A Bedful of Flesh

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Multi-part narrative about sex, drugs, crime, sex, more sex, murder, and a senator's daughter on the U.S. West Coast. Late Ophelia book dating from 1970 or so.


Published : Thursday, February 07, 2013
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Licence : All rights reserved
EAN13 : 9781626574779
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A Bedful of Flesh

David Martell

This page copyright © 2004 Olympia Press.

PROLOGUE

ALL SHE WAS wearing was skin-tight pantyhose made out of some sort of dark silky net stuff. From the waist up she was naked; her tits were something else, man! Big, with a pair of rose-colored nipples on them that stuck right out; and solid, as big as they were. They stood right out, boom, like that!

“Jesus,” I said, looking at that pair.

Diane laughed, low in her throat, and they bounced a bit.

“You like, Jimmy?”

I swallowed. “I like,” I told her. “Crazy!”

“That's nice,” she said, coming in again, and letting the pair of them bump my bare chest. Her hands started to get busy on my belt. “I'm mmm . . . glad you . . . like them,” she purred, sliding my pants down. “I like them too. There, now. . . .”

I managed to get hold of the top of the pantyhose, and began sliding them down over her wide hips, a little clumsily. She giggled, and helped; they slid down and she stepped out of them, bare-ass naked now. I grabbed, getting a hand on one of those big globes, and she giggled again.

“Don't . . . be in too big a hurry, now!” she said, and her eyes half closed as she pushed a little, pressing the round tit against my hand. “Not . . . that I don't . . . LIKE it, because I DO . . .” She pulled back, and I could hear her breath coming a little unevenly. Her eyes slid down my body and her white teeth glittered between moist lips.

“Oh, my!” she said. “Yum-yummy. Now, you . . . just . . . hold . . . still, Jimmy baby.” She slid downward, on her knees, her hands running along my body till she gripped my thighs from behind, hard. Her tongue darted out like a snake, the hot, wet touch of it sending flickers of crazy sensation through me.

Then her mouth opened wider and her lips got busy, nipping and grabbing. Her hands held onto me, and she was strong, let me tell you; I let out a kind of gobbling noise and nearly jumped straight up, but she hung on tight. And didn't miss a step in what she was doing, either.

Look, I'd had a blow job or two before. You know, one of those ditsy little things where a girl kind of plays around with it a little bit, scaredy-kitty style. Back when I was around sixteen I got one, my first, in fact. She was some teenybopper, trying it the first time herself, I'll bet. I don't even remember what her name was; but I do remember that I got so worked up I creamed, and she let go, squealing like she'd been hit. She was so upset I had to hump her three times before she calmed down a little.

But . . . Jesus, Diane was something else! An expert, man. Like there was no comparison. And she wasn't about to stop there, either; she was just building things up. I know it isn't possible, but I'm damned if I don't think the old banger grew another inch right there, while she did those things. But just about the right second, she kept downshifting gears, so everything just got hotter and hotter without blowing up. I don't know how she managed it, but she was doing it all right.

Next thing I knew, she was on her feet again, pressing up against me, and getting her long legs around behind me somehow; and then she slid up, wrapping her legs around my waist like some kind of goddamn acrobatic act. Junior was standing up right under her, and she was sitting up there, spread, just letting it touch, hanging onto me and giggling crazily. I almost flipped out, right there, when she slid down just a little, letting me feel that hot, moist slit. Letting me get it in there, about half an inch, and then off again.

“For Christ's sake!” I managed to say, then she slid right off and bounced back a couple of feet, her hands grabbing mine, pulling me with her. She let out a wild giggle like a teenager, and fell back across the orange satin sheets, her long legs kicking up in the air.

“Guh!” I said, plunging toward her, wild. My skin was tingling all over and there was this high whistling sound in my ears. I was really flipping, honest! And damned if she didn't twist right out of target area, so I landed on the bed beside with a spring-twanging thump.

“You goddamn BITCH!” I said, rolling after her, grabbing again. And there I was on top of her, her hot naked body tight against mine, me biting on those great big delicious boobs while she squealed like a kid and pushed at me. Her legs were held tightly together and she was laughing wildly, while I started getting really peeved.

“Quit . . . TEASING, damn it!” I gasped.

“You . . .” she giggled. “Ooh, man . . . not . . . teasing. Like it, don't you?”

“It's killing me!”

“Plenty of time . . .” she panted in my ear. “I like . . . to make it LAST.” Suddenly her hips ground up against me, wriggling insistently. Her thighs moved apart and her hands slid down, grasping me hard, so hard I almost yelled out with the delicious pain of it. She guided, holding the tip so it slid against her throbbing clitoris,, bumping.

“You . . .” she gasped hoarsely, “You make it last . . . go . . . slow, slow . . . long and slow . . . AH! I drove it in, up to the hilt, and moved in and out, slow, the way she wanted it. Every time I sank it in she let out a deep gasp, like the air being squeezed out of her. But she was really digging it now, I could tell. And I was too, believe me!

As she let out those long breaths, each time I felt her flesh contract around mine, hot and tight, tighter each time I thrust, with crazy rippling waves going through it, while her hands ran over my back, clawing, and her heels rubbed up and down on the backs of my thighs.

“Ooh . . . AAH!” she groaned, her body pushing up against mine, writhing slowly in time with the movements. “JIMMEEE . . . oh, God, you . . . are . . . damn GOOD, for . . . an amateur . . . you know that?”

“Uh . . . amateur?” I grunted. But I didn't have time to worry about it. She was really with it now, and her hips were starting to wag up and down, faster and faster. Her heels came up further and started to rap a steady beat on my rear end; her green eyes opened wide, rolling a little.

“Oh, boy, now, now, NOW . . .” she bubbled at me. “Bang it IN there man, go, GO hard, fast . . . oh, wowee . . .” Her teeth snapped at my ear, and her nails really raked at my back this time.

I went into high gear, slamming it in hard; the whole bed shook and Diane's hips went into a real tornado job, around and around. She was really swinging now, gobbling into my ear as I rode her.

“Oh, ahh, HAH, you're the BEST, I'm really . . . MAKING IT! Oh . . . I'm guh . . . guh . . . AAAH!” And right up off the bed, up, and up again, arching right up in the air while she twisted her fingers in my hair, shrieking. It was like riding some kind of wild horse. But a lot more fun.

“Uhhh!” She slowed down and hung onto me, quivering all over, clutching. She was trying to say something, but her words came out as a kind of gobbling noise at first, till she managed to get a little control.

“Oooh!” she groaned. “Please . , . please . . . slow, now . . slow . . . you . . . you don't KNOW what it feels like!”

Maybe not. But I sure knew what I felt like. Something was happening all right. But I tried. I got up every bit of self control I had left, to hold on, coasting. . . .

. . . and Diane let out a long, whistling gasp of air, and shook all over, even harder, clawing at me, biting my shoulder. I arched up and nibbled on one of those luscious nipples. That did it.

If you think I'm going to try and tell you what happened, you're wrong. I mean, I'd like to, but I honest to God don't really know. It was like getting shot out of a cannon or something. I knew what had happened all right, afterwards. Maybe a couple of hundred years afterwards.

Oh, sure, it wasn't that long. It just felt that way.

She was lying against me, wrung-out limp, and I was just about the same. We were both trying to get air, like a couple of deep-sea divers. The pink lights were swinging around in circles, and I shut my eyes.

“Oh, WOW!” I said.

“Jimmy.” The husky voice, next to my ear. Shaky sounding.

“Uh.”

“The first damn time, Jimmy. You know that?”

Everything was still spinning a little, but I still had some sense. I chuckled; it was funny. I had an arm around her moist, naked body.

“You're kidding,” I said. “No virgin . . . ever did . . , all that.”

“Didn't say first time I ever balled, you bastard,” she murmured, groggily. “First time . . . I ever . . . went. That way. Honest. . . .”

1. APRIL SEVENTEENTH

“THERE'S A FULL moon,” the girl from Petaluma said. She was a tall, slim girl, with large eyes and a curiously vacant expression; nobody seemed to know what her name was, though she had been aboard the houseboat for some hours. But it happened that way sometimes; there were people who seemed to have no names at all.

She was leaning on the rail on the broad upper deck, ankles crossed in the slightly exaggerated elegant way models have. She might be a model, Ivan thought, or a call-girl who wanted people to think she was a model. He felt a faint curiosity, watching her; she had to be on something, he thought. Some drug or other . . . she had the look.

Everybody in this world is hooked on something, Ivan Janos thought, and his handsome mouth stretched slightly, a wry grin.

“Wigout time.” Floyd, the Porny Movie man, was on the lower deck, leaning back to peer appreciatively up toward the girl from Petaluma above him. He was round-faced and slightly balding; he looked, Ivan thought, like his own ideal customer, the kind of man who attended every adult movie in town. From the way his eyes roved behind the heavy-framed glasses, Floyd was able to see fairly far up the girl's dress, and he seemed to be taking every advantage of the view.

“Yeah,” Floyd said, still peering upward. “Full moon. Brings out the essential craziness, you know? The werewolf in you, sort of. People flip out all over town, in a full moon.”

“In San Francisco, how can you tell the difference?” Ivan asked, and walked slowly toward the stairway, not waiting for an answer. Going down, he passed Floyd who was ascending, wearing a slightly goatish grin. Floyd paused and grabbed Ivan's arm his eyes glittering.

“She has a funny look,” he said, shrugging. “Maybe she's on something, I don't know. Horse, maybe. She isn't quite there, you dig? I don't even know her name. She just showed up, the way people do.”

“I tried banging some damn chick from the Haight who was on heroin, a while back,” Floyd said. “It was lousy. But that one up there . . . she has a great pair of jugs. I dig jugs.”

“They could be rubber,” Ivan said, grinning.

“No,” Floyd said. “I can tell. I mean, I figured you . . . you're old super-stud, after all. If anybody knows what a chick will or won't do, you'd be the one.”

“Thanks,” Ivan said, drily. “But not always. Why don't you use your usual methods? Walk up behind her, grab her by the ass, and whisper something dirty into her ear?”

Floyd giggled, nervously. “I might, at that. Oh, well . . .” He went on up, and Ivan continued down.

A moment later, as Ivan pushed open the door into the big main cabin of the houseboat, he heard a faint scream from above. Damned if he didn't really do it that way, he thought.

The main cabin was broad and high-ceilinged, with a wide fireplace at one end; if it weren't for the view of dark water and twinkling bridge lights through the windows, it might have been a room in a house on solid land. It had been used as a studio by the painter who had owned the boat before Eve Starr bought it; it still had a studio look about it. There were heavy fur rugs on the floor, and piles of pillows, but not much ordinary furniture; Eve preferred a lot of open space, as she put it.

There was a small bar, well fitted out, against a far wall; a dark-haired girl sat on a stool next to the bar, a tall glass by her elbow. She was a small girl, but everything was there that belonged there, in proper scale to her size. Ivan's eyes met hers momentarily; they looked at each other as two hunting cats might exchange a brief, wary glance of mutual recognition. They were, after all, the same kind, Martha Stone and Ivan Janos.

One of these days, I'll have to find out about that one, Ivan thought, watching her. She dresses just a little mannishly; that plain-looking skirt and jacket thing, for instance. A touch of butch, he thought.

There were two other men in the room; the painter, Hugh Thomas, a burly man with a black beard. Martha had brought that one, Ivan remembered. And a man with close-cut grey hair and a wooden-looking face, leathery and silent; he was behind the bar now, mixing drinks. He was Riley: F. X. Riley, the closest thing to a universal robot this side of a science fiction story. Riley, who could handle any problem from barkeeping to repairing the frequent damage after a party; who seldom spoke, and apparently never saw anything he wasn't supposed to see.

On the other side of the room, alone, Eve Starr lay curled on a heap of cushions, chin in hand, watching the small fire in the fireplace and apparently listening to the music that blasted out of the big wall speakers. It was a new rock group, an especially hard-driven beat that Eve had decided to make her Thing for the week. She had tried to talk to a producer, to get him to use them in her next film; she even spoke of inviting them to the houseboat, something Ivan hoped wouldn't happen. He knew too much about rock groups, and especially this particular one. Given Eve's own particular ways, and the ways of that group, mass rape would be the least that would happen.

Not that Eve would object, at that, Ivan thought, glancing toward her. America's Wet Dream, that on. Blonde, luscious, a long-legged package of femaleness, and a complete kook. The clothes for instance. She was dressed in something especially far-out tonight: a pair of blue sailor pants, bare feet, and a wild-looking, sleeveless, nearly frontless leather-hairy vest that looked as if it belonged to a Hell's Angel. Maybe it had; Eve was quite capable of that, too.

She rolled over and sat up, the vest opening slightly to a fairly good view of the boobs that kept a thousand drive-in movies warm.

“Somebody yelled up there,” she said, barely audible above the music.

“Just that chick from Petaluma.” Ivan said, above the sound. “Hey, can I turn that down a minute?”

“It's almost over,” said Eve. She leaned forward, chin on knees, listening with an intense look as the record finished. “There. What a chick?”

“Floyd,” Ivan said. “He's on the prod again.”

“He pinched me once, and I told him, one for free; the next time he gets a knee in the groin,” Martha said from across the room. “Doesn't he ever get enough? You'd think he'd be oversupplied, with that movie thing going.”

“He told me that's why he went into skin flicks,” Ivan explained with a flash of teeth. “Thought he could get all he wanted that way, but it doesn't seem to be working out.”

Eve laughed and slid sinuously to her feet. She moved toward the bar, her hips swinging.

Damn it, that one manages to make a thing out of just crossing a room, thought Ivan, watching her.

Across the room, in the tall mirrors, he saw himself, an elegant figure, as he stood in the doorway. He liked studying himself; it was a little like a craftsman who likes to look over his working tools for the pleasure of thinking about their uses. But always a touch of slight dissatisfaction, too; there was always something just short of the ideal arrangement.

The clothes were perfect, just mod enough, just expensive enough. The dark hair, carefully careless, and the moustache . . . but damn it, there's always a wrong look. If I saw that good-looking face on somebody else, I'd say he was a con man, a pimp, and a few other things. And I'd be right, too. He grinned, a little wryly, and thought . . . It's just as well other people aren't quite as sharp as I am. Except possibly Martha Stone.

“When you said we could arrange the matter here, that was very helpful,” said Ivan. “Sometimes that's the hardest part, finding the right place to make the—ah . . . exchange.”

“Eve, darling, be careful about one thing,” Martha warned. “This hippie, Danton, the one that made the run. He isn't just in it for the money; he thinks Ivan here is going to arrange to get him a recording contract.”

“Actually, his stuff isn't half bad,” Ivan said, staring down into his brandy glass. “It's well, weird. But I doubt it's commercial.”

Martha giggled. “Ivan gave him the whole treatment. Hinted around about big deals, recording contracts, everything. It's funny. That Danton. I thought he was fairly clever, for that sort of . . . whatever you call it. But he believed the story. Enough so he took this other idea . . . making a trip, all the risky part.”

Eve's large eyes were puzzled, looking from one to the other. The black-bearded painter, Hugh Thomas, had moved closer, silently listening. He grunted, frowning. “In other words, you suckered him.”

“I'm going to try, about that contract,” Ivan protested. “I just don't—well, I'm not quite the important wheel in the recording thing that he thinks I am.” He grinned. “Who knows, though? With a little help here and there, I might manage to get a few things done.”

There was another squeal from the dark upper deck, louder this time, but not quite so indignant. Something fell over with a bang, probably a deckchair.

“I hope he isn't actually raping that chick up there,” Martha said, glancing upward.

“It's possible,” Ivan remarked. “He seemed to think this was the right place for what he calls a good old orgy.”

“For Christ's sake, you didn't tell him about . . .”Martha began, and stopped, glancing at Thomas. Then she shrugged. “Oh, hell, Hugh's cool. I mean, there have been a couple of pretty swinging brawls here in the last month or two, but I wouldn't want this boat to get too much rep. You know.” The painter grunted. “I know what you mean. This town is a little oversupplied with bigmouths. Enough gossip for a real hick village.”

“They don't have those morality clauses in picture contracts any more,” Eve said. “If they did, I wouldn't have made any pictures, believe me. Gossip? Baby, try dear old Beverly Hills for that. Listen, I'll tell you a dirty story.” She giggled, and put her drink to her wide red mouth, gulping down a good half of it. “You know about the casting couch bit? And producers? Well, old Rod . . . the one that created Eve Starr, is the way he likes to put it . . . he has a casting couch, but it's sort of special.”

“Eve, baby,” Martha began. But Eve ploughed on.

“That was how I got the lead in that awful thing, the one about black magic and all that stuff. It's funny, I never actually saw the picture, can you beat that? And Rod—he didn't really think the picture was going to be anything but a drive-in special, a cheapie. And it made all those awards, and all that fuss . . . so. He says he created Eve Starr. He means he made Eve Starr and oh brother did he!” She giggled again. “He did. And he would just LOVE to do it again, but now he can't! Ha!”

Ivan listened, smiling at her. He was holding his self control carefully. You ought to know better, buddy, he told himself. Letting her light your fire might not be too good a idea. There's plenty around, no need to get involved with a kook, especially one that might be hard to handle. And there's a husband, too, somewhere. That Hungarian movie director . . . he could be back, fast. But damn it, she could certainly do something to the male blood pressure . . . sitting there, only a foot or two away, the faint musty scent of her coming to his nostrils . . . cool, man. Cool.

“I could tell the world about Rod and his casting couch,” Eve said staring down into her glass. “One of these days, maybe I will. And the pictures. That was what the stinker did, do you know? He took pictures.”

“You mean, while he . . .” Ivan said, a little incredulously.

Thomas erupted with a deep bark of laughter. “God, Eve darling, how the hell could he?” Thomas grinned widely. “I mean, even with an ordinary woman it wouldn't be easy, but I can't see a man wasting time snapping a camera when he's got someone like yourself on . . . I think you said casting couch?”

“Hey, man!” Eve said, swinging slightly around on the bar stool and turning her special expression on. It was all aimed straight at Hugh Thomas, the total Eve Starr look. He turned a little pale and his eyes widened slightly. Ivan, watching, almost expected the black beard to curl as if scorched by the heat.

“Hey,” she said again, in a voice that somehow reminded Ivan of a mixture of hot rum and honey. Her eyes moved across the stocky painter slowly. “You're cute, man. That's a compliment you made.” Her voice dropped an octave. “I dig it. Dig those beards, too.”

“Better make another round, all around,” Martha said. “Riley? Pour a little oil on the waves.”

“What was I saying?” Eve asked. “Oh, another drink, good. Yes . . . those pictures. He had a cameraman, hiding. It's a thing he has. He always gets a set of pictures when he goes through the old routine. I think they're for his memory book or something.”

“He sounds like our friend Floyd up there,” Martha suggested.

“Except for the fact that Rod's pictures get a little better distribution,” Ivan said. “I think the word is voyeur, isn't it?”

“That's what my shrink said,” Eve agreed, nodding. “He said Rod was a . . . what you said. You'd be surprised at what my shrink says I am. But don't ask me. It's a secret.” She was frowning slightly. “Besides, I don't believe him. Not about that.”

There were confused noises overhead and Martha glanced upward, shrugged elaborately. She glanced at a delicately-jeweled watch.

“Isn't our Mad Monk a little overdue?” she asked. “He was supposed to get here an hour ago.”

“Mad Monk?” Eve queried. “Gee, is he some kind of monk, really?”

“Oh no, of course not,” Ivan told her, and to Martha, “Relax, doll. He's never on time. He's against clocks and money. You know that sort.”

“Why is he a Mad Monk?” Eve asked, tilting her gold head.

“Because he looks a little like Rasputin,” Ivan said. “Or a little like Jesus Christ, maybe. I guess it depends on the lighting.”

“Oh, Rasputin,” Eve said. “I saw the movie. He went around hypnotizing people, didn't he? Does this Danton do that? He sounds groovy.”

Martha's eyes met Ivan's, and there was a flash of mutual understanding. Groovy? Oh, no, please. Don't let anything like THAT happen, Ivan thought, and knew that Martha's mind had brought up the same idea. Eve, taking up a hippie mystic with long hair and a beard . . . and she probably really did dig beards, as she had put it. When kook meets kook, Ivan thought, all hell breaks loose.

There was a sound of heavy footsteps on the stair and Floyd appeared, his plump face flushed and his hair rumpled; behind him the girl from Petaluma came slowly down, straightening her dress. Her expression was, if possible, a little more vague than before.

“There's a weird-looking bus or something stopping out there, near the dock,” Floyd said. “It might be Danton.”

Ivan moved to the window that faced landward. There was a long wooden floating pier, and beyond, a narrow dirt road on the breakwater. A microbus, halted on the road, stood in the shadows up there, lights off; there was a thin thread of light under one of its windows.

“So why doesn't he come on in?” Floyd demanded impatiently.

“He's being careful,” Ivan replied.

Someone emerged from the bus, a shadowy figure; whoever it was came down the dock slowly, and then up the gangway. Ivan went to the side door and opened it.

The man who entered stood for a moment, his dark, deepset eyes moving across the room. He seemed to be holding himself in readiness to move, like a wild animal who scents a hunter. But his bearded face was extraordinarily calm; a totally relaxed look.

He looked very young, and in an odd way, innocent, a kind of unmarked look. He had long, light brown hair and a full beard; the hair, down on his shoulders in a smooth shining fall, did not make him look at all feminine. Medieval, rather Ivan decided. The clothes too; a kind of loose shirt that was almost a robe, over baggy, patched trousers, and desert boots. Salvation Army stuff, Ivan said to himself. And, with a slight touch of odd envy—he looks better than I do, in fifty-cent rags!

“Martin,” Ivan greeted him. “Come on it!” The man advanced slowly and paused, his eyes moving from one to another.

“Everything's cool,” he said in a curiously musical, resonant voice. But it was hard to tell if it was a statement or a question. He gestured. “Meet everybody. Martin Danton, guys. Eve, and that's Martha, Hugh, and Floyd. Everybody's in for a piece of the action. Ah . . . you've got it all with you?”

“It's all in the truck,” Danton said. “I came first, to see . . . if it's all right here. You understand.” He smiled. “Just a minute.” He turned back to the door and stepped outside; he uttered a low, sharp whistle. Two figures appeared and came down the dock, moving fast, their arms filled with something. In the dimness outside there was an exchange, and Danton came back in, his arms full of packets wrapped in brown paper.

“It's all here,” he said quietly. “Want to check it out}” The packages were put down on the rug. Floyd, his eyes o glittering, knelt over them, turning them over and poking into them; the others stayed calmly at the bar.

“Here's the rest of the bread, then,” said Ivan, putting an envelope swiftly into Danton's side pocket. “I trust you, Marty. We'll check the stuff out later, but I know it's all here. Hey, how about a drink? Maybe your friends in the car might like one?”

“I don't drink,” Danton said softly. “They don't either.”

“Maybe we could sort of sample some right now,” Eve suggested. Her wide eyes were studying Danton with a peculiarly intense look. Martha, next to her, was watching that look, and her expression was wary.

“No. Thank you, but it isn't our bag around here, Dan-ton said.

“Well . . .” Ivan said, a little uncertainly. Thank God the beard doesn't want to stick around, he thought. That Eve is starting the hot-pants routine, I can see it. “By the way, about the records, I think I could—”

“It's all right about the record,” Danton said, in the same calm, gentle voice. “I found out about the whole thing last week before we left, Ivan. I know you can't really manage it.”

Ivan stared at him, almost losing his cool.

“I would probably have done this anyway,” Danton went on, still calmly. “You didn't need to play that game. I'd really like to have records, but it's not that important.” He paused, and shook his head. “But I won't run any more trips for you, Ivan. I couldn't trust you.”

He smiled, and made a curiously ritualistic gesture with his right hand toward the whole group.

“Peace,” he said, and was gone. A moment later the bus roared into life outside.

Eve was the first to break the silence. She burst into a wild peal of laughter, almost hysterical.

“He found out!” she stuttered, rocking on her stool. “Oh, Ivan, he wasn't a sucker, was he?”

“Can't win them all,” Ivan said, shrugging. He glanced down at the pile on the floor. “He made the trip, anyway. We've got what we paid for.”

“Catch another hippie next time,” Floyd grunted from his kneeling position. He sniffed, and chuckled aloud. “Man, this is the best stuff I've seen in years! Hey, hey!”

“Let's divide,” Ivan proposed, and dropped to a sitting position next to Floyd.

“Okay. This, this, and these . . . your cut, hashish. And this . . . that's the mushroom stuff . . . psylocibin. And these are for me . . . and your bit, Martha, and Hugh . . . and the package here, that's for our lovely Eve, for letting us take care of the meet here.”

“It's like Christmas,” said Eve, giggling again. “Packages of presents . . . gee, all that hash! I've got to find a really good place to hide it, don't I?”

“That might be a good idea,” Hugh Thomas agreed, carefully ramming his own share down into a capacious side pocket. “Damn, there really is a lot of it, isn't there?”

“Enough,” Ivan said. Enough to buy back a few of the amenities of living, he thought. Enough for the other deal, setting up that bitch Diane so there will be more of the good green stuff in my pocket.

“The hippie acted a little bugged,” Floyd said. He was watching the girl from Petaluma; she was leaning close over the pile with an avid expression, the first look of anything real she had worn all evening. Floyd's face showed a badly concealed smirk as he watched her.

“Hell with him!” Ivan said. “He got his piece of it, some of the stuff and bread to boot. I can always find another when I need one.”

But no one that knows how to find it so fast, and so neatly, he remembered, with a trace of anger.

“Uh,” Floyd said. “Say . . .” His eyes were riveted to the girl from Petaluma. “Ah, the lady and me, we're going to split. Right, sugar?”

“Oh,” she said, looking toward him. He was grinning, holding the brown paper packets in such a way as to let her see them clearly.

“You do have a lot of it, don't your” she said vaguely. “Enough for a really great weekend or two, ducks,” said Floyd. “And what I told you, about the flicks . . .”

“Oh, that,” she remembered. “Oh, well. Gee, it's been nice, everybody. . . .”

“Don't you want to stick around and photograph the orgy, Floyd?” Ivan asked, wickedly calm.

“Orgy?” Floyd looked confused. “I didn't bring a camera. . . .”

“Gee, that's too bad.” Ivan said. “I mean, we were going to get stoned and throw a real scene or two. It would have made a gas of a feature for your movie houses, wouldn't it? Real star like Eve. . . .”

Floyd licked his lips. “If I'd brought the camera. . . .” He paused “Maybe another time, hey? Right now—splitsville, kids!”

Then he was gone, the girl from Petaluma in tow. Martha, staring at Ivan, finally laughed edgily. “My God, you maniac!” she said. “For a minute I didn't realize you were putting him on. Oh, you perfect bastard!”

“Suppose he took you seriously and stayed!” said Hugh. “We'd have had to put on an orgy for him.”

“Maybe we should have,” Eve snickered. “Golly, I never saw any of those porny movies of his. Are they any good?”

“Terrible,” Ivan said. “Dull, dull, DULL! They're for people who can't do it and like to watch. Like your voyeur friend.”

“Ivan should know,” Martha grinned. “He starred in a couple of them.”

“No, you didn't!” Eve said, her mouth a round “O.”

“Really?”

“I did,” Ivan agreed. “I needed the bread.”

The painter laughed lecherously. “You're trying to say it wasn't any fun, man?” he asked. “I've seen one or two of those things. It looked like fun to me.”

Ivan shrugged. “So go see Floyd, maybe he can use you. No beard, though. He says it hides the action in the tastier bits.” He was beginning to feel annoyed. He hated to be reminded about Floyd and those films.

“I wouldn't take off the beard,” Thomas said.

“What tasty bits?” Eve demanded, her face slightly flushed, her eyes a little too bright. “Hey, don't let it hang there, man; tell us!”

Martha meanwhile had slid down from her stool and was busy. She straightened up, holding several thick cigarettes.

“Evie, doll, don't bug poor Ivan about his wicked past,” she said, arid the green eyes flickered with malicious amusement toward Ivan. “Let's have a lovely taste of this. One for everybody, wow!”

They sat in a semicircle in front of the fireplace, matches flaring. Ivan lit his and drew a deep breath, holding it. It was smooth, silken stuff, warm and undulating through his body. The painter, Hugh, leaning back, let a cloud of smoke float upward, his eyes closed blissfully.

“Oh, man, boss stuff,” he murmured, not opening his eyes. “Farther out than far out. . . .”

“Right on!” Martha said; she sat, hunched over, drawing deeply at her own. Suddenly she giggled; a new sort of giggle now, with a lessened edge in it. “Man, it gets to me so fast; Not...

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