list of literary agents
list of literary agents
There she was, lying on the rumpled bed, the evening light fading. She could see her legs stretched out toward the window with its plum-striped curtains and the green, swaying trees beyond. There was an ochre glow in the sky, as the sun set, with crimson-edged clouds bathing the darkness. Her legs looked spindly, too thin, but then, she was a model, with the skinny frame desired by clothiers and designers. She wanted to eat, but dared not: outside, where she saw the birds flying in black punctuation points against the red-rimmed clouds, she thought how they could eat as they wished, without a thought as to appearances: they were all soft, downy, fuzzy, fluffy. Fat, perhaps, according to clothiers and designers.
There were little sparkles of raindrops on the windowpanes, for with the final light came a quick showering down of rain, against the deepening deep blue of the sky. The yellow and gold of the last sun’s rays faded away to a soft tangerine glow, outlining the tall buildings and skyscrapers that rose on the horizon. She wiggled her toes, stretched them wide, thought to herself, I have prehensile toes! She could pick up anything with them a talent for which none would pay her a penny. She saw how her knee-bones stuck out more than they should, her thighs began behind the knee-bones, too thin, too thin. But there was no help for it. She knew that they would put makeup on to hide the dark circles of starvation that made her large, brown, glowing eyes look even more mysterious, and that she’d walk down the red carpet on the arm of Max Taylor, Movie Star, smiling and waving to the adoring crowds, her photo snapped, her gown declared simply ravishing, her hair declared adequate for the occasion. Max was homosexual and she liked being with him, being ordinarily too exhausted for sex: they made a good pair.
Well, she had fourteen hours before she had to get ready for tomorrow’s appearance at the Oscars. Fourteen hours, phone calls turned away, and Room Service bringing up, in another hour, her dinner, composed of a cup of clear broth, a chicken wing, and a leaf of lettuce, with vitamin capsules. She wanted to bathe after that, but wondered if she had the strength. Staying in bed, for she felt so cold, was best: her nails wouldn’t get chipped that way. Why turn on the telly? Why not watch the raindrops gather, as the wind blew them sideways on the glass, watch how they merged and became fatter, then dribbled down the clear pane, falling to oblivion…
She looked again at the alarm clock: forty-five minutes to dinner. There was a slight prickling along the bedcovers that crossed her flat belly, and she looked to see what caused it, but nothing was there. The white hotel sheets, the white hotel blanket, the white hotel mattress with its plum-colored stripes, were as in all hotels everywhere: a formal luxury, her common fate in hotel after hotel. Sheared carpet and sleek lamps and slick wood with glass: the brochures of the hotel, the beckoning pamphlets listing cafes and cabarets and caffe au lait. One hotel was as another: either filled with antiques stiff with gaudy gilt and lace and carved balustrades and flowers, or modern-sterile, Isn’t it Good Norwegian Wood?
What was life about? She wondered. I’ll strut my stuff a hundred more times, then what? I wish I could believe in God.
Incredibly, she felt the electric touch upon her belly again, and again looked down, past her hunger-shrunken naked breasts to the blanket and sheets twisted over her middle in the shape of a white cross, the plum-red stripes making a big “X” as if blocking her empty belly off from the rest of her body. As she breathed, the “X” went up and down, up and down…and as the night sky darkened to deep purple, she thought she saw the “X” waver, and move sideways. As it did so, the prickling sensation returned. This time, she drew the sheet and blanket up to her chin, covering herself. I’m cold all the time, she thought to herself. How good the hot broth will feel! She looked at the clock again: in fifteen minutes, they’d bring dinner. She remembered, as a child, saying Grace over a meal of bacon, eggs, toast and jam, with hot cocoa on the side, and how her sister and brother grabbed for the last pieces of toast, but she was content to let them go for it, she had more than enough to eat. Donny was dead, now, and so were Mom and Dad, in the car wreck that so suddenly took their lives. As for Donna, her sister, she hadn’t seen her for several years: Donna was heavy, having had children… ashamed of her stretch marks and her after thighs.
. I think I will say Grace over the broth and chicken wing and the lettuce, she thought to herself. Jesus! I wish You’d appear! But those things don’t really happen, do they? It was always mere legend.
Then it happened.
The broth had gone cold. The lettuce lay untouched. They had forgotten the chicken wing, but no matter. She was washed over with heat and warmth, lavished with it….she lay stretched out, her arms flung wide, her eyes moist with tears. She rolled from the bed, drawing the sheet and blanket with her, and the quilt that had twisted to make the “X” as well. On her knees, she whispered, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
“But such things are hallucinations,” he told her, as he warily watched her eating a normal-sized meal. “What about your contract?” he asked, anxiously. “If you change sizes, you’ll be fired from Victoria’s Secret, and the rest will follow. And what will Henri say, if you stop going out with him? He’s always getting you good film deals.”
“I’m rich,” she said. “I don’t need Victoria’s Secret anymore. And I don’t need Henri, either.””
“Well, I’m not rich!” he told her, heatedly. “And you have a contract with me to be responsible. You’ve had a god-damned hallucination. As your agent, I insist that you see a psychiatrist.”
“You don’t have that right,” she told him.
“Of course I do. I‘ll sue you if you don’t go. Then see how rich you’ll be.”
There she was, lying on the rumpled bed, the evening light fading. She could see her legs stretched out toward the window with its plum-striped curtains and the green, swaying trees beyond. There was an ochre glow in the sky, as the sun set, with crimson-edged clouds battering the darkness. Her legs looked spindly, too thin, but then, she was a model, with the skinny frame desired by clothiers and designers. She wanted to eat, but dared not: outside, where she saw the birds flying in black punctuation points against the red-rimmed clouds, she thought how they could eat as they wished, without a thought as to appearances.
Henri would be by tonight, to sleep with her again. He was a powerful Senator. They met all over the world: her ‘photo shoots’ were all lucrative deals. Some of them were real photo shoots… After all, she was so much thinner than his wife, Bernice, who was trying to get pregnant. Models on the make were much more fun to be with, and the contracts and magazine covers he got for her made the hotels and the meals and the dreams keep coming.
“Henri Ballantyne was very near-sighted, and middle-aged, but he still carried a handsome shock of blonde hair, and had the body of an athlete. The fact that his wife had just died made him one of America’s most eligible bachelors, though he was still avoiding dating. Henri’s career as U S Senator was reaching its pinnacle: he was a powerful man who now found himself stalked by paparazzi, aching for a photo of him with some movie star. At Bernice’s funeral, Henri had let himself go a little, drinking too much and saying some unwise things about his wife’s untimely and sudden death. “Of course, those people are fools,” Henri told Charles. “All that blather about rising again, about the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. What I wanted was her, damn it all. Now I have to go find another respectable woman.”
“Why didn’t you keep your opinion about that ‘blather’ to yourself?” Charles asked, wishing it had been his wife, instead of Henri’s, who had kicked the bucket. Charles had silvery hair now, and a paunch, but his wife looked even worse. Charles looked down at his bad left foot, that leg two inches too short that made the thick, heavy shoe so necessary, then glanced with scarcely-concealed envy at his younger client, a former Olympic star whose biceps were still firm. Charles was barely interested in Henri’s latest problem, but it was his job to keep Henri popular. Right now, his job was in jeopardy. Henri surreptitiously lit another cigarette, which Charles ardently hoped the waiter wouldn’t see.
“Perhaps we should move onto the terrace,” Charles suggested, picking up his wine glass. “There’s a cool spot out there under the umbrellas.”
“It’s all the same to me,” Henri told him. They moved outside to the restaurant’s rocky terrace, sheltered under rows of bright red umbrellas with ‘Coca Cola’ emblazoned in white, curling letters. Charles was glad to be back in Budapest: he looked forward to the mineral baths, the good, cheap wine, and the pretty women who would sleep with him willingly, despite his bad left foot. That clump-clump of his shoe followed him everywhere, and most women glanced down at the thick sole of the shoe, hearing the heavy sound of it, and instinctively avoided intimacy with him. It wasn’t fair. Charles was also accursed with a gloomy cast of the eyes, a sad down-turning of the mouth, and with a voice so raspy he couldn’t succeed, as he had dreamed, in politics. He was forced to function as a mere advisor, well-paid to guide candidates into high offices, and keep them there, by making certain they said the right things and did the right things.. At present, he was worried about Henri, whose chances for re-election had been very good, until today.
Henri was part of a Senate committee on a fact-finding mission touring the European Union, with a stopover for fun in Budapest, where he had just dined with the Minister of Culture, stating his opinion that religion was a sham, and that Jesus was probably a closet homosexual. Damn! Charles sighed to himself. Henri had made his opinion known to the new Minister of Culture a devout Catholic — not to the old one, who had been an atheist.
“This story isn’t going to ride well with your constituency in Maryland, Henri.”
“I know, I know! So what the hell should I do now?”
“Maybe show up at church. And make sure people know about it.”
“If you can’t fix this, I’m quitting politics,” Henri told him, peeling off a few thousand into Charles’ hands. “This should cover costs for your quick little trip over here. Do what you can to cover this up. Okay?”
“I’m not Mr. Fix-It,” Charles complained. “I suggest you stay away from religion altogether after this. I’m sorry I ever mentioned the word ‘church’ but how was I to know you’d end up attending a healing session in some Praise-Jesus-Hallelujah cult?”
“It has twenty thousand members,” Henri said lamely. “And I have to admit, I was entranced.”
“Hypnotized, not entranced,” Charles corrected. “I should have set up the right church for you.”
“Yes, you should have,” Henri said. “So now, get me the hell out of this mess!”
Henri, whose poor vision was the result of a botched operation to reduce his near-sighted condition, couldn’t wear contact lenses anymore and didn’t dare risk a repeat of the operation until methods became more advanced. Maybe any day, he thought to himself. Meanwhile, he was stuck wearing glasses, and hated it even more than getting old and out of shape. He’d really been caught up in that Jesus-Hallelujah-Praise-God jamboree, and, mesmerized, walked in a daze to the altar, knelt there, and said he believed. A man stood over him as in a cloud, his vision actually became dark, as if an angel hovered somewhere, blotting out all the hot lights overhead, and then the evangelist asked if he could ‘lay hands’ on him.
“Do you believe you can be healed?”
The fellow looked a little tired and was in a hurry, as there were dozens more who also sought the ‘hands-on’ experience.
“Healed of what?”
“Whatever your need is, of course. God will heal you now, if you believe!”
What was that shiver of hope that flowed over him, as those hands were laid upon his head?
He felt an exquisite sense of peace overflow him. The evangelist’s hands seemed full of electricity. It was uncanny. From Henri’s lips burst out his secret desire.:
“I want my eyes to be healed!”
“Then be healed, eyes! In Jesus’ name!”
What a fool he’d been! Such an utter fool! For nothing had happened. Not a thing. He’d had some blurry spots in front of his eyes, like a thousand little dark dots, just as he came down the aisle to the front, and yes, those little dots disappeared, but that was all. He was still as near-sighted as ever.
They’re all fakes! he thought to himself. He didn’t see a single person healed at that altar, except maybe one little old lady who said she was healed of cancer. Oh, sure! He’d ‘believe’ when he saw the doctor’s report! He got the old lady’s name and address. He’d fix that so-called ‘healer’ if she died of cancer.