Robert Haydon Jones
and Matthew Levine

“South Norwalk Nocturne”
Matthew Levine
Inspiration piece

Life Goes On
By Robert Haydon Jones
Response

He was a child, then for a very brief while, he was a little boy, and then, forever on, he was a shockingly handsome man.

The actor, James Dean, resembled him. Eustace Tennyson Shaw was better looking. But he had the same glint. All who glimpsed it thought they were the first to see it. A few learned better. Most never did.

For most of his life he was almost completely unaware of his beauty. There is no question his life would have been different if he had known. But he was so troubled — he really couldn’t see it. 

He had been repeatedly abused as a child. His parents were alcoholics.In later years, he would refer to them as, “Good People with a Nasty Disease.” And that was true. His three younger siblings were bent too. But he was the first and his parents learned a little from the mistakes they made with him.

It took him a long time to really understand and accept that the things his parents were doing were not because of him. That was the last part of his story he had to learn. It took him a long, long time to get it and when he did get it, it was rather late in the game. The way they were was not because of him. It was because of them

He loved sex the way most boys love sex. His beauty addled many adults into scandalous behavior. When he was 14, the wife of a neighbor, a famous writer, invited him in for a cookie and came and came even before she could get his trousers off. He had cookies with her off and on for five years.

He was not homosexual; he was omnivorous. A number of successful artists lived in his town on the Connecticut coast. Some were bi or secretly gay. In a three-day span, two of them told him, “If I were Michelangelo, you would be my David.”

The forty-something wives of older men pursued him relentlessly. He was surprised they showed him no mercy. When he finally understood what was really going on, he played them ruthlessly and, of course, they loved him all the more for it.

He was married and had a son before he was 21. He was a gifted writer and was soon hired as a writer-producer for a hot new advertising agency in New York City. 

He tried hard with his wife, who was four years older, but from the first, she was frozen by fear. She had wanted him and gone after him. Now that she had what she had lusted for – she was a prisoner. He tried and tried to reassure her, but she wasn’t buying it. 

Finally, he stopped trying and she relaxed. He had a life at home with the wife and child and he had another life at work in the city. He was doing well with the job – the money was coming in good. When he had to stay in the city or go away on business, he gave her plenty of notice and kept in touch. It was good. They moved to a nice little house. Before long, they had another son. 

Eustace liked being a creative guy in the advertising business. Early on, he realized he had to be careful, so he did not start up with any of the women from the agency even though a number of them signaled they were interested.

He had begun to drink a lot more – on a regular basis with colleagues and staff. One Saturday morning in February, he woke up in a big bed in a luxury resort in Puerto Rico. Felecia Rizzo was there in the bed asleep. Felecia was a very buxom platinum blonde in her early thirties. She was the Deputy Director of the Agency’s Casting Department. 

It was his first blackout. 

He checked the Room Service menu to find out where they were. He had jumbled, dreamlike, memories of a frantic cab ride and a plane and another cab and checking in without luggage. Felecia had given the Front Desk her Agency corporate credit card.

He took a shower in the palatial bathroom. More memories kicked in. Felecia had a lot of cocaine and they got stoned. They had sex and sex and sex and she was very noisy. He was surprised it was so good. 

When he came out of the bathroom, Felecia rushed in right by him. She locked the door. She showered. When she came out, she was in one of the complimentary terry cloth robes. She stood in the doorway and told him she had lied to him. She was not divorced. She was married to a banker. Six years. Never unfaithful before. She loved making love to Eustace.

He told her not to worry. They had two pitchers of Bloody Mary’s and Eggs Benedict. Later that day, they flew on back. Felecia paid the way. Before they left, they made considered, expert, love. Eustace enjoyed it.  Afterward, he saw her every ten days or so until she started to pester him and he cut her off – just as she feared he would. 

He did real well at the agency. He wrote and produced a TV commercial meant to be run solely on an interim basis while they reformulated the brand. He did it in 48 hours. The spot ended up winning all sorts of awards. It is still a famous commercial.

He was doing the copy and a lot of the broadcast production for four important accounts. He got some big raises.  Soon he started getting offers from other agencies. He wasn’t at all interested. He loved being with this agency. It was perfect size. It was scorching hot.

They gave him more responsibility and he worked harder.  He was staying in the city a lot more – and drinking a lot more. One night at the pub, which served as the local for the Agency, he left early to catch his train to Connecticut and a drunken, newly hired highly placed executive followed him out and took a swing at him. Eustace evaded the blow easily. The drunk was restrained. “I’ll get you, Pretty Boy,” he screamed. “I’ll get you good.” 

Usually his youth (he was 22 and then 23), and his being a creative, enabled him to stay clear of the senior executives at the Agency. Once, the famous founder of the Agency left a note on Eustace’s desk. “Please tidy this dung heap.” Eustace complied.

He carried an increasingly heavy workload. His heavy drinking was slowing him down. His mornings were increasingly dedicated to relief. He took a later train to the city.  Some mornings he got off the train and went directly to a Schrafft’s Bar. Usually, he was the only customer. He drank two tall glasses of medium sherry. It was a beautiful bar, with morning light streaming through ornate, four-story, windows.

He got buzzed on the sherry. It was enough to see him through to lunch. 

He was producing quite a few commercials and he started to hang out with the directors cameramen and owners of a number of studios. He preferred their company to that of the up tight executives from his Agency. Once or twice a week, he would head out to the racetrack with a few of them, catch the double, and ease on back in to work around 3.

He got so squeezed for time, he started seeing women from the Agency. But he was careful. He was seeing two or three at a time and they knew about each other. He started to date Emily Winthrop, the lead secretary for the Executive Vice President. He really liked Emily, a willowy, brown-haired woman from St. Louis in her late twenties. She was smart and sensitive and starved for sex and affection. Eustace did her with his left hand six ways to Sunday. Emily loved him.

Everything was going fine when one of his studio buddies invited him to a party and introduced Eustace to the most beautiful woman in the world.

That’s how Helene Hurley was known. An actress from London in New York for a feature,she had been a traffic stopper since she was thirteen. Men knelt at her feet in the street. What’s more, she was intelligent and kind. She was 22 and had never, ever, been in love. When she met Eustace, she was immediately completely zapped by the lightening bolt.  

They were together that night and an item there after. He told her straight away that he was married. She said they would work around it. She had a splendid suite at the Plaza. He thoroughly enjoyed being with her. Their schedules meshed so they couldn’t see each other too much. He loved being with her. 

They were a splendid couple. A perfect match. They were very, very attractive. They were very, very happy. 

He overnighted two or three nights a week with her at the Plaza. At first, Helene respected his weekends back in Connecticut with his wife and sons. Then she started to question him. Did it have to be every weekend? Did he know how miserable she was without him? Did he love his wife more than he loved her?

Then people at the Agency found out that Eustace was “the mystery man from Connecticut Helene Hurley adores.” He denied it. They were just friends. But, occasionally, when they were out, at a restaurant or a pub or a concert, they bumped into people from the Agency and there was nothing to say. One look told the story: Eustace and Helene were lovers.

So, in no time, everyone at the Agency knew. Helene Hurley was famous and now Eustace was famous at the Agency as her lover.  She had declared in a number of interviews that she had never known happiness until now.  Helene Hurley was in love with an American advertising executive. Some day soon, she hoped they would marry. 

Now Eustace was constantly being questioned about his relationship with Helene.  Was she easy to be with? How did they meet? How was she in bed? Did she know Eustace was married?

He stuck to his story: they were just friends. He made up a narrative that they were cousins and it seemed to take some of the pressure off. Still, there were questions. Even his clients joked with him about Helene.

Then Emily Winthrop asked him to meet her at her apartment after work. When they met she solemnly told him he had to break it off with Helene. It wouldn’t be long before she demanded that Eustace get divorced. Emily knew that Eustace would never leave his children. Emily loved him so, she was content to be his mistress. Helene was nothing but trouble.

Eustace heard her out. He knew she was right. They made love, terrific love, and then he hurried away and caught his train to Connecticut. 

He didn’t do anything – but the secret was out. Two months later, the film was finished. Helene returned to London. Eustace would start divorce proceedings. After he got the decree, they would reunite. Till then, she would write him every day. 

He took up with Emily as his mistress. He really enjoyed her company and she was happy too until he started seeing other women on the side. They argued. He tried to explain to her that it meant nothing. It was in his nature. She wept. 

He was in Los Angeles on a shoot when he heard that Emily had nearly died from taking too many sleeping pills. He couldn’t reach her at the hospital. He called the Agency and was told Emily had gone home to St Louis on a leave of absence.

Two days later, when he got back to the Agency, he was summoned to Human Resources and fired. They gave him six weeks severance. The reason for his dismissal was incompetence. 

Eustace never answered any of Helene’s letters. They stopped after six weeks. The only time he ever saw her again was in the movies. Three years later, she married a handsome young banker. 

Emily never returned to the Agency from St. Louis. Eustace looked for her on line a few times but never found her. He had a successful career in creative for several agencies and then became a top Voice Over actor on commercials and documentaries. 

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2 Comments

  1. Jay Young Gerard
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 5:46 am | #

    As much as I enjoy Jimmy, I must say Eustace is a titillating departure.
    Thanks for the great words and pictures. Always a pleasure, delight, treat and education. For example: I had not known the word origin of Amanda.

  2. Posted January 2, 2019 at 2:58 pm | #

    Here is another diamond to add to The Eustace Diamonds. A fine hymn to folly.

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