The Rules of Attraction(4)


by Bret Easton Ellis

Paul Young was on her stereo and I was leaning over her, smiling and said, “No, I guess not.” I was thinking about the girl I left in September.

“Why not?” she asked, and she really didn’t look all that beautiful anymore, lying there in the semi-darkness of her room, the only real light the glow from the tip of the joint she held.

“I don’t know,” I said, and then mock seriously, “I’m involved,” even though I wasn’t, “And you are drunk,” though that really didn’t have anything to do with it either.

“I really like you,” she said before she passed out.

“I really like you,” I said, though I barely knew her.

I finished the joint and the Heineken. Then I put a blanket over her and stood there, hands in my overcoat pockets. I considered taking the blanket off. I took the blanket off. Then lifted her arm and looked at her br**sts, touched them. Maybe I’ll ravish her, I pondered. But it was getting close to four and I had a class in six hours, though the prospect of going seemed fairly remote. On the way out I stole her copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude and turned her stereo off and left, pleased and maybe a little embarrassed. I was a Senior. She was a nice girl. She ended up telling everyone I couldn’t get it up, anyway.

LAUREN Went to Thirsty Thursday at Windham. Thing I had sort of started I didn’t like and I was thinking about Victor and getting lonely. Judy came by the studio already drunk and tried to console me. We got high and I just got lonelier thinking about Victor. Then it’s late and we’re at the party and notalot is going on: keg in the corner, REM or I think it’s REM, beautiful, slow-witted Dance majors writhing about shamelessly. Judy says “Let’s leave” and I agree. We don’t. We get some beer which is warm and flat but drink it. Judy goes off with some guy from Fels even though I know she has a crush on that guy from Los Angeles who’s playing Quarters with Tony, who I like and who I slept with my second term here, and that girl Bernette who I guess is seeing the guy from L.A. or maybe she’s seeing Tony, and there’s nothing going on and I think about leaving, but the idea of going back to the studio….

Someone comes in I don’t want to see so I start talking to this Freshman sort-of-yuppie guy. “Brewski for Youski?” he asks. I look over at Tony, wonder if he’s interested. He looks over at me, lifting the pitcher and raises his eyebrows from across the living room and I can’t tell if it’s an invitation to play Quarters or to get laid. But how do I get away from this guy? But there’s someone here I don’t want to see and if I go over there I’ll have to pass him. So I keep talking to this square. This guy who after every bit of innocuous info he hands me says in a tone that he thinks sounds subversively hip, “Hey, Laura,” and I keep telling him “Look my name’s not Laura, got it?” and he keeps calling me Laura, so finally I’m about to tell him off when suddenly I realize I don’t know his name. He tells me. It’s what? Steve? He, Steve, doesn’t like that I’m smoking. The typical drunk (not too drunk) nervous Freshman. Who is Steve looking at? Not the guy from L.A. but at Bernette who wouldn’t go to bed with this guy Steve Square Freshman anyway, but well, maybe she would. Can’t stop thinking about Victor. But Victor’s in Europe. Brewski for Youski? Jesus. The Freshman tells me I haven’t touched my beer. I touch it, running my fingers across the plastic rim of the cup. “Oh that’s not what I mean,” he says good-naturedly. “Drink it,” he urges. Stereotype with a Haircut. Why does he even care? Does he actually think I’ll go to bed with him? Why won’t that person leave? Is Tony even looking over here? Someone from the Quarters game yells for Sean Yes I Am a Scumbag Bateman. Judy pushes past me rolling her eyes up. I ask the guy Steve what’s going on. He wants to smoke some pot with me but if I don’t want pot he has some good speed. Help. I want to know why I sent Victor four postcards and haven’t gotten anything back. But I don’t want to think about it and very instantly I am leaving with the Freshman. Because … the beer has run out. He asks if we could go to my room. Roommate, I lie. We’re leaving now. And I had promised myself that I would be faithful to Victor and Victor had promised me that he, too, would be faithful. Since I was under, am under, the impression that we’re in love. But I had already sort of broken that vow in September, which was a complete and utter mistake and now what am I doing?

In the hallway of Franklin House. Ripped poster of A Clockwork Orange on his door? No, the next room. The Ronnie Reagan calendar on the door. Is that a joke? In the Freshman’s room now. What’s his name? Sam? Steve? It’s so … neat! Tennis racket on the wall. Shelf full of Robert Ludlum books. Who is this guy? Probably drives a Jeep, wears penny loafers, his girlfriend in high school wore his letter sweater. He checks his hair out in the mirror and tells me his roommate’s in Vermont tonight. Why don’t I tell him that my boyfriend, the person I love, the person who loves me, the person I miss, the person who misses me, is in Europe and that I should not under any circumstances be doing this. He has a refrigerator and pulls out an ice-cold Beck’s. Slick. I take a sip. He takes a sip. He pulls off his L.L. Bean sweater and his T-shirt. His body’s okay. Nice legs. Probably plays tennis a lot. I almost knock over a stack of economics books that are on his desk. I didn’t even know they offer that here.

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