“I’m not mundane,” Jayne hissed.
“Oh, but you are,” he said. He pushed her back against the couch. She didn’t struggle too much. “Degradation,” he said into her face, so she could smell his breath. “That’s all that’s left for people like us. Degradation. It’s the only way we can feel.”
“You’re nuts,” Janey said.
“Come upstairs!” he said. He grabbed her hand. He hopped up the stairs two at a time. He pulled her into the bedroom. “I’ve been looking forward to this all week.” He pulled off his shirt and pants. Underneath, he was wearing tatty stained briefs that were frayed in the leg holes. He turned around and pulled down his underpants. His bottom was splattered with pimples.
“Hit me, Mum!” he shouted.
“I’m not your mum,” Janey said.
“Hit me, Mum! Please!”
Janey backed toward the window, then onto the balcony. She ran to the edge and jumped onto the roof. She scrambled across that and jumped to the ground. “Owwww,” she screamed.
Harold to the Rescue
She just lay there. The front door banged open. Zack, naked and smoking a cigarette, walked towards her. “Get up, you silly cow. You’re not hurt.”
“Fuck off,” Janey said.
“I’d appreciate it if you’d leave the premises as quickly and expediently as possible,” Zack said. Then he went back in the house and snorted more cocaine.
Janey limped into the house, Zack didn’t look up. She went to the phone and dialed. “Please, please be home,” she said. Then: “Thank God.” She started sobbing into the phone. “It’s me. Something terrible has happened. I was with this English guy and he went crazy.” She gave the address. Then she limped out onto the porch.
Twenty minutes later, a Range Rover came roaring up Further Lane. The driver drove across the lawn, scattering croquet balls, mashing the wickets. Harold got out. “Your ride is here,” he said.
Zack ran out of the house with a towel around his waist. “You really fucked it up.” He said to Janey. “You had a chance. We could have spent the whole summer together. We were falling in love. You blew it.”
“Get away from her,” Harold said.
Zack followed Janey as she limped to the car. “Go back to your little old baldies. Where you feel safe.”
Harold looked at him silently, as if he were considering breaking his jaw. Then he said, “When my lawyer gets finished with you, you won’t be out of court for years.” He helped Janey into the car.
“Yeah, yeah, bugger off,” Zack shouted. “You Yanks. Take all the fun out of everything with your damn lawyers.” He dropped his towel and shook his privates at Harold. “Here’s what I think of your fuckin’ lawyers, mate!” Then he walked back into the house.
Harold backed the car across the lawn. “Jesus Christ, Janey,” he said.
“Harold,” Janey said. She put her hands over her eyes. “I can’t take any lectures right now, O.K.?”
“Who is that creep?”
“Zack Manners,” Janey said. “The English record producer.”
“Goddamn Brits,” Harold said. “Don’t worry. I’ll see to it that he’s persona non grata on the East End. He won’t be able to get a reservation anywhere.”
“You’re wonderful, Harold. You really are,” Janey said.
“I know,” Harold said.
“I just wanted to have a good summer,” Janey said, an hour later, lying in a bed in a private room in Southampton Hospital. “Like when I was 16.”
“Shhhh,” said the nurse. “Everyone wants to be 16 again.”