The escargot did not disappoint.
They were served six to a plate at the restaurant inside the Famous Palace Hotel, each snail swimming in a pool of melted butter and garlic.
They had been seated, Marie and Caitlin and her movie star, beneath a chandelier in the center of the dining room. Marie wore the new clothes the movie star had bought her, a black halter top from Chanel, new jeans without holes in the knees, a pair of high heeled sandals. Marie hadn’t felt the specific need for new clothes, but he had made the offer when they were shopping for Caitlin, and Marie accepted.
“Do you want to try one?” Marie asked Eli Longworth, ridiculously pleased with her food. She was surprised by her impulse to share when she knew, instinctively, that she wanted every escargot for herself, and then, even more.
Eli Longworth shook his head.
“I dig France,” he said. “But not snails. They are like sea bugs. Gross. But you enjoy.”
Marie thought of the French actress. Degoutant, that was what she had said about Americans eating hot dogs. Lili Gaudet could keep her Benoît Doniel. They could rot together in their shared grief. Marie smiled at her movie star; he did not seem particularly smart. She ate another escargot. She broke off a piece of French bread and dipped it into the sauce.
It was a delicious dinner, one of her very best. Marie had also ordered the lobster bisque and the hangar steak, which was still to come. A tuxedoed waiter regularly refilled her glass of champagne. Marie gazed at the beautiful people in the restaurant. Marie was one of the beautiful people. She smiled at a roving photographer who passed by. She ran her hand through Caitlin’s white-blond hair.
“I love them,” Marie said. “Escargot. I do.”
“Order more,” the movie star said. “This restaurant is awesome,” he said. “You look awesome.”
Marie wondered, idly, what it would be like, having sex with Eli Longworth, with his long legs and his perfect teeth. Marie also wished she had not ordered an entrée. Her thoughts had drifted, already, to dessert, to the chocolate mousse that would end the meal.
“Hi Caty Bean.”
“Hi,” the movie star said, amused, “hello,” but really he had nothing worth contributing to the conversation.
“Soon we are going to have chocolate mousse,” Marie told Caitlin. “You love chocolate mousse.”
“I love chocolate moose,” Caitlin repeated.
Caitlin clapped her hands. She was grinning, swinging her chubby legs, bouncing them off her thick wooden chair.
This was how it was supposed to be, Caitlin and Marie, happy, pleased with each other, with the food before them, with whatever life offered next.
“You need to try the crème brule,” the movie star said. He ordered that, too.
Marie did like the crème brule, though not nearly as much as the chocolate mousse. She happily ate both desserts, drinking champagne between every bite. It was not much of a sacrifice. Marie returned her fingers to Caitlin’s hair, closing her eyes, content.
“We are having fun,” Marie said.
This was what tomorrow looked like.