People have been telling me. That’s her. Louise Brooks is selling clothes at Saks Fifth Avenue. I probably would’ve recognized her, though she no longer wears the luminous black helmet hairdo she had when I loved her in the late twenties. I would’ve married her on the first date, if I could’ve gotten one, when she starred in silent classics Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. What a beautiful and dynamic woman. And even around forty, with long hair, she’s wonderful, a special presence in our store just after the war.
“Hello, Miss Brooks, I’m Mr. Dexter, the assistant manager, but please call me Bob.”
“I would have, Bob. You can call me Louise.”
“I was shocked when I heard you worked here.”
“Why? People need work.”
“Yes, but since you’re a movie star…”
“I haven’t made a movie in almost ten years and that was a rotten B western with John Wayne, who got all the good scenes. One producer told me I better get out of Hollywood or I’d end up a hooker.”
“You were so great in silent films.”
“When talkies came, they claimed my voice wasn’t right.”
“I like your voice,” I say, and begin figuring how to assign myself sales and inventory tasks in women’s clothes.
In less than a month, more excited every day, I think Louise may be interested in me, too.
“Would you like to have dinner tonight?”
“I’m busy,” she says.
“What about tomorrow night?”
“Would you ever have time for me?”
“You married?” she asks.
“Yes, but it’s over. We sleep in separate bedrooms.”
I meet Louise at a fine steakhouse in Manhattan, and in our booth ask, “Do you drink?”
“I guess you don’t know much about me.”
She orders gin and tonic and downs that before I half finish my martini, and she orders another and so many more I can’t keep track.
“Aren’t you drinking a little fast, Louise?”
“Don’t be a dimwit. I bore easily, even with men far more distinguished than you.”
“Where are these distinguished fellows now that you’re a sales clerk?”
“Perhaps I should take you home.”
“I’m hungry. Have another drink.”
I start drinking doubles and almost catch up.
“Hey, waiter, are you still chasing the cow?” she says.
“I beg your pardon, madam.”
“Get my steak out here before I poke you with my fork.”
“Louise, please,” I say.
“Quiet, mister tight ass.”
I know I should at least rebuke her, but I tell the waiter, ”Please hurry up with dinner, and bring us another round.”
I don’t give a damn about dinner. I want Louise Brooks in bed.
“You full?” I ask my companion, who’s chewing like a hungry sailor.
We take a taxi to the address she gives, and climb three stories to a studio apartment little larger than my kitchen in suburban Connecticut.
“Shall we sit on the sofa?” I say.
“No.” She encircles my neck with both arms and squeezes, kissing me hard and wet, and I’m in heaven, urging myself to be patient.
She steps back, undressing, and says, “What the hell are you waiting for?”
After helping me pull off my underwear, she tosses the cushions from the sofa and pulls out the bed and pushes me onto it. I gently kiss and caress, proceeding like most women want, until she takes my hand and shoves it into herself and shouts, “Fuck me. Hard. Goddamn it, harder.”
She’s the roughest woman I’ve known but assume she’s had enough to relax.
“You’re a soft guy, aren’t you?”
“I try to be.”
“Nice soft guys don’t excite me. I like to be dominated.”
I’m willing to get a little tougher with her but she always ignores me when I come to her department. That hurts but soon some of the other sales clerks tell me Louise has started entertaining rich old men. Then she leaves Saks Fifth Avenue and, I assume, becomes a different kind of star.