She explained the rules, and they said that they respected rules. Then one of them laughed. She could not be sure which.
Rocco was the one with the scar on his cheek. Vladimir wore rings on every finger. Stiva’s chest hair looked like disheveled macrame. Felix had a portrait of Brezhnev tattooed on his back. The one they called Wimpy had been an assassin in his youth. The one they called The Generalissimo never spoke.
But, underwater, they were all the same. They were all just hairy thighs.
Lycra one-piece with interlacing soutache. My, what a tangled web we weave.
The invitation said “festive holiday casual-formal.” The holiday was Lord Monbatomby de Sassie’s birthday. She had not seen His Lordship since that regrettable evening aboard the Emperor’s zeppelin, when the Archduke of Bizzlebee (that old gas bag) was found playing with matches near the other, more flammable gas bag (although the Archduke’s views on the Falklands were quite incediary). At the time, she was passed out in the rear lavatory. (Too much Creme de Cassis.) When she awoke, they had landed in Svillandia, and His Lordship was gone, though she found his monocle lodged in a most unlikely place.
Nothing from him since then. Not a single cherry cordial, when once he had sent them by the hundred. (He liked to watch her eat them.) And now she was expected to spend his birthday weekend curtsying to a gelding and riding round his estate on his wife . . . or was it the other way around?
Finally. The perfect chance to return his monocle, and the perfect outfit to do so in.
Harem pants jumpsuit in black silk with peek-a-boo bodice. Hide your emotions. Hide them in your pants.
Spring is in full swing and summer’s in the air! That means it’s time to stop carving up your bootstrap leather and start thinking about sandal season. Any well trained depressionista knows that to find the best tasting shoes, it’s best to start early so you don’t have to shiv someone in the bread line.
Inspector Chameau was front row at the Balenciaga show when they told him he was needed in another tent. A model was dead. “Seal the doors,” he said. “Our murderer must not be allowed to escape.”
“There are no doors,” they said. “It’s a tent. It only has flaps.”
The good detective stroked his beard. “May God have mercy on our souls,” said he.
The murder weapon was an eyeliner brush, lodged in her jugular. With his magnifying lens, Chameau examined it closely. “I can tell you right now who committed this murder. She has left her calling card. Officers, bring me Estee Lauder.”
When everyone just stood there, he said, “What? Go on. I’m not getting any younger.”
“Listen, lady,” someone said. “Estee Lauder’s dead too.”
How convenient. Inspector Chameau twiddled his moustache and gazed around the tent. Then he saw her. She was propped against a rack of clothing, drinking champagne through a straw, wearing a gown the color of ashes. A vision from his past. La belle dame sans merci. She was gaunt, haggard, fabulous. He remembered how it felt to have her sticklike limbs bent around him, the jabbings of her elbows, the way he used to eat grapes from the hollows between her vertebrae.
She walks for Lanvin. She walks for Chanel. She walks the cold hill’s side.
The case went unsolved. Chameau was found a week later, horribly disfigured. An APB was issued for Bobbi Brown.
Calf-skin jacket. Bias-cut silk gown. Style is a debt we must all repay. Price upon request.
It had been months since the Yankees had ravaged this part of the county, stealing every waistcoat, cummerbund, and cufflink between Atlanta and Macon. Still Beau Beauregard felt the sting. Blue was not his color.
He had torn out the linings of his silk smoking jackets just to make a filter for tea. His pocket squares were now reduced to handkerchiefs. It wasn’t fair! He thought of boyish Beau who had never tied a cravat let alone caught a sow. He thought of his silk Morocco green slippers and how the ladies gathered around him at the barbeque (so long ago!) as he lifted his trouser cuffs. It was well known that he had the largest feet in seven counties. It was a scandal with he had his evening britches tailored five inches too short. Was he no better than that gigolo Patrice Zouard who died his hair pink and downed creme de menthe like it was a tonic?
The house faced east, windows full with the morning light. It was too hot to stand here much longer, there were chores to be done. He let the heavy drape fall, concealing the room once again in shadow.
How could he have been so blind! The curtians! He ran from window to window, laughing. He would be green-eyed Beau once more!
Paisley jacket and trousers. Button fly with genuine mother-of-pearl. Whether you lie, steal, or cheat, you’ll never be underdressed again.
You know the Sloops, but they don’t know you. Oak Sloop, Daffodil Sloop, and their son, Augustus Sloop. “Excuse me, sir,” Oak says, squeezing past you during Easter services. “So sorry,” says Daffodil, a step behind, clutching the pale blue tail of his sportcoat. Augustus treads on your foot and sticks out his tongue.
They knew you once, though. Daffodil did, back when she was home from Miss Pendergast’s Academy on spring break and strung out and said she would die, just keel over dead with disappointment, if you didn’t leap from the roof of her house into the pool. She would wait for you in the poolhouse, she said, naked. So you jumped (you barely made it–you scraped your hand on the edge of the deck right before you hit the water), but the only thing in the poolhouse was a lopsided inflatable shark. And you stood there, dripping with poolwater and high from having cheated death, and still you loved Daffodil.
Oak tried to get you to play games, weird games, when you were little and your mothers got together to drink and go through the L.L. Bean catalogue. You politely declined. Oak said, “What are you? Scared?” Your mother bought the dog a bed monogrammed with “Chester.” The dog’s name was Giles. Chester was the name of your mother’s lover. That was her idea of a joke. Oak got kicked out of prep school for nameless sins. He tried to get you to join the Marines with him. He said, “What are you? Scared?” But the day you left for bootcamp, Oak was nowhere to be found. And you sat there, with the drill sargeant yelling in your face and your life as you knew it dwindling in the back window, and still you loved Oak.
Augustus says he wants to be a garbage man. His mother says he musn’t be.
On him: pincord regent sportcoat, linen trousers, stain resistant hawaiian floral tie, a curse. On her: just something she picked up at the shop in town. On little him: chinos, seersucker, unreasonable expectations.