Douglas Coupland

Miss Wyoming

Chapter One

Susan Colgate sat with her agent, Adam Norwitz, on the rocky outdoor patio of the Ivy restaurant at the edge of Beverly Hills. Susan was slightly chilly and kept a fawn-colored cashmere sweater wrapped around her shoulders as she snuck bread crumbs to the birds darting about the ground. Her face was flawlessly made up and her hair was cut in the style of the era. She was a woman on a magazine cover, gazing out at the checkout-stand shopper, smiling, but locked in time and space, away from the real world of squalling babies, bank cards and casual shoplifting.

Susan and Adam were looking at two men across the busy restaurant. Adam was saying to Susan, «You see that guy on the left? That's “Jerr-Bear” Rogers, snack dealer to the stars and the human equivalent of an unflushed toilet.»

«Adam!»

«Well, it's true.» Adam broke open a focaccia slice. «Oh God, Sooz, they're looking at us.»

«Thoughts have wings, Adam.»

«Whatever. They're both still staring at us.»

A waiter came and filled their water glasses. Adam said, «And that other guy — John Johnson. Semisleazebag movie producer. He vanished for a while earlier this year. Did you hear about that?»

«It sounds faintly familiar. But I stopped reading the dailies a while ago.You know that, Adam.»

«He totally vanished. Turns out he OD'd and had some kind of vision, and then afterward he gave away everything he had — his house and cars and copyrights and everything else, and turned himself into a bum. Walked across the Southwest eating hamburgers out of McDonald's dumpsters.»

«Really?»

«Oh yeah. Hey …» Adam lowered his voice and spoke out the side of his mouth. «Oh Lordy, it looks like John Johnson's fixated on you, Sooz, gawping at you like you were Fergie or something. Smile back like a trouper, will you? He may be gaga, but he's still got the power.»



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