“DARK PLUMS reminds me of places where I used to cruise,” said my brother many long years after the novel was published .
It tells the story of a naïve young girl who falls under the sway of an artist-pimp in a desperate search for love.
Times Square in the Fifties. In all its sordid glory
Adrianne is naïve, ignorant of the ways of the world. In her background are an emotionally cold mother, a distant father, and a hunger for love that she has all too rarely experienced. She is so desperate for human touch and tenderness that she is blind to reality
Soon after the incident below, she falls under the sway of a painter, an artist who persuades her to prostitute herself to support him so that he can pursue his artistic ambitions.
A man in a pale green shirt was watching her. She could feel his gaze as she walked along Broadway in the steamy afternoon heat… When the light changed, the man crossed the street, following her as she made her way uptown towards the Forty-Ninth Street subway stop…Noise of traffic and people, blaring music from a record shop… As she slowed down to glance at her reflection in a window, the man overtook her. “Hello there,” he said. With his small eyes and narrow, reddish face, he reminded her of an animal had been trapped underground. Transfixed, Adrianne stood absolutely still while people continued to press around them Then he reached out and held one of her hands. Empty and lightheaded as she was feeling, there was comfort in his touch. When he moved a stop closer, she fought an urge to press herself against him. His warmth was protection against the waves of human electricity all around them. However, she tried to wrench away. But he only gripped her more firmly.
“Come, follow me.”
His voice was commanding, with a rough edge, and in spite of herself she wanted him to hold her and soothe the anguish inside her, even if it were only for an instant….oh, this was crazy, she knew. Yet she felt as if the crowd all around her could suck her into itself and leave her hollow as a gourd, while the stranger’s touched defined her body and gave her a sensation of being solid.
Discarding all caution, she went with him to a hotel room which had peeling cream-colored walls.
Then he asked with seeming casualness, “Do you need money.”
Adrianne laughed. On an impulse, she said “Yes”
“Twenty-five dollars would help.”
With the money she could buy the beautiful dark dress she’d seen in a Macy’s window.
She felt giddy in the dim light which seeped in through the closed Venetian blinds.
“Do you know that asking or money is prostitution? I can have you arrested.” His voice had grown menacing.
“If you’re a cop, let me see your I.D.”
“Don’t get fresh. You’ll regret it.”
Maybe he was crazy.
She’d better do what he wanted or he might hurt or even kill her. Why had she come here with him?…
She floated above both their bodies. She saw herself—a plump, flushed girl with bleached hair spread out in a tangled mass over the pillow and she watched him—a rabbity man, pump away at her…
Afterwards when he dozed off, she made her escape, fleeing with shoes and stockings in hand.