WARNING: Almost certainly contains the abuse and misuse of commas. (Sorry Deidra)
Luckily, I’m not cursed by an irrational desire to justify my decisions. I know when I’m right. Which, I’m not ashamed to say, is always.
It was so tiny when it finally came. It often is. Most people in the room, I assume, would have been oblivious to it. Not me. One might be forgiven for assuming it would be a dramatic, more obvious detail that convinced me. As always, I had to be patient. It’s rather a crude expression, but I always trust my guts. They’ve not been wrong yet.
On entering the soiree, Quinten caught my attention immediately. His overzealous laughter, coupled with his ‘collar up’ Ralph Lauren mock rugby shirt, belted camel chinos, and slip on deck shoes—even though there was no sign of a yacht anywhere in his parents’ Kensington town house—made him easy to find in the roomful of obnoxious millennials. Actually, I use the term loosely. Just as being born into an upper-class family does not make you classy, waiting staff uncorking two hundred-pound bottles of champagne, did not make this boorish nightmare a soiree. And Quinten was the epitome of a classless toff. He’d snatched a bottle from a frightened looking young girl, whose one-thousand-pound black dress, and sunken mascara clad eyes, led me to believe that rather than having the time of her life in London’s more exclusive social circles, she was desperately unhappy, hiding a chronic eating disorder, and a drug addiction. Why do these people think snorting cocaine through fifty-pound notes from the top of an Italian marble dressing table means it’s a higher standard of getting high? The cocaine is the same Class A stimulant that the junky lying in the gutter with puke in his beard used. The same Class A stimulant cobbled together in a south American jungle by an illiterate farmer who’s a little surprised when his employers insist he blends in even more cement dust, but does as he’s told for the safety of his family.
Quinten forced the girl to drink straight from the bottle, champagne spilling down her chin, running onto her bony chest. His manicured hand firmly on the back of her head so she couldn’t pull away. A group of his Eton pals gathered round her, jeering at the spectacle, banging on the table with delight as he announced to his audience how great London totty is at giving head, as she hadn’t needed to come up for air. Just kept swallowing obligingly like all the good girls should. She tried desperately to make it look like she was enjoying all the attention. She failed.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is the tiny detail I was alluding to. Well, this wasn’t a tiny detail, and if I’m honest, it didn’t bother me. I’ve witnessed worse, and frankly, I expected nothing less. It was later in the evening that the final piece slotted into place. I’d been politely making small talk with a banker called Tom, who was significantly shorter than me and couldn’t get his eyes above my cleavage. Can’t really blame him, I looked stunning. He wore a grey skin-tight Giorgio Armani suit with white pumps. He had no socks on! He seemed to think I might be interested in how much money he’d made at end of play in the stock exchange that week. I wasn’t—interested, that is, but It gave me the chance to stand close enough to Quinten to hear his conversation. He was delighting his guests with stories of his latest conquests, but because of his sickeningly privileged upbringing, and ridiculously expensive private education, he made it sound like a jolly day at the races. He exclaimed, with gusto, while on holiday at his parent’s villa in Marbella, he’d got his hands on a lovely young filly. Not a thoroughbred, but plenty of potential. After a little bit of grooming to gain her confidence, (at this, the crowd cheered) he’d ridden her hard for a week, bareback of course, before putting her out to pasture, as she’d never be able to run again after what he’d done to her. It was then I got what I was waiting for. As he roared with laughter, slapping his chino-clad thigh like an over-enthusiastic panto dame, he took a sharp intake of breath and snorted. And there it was. Bingo. In that moment, in that one tiny insignificant sound, he revealed his true heritage. That tiny snort said everything about the class system in this country. It reeked of arrogance and privilege. It’s probably the same snort his grandfather and great-grandfather had.
I savoured the moment, letting the adrenaline flow, holding my glass in two hands so Tom the banker couldn’t see me shaking. He was still focused on my cleavage, his droning voice blurring into the background. Once I was confident my hand was no longer shaking I handed my glass to Tom. I patted him on the head with a smile and turned to Quinten. Leaning across to let my breasts brush against him, I grabbed an empty bottle and turned it upside down. Looking him straight in the eye, I pouted.
"Oh dear," I whispered, "looks like we’re all out of the good stuff, unless you’re ready for something a little . . ." I paused, raising my eyebrows, ". . . stronger?" Honestly, I might as well have put a dog collar and lead on him, and pulled him along after me, tongue hanging out. Making sure his eyes followed me, I gracefully left the room, pausing briefly in the doorway to glance at him over my shoulder. He was mine. Too easy.
I avoided the lavatory: too obvious, too high a risk of being disturbed. The next room along was enormous. It had book shelves from floor to ceiling on one wall. There was a beautiful cast iron fireplace, a leather Chesterfield, and a baby grand piano. Two huge sash windows overlooked an impressive swimming pool. I’m always drawn to the beautiful turquoise of a pool at night. And I do look rather fabulous in a bikini. Quinten’s daddy had done well for himself. He entered the room and closed the door behind him, turning an oversized key. As much as I enjoy this moment, I’m always keen to get it over with. I closed the lid of the piano and removed a small wrap from my cleavage. I know, it’s a bit uncouth, but the boys love it, and I quite enjoy the theatre. I emptied a tiny line onto the piano, which broke my heart as it was a Steinway. Maybe someone in the family did have some class after all. Probably not.
Quinten, rolled up fifty-pound note in hand (as predicted), Pushed me to one side, leaned over the piano and snorted the whole lot.
My supplier assured me it contained enough concentrated arsenic to take down an elephant. I explained I was only trying to take down a pig. He laughed half-heartedly but asked no further questions. Great customer service. I’ll be using him again. The addition of ground glass to the mixture, however, is genius. He explained how—as the powder hits the back of the nose and throat—it causes extremely painful bleeding. This, he added, was not particularly important from a visual perspective, but speeds up the effects of the arsenic as it goes straight into the blood stream.
Quinten hit the floor after thirty seconds. Interestingly, as blood filled his nose and throat and he struggled for breath, he let out a tiny snort.
I found over two grand in his pocket, along with a pristine white handkerchief. Such a mummy’s boy. The handkerchief was an unexpected bonus. I wiped the piano and stuffed it back in his chinos.
As my Uber whisked me out of Kensington, I swigged on a disgusting bottle of two-hundred-pound champagne. The driver dropped me a couple of miles from home, and couldn’t get away fast enough after the lady with the amazing cleavage leaned in and tipped him five hundred pounds. With another ungrateful, overprivileged arsehole removed from society and a beautiful summer night to enjoy, I stopped to listen to a busker outside the tube station. He was murdering a Jonny Cash number called ‘Cocaine Blues’. I had a chuckle at the irony as I dropped a scrunched-up handful of fifties into his guitar case.
For now, the others will have to wait, I need to let the dust settle. And for some reason I’ve got the urge to go for a swim in the morning. And I do look rather fabulous in a bikini.
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What a strong MC -- the voice! the snark! I'd love to hear this read out loud by a voice actor (or you?) "Eton" reference made me snicker. Great description here: coupled with his ‘collar up’ Ralph Lauren mock rugby shirt, belted camel chinos, and slip on deck shoes... I can almost smell the Drakkar Noir from here. You capture a dissolute line quite well. Maybe too well, Mr. Manders...what have you be up to? And the closing line just slaps. This was fun to read, and probably a heckuva lot of fun to write. Great stuff :)
Thanks D I think I've found myself a (morally flexible) modern day Robin Hood. Lets see what she does next! Great news the book is finished. Fingers crossed its a hit.