Celeste’s skin smelled like rose petals and her breath of bermut. Her white satin dress was tinged of the red wine she had spilled while holding up her glass in a toast. She was a red-headed disaster to me, but at the time I did not know it to be so.
I, being agape by her beauty, asked her for a dance. Unequivocally, she was destined to be mine, for who could resist a handsome, rich bachelor?
We twirled and we dined and we tittered in obvious coquetry. Her hand ran along the length of my arm, that which I took as a gesture of interest. I sang her praise at every opportune moment. By the end of the night, she was drunker than a sailor on the fourth of July. I knew she wasn’t the type of girl to let her guard down, but I had enough experience with girls such as these to maneuver my wits around her.
“Peter,” she addressed me with her hand under her chin, “I’m a simple girl with a good eye for the finer things in life. What have you to offer me?”
I muffled a laugh and let the ash of my cigarette fall into my empty champagne glass. “I have riches and wealth and the life of a prince. I haven’t a worry in the world,” I replied. “What more do you want?”
Her ruby red lips formed a sly grin. “I don’t need material things, dear…offer me more.”
“Now, pardon me, gal, but we’ve just met. I have no intention of committing into a relationship just as of yet. Perhaps after a few months of courting, we might become closer,” I suggested.
Celeste shook her head and looked at me with those ravishing green eyes. “I don’t think you understand. This is a business venture not a dating game.”
I tugged at my chin in thought. “A business venture, you say? How so?”
“You’re an investor, are you not? Invest in me and I’ll invest in you in return.” Her long eyelashes batted at me.
“I don’t think I quite understand you, doll. You’ll have to speak clearer.” I moved my seat closer to hers.
“Hmm…” Celeste rolled her eyes. “I have to explain this every time.”
“To whom?” I grew interested.
“To all of you that think that money is everything. To the ones that don’t know what sacrificing a meal for another is. To the ones that hold champagne to their lips and look down on others.”
“Well, excuse me, but I do believe you sound like a hypocrite. Were you not the one guzzling wine and eating the lobster?” I raised my eyebrow, feeling the blow of being offended.
“I took the wine from someone that offered it and ate the lobster you bought me. I don’t see how that is being a hypocrite.” She stood from her chair and grabbed her handbag. “I’ll be leaving now.” She sounded more offended than I as she took a few steps toward the door.
“No, no! Sit…let’s talk some more about your negotiation.” I took her by the hand and led her back to her seat.
“You’re sure you’re interested?” She smiled an angelic smile.
“Positive,” I reassured her.
Celeste took her seat and held on to my hand. Finally, I was getting somewhere with her.
“How do you treat women?” She asked, “And be sincere about it.”
“With the utmost respect.”
“You lie,” She sounded upset. “You think I don’t know what you plan to do with me…use me for one night and then shove me off to the side like you do with the rest of those dim witted bimbos?”
How could she know such a thing? I kept all my affairs confidential.
“No, of course not,” I lied to her.
“Your lies are your demise, my dear gentleman. Lie to me once more and you shall see what you are without your riches.”
I burst out in a bout of laughter. Her face was red with fury as she felt ridiculed by my ongoing amusement.
“You laugh at me now Peter Collins, but you will see tomorrow when you rise what awaits you.” She stomped off and didn’t look back once.
“Crazy dame!” I laughed some more.
I drank to my heart’s content and went home with a blonde. That’s the last thing I remember before waking up on the curb of a street by a few taps on the head. I looked up and saw a police officer.
“Get going, you vagrant,” He told me.
“Vagrant?” I frowned. “I’ll give you vagrant.” I rose to my feet and dusted myself off. I saw my reflection on the window of a pharmacy store. That wasn’t me. My hands touched my face and my round potbelly. I smelled rancid and of vomit. My clothes were torn and I only had one shoe. I didn’t recognize the street I was on.
I started to walk, holding my hand to my head trying to remember what had happened to me. I saw a homeless woman rummaging through a big trash bin and approached her.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Can you tell me where I am?” I asked.
She didn’t look at me, but continued digging through trash.
“Ma’am,” I insisted. “Can you please direct me to the nearest bus station?”
The woman looked up from under her ruffled dark hair. “You don’t look like you have any money for a ticket anywhere,” she laughed.
“I’m a millionaire. I have equities and stocks. I own half the metropolitan area of my hometown,” I urged her to believe me. “Here, I’ll show you…” I stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out a solemn dollar.
The night before I had over a thousand dollars in my pocket. What had happened to all of my money? I tapped my pockets in search of my wallet but came up empty handed. This couldn’t be happening to me.
“I’ll read your palm for a dollar,” the woman rocked back and forth, grinning.
“Keep it,” I said handing it to her.
The woman grabbed a hold of my hand and touched my palm.
“What do you see,” I rolled my eyes trying to get over with it. I was not a believer of this sort of thing.
“I see your soul,” She replied. “Do you know why you are here?”
“No…that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out.”
“You were not a good person. No you were not,” she laughed wickedly.
I pulled my hand from her grip. “How do you know that?” I wondered.
“Because,” she said turning away from me then back again with Celeste’s angelic smile, ” I am the devil in disguise.”