Shed been doing handstands on the beach, as you do, and it was
only when she stood the right way up I fell in love with this tall stunning
and tanned skinny girl with bright auburn hair. It was one of those
things. You go up, say hi, fall in love and both of you think this is
perfectly normal. She was all legs and arms and laughed like a drain
was Dutch. I already had a thing for Dutch girls, so to meet one in
Montego Bay was pure kismet.
She left on the Sunday, I sold my watch and camera on the Monday and
followed her on the Wednesday. I didnt once think that this might
be a holiday fling and she didnt mean it. I mean I was in love
and dizzy with it. I didnt know New York well and to someone else
the address might have given clues but not to me. She was the girl of
my dreams and I was going there to stake my claim.
What she had neglected to mention was that she lived with another man,
her boyfriend, in fact; Christian, a famous hairdresser. Shed
also neglected to mention she was on the cover of Vogue Magazine that
month and Harpers and Queen.
Id arrived at the door of New Yorks latest supermodel and
was expecting her to welcome me with open arms. Me, the skinny blond
boy with obligatory unkempt shoulder length hair. (Arrive at a supermodels
home in year 2021 and snipers would get you as you crossed the street)
but this was the seventies, she let me in, hugged me lots and I was
relieved to find very happy to see me. She showed me the sofa, the boyfriend,
who scowled at me, and then she left, for a shoot in Mexico. Ill
be back in a week. Write lots.
She hugged me again, the taxi came and I immediately suffered pangs
of loss. Christian took me for a coffee downstairs and gave me a key. He said
The apartment block was new and stood across from the Lincoln Centre,
it was one of the best places to live in Manhattan, the rent must have
been astronomical. Christian was covering all the walls with blue glass
mirrors. At sunset the mirrors filled with light and it was quite spectacular.
At night Id just watch the traffic snaking through town and across
the George Washington Bridge in the distance as I waited for her
to come back.
I wrote, lots. Love is the greatest inspiration there is. For a whole
week I wrote around 25,000 words or more. I was writing this political
satire about America when Ronald Reagan would be a right-wing President
and take America back to the 1950s. Christian introduced me to
the Editor-in-Chief of Simon & Schuster at that time and I told him
what I was writing and he said that was the stupidest idea hed
ever heard , no actor would ever become President. Needless to say,
neither would they read my book. Eight years later it came true, but
that didnt help me any. No one likes a prophet.
She came back, the boyfriend went away. The magic was still there and
we laughed a lot. It was the most wonderful thing to be in love with
someone as crazy as she was. I remember lots of kissing and she made
the best coffee in the world that made you feel absolutely great (which
I later discovered was spiked with speed). She listened to stuff Id
written and was plain astonished at how weird it was and she showed
me pictures of all the things shed done in Mexico. The soundtrack
in the apartment was endless Al Green or Bette Midler and the phone calls were always
from Rome or Paris or London. Everyone wanted to photograph her, make
her wear their clothes and the joke of it was she never wore any clothes
in the apartment, ever. She didnt really like clothes. Oh yes
and one other detail, there was no kitchen. She ate out, a lot, or not
at all. Did I mention she was thin?
Something else too, supermodels live different lives to other people.
She never went out before 11pm. Id be exhausted from writing all
day, but shed just be waking up. Id be dragged to early
evening parties just before midnight and afterwards supper and dancing
sometimes at 3am. At these parties Id meet all kinds of celebrities.
I discovered she was the personal friend of people I only knew to be
20 feet high on cinema screens. Jack and Angela, Mike and Bob, their
eyes sliding off me as they fastened on the beautiful laughing girl
I remember being cornered by Jack who asked me What do you do?
What have you got published?
Im writing my first novel, Im still in my third year
That would kill the conversation right away. A college kid, writing
a novel for christsakes. Jack had already been nominated for two Oscars
and he told me what he thought of writers. It wasnt polite, it
wasnt nice and all the time I was thinking, but you speak the
lines we write, you get the awards for the characters writer's
She told me that Jack had told her that writers were thirty this year.
Twenty-one was considered a bit naive. Well I was naive.
I was young, stupid and broke and in love with a woman who just towed
me around the place and had me keep her warm in the back of Christians
car when he drove us around in his 1938 Packard convertible. I noticed
that he didnt say much at these parties either. In fact there
was a pecking order about who could say what and who was allowed to
Toy Boys werent really allowed to say anything. I did of course
and it was politely ignored.
At one party, Jack Clayton, the film Director, offered me a tiny part
in his new film with a one line speaking part. She was going
to be in the film too. Bob was going to star. Some little thing called
The Great Gatsby. A month later we all trooped up to Rhode
Island to shoot the endless party scenes and my part vanished. But for
my keep I did get to spray the party food between shoots with something
to stop it smelling. She made the cut. In the final movie we see her
racing through the dining room holding about ten dogs by the lead. She
had fun, but so much of what was filmed never made the screen. She was
desperate to be an actress and be taken seriously, but with her Dutch
accent and her inability to act her way out of a paper bag, she was
going to be disappointed. It killed her that being beautiful wasnt
enough. She wanted to be more famous than Greta Garbo.
These people I met with her would get bored so easily too. One night,
at 3 am, I am in Maxs Kansas City Bar at a table with Rick, the
Puerto Rican pastel artist, my very own supermodel, Michael J Pollard,
the actor from Bonnie and Clyde and Davy Jones, from the Monkees. Weirdly
we are listening to a new band playing fronted by a former waitress
- Debbie Harry. It was all a bit rough I seem to recall and Davy Jones
was complaining that he didnt have any money. Well I sure as hell
I dont recall paying for anything for months, she took care of
bills as long as I ran errands for her. I was good at errands.
Night-time rituals were a surprise. I was in love, but it didnt
necessarily mean that she was into wild passion. Once shed partied,
she would come in, discard all her clothes, cover herself in thick avocado
oil and say. Come and kiss me and fall asleep right there
and then. Carrying a slippery avocado girl to bed is a risky business
at best and a tactical nuclear explosion wouldnt wake her. My
torch burned bright, but I was discovering that what she loved most
In April we met up with Andy Warhol. He wanted her for the cover of
Interview Magazine. They sent around some questions, they didnt
actually seem to interview anyone face to face. She gave me the questions
and I dutifully filled them in for her. I should have taken it a bit
more seriously. She was forever saddled with those answers to such questions
as What would you do to stop world racism? Im afraid
I wrote, I think everyone should be born green, so no one would
be different and wed all realise that we are just individuals.
Or something like that. Anyway, they published it and she would be on
the cover of Interview that July - no photograph, but one of Ricks
pastels. It looked pretty cool.
We met Andy just once again in the Village. He drank lemon tea. He
said, nice to meet you Simon, you have such nice hands.
I didnt like to mention that my name wasnt Simon, but I
was glad he liked my hands.
The next day, I was in the bathroom and shed left her normally
secret diary open at the last entry. She was seeing Jack, writing wonderful
things about Jack, how kind and considerate he was in bed and I was
I was in love with someone who was not just cheating on me, who loved
her with a great passion, but her boyfriend, who probably loved her
too, and her best friend, who was Jacks girlfriend. The killer
line I read just twice before I felt nauseous.
Mike says I am being cruel to sweet Sam.
Sweet Sam. Thats a lightbulb expression. When a girl thinks your
sweet, youre finished. I was utterly disappointed, never mind
that none of this meant anything or was realistic or practical, it was
just a boys ego bubble bursting.
I had a ticket home. I had missed half the first academic year. Id
be going back to trouble, but better than continuing another day as
a lovelorn toyboy. Christian drove me to the airport, he shrugged. His
remark, therell be someone else on the sofa soon enough
didnt exactly heal the open wound.
When I got back home to Africa, she sent me a telegram - promising
to write me everyday. As if. But maybe she did love me a little. She
sent me a letter almost every month for the next two years, from wherever
she was in the world.
And for me, New York is forever the place where a stupid heart soared
to fantastic heights for a while. But next time you meet a toy boy, treat him with a bit more respect,
they may be carrying a very large torch for the person that they follow
from pillar to post.
© SAM NORTH 5.1.2021 (First published 1999)
ANOTHER PLACE TO DIE: ENDTIME CHRONICLES
By Sam Hawksmoor and Sam North
(Vol 2) Print and Kindle (US) UK Kindle
Hammer & Tong
Do you stay and hide, or flee?
A city gripped by fear as a lethal virus approaches from the East. No one knows how many are dying. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Kira and her dog Red think they are safe on one of the Gulf Islands
Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die: Endtime will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...'
Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk
Q&A interview with the authors here
More New York Stories by Sam