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Authors: Amanda Filipacchi

Tags:, #ScreamQueen

Love Creeps

BOOK: Love Creeps
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Love Creeps

A Novel

Amanda Filipacchi

For Richard


Lynn stalked. She had taken up stalking for health reasons, but it was not paying off as handsomely as she had hoped. Lynn was not in poor physical health, but she was in rather poor mental health.

At the age of thirty-two, she had suddenly found herself wanting nothing. Lynn had never before wanted nothing, and she missed wanting. No one around her wanted nothing. She became envious of everyone who wanted. She wasn't impressed so much by what, specifically, each wanted, but rather by how much. That is why she became especially envious of her stalker, who wanted her very badly.

He clearly did not suffer from the same mental health problem Lynn had. If anything, he had the opposite problem. But since Lynn, like most people, foolishly believed that any problem opposite her own is a lucky problem, she envied him. And because she envied him, she copied him.

Alan Morton, Lynn's stalker, had first noticed Lynn at the gym. He enjoyed sitting at the weight machine opposite hers, staring at her. He was allowed. There was not a club rule that said, “Do not sit at the weight machine opposite the one at which women open and close their legs. Do not sit there and look at them.” He intended to exercise his rights, as well as his body, which weakened every time she opened her legs.

He was a plump man, but one day he planted himself before her and began turning in place. “Excuse me,” he said, “could you please tell me if I have any muscles I could tone further for your pleasure?”

To show her he had not meant anything offensive by this—he was sensitive enough to notice the subtle expression of aversion on her face—he added, “I'd be happy to return the favor. For instance, I don't mind telling you that I feel you're wasting your time toning those arm muscles. You should be toning your stomach muscles instead, which don't get much of a workout from everyday activities like shopping and carrying groceries.”

She was staring at him blankly, as if in a trance. This was an improvement, he thought. Vacancy was better than aversion. He would take advantage of her receptive state. “I know all this, because I had a personal trainer for three sessions. I don't know if you've ever had one.”

She made no reply.

“I don't mind passing on some of his pointers. For free,” he added, raising his eyebrows.

“No thanks, I'm fine,” she said.

“Well, I certainly won't argue with that!”

She must have been done with her workout, he assumed, because she went to the women's locker room. Alan went to the men's locker room and changed. He followed her out of the gym, at a distance. He saw her enter a gallery a few blocks away.

Two weeks later, standing in her art gallery, her assistant, Patricia, by her side, Lynn pointed to her stalker on the sidewalk. He was peering in at her, his forehead pressed against her gallery window, his hands cupped around his eyes.

“Patricia,” Lynn said, “am I going crazy, or is there not an alarming difference between his face and mine?”

“There is quite a big difference. But it's in your favor, and you should be grateful for it.”

“No, I'm serious, Patricia. His face glows, it's alive. My face is dead.”

“I would not say your face is dead.” After a pause, Patricia added, “Speaking of dead, he's been stalking you for two weeks now. Why aren't we more scared?”

“He doesn't make it easy. He's so goofy looking.”

Alan was not a man of great stature. He was only about an inch taller than Lynn, who was five-six. He was not a slim man, nor muscular. But he had blue eyes and blond hair, the thought of which cheered him up when he was feeling insecure about his appearance. He did not have a full head of blond hair, but the few strands he did have were absolutely, incontrovertibly, blond. He tended to dress in black or dark colors because he'd heard they were slimming and secretly believed they were cool.

“But at least his face is alive,” Lynn said. “I really think my face looks dead.”

“Men don't like women with dead-looking faces. Yet you have lots of guys after you. Therefore, your face cannot be looking dead,” Patricia said, studying Lynn. Lynn often wore panty hose and cream-colored things and taupe things. She was the kind of woman referred to as “elegant” or “classic” by people who weren't on the cutting edge of fashion. She sometimes even wore her dark blond hair in a ballerina bun. To be that conservative looking was quite daring, Patricia thought. Lynn was sleek and hairless, except in appropriate places. What Patricia didn't know was that one of Lynn's great pleasures in life was getting rid of her undesirable hair. She wasn't a particularly hairy creature to begin with, and she wouldn't have minded having a larger quantity of undesirable hair, just for the pleasure of getting rid of it.

“There's no one I'm attracted to,” Lynn said.

“I know.”

“Art that used to stimulate me no longer does. Where do I have to go to find beautiful art and a beautiful man?”

“A therapist?”

“I've seen many, and none of them was ever beautiful, and neither was the art on their walls.”

Lynn Gallagher, one of the five most influential contemporary-art gallery owners in New York, had had a relatively normal dating life. Her longest romantic relationship had been a year, her shortest a night. Her longest period of celibacy had been six months; her shortest time between two men had been two hours. That only happened once.

For Lynn, relationships and singlehood both had their pros and cons, but she, unlike many women, only slightly preferred the former to the latter.

Lynn watched Patricia spit a thoroughly chewed piece of persimmon into a paper napkin and drop it in the wastebasket. She wasn't a bad-looking girl, with her long dark hair. She held a striking resemblance to Frida Kahlo. Her eyebrows were thick, giving her otherwise beautiful face a slightly cavewoman look. Had she known, she would have plucked them more. Lynn was sure of it. Lynn, who was never without her own tweezers except when they were confiscated by airport security, often had an urge to pluck Patricia's eyebrows because she found them distracting. When Patricia spoke to her, Lynn usually averted her eyes in order to be able to concentrate on what Patricia was saying.

“Shall we look at slides?” Patricia asked.

“If we must,” Lynn replied.

Searching for new talent used to be the best part of Lynn's job. Now, it was an ordeal.

She heaved herself up and went to the light box. Patricia opened envelopes, pulled out slide sheets and transparencies. She held them in front of Lynn, one after the other, as Lynn shook her head and said, “No.” While the minutes passed and the images kept passing in front of her without provoking the slightest twitch of enthusiasm, Lynn became progressively sadder. These sessions were a lot shorter than they used to be.

The gallery door opened, and in came Judy, a slightly less successful gallerist who had been Lynn's friend and competitor for six months. Lynn switched off the light box and spun around. She preferred not to be caught looking at art in vain.

“Hi. I'm on my way to a meeting, but I just wanted to say hello. How are you?” Judy asked, kissing Lynn's cheeks.

“The same.”

Judy looked at the empty walls. “Yes, I see.” She sat on the edge of Lynn's desk, her short, red, pleated skirt hanging from her knee in an arc. She always dressed entirely in red after having decided four years ago that creating a memorable and consistent look greatly increased one's chances of succeeding in life. “You know, there is a simple solution to your problem.”

“What is it?”


Lynn frowned.

“I highly recommend it,” Judy said. “One of my greatest pleasures is promising myself I will not drink, or smoke, or take coke, or do heroin, or eat cookies, then doing it. It's a pleasure that can be repeated daily. The desire renews itself incessantly, and you can always rely on it unless you screw it up by going to rehab or something. But even then, the damage is not irreversible. The key, though, is making the resolution, making yourself
that you will be deprived, and indeed depriving yourself for a couple of hours to allow the desire to build up, then, suddenly, caving in. I bet heaven is caving in.”

“You're dangerous,” Lynn said. “Your weapon is logic.”

“Thanks, but it's really just common sense. And I'm not dangerous. I mean, you know I'm not a huge junkie. Just a little hooked on coke, a little on alcohol, a little on heroin; just enough to have that interesting tension in my life between wanting and satisfying.”

Judy's attention was distracted by Alan. “Who's that man? He's been standing there peeking in this whole time.”

“I don't know, some creep, just ignore him,” Lynn said.

Judy obeyed. “So anyway, as I was saying, my addictions are all under control. And yours can be, too, as long as you remember to maintain that all-important balance between deprivation and allowance, needing and fulfilling.”

“I'll remember that, but I'm just not sure addiction is what I need at the moment.”

“Fine. It's always something you can fall back on if you find nothing better. Let me ask you this: Have you really, really searched? Is there nothing at all that you desire?”

“I desire to desire, but I don't think that counts as a desire.”

“I think it counts,” Judy replied, to be nice, even though she didn't really think it did count.

Lynn shrugged. “So, you don't have any other ideas, along the same lines, only more … humdrum?”

“How about antidepressants?”

“I don't want to resort to those. They don't seem right for my problem. I mean, I used to feel desire. There's no reason I can't recapture it.”

“Do you know why you lost it? Have you thought about it?”

“Of course I've thought about it! Haven't we thought about it?” Lynn said, turning to Patricia.

“Yes,” Patricia said, “we've discussed and analyzed and dissected it for hours. We couldn't come up with a cause.”

“Desire for what, exactly, did you lose?” Judy asked Lynn.

“All sorts of things. Various men. Travel. Discovering new artists, launching their careers, seeing my efforts pay off. Shopping. Acquiring things, beautiful clothes. I used to look forward to the ballet season, to certain parties, to hearing updates on my friends' lives. I used to feel really passionate about all these things. And I got a lot of pleasure out of wanting them. I miss yearning strongly for something. I used to be like him,” she said, motioning toward her peeping stalker, then adding, “Inwardly.”

Judy nodded. “You're suffering from anhedonia.”

“I'm not so sure about that. I still derive as much pleasure as ever from all sorts of things, like the smell of a rose, the company of a good friend, the feel of a beautiful day.”
, Lynn added, in her thoughts. “And I still have strong emotions, I experience happiness and sadness. I've just lost the great hunger. I crave the hunger. I don't even feel ambitious like I used to feel. And a sort of nausea washes over me at unexpected moments.”

“Sounds like a pain. I'll try to come up with more ideas, but right now I've got to run. I'll call you.” Judy left.

“Listen, I've got an idea,” Patricia said. “Perhaps it would help if you tried to be interested in something outside yourself, in another human being, for instance. People often do volunteer work for this purpose.”

“Hmm. I'm not sure that would make any difference. Do you suppose he does any volunteer work? And yet look at him, he's happy,” Lynn said, pointing at her peeping stalker.

“Well, he is interested in another human being.”

“Oh. Maybe I should become a stalker, too, since I'm sure you'd think it would make me less self-centered. At least there's some pep to it.”

BOOK: Love Creeps
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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