You move out to California. While working as a caddy, you meet an old man who takes a shine to your dark eyes, your sweet and sinful mouth. He pursues you, woos you, weds you. He’s rich and he’s sweet and you say yes thinking it’s love, but after you’re married you grow to loathe his touch, his insistent caresses, his palsied, liver-spotted hands fumbling shakily at the hook of your bra. Even seeing him makes you quiver with the fury of your hatred – which you hide from him. Freedom is sweet but money is sweeter.

You notice his daughter, prowling around the house with the blocked fury of a zoo tiger. You talk to her; she is as caged as you are, as circumscribed by the old man, as hateful and angry. You fall in love, and in the sweaty, gasping darkness of your life a plan is born between the two of you, an old plan, simple as all the old plans are simple and spelled out in the one word MURDER. A bubble of air in the veins of an old man and it’s a heart attack and freedom for the two of you, money enough for the rest of both your lives and night after sticky night of hot love and cold recrimination.

Of course what you don’t know is that the daughter hates you as much as she hates the old man, hates your easy sexuality and your mercenary heart. When you have fallen asleep at last, spent and weary, she slips from your sheets and into the arms of her true lover, the bronzed gardener who followed her out to the coast from the small Midwestern college they attended, who would have married her if the old man hadn’t threatened to cut her off without a cent, who sends her screaming toward climax in a way you’ve never been able to. With you she’s sweet and demure, ashamed of her sex, her stiff outrage at your desire hidden in the folds of a pretended purity. From the moment you slid your way into the marmoreal halls of the mansion her fingers have itched to tear out your throat, and with her lover she has laid plans to destroy you along with her father. The instant you plunge the needle into his arm, she’ll be there, full of outraged familial love, with the police and the gas chamber not far behind. She’ll be there when they drop the pellets, her eyes burning into yours through the glass, her mouth hot and dry with desire as you gasp your life away, her fingers trembling with release.

That’s the plan, anyway. The old man knows all of this, and laughs evilly in his throat as he plays with your petty jealousies and rages. He knows your plans and your betrayals: they are whispered into his ear each night by the gently curving lips of the gardener, their bodies twined together in the striped velvet light of the moon through the Venetian blinds, old and young, tan and pale, sex and death wrapped around each other like they always, always are.

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