Sequence: Rite of Spring (part two)
Oh, holy crap, Gersome said to himself, again. Am I in school?
Zeda Van Nest leant forward, fingering, with an absent expression, the glass to which her husband had drawn attention. Gersome presumed this only a mannerism, but wondered if they meant to play him some trick. He gave Zeda a bulging stare.
And not that he intended answering this question. He knew, given a moment’s silence, Van Nest would answer it himself.
Today, he had Van Nest in his private office. Today, Van Nest could not try Gersome’s patience with games of distraction. Gersome had himself arranged the setting, and meant, instead, to try Van Nest. Although nominally, they were colleagues, together in this business of Boardman.
The wooden chair Gersome had placed before his desk wobbled; it was too small for Van Nest to use comfortably, and Gersome had borrowed (taken) his secretary’s pink cardigan, leaving this draped over the chair back. The framed photograph of his school-age daughters (both now nearing thirty) Gersome angled towards his desk front. Atop his filing cabinet was a paper bell, a local telephone company’s promotional artifact.
Dozens of times, he’d sat in the dark passage at Gamotte’s, where every sort of vice and perversion was catered to. He had grown used, in his mind, to framing scenes as though he looked through the peephole, above and down on unwitting players. The Van Nests, Gersome believed, were no different from everyone else. They would do things in their private home.
Van Nest’s Florida accent seemed to have grown more pronounced; otherwise, he continued indifferent to Gersome’s manifestations, as he’d done at the Imperial, when declining his host’s invitation to the members’ bar.
“No, sir. Thanks, Mr. Gersome, but I get a headache if I stay out late.” Van Nest had grinned at his wife, winked an eye, and Gersome had seen hers widen in anger.
“Now, Boardman,” Van Nest was saying, when Gersome woke from his reverie, “or anyone who wins a place in the public eye, can indoctrinate others with his beliefs…that may be putting it too strongly, though. He can’t preach the Red agenda. He’d run afoul of the law, for one thing, if he tried being an out and out subversive. But as a playwright, he can use symbols, allegorical plotting, signifiers…arguably, we’ve seen that already in his work.”
Gersome waved both hands, bumping his daughters’ picture; this fell flat with a clap against the desk.
“Jesus, Boardman’s a deviant! The communists pick up people like that. That’s the point, isn’t it? We aren’t talking about a guy spreading his ideology. We’re talking about…exactly what I say. Boardman is dangerous. He’s a fucking sodomite! Anytime, he might go off.”
Rite of Spring
(2016, Stephanie Foster)