I perform the introductions and listen as Lucy begins the
Talk. I guess she treats everyone special because Shelby has
a different spin than I got. Lucy tells Shelby how lucky she
is to have such an orderly life, how she is saved from the
rigors of the cause d'celebre. I'm scanning the annals of my
meager French vocabulary and think Lucy's just making that
one up, but it sounds good and Shelby is entranced.
Next comes the pitch. The surprised, ‘oh, you actually
want the fame and notoriety?' The thoughtful stare up to the
ceiling. ‘Well, there might be a way'. Shelby 's intensity
is palpable, a chokehold that won't let go until your soul
Fascinated, I watch the whole interchange. There's profound
human drama at work when someone gives up their soul. Seeing
others go through the same hell and insecurities that I did
makes me realize how I have grown and matured. Today, I'm above
all that shit.
Shelby takes a sip of her drink every now and then, or picks
at her salad, but her eyes never leave Lucy's face. Whatever
you want, whatever your dreams are. Heady words. Eventually,
I get seduced in as well, forgetting to critique Lucy's approach.
I'm sucked back into the sumptuous reverie of getting whatever
you want. I'll repeat that because it's important.
Whatever you want .
Those are the dreams that fire the greed of the world.
My back starts tingling, and I look around. Eyes are watching
us, some surreptitiously, some openly. Appraising and envious,
all blended together in one ugly palette of emotion. It's a
proud moment for someone who used to be a perpetual Z-lister,
but that was a long time ago. Back before I was footloose and
Shelby is ready to sign, the Visconti pen poised above the
paper, but Lucy isn't quite done yet. She rests her chin on
her hand and tilts her head in a darling Audrey Hepburnesque
manner. “I don't want you to do anything you'll regret.
There's no backing out. Ever. What I try and give my clients
is life without conscience. Who needs all that guilt? I mean,
She focuses her whole attention on Shelby , oddly intimate
in the bustling setting. At this moment, I don't exist, the
restaurant doesn't exist, there's only two people left in the
world. Shelby and Lucy. And I'm watching the tableau, waiting
with bated breath for Shelby to condemn herself to a finite,
yet boundless, life.
Lucy taps her fingers on the papers. “You're sure?” she
Lucy continues. “We do ask for a few things in return.
I'm a firm believer in rewarding positive behaviors. So, for
each client you recruit for life-enrichment, your powers will
be increased to the next level. There are nine levels, and
you begin an apprentice program under V's tutelage for 30 days.
We do ask that you use your powers with discretion. The system
works best if the world isn't aware we exist.”
“What sort of power?” Shelby asks with such repressed
malice that I wonder who is going to be the recipient of the
seven plagues of Shelby .
“You start with non-life forms object creation. Basically,
it's our most effective program. If Wishes Were Birkins. After
you recruit another client, you move into Level 2, Personal
Appearance Modification, aka My Salad Days Are Over.”
Shelby turns on me. “That's how you do it!”
I smile with teeth that are perfectly white and have never
been capped. Hate me, I don't mind; I never was hate-worthy
when I had a soul. “All those wasted hours at the gym.
Poof! And dessert, all the dessert you want...”
Now she starts to fully appreciate the life before her and
her eyes start to glaze. “What's the third level?”
Lucy points to the paper in front of her. “I can't tell
you the rest until you've signed. We have to have a non-disclosure
agreement in place with all our clients.”
While Shelby signs, Lucy brings out the Life-Enrichment handbook
-- I've Sold My Soul to the Devil… Now What? -- and then
gives it to Shel. “You can take it home and pour over
the details. If you have any questions, V is there to answer
them for you. And remember, it's our little secret.”
Lucy's phone rings and she takes the call away from the table.
I'm alone with my new convert. And after the requisite 72 hours,
(Not-quite standard contract law, but still a nice touch. You
have three days to back out of the deal. After that, you're
in forever), my power-base will be upped to Level 4.
Shelby looks like a kid at Christmas. “I can just think
about something, and then, voila, there it is?”
I nod, feeling a lot like Santa. It's a good life. “Well,
sorta. You have to use a spell and then it'll appear.”
She looks as if she's about to wish up an entire wardrobe
from Barney's right there and I hold up my restraining hand. “Wait.
Her face scrunches with worry. “Oh.”
Karan schmaran, heels of air, Edmundo Castillo is everywhere.
“Look under the table,” I say, with all the finesse
of Harry Houdini. It never gets old.
She lifts the table-cloth and pulls out the signature Bergdorf-Goodman
shopping bag. Inside is a wished-up pair of Edmundo Castillo
sandals. “I want to do it,” she says.
Feeling benevolent, I nod and point to the Frequently Asked
Questions in the back that includes a list of the most common
She closes her eyes and I can see the magic wash over her.
Clients get an almost physical glow, which comes from the four-alarm,
multi-orgasmic wash of having your wish granted -- immediately.
She squirms in her seat and then reaches under the table. I'm
curious to see what her first wish-fulfillment is. Your most
secret desire is a cornerstone in understanding and undermining
the human psyche.
Proudly she brandishes a set of Tiffany Feathers earrings.
Personally, I think they're gaudy, but I know better than to
say anything. So silently I watch as she absorbs the change
in her status. An instant becoming. She sits straighter, more
self-assured than ever before, and there's no spells at work
for that one.
We celebrate over two pieces of chocolate cake (Alfred's secret
recipe) and a cappuccino. Lucy comes back in a whiff of custom-designed
perfumed, something mysterious and musky, as old as the world,
then she waves goodbye and departs for places unknown. All
eyes follow in her wake. I feel a surge of admiration for this
fascinating female that lifts us above a cheap imitation of
life. Shelby and I toast her new soul-loss and she smiles in
an almost drunken fog.
Today I can rule the world. Well, okay, I'm only an almost-level
4. But someday….
After all, what good is a soul? Can you borrow against it?
Dress it up and parade it down Park Avenue ? I feel the eyes
gravitate in our direction once more and I brush back my hair,
a modest gesture to acknowledge the silent tributes that are
flowing our way.
Just remember, you can have it, too.
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