And then suddenly, the whole mansion was in silence, and everything was still. Charlotte was probably returning from the front doors; Vera-Lucien figured. ...Typical ‘after party’ scene: black and silver streamers lying all over the place, on the floor, over chairs, on the tables. Silver and pink and white dragées scattered over the food tables, bits of cake crumbs as well.
She looked around, one hundred and eighty degrees.
“Madame Vera!” Charlotte’s voice came from somewhere... ...in that direction over there. Vera pointed a finger as if gesturing to herself to go that way. “I am in here. Viens ici, s’il te plait.”
“Where are you, Charlotte?” Vera called back, as she went along a corridor in a direction towards the very very French voice.
“Here, here... I am in here. Can you find me?”
“Yes. There you are. I have found you.”
Charlotte had her backed turned, making drinks at a large, long, swish back-lit in mauve cocktail bar in a room with very heavy carpets and floor-to-ceiling long black drapes and glitters of shiny chrome things on the wall, like art deco geometrical shapes, and low accent lights. But otherwise the place was rather dimly lit.
Both women had long since disposed of their head-coverings from earlier in the evening. As Charlotte turned Vera noticed her face make-up – that oh so typical Parisian, rather powdery foundation that camouflaged all of her orange face freckles... ...and then the thick velvet matte red lipstick.
IQ or EQ? That was the constant burning question of the enter ‘intimate’ social world, was it not? Vera said to herself.
More alcohol; Charlotte was holding out two glass goblets. She looked over at Vera and nodded at her.
“Do you know what is this?” Her accent was becoming ever more pronounced as the evening slipped on.
IQ or EQ? The question lingered in her mind.
“Is this an IQ test?” And then she went for it. “Or an EQ test?”
“Ooh là là. Madame Vera.” (Why was she saying ‘Madame’ like that all the time, Vera mused). “This is an SQ test for you. Here, put your tongue in this – Soixante Quinze.”
“Oh Madame. Come now. Don’t play the schoolgirl to me, please. Soixante Quinze – French 75. Named after the Howitzer field gun in World War I, used by the Americans and the French... ...known for its accuracy and speed.”
She took the glass into her hand. And lifted the drink to her lips, catching the strong scent first with her almost recoiling nostrils – very strong Cognac, Champagne and citrus. It tasted like a sweet lemon sherbet in her mouth but then with an immense kick from the power of the dark, old, Cognac.
“I think you meant ’don’t play the schoolgirl with me,′ not to me.”
There was that pout again. And then the red-haired French woman was also stepping closer, and closer, in small one-step-at-a-time paces. She drank a sip, Vera drank a sip. They drank in unison. Their eyes met and held. Charlotte’s face was close now, her breath warm and enticing – if you were of that kind of bent... “Oh what does it matter! Play to, play for, play with. Oh my god, you are so picky.”
Vera-Lucien squinted. In her head she was weighing up several things quickly; quickly like those Howitzer field gunners. Incredible face, Michelangelo-chiselled sculptural features, great lithe body, brilliant mind... ...brilliant mind. How often to you get all of those standing in one complete package right in front of you. Offering something. But something what ‘something?’ ‘SQ’ - it wasn’t ‘Soixante Quinze’ though, was it...
“Madame. Let me make things a bit easier for you -.”
Oh? What was this now; this was new.
“In the text-books, it is said, we say to the ladies, ‘oh but I know that you are straight.’ And of course, I don’t know ziss at all. Bur, buh, well iss like you is straight the way you act and the way you normally wear clothes. Buh I dohn care. For, I have anuvva plan for uz.”
She sounded like she was pretty drunk, actually, at this point.
“You see,” she turned her head to one side briefly, but then quickly went back to the glass and drank more. “You see... ...your friend, that pirate -, that pirate Johnny. He will be most annoyed with you,” Charlotte tapped Vera with one long finger, on her breast. “...If you slept with me. So, we’d better do that, don’t you see?”
“What can I get from you? About the main matter.”
“Oh you Americans! Always whoring!” She snorted.
“Are you blaming me for it here?”
Charlotte thought about it for a few moments. Considered whether the typical American whoring could be trained out of her over time. Vera did have a point about this one particular thing...
“This time, no. I don’t blame you. Next time I blame you. But for this time, for this -, no.”
Almost half of her cocktail drink was gone by now. She was peering into the glass. “But you know, Madame Vera, your top people in your government, since after Schelling even,” (She was referring to Thomas C. Schelling, head of the Defense Science Board, way back). “They don’t accept the original recommendations of the combined intelligence and academic and military panel that reported through that Board back then.”
“But it’s our ET pod that you have stolen.”
Charlotte scoffed back: “Huh! We have not stolen them at all. You don’t have anything to trade with them.” Charlotte retorted.
“Well what about you – you are giving them kids that are not even your citizens!”
Charlotte cocked her head and looked hard at Vera-Lucien. “Madame. You are going to have the one helluva time explaining to your bosses back, wherever, well, what, you know, what this is really all about. Are you not?”
“You are not, going to lay that thing on me, are you?”
“See? You see? You people, you just don’t like to hear the truth and so you stick your hands over your ears,” She placed her glass down onto the bar and came back and covered her ears with her now free hands. “Like this. And you don’t want to face the truth and so you stick your hands over
your eyes, like this.” And she did next too.
Vera-Lucien lifted a palm. “Wait, wait now, just a minute. Why would it not be true then, like in the Bible, and these ‘people,’ from up there, could be breeding like it says in the Bible and having giants and you know, sundry trouble-makers...?”
“Darling, it doesn’t say that in the Bible, my dear.”
“It does. For all we know, that damn thing could be just telling it like it is, and this kind of thing happens every, I dunno ten thousand years, and we all go to hell in some disaster afterwards. Why is it not really that after all?”
“It doesn’t say that... ...in the Bible.”
“It does. It says the ‘fallen angels’ came down and bred with the daughters of men, and they made giants that caused havoc.”
“Where is your phone?”
“It’s here. Somewhere. There. It’s over there in my purse. You are crazy.”
Charlotte grabbed Vera’s phone off her as soon as she had extracted it from her handbag and started looking up a Bible passage!
And then the two of them were, like all modern people everywhere these days, stuck with their heads in a mobile phone.
“Là. You read it.”
“There were giants in the Earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of god came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them.”
“You see? The giants were there before these people from the heavens came and had relations with the human women. It doesn’t say and then, they had giants by them, in fact it just says that had children with them. And by the way, there are no ‘fallen angels’ like this. Nothing to do with having sex with the women. What does that even mean? They raped them? They seduced them? What? Is God punishing the women now as well? And what about those women? What happens to them? No, my dear, this is not like that. The Bible only says in a different place there were beings who ‘sometime disobeyed...’ It says nothing about God punishing them for falling in love, Madame. This is preposterous! A monstrous slander. Some things are beautiful; you make them beautiful, and then some people fall in love with these things – and then you punish them! What a stupid idea. This is ridiculous.
“You West Coast evangelical Bunker-Hunt people – you are all crazy people. This is most ridiculous. No. I tell you what your government’s problem is. And they don’t want to hear it. And you are not going to like to hear it. These people, these beings, they are well, they are Christians, not just that -, they are Catholics, and no, even more than that, they are like the French Catholics, not just like the Vatican Catholics.”
Vera-Lucien stood, face in mild shock.
“You cannot be serious? You want to have sex with me, under the nose of these Catholic Christian, um, what, angels – according to you – and then that will be okay?”
“Yes. It will be okay. But for why not?
“And they are doing what that old Schelling report suggested, then? It’s like they are collecting DNA material from certain people they choose, and then they are going to destroy the planet, more or less?”
Charlotte turned away and grabbed a large bottle of cognac, took off the cork and poured a large splash of the dark juice into her glass. And turned back to Vera-Lucien and offered her some for her own half-full glass.
“Can you mix it like that?”
Charlotte gave that French ‘don’t know/doesn’t matter/let’s try it and see’ shrug and look with her mouth. Vera motioned to put some in her glass.
Oh this was the good stuff, too. You could sense it right off the fumes. Wow.
“Madame Vera. We have to know they are so so much more advanced than we are. They believe we are, finished. That we will destroy ourselves, they don’t have to do it.”
“Charlotte. Can I ask you... Why are you calling me ‘Madame’ all the time?”
“What d’you want me to call you – ma mère?” She rolled her eyes up to the ceiling. “Come, come and sit down with me.”
She went over to a rather beautiful, lavender velvet chaise-lounge and set down on it, and patted the empty area right beside herself decisively. “Come.”