elegant coat and high heels but at this point in my life, I’m shy and insecure – all my self-esteem, if one could call my fucked up view of myself, my self-loathing and fear of Payne’s rejection as any kind of esteem, is so low, that I can’t look at anybody. So I turn my eyes away and find a booth that is secluded and removed enough from the rest of the diners to have the privacy I need right now.

I order a can of tea, open a magazine and start to reach into my bag of goodies. The first sweet bite makes everything around me silent and I’m suddenly alone. With sugary flower and buttery delight in my mouth, I feel whole and complete. The world around me disappears. This is my private and secret heaven and I take my time to sneak pastry bites from my purse. I wash it all down with tea and hope that my stomach can hold up long enough to stay on my nasty island of perfection.

The fashion magazine is fascinating and I’m drugged out enough to get lost inside it. It doesn’t bother me to read about successful, skinny and happy people who are so much more interesting than me. For half an hour, I look at those pages and fantasize that one day I will be one of those people.

But of course, way too soon, I’m too full to continue. I sneak into the bathroom, bend over and allow those pastries to splash into the toilet. It’s no big deal, it’s so easy and painless – it’s like taking a piss.

I return to my table and continue to eat and read while the music and the conversations around me get louder. A cute looking guy in an expensive suit stops by my table.

“You look so lonely. Why is a pretty lady like you alone on a Saturday night?” he asks in German “My friends and me have watched you walk across the room and we made a bet who this mysterious creature might be. Come join us”

I’m on my fourth or fifth pastry and swallow quickly. I can feel my face blush.

“Excuse me? I do not speak German.” I lie

“Oh, no problem, I’d love to practice my English” he beams in almost perfect English.

“I’m waiting for my husband. He should be here any moment”

“Your husband is welcome with us. Come on over, he’ll find you!” he laughs and touches my arm ever so slightly.

“Ahm. He wants to spend this evening with me alone, it’s our wedding anniversary” I smile. “He just has to finish some work upstairs. But I’ll ask him when he comes down. I’ll see you in a few minutes”

“Great!” he says, “We are over there, that big table by the bar” he winks to his friends. “I can’t wait for you both to join us”

“Sure, I’ll see you soon.” I force myself to be friendly and polite but as soon as he turns around, my hand is back inside my purse and breaks off another piece of cake.

I order another can of tea and keep pushing pieces of Viennese pastry inside my poor little body.

Much too soon, I have to leave my island again, bent over and sick to visit the bathroom. I know I look like a pregnant skinny girl, pushing my bloated stomach ahead of me, but when I return from the toilet, I’m slim and upright again.

To my horror, I recognize an older, very poised and elegant women with short-cropped white hair – a friend of my mother  – when I am about to sit down to finish my binge.

She cries out when she recognizes me. “Monah, oh my god, is this really you?” She is surrounded by the group of people I’m supposed to join once my “husband” is done with his work. I have no choice but to abandon my food-bag and hug her. She holds me away from her and looks me up and down.

“Monah, I had no idea you are in Vienna. Why didn’t you call me?” She hugs and kisses me. “You look so incredibly beautiful, how do you do it? How do you manage to stay so slim and perfect? My god, you are more beautiful than ever. Age really suits you!” She turns to her crowd and introduces me as her best friend’s daughter. “Isn’t she just gorgeous? I mean, you are just amazing. The last time I saw you, how long ago was it, 10, 15 years ago, you were cute, but now you’re an absolute beauty queen. What’s your secret?”

“Thank you, Katja!” I laugh “I don’t see what you are seeing, but maybe its because I’m married to this totally god of a man. You know what that does to a girl, don’t you?”

“So, where is he? I want to meet him!”

“Oh, he’s working on a deadline for Playboy. And he’s not very social. Unfortunately. But he’s wonderful.”

“It shows. It really shows. Love is the best beauty secret, isn’t it?”

“It is. I’m so happy. I’m so in love with him.”

She hugs me again. There is no way I can go back to my secret stash of sugary happiness now. But there is no way to get Payne to come down here either.

“Let me go get him. If he’s done with his story, I’ll bring him down here. It’s so good to see you”

That last line is the only line that’s not a lie. I am happy to see Katja. I really am. For a moment, I make myself believe that I can talk Payne to come down stairs and act like the happy and charming man he is able to be when he wants to be.

“I’ll be right back, Katja” I say and sign the check for our room: Two cans of tea. I’ve been a good girl, not wasting his money.

I grab my bag and on the way upstairs to our room, I dispose the rest of my binge-loot in a trashcan next to the elevator.

I turn the key and hug Payne from behind. He is bent over his computer and he closes it as soon as I approach. But I see a slice of porn before its snaps shut.

“What are you watching?” I ask, “Let me see”

“No. Its nothing you’d care about. Just a little distraction from my boring work. You wouldn’t like it anyway. I’m tired. Come lay down with me” he gets up and sinks into the luxury down comforters. “Come here, baby, I’ve missed you” he purrs in his sexy and seductive Leonard Cohen voice.

“I’ve met an old friend I used to be really close to and she can’t wait to meet you,” I say.

“I’m not in the mood to go downstairs. All I want is you, baby. I’ve missed you so much. I’ve been waiting for you, baby. I need you. I need you so much”

He pulls back the comforter and shows me his errection.

“See how much I want you?” he purrs. “Come here and serve your master”

I lay down next to him and he pulls my jeans off. He kisses me all over and I snuggle up to his warm and slightly bitter smelling body. I’m addicted to this smell. More than to the pastries. Way more.

“I was looking for a dominatrix to give you what you need, baby. I think I found one. Katrina. We’ll see her tomorrow. I want to give you everything you need and I know – shush baby, I know you better than you do – I know what you need and I will give her to you as a present.”

I don’t have the courage to tell him that I have absolutely no interest in Katrina or anybody else. I’ve lied for so many years to please him, pretending that this is my deepest secret wish, to be dominated and abused by a women he chooses for me, so he can watch me get hurt and reduced to the submissive, pain-addicted freak I pretend to be. I’m a liar, a people pleasing wreck of a woman who will do anything to keep him in my life.

And to be totally honest, I wonder if this is what I secretly wish and need. I mean, Payne knows me inside and out and he might be right. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I want. Except Payne – I want him more than I want to live my own life. I don’t have a life anyway. All I have is this desperate love and need for him and to keep him with me. To make him love me. As long as he does, I can live. I know I’ll die if I lose him.

I don’t go downstairs again. I stay in this beautiful bed with him and forget – again – that there is a life that is waiting for me. Downstairs, so close, but so far away. So far, far, far away.





Udo almost gets away “Showroom of Perfections”

26 05 2011

UDO ALMOST GETS AWAY

Renate, my new and fabulous journalist girl friend invites me to a very special lunch at “The Demel” – the oldest and most prestigious bakery in Vienna. It’s a place where politicians mingle with Burg-Theater actors and directors, powerful industry-types and politicians from the “other” party.

All I know about this place is that it is a hothouse of political intrigue, but since I’ve started to move around with Renate, there isn’t much that surprises me anymore.

The Demel is very exclusive, so much so, that the waitresses address the guests in the third person – a throwback to the times when Emperors ruled the Austrian/ Hungarian political empire.

I can’t help but roll my eyes and smirk when a pretty waitress in a starched black and white French maid uniform approaches us, curtsies and asks if she may bring us refreshments. It’s just too weird.

The owner of the Demel, Udo P. has been a familiar name to me since childhood. He was involved in all kinds of scandals and designed a line of sunglasses under the name Serge Something (I don’t remember) – the kind of prestige product we used to make fun of in art school. According to my art-and music buddies, he is a pretentious and misogynist asshole.

Now he is involved into another scandal, a really big one.

During the 70ies, he bought a boat, the “Lucona”, loaded it up with worthless scrap-metal and insured it as a Uranium Delivery Device. I don’t know all the details, since I spent the last few years going back and forth between Vienna and Los Angeles, but I know that the boat blew up in the middle of the Indian Ocean, killing six or seven of the crew onboard.

What at first looked like an innocent and very unlucky accident turns out to be an immense Insurity fraud– the boat was insured for 20 Millions. It doesn’t look good for Udo.

Even though he is stinking rich and has avoided prosecution and jail-time so far, now that another real ambitious journalist wrote a book about the Lucona, not even his political connections and friends in high places can get him out of this one. He’s supposed to appear in court in a few days.

Renate and Udo P. have been friends forever. She doesn’t believe that he committed what he is accused of.

And why am I here, you might ask?

Because he wants to finance a lingerie-line designed by me. Not because he knows anything about my work, except maybe the dresses I designed for some of his friends, but because Renate suggested it to him.

It all sounds fishy, considering the circumstances, and of course the fact, that an aging dude, offering to finance a “lingerie-line” raises every red flag – I mean, come on, a lingerie line of all things….

But his wealth and reputation as a famous connoisseur and supporter of all kinds of art, makes me hope that my red flags are just little flags, not signs I should pay attention to. I want to believe that this rich and nasty guy will give me a lot of money to design a line under my name, just because he’s so taken by my talent.

I mean, Renate would know, wouldn’t she? She assures me that Udo P. is innocent and really wants to invest into a company that for sure will make me famous and turn me into a success full designer and businesswomen.  So here I am, like a ditzy and excited clown, pretending I don’t know what a ruthless and dirty snob criminal he is.

Udo makes his entrance, surrounded by waitresses in way too short uniforms. He’s short, fat, and balding and – surprise! –  Immediately acts like a totally clueless player by grabbing my ass. Before I can slap his hand away, he laughs with an oily voice and snorts to Renate:

“ Just the right body for the sexy panties she’s going to design. Ask her to let me see what she’s wearing under that hot dress right now”

Renate puts her hand on his arm and places a little kiss on his stubbly cheek “Don’t scare her away, Udo. Have some manners. Here sit down.”

He grins and winks the waitress over.

“You lost a lot of weight, Udo.” Renate says, “I’m worried about you”

“You better be worried. Those assholes are having their day with me. Fucking judge…” he trails off. .

We eat real caviar and sample the famous “Demel” desserts, all served by curtsying waitresses that fall over themselves to serve Udo. He paws all of them and they giggle and come back for more.

Udo shoos us into a private room. Only us. Udo drinks and jokes and is trying to be charming and sweet, but he can’t fool us with his jumpiness and hollow eyes. This guy is scared.

Finally, he grabs my folder with sketches that I have worked on for a few weeks. He holds them up, one by one and grins.

“You have real talent. Those bras and garters are getting me all horned up”; he roars and fills himself another glass with the most expensive whiskey from a crystal glass decanter. Renate downs them down too.

“Come on, just one” she smiles, but I’m sticking to tea and coffee – I have to be back at the mental ward and the last thing I need is to return soused. I need my papers signed so I can leave that awful place.

The air in the luxurious room gets thicker by the minute. Udo smokes cigars and both of them get drunker and more stupid by the minute. I try to signal to Renate that we should leave, but she gestures me to wait.

“Be patient” she whispers. “He needs to get to know you before he sinks his money into this”

Of course, he hears that. He picks my sketches up again and lets them float to the floor one by one.

His glassy eyes rest on me for a long time, way too long. I bend down to pick up my sketches. He grabs my arm and leers:

“Not so fast, young lady.” He stretches out on the antique couch and points at my dress.

“Make yourself comfortable, you’re amongst friends and that tight dress looks anything but comfortable.”

“No, I’m totally fine” I stammer, “its stretch fabric, not uncomfortable at all”

He groans and turns to Renate:

“You like her, don’ t you?” He bursts out with an obscene sounding laugh “ Come on, I’ve known you for 20 years and I know when you’re hot for somebody”

I have to get out of here. Renate has been my best friend for the last six months and she has opened doors for me that I didn’t know existed. I’ve never seen her drunk.

“Of course, Udo. I wanna do her. Even more than you do, you pig”. She slurs.

“There we go, didn’t I say that I know you.”, he roars with spit flying out of his bluish lips “Why don’t you go for it? She sure is a better fuck than that Kaddafi dude you did.” He cracks up at his joke.

He fills another glass, fills it up to the rim and keeps pouring. 200$ whiskey spills on the impeccable Persian carpet. Renate catches the bottle and sets it down at a safe distance from him.

He stares me down while he slurps his drink.

“You have the hots for her too, I can tell. I’ve been around, girls like you always want to get down with a hot lady, am I right or am I right?” he slaps his thigh and spills most of his drink on the couch.

I like Renate a lot and during the nights we’ve spent together, ending in sleepovers in her bed with her hands on my hip, I’ve thought about it. But not like that, not in the presence of a drunk asshole who is about to go to prison for murder.

But then again, I’ve done worse for less.
“What do you have in mind?” I ask, as he carelessly tosses my sketches on a lavishly upholstered and most likely real Victorian chair. .

“Now, we’re talking” he laughs, “ First of all, take off that hot dress. I’ve seen enough of your design talent.”

He sneers off my blushed cheeks.

“Oh, I know you feel fat, oh yeah, I can always tell when a girl feels shitty about her size, but don’t worry, I’m into a little bit of flesh, not those boring bones on the bitches I have to deal with every day”.

This guy was married to Austrians most famous theater actress, a slim and gorgeous beauty. When I made a few dresses for her in my magical wine-cellar studio, I was blown away by her beauty and graceful, totally sweet and polite behavior towards me. How did she put up with this pig? I wonder. They have been divorced for years, I remind myself.

Renate moves closer to me. She starts to unzip my dress and her hands feel so comfortable and her touch is so soft and sweet.

Why not? I love her, don’t I? What’s there to lose? I think, when she starts to peel my stockings off.

“No!” Udo shrieks “Leave the stockings on. I like that”

Renate and me start to kiss, shy and tentatively at first, but then it gets to me. I haven’t had sex (not counting the prison guy fucks in the mental ward and honestly, they didn’t count as sex – that was boredom and a pity-fuck at best. I’m hungry for sex and love and Renate is the hottest women I have ever met.

I pull her skirt off and unbutton her blouse. We kiss and boy, can I tell you how incredible it is to kiss a woman like her?

It’s heaven. We are all over each other. I might even be in love with her – no, damn, I am in love with her. I’m crazy about her. We take it slow and explore every inch of each other’s skin.

So this is how good sex should feel like, I wonder.

I hear a familiar sound coming from Udo’s direction. I came up for air and notice that Udo has his fly open, working feverishly on his thing. The sound I recognize is the sound of a Polaroid camera. He shoots pictures while he masturbates.

“Hey, what the fuck do you think you’re doing? You could have at least asked,” I say.

“No big deal, you guys are so hot, I want to have something to dream about when I go to jail”

“Don’t worry” Renate purrs “He always takes pictures when he’s happy” and then she goes down on me. I forget the camera immediately.

So what, this poor fuck has pictures of us, who cares?

An eternity later, or maybe just half an hour – I can’t tell – Renate and me look at each other and smile. Than we start to laugh. We can’t stop.

“I wanted to do this the first time I saw you in this red leather jacket” she bursts out between fits of laughter.

“Me too” I say as I look around the room for my dress and my panties.

We dress each other and kiss again. Udo has slipped off the couch and lies on the floor, spread out like a stranded whale. Renate kicks him and he raises his head a little.

“That was fantastic, you two.” He mumbles.

Renate kicks him again.

“Wake up! We got to talk business now”

“Not now.” He slurs. But he lifts up my folder with the sketches and presses it to his chest. “This is going to happen. Watch me make it happen. Demel Lingerie. Isn’t that a great name? I mean, you know, Demel puff cakes and crème slices, hahahaha. Genius, just genius.”

He passes out again and Renate and me gingerly step over him on our way out. A concerned and eager waitress appears as soon as we open the door.

“Everything alright with Herr P? Will you need a taxi?”

“Yes, call one, please”, Renate orders her politely but stern. “Herr P. needs a rest, but check on him later”

The waitress curtsies again as she lets us out into a bright Sunday morning Vienna spring Sunday.

Renate and me sit in the cab holding hands. When we get to her house, she pays the driver and kisses me for a long time.

I get back to the hospital, sober, but I don’t feel my weight. I’m light and otherworldly happy.

“You got laid” my roommate comments when I slide into our institutional cell.

“I did, thank you very much” I sigh and turn my back to him as I lay down on my scratchy hospital cot.

On Monday morning, I’m back in my studio, still swaying from my love Sunday. I’m working on a dress for the restaurant owner next door when my father comes down the spiral stair case that connects my studio with the hair salon.

“Hi” I say, a little surprised “what brings you here on a Monday? Aren’t you in court?”

My father puts an envelope on my sewing table, without saying a word. This can’t be good. He always talks. I’ve never seen him do something without explaining what and why he did what he did.

I open the envelope. Out fall Polaroid pictures of Renate and me, half naked in various compromising positions and I choke. My father and me both look for a few minutes on this pornographic tableau of embarrassing evidence of my escapade. He scoops the pictures up and stuffs them back into the envelope. I am at a loss for words and so is he. It takes him a few moments to find his voice.

“I got this this morning. It looks like you had an exceptionally lovely time.” He sighs “Oh no, I don’t begrudge you your sexlife” he interrupts my attempt to deny everything. “The only problem, and no, it is not a problem after all” he laughs, “is that this Udo seems to believe that I am the judge who handles his case. He did his research alright, but there is another Judge Schmid”

“What are you talking about?” I say with my eyes on the ground.

“Those pictures came by messenger today with a note. ‘Your daughter has good taste. I hope you understand my concern that you would not be pleased to have pornographic pictures of your daughter with a slutty journalist all over the papers. I think you understand what I’m saying.’”

Now my father laughs so hard, he can barely get the last words out.

“I’m not the judge who handles his case. What a moron. What a stupid idiotic dupe he is. The other judge Schmid would have had his ass in a cell just for trying this dirty trick”

“So, you’re saying I was set up?” I gasp.

“Looks like it, kiddo. But from the look of this, I’d say she likes you. Maybe she didn’t know about this.”

He looks a t me pain stricken face. I’m still on shaky ground. The last thing my dad wants is to see me so upset that I go back to drugs. I’ve been doing so well. He pats my back and pulls me up.

“This Renate, she’s a real fire cracker. And she seems to have taken a real liking to you. Look at where you’re at” he points to my studio, the wine cellar walls, the fabric rolls and the board with orders stuck to it.

“You’ve got it made. You’re not going to be back where you where, even if you have to sit out a few more months at the hospital. She helped you get all this, but you are the one doing it. And besides” he grins “I would have done her too. No doubt about it.”

He picks my purse up and places the envelope inside.

“Those are great pictures. Keep them. Lets go have lunch at the Demel. Just kidding. Lets go to The Greek for Mousaka and coffee. For old time’s sake”

Udo P. flees the country that same day. He is found in Manila a few months later, emaciated and sick. He gets a six times life sentence and dies in prison after a heart transplant in 2001.

Several ex-ministers were eventually convicted over their involvement. The ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs was sentenced for forging documents authenticating the cargo. Two other ministers were dismissed for obstructing the investigations. The minister of Defense, shareholder in the Proksch firm, had given permission to deliver explosives to sabotage the ship and committed suicide when that became clear.

Renate disappears too. She calls me from India in 2002 and urges me to leave the US.

“They are after me. I know too much” she whispers. She says she has confidential information that George Bush planted 9/11 and that the CIA held her hostage in Virginia for a few months.

It could be true. She would be exactly the person to uncover something like this. I have not heard from her since.





TOO MUCH SNOW IN VIENNA from “Showroom of Perfections”

5 05 2011

SNOW IN VIENNA

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.





FIRST CLASS TO LONDON

3 05 2011

FIRST CLASS TO LONDON

Payne left a few days ago. He flew to London promoting a translation and release of one of his books. As soon as he is gone, he’s gone. No email, no phone-call, no nothing. This is a big deal, as we are in constant communication – admittedly, a lot of our communication consists of bickering and outright fighting, but our connection is always intense, swinging sharply between hateful and mean and obsessive love between us.

What I never tell anybody, especially not Payne, is that my day, no, my life, doesn’t start until I talk or email with him. During those years, it doesn’t occur to me that this is an addiction in itself. I have no center, no sense of myself. Payne is my life force and everything I do or not do, is about winning and losing and winning his approval.

It will be years until I start to understand this. Years of living like a hungry ghost, never feeling my own feelings, never thinking my own thoughts. Payne occupies my mind like a parasite that leaves no room for me. Most of the time, I think with his brain, as he was sitting in there, instructing my thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a very opinioned and outspoken woman, when I’m by myself and before I met him. But disagreeing with him on anything causes so much rage from him, that I allow his residency in my mind for the sake of peace.

I’m supposed to meet him in London to fly to Vienna to meet my family with him.

But now that he is seemingly disappeared, my obsessive brain is out of control. What if he changed his mind and doesn’t want to meet my family? What if he has fallen in love in London with a more powerful, more beautiful and less insecure women? What if he has realized that he can do better than be in this constant war with me? My thoughts are driving me crazy.

After the first day of no sign from him, I get that hollow and panicky feeling in my heart. I am in a state of worry, jealousy and anxiety – and then I realize that after all those years in California, I have no winter clothes anymore.

The only positive effect that his disappearing acts have on me, is that I can’t eat when I’m so obsessed and in my shrinking world of my Eating Disorder and Love-Addiction, this counts for almost as much as an order from Barney’s. My value system is so out of whack, it takes my entire intellectual – or what is left of it at this point – powers, to run my flailing business.

I get myself to the fabric store and design a coat. When it is done, it looks fantastic: long and narrow, with tight extra long sleeves, made from the most expensive fabric I can find – charcoal cashmere with a leopard print silk charmeuse lining.

But at least, I have the ticket, first class, like usually. He is always generous that way.

I look elegant, tall and lean and when I get on the plane, with no idea if he will show up in London, I feel like I belong in first class. I flirt all night with a married screenwriter, but still the nagging doubt about why Payne has not talked to me for three days, makes me fidgety and not quite present. When we are about to land, my flirt asks for my contact info and I chicken out. I give him a wrong number and hastily flee the plane.

Payne is there! He sits on a bench, typing away on his lap-top  He looks tired and embarrassed, even a little bit guilty, but like usually, when he looks me over, his face lights up.

I am so ecstatic and happy that he is here – the feeling of love and my need for him – it is need much more than love – flood me like a hit of heroin. I know better than to ask anything that could arouse his anger about “being checked up on” and destroy my high.

We hold hands all the way on the flight to Vienna; we are in love and can’t wait to get to the hotel he picked. Hotel Trieste, a chic and hip, extremely expensive, but tranquil hotel that is elegant and modern at the same time. My guy has taste.

As soon as we drop our bags in the middle of the luxurious suite, he unbuttons my coat and throws me on the white featherbed. The sex is so intense, that I forget for now that I don’t trust him, that I have way to many ideas about the days he spent in London. He is here now. And now is all I have with him.

It is snowing heavily and the city is covered in fresh white silence. We walk around in the ankle deep fresh snow and Payne is in love with me, the architecture, the history and the romantic mood of my hometown.

We eat dinner in a hipster restaurant and can’t keep our hands off each other. When I sneak off to the bathroom to rid myself of the delicious food, it’s just something I always do, no big deal. I am so used to this, that my face shows no sign of what I just did when I return to the table. My eyes are clear, my breath is fresh and I am chatty and flirty on my bulimic dopamine high.

By the time when we return to the hotel, I am desperately hungry. I eat all the apples from the welcome basket and after another passionate love-session we fall asleep.





MY WINE CELLAR STUDIO

5 04 2011

MY WINE CELLAR STUDIO

At one of the parties Renate takes me to, I notice an older man, tall and very confident in his schlubby corduroys and sharp Dior jacket.

He inserts himself into the conversation I have with Andre Heller and Erika Pluhar. He stares at me long red dress and asks me where he can buy one like that for his girlfriend.

“It’s complicated. I don’t have a studio or store right now”

“How come? How can a talented designer not have a studio?”

Renate speaks up for me. “She lives in Steinhof, that’s why. But we’re gonna change that soon, will we?” She laughs.

I blush. All eyes are on me. So there is my moment of truth.

“I ran into some legal problems, drug related and they deported me. So now, I work in Dr. Herman’s workshop and hope to get my papers from him soon.”

“That freak – excuse me, but I happen to know him – that creep makes you work for him? By the way, I’m Werner Berndorfer. You’re an interesting girl. Tell me more!” the older guy takes my arm and walks me to an empty table.

“Look, I have an eye for beauty and talent and I think I can help you” he says as we sit down. “No, don’t look at me like that, I’m not an old dude who wants to get in your pants.”

“Well, that’s a relief” I smile. “But why would you want to help me?”

“Just because. Because I want to see you get your chance to succeed, as you no doubt will. And my only selfish expectation is that I enjoy seeing artists like you get to where they should be. I’d like to be part of it. So I can say “I knew her then”.

Renate sits down next to us. “He’s for real, Monah. He’s a saint, well, almost. You can trust him”

Werner gives me his card. “I have a hair salon in the first district and underneath my salon is a huge wine-cellar that stands empty right now. I have no use for it and it needs cleaning up.”

Renate claps him on the shoulder “A hair salon. That’s the understatement of the year. He has THE hair salon, all of Vienna’s elite and wealth go there to get their hair done by him cause he’s a genius. Aren’t you, Werner?”

“I’m doing OK. I can’t complain.” He says.

I look at the card and gasp. The address is next to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the kind of real estate that would Rodeo Drive to shame. This is old-world money, serious wealth and prestige.

“I don’t think I’m in a place where I can afford that” I mumble and hand his card back.

“Who said anything about money? I want you to have it. For free. The building might go up for sale, but not for a few months, who knows, maybe a few years.”

“For free? Why?”

“I already told you why. I see something in you. A light in your eyes. Energy that’s bottled up and needs a place to bloom”

I’m speechless. I know the rent in this street is like 20$ per sift. It’s too good to be true. It can’t be.

“Come by tomorrow in the morning. Tell your “doctor” you have an Immigration appointment, or whatever, get creative and have a look at it. If you’ll excuse me, I have to mingle” He gets up and squeezes my shoulder “I can’t wait to hear your sewing machines down stairs. And I have a few costumers who would LOVE to get worked over by you. Vienna needs a real designer. Those rich bitches dress in tasteless designer cloths and they will lap your creativity up like starved cattle.”

“I will be there, Werner. I will” I grin and stick his card into my boot. Old habits die hard.

When I see the place, I feel like I’m dreaming. It’s an architectural gem. Pillars and rounded ceilings and so much space, bigger then the MC. Mansion my mother shared wither Millionaire husband in Calabasas. There are a few antique barber chairs and built in shelves. The beauty of this place is overwhelming.

It is filthy. Inches of dust and a moldy smell tinged with the slight aroma of old wine. Werner shows me around and totally ignores my impressed shyness.

“I have a room full of costumers upstairs, so if you’ll excuse me. Here is your key. Come and go as you wish. I’m really happy you showed up” With this, he rushes upstairs.

I find a broom and a bucket and start to clean up. Six or seven hours later, I’m still cleaning.

I call my dad. “You would not believe what just happened. Werner Berndofer is giving me this space to work in. It’s unreal. But it’s true. Can you help me move my stuff here? And by the way, I need a sewing machine and a few supplies. Please?”

My dad drops by on his way from the Palace of Justice, just a few walking minutes away and eyes Werner with a bit of suspicion. Werner is his usual slightly grumpy and harried self, but he assures my dad: “Don’t you worry, Mr. DA. I’m gay, in case you haven’t noticed. Your daughter is safe from me. When are you going to bring her stuff over?”

He looks around and is impressed about my cleaning.

“You really mean it, do you? Get to work, little design star”

My dad helps me with the heavy barber chairs and even locates a table, hidden in another nook of the cellar.

“You’re going to need good lighting here. Let me get my friend from my softball team over here ASAP. And the sewing machine? My pleasure.” He hugs me and I can feel his relieve that I’m not lost to the world of drugs – it certainly looked like that to him when he saw me that first day back in Vienna.

 








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