The Asylum

The Asylum by Simon Doonan

Book: The Asylum by Simon Doonan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simon Doonan
your style.”
    â€œExhibitionism is like a drug. Hooked in adolescence, I was now taking doses so massive they would have killed a novice.”
    â€œSometimes I wore a fringe so deep it obscured the way ahead. This hardly mattered. There were always others to look where I was going.”
    And speaking of fringe . . .
    Frantic postshow inquiries revealed that the long-haired goat slept through the rest of the show, after which he was fed and then conveyed back to the farm, his fashion career in tatters.

the nude wall phone
    â€œSO, GET THIS. Last night I sneezed and my back popped out, so the doctor gave me a girdle. It’s not funny, asshole! I’m wearing it now. Go ahead, feel it. Feel it! Don’t be chickenshit. Feel my fuckin’
girdle
!”
    I reached out and touched Morty. I ran my hand across the broad, rock-hard landscape of his freshly corseted torso. It felt dense and unyielding, like a bag of cement. And there were whalebones. Yes, there was no denying it. Morty was definitely wearing a girdle.
    â€œOh, and another fuckin’ thing.” Morty opened a desk drawer and took out a small filthy plastic cup with an inch of pinkish liquid in the bottom. He thrust it under my nose.
    â€œI’ve got blood in my urine.
Look
.”
    I winced and recoiled, as one does from a forward-thrusted cup of someone else’s blood-infused urine.
    â€œSo, can I go home, fer chrissakes?”
    Welcome to my world.
    Welcome to the glamorous world of high-fashion retail.
    Morty was an ancient heterosexual window dresser and a truculent hypochondriac, a rare breed indeed. At the time, I was his boss, which was a surreal experience at best. Any attempts to give instruction or assign work to Morty were met with requests to examine recently emerged kidney stones or check out a bulging lymph node or a volcanic pustule. He was treading water until retirement. I had inherited Morty, with his girdles and neck braces and dusty cups of urine. He was grandfathered in.
    Though window dressers tend to be male, our team was mostly female and often highly strung. At the top of the food chain was Monique. Though I was the official boss, Monique was definitely the éminence grise. Like a wardress in a 1950s women’s-prison B movie, she clanked around with a large bunch of keys on her belt. She locked up the tool cabinet at night. She kept track of everyone’s vacation days. She organized the Secret Santa. She would tip me off if one of the window dressers was thieving or copulating with another window dresser in the mannequin room when nobody was looking.
    Nurturing, sarcastic and lethal if double-crossed, Monique was one tough dyke. Nothing seemed to faze her. She had worked in display for years, and she’d seen it all: the booze, the dope, the tinsel, the laughter, the glue-gun burns and the fairy-light electrocutions.
    Monique loved deep-sea fishing. She spent her weekends throwing buckets of rotting chum into Long Island Sound. Angling was not Monique’s only passion: she maintained a lively and academic interest in serial killers and spent her evenings glued to the Court TV coverage of the Jeffrey Dahmer trial. A portrait of John Wayne Gacy adorned her desk.
    Monique had an assistant, a tall, regal black girl named Yana who dealt with invoices and phone answering. (This was eons before cell phones, and twelve of us shared a plastic nude-colored wall-mounted instrument which dangled next to Yana’s desk.) She wore a massive pendant inscribed with a revealing message that read I WAS BORN ENTITLED . Yana was my first exposure to the phenomenon of the BAP, the Black American Princess. Her goal was to marry, as soon as possible, somebody rich so that she could hand in her notice and become a lady of leisure. She planned to come shopping at the store every day, pausing in front of the windows to mock her former coworkers.
    Yana was extremely disturbed by the filth and the Chelsea

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