Post-coital Tristesse — Word Count: 11,697

Sweet Valley

Jessica laughed, a silvery little giggle she sometimes used with clients to make them throw more dollar bills her way. “Oh, Marshall Stanton V, you are just the most fascinating man I’ve ever met in my entire life,” she purred, running a finger up his arm.

Never mind the fact that he’s approaching 70 and has less hair than boring old Todd Wilkins at this point, Jessica thought, shuddering. This fucker is totally loaded!

“As are you,” he replied. “Except you’re not a man. And you’re not even that fascinating. But you are beautiful.”

Jessica caught Lila’s eye and grinned, sticking her tongue out at her best friend as Marshall V turned away to admire one of the many original paintings decorating the walls of Lila Crest. Lila scowled and tipped back her fourth glass of champagne, downing it in one swallow.

“More champagne, anyone?” Lila asked through clenched teeth.

“Oh, Lila, that would be lovely,” Jessica said sweetly.

“Here you go,” Lila said, practically throwing the bottle at Jessica. In the corner, Marshall stared off into space, a line of drool trailing from his champagne glass to his mouth.

“How about you, Marshall the fifth?” Jessica asked, holding up the bottle and narrowing her eyes at Lila.

“Please, Jessica,” he said, “everybody calls me Stan.”

“Well, not me,” she declared, snuggling closer to him. “My special nickname for you is going to be Marshall the fifth.”

“How sweet,” Lila said snidely.

“Marshall the fifth and I are getting along so well, don’t you agree, Lila?” Jessica purred.

“Well, that doesn’t surprise me,” Lila drawled. “Jessica gets along so well with many men. A few a day – for the right price.” She smiled and took a demure sip from her glass.

“Oh, Lila, you’re so funny,” Jessica said, her voice tight. “Speaking of the right price, have you told Stan about your latest trip to Sweet Valley Mall?”

“No, Jess, it’s not that interesting,” Lila snapped.

“Oh, of course it is,” Jessica said. “Remember those cute little diamond and platinum earrings you got at Bibi’s? Or that designer silk dress from Lisette’s? I bet Stan would be so interested to hear about that.”

“Diamond and platinum?” Stan asked, raising an eyebrow at Lila. “I trust you’re taking proper care of my father’s financial affairs?”

“Yes, I’m taking excellent care of your father’s finances,” Lila said, slurring her words slightly and taking a healthy gulp of her champagne.

“I’m bored with this conversation,” Jessica announced. “Marshall the fifth, I think you and I should go to the beach sometime. I have a new silver maillot I’m just dying to wear.”

Stan looked Jessica up and down. Jessica thrust out her chest and subtly ran her champagne glass over her left nipple.

“Seriously, Jessica, I have to drink out of those glasses,” Lila complained.

“The beach sounds wonderful,” Stan agreed.

“Can we take your limo?” Jessica asked, clapping her hands with excitement.

Lila finished off her fifth glass. I have to stop this date before it starts, she thought. Or Jessica the gold-digging whore will steal my fortune!

* * *

It had been a long time since Elizabeth had been alone in a car with Bruce Patman, and definitely the first time she’d been alone in a car with him and fully conscious.

“Thanks again for coming to pick me up,” she said, smiling at him. “You really didn’t have to do it.”

Bruce shrugged, his eyes focused on the road ahead. “Well, I’m supposed to be nice now.”

“Oh, Bruce, you always were nice,” Elizabeth said. “You were very polite that time you almost date raped me.”

Bruce smiled wryly at the memory. “And you cried uncontrollably afterward, remember?”

Elizabeth nodded, blushing. “I remember.”

“We’ve shared a lot of good times, Wakefield,” Bruce said, running a hand up Elizabeth’s thigh. “Most of them involving paper cups and GHB.”

“Now those, I don’t remember,” Elizabeth said, laughing. Her expression turned serious. “Thanks again for agreeing to speak with me about working for Patman Canning.”

He gave her leg a little squeeze. “Let’s save the business talk for my office,” he said.

“Oh, right, of course,” Elizabeth said. “I’m sorry.”

The Patman Canning factory was situated on the outskirts of Sweet Valley, in close proximity to the town’s tiny industrial section and Bruce’s rape warehouse. It loomed large against the horizon, its smokestacks spewing a thick black fog that was most likely toxic.

“Oh, it’s huge,” Elizabeth breathed, her chest heaving.

“I’ve heard that before,” Bruce said, pulling into his reserved parking space and cutting the engine.

Bruce’s office was spacious, lined with shelves full of books Elizabeth was sure he hadn’t read. He took a seat behind his huge mahogany desk and indicated for Elizabeth to take a seat as well.

Elizabeth sat and placed her hands in her lap. She nervously bit her lip. “I really appreciate you talking to me, Bruce,” she said. “I didn’t know who else to turn to.”

“Well, I can’t resist a desperate woman,” he said.

Elizabeth smiled. “You’re such a good friend.”

Bruce picked up a pen and started doodling on a notepad. “To tell you the truth, I might need you just as much as you obviously need me,” he said.

Elizabeth furrowed her brow. “Really?”

“What do you know about disgruntled employees?” Bruce asked.

Elizabeth shook her head. “Not much,” she admitted. “But I can learn. I know how to use the Internet and everything.”

“Well, so do I,” Bruce huffed. “I have 469 followers on Twitter.”

Elizabeth racked her brain, trying to remember what exactly Twitter was, but she was drawing a blank.

“Anyway,” Bruce continued, “we’re having a … situation with our employees. They’re all just kind of assholes.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth said. “Well, I’m sure they’re trying their best.”

“Knowing how much you like to meddle in other people’s affairs, I was thinking you could talk some sense into them,” Bruce said. “Winston’s refusing to listen to me, and you and I both know Roger doesn’t have the balls to deal with it.”

Elizabeth nodded eagerly. “Bruce, I can assure you that my years of hard-hitting journalism experience have given me huge balls.”

Bruce curled his lip in disgust. “Oh, god, now I’m picturing you with balls.”

“I think I’m an excellent candidate for this position,” Elizabeth said, sitting up straighter in her chair. “I can even help you develop a public relations strategy for Patman Canning.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever you want,” Bruce said. He stood up and walked around the desk, leaning against it directly in front of Elizabeth. “Tell me, Wakefield, how much do you want this job?”

“I’ll do anything to get this job,” she said, her eyes shining up at him.

“Anything?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Anything,” Elizabeth said firmly.

* * *

Winston sat in a booth at Kelly’s Bar, nursing his sixth PBR of the night. The girl sitting across from him was cute enough, with blonde hair and large brown eyes, but she wouldn’t shut up. He’d tried to tune her out, but it was proving difficult.

“I mean I was convinced – convinced – it would give me some indie cred, you know? I mean, I was at the concert where Guy Chesney was electrocuted by his keyboard!”

“Yeah, crazy,” Winston mumbled, looking around the bar. He briefly locked eyes with Rick Andover, who had dropped out of Sweet Valley High and become a full-time drunk.

“But it totally didn’t,” the girl continued. “I mean, if he had, like, died or something, then yeah, I totally would have had indie cred. It still kind of pisses me off, you know?”

“Mmm hmm, yeah,” Winston said. He wished she was drunk enough to just to home with him already. Less talking, more drinking, sweetheart, he thought.

“But it’s not like I wanted him to really die or anything!” she said, playing with the scarf around her neck. Finally, she quit talking and took a deep swallow of her PBR.

“So, you want to get out of here?” Winston asked smoothly, reaching across the table to take her hand.

“Oh my god,” she said, giggling. “What kind of girl do you think I am?”

Winston laughed. “What kind of girl do I think you are? I think you’re cute, smart, funny … and you definitely have indie cred.”

If that doesn’t get me into her pants, nothing will, Winston thought.

“Oh my god, do you really think so?” she asked, gasping.

“Uh, yeah, indie cred. You’ve got it,” Winston said.

She set down her PBR can and squeezed Winston’s hand. “Yeah, let’s go.”

As they walked the five blocks to Sweet Valley Heights, the girl drunkenly slipped her arm around Winston’s skinny-jeans-clad waist. “Hey, you’re not going to pass out before we get there, are you?” Winston asked. The girl just giggled in response and stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk.

I’d better be getting laid, Winston thought. Although if this bitch passes out, I might have to take a page from Patman’s book.

“God, what is wrong with me?” he said out loud. He definitely wasn’t acting like himself — he hadn’t been acting like himself since Maria had ditched him. “What have I become?”

“Huh? Did you say something?” the girl asked, hiccupping.

“No,” Winston said, looking down at her. “I didn’t say anything.”

Out of the corner of his eye, something fluttering in the breeze caught his attention. It was a campaign sign, staked into a perfectly manicured lawn. “Re-elect Mayor Santelli: Help preserve Sweet Valley’s dictatorship,” Winston read.

“Oh, I love Mayor Santelli,” the girl said. “Most of the time I vote independent, but he seems like he’s been doing a pretty good job.”

“Yeah,” Winston said, trying not to think about the stabbing pain in his heart that surfaced whenever he thought of Maria. These days, it seemed like she was everywhere.

“I mean, I was born in 1990, so I’ve only voted, like, once. But I’m pretty sure I’m an independent,” the girl was saying.

Winston sighed. It seemed every other girl in Sweet Valley was nothing but a poor substitute for Maria Santelli.

* * *

Jessica smoothed down the silver maillot over her flat stomach and looked in the mirror. “Maybe I can get Marshall the fifth or Stan or whatever the fuck his name is to buy me some new tits,” she said, grabbing her breasts and turning sideways to get a better view. “Then people would definitely be able to tell me and Elizabeth apart!”

Downstairs, she heard the door open and shut again, then the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs, followed closely by the sound of hearty sobbing.

“Liz, is that you?” Jessica called, still not taking her eyes off her dazzling reflection. Yes, Marshall Stanton V will definitely do whatever I ask him to when he gets an eyeful of my cameltoe in this bathing suit!

Elizabeth burst through the door of the bathroom that connected the twins’ rooms, tears spilling down her face, and sat on Jessica’s bed. “Oh, Jessica, I have the most wonderful news!”

“So do I,” Jessica said, her eyes never leaving her reflection. “All right, me first. I met the most wonderful man today — and we’re going to the beach on Friday for our first date! What do you think about this silver maillot? Do you think it shows off enough cleavage, or do you think I should go shopping for something a little sexier?”

“I can see your ass cheeks, Jessica,” Elizabeth said, frowning. “I’m sure he’ll love it.”

“I see what you mean,” Jessica said, turning around again. “I definitely need something cut higher in the butt region. Oh, Liz, he’s my soul mate, I just know it. He’s good looking, if you squint and only look at him out of the side of your eye, and he’s got tons and tons and tons of money. Oh, and he’s, like, 70 years old, so when this one dies, it won’t come as a complete shock. So I’m really excited about that.”

“That’s great, Jessica,” Elizabeth said sincerely, reaching into her pocket for a tissue and dabbing her eyes with it.

“Yes,” Jessica said. “Marshall Stanton V and I will be very happy together, at least until he has a stroke or something.”

“Wait — Marshall Stanton V? Is he related to Lila’s boyfriend?” Elizabeth asked.

Jessica nodded. “He’s his son,” she said. “So Lila really got fucked this time, because at least I don’t have to push my boyfriend around in a wheelchair all the time. And he can actually carry on a conversation with me.”

“But Lila’s boyfriend is probably much closer to dying,” Elizabeth pointed out.

Jessica turned around to face her twin, glaring at her with her hands on her hips. “Elizabeth, do you always have to rain on my parade? God, you’re such a — such a realist.”

“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said meekly. “Although I am impressed that you used the word realist.”

“It’s too late to apologize now,” Jessica huffed. “Anyway, I guess you can go ahead and tell me why you’re crying.”

“I’m crying because I just blew Bruce to land my dream job at Patman Canning,” Elizabeth said. “And you know what happens when I have an orgasm.” She broke down and sobbed uncontrollably.

“Wait, you had an orgasm from giving him a blowie?” Jessica asked, disgust evident in her voice. “Um, I hate to tell you this, but you’re doing it wrong.”

“It doesn’t matter if I did it wrong,” Elizabeth said, the tears falling faster. “Bruce says any blow job is a good blow job.”

Jessica rolled her eyes. “Typical Bruce Patman,” she said.

“In any case, I’m starting there Monday — as Vice President of Meddling in Employee Affairs and Public Relations,” Elizabeth said, crying harder now. “I’m just so happy!”

Jessica kicked aside a pile of clothing on the floor and joined her twin on the bed. “What a relief,” she said. “I guess your new job means I won’t have to work the pole for Mr. Collins five times a week anymore.”

“Work the pole? What are you talking about, Jessica?” Elizabeth asked.

“Oh, nothing it’s — it’s just part of this outreach program for really important models,” Jessica replied breezily. “Like, models helping registered sex offenders.”

“Jessica, that’s wonderful,” Elizabeth said warmly. “I’m so glad you’ve finally decided to listen to me about the importance of serving others in our community.”

“Oh, yeah, I serve lots of people in our community,” Jessica bragged. “Mr. Collins, his son Teddy, Mayor Santelli, pretty much everyone who was ever on the Sweet Valley High football team…”

* * *

Amy had had a productive morning; she’d dropped the kids off at the day care center, then taken care of the grocery shopping, stopped by the Sweet Valley Spa for her weekly mani-pedi appointment and dropped off her old cheerleading uniform to be dry cleaned.
Barry does love the whole role-playing thing, she thought, smiling to herself as she strolled into the Box Tree Cafe for a leisurely lunch. As long as no actual news broke in Sweet Valley, her afternoon should be free as well.
Amy was seated at a table with an excellent view of Sweet Valley and the Pacific Ocean beyond. “This is the life,” she said, sipping on her imported mineral water and staring at the hypnotic waves breaking on the beach.
In the middle of her meal – grass-fed beef and an organic mixed-green salad – Amy’s cell phone rang. “Good afternoon, this is Amy Sutton-Rork,” she answered, ignoring the disapproving stares of the other diners in the cafe. “Oh, it’s you,” she said, disappointment coloring her voice.
Another date rape? Amy thought, annoyed that her splendid day had been ruined by actual work. “Yeah, sure, I’ll be over there in a few minutes. Just finishing up lunch. … Mmm hmm … bye bye.”
As Amy hung up the phone and placed it back into her purse, she noticed a familiar face at one of the nearby tables. She threw some cash down on the table and smoothed down her skirt as she stood up, hoping she could walk out the door without drawing any more attention to herself.
Her head down, Amy hurried past the table, but before she could make it outside, she heard someone calling her name.
“Son of a bitch,” Amy said under her breath. But she turned and smiled brightly. “Maria,” she said. “How lovely to see you.”
“It’s nice to see you as well, Amy,” Maria said, smiling. “It’s been a long time.”
“Oh, you know how it is,” Amy said, giving a little laugh. “I’ve been so busy with the kids, especially since they’ve been out of school for the summer, then Barry started up that new teen helpline web site thing, so I’ve been helping him with that, then there’s the career, of course – always some breaking news, you know! Oh, and I was helping out with that benefit down at the Sweet Valley women’s shelter, you know, you really ought to think about volunteering there. It’s a really great cause. Domestic violence is so widespread in our community, you know?”
Maria looked uncomfortable. “Yes, I’m sure it is,” she murmured.
“Well, anyway, I’ve just got to run — another breaking story to cover, I’m afraid!”
“Oh, yes, of course,” Maria said. “Have you seen anyone from Sweet Valley High lately? Elizabeth or Jessica? Ken? Winston?”
Amy shook her head. “No, not at all. I haven’t really had the time to socialize, as you can imagine. Well, Maria, it was certainly wonderful seeing you again,” she said, waving over her shoulder as she hurried out of the Box Tree Cafe.
Who the fuck would be interested in what any of them are up to? Amy asked herself. Especially Winston Egbert!

* * *

Maria’s mind was reeling from her encounter with Amy. She had always known Amy Sutton to be a self-involved, insensitive bitch — Amy had shown that much to be true during their days together on the Sweet Valley High cheerleading squad.
“Why did I even bother saying hello to her?” Maria berated herself as she drove home from the Box Tree Cafe. “I should have just pretended not to have seen her.”
As much as both Amy and Maria had disassociated themselves from their pasts, Maria was the only one who truly missed her old friends and her old life. I used to be someone different then, she thought sadly. I used to be a petite brunette; I used to date someone as nerdy and useless as Winston Egbert; I used to inexplicably be friends with both Jessica AND Elizabeth Wakefield.

Michael Harris had isolated Maria from almost everyone she had ever known and loved. She had reached out to Amy in an attempt to find sympathy, and her attempt had failed.

“I should have known better than to ask Amy Sutton for help,” Maria said, tears welling up in her eyes. She wiped away at them with the back of her hand.

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11 2010

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