There she is now with a glass of red wine in her hand, talking to some distinguished-looking old geezer, who probably has a major Jones on being in the presence of such a master- piece. I can only imagine what kind of piece this gorgeous creature really is. Man o man!
At first I don’t think she notices me, and I feel so wretched I don’t care. But as I stride by the table where they are serving drinks, I nab a Diet Coke from the ice bucket, pop its top, take a gulp, then beeline it for the most visible back door of Ian’s house. I give Jacqueline one last look and—son of a bitch—her diamond blue eyes are burning right through me. Of course I do a double- take—who can resist the gaze of Helen of Troy? And when I do, she laughs. The old fart swivels his head in my direction, as she deftly composes herself and puts her full, ravishing attention back on him. But I know she is staring at my back as I walk away.
That clammy feeling owns me again. I cross the stone porch at the back of Ian’s house and bolt through the door into a massive room. Nobody’s around.
God almighty! If I don’t find a bathroom . . . What in blazes is this? . . . I’m losing it here . . . My head is ransacked by a million little demons using tiny pick axes to bore millions of little holes into the soft tissue of my brain. It burns . . . it stings . . . That metallic taste in my mouth . . .
I stick my head into a room I pray is a bathroom—nope. Careening down the hall, I spy another door that has to be—it is! I barely get myself through the door before I throw up. I stick my head over the toilet and give into the heaving, frightening sensation that owns me this second. Waiting for the next gush of puke is the pisser. Throbbing . . . throbbing . . . my head . . .
I keep my head lowered and try to modulate my breathing, but I’m slow to recover from the puking ordeal. I gingerly move into a half squat, then painfully come to standing. The sink . . . I splash some water on my face, and it feels cool and I feel better . . . cool . . . better. The large hand towel is soft against my skin . . . soft . . . I hold it gently against my eyes with both palms
. . . gently. . . warm . . . soft . . .
What the fuck is going on? What the fuck is going on with me? I rake my hands through my hair, swirl water around my mouth to lose the aftertaste—anything to relax—
. . . r . . . e . . . l . . . a . . . x . . .
I walk into the hallway; it leads me back into the great room. The ceiling in this room has to be 30 feet high. One entire wall from the floor to five feet above my head is composed of memorabilia from 24 illustrious years of the ad agency McDonald & Campbell.
It’s all there. The creative awards—Clios, Addys, Gold Lions, Silver Pencils—and the marketing awards—Effies, AMYs, and countless photos of Ian and Gregory and everyone who ever set foot inside the halls of M&C. They are all posing perfectly and appear to be having a grand time.