tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 26

No Future Ch. 26


The Pursuit of Happiness

"She's your daughter, too," Eden said into the phone pressed against his ear. "You got custody of her and you should bloody well come and take care of her."

"I'm miles away," Zara replied. "I can't be expected to drop everything I'm doing just to pick up my wayward daughter."

"I don't see why not," said Eden. "I can't look after her. I'm due back in the Med tomorrow. I've got meetings to go to. I've got things to organise. It seems that every time I return to London, our junkie daughter imposes herself on me."

"You've got responsibility for our daughter, too," said Zara. "It's not my fault she dumps herself on you. I guess you're more lenient about her jacking up..."

"Don't take the moral high ground with me. I know the exact extent of your ethics and propriety. Your escapades are well documented."

"I don't see that's remotely relevant. The divorce was years ago. You settled. Your private investigators might have trawled up dirt that you'd have dished out if I'd held out for a better deal, but you can't use that now."

"It's your bloody fault our daughter's the way she is. You set the example."

"And you haven't?"

"Be reasonable," said Eden with exasperation. "Your daughter's OD'd again. The doctors have pumped out her stomach and she's laid up sick in her childhood bedroom. She can't stay here when I fly back to the Med. You've got to take responsibility."

"No way," said Zara. "Last time she stayed at my place, she pawned one of those Liberian diamonds for heroin or cocaine or something. I'm not taking that risk again. She's a junkie. She can mainline in someone else's home not mine. You've got the money, you handle it. Why don't you just book her into rehab again?"

"It didn't do much good, did it?"

"Well, it's your problem this time," said Zara. "She's in one of your homes and I'm not prepared to take the risk of having the little bitch steal any more jewellery."

"I don't know why I thought you might have a more positive attitude."

"We're both her parents," said Zara. "She's with you now. Just deal with it."

With that, Eden heard her click off the phone.

"Fuck," said Eden. He put the phone back into the inside pocket of his jacket and gazed out of the window onto the leafy square below. He was in the top floor study of his Mayfair house and had a perfect view of the protest march that was wending its way through the plush streets. Undoubtedly it was concerned with something the bloody Americans had said or done to arouse the ire of the good-for-nothing layabouts. Was it something to do with petrol subsidies? Was it the nukes they'd sold to Kazakhstan? Was it the use of fire-arms to suppress protests in Detroit and Chicago? God knows. These greenies and lefties and bloody pooftahs just didn't know right from wrong.

Reluctantly, Eden strode out the study and descended a flight of stairs to Zoe's childhood bedroom. The decor hadn't changed for ten years and preserved a snapshot of his daughter's principal interests from a time before they'd transferred to boyfriends and drugs. There were teddy bears and dolls piled up on the shelves. The posters on the wall displayed fresh-faced boy bands many of whose fortunes had been propelled by Eden's money although his interest in them had never stretched as far as to actually listen to their music. And in the middle of all this was Zoe's huge bed that was large enough for three adults to sleep in rather than just one young girl. Even now, Zoe was dwarfed by her bed.

There wasn't much of her to be seen. Her head and arms were exposed while the rest of her was just a bump under the duvet. A clear plastic tube trailed from one nostril and was connected at the other end to the complex machinery left behind by the doctors after they'd pumped out her stomach. She was awake but looked almost as much like a zombie now as when she'd arrived at Eden's principal London address a couple of days ago. And that was before she'd injected herself with what she must have known was a dangerously high dose.

Eden didn't have much sympathy for this or any other kind of hysterical melodrama. It was obvious that his slutty junkie daughter was crying for help. You don't come to your father's London home on one of the few occasions he's in town and then OD on him if you didn't envisage yourself playing the tragic role in a crappy soap opera. Eden might give his daughter money and medical attention, he might stretch to paying for rehab and methadone, but he'd be damned if he'd extend her much sympathy. She didn't have to become a drug addict. It was she who'd have to come round to seeing the error of her ways.

He then noticed that Zoe's eyes were open and following him as he paced back and forth across the room.

"You're awake, I see."

"Hello, Dad," said Zoe weakly.

"So you've disgraced us again," said Zoe's father. "Or should I say: yet again? Your mother and I give you everything you want and more, and what do you do in return? Can't you do something with your money other than squander it on drugs?"

"I'm sorry, Dad."

"You're just saying that so I don't cut you off," said Eden as he stood by Zoe's bed and chose not to sit on the chair that was beside him. "How would you like it if I did that, then? You'd have to make a living like the rest of the scum..."

"The ones who're rioting and demanding higher wages?"

"Yes," said Eden. "The great unwashed masses."

"It's only because they're desperate," said Zoe. "They don't get a hearing in the media, at least not the media you own..."

"Part own," Eden automatically corrected.

"...and the government doesn't care for them, either."

"You sound like a commie," said Eden. "Anyway, the point isn't about those troublemakers but you. And the trouble you make is right on my doorstep. In fact, it's right here in this bedroom. What should I do with you?"

"Book me into rehab."

"Again? Lot of bloody good that did. Cost a fortune."

"I was clean for ages afterwards."

"We want you off drugs for life. Not just for a few months. But I guess you're right. There's nothing else I can do for you."

"Are you gonna sit with me, Dad?" Zoe pleaded.

"Sit with you?" Eden wondered as he glanced at the chair by the bedside.

"I don't get to talk with you very often," Zoe said. "You're never at home. You're always off to the Med or the Caribbean or Switzerland or something..."

"Can you blame me?" said Eden with irritation. "Why don't you stay with your mother if you want company? And it's not as if you don't have a place of your own to stay. That apartment in St. John's Wood cost a bloody fortune. I could've done a lot better with that money."

"Mum's always busy," said Zoe. "She's like you: always going places. And last time I tried to visit her she wouldn't let me in..."

"I heard about that," said Eden. "I'm with your mother on that one. You were clearly out of your mind. The police had to be called to restrain you."

"It was the K," said Zoe. "And the booze. And the coke. I've steered clear of stuff like that since."

"So, what's it now?" sneered Eden. "You're still taking heroin, I see. The doctors found quite a mixture of stuff in your stomach, not to mention your veins."

"It's so cheap and easy to get hold of," said Zoe. "Ever since the wars in the 'Stans, there's been more opium and heroin and stuff than there's ever been."

"It's not radioactive, is it?" wondered Eden who was suddenly alarmed at the prospect of his daughter spreading radioactive poison around his Mayfair home.

"I don't know, Dad," said Zoe. "Might be. The people who sell it don't tell you. Might put people off buying it otherwise."

"Do you think so?" asked Eden. That might be an angle one of his newspapers could use in their anti-drug campaigns. Maybe he could suggest it. Radioactive poppies. Radioactive people. There might be some mileage in that before the paper eventually had to print the necessary but belated disclaimer.

"I don't know anything about nuclear radiation, Dad."

"Of course not," said Eden. "The money we spent on your education has been as wasted as the money we've spent on everything else to do with you. I'd say it was all going on drugs if it wasn't for the fact we've probably spent more on medical bills to repair the damage you've done to yourself than the drugs cost that caused the damage. You look a bloody mess. Your nose will never look the same again..."

Zoe was too weak to do more than snort through nostrils where an artificial septum separated one from the other.

"I don't know what to do with you," said Eden finally. "I'll get Theo to organise the rehab and we'll get you packed off there as soon as you're in an acceptable state. But that's not going to be the end of it, is it? You'll be back here again, won't you? Maybe this time you'll be in a coma. Think how bloody embarrassing that'll be for me."

"The media never publishes anything about me, Dad," said Zoe. "You'd sue them if they did..."

"...Or sack them if I'm able to," said her father. "Look, I've wasted enough time on you. You're a bloody lost cause. Next time I'm in this country, would it be possible for me to see you without an intravenous drip in your arm and a plaster over your nose? Would that be so difficult for you?"

"I didn't mean to be a nuisance, Dad."

Eden frowned. "I'm not sure about that," he said. "Why couldn't you dump yourself on your mother's doorstep? Why mine? I'm a public figure. Your mother's just another rich divorcee."

"Mum's never in, Dad," said Zoe.

Eden uncharitably wondered where his ex-wife might be if that was the case. She didn't gamble and she'd given up on drugs years ago after her own near fatal overdose which Eden had to fight hard and litigiously to keep out of the press. That was when his control on the media was rather less complete than it was today. Eden ruefully recalled that she claimed to prefer taller men. Perhaps she was buying their services in just the way Eden resorted to the arms of women who, as a result of his unofficial capital ventures, were also discreetly providing him with a slice of their action.

"Why not just stay in your Battersea apartment?" he suggested.

"It's a tip, Dad."

"That's not my fault. I pay cleaners to keep your apartment in order."

"I usually turn them away when they appear, Dad."

"Why's that?"

"You don't always want people seeing what's going on, Dad."

"And what on earth could that be?" said Eden with contempt. "These cleaning companies are discreet. Even if you'd got a dismembered body in your bathroom, they'd say nothing. They'd just bill me the extra cost. Anyway, when you get back from rehab there'll be no excuse. I'll get Theo to get Empire Cleaning Services to do a thorough job."

"Yes, Dad."

"Now, if you don't mind I have pressing business to get on with," said Eden, who with relief finally left his daughter's room.

He descended the stairs to the reception area and sat down in one of his massive leather armchairs. He took a cigar out from a box by the armrest, clipped the end and slowly puffed on it.

The distress of seeing his daughter lying prone on her bed drained him of energy. It was worrying that his domestic life shared none of the success of his business ventures. A divorced wife and a junkie daughter. It was a good thing he'd had no other children or wives. He didn't need another wife. He could get whatever women he liked and there was never a need to shower them with diamonds or allowances. And the children of his closest friends were as much a disappointment to them as Zoe was to him.

Eden picked up his mobile phone and dialled a number. He had to organise a few things before he could set off to his offices in the Docklands where he was due to discuss business with his executive directors.

"Theo," he said when the phone was answered. "My daughter's disgraced herself once more. You won't be surprised to learn that she's overdone the drugs again. There are a few things I need you to arrange for me."

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