Adam and Eve
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by Marcus Van Heller
Category: Erotica/Classic Erotica
Description: Van Heller's Celebrated Classic of 20th Century Erotica! Adam and Eve were sweethearts. They were also artists. Adam was a painter, while Eve was an aspiring actress. They loved each other, but they wanted career success so much that they were willing to do anything to climb that elusive ladder, even if it meant sleeping their way to the top. Could their love for each other survive?
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/Sizzler, 2004
eBookwise Release Date: November 2004
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [246 KB]
Reading time: 162-227 min.
The lawyer sat on his desk, gently swinging one leg. He spoke with a slow American drawl, with no trace left of his Italian accent, measuring his words, carrying in them the weight of a weary, resigned philosophy...
"There are times when you want to spread an alarm, but nothing has happened. I knew, I knew then and there--I could have finished the whole story that afternoon..." His voice droned on relentlessly ... "It wasn't as though there was a mystery to unravel. I could see every step coming, step after step, like a dark figure walking down a hall toward a certain door..." The voice went on speaking out into the dark auditorium from its spotlighted aura on the stage. It was dead quiet in the theater. You could have heard a piece of confetti drop.
Sitting up in the gallery, which they called the dress circle though it was really only a backward extension of it, the girl sat hunched forward with her arms on the gold-painted handrail. Her buttocks ached a little from sitting for so long without moving on the thin velvet of the seat, but she kept absolutely still so as not to miss a word, the least nuance. The lights went out on Alfieri, the lawyer, and rose on the Sicilian slum apartment near Brooklyn Bridge with Beatrice and Catherine clearing the table.
The girl reached down into her lap with a long, slender, well-manicured hand and drew the little pair of opera glasses up to her eyes. She trained them on Beatrice. This was her goddess: Lady Celia Duncan, the finest actress in Britain. She moved them over the girl, Catherine, otherwise Greta Plowman. She was good, very good, but not in quite the same category as Lady Celia. She shifted her gaze to Eddie Carbone--Sir George Duncan, the other half of the husband and wife team. He was superb. It gave her a sharp thrill in her stomach just to listen to his voice. But it was Celia Duncan with whom she identified. One day she wanted to occupy Celia Duncan's place.
The voices came up to her from the stage; Eddie's, Beatrice's, Catherine's, Rodolpho's, Marco's. She absorbed them with her whole being, living their glories with them while the gripping story of consuming, possessive passion unfolded itself with the unyielding quality of Greek tragedy. She was aware of nothing else, nobody else at all in the dark theater around her, which breathed and rustled occasionally, like an animal twitching in its sleep.
She kept the opera glasses clamped to her eyes, ranging them from one actor to another, her own face tightening in sympathy with theirs, smiling with theirs, frowning with theirs, her breathing increasing and slowing with theirs. She watched, her entrails twisted tight like a wrung-out sheet while Marco, straining smoothly, raised the chair above his head and looked down at Eddie with a glint of menace. And she went on staring as the curtain fell and even after that, when the safety curtain followed it down and the lights went up all around.
"I can see those adverts without a magnifying glass." The girl sighed, smiled and turned to her companion.
"Aren't they wonderful?" she said.
"They're pretty hot."
He was a handsome boy of about nineteen, a year older than she was. He wore a turtle-necked sweater and a pair of smart, tight, Italian trousers. His long, thin face with its rather prominent nose above finely delineated lips carried with it a suggestion of superiority over men of more common clay. His long, dark eyes, which at first glance looked liquid and soft, deepened into a hint of ruthlessness the longer you looked at them.
"Let's have a drink," he said.
"Can we afford it?"
"Of course not. Let's go."
"Just a minute, Adam."
The girl looked around the theater with a smile of sheer pleasure. It was crowded with people, many of whom were pushing along the aisles towards the bars. The theater had an air of opulence about it, from the flamboyant gold carving around the boxes to the magnificent cascading chandelier. It was not difficult to imagine the earlier days of Nell Gwynne when the audiences got rather rowdy. The girl could just see the front rows. From them filed fat women laden with furs and jewels who had come to see the play because it was the proper thing to do and because it was becoming absolutely essential that one know the work of Arthur Miller.
She stood up and began to edge along the aisle, followed by the boy. Her name was Eve Patten. It was rather odd that their names should be Adam and Eve and, though they laughed about it, they were both rather embarrassed when people found out and made jokes. She was a secretary, and a very efficient one, in a provincial town in the middle of the south of England. She was a secretary to everyone else, but to herself she was a great actress. Even though amateur productions had been her only outlet so far, she was a great actress. There was really no other point to her life, so that if to the rest of the world she did not seem like an actress, she was to herself and, for the time being, that was enough. She was like the writer who carries the developing book around in his mind year after year after year, going through the motions of jobs, social contacts, and empty conversations, but never being anything other than a writer, even though he might never write the book.
All she needed, like everyone, was a start. For this she had not only enthusiasm and talent, but beauty as well. She had been the beauty queen of her city two years running since she left school. "You ought to be in films with your looks," people told her, and that had strengthened her belief that there was a great public waiting for a great actress. She was tall, almost as tall as her companion, with a well-developed body and eye-catching legs. Her hair was the color of champagne, her blue eyes had a slightly luminous quality like the sun on a very blue sea, and her delicate, youthful skin was firmly set over fine bones, which had a trace of the oriental in their small, hard prominence.
She was smartly, fashionably dressed; indeed both she and her companion might easily have been taken for two smart young aristocrats from Mayfair.
The bar was crowded, but Adam pushed his way through, leaving the girl studying the program near the door. She was the focus of several men's attention. They systematically undressed her in their minds, imagining her body warmly cushioning theirs in a bed to match her elegance.
She exhausted the program and let the images of the play flood back into her head. A View from the Bridge was one of the most moving plays she'd seen in some time, though she and Adam had been making this trip to London on weekends for more than a year. Oh, for a chance to be cast in it! She thought of Mr. Grampion, the one theatrical agent who hadn't told her, "Not a hope, Miss, all the theaters are booked for a year or more, all the casts set. And in any case, looks aren't enough these days. You've got to have talent, a lot of experience, and the right moment to help you."
Mr. Grampion had said instead, "I might be able to do something for you, but you'll have to sleep with me first."
Just like that. No frills, no beating about the bush. They weren't necessary. The market was all his. Mr. Grampion was middle-aged and ugly. The thought would have horrified her, even if she hadn't been a virgin.
But that had been months and months ago and now she was used to hearing the repeated offer as she made the weary regular rounds. Nothing else, absolutely nothing, had come up. But she was still frightened. She couldn't even allow herself to start to picture the actual event--the room, the bed, the undressing, the sight of him undressed, the contact between the sheets, the ... Ugh!
The back of Adam's head came into her conscious thoughts as he leaned over the bar, taking up the glasses. With Adam, it couldn't happen. Oh, she had nothing against it, but real opportunities were rare and also something told her, some instinctive sixth sense, that his attitude would change towards her immediately if their relationship changed in that way.
They'd come very close to it, of course, foolish though she knew it was to play with fire and hope not to get burned. But always she read something in his eyes, something in that ruthlessness that was suddenly so apparent that she wondered why she didn't see it all the time. And that drove her from his embrace. It had nothing to do with the fear that he wouldn't respect her once he'd had her. It was just that she had a particular understanding of Adam's character--she knew her Adam. He was very much like her.
He came weaving back towards her, a bottle of tonic and a gin in one hand, a glass of brown ale in the other. She smiled and raised an eyebrow.
"A beer would have done, Adam. We won't have the fare to get to Aunt Beatie's if you throw it around like that."
"I won a sweepstake at the office," he said. "Shilling in, twenty out--have another."
Adam worked for the biggest firm of solicitors in their town. He was one of the clerks. Both he and Eve were misfits, which was almost certainly why they kept each other's company. Adam was a fine painter, at least a lot of local people thought he was a fine painter, including Mr. Grant, his art master at school and now his tutor at the evening classes to which he went for the sake of the cheaper paint and canvases. But if it was difficult to get on the stage, it was even more difficult to get an exhibition. Local ones weren't worth having and London--well that seemed impossible. While she made the round of the agents, Adam made the round of the galleries: pleading, cajoling, looking at the work on view, frequently wondering exactly what made the paintings better than his.
Like Eve, he had one overwhelming disadvantage. He didn't know anyone. Not the right people anyway. Not even one of the off-right people. Not a soul who mattered, except for his art master who, in spite of a cosmopolitan history, had for years been buried away in the provincial town leading a very quiet life.
The couple stood in the bar sipping their drinks and talking about the play. Adam was particularly impressed with the scenery, which combined two views in one, so that you could see the interior of the apartment on the left hand and the dockside, simply and vividly evoked with a black silhouette of scaffolding, on the right.
"As a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind doing a bit of stage designing," he said. "But it's not worth much, unless you have a big name."
The bell sounded for the second act. The interval was, as usual, much too short to enable you to have a drink in comfort. They tipped back their glasses and pushed back up the stairs to the dress-circle-cum-gallery, with the lights already going dim.
During the second act, the girl sat breathless on the edge of her not very comfortable seat, letting the play swamp her, the words lulling her into a trancelike state.
Alfieri: "You won't have a friend in the world, Eddie! Even those who understand you will turn against you..." Catherine: "I'm gonna get married, Eddie. So if you wanna come, the wedding be on Saturday..." Beatrice: "She loves him, Eddie. Why don't you give her a good word?" ... the Immigration Officers ... the seizure of the illegal immigrants ... the fight ... Eddie's death. And Alfieri at the end: "Most of the time we settle for half and I like it better. But the truth is holy, and even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless, I tremble, for I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory--not purely good--but himself purely..." She repeated the words which seemed to have meaning for her in her mind ... "not purely good, but himself purely."
The curtain came down. There was a long moment's pause and then a rapture of applause. The applause thrilled her like blood coursing through her veins, setting all her flesh a-tingle, making her head suddenly hot. She pictured the applause as being for her, saw her own figure on the brightly lit stage as Lady Celia and Sir George joined hands and moved forward, away from the rest of the cast to a sudden increase in the volume of applause. And then Lady Celia drew back and Sir George stepped forward a couple of paces alone to another lift in the acclamation. Eve clapped until her hands stung. Of course, it should have been the other way around to please her, with Lady Celia alone on the stage, but Eddie Carbone was the major character in the play. The curtain fell, rose, fell and rose again until at last it came down with that air of finality that quelled even the most ardent fans. The clapping petered out and the audience began making its way to the exits, a swell of animated chatter and shuffling feet rising through the auditorium like hot air.
Eve glanced at Adam and they stood up and began to move towards the steps of the aisle. She looked at the tightly packed people without seeing them. She had made a decision. It was the last sight of Eddie dying in the arms of Beatrice. It had called to her like a saint, or a devil, calling to men to follow him. She needed to be on that stage. It meant more than mere life, and transcended her disgust for Mr. Grampion. She would sleep with him and he would get her a part. That was how it would begin. And then, if necessary, she would sleep with him again, or with anyone else who could push her on.
She glanced back at Adam's handsome face and he looked at her quizzically. She would have liked the first time to have been with Adam. But one had to work these things out or one never got anywhere. She thought of all the girls back at the office, their total lack of ambition. All they wanted, it seemed, was to own a house and a vacuum cleaner of their own after marrying their boyfriends in big, showy weddings with spotty, featureless photographs appearing in the local papers. Not one of them used any real charm or wits to make more interesting lives for themselves. She sometimes wondered if they thought of their boyfriends in the same way as they thought of a refrigerator. And sometimes, when one of them slept with the boy, having given way to pressure, she was surprised when his ardor cooled afterwards. It was all a game, after all, and you had to play it as such. Eve understood that.