Serial Reading: Just Like Suicide pt. 23

Bacteria 10 2a
Mery Lynn McCorkle, Bacteria 10 (detail), 2015; acrylic on collaged paper mounted on board, 24 by 24 inches.

For your summer reading pleasure, BURNAWAY brings you Just Like Suicide, a novel by artist Mery Lynn McCorkle, set in the Los Angeles art world. She writes from experience, having lived for years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when it still was the art frontier, and then LA; she now resides in Rome, Georgia. She describes the book as “a compendium of interlocking tales cataloguing self demolition and success in the Los Angeles art scene, from the point of view of artists, dealers and family members.”

We’ll post sequential chapters from McCorkle’s book every Wednesday and Friday over the summer (and on Monday’s beginning in August!). Or click here to buy the book now.


Forty Five

Of course, they couldn’t meet at a café near the gallery that morning after he returned to town. It had to be in Malibu. And of course, they couldn’t simply order coffee and a scone so Odessa could leave quickly. He had to have eggs Florentine with a freshly made batch of hollandaise sauce topped off with a truffle, all of which he nibbled on slowly. Lawrence really was stretching out this get-together. The coffee at least was plentiful and superlative, roasted there just before grinding. He was a real snob about his coffee. It was nearly time for the gallery to open when he finally got around to revealing his surprise. Over the past few months, he’d taken to hauling her to Rodeo Drive for a stroll on Sunday afternoons and kept pointing out exquisite shoes, exquisite clothes, exquisite jewelry, none of which fit her budget or sense of style. Odessa wore classic clothes and did splurge periodically on shoes but not to the degree of those in the window. She just couldn’t bring herself to pay as much for a pair of shoes as she had for her first car. And she was never one to wear much jewelry beyond her wedding ring. In one window shopping spree, he kept prodding her for her opinion and finally she agreed with him that the necklace he was pointing out, rubies and amethysts woven together in an intricate pattern of gold, yes indeed was lovely. She noted a few months back that their dynamic had changed. In the beginning she really had loved arguing with him about everything under the sun. Gradually his insistence on being right had taken over. That day it had been easier to give in and agree with him than listen to him iterate all the reasons why she was wrong.

With both of them sitting at a cleared table, sipping more coffee, he pulled out a blue velvet box and presented that ridiculously expensive necklace to her, his gift. She was speechless.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Thank you is sufficient.”

“Lawrence, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings but you must not have noticed that I don’t wear much jewelry.”

“It’s time to change that.”

“I appreciate the generosity but I’m not comfortable with this extravagance.”

“Keep it for a week. Then we’ll talk.”

“Lawrence…”

“I insist. Darling,” he placed his hand over hers and forced it on top of the box, “I insist.”

Apparently he wasn’t going to let her leave the table without taking the necklace, at least not without a scene. So she stuffed the velvety box into her purse and left feeling downright pissed off.

This was the definitive proof of infidelity Maggie had warned her about. Why didn’t she confront him then and there? Odessa asked herself as she crawled down the Pacific Coast Highway with all the fancy cars bumper to bumper, all those supercharged motors doing a swift six miles per hour. Because she was in a hurry to get to the gallery and knew he’d end up spending another hour trying to convince her he was right? Because they were having breakfast and it’s bad manners to holler while sitting at the table? Because she was angry enough to poke him with a fork? Her momma had taught her that whenever she was exhausted or outraged to put on a smile and use silence as a tool to provide her the time to evaluate the situation and respond appropriately. What was that old adage? Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make angry. She had concluded last night that she really had no legitimate grounds to be angry at him. After all, they weren’t in a committed relationship and she had been very aware of his history. Her feelings, she decided, consisted mostly of hurt pride and a certain embarrassment that she had actually thought she was different from his other conquests. When it comes to love, we are all fools. Sitting in traffic behind a sleek silver convertible, watching the driver talk with his hands, using his knees to steer the car, she calmed down enough to promise herself to have a serious conversation with Lawrence, regardless of the locale, the next time she saw him.

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