The well-heeled crowd crammed on the deck, their Waterford flutes filled and chilled, their shoulders rubbing with as many as time would permit. The ladies had donned their finery for the event and the men looked dashingly handsome in tux n tails. The Krug flowed, but so far had the crippling effect of hands falling short in deep pockets – quite the opposite result the host of the evening had longed for. Though the night was still young.
Down on the street, expensive rooftops of foreign cars that were valet parked by the river, glinted up at the high society crowd, reminding them of their well earned success and importance. Money was everywhere, and this made Chantelle Duvalle very happy.
She glided through the crowd, dripping fake diamonds and wearing a smile to match. Her quest was to raise an extortionate amount of money for a small Cambodian orphanage. She knew if enough liquor flowed over these noble lips that surrounded her, she was sure to meet target. She wound her way through the sheep-like crowd all ooohing and arrrhing and out-bleating each other over who had the latest and greatest, and biggest. She slipped past the Governor, nodding and smiling in all the right places, giggling dizzily the way she knew that he loved.
“Fabulous do. You’ve done it again, Chanters…” he smiled, flashing a golden crowned tooth, and raising his near empty glass as she passed.
“Dig, deep…Duddles,” she smiled back at him, winking and then chinking her glass to his and then disappearing through the French doors that led to her lounge. Some stragglers mingled about inside – the majority preferring the coolness of her generous deck with the endless view of the river. It paid to be seen on Chatelle's generous deck.
She set her glass down on a sideboard and continued down a long passage, the sound of her skirt swishing as she moved away from the noise. She slipped a key from her bodice as she came to a door, and glancing once down the corridor to make certain she was alone, she unlocked the door. She flicked on the light and closed the door behind her, snipping the lock. In her bedroom, far from the mad bling crowd, she relaxed, dropping the pretence she knew she could barely sustain.
She moved to the bed and sat, lowering her head into her hands. She was tired of this make believe world full of money and fat empty promise. She lifted her head and stared at a photo frame that sat by her bed. It hugged the faces of three small children, their almond shaped eyes looking out at her. She picked up the frame and studied them, a pang of longing tugging her memory. She could picture the stump of each child’s missing limb, the calling card of the land mines that still tortured their life. She remembered their stark empty world. The day-to-day grind of doing your best with nothing. She compared it to the world of those who carried on without her outside – all doing nothing, day to day with the best that money could buy.
She drew a deep breath and mouthed a silent promise toward the children as she set them beside her bed once again. She stood and brushed at her layers of skirt and inspired by this moment’s silent retreat, she left the room in search of the waiters. With her spirit renewed and her focus in tact, she rejoined her guests. It was time to charge glasses. It was time to start fleecing the sheep.