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Chris Kraus
Log Illustrated, #6, Summer 1999, Abuse of Substance   Ann Rower and I wrote The Pact five years ago     and it was never made. In lots of ways Ann and
                                                       I were like the same person though we different
In Scene One of this movie called The Pact we          ages, backgrounds and experiences.
see a bunch of young people stumbling around a         Collaborating made us even more the same to
field. They've just taken acid together for the        the point where it got mystical or scary. We were
first time and they're starting to get off. It's a     both too repressed to fight and most of our
longshot; hold. The scene looks like an album          understanding passed between the lines.
cover, grunge-Ophelia. It's as if the acid wasn't      Example: For months we'd both been getting
cut with speed and has a very slow build. They're      our hair done on East 8th street by this guy
gathering twigs and dragging branches into a           named Joey. One week, without saying anything
kind of clearing towards the middle of the field.      about it to each other we both spontaneously
The landscape's moist and northern, late               felt uneasy with this twinning and decided to
summer-early fall, everything bending                  change haircutters. At that time there must've
underneath it's weight.                                been 400 hair salons in lower Manhattan to
                                                       choose from. Ann got her hair done at Vidal
Dissolve to another part of town, wideshot from        Sassoon and so did I. Etcetera.
a two-lane bridge over a wide but shallow river.
Police cars, sirens. A team of rescue workers          So when we wrote The Pact both of us were
dredging out the river, yellow parkas, silt and        drawing from different, parallel experiences.
spillage from hydraulic pumps. A wide net              Ann experienced The Pact when she was in her
wrapped in algae, beer cans. They haven't found        early 20s in New Hampshire. I was thinking
anything yet except for all the river's treasures.     about experimental theater games and a shithole
                                                       I'd spent time in outside of Hamilton, New
Like the opening in Stormy Monday you don't            Zealand. I must've been, 19, I was hitchhiking
know where you are. The action's sharp and             down from Auckland back to Wellington. I'd got
discontinuous. Dissolve back into the field. We        a letter from my old friend Paul saying he was
don't know yet ten years have passed between           living in a commune outside Ngaruwahia. I
the two locations. We start to see the people          remember it was pretty hard to find it. I spent a
closer (fast-forward 500 years of Western              night in Hamilton with the "Anglesea Mob", it
culture): their clothes, their hair, their different   was mostly Maori kids looked after by a hippie
ways of gathering wood, move haphazardly               Christian couple. Something about finding jobs.
together.                                              The night I stayed there people sat around
                                                       playing guitars and singing radio songs they'd
Matchsticks, kicks and heavy breathing: they set       changed the words to. "United We Stand." It
the bramble pile on fire. Smoke and flames and         was boozy, sweet and Polynesian.
rotting foliage. The girls hold out their hands to
warm them in the fire. The fire's the event that's     In the morning they sent me on to Ngaruwahia.
saved them from that never-ending sense of acid        It was 16 miles outside of town and there wasn't
escalating nowhere. "Let's play a game." Except        any phone and no one had a car.Walked for
for Jamey and Stefan, everyone is in their early       miles along a dusty unpaved road, finally a
20s and different shades of white and Asian            farmer showed me where the house was. A
middle class: Paul and Jeremy, Lin, Miyoshi,           white rectangle wood-frame thing, broken
Jessica and Margot. Jamey's about 15, a local kid      windows. There wasn't any furniture, just
who knows about the woods. Stefan's 36 or so,          sleeping bags and mattresses spread out on the
European, he's in charge. As the fire catches on       floor and people's stuff in plastic bags and
they start to play a game where they all introduce     backpacks. Nobody had a job and the place
themselves by name and 'confess' to some               didn't seem to be about gardening or farming. It
addiction, goofing on the 12 Step Program. It's        shocked me, seeing Paul; a bishop's son who'd
all giggly, trippy, nice and noncommittal until        gone to New Zealand's most exclusive private
Margot speaks and Stefan challenges her.               school, living in a place so squalid. Paul was
Implies that she's a snob. She gets defensive,         there when I arrived. He showed me round and
squirmy, all the others watch excitedly,               stuff came out about the breakdown he'd had in
conflicted maybe but still waiting for a taste of      Sydney, first stop on his travels overseas. He was
blood, until Stefan lets her off the hook. Throws      here, he said, because of Vee, a slightly older guy
her a "lifeline back into the group. Reintegration.    he'd chosen for his "teacher." What do people
Conflict materfully raised, averted. This is the       do all day? They get up, they cook a meal, they
first hint that things are pretty creepy.              talk. Sometimes fights erupted, mostly of the
                                                       playground kind, and Vee presided over them.
Residents drifted in and out the                      group promised they would stay together all the
dormitory/lounge, and these people seemed             time and tape everything they said and did
more lost than Paul. It was a way station on the      together. The way Margot listened to the tape
road to and from the mental hospital. Vee'd           one night and heard the sounds of Stefan
gone into town that day and there was lots of         fucking Kathleen, the new girl who he'd met in
speculation about where he was and what he was        town. You're so soft, your ass feels like a baby's.
doing.                                                The way she let him tie her up, spend all her
                                                      parents money. The night she tried to run away
That night Paul and I crashed out early in two        and failed. The way her favorite picture at the
sleeping bags at the far end of the lounge.           time was a postcard of a drowning woman by
Around midnight I woke up to screaming. A big         Millais, pre-Raphaelite Ophelia.
burly guy with long red hair berating a stumbling
speed freak for doing what? - spilling beer over a    Jamey's Barracuda eases to a halt outside of
mattress? Vee's home, Paul whispered. I curled        town to pick up a hitchhiker. Her name is
up deeper in my bag but Vee didn't seem to            Karen, she's Irish, 17, her face spills out like
notice this extra body (mine). The next day Vee       water. Karen's just ditched her au pair job in Bar
acknowledged me but I avoided him. I was a            Harbor and she's terrified of being found
journalist, and Paul tried to broker some idea        because she still owes the family on her ticket.
about a 'story' but Vee and I backed off. I got to    What do individuals become over circumstance
see a little more of Vee's 'therapy' in action,       and time? (True subject of the 19th century
yelling at the misfits, Shape up, asshole. Paul was   novel). Margot's reaction to the terror of the
scared of being homosexual and studying Vee's         Group was amnesia; she spends the movie
'manliness' and I was just a sentimental moralist,    flashing back to things that she's blanked out.
I couldn't see the point, got all choked up about     But Jamey's different. Shy and passionate and
how these people needed help and this wasn't          inarticulate. His confusion crashes all around
helping anyone.                                       inside. Jamey's a little strange but Karen likes
                                                      him. They get along; they drive around to all his
***                                                   favorite places. But then things turn. Karen
                                                      wants to leave and he won't let her. Their string
                                                      of magic afternoons turns sour, the way things
Dissolve. The people disappear and ten years
                                                      do. Her fear makes him crazier and angrier.
pass. Margot drives up in her little silver Jetta.
                                                      Jamey is tormented because he's run out of
The field is overgrown, it holds no clue, and
                                                      things to do. And so he kills her.
she's still amped on getting-out-of-the-city
energy. Gets out, looks around, she doesn't see
                                                      Jamey runs her body through a woodchipper.
anything. Ten years later she's a video game
designer, dressed hip professional, ABS over
                                                      Last week at school, Stephanie Taylor and I were
Patricia Field and she's only here because she's
                                                      talking about the pre-Raphaelites. Isn't the point
just inherited the house her grandmother
                                                      to fuck it up? Beauty's close to death because it's
abandoned all those years ago. The house the
                                                      begging for some kind of violation.
group spent 7 months in.
                                                      There's a police alert all over town, they're
Cut to town: Margot darts past a woman about
                                                      searching for the missing girl.
her age swatting a screaming kid, darts into the
superette and just misses a beat-up Plymouth
                                                      Blood and bones and fingernails flying in the
Barracuda crawling down the main street. It's
Jamey. He's also just arrived. He's been working
somewhere north and he's very proud of the
                                                      Cut back to back with Margot's climax
car's pushbutton windows.
                                                      flashbacks of the group's disintegration.
From here on in the script cuts back and forth
                                                      And Margot solves the crime (too late) because
between realtime and flashbacks moving
                                                      now she knows.
forward. And there's a point to this: the longer
Margot stays, the more she can remember. The
                                                      Was the point of this, Just Say No To Disintegrative
way the group devolved from giddy druggy
                                                      Violence? The point was, Ann and I wanted to
psychodrama to the heart of fucking darkness.
                                                      make movies.
The way athletic independent Jessica got
scapegoated like the medieval Jews 'Til she
                                                      James Schamus read it in New York and said,
finally broke down and the group dumped her in
                                                      'Horror is a dead genre.' Great line. He passed.
a mental ward. Jessica's a spy! She's evil! The way
Margot knew that it was wrong but didn't stop it
                                                      And so I started pitching it in New Zealand.
because Stefan was her boyfriend. The way the
***                                                    the good-natured fuckup, was Hank's link to his
                                                       rebellious past, I was the floating signifier. Hank
Auckland, 1993: The New Zealand dollar's been          didn't know anything about the East Village.
devalued to .52, and the tax law's been rewritten      "So," he said, "ya makin' money?" I sort of
to make film losses entirely deductible. American      dodged the question, told Hank how I'd been to
movie and commercial crews are shooting here           see his movie when it was playing in New York.
because the dollar and landscape and proficient        It was about 11 in the morning, but Hank took
crews make it a third-world buy without any of         out a bottle of Glenfiddich's and when the
the hassle. Jane Campion is the hit of Cannes          whiskey hit I started telling him about the movie.
and the Film Commission's turning out six              And Shake, according to our plan, asked Hank if
feature films a year and for a moment anything         he could talk to Victor. Because Victor Rourke,
seems possible.                                        a former cellmate from their leftist days, had just
                                                       teamed up with New Zealand's king of 'B's and
I'd made a bunch of underground/experimental           softcore porn to start a new production
films and was wondering how to make the magic          company in Wellington. They called themselves
cross from art-land to real movies. Everybody          Black Label. Was this a template of our movie? I
said 'the script, the script.' Ann and I had already   was thrilled to be alive at a moment when old
written one called Sadness at Leaving and were         differences were breaking down, believing
finding out that this was not so easy. Sadness was     female anarchy could thrive within the chaos of
an espionage romance set in the New York early         the new world order. The more Shake and Hank
60s, an ensemble drama with good characters. It        warned me about Victor's blatant piggery, his
wasn't very underground and no one bought it.          brashness and aggression, the more I wanted to
But on the other hand, The Pact had lots of sex        hook up with him. Hank called Victor, put me
and violence. It occurred to me that we could          on the phone, and I made fast plans to drive to
pitch it downtown art and then do something            Wellington.
full-on sleazy. So maybe we could hit up the
New Zealand Arts Council for production as             Shake and I were drunk and gloating when we
'short drama,' use the funds to shoot a pilot and      left Hank's office around noon and we had no
then find a real producer. Or maybe find one           plans so we wandered over to the Shakespeare
first and cut him in? There was a vision, it was       Arms Hotel to get drunker. Breezing through
hazy.                                                  the public bar on our way into the lounge, my
                                                       treat, we passed a guy in a denim workshirt
It was incredibly effective, phoning round             sitting by himself with a book, a glass, and a
production companies in Auckland and telling           whole litre pitcher of Dominion Beer and it was
them I was in town for two weeks from New              my ex-husband, David Healey. David looked
York. Everybody read it. Everybody said that it        just like the alcoholic he'd been trying to become
was suffering from "narrative confusion."              for 15 years, when he walked off the set of an
                                                       academic career after having an existentialist
My old friend Shake took me round to see Hank          epiphany. I'd lived with him in the aftermath for
Barker, a former leftist pal of ours who'd gone        the first three years, and existentialism hadn't
from writing midnight rock & roll theater shows        made him happy. He settled down to dealing pot
to being one of New Zealand's best-paid                out of the proofreading room at the Daily News
screenwriters. Hank was everybody's hero. His          where I was working as a writer. David often
plays were actually entertaining, an element           beat me up. It was just assumed that I was
mostly missing from the New Zealand literary           stupid, cheerful and ingenuous with this straight
world, with lots of sex and drugs. He got up at 5      job. He hated everything I wrote. Slaps and
and wrote in whatever commune he was living            punches. And maybe he was right, because
and had beliefs outside himself. Hank was the          David was a genius and my writing was so
most militant of all the leftists, leading a mass      shallow. A black eye swollen shut behind a pair
defection (five people, maybe seven) from the          of goggle sunglasses. The 70s. I really wanted to
softcore Socialist Action League to the                be smarter. And then, I was not the only one
Communist Worker's Party, an organization with         who came to work with bruises. There were two
ties to and maybe even funded by Albania. One          other girl reporters. But breezing past him after
time Hank took us with him on a pilgrimage to          meeting Hank with Shake didn't register as
home of a reclusive famous older poet and we           triumph. Neither did I feel compassion. I just
could see the torch was being passed between           felt swirls inside my head, the collision of two
two generations of literary rebels. Hank's             timescapes, thinking this is truly cinematic.
hagiography was impressive.
And now he had an office and a screenwriting
award, a wife and child and mini-van. If Shake,
For Margot Smith, things always started with a             course I thought The Pact would be the perfect
limitless sense of possibility. Excitement,                vehicle. The fact he hadn't read it was no
projects. Even though she often couldn't see two           problem because he knew just what to do. If
feet in front of her, she liked to think about the         Ann and I could shrink it down into a treatment,
future. Margot Smith was Stefan's pimp. She was            he'd take it over to the New Zealand Film
a little richer, worldlier than the others and so,         Commission for development. They owed him
except for Jessica, who tried to find her own              one. And then I told him all about my plan for
direct line to Stefan's power, they trusted her.           hitting up the Arts Council. He liked it. Because
She transmitted her belief to them. She was his            if the Film Commission passed and I could bring
translator and conductor. When the group broke             in 40 grand, then we'd have seed money for him
up they all ran away like rats and Margot never            to hit the European markets for co-funding.
saw anyone again. She went back to school,
dropped out, became a software game designer.              This business part seemed so exciting, so integral
She's spent the last ten years never questioning           to the whole idea of movie. It occurred to me
her resolution to be independent, self-reliant.            that topless dancing in a hustle bar had been the
And so her world lacks glamour.                            perfect training. Belief is all it takes for anyone
                                                           to be a leader. While his followers equivocate
In Scene 12, a flashback, Margot's alone and               and doubt themselves, the leader treats his life as
listening to a tape recorded the night before in           if it were a movie, claiming the unassailable right
her and Stefan's bedroom. She'd gone home to               to be himself. Leaders don't apologize, they
try and get more money from her Dad because                don't explain. And so the followers step in,
Stefan wanted video equipment. It's Stefan's               giving up pieces of themselves by interpreting
voice, and Kathleen's whispers. The thunk and              the leader's every word and move, and all this
shivering of their clothes. And it isn't just the          borrowed energy makes him bigger. If money's
fuck, the fact, that's so upsetting, it's how he's         abstract human energy, then movies are like
different, much gentler than he's ever been with           leaders. Finally Victor let me talk a little bit
her. There are no lessons to be learned. You're so         about the script. He liked the gory parts but
soft, he says, adorable. Your ass feels like a baby's.     wondered if the story and the character arcs
And Kathleen literally coos. Margot's face                 would come together. The girl, he said, she's not a
compacts into a wrinkled ball of logic, looking            hero. Hmm. Margot wasn't Xena Warrior
for a line of thought that will help to her accept         Princess but did she have to be? You've gotta
the unacceptable. But then she can't. She                  realize, he confessed, I'm a very hands-on producer.
wonders where her life went wrong, it's like she's
standing at a threshold in front of everything             The next day I had a meeting with Helen
that's dark and inexplicable. And then the door            Benneham, director of the Arts Council. She
flies open. Stefan looks at her and smiles. You            invited me to her house, a large and sprawling
can't just listen to the tape, he says. You have to tape   thing that overlooked Otaki Bay. A big
yourself listening.                                        Victorian, with oriental rugs and books, the kind
                                                           of casual wealth you hardly ever see in
***                                                        Wellington. Helen knew all about my husband, a
                                                           noted European critic. She was a sophisticated
                                                           person, rich obviously beyond her $60,000 job, a
Black Label's headquarters on Courtney Place in
                                                           kind of diplomat. Helen was refreshingly
Wellington had a rubber plant, a waiting room, a
                                                           unconflicted about using her position to
secretary and two offices. Victor hadn't read the
                                                           promote her favorites. Perhaps my husband
copy of the script I'd Fedexed but he took me
                                                           would like to write a monograph about a New
out for lunch at the Amsterdam Hotel, new
                                                           Zealand artist she believed in? Let's make a deal.
meeting place for the new New Zealand cinema.
                                                           All three of us were Jews. I felt relaxed and
Victor had a plate of meat and several beers. I
                                                           comfortable. I parodied the meeting at the
ordered what I'd read what people are supposed
                                                           Amsterdam with Victor Rourke, she vaguely
to eat at meetings: a salad and a spritzer. Victor
                                                           knew him. Victor says he'll work with me, I told
laughed because I had to tell the waiter what that
                                                           her, but I don't think it's the best thing for the movie.
was. He was a big guy, with thinning reddish hair
                                                           Victor thinks that he's a feminist because he likes tits
pulled back into a ponytail, and something about
                                                           and ass and gore and character development. She
him seemed incredibly familiar. I couldn't locate
                                                           roared. And so I'm worried. Because of course I'd rather
how or where, but this often happens in a
                                                           work with you. Did she see through this?
country of 3 million. Victor started telling me
about the sleazy films he was distributing for his
partner and his ambitions. He'd just attended a            ***
Robert McKee Story Structure Workshop, and
he was fired up with plans for crossing over               Nearly seven months have passed since the
from B movies into mainstream features. Of                 group's first acid trip and now it's winter.
Everything has led us to this freezing room. Paul      two from Victor there was never any news about
and Jeremy are shoving towels and rags into the        the Film Commission.
broken window Jamey kicked in the night
before. Jessica's pacing all around the room,          On April 23 we got another fax from Victor. It
she's wrapped in shawls and sweaters, seven            was a landmark date-'April 23' was the
layers of unraveling wool, muttering. Welcome to       codename of our character in Sadness. He told us
Bedlam. Very gently, Jeremy tries to take off the      he'd be traveling to Cannes in May. He'd like to
long scarf that she's wound around herself like a      stop and see us in New York to talk about the
straightjacket. She tears away and screams: "I         script and did we have a place where he could
need that!"                                            stay? Ann was a little dubious but I was grasping
                                                       at the whole idea of 'movie.' Perhaps he'd
The camera tracks with Jessica across the living       bring The Pact with him to meetings?
room. Margot's hunched over a smoldering log
in the open fireplace, burning photos from her         When Victor arrived at Ann's from JFK he still
grandmother's family album. Jessica grabs a half-      hadn't read the expanded treatment that we'd
burnt photo out of Margot's hands: "I need that,       done on spec, that he'd 'commissioned.' We took
too!"                                                  a walk to let him rest and read. Ann said she
                                                       found him "pushy, mushy."
Alyssa, the heavy girl who'd always played the
role of goddess/ mother in the group, is on the        Back at the loft after some chitchat Victor finally
phone writing down the bus schedule. Miyoshi,          gave us notes. He said-I quote- "Too much
the vivacious cupcake, is cutting chunks out of        dialogue. Needs more action. Takes too long for
her long black hair, dancing by herself and            the story to get started." Mostly, Victor thought
scattering it round in circles on the floor. Jessica   we had to introduce a subplot. It was not
scoops it up. "I need that! I need that too!"          enough that Margot's growing consciousness
Stefan appears. He's always somewhere. This is         enables her to solve the crime. Something had to
obviously his last chance to keep the group            throw her off the track, a false suspicion.
together under his control and he rises to it
brilliantly. "Just stop!" he screams. And then he      Margot finally remembers something she forgot,
pins Jessica beneath his gaze, she can't escape,       the way things ended between her and Stefan. It
she stumbles "What you need is a good fuck," he        was what happened on the night she tried to
sneers. For a microsecond everybody watches            leave and Stefan found her. She's lying on the
this, she freezes. He's about to speak but then        iron single bed above the stairs underneath the
thinks better of it, tips the coffee table covered     silver-painted eaves. He's tied her there,
with three day's garbage on the floor. Kathleen,       haphazard, roughly. Black cords around her
holding the microphone beside him, hardly              wrists, the long strings of her roman sandals tied
breathes. Stefan grabs Jessica and throws her          around the bottom of the bed. Her shirt and
face down on the table. "Go on, Jamey. Give it         eyes are open. Stefan's standing by the bed, a
to her." At first Jamey doesn't get it, he's           giant angry shadow. He lunges forward, slaps
confused. Are they still mad at him about the          her. He rips the phone cord from the wall...
broken window? The entire room is willing him
to move. So he obeys and Kathleen tiptoes up           A flood of images of dispersal. Pages ripped, a
beside them with the tape recorder. Stefan             milkweed pod exploding, scattering. She thinks:
proclaims Invisible Sex! and everyone starts           I feel like I've been cut into hundreds of
chanting Do it, do it. Kathleen looks at him           bleeding little pieces, now they're flying. I'm just
adoringly and Stefan starts to tell a story            nothing... Ophelia drowning. And meanwhile on
from The Hunger Artist. "This is the text we'll        the other side of town the chipper whirrrs and
use," he says, "for the performance that we'll do      Karen's body flies all over town and Margot
in Edinburgh. I'll be the hunger artist. We'll         understands something. All the clues she's
build a cage ..."                                      missed in town cohere and Margot leads the
                                                       cops to Jamey's hideout.
Helen took another sip of tea and looked
beyond me through the leaded windows to the            Victor thought we ought to add another
bay. "Christine," she said, "I think your script       character. Let's call him Randall. Randall's a bit
needs much more violence."                             of a loner living on the edge of town. Margot
                                                       sees him once or twice in town, maybe he's rude
***                                                    to her. At any rate, Randall reminds her of
                                                       Stefan. So Margot rallies up a witch-hunt,
                                                       accuses him as Karen's kidnapper. To make
Back in New York, Ann and I compressed the
                                                       things worse, Randall is a righteous eco-terrorist,
script into a treatment and sent it back to Victor.
                                                       a saner Ted Koszinysci, and he's hiding,
Months passed and even though we got a fax or
                                                       planning to blow up a dam that would flood the
virgin timber in a valley. From Victor's notes:               present itself right here in the middle of the
"Margot plays this schizoid game with Randall.                present, Club Euphoria. But I'm sure that
She's crazed and on a rampage, living out her                 Victor's buzz came from his anticipation of the
past through unsuspecting others."                            future. His power, his mobility. Success at
                                                              Cannes. Perhaps we'd fucked? We both `agreed
In the golden age of their romance Margot and                 that it was strange for neither person to
Stefan are rolling on the grass outside the house             remember it.
while the group plays Gods and Goddesses.
Everything is warm and sunny. Margot's relaxed                Ann and I did our best to follow Victor's notes
and blissed, her hands inside of his and reaching             into another draft. It was a hopeless mess.
for his cock. Abruptly, Stefan flips her over on              Victor passed it on to a McKee-trained story
her back and pins her hands down. He gazes at                 editor. She didn't like it. Did we want to try
her from above (directions from the script) and forces        again? I bought Ann little gifts: a postcard of
her to become aware of her own arousal. She's breathing       Ophelia, a papier-mâché horse like Jessica's, but
very hard. He smirks and looks at her so penetratingly        by now she'd had enough and needed to start
she feels like he knows everything about her. Let's make      writing her next novel. I made some changes,
a pact, he says, tightening his grip. Yes -To stay together   sent the script to Victor with a note that Sylvere
for one year-he grips, she squirms, he guides her hand        and I would be leaving soon to spend the
back to his cock-Yess-and not to lie-Yesssss-and keep the     summer in Los Angeles. He faxed back right
tape recorder running all the time. Yes, yes-                 away. He'd be traveling from Dublin to the
                                                              Banff Television Market in July. He could
What's scariest about The Pact is not these little            change planes at LAX. If I wanted, he could
bits of s&m but the way it slides so easily into a            spend the night. "Maybe you could meet me at a
pagaent of reality. It was not elective play. That's          cheap hotel at Venus Beach," he wrote. "We
what was wrong with all these druggy                          could talk about the project."
psychodramas-they didn't try to change reality. It
was an endless hall of mirrors. Stefan's violence             Everybody in the group wanted to be gods and
constantly erupted out of nowhere. He was a                   goddesses. Mostly they liked making up
hulk of isolate and involuted will and misery that            descriptions of themselves and their
he and everybody else called knowledge. The                   relationships to each other. The group was
leader is a black hole, consuming particles of                everybody's favorite subject. The spent a lot of
energy, belief, ambition from his followers. It's             time on naming. Stefan and Margot of course
all his game and it's the only game in town. No               were Zeus and Athena. They called Alyssa
matter how alert you are he keeps you living in a             Demeter. Jessica was solitary and she liked to
psychic state of terror. Victor Rourke's reaction             play the flute and so they called her Pan. Taking
to The Pact disturbed me but it was hard to get a             away her name was the group's first deliberate
fix on it. Because even though I hated it, it felt            act to exile her and drive her crazy. It started
seductively familiar.                                         when the group was dancing. Jessica broke a
                                                              glass and Miyoshi cut her foot. Adorable
Around 8 Sylvere, my husband, picked us up for                Miyoshi howled with pain and Jessica skulked
dinner. Even on his way to Cannes, Victor was                 away. I think Jessica's trying to tell us something,
still hick enough to be impressed by the                      Stefan said. Two days before she'd been caught
restaurant that we chose, the packed club that let            writing in her notebook. They call a Meeting of
us in because my husband knew the bouncer.                    the Gods and strip Jessica of her powers. She's
                                                              no longer allowed to play the flute but she can
Jammed up against the jukebox in the backroom                 sing. She can't. They force her. Her voice is
of Euphoria, Victor and I were drinking double                breaking. How does it feel? It feels like shit. Stefan's
whiskeys while Ann and my husband talked. I                   hurling questions like body probes in an alien
felt like I was floating backwards in a bubble,               abduction. How does that feel? It feels like me.
10,000 miles away to Wellington, an alcoholic
womb that could indefinitely contain you. We                  Last week at the gym I started crying because the
knew we knew each other, and each failed                      hand weights were too heavy. Instant emotional
attempt to pin down the cross led to another                  recall of childhood, being weak and teased and
flood of recollections. Both of us knew                       picked on. It's the same with watching any act of
everybody: Mary McGlone and Russell                           cruelty. Jessica was afraid to stay and she was
Campbell, the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, the                    afraid of being exiled. A Taoist healer who I
Forester's Arms, the Melser Brothers. Giggling, I             otherwise respected said about her friend who'd
confessed I'd slept with 3 out of the four and at             died of cancer at age 45, "She decided it was
that moment Victor's arm reached round to grab                time to leave." Impossible to accept irrationality
my ass and that also felt so right, so Wellington.            or bad luck or any other form of chance outside
I was still so stuck on this phenomenon of time               the individual. When Ann and I wrote The Pact,
and travel, the way an element of the past could              we were thinking about evil. We believed that it
existed. We believed it had a source. We blamed
the leader.

The rendezvous with Victor Rourke at Venus
Beach never happened. Instead he came to stay
at the house I was renting with my husband. I
felt driven to pin down the reason that I felt I
knew him. 'It's not important, never mind,'
Victor said. And so we started talking about the
high-rent slum that we were renting from the
Beastie Boys, the slobbish habits of professor's
kids, anything except the script. It made me
think of Ngaruwahia and Paul. "I had this friend
named Paul who went to Wanganui Collegiate,
he was completely helpless..." "From
Wellington?" Well, yeah. Paul never hung
around the leftist glamour crowd so I was
surprised that Victor knew him. "He lived with
me." "In Auckland?" " was in a house
outside Ngaruwahia. After James K. Baxter died
I set up this place for kids who needed help..."
And just as suddenly as Margot knew about the
wood chipper, I realized Vee was Victor. Of
course I had to tell him everything. The trip
from Auckland, visiting the house, the way it
had affected me. I was blown away by the
connection. More than just a shadow from the
past, Victor Rourke was Stefan.

The next day Victor and I went for a walk in the
Angeles Crest Canyon. He had a long plane ride
ahead of him. The Pact was never made. But
Victor's company went on to many more

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