If Brie spoke French, she would know that sang neuf means young blood. There is no fanfare or figureheads in the library at five past noon, there are only three nurses checking the vital signs of the guests before sitting them down in comfortable chairs and administering the transfusions. The lights are low, and Brie slips a pillow beneath the small of Mr. Sandro's back. "It's gruesome, of course," he tells her, running the pad of his index finger from her wrist to the inside of her elbow. "But it makes you feel like a teenager to have a child's blood in your veins."
Brie asks him where they get the blood.
"Mexico, Love," he laughs, closing his eyes as the blood begins to flow. "Where else?"
The nurses dim the lights and encourage the guests to rest as sang neuf courses into their bodies. Rattled and lightheaded, Brie excuses herself. She slips into the bathroom and looks at herself in the mirror. This world is perverted and the people who live in it are fucked in the head. Life is a conquest. From the hot thrust of our fathers to our last choking breaths, we fight each other for our share of something that cannot change the fact that we will die. And in our living, we fail to see the irony of our efforts—youth spent yearning to be older, adulthood wasted working to earn the money to buy back our youth. In public we brand our common desires and christen them as worthy, but in our dark private rooms, they destroy us.
"What are you going to do with your life?" she asks herself. "What kind of person are you?" The girl in the mirror offers no answer.
There is an iPad embedded in the wall beside the toilet. She presses the button and the screen comes alive. She googles Infinity drug and gets this from Wikipedia:
The street name for a psychoactive substance extracted from the honey collected from the hive of the African honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata; also known as "killer bees") when formed inside the hollow of an unfertilized seedpod of the Brazil Nut Tree (Bertholletia excelsa) found primarily in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil.
The chance conditions required for this commensalistic ecological relationship to develop makes the substance extremely rare and therefore the most expensive recreational drug in the world. Its name stems from the rumored but unsubstantiated claims that, when ingested, a person's parasympathetic nervous system is heightened, creating intense states of euphoria coupled with periods of dramatic cellular repair. To date, many deaths of indigenous people and so-called "honey hunters" have been recorded, mostly by falling from the canopies of mature Brazil nut trees, which reach up to 50 meters (160 feet). No known deaths have been reported from the ingestion of the drug.
Brie splashes water on her face and sets out back to the library. When she passes the great room, two men are busy erecting a small, elevated stage, presumably for the evening's entertainment. A bartender is in the corner polishing glasses and laughing as the two men labor to move a large marble bust to the head of the platform.
Back in the library, the nurse is disconnecting Mr. Sandro's IV cannula from the bag. He pulls the sleeve of his shirt down, leaving the port in his vein. His eyes are dark in the dim light of the room. "I'm looking forward to seeing your hair down," he tells her. Brie smiles politely and looks over at Marian, whose hairline is damp from the cold sweat of her face. He says, "Come with me upstairs for a moment. I have something I'd like you to wear."
Brie is solemn as she follows him up the staircase. Of course he expects her to sleep with him. Only a fool would take this long to deduce that sex is not so much a possibility here as it is a component of her service. Four thousand dollars in cash. And what does it matter? The time must come when every woman looks at herself in the mirror and sees either a queen or a concubine. The time for daydreams is over now. A woman of forty must turn around to examine her footprints if she wishes to know who she is. Gone is the fantasy. Just trace the days and weeks and months and years of your existence and tally them if you want to know yourself. You are what you do, not what you wish you'd done differently.
YOU ARE READING
Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...