Excerpt of Heliopolis by James Scudamore
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Its early, not yet seven a.m., and once again Im waking up
beside my adoptive sister.
This has got to stop. Shes a married woman.
The air-conditioning is on high, and my head feels like its
immersed in freezing water, even though Melissas body is
cleaving to mine wherever it can, making me hot and clammy
beneath the covers. I sit up, and reach for the remote control
that operates the blinds. They track smoothly upwards and
the city, bile yellow, pours in from every direction.
Melissas penthouse is at the head of a long avenue that
bisects the Garden District straight through to the smogcloaked
towers of downtown. From up here you look down
on the treetops and the green parakeets that flit between
them. At night gridlocked traffic lights up the avenue in
glittering ribbons of red and white. During big football
matches, when a goal is scored, the fireworks burst silently
I stretch and lie back to think of more ways in which I could
mark Ernestos territory, to see if hed latch on to the fact that
Im sleeping with his wife. Youd think hed have noticed something
by now: whenever these stopovers take place I find myself
brushing his body hairs from the bed before I get in it, so I
must be leaving a few of my own, and I make a habit of
draining every half-glass of water he leaves on the bedside
table. But he hasnt. So Im taking bigger risks. I sit in his
dressing gown reading his diary on the computer when
Melissas in the shower, and altering it here and there if I
feel Ive been unfairly represented. I drink his wine. I eat his
leftovers. I use his toothbrush. Ive even written him messages
on the bathroom mirror with my finger in the hope that
they might shimmer into view next time he has a shave. But
so far, he hasnt a clue. Hes too busy out saving the rest of
the world to notice that hes losing his wife.
Im thinking these ignoble thoughts about Ernesto,
touching the back of his wifes neck and trying to make her
move so her nipple will brush against my chest, when the
sound of a helicopter directly overhead deals a defibrillator
jolt to my heart.
Melissas father, Zé Fischer Carnicelli, hasnt been down
to street level in the city for over fifteen years. He lives in a
gated community of 30,000 inhabitants, way out of town,
and is flown from there to his downtown office every
morning in a helicopter that has the word Predator painted
graffiti-style over its nose, along with gnashing teeth and a
pair of evil yellow eyes. Hes approaching retirement, but he
still keeps regular office hours. A chauffeur drives him
between his house and the heliport, then back again in the
evening. During the day, he might hop to another high-rise
to meet someone for lunch, or to attend an afternoon
meeting, but he never touches the pavement. Its not just a
question of safety: if he went by car he could get snared in
a traffic jam lasting hours. Nobody whos anybody gets driven
to work in the city these days.
On his way, hes delighted to pick up Melissa and deposit
her at her office. He doesnt see as much of his daughter as
hed like now that she is married, and this way he gets to
spend the first few minutes of his day with her as they speed over the boiling, stationary traffic. Because Melissas penthouse
is directly under the helipad, he doesnt even need to
phone ahead: she sees the helicopter coming and hears it
rumbling on the roof, which gives her just enough time to
take a slurp of coffee, grab her keys, and rush upstairs to kiss
her Papai good morning.
Being found in bed with Melissa by her father is a far more
terrifying prospect than getting caught by her husband. If
Zé walked in now, my life would end its that simple.
Relax. Its not him. Melissa stirs, and detaches her lips
from the hollow beneath my jaw. Its too early, you know
that. She squirms gorgeously on my leg, naked and hot.
Excerpted from Heliopolis
by James Scudamore. Copyright © 2010 by James Scudamore.
Excerpted by permission of Europa Editions. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.