CHAPTER 1. DAPHNE LOVED SPEED.
Not in the traditional sense: she rarely pushed her weathered Honda Civic past third gear. The race for Daphne lay in the corridors of her mind, long and labyrinthine, and the girl needed her get-up-and-go. Cocaine, when she could afford it; ephedrine-powered nasal decongestants when she couldn’t. But she was never happier than the couple of times I’d seen her receive a shipment of Simpamina, which was apparently Italian for “seventy-two straight hours of sex, rock and roll, and menial household chores completed with manic gusto.” Followed immediately by four hours of paranoid delusions, violent arguments over meaningless nonissues, and, during our final week together, a pair of suicide attempts wrapped around assault with a deadly weapon. I met Daphne when I returned to the U, a broke sophomore in need of a part-time job. My summer plans to bus tables for the snobs at the Hempstead Golf and Country Club had collapsed when I’d tried to drive a fully airborne golf cart through a plate-glass window. My passenger – a bridesmaid with Stevie Nicks hair who minutes earlier I’d been finger-fucking behind the Pro Shop – was late for her scheduled toast at the wedding on the other side of the window. The ensuing explosion of glass delivered a thrilling end to what had been, up until that point, a brilliantly executed shortcut across the bunkers on Hole 13, improvised with the help of a half-bottle of Stoli, an angry golf marshal in hot pursuit, and the bridesmaid’s reciprocating fingers down the front of my pants. We escaped mostly unscratched, thanks to vodka’s armorplating effects, and the talk of pressing charges turned out to be just that. But the job was history. I spent the rest of the summer as an unemployed thorn in my parents’ collective ass. Back at school, I responded to an ad in the student paper: banquet catering. I began the interview with a heavily edited
account of my country club experience, but at the urging of my interviewer – a twenty-something peroxide blonde punk rocker and weekend college radio DJ with a killer smile – I kept adding details until we were both rolling on the floor. I won both the job and an initiation into the strange and wonderful world of Daphne Robichaux, a crash course in alternative music, pharmaceuticals, and a lot of sex, with the occasional light bondage. I let her pierce my left ear and learned to play a few chords on the guitar. When I returned home for Christmas, I announced that I was dropping out of school to write music and shack up with my new soulmate. My mother wept and refused to talk to me for the rest of the break. My father just shrugged. “Save us some money, anyway,” he said. Whether by miracle or cosmic joke, Daphne and I survived a seemingly endless cycle of dustups and were still together the following Thanksgiving. Neither of us wanted to spend it with family – mine was still sore at me, while Daphne claimed to be an orphan – so instead we planned a Long Weekend of Glorious Ingratitude: four days and three nights in Niagara Falls, where we planned to make a point of never using the word “thanks,” preferably while doing a lot of fucking in the tackiest honeymoon suite we could afford. We packed the Civic and backed out of her snowy drive-way, Daphne nearly guiding the car into the mailman. He sneered at us as he handed her a small white box with an Italian postmark. “Thank you,” she blurted at the mailman. He gave her the finger and walked away.