Jacob Lawrence, "The Apartment" (1943)
Jacob Lawrence, The Apartment (1943)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages


One day Mary Ann cleaned the hut she formerly shared with Ginger.

Someone with very dark taste had redecorated. The woven pandanus-leaf walls and ceiling had been plastered on the inside with a black substance like tar. So had the door, and so had the windows, which were nailed shut. Over this sticky substance new walls of foam-like sound-absorbing tiles had been laid, so that it was impossible to hear the birds, or the surf, or anything else that happened outside. Wide metal rings that looked something like handcuffs were hung on the walls, and a hefty tie rack held a large collection of men's neckties. Stage lights and a heavy tripod for a video camera were piled unused in one corner. The hut's original rope hammocks were gone. A queen-size bed on a wood and bamboo platform filled most of the room. "I guess this is how they like it in Hollywood," Mary Ann thought. But the room's unnaturalness disturbed her.

Two new photos stood in metal frames atop Ginger's small bamboo dresser. One was of the Old Ex-President, autographed, "To Vicki," with what looked like a heart and arrow drawn beneath. The second was of Cap, the Old Ex-President's friend and former Secretary Of Defense, dressed in country-style riding helmet and spurs, holding a leather riding crop, strangely autographed. "You won't remember him," it said, "but you'll remember me." Behind the photos was a strange object: a black leather bag, like the ones doctors carried, monogrammed with the initials "V.M."

Mary Ann was curious. She put down her featherduster, and picked up the bag. It was heavy, as if it held a brick. The leather was fine and very expensive. It was held shut with a simple gold-colored clasp which was easy to undo. She sat with it on the bed, opened it, and looked inside.

A large bottle of purple-colored pills was in one corner. Labeled "Sildenafil," Mary Ann had no idea what these were. A second bottle contained straw-colored pills which she recognized. Labeled "Amyl Nitrate," these were heart pills similar to ones her father had taken, at home on the farm, for his angina.

Between the pills was a soft wool cloth wrapped around a heavy object. She unrolled it carefully, and drew back with a start. The object was a bull's pizzle, or a horse's, fully erect, very heavy and solid, as if embalmed, or petrified. It was mounted below a black leather belt with double rows of heavy brass eyes, like the gunbelts wild-west gunslingers wore, except this one had an additional strap that fastened, apparently, below the crotch. Next to the object was a tube of something called "Aqua Lube." Mary Ann pushed the package away in disgust.

Four yellow newspaper clippings fell out.

Washington Post, July 29, 1982; Page E3
A model who claims she was Alfred Bloomingdale's mistress and provided him with therapy for a "Marquis de Sade" complex amended her "palimony" suit against the mogul yesterday in Los Angeles to seek an additional $5 million from his wife, according to UPI.
Bloomingdale, 66, is a member of President Reagan's "Kitchen Cabinet." He and his wife, Betsy, have been married 35 years and have often visited the White House. Betsy Bloomingdale is one of Nancy Reagan's closest friends. The amended suit seeks a total of $10 million and charges Betsy Bloomingdale interfered with a series of four written contracts in which her husband pledged support for Vicki Morgan, a former model and actress who says she was the Diners' Club founder's mistress.
Morgan's attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, said Betsy Bloomingdale was named in the amended suit because it is believed she was responsible for the decision to cut off Morgan's monthly support payments of $18,000.

Washington Post, September 15, 1982; Page A5
A presidential aide confirmed yesterday that he invited palimony lawyer Marvin Mitchelson to the White House last month to discuss a $10 million lawsuit against the late Alfred Bloomingdale, whose widow, Betsy, is a close friend of Nancy Reagan.
Presidential assistant Morgan Mason, who works in the White House political office, said he was acting on his own behalf when he met with Mitchelson and talked about the suit brought by Vicki Morgan, a 29-year-old model. She claims that Bloomingdale reneged on his promise to provide financial support and a house in return for her companionship. Mason said he felt sympathy for Betsy Bloomingdale and "voiced my opinion" to Mitchelson that the suit was "an unfortunate situation" since it came as Alfred Bloomingdale was on his deathbed.
"Any normal, compassionate person would feel sorry that a man that ill was going through that kind of ordeal," he added. "The guy is deceased now. I felt it was kind of a sad thing for Mrs. Bloomingdale to have to deal with."
The meeting with Mitchelson was held in the Old Executive Office Building in mid-August; Bloomingdale died of cancer Aug. 20 at age 66.
After the meeting, Mason and Mitchelson dined together and they have since talked about the Bloomingdale case by telephone, Mitchelson said yesterday.
Mason, who handles western political activity for President Reagan, said he didn't regret talking to Mitchelson from the White House. He said he has known the lawyer for years, since Mitchelson handled divorce proceedings for his mother, actress Pamela Mason. But, he added, he is sorry that the White House meeting has become "a big story."

Washington Post, July 8, 1983; Page C1
Vicki Morgan, who last year brought an $11 million palimony suit against the late Alfred Bloomingdale, a friend of President and Mrs. Reagan, was beaten to death with a baseball bat early yesterday in Los Angeles.
According to Morgan's former lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson, she had been meeting recently with agents at William Morris to discuss the sale of book and movie rights to her life.
Mitchelson said, "She took a lot of secrets to the grave with her." Morgan claimed to have worked for a brief time on the Reagan campaign in Los Angeles, and swore in a deposition that Bloomingdale often shared "secret and delicate" details of White House meetings with her.
In her $11 million suit, which she continued to press after Bloomingdale died last Aug. 23, Morgan claimed that for 12 years she had served as a therapist to help the founder of the Diner's Club and the heir to the Bloomingdale's department store chain "overcome his 'Marquis de Sade' complex." Morgan said that Bloomingdale had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality, and testified that she often watched as other women stripped, let Bloomingdale bind them with neckties and then crawled on the floor as he rode on their backs and beat them, while he drooled. The trial became so sensational that White House aide Morgan Mason met with Mitchelson to suggest some compassion for Bloomingdale's wife, Betsy, a close friend of Nancy Reagan.
Morgan's suit was filed after Betsy Bloomingdale discovered her husband's affair with Morgan and then stopped his $18,000 monthly payments to the other woman while he was in the hospital.

Washington Post, July 13, 1983; Page A3
Robert K. Steinberg, the Los Angeles lawyer who said he had videotapes showing government officials participating in "sex parties," told authorities hours after they directed him yesterday not to destroy the material that the tapes had been stolen from his office.
The developments came a day after Steinberg gained widespread media attention by saying he had videotapes showing late presidential confidant Alfred Bloomingdale, his longtime mistress, Vicki Morgan, two Reagan administration appointees, a congressman and two businessmen participating in sadomasochistic and group sex.
He told reporters that after discussing the matter with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding and Los Angeles authorities yesterday morning, he could not comment on the tapes' whereabouts.

"I think I helped his back," Ginger said, standing in the doorway.

With tear-stained cheeks, Mary Ann ran away into the jungle.