Julie rarely spent time in her downtown apartment. She was often at her parents place in Malibu or with various friends. Julie loved travel and found her spacious apartment depressing and lonely despite the great views of the hip downtown scene.
It was odd that she felt compelled to be alone now. She couldn’t put her finger on it. She refused half a dozen invitations to dinners, outings, trips to Catalina island and a tempting all girls trip to a club in Cabo San Lucas. For some reason, she craved quiet time to think.
Okay, she needed to admit that the accident set her off. When she heard Lavinia Bleau’s super filly crashed and died on the track and the great and mighty Ann Garrison was hospitalized – something happened. Julie needed to come to terms with her reaction to the news. She needed to take a look inward and figure out why she secretly rejoiced that Ann lay broken and probably maimed in a hospital bed in Pasadena. She needed to tease apart in her mind why she hoped that Ann’s sweet little nose would be forever crooked and that maybe she would walk with a limp rather than with that characteristic bounce that should be reserved for 15 year old gymnasts. That her perfect body would be re-shaped into something less solid and round. That she would have flaccid areas that had been firm and ripe before.
She entertained fantasies of Jude watching Ann not with admiration and gratitude and, should she admit it, something as close to love as she had ever seen cross Jude’s face but with love’s antithesis; pity.
“Julie” she said out loud to herself “congratulations, you are a bona fide bitch. Yup, eat that you jealous, angry cunt.” Self loathing was not something Julie spent a lot of time on. But there it was. Saying it out loud made her look into a soul mirror and face her ugly reflection. Now she needed to figure out why. She hopped up and headed for the liquor cabinet. An extra dry martini or a sweet old fashioned sounded perfect.
Instead of opening the cabinet though, Julie found her forehead resting on the door that held the liquor and she willed for the tears to come. They wouldn’t. Too many years of being rewarded for being forever peppy, upbeat – covering her anger with cattiness and cruel laughs, but laughs just the same. Nobody wants to be around a bitch unless she’s wickedly funny and Julie was a wicked funny bitch. She’d given up tears long ago and traded them for high and expensive style, beautiful friends, sleek cars and booze.
Gin made her wit razor sharp, vodka made her the life of the party, tequila kept her dancing and wine made her sexy.
She lifted her head from the cabinet and thought about whom she could call. What friend would if not offer succor, at least be a distraction? Her hand hovered over the phone and morphed into a clenched fist. Sinking into a kitchen chair, she realized she was going to have to go this alone and sober. She tried to turn on some music but each song that played on her playlist was either too perky, too grungy or simply too young. She considered pacing, but her body was drained. She considered visiting her building’s workout room – at this time of day it was almost certain to be empty. But the notion of running in place on a treadmill or climbing the Sysyphysian steps to nowhere did nothing to curb the helplessness.
The obvious thing to do would be to go and visit Ann in the hospital. Bring her a nice gift, something expensive and stylish, give her a big hug and wish her a speedy recovery. It was a hollow platitude and even if Ann didn’t know it, Julie did.
She had honestly thought that she liked Ann. There was nothing unlikeable about Ann except her courage, her self assuredness, her perfect body, her complete lack of need for attention and adulation, her integrity and her loyalty. Julie kept her close to watch if and when Ann might realize that Jude would hand her his heart, his business, his everything if she would just ask. But Ann never had.
Damn her. The more Julie thought about it, the worse she felt. This was going nowhere.
Julie mentally listed her own good attributes; she was a great friend – always there to cheer up a broken heart. She gave perfect gifts and even better parties. She was an excellent daughter. She had never rained down scandal on her powerful father. She had kept out of trouble and she never (knowingly) dated married men. She went to all the good charity events, shopped at the auctions, supported local artists.
God she wanted a drink, a friend, a distraction right now. Okay, back to the list: She was, contrary to popular belief, not dumb. She had earned her degree in Art and Design and her taste was excellent. She helped numerous friends with remodeling projects. Maybe she could do something there. Yeah, as if the local homeless shelter really needs a modernist interior makeover.
Maybe she should go on one of those vacations to some awful African country and change diapers at the orphanage for a month. Cooking and cleaning for a bunch of starving kids would surely scrub her soul clean. Julie slumped, she couldn’t even travel to Florida because the bugs creeped her out. The notion of having disease ridden flies going up her nose and into her mouth, not to mention the spiders and the mosquitos and the pinworms. Ugh.
Next thought; she could join some protest, find a cause that made her ripping mad and join hands with unwashed college kids and scream all night at the cops.
She had friends that served on charity boards, that might be fun. Or she could adopt a couple of shelter kittens? Every idea seemed more empty than the last. Obviously, penance wasn’t her thing.
Maybe you are just going to have to live with the fact that you are an evil bitch. Maybe that’s all there is for you. Maybe you don’t have a real friend in the world and your boyfriend is in love with a great gal and thank God the other woman isn’t smart enough to figure it out. You might just have to live with the fact that you are getting older and there is only so much that good work and cosmetics can do. You are getting too old to have kids and you have never liked them anyway. You’re selfish and you drink too much.
Her phone beeped on the counter. She had a message. She pressed the button. It was from Jude and it said simply “Lunch?”
She replied “No.”
After a minute she entered “How’s Ann?”
“She’s hurt, but she’s brave.”
Tears finally flowed from Julie’s eyes.