Read Exit to Eden Online

Authors: Anne Rice

Tags: #Rich people, #Man-woman relationships, #Nightclubs, #New Orleans (La.), #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Erotic fiction, #Suspense, #Erotica, #Sex, #Photojournalists, #Love stories

Exit to Eden

BOOK: Exit to Eden
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Lisa
Chapter 1

My name is Lisa.

I'm five foot nine. My hair is long and it's dark brown. I wear leather a great deal, high boots always, and sometimes glove-soft vests and even leather skirts now and then, and I wear lace, especially when I can find the kind I like: intricate, very old-fashioned lace, snow white. I have light skin that tans easily, large breasts, and long legs. And though I don't feel beautiful and never have, I know that I am. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be a trainer at The Club.

Good bones and big eyes, that's the real foundation of the beauty, I suppose—the hair being thick, having a lot of body— and something to do with the expression on my face, that I look sweet and even kind of lost most of the time, but I can inspire fear in a male or female slave as soon as I start to talk.

At The Club they call me the Perfectionist, and it is no small compliment to be called that in a place like The Club, where everyone is after a perfection of sorts, where everyone is striving, and the striving is part of the pleasure involved.

I've been at The Club since it opened. I helped create it, establish its principles, approve its earliest members and its earliest slaves. I laid down the rules and the limits. And I imagined and created most of the equipment that is used there today. I even designed some of the bungalows and the gardens, the morning swimming pool and fountains. I decorated over a score of the suites myself. Its many imitators make me smile. There is no real competition for The Club.

The Club is what it is because it believes in itself. And its glamor and its terror evolve from that.

This is a story of something that happened at The Club.

A great deal of the story doesn't even take place there. It takes place in New Orleans and in the low countryside around New Orleans. And in Dallas. But it doesn't matter really.

The story began at The Club. And no matter where it goes from there, it's about The Club.

Welcome to The Club.

Lisa
Chapter 2
The New Season

We were waiting for landing clearance, the enormous jet slowly circling the island in the tourist route, I call it, because you can see everything so well: the sugar-white beaches, the coves, and the great sprawling grounds of The Club itself—high stone walls and tree-shaded gardens, the vast complex of tile-roofed buildings half hidden by the mimosa and the pepper trees. You can see the drifts of white and pink rhododendrons, the orange groves, and the fields full of poppies and deep green grass.

At the gates of The Club lies the harbor. And beyond the grounds, the ever busy airfield and heliport.

Everyone was coming in for the new season.

There were a score of private planes, winking silver in the sun, and a half-dozen snow-white yachts anchored in the blaze of blue-green water offshore.

The
Elysium
was already in the harbor, a toy ship it seemed, frozen in a sea of light. Who would guess that there were some thirty or more slaves inside it, waiting breathlessly to be driven naked across the deck and onto the shore?

The slaves all make the journey to The Club fully clothed for obvious reasons. But before they're allowed to see the island, let alone set foot on it, they are stripped.

Only naked and subservient are they admitted, and all their belongings are stored under a serial number in a vast cellar until time comes for them to leave.

A very thin gold bracelet on the right wrist with a name and number artfully engraved on it identifies the slave, though in the first few days much would be written with a grease pen on that stunning naked flesh.

The plane dipped slightly, passed closer to the dock. I was glad the little spectacle had not begun yet.

I'd have a little time before inspection to be in the quiet of my room, just an hour or so with a glass of Bombay gin and ice.

I sat back, feeling a slow warmth all over, a diffused excitement that came up from inside and seemed to cover all the surface of my skin. The slaves were always so deliciously anxious in those first few moments. Priceless feeling. And it was just the beginning of what The Club had in store for them.

I was unusually eager to be back.

******

I was finding the vacations harder and harder for some reason, the days in the outside world curiously unreal.

And the visit with my family in Berkeley had been unbearable, as I avoided the same old questions about what I did and where I lived most of the year.

"Why is it such a secret, for the love of heaven? Where do you go?"

There were moments at the table when I absolutely could not hear anything my father was saying, just see his lips moving, and when he asked me a question I had to make up something about having a headache, feeling sick because I'd lost the thread.

The best times oddly enough were those I hated when I was a little girl: the two of us walking around the block together, uphill and downhill in the early evening, and him saying his rosary, and the night sounds of the Berkeley hills all around us, and not a word said. I didn't feel miserable during those walks as I had when I was little, only quiet as he was quiet, and inexplicably sad.

One night I drove into San Francisco with my sister and we had dinner alone together at a glossy little North Beach place called Saint Pierre. There was a man standing at the bar who kept looking at me, the classically handsome young lawyer type wearing a white cable-knit sweater under his gray houndstooth jacket, hair cut full to look windblown, mouth ready to smile. Just the sort I always avoided in the past, no matter how beautiful the mouth, how brilliant the expression.

My sister said, "Don't look now but he's eating you alive."

And I had the strongest desire to get up, go to the bar and start talking to him, give my sister the car keys, and tell her I'd see her the next day. Why can't I do that, I kept thinking? Just talk to him? After all, he was with a couple and he obviously didn't have a date.

What would that have been like, vanilla sex as they call it, in some little hotel room hanging over the Pacific with this wonderfully wholesome Mr. Straight who never dreamed he was sleeping with Miss Lace'n'Leather from the grandest exotic sex club in the world? Maybe we'd even go to his apartment, some little place full of hardwood and mirrors with a bay view. He'd put on Miles Davis, and together we'd cook dinner in a wok.

Something wrong with your head, Lisa. Your stock and trade is fantasies, but not fantasies like that.

Get out of California right away.

******

But the usual distractions hadn't done much for me afterwards, though I'd raided Rodeo Drive for a new wardrobe, spent a whirlwind afternoon at Sakowitz in Dallas, gone on to New York to see
Cats
and
My One and Only
, and a couple of Off-Broadway shows that were great. I'd haunted the museums, been to the Met twice, seen the ballet everywhere I could catch it, and bought books, lots of books, and films on disc to last me the next twelve months.

All of that should have been fun. I'd made more money at twenty-seven than I'd ever dreamed I'd make in a lifetime. Now and then I'd try to remember what it was like when I wanted all those gold-covered lipsticks in Bill's Drugstore on Shattuck Avenue, and only had a quarter for a pack of gum. But the spending didn't mean very much. It had left me exhausted, on edge.

Except for a very few moments, sort of bittersweet moments, when the dancing and music in New York had been utterly exalting, I'd been listening to this inner voice that kept saying:

Go home, go back to The Club. Because if you don't turn around right now and go back, it might not be there anymore. And everything you see in front of you is unreal.

Odd feeling. A sense of
the absurd
as the French philosophers call it, making me so pervasively uncomfortable that I felt like I couldn't find a place just to take a deep breath.

In the beginning I had always needed the vacations, needed to walk through normal streets. So why the anxiety this time, the impatience, the feeling of being dangerous to the peace of those I loved?

I had ended up the vacation finally watching the same video disc over and over again in my room at the Adolphus in Dallas, of a little film by actor Robert Duvall called
Angelo, My Love
. It was about the gypsies in New York.

Angelo was a shrewd, black-eyed little kid about eight years old, really street wise and brilliant and beautiful, and it was his film, his and his family's, and Duvall let them make up a lot of their own dialogue. It was realer than real, their life in their own gypsy community. Outsiders in the middle of things, right in New York.

But it was crazy for me to be sitting in a darkened hotel room in Dallas watching a film seven times, like the reality of it was exotic, watching this sharp little black-haired boy call up his preteen girl friend and bullshit her, or go into the dressing room of a child country-western singing star and flirt with her, this fearless and good-hearted little boy immersed in life up to his eyeballs.

What does all this mean finally, I kept asking like a college kid. Why does it make me want to cry?

Maybe it's that we are all outsiders, we are all making our own unusual way through a wilderness of normality that is just a myth.

Maybe even Mr. Straight at the Saint Pierre bar in San Francisco is some kind of an outsider—the young lawyer who writes poetry—and wouldn't have shocked out over coffee and croissants the next morning if I'd said: "Guess what I do for a living? No, actually it's a vocation, it's very serious, it's… my life."

Crazy. Drinking white wine and watching a movie about gypsies, and turning out the lights to look at nighttime Dallas, all those glittering towers rising like ladders to the clouds.

I live in Outsider Heaven, don't I? Where all your secret desires can be satisfied, and you are never alone and you are always safe. It's The Club where I've lived all my adult life.

I just need to get back there, that's all.

******

And here we are circling over Eden again, and it's almost time to have a very close look at those fresh slaves coming in.

I wanted to see those slaves, see if this time there wasn't something new, something altogether extraordinary… Ah, the old romance!

******

But every year the slaves are different, a little more clever, interesting, sophisticated. Every year as the The Club gets more famous, as more and more new clubs like us open, the backgrounds of the incoming slaves get more diverse. And you never know what will be there, what new form that flesh and mystery can take.

There had been a very important auction only days ago, one of the only three international auctions worth attending, and I knew we'd bought heavily, full two-year contracts on some thirty men and women, all of them ravishing, with excellent papers from some of the best houses in America and abroad.

******

A slave doesn't get shown at one of those auctions unless he or she has had the best prior training, unless every test has been passed. Now and then from other sources we get an unwilling or unstable slave, some young man or woman who, flirting with the leather paddles and straps, got swept up in things more or less accidentally. And we liberate and pay off those slaves very fast. We don't like the losses. But it's not the slave's fault.

Yet it's amazing how many of them show up a year later on the most expensive auction blocks. And if we snap them up again— and we do if they're beautiful enough and strong enough—they tell us later that ever since they were liberated they've been dreaming of The Club.

But to continue, these mistakes don't happen at the big auctions.

For two days prior to the sale, the slaves are worked before a board of examiners. They have to show perfect obedience, agility, and flexibility. And the papers are checked and rechecked. The slaves are rated for endurance, temperament; they're classified according to a series of physical standards, and you could, if you wanted, make a very satisfactory purchase from the extensive catalogue copy and photographs alone.

Of course we do all this evaluating again for our own purposes and according to our own standards once the slaves come to us. But it means the merchandise at these auctions is first rate.

And no slave reaches the auction preview room who isn't a gorgeous specimen, expertly mounted on the lighted platform to be examined by thousands of hands and eyes.

In the beginning I used to go to the important auctions myself.

It wasn't only the pleasure of picking what I wanted from these fledglings—and no matter how much private training they've had they
are
fledglings until we train them—it was the excitement of the auction itself.

After all, no matter how well a slave is prepared, the auction is a cataclysm for him or her. There is a lot of trembling, the free flow of tears, and the frightening aloneness of the naked slave on the carefully lighted pedestal, all that delicious tension and suffering displayed as exquisitely as a work of art. It's every bit as good as any Club entertainment that I ever worked out.

For hours you drift about the huge, carpeted preview room, just looking about. The walls are always painted in soothing colors: vermillion or robin's-egg blue. The lighting is perfect. And the champagne is delicious. And there's no distracting music. The rhythm is the beat of your heart.

BOOK: Exit to Eden
10.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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