The night Hero broke her leg was supposed to be a fun night out with her friends. It started fine. They met at Aubrey's and went from there to Pumpkin Blood. Vanessa knew the guy at the door and got them under the rope ahead of the line. It was that kind of club, with ropes at the door, a night out on the town kind of place. The club was dancing and delirious, packed and bumping to a wicked backbeat, just what Hero was looking for. But when they spotted the priest, the trouble started.
Aubrey saw him first. "Is that what I think it is?" she asked at a near shriek.
Hero, next to her in their little dancing circle, looked and nodded, saying with a laugh, "A dancing priest! How cute!"
The sighting interrupted Vanessa. She had been talking about her latest pet project, the Cult of the Body, a regimen for crossfit obsessives whose top priority in life is maintaining their body mass index. Vanessa Mare, entrepreneur. Aubrey Ergo was less than enthusiastic and welcomed the interruption, while Hero Dobrovolny, who had organized this night out, was grateful for the company, regardless of her feeling for or against body sculpting. Mostly indifferent.
They were three ex-models dancing the night away at Pumpkin Blood, a club not only open to all ages but evidently priests as well. They met during a shoot for the Nordstrom Rack Spring catalog and were instant chums. Vanessa's word, chums. She was a budding entrepreneur with a facility for language. Naturally, of the three, she did most of the talking. When it came time to terminate their contract at Yellow Studio, Vanessa drafted the resignation letter and Hero and Aubrey were content to sign and be done with their careers as human platforms for cheap retail. Tonight was meant to celebrate their new freedom, but they were at the club less than an hour before Aubrey sighted the priest.
"What's he doing here, you think?" Aubrey said. "Looks like he's having fun."
"So was I," said Vanessa, "until a second ago."
"There's another one!" Aubrey pointed at a lower section of the club. Among the pulsing bodies was a black figure, dancing with arms raised. Hero recognized who it was and turned away with a look of alarm.
"That's no priest," she said.
"What?" Aubrey was scandalized. "It totally is, Hero. Look at him!"
"I am," she said, facing the opposite way.
"No, she's right," Vanessa said. "Don't you recognize him?"
"It's Alex," Hero said.
"Alex? You mean, from-?" Aubrey squinted. Her hand rose to her mouth as it began to form a smile that threatened to break out into laughter. "Oh my Jesus..."
From Yellow Studio, photographer Alex Murphy had preference for Berlin all-black turtlenecks that sometimes, from a distance, gave him the appearance of a holy man. His look was well known to all three girls but to Hero especially, who had been his star subject and all that that implied.
"I was wondering when he'd show up!" Now Aubrey did laugh. Hero was aghast.
"You invited him?"
"Yeah, Aubrey, what's your problem?" If ever there was tension to be stirred, Vanessa always did so with perverse enthusiasm. Aubrey, who thought bickering was pointless, refused to take the bait. She did her blithe routine, maintaining a sweet smile that was all innocence.
"Let's say hi," she said, starting in that direction. In a state of high relish, Vanessa followed without hesitation, aiming a conspicuous grin at Hero. It provided a notable lack of inducement to the third member of their fractious triad, a state of disorder neither new nor novel and, as with countless instances preceding this one, sure to prove temporary. It did, however, dance on Hero's back teeth and that had not been the kind of dancing she had in mind that night.
"Do we have to?" she said, and then, when it seemed no one had heard her, added, "This is supposed to be our night! We don't need him wrecking it..."
Aubrey had already drifted into the crowd, but Vanessa hung back. "Wreck it? Come on, girl," she said, "you know he's the life of the party."
#pumpkin #herobeach #kassini #jamesmacadam