Dec 13, 2016

Post-coital checkup --- This Is Heaven --- Teaser (18)

We have this brilliant new picture by Chang, but we can't post two pictures in a row, so here's a teaser of This Is Heaven in between. Plus, Michael's just finished the first draft of the manuscript today. 

We're in Chapter 19. John & Alex have been urged to check on Juliette, who's supposedly in her hotel room. And then there's Barbette Bienpensant (the professor and Juliette's half-sister), and Romeo---you'll see.

Hold on, the illustrations are a bit dada.

The professor bangs on the door and attacks the door knob. No reaction. “Hold the line,” Alex says to her, “briefly.”

“Juliette,” he says to the door. “Wonder girl, we need your help.” He knocks twice.
“It’s too late,” Bienpensant says, “we need somebody to force the door. The concierge. The ambulance.”
“Wonder girl,” Alex enunciates, “Alex.”

This is a noisy building from the 70’s, we should hear something inside—-if. And yes, there’s a sound, the bounce of a closet door maybe. The door unlocks and Juliette’s head appears in the crack. She looks drowsy at first, then defiant, then resigned. She lets go and retreats. We enter. Romeo is on the bed, half-hiding under the sheets (Juliette wears a bathrobe).


“What is this,” Bienpensant says, “who is this boy?”
“False alarm,” I say (idiotically).
“This is Romeo,” Juliette says, “who else?” She walks up to the bed and sits down.

“I’m not a boy,” Romeo says. It looks like he’s preparing for one of his I-am-not-a-boy routines, rises, drops the bed sheets, and just stands there naked—-whether he knows it or not, he’s the perfect expression of juvenile charisma. Bienpensant can’t help being impressed. She shrieks.

“Perhaps we could start a drawing class with you,” Alex says, “angry male nude.” Romeo gets back under the sheets.

Alex pulls out the phone, swipes, holds it up. “Have you seen this,” he asks Juliette. Bienpensant rushes forward and snatches the iThing from his hand.

“No no,” she cries, and pockets the device.

...could start...

Alex half-raises his eyebrows, and peers at Juliette.

“Did you take your pill,” Barbette interrupts.
“No,” she says.
“This boy,” Barbette says and points at Romeo, “this non-boy.”

Juliette sticks her tongue out.

“Legal age, there’s such a thing as legal age,” Bienpensant says.
“Juliet was thirteen,” Juliette says.
“Just chillin’,” Romeo says. “We’re chill.”

Alex walks to the window, looks around, then walks back. He disappears in the bathroom.

“It was hot outside,” Juliette says. Her tongue comes out, again.

Bienpensant steps back, then forward, and swings a vicious slap at Juliette’s cheek. Juliette stirs, congeals, ponders, then turns the other cheek. Her sister, panting, has trouble keeping her balance. The toilet flushes, Alex reappears.

...a drawing class...

“While we are at it,” he says to Romeo. He fumbles in his pocket and produces two tiny plastic bottles. One goes back into the pocket, the other is uncapped.

“Suck on your tongue,” he says to Romeo. He hands the bottle to Romeo, rolls his head again. “Spit,” he says. Romeo spits. Alex recaps the bottle. “Post-coital checkup,” he says, “highly recommended.” He pockets the bottle.

“And Juliet?” Bienpensant asks.

“Her case is obvious,” Alex answers. “Call me when you are done,” he says to Juliette, “you have my number.” (She has his number?)

...with you."

Juliette unstirs. “Call me,” Alex says again. “And”—-rolling his head, focusing on Juliette—-“I am a medic, you know. No pills in the meantime.” Juliette nods.

He turns toward the door. “It can’t be undone, Professor,” he says. Juliette and her bathrobe disappear under the sheets. Bienpensant swipes a tear from her cheek.

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