Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boris Vian's TO HELL WITH THE UGLY: Chapter 14: "An Orgy After My Own Heart"

Chapter XIV


I wait. I wait and they wait. Everybody is waiting. I’m not sure, but I feel like I might have been nodding off because I suddenly jump up when I see someone open the door of the blue coupe. I recognize Cora’s dress. She gets in, followed by a young woman in a light tailored suit. She’s tall and thin, with a big head of blonde hair whose strands are flowing out of a ravishing hat (Is it, in fact, a truly ravishing hat? Do I really know anything about hats for that matter?). I silently pull away from the curb. The Dodge coupe is already moving along quickly, a good hundred yards ahead of us, and in my rearview mirror I can see Andy Sigman take off after us.

I think Gary is starting to wake up.

“What’s happening?” he says. “Are we at the beach?”
“No, not yet,” I say. “We’re going to take a little spin out to the country. Any objections?”
“When you figure out where you’re going…” he murmurs while falling back asleep. I bring him to with a swift elbow to the ribs.
“You know, Gary, you’d be better off making use of your gray matter instead of napping the day away.”
“Urhhg…” he mutters. “It’s all very simple, really. Derek Petrossian was working with his brother and a couple of other guys. And now they’re both looking for the photos.”
“This business with the photos leaves me feeling a little uneasy,” I say.

We’re really moving now. The Dodge is still quite a bit ahead of me. If I run into a red light I’ll lose them for sure, especially if should they decide to turn off somewhere.

She in fact does turn, but I saw it in time and I maintain my speed so that I’m able to follow them onto Foothill Boulevard. Seeing as the cops on this side of town are a bit less uptight, they start to drive even more quickly. They’re headed straight to San Pinto.

I decide to share these silent reflections with Gary. The heat is obviously not doing him any good – a punishing heat, which I forgot to mention to you, is also playing a role in this otherwise splendid afternoon.

“Do you know what’s going on?” I say, hoping to draw him back into the realm of reality.

“Sure,” he says. “We’re following Mary Jackson, who is currently being abducted by the girl whose purse you nicked.”
“Wow!” I say. “You’re not as muddle-headed as I’d thought. And between you and me, for a girl who’s being kidnapped she seems to be going along quite willingly. I wonder what the hell they told her.”
“That’s easy enough to guess,” groans Gary. “She probably invited her to an intimate little Roman orgy. It’s all the rage these days. From what you told me about Bernice Haven, these girls seems to be consenting participants.”
“You’re obviously right about that…” I say. “I mean after all I could have just gone along with the whole thing… Anyway, let’s talk about something else. It’s an unpleasant memory…”
“The choice was all yours,” smirks Gary.

I realize of course he’s completely right. The further things progress, the more stupefied I am at how all this has taxed my brain. Me, I was the one who wanted to be wise, but I’ve only discovered that I have the mentality of a colossal pervert. I start thinking that it would be a nice idea to catch up to those two ladies and buy them dinner in one of those little Mexican-style roadside inns that dot the highway.

I share this thought with Gary. He smiles.

“I had better start keeping an eye one you,” he says.

In the meantime, I push the pedal to the floor because the blue Dodge has started to lose itself in the fog… in a manner of speaking. But it’s a pleasant fog, the type that lends itself to a revitalization of one’s ideas. The car keeps flying down this billiard table of a road, and I’m really finding myself more and more drawn to the idea of passing the two girls and having a nice little chat with them.

“Come on, let’s go,” says Gary, keeping watch over me out of the corner of his eye. “You haven’t had much luck with this girl. Now try to calm down a bit. Anyway, this detective business doesn’t seem to agree with you.”
‘Shit,” I say. “All things considered, it really isn’t such a bad idea. Think about it. Considering their size, they’re really in no position resist the two of us, and I’m sure they’d be pleased to pass an evening with a couple of guys as handsome as us. What’s more, we’ll probably learn a thing or two.”

Too bad about Sunday Love. Gary’s starting to tire again so I accelerate. I catch up to the little blue coupe and force them over to the side of the road. It’s Cora who’s driving. She’s up to the challenge. I figure she must have recognized me right off, and instead of pulling over she brakes hard, lets me pass her, and then gives me a taste of my own medicine as she shamelessly overtakes me. But her motor is no match for mine. I start after her once more. This time she gives in and we both come to a stop, one behind the other. I stick my head in through the open window and make like we’re old friends.

“Hey, Cora,” I say. “How have you been, since this morning I mean?”
“I’m fine, Rock,” she replies. “May I present Miss Jackson. Mary Jackson. You know? She’s the one whose photo you saw in my purse.”

Given the brutish treatment I subjected her to earlier, I’m a bit wary of Cora. But things seem to be going smoothly. She doesn’t seem to be hiding a revolver in that bra of hers, which is every bit as well filled-out as it was this morning.

Andy Sigman and Mike pass us by and I see them stop about two hundred yards down the road to change a tire that is in absolutely no need of a change.

As for me, I continue with my initial come on.

“So Cora,” I say, “what about this grand feast we’re supposed to have together? There’ll never be a better time than right now. In fact, my buddy Gary Kilian is here and we could have a nice little dinner, just the four of us. How does that sound? I’m sure Miss Jackson wouldn’t object.”
“We’d be delighted,” says Mary Jackson.

It’s easy to tell that Cora is none too pleased by this quick response and she shoots Mary a nasty little look. Still, I keep on pushing.

“Perfect,” I say. “Gary is obviously ready and willing because he’s been after me to catch up to you two for the last few miles. He’s the one who first recognized you. So Cora, you come along with me and Gary will drive your car.”

I signal to Gary to come join us and when he gets here I introduce him. Five minutes later we’re on the road again. Feeling perfectly content, I start to sing a little song. Gary is following in the Dodge a hundred yards back, and a bit farther behind him are Andy and Mike, hot on our tails again after the bogus repair of their fake flat tire.

“What were you looking for earlier this morning?” asks Cora. “You took off all my clothes.”

Never in my life have I seen a girl this tough. Not that I’m feeling bitter about it, mind you, but rather a bit uneasy, as though she’d be ready to take my head off at any minute.

“I wanted to take advantage of your unconsciousness,” I tell her. “I’m so shy around girls that I like to make the most of things when they’re asleep, just to get a look at how it all works.”

And that’s more than a little bit true. After all, she’s without a doubt the type of girl who needs to be knocked around before you can have your way with her.

“Well, it was of no advantage to me,” she replied. “Maybe you’d like to explain to me just what you did when I was… dreaming?”
“That’s nothing I’d care to repeat,” I answer, “but when the two of us find a little quiet time together, I’d be happy to complete your education. Aside from that, do you have any idea where we might entertain ourselves for the evening?”
“There’s one place that’s not bad, just before you hit San Pinto,” she says. I suppress an involuntary movement and say:

“And try to be quick about it,” she continues. “I’ve had an exhausting day and my stomach is really growling.”

She’s clearly a worthy adversary. After an hour of driving, we stop at a charming little restaurant on the side of the road. It’s painted red and white and it’s surrounded by flowers. There’s a big car outside parked on a gravel lot.

That’s about all I’m able to notice. Gary catches up with us, and just as we enter the restaurant we’re jumped by four guys. Or should I say four gorillas?

I’m rolling around the floor like a bowling pin because one of them has tackled me by the legs… And what ensues is one of the toughest little fisticuffs I’ve ever seen in my life.

That is if I could have actually seen it!

Copyright: TamTam Books 2010
Translation & Copyright : Paul Knobloch 2010
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