Rottweiler Soup: So Good It Hurts
Call me old fashioned, but I prefer Ferrero Rocher.
The new security measures surrounding the ambassador’s compound are unbelievably vulgar. The guards displayed their weapons like mounted fish, the searchlights on the two new watchtowers either side of the main gate were blindingly obvious, forgive the pun, and a new strip of razor wire had been strung along the top of the 12-foot brick wall that encircles the residence. Presumably there had been problems with break-ins by people to whom 20,000 volts is just provocation.
We flashed our ID to the guards. No smile, but Maggie took my hand and led me toward the entrance hall. On the soft evening air I could already hear chamber music, laughter, sparkling conversation and the braying accents of the wealthy and influential. I stiffened my resolve not to be unjustifiably prejudiced against the arrogant, parasitical, motherfucking scumsuckers.
Glasses of champagne presented themselves to us as we stepped into the entrance hall, and I was relieved to find that I recognized no one. I’m not much good at mingling, and nonmingling suggested itself as a reasonable alternative, given the company, so we opted for the latter, happy enough to find a corner where we could chat and I could keep an eye on Maggie’s body.
The American ambassador’s residence isn’t a particularly impressive building: a low-slung two-story Georgian edifice taken over from the Brits when they cleared out and left the Irish to fuck the country up for a change. Wellington lived here, and so did Churchill, for a while, but the only spirits here are 40% proof. The decor, I suppose, could best be described as postmodern eclectic, the consequence of each ambassador’s spouse adding something of their own middlebrow taste to the interior—oriental rugs, crystal chandeliers, Arizona tat. Fortunately, the present ambassador’s wife lacks any sense of taste, middlebrow or otherwise, with the consequence that the residence has just been rehung with paintings by contemporary Irish artists: John Kingerlee, Pauline Bewick, Louis le Brocquy, others I didn’t recognize. This decision was partly one of necessity, since the U.S. government, in its wisdom, ended the Art in the Embassy Program three years ago, requiring each ambassador to make ad hoc arrangements. Whoever decided that it would be a good idea to commission local artists to produce portraits of past ambassadors either had a great sense of humor or had never seen Irish art in action.
‘Shall we go and explore some of the other rooms?’ I quickly realized that Maggie’s low boredom threshold could threaten the chances of an uneventful, conversation-free evening. I stalled.
‘In a while, if you like. I did say to Frank that he could find us here.’
She drained her glass.
‘Well, it’s eight now. What time did he say he’d meet you?’
‘Okay.’ She caught a waiter’s attention and signaled for another drink. ‘But I’d like some one-on-one time with you, Joe . . . later, maybe . . . upstairs.’
With a flick of her head she indicated the staircase. I nodded noncommittally. Had she come along with an agenda?
I’d noticed on our way in that one or two guests were strolling around with pints of stout and soon deduced that they were coming up from the staircase that led down to the underground rooms, usually reserved for private communications, secret meetings, and the shredder. Free stout was too good a gift to pass up.
‘Maggie, I’ve got to go for a slash. Can you stay here and look out for Frank?’
She looked disappointed, but she’s a grown woman for god’s sake.
‘I won’t be long. It was the champagne.’
I took her silence for consent and headed off.
My instincts were right. The ambassador had turned the conference rooms into a miniature frat party, with barrels on tap and Green Day playing over the sound system, obviously the artiste à la mode when the ambassador was at Yale. The barman was extremely helpful—I told him I was getting a pint for a friend as well—so it was with some cheerfulness and self-congratulation that I returned upstairs, only to find Maggie engaged in an animated discussion with Frank and a young woman I’d never seen before. The moment they saw me, their conversation ended and Frank made a dive for my extra pint.
Now I like Frank, though of course I realize he’s not to everyone’s taste. Many’s the time we’ve stopped behind at the office till gone three in the morning or exploded out of some dump with a bottle of fucking Jack Daniel’s in either hand. He’s a wonderful dypsomaniac when his children can afford to go without. But when it comes to socializing, and particularly with the natives, Frank is not the first chap you’d choose to further international diplomacy, and at a party like this he’s as conducive to affability as a bulimic puking in the punch.
I could see he was unsteady on his feet, so decided against antagonizing him, fun though it is and despite him nicking my extra pint. Yes, it was free, but what about the labour cost?
‘Frank, how’s it going, stranger?’
‘No stranger than normal, Joe.’ He wasn’t totally out of control, because he had enough dexterity to stroke the ass of the young woman with him, although a swift swing of her left arm brushed it away.
‘Joe, can I introduce—what’s yer name, love?—Dilara, that’s it. Dilara, this is Joe. He’s a workmate. And a gentleman.’
Christ, he must be really pissed. Dilara offered her hand.
‘Dilara’s Turkish, Joe. From Turkey. What do you think about that?’
Maggie interjected before I could reply: ‘Dilara works for the UN Commission on Human Rights. She’s monitoring possible abuses committed against Travellers by the military.’
Wow. Talk about keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer.
‘I think it’s not often enough that we meet members of the Turkish community in Ireland.’ The standard bullshit reply.
‘You’re very kind, Mr McManus. I share your sentiments exactly. I find the company of American gentlemen in general to be . . .’— her attention flitted between Frank and me — ‘entertaining.’
Nice. Articulate too. And not shy in expressing her opinions, as you might expect from a fucking liberal human rights do-gooder. There was something else that troubled me about her as well. Her small, oval face had something characterless about it, an absence, a blandness. Like she had opinions but no personality. Almost Frank’s ideal type.
‘You hear that, Joe? Entertaining. We’re the fucking entertainment.’ Frank wrapped his arm playfully but clumsily around Dilara’s waist. ‘You don’t want to know the kinds of ideas I entertain, Dilara.’
She shared a resigned moue with Maggie and snared Frank’s hand to stop it wandering.
‘Great, this, isn’t it, Joe?’ Frank waved in general around the room with his free hand. ‘Have you ever seen so much quality pussy in one place? No offence, Dilara. I’m including you. It’s fantastic. Incredible. It’s an extrava . . . and extrava . . . an extravagina.’
I gave Dilara a weak smile of apology, but Frank hadn’t finished.
‘Not that there’s anything wrong with the tired and trusted, like Maggie, I mean.’
‘Sorry. Tried and crusted.’
‘We’re just here to have a good time’, Maggie said.
‘Who isn’t?’ said Frank. ‘Who isn’t?’
‘And to that end, you’ll have to excuse us.’ She took my elbow to lead me away. ‘C’mon, Joe. I need you to myself. Dilara? Delightful. We really must do this again. Frank? See you on Monday. Sober.’
I do like a decisive woman. When she decides she wants to fuck me.
‘You pop upstairs and find an empty room, Joe. I’m going to use my feminine charms to get us something more substantial than these piddling glasses they’re giving us.’
An Advent calendar for deviants is the best way I can describe my search upstairs for an empty room. Each door I opened revealed a scene of some depravity or other: couples coupling on floors stark naked or mates mating up against the fireplace. Some rooms gave me pause to think I’d encountered an entirely separate, fancy-dress party that nobody had been told about. Highwaymen in split-crotch panties, pirates with massive dildos strapped to their foreheads, bishops and whores spinning on shagpiles in a perpetual cycle of mutual masturbation.
The bishops weren’t in fancy dress. I just recognized them from the papers.
As I approached the, I dunno, the 13th room, I chanced to glance down the adjoining corridor to my right, where another row of rooms, as numerous as the first, appeared before me. Presumably activities of a similar bent were being perpetrated behind their doors.
I let myself in. Empty. No key in the lock, though. Anyone could walk in on us.
It was a reception room, a mahogany-paneled disaster decorated with some of the portraits of former U.S. ambassadors, the windows offering a disconcertingly clear view of the cross erected to commemorate the visit of Pope John-Paul II to Ireland. Four well-upholstered brown leather armchairs formed a semi-circle around a dead hearth. Otherwise, the room was sparsely furnished, a Cavan Crystal fruit bowl being the centerpiece on an otherwise uncluttered circular maple table.
I had barely oriented myself when Maggie showed up. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling all that great by this point. My stomach was starting to hurt and I was a bit dizzy. No food. Lots of booze. Confusion regarding Maggie’s intentions.
‘Found you’, she said playfully, brushing past me, the eager grin on her face further confounding me. She flaunted a champagne bottle before my face as she passed, at the last moment handing it over. ‘Didn’t take me long to get this, did it? I’ve still got my pulling power.’
I took the bottle, imagining it would be safer in my hands. She spun away from me, waltzing, laughing, trying to hum, her inability to do so making her laugh even more. I stuck the bottle on the mantelpiece, where Maggie could easily reach it, and hiccupped before drawing the curtains and bidding farewell to the cross. My head was beginning to swim, and I’ve never been a great swimmer. I’d have to get something to eat or else throw up in the hearth.
Maggie was oblivious to all this and flung herself into one of the armchairs, apparently worn out by her efforts at what she must have thought was dancing.
‘That was fun, Joe. What’ll we do now?’
‘I’m already sitting down.’
‘Me . . . I need to sit down.’ The room was beginning to spin and swirl. Seriously. This was going to be a major hurl. I just about made it to the seat next to Maggie’s and flopped down. Big mistake. The moment I sat down, she was up from her seat and into my lap.
‘Joe . . . What is it? Are you okay?’
At that point, actually, things started to feel a bit better. Not because she was sitting in my lap but because a wave of incredible tiredness had swept over me, and the nausea was carried away to the horizon of my consciousness. Now, if only she’d let me sleep.
I felt Maggie sliding off my lap and undoing my trousers. There was nothing I could do to resist. My strength was failing rapidly. Besides, why would I want to resist? I haven’t been sucked off in years.
I don’t recall if I said it out loud, but the last thing I remember thinking was, ‘I can’t believe I’m going to miss thi-’