The situation was hopeless, nobody in his right mind would want to be in it, a love triangle (rectangle?) wherein an unattached man is involved with a woman who is married, but nevertheless still has another lover and not the hopeful swain.
Enter the unpublished novelist, whose sole friends besides his "Britney" are the people in the publishing house who had rejected him. They won't publish his book, but they like having him around, for he's always in bizarre situations, and since each publishing executive is probably a frustrated writer, there might be some material here.
"Look at my life," says the editor. "My former wife went on to be a superstar in Canadian publishing, my only companion at night is this little mouse who has given notice in the first place, I make the scene with the magazine for entertainment, I am turning pigeon-grey and I work in these pigeon-grey offices.
"You, on the other hand, are publishing something in your magazine every week, you go on these mammoth drunks, you play guitar at nightclubs and you're involved in a menage-a-trois.
"Trade you lives."
Well, I wasn't sure. The man had had two major pieces published in Harpers, wrote a beautiful thriller about an aboriginal heroine from Oklahoma who had turned detective, was now editor of this house-- and the RCMP were hounding him for draft-dodging.
Always the "quiet" American.
Canadian publishing is quietly American. Tale out of school.
Nevertheless, I had somehow begun a career in "the pain industry", that is to say a situation where one was a half-shagged fox in a forest fire and all he had gotten from the lady was a probable roll in the hay one night, though he had been drunk and could barely remember.
I had gotten her smell, and was now following this little Britney around like James Joyce who had a hand job in a theatre one night, and liked the experience so much he had followed the lady around for years, dark glasses and all.
But the situation. The situation.
Besides the husband and lover, there was "Marco" and "Louis" and she kept talking of Willam Burrough's Naked Lunch and I was becoming convinced she was the blow job queen of the Mafia.
And I had to play guitar in that stupid nightclub where she'd frequently come, accompanied by her marginally gay husband. I had built up a sizable bar tab at the club, could not pay it, and the owner, another Italian, said I could pay off by individual performances. "That song was worth five dollars. Your rendition of Stan Getz's Samba Triste was shit. I won't pay you anything for that.
Then there was the scene where my guitar conked out, I had to do a strip tease and my shorts ended up in the owner's beer. My catch-up act may have thrilled some of the ladies, but the owner was not amused.
I got fired as a lounge singer.
"You're depressed all the time because you are a loser," said my East Indian faithful companion, himself known as "Paki Elvis" and a great collector of vegetables and dixie cups on the nights he was off his game.
Ah well. I still had my Britney to sit with, to play kneesies with, the husband sometimes joining in. I would talk loudly,, brag, throw wild promises to the wind; I would outline my great sprawling novel.
This would make the lady's eyes bat, like Tammy-Faye's, the husband would reach for my balls and I was in my glory.
And then the drive to their neat white cottage withe the mock cyprus trees in front, the huge picture window
behind which we'd perform some perversions that purists might term" refinements", the huband passed out upstairs--or was he peering through the peep hole? Yuppies are crazy.
And so was the midnight balloonist high up in his basket, probably the other lover of my Britney.
Ivan thought he had figured it all out, had won the set-piece, he thought.
But low over the house was the observation balloon.
But more realistically, he was sitting in his BMW pimpmobile watching two silhouettes on the shade and building up a jihad that would finally see Ivan doing a swan dive out of his second-story apartment; half-f*cked fox in a forest fire.indeed.
And still I had followed her. Pulled the pimp out of the sleek-assed car that had looked like an old Jaguar, beat the crap out of him, she was dialing the police and I had to run away.
Crazy and in love, in love with someone who now no longer wanted me.
"I thought he was a nice guy, but he's a
"smart" turned asshole and I want no more of him."
"I don't want to see you any more," she was saying on the phone. "Yeah, I had answered. "But what's your point?"
"You've got to get over this enfatuation with me," she was telling me as I ambushed her on her way to work.
"Keep this up, and I'm going to call the cops. I'm not kidding."
Well, that puts a damper on the "relationship".
I retreated to my apartment, my brain awash with Greta Garbo; images of Britney. My little Helen of troy
The face that launched a thousand ships.
Back to the typewritter. Back to the great sprawling novel.
But then, unexpectedly, a letter.
"I have included a self-addressed envelope. If you should choose to avoid communication, you can send this back."
She had outlined all our good times together, the struggle with " that old obstinate old Mustang", her car, the the making of warm, strange love on a far corner of the moon, the prim virgin pose she would take in the morning, saying to me, "I hope you don't think I'm a loose woman."
"You have to understand my intention.
"What do you want, a permanent relationship or just a roll in the hay?"
Weirdest and most untimely offer of marriage I had ever had.
I went back to cranking out my novel, the one that would surely be rejected (again) by my "friends" in publishing.
I outlined my plight to the editor the next day.
He had read my script, laughing in altogether unexpected places.
"This is a tragicomedy," he was saying.
"It's still not our kind of book, though I can see it between covers-- like from Grove Press, in New York.
"Could I suggest a title for you?
"Shoot," I had said, still a little depressed.
"How about Naked Came the Ukrainian"?
"Never mind," I had said.
"I don't think your "Homo Hotpants" was any screaming hell either.
Three months later, I finally decided that I would marry that woman.
But by this time, she was trapped in Holland Landing by Luigi the pimp, the mad balloonist whose Mongolfier was moored to one of his totems on the farm that adjoined Britney's cottage.
"SELF-SERVE" was a Crowley motto in a metal arch over the entrance to his property. To one side of his totem-studded yard was a little chapel with its own sign on the door. "Chapel of Our Lady of the Chain."
Poor Ukie, out of his depth. Involved in a menage a quatre. The Italian pimp ballonist and his yardful of satanic totems, to one side of which was a chapel dedicated to "Our Lady of the Chain."
"Naked Came the Ukrainian" indeed. Still obsessed by her sweet memory.
Pounding the Hound through Hell would be a better title for his novel.
Ah, magnificent obsession.
Now I had to prove my mettle. I was in the middle of a classic Gothic novel. ( The heroine lives is in a castle, trapped by a Dracula, usually Italian)
Ah. Naked comes the Ukrainian!
Watch out, Luigi. And if I catch you, you get a piece of this.