Elaine Conti awoke in her luxurious bed in her luxurious Beverly Hills
mansion, pressed a button to open the electrically controlled drapes, and was
confronted by the sight of a young man clad in a white T-shirt and dirty jeans
pissing a perfect arc into her mosaic-tiled swimming pool.
She struggled to situp, buzzing for Lina, her Mexican maid, and at the same
time flinging on a marahou-trimmed silk robe and pressing her feet into dusty
The young man completed his task, zipped up his jeans, and strolled casually
out of view.
"Lina!" Elaine screamed. "Where are
The maid appeared, inscrutable, calm, oblivious to her mistress's screams.
"There's an intruder out by the pool," Elaine snapped excitedly. "Get Miguel.
Call the police. And make sure all the doors are locked."
Unperturbed, Lina began to collect the debris of clutter frorn Elaine's bedside
table. Dirty Kleenex, a half-finished glass of wine, a rifled box of
"Lina!" Elaine yelled.
"No get excited, senora," the maid said stoically. "No intruder. Just boy
Miguel sent to do pool. Miguel sick. No come this week."
Elaine flushed angrily. "Why the hell didn't you tell me before?" She flung
herself into her bathroom, slamming the door so hard that a framed print sprang
off the wall and crashed to the floor, the glass shattering. Stupid maid.
Dumb-ass woman. It was impossible to get good help anymore. They came. They
went. They did not give a damn if you were raped and ravaged in your own
And this would
have to happen while Ross was away on location. Miguel
have dared to pretend to be sick if Ross was in town.
Elaine flung off her robe, slipped out of her nightgown, and stepped under the
invigorating sharpness of an ice-cold shower. She gritted her teeth. Cold water
was best for the skin, tightened everything up. And, God knew, even with the
gym and the yoga and the modern-dance class it still all needed tightening.
Not that she was fat. No way. Not a surplus ounce of flesh on her entire body.
Pretty good for thirty-nine years of age.When I was thirteen I was the fattest girl in school. Etta the Elephant they
called me. And I deserved the nickname. Only how could a kid of thirteen know
about nutrition and diet and exercise and all that stuff? How could a kid of
thirteen help it when Grandma Steinberg stuffed her with cakes and latkes, lox
and bagels, strudel and chicken dumplings?
Elaine smiled grimly. Etta the Elephant, late of the Bronx, had shown them all.
Etta the Elephant, former secretary in New York City, was now slim and svelte.
She was called Elaine Conti, and lived in a six-bedroomed, seven-bathroomed,
goddam Beverly Hills palace. On the flats, too. Not stuck up in the hills or
all the way over in Brentwood. On the flats. Prime real estate.
Etta the Elephant no longer had a sharp nose, mousy hair, gapped teeth,
wire-rimmed glasses, and flat tits.
Over the years she had changed. The nose was now retrousse, cute. A perfect
Brooke Shields, in fact. The mousy hair was a rich brown, cut short and tipped
with golden streaks. Her skin was alabaster white and smooth, thanks to regular
facials. Her teeth were capped. White and even. A credit to Charlie's
The unbecoming glasses had long been replaced with soft blue
contact lenses, without them her eyes were slate-gray and she had to squint to
read. Not that she did a lot of reading. Magazines, of course. Vogue,
She skimmed the trades, Variety
and The Hollywood Reporter,
concentrating on Army Archerd and Hank Grant. She devoured Women's Wear
and Beverly Hills People,
but was not really into what she
termed hard news. The day Ronald Reagan was elected President was the only day
she gave a passing thought to politics. If Ronald Reagan could do it, how about
The tits, while nowhere near the Raquel Welch class, were a perfect 36B, thanks
to the ministrations of her first husband, Dr. John Saltwood. They stuck
defiantly forward; no pull of gravity would ever harm them.
And if it
did, well, back to good old Johnny. She had found him in New York, wasting
himself doing plastic surgery for a city hospital. They met at a party and she
recognized a plain lonely man not unlike herself. They married a month later,
and she had her nose and tits fixed within the year. Then she talked him into
going to Beverly Hills and setting up in private practice.
Three years later he was the
tit man, and she had divorced him and
become Mrs. Ross Conti. Funny how things worked out.
Ross Conti. Husband. Movie star. First-class shit.
And she should know. After all, they had been married ten long years and it
hadn't all been easy and it wasn't getting any easier and she knew things about
Ross Conti that would curl the toes of the little old ladies who still loved
him because after all he was hitting fifty and his fans were not exactly
teenagers and as each year crept by it was getting more and more difficult and,
God knew, financially things were not as good as they had been and each film
could be his last and . . .
"Senora." Lina hammered on the bathroom door. "The boy, he go now. He want
Elaine stepped out of the shower. She was outraged. He wanted paying -- for what?
Pissing in her pool?
She wrapped herself in a fluffy terry-cloth robe and opened the bathroom door.
"Tell him," she said grandly, "to piss off. "
Lina stared blankly. "Twenny dollar, Meesus Conti. He do it again in three
Ross Conti swore silently to himself. Jesus H. Christ. What was happening to
him? He couldn't remember his frigging lines. Eight takes and still he was
"Just take it easy, Ross," said the director calmly, placing a condescending
hand on his shoulder.Some frigging director. Twenty-three if he's a day. Hair hanging down
his back like a witch at Halloween. Levi's so tight the outline of his schlong
is like a frigging beacon.
Ross shook the offending hand off. "T'm taking it easy. It's the crowd -- they
keep distracting me.
"Sure," soothed Chip, signaling to the first assistant. "Calm them down for
chrissakes, they're background -- not auditioning for Chorus Line."
The first assistant nodded, then made an announcement through his
"Ready to go again?" asked Chip. Ross nodded, The director tunned to a
suntanned blonde. "Again, Sharon. Sorry, babe."
Ross burned. Sorry, babe. What the little prick really means is sorry, babe,
but we gotta humor this old fart because he used to be the biggest thing in
Sharon smiled. "Right on, Chip."Sure. Right on Chip. We'll humor the old schmuck. My mother used to love
him. She saw all his movies. Creamed her panties every time.
"Makeup," Ross demanded, then added, his voice heavy with sarcasm, "That's if
"Of course not. Anything you want."Yeah. Anything I want. Because this so-called hotshot needs Ross Conti in
his film. Ross Conti means plenty at the box office. Who would line up to see
Sharon Richman? Who has even heard of her except a couple million television
freaks who tune in to see some schlock program about girl water-ski
instructors? Glossy crap. Sharon Richman -- a hank of hair and a mouthful of
teeth. I wouldn't even screw her if she crawled to my trailer on her hands and
knees and begged for it. Well, maybe if she begged.
The makeup girl attended to his needs. Now, she
was all right. Sheknew
who the star was on this picture. Busily she fussed around him,
blotting out the shine of sweat around his nose with an outsize powder puff,
touching up his eyebrows with a small comb.
He gave her a perfunctory pinch on the ass. She smiled appreciatively. Come
to my trailer later, baby, and I'll show you how to give a star head.
"Right," said Chip the creep. "Are we ready, Ross?"We are ready, asshole.
"Okay. Let's go, then."
The scene began all right. It was a simple bit of business which involved Ross
saying three lines to Sharon's six, then strolling nonchalantly out of shot.
The trouble was Sharon. She stared blankly, making him blow his second line
every time. Bitch. She's doing it purposely. Trying to make me look
"Jesus H. Christ!" Chip finally exploded. "It's not the fucking soliloquy fromHamlet."Right. That's it. Talking to me like some nothing bit player.
turned and stalked from the location without a backward glance.
Chip grimaced at Sharon. "That's what happens when you're dealing with no
"My mommy used to love him," she simpered.
"Then your mommy is an even bigger moron than her daughter."
She giggled. Chip's insults did not bother her. In bed she had him under
control, and that was where it really
Elaine Conti drove her pale-blue Mercedes slowly down La Cienega Boulevard. She
drove slowly so as not to spoil her nails, which she had just had done at a
sensational new nail clinic called the Nail Kiss of Life. Wonderful place, they
had wrapped her broken thumbnail so well that even she
Elaine loved discovering new places; it gave her a tiny shot of power. She
pushed in a Streisand tape and wondered, as she bad wondered countless times
before, why dear Barbra had never had her nose fixed. In a town so dedicated to
the perfect face . . . and God knew she had the money. Still, it certainly had
not harmed her career -- nor her love life, for that matter.
Elaine frowned and thought abo...