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nine

Nov. 9th, 2016 08:32 pm
smackenzie: (faye)
[personal profile] smackenzie
Carroll and Victor came over early and wrestled the dining room table out the back door and down the stairs to the yard, where Gigi covered it with a yellow tablecloth with a red and blue geometric print and then set out plates and silverware and glasses. Marianna and Addy showed up just before eight bearing a pot of spaghetti and red sauce.

"Marianna made it," Addy explained. "Be careful - it stains."


Gigi fetched a ladle and left the pot on the table with the lid on. Sadie imagined that she didn't want to wrestle it up into the kitchen and hoped the lid would keep the spaghetti hot. They'd already put out tiny rounds of bread along with olives and celery and cheese. Marianna took some cheese and a handful of olives, welcomed Sadie to the neighborhood, and went back to her own apartment.

The delivery man from the deli had arrived at seven-thirty, exactly on time, and Gigi had left the platter in the kitchen, to be served at nine like the invitations said. There were bottles of bathtub gin and bootleg whiskey hiding in her closet and bottles of Coca-Cola and orange juice in the icebox with the tiny pastries and dessert cheese. Sadie had been told in no uncertain terms to stop putting things out and sit down and let herself be the guest of honor, but she was too well conditioned to let someone else set up a party. Now she moved the flowers around on the table and ignored Victor when he laughed at her.

Gigi fetched the drinks, set the bottles out with the glasses, and let Carroll mix the cocktails.

"I miss bubbly," she sighed, accepting a glass that was mostly gin with just enough orange juice to mask the taste.

"You're bubbly enough for us," Victor said. Carroll rolled his eyes but Addy giggled.

Rose and Ida showed up a little after eight, which was prompt enough for them. They brought flowers ("Eight years ago you would have brought wine," Carroll said to Ida, as the twins picked at the hors d'oeuvres and let him make them drinks) and were trailed by Alistair bearing a small carved wooden elephant, which he presented to Sadie with some fanfare.

"If its trunk is up," he explained, "that means good luck."

Sadie, as expected, had a hard time meeting his eyes without remembering the photo inside Gigi's closet. Oh, she had to remember to show it to Ida and Rose, although if she did, they might be so scandalized they'd leave, and she didn't want them to go just yet.

Layla didn't appear until after nine, but claimed she'd been held late by a difficult model.

"What's her name?" Victor asked.

"Baskerville," she said pointedly.

"What kind of name is that for a girl?"

"He's a dog." She gulped from her glass, coughed, drank again. "God save me from rich ladies with bohemian pretensions."

"Those rich ladies pay your commission," Victor pointed out.

"I'd take a rich lady with bohemian pretensions," Addy said. "So would Marianna. Did you have some spaghetti? She's very proud of it."

Ida glanced down at her dress, and Sadie knew she was feeling relieved that she'd worn red. Ida had made polite conversation with Addy, who had questions about her dress, and Rose had looked like she was actually enjoying talking to Victor and Carroll, but for all their willingness to go to speakeasies and wild jazz clubs, and for all that they'd put on their dancing shoes and come downtown for Gigi's dinner party, neither of the twins seemed very comfortable here.

Roman had shown up almost on time - about ten minutes after the twins and Alistair - with a willowy blonde girl who said her name was Frederika. She was a dancer and once she learned that Rose and Ida had taken ballet as little girls - their mother thought it would give them grace and poise, and their father thought it was a waste of money - she wanted to talk to them about it. The three of them were now standing on the little back porch with their drinks and plates of food, chatting where they could see each other in the light coming from the kitchen.

At almost eleven Gigi announced that the next phase of the party was about to begin, and if everyone would help her carry things inside she'd be grateful. Victor and Carroll heaved the dining room table back up the porch steps and through the kitchen into the dining room, and everyone else carried plates and glasses and food and the flowers. Addy took her pot (which still had some spaghetti and sauce in it) upstairs but returned in ten minutes apologizing for Marianna who wasn't up for dancing.

Ida and Rose, to Sadie's disappointment but not her surprise, decided to go back to the residential hotel. Sadie hadn't shown them the apartment or the photos inside Gigi's closet, but some of the conversations had taken a definitely adult turn - Carroll and Layla talking about their live models became a conversation that Sadie knew just burned the twins' virgin ears. To be honest, Sadie had been a little embarrassed as well, but at least she recognized her prudery as simply a lack of exposure to the kinds of people who discussed naked women's bodies at length, with asides as to how good those women might be (or how good they were) in bed.

"Did you have a good time?" Sadie asked anxiously, as they stood on the sidewalk in front of the building saying goodbye. Gigi had said the twins might want to go down to Sixth Avenue to flag down a cab, but the rest of the party was heading that way and so would walk with them.

"Ye-e-s," Rose hedged.

"That sounds like a no."

"I'm glad we came," Ida said. "You didn't show us the place."

"I meant to!" Sadie told her. "You looked like you were having a good talk with Frederika."

"She's interesting. She doesn't dance ballet, though, but something called 'organic dance'. She tried to demonstrate it for us."

"Girls!" Victor called from down the street. "We have a schedule to keep!" He waved them on.

"We'll walk you to Sixth," Sadie said. "You can catch a taxi. We should meet for lunch on Monday. Same Automat, at noon?"

Rose nodded, answering for both.

Rose talked about Mr Rockland until Sixth Avenue, at which point the entire crowd stopped on the sidewalk and tried to hail a taxi. Roman finally put two fingers in his mouth and whistled, which succeeded in bringing a taxi from down the street. Sadie put the twins in it, wished them a goodnight, and continued on with Gigi and her new friends.

They went to the Pepper Pot, as Gigi had promised, even though it was hot and crowded, and once again Sadie danced with her and Victor and Carroll. Frederika didn't dance, claiming her body wasn't built for jazz, and Addy didn't either, but (Gigi whispered) that was because she didn't have any rhythm.

After the Pepper Pot they went to Lucy's, and then another place, and Sadie lost all track of time and place and how much she'd drunk. Sometime after three she found herself in the back seat of someone's convertible, clinging to Victor, the both of them shrieking with glee and possibly a little fear as the car hurtled over the Williamsburg Bridge and through Brooklyn and Queens in search of a beach.

"What are we doing here," Sadie whispered to Victor over an hour later, as they scrambled along the beach in the dark. She'd taken off her shoes and stockings but now she couldn't remember where they were. She hoped they were in the car.

"Skinny-dipping!" Carroll cried, running up behind them, around them, and towards the water. He threw off his jacket and shirt, paused to kick off his shoes, and kept going until he was splashing into the surf. Gigi and Layla followed, shrieking excitedly. Roman and Frederika had vanished earlier, as had Addy (she ran into some friends), and now Sadie and Victor watched as three of their friends stripped down to their underclothes and flailed into the water.

"Come on," Sadie said, pulling on Victor's arm. "Let's go swimming."

"In these pants?" he demanded.

"No, in no pants!" Sadie was already struggling out of her dress, and by the time she got it off and dropped it on the sand, Victor was likewise getting unclothed.

She had the brief thought that the female half of her entire extended family would probably expire of shame to see her running into the beach wearing only her camisole and bra. The camisole was cream-colored with lace trim, and the second it hit water it was going to become see-through.

She didn't care. She was having so much fun, with such fun people - and she'd drunk a lot - no one she was related to was here to see her.

The water was surprisingly cold, making her gasp and stop short.

"Sadie!" Gigi called from farther out. "My beautiful roommate! Come swim with us!"

By this time Victor had caught up with her - as had Alistair, who was shockingly completely naked - and Sadie watched as he dove into the water and swam out.

"Swimming classes at the Y," he explained, when she had finally struggled out to meet them.

Gigi threw her arms around Sadie, gave her a salty kiss on the cheek, and said "Wasn't this the best idea? I'm so glad one of us can drive."

As soon as Gigi released her, Carroll grabbed her around the waist, lifted her up, and threw her into the water. Sadie came up spluttering and choking and laughing, too drunk and too happy to care that she couldn't swim that well and he could have drowned her.

They splashed around, tried to push each other under the water, grabbed at each other's underclothes, and generally behaved like children on vacation.

It was turning to dawn when they finally straggled out of the water, soaking wet and tired, and tried to collect their clothes and aim for the car.

"Who's driving," Layla asked, slouching into the front seat and leaning against the dashboard.

"Well it's my car," Carroll said. "I should."

"I cou- " Alistair started to say, but both Gigi and Layla cut him off with "NO." They sounded more awake with that one word than they had in the past ten minutes.

So they piled into the car, and Sadie found herself in the back seat again, sandwiched between Victor, who complained halfheartedly about his clothes being wet, and Alistair, who didn't seem too bothered that no one wanted him to drive. She leaned against Victor's shoulder and fell asleep.



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