Leaving a Burned Down Building in Betsey Johnson

She had to do it. Inject herself with heroin, that is. It was, in essence, her entire life now. Especially since Bob had made it clear that she was trash to him–not the marrying kind. Sara Lownds, on the other hand, had already proven herself to be very marriageable indeed, having wed Hans Lownds and even agreeing to change her first name, in addition to her last, for him (altering it from Shirley because Hans’ first wife’s name was also that, and he didn’t want to be reminded of her). She was, in fact, still married to Hans when she started falling in with Bob’s crowd, prowling around the East Village like a post-partum princess in the sleek MG Hans himself had bequeathed her (Bob had no idea the salary of a photographer could pay so well–it almost made him reconsider the whole folk singer thing). One supposes Edie never got the memo about the intense attraction between Sara and Bob, or, if she did, she presumed her own attractiveness and charm could shirley outweigh “Sara’s.” Plus, she was saddled with a child, which meant a diminished chance of freeing herself from Hans. So Edie carried on as she always did: impetuously, impishly, bombastically over the top and, most vexing of all, hanging around fags like Andy. And while Bob liked to play the progressive card for the sake of his career as a false prophet, Edie recognized that gay men made him uncomfortable. 

This didn’t stop her from cancelling on Bob at the last minute to attend some impromptu gathering at the Factory or Max’s Kansas City… or even simply to languish in her apartment as she let the needle (of the record player and the syringe) guide her path toward an untapped universe, the sound of Dusty Springfield or, more ironically, Bob Dylan quavering on the phonograph, rhythms flickering in and out of her ear canals as intermittently as her consciousness. She realized that these were the moments–the ones where she was, in effect, choosing to cheat on him with Mr. H–when he was shifting his affections from both her and Joan to Sara. Funny, how the latter lived in the Chelsea Hotel, too. Granted, in a separate room from Bob’s. Regardless, Edie should have known. That for all of Bob’s posturing about wanting to help her “be better,” doing things to improve her image like getting her to sign with his own manager, Albert, he was a cad just like all the straight men she had ever known, and been fool enough to fall in love with. And then Andy had to go and ruin her faith in the gentility of gay men, to boot.

Maybe that’s why she was taking so much comfort in her speedballs. It was the only cocktail that never disappointed. But that didn’t mean a girl couldn’t still dress to impress while leaving her body in favor of an alternate dimension–a non-dimension, as it were–where no formal attire was required. Even so, if she was to accidentally permanently leave behind her carapace while her soul fled to another planet, she wanted to rest assured that said carapace would always be remembered as fashionable. Clothed in the most on-trend couture. And no one was more happening than Betsey Johnson, one of her many so-called friends that would end up hanging her out to dry with their silence on her ostracism. 

In any case, that’s why she decided to put on her Betsey dress before she prepared her arms for a shot of heroin in one and amphetamine in the other. Oh, the delightful numbing combination was like nothing else. She supposed she shouldn’t have lit candles and a cigarette before blasting off, but she was in need of both ambience and nicotine so what could she say? She awoke in the arms of a police officer, not bad looking either. But this wasn’t the time for flirtations, now was it?

16 E. 63rd Street was still a long way from 222 W. 23rd Street, not so much geographically as culturally. The scandal she caused in being carted away from her Upper East Side apartment, once lived in by another socialite with less enthusiasm for drugs and more for jewels, Zsa Zsa Gabor, was too much for Edie to bear. That’s when she decided it was her grand opportunity to move into the Chelsea full-time. Alas, it seemed just when she was set to commit to it fully, Bob was instead ready to commit to Sara even more fully. Their “quiet” marriage was a complete secret to her, and the betrayal made all the more profound by the fact that Andy was the one to inform her as a result of the intel he had received via his own lawyer. That’s when she decided she would get vengeance the only way she knew how: fucking one of his friends. Yet another Bob, specifically Neuwirth. 

But even Neuwirth was a small consolation in her revenge, which would never be satisfying so long as she was aware of how happy Bob was with Sara, living the quiet life Edie knew she would probably never be capable of. She would rather die by the sword of the party than give up her meaningless (billed in lieu as “frothy”) existence in New York. And because of this, like so many before and after her, she would be torn apart at the seams, convinced it was all for the worthwhile cause of living the “glamorous life” in the “big city.” Yet the only thing big about it was its rubbery dick slapping her in the face at every turn with temptation and treachery. That’s why it was better for her to induce the type of sleep that solely her precious heroin could lend. Avoiding further trouble by getting into trouble, she told herself, highlighting a classic definition of paradox. If a fire happened to ensue after shooting up, maybe it was because she was legitimately living in hell–not just one of her family legacy’s making, but New York itself. The ultimate inferno right here on Earth. 

“Why in God’s name do they keep trying to tell me it’s ‘Heaven’–‘M-Mecca’–in New York?” she warbled as the cop placed her on a gurney.

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