“Let’s see what we have here,” Christopher had said, poking at her things. He pulled a crumpled heap of bills out from her bag.
“Seven dollars,” he said, catching her eye. “Is that all you have on you?”
“Don’t tell me you need money,” Jenny said, her tone sharp.
“I’m on a fixed income, you might say,” said Christopher.
“Great. Lucky me,” said Jenny. “I fuck the Senator’s son on Fifth Avenue and he asks me for financial aid.”
“Very fixed income, that is,” said Christopher, liking her, the way she snarled, the way she didn’t kiss up to him. Self-possessed for a girl of fifteen, she was as combative as an equal. “I depend on the upper class for handouts,” he said.
“You are the upper class, stupid,” Jenny explained.
“Not exactly. They’ve got me on an allowance. It’s not as easy as it looks, Jenny.”
“What isn’t?” She examined her toenails. “You don’t have any nail polish around here, do you?”
Christopher searched through the drawers beside his bed, found a bottle of nail polish that his fiancée kept there together with her tampons and a spare diaphragm, and began to open it. He had twisted off the plastic cap, had taken the little doll-sized brush out, and had wiped it free of excess nail polish. In a gentlemanly mood, he had taken Jenny’s ankle in his hand, prepared to paint her toe nails for her.
She kicked him.
“Ouch. What was that?” said Christopher.
“What are you doing?”
“Painting your toenails. So you can show off your toes in the sandals you stole.”
“First of all, I never stole sandals,” said Jenny.
“No? What are those in your bag?”
“Those happen to belong to me,” said Jenny. “Your mother has no idea how many pairs of shoes she has and I am simply recycling something that isn’t being used.”
“I wasn’t going to tell on you,” he said. “Relax. I rip my parents off all the time. I take cash, silver, jewelry. You prefer shoes, whatever. To each his own.” He once again began to try to apply some nail polish to her pinky toe nail.
“That color is low class,” said Jenny, pulling her foot away.
“Like you know.”
“You don’t need money to have taste,” she said.
“My fi…” He began, and stopped.
“Your fee?” said Jenny, skeptically. “This just gets better and better. You’re a gigolo. You’re charging me?”
He had been on the brink of telling her that his fiancée had left the nail polish there, and that she was from an aristocratic European family. She had perfect pitch when it came to classy nail polish. His fiancée was a doyenne of fashion. She had designed their wedding clothes, selected a remote beach resort in Morocco for their honeymoon, hired a graphics artist to print their wedding invitations, and chosen the monogrammed silverware for their wedding registry. He decided against it. “I’m charging you,” he said, playfully, applying the polish to his own toenails instead. “I told you, I’m dead broke thanks to the anti-Christ and his concubine, otherwise known as the Senator and Mrs. Benedict, my parents.”
“Fantastic,” said Jenny. “You’re knocking on the wrong door.” She began lighting a rather expensive hand-rolled cigarette of Christopher’s – Thai stick laced with opium – which she had found on the dresser. She coughed a little as she inhaled. “You’re Manhattan royalty, for fuck’s sake,” she said after a while. “If you need money, don’t look at me. I’m the last person on earth who could help.”