Queen of Corona
Publication date: December 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Queen of a Corona delves into the mind of a young American adult growing up in today’s multicultural society. It is a human look at contemporary existence “from the bottom of the barrel.” It tells the story of a high school senior who is running after a student protest ends in tragedy. She is ushered onto an airplane by her mother, headed back to the land of her ancestors for the first time in her life. Her journey is both a way of escaping a seemingly dead-end existence and a chance at rediscovering herself by stepping outside the confines of societal standards. Queen of Corona is a coming-of-age novel in a dangerous age, in the age of Trump and all the forces stirring with and against the American president.
I bet you thought I was going to fold. That I wouldn’t be able to resist that fine china-white powder resting right there in the sanctuary of my pocketbook.
But it stays tucked away the entire night, I swear. I ride my bike to the river to get some air. I sit down on the concrete bank and look out at the wilderness just across the water. At the narrow beaches spotted with bushes, fluo-green against the fading sky of late summer.
Here the riverside is wild, untempered. The bars along the water light up, the music gets louder. I go to the bar. As I’m standing in the endless line I can feel someone’s eyes on me. I count to five in my mind and I look up. Oh man, I think, here we go again. And I let myself fall into it one more time because I need anything to get myself out of this emotional hole I dug for myself.
At first, I’m confused. Because the face that is looking back at me is a face I know so well. A face so familiar and unfamiliar. A face I’d seen dozens of times, but not a face I’d ever called a friend. I stared at him as I tried to place him. He smiles back at me amused. The cogs in my mind begin to click. An actor. I know his face from the movies. That series on Netflix about the homicide detective addicted to porn.
I’m not drunk enough to get up the balls to sidle up to him all sassy and shit. But I don’t need to because he comes up to me. He looks me up and down and nods like he’s approving a shipment of the latest iPhone.
“Mind if I sit down?” he says in that Hollywood voice.
“Yes. I mean no. Why not.”
He says he’s here filming an episode where he’s chasing some jewel thief around Eastern Europe. He can’t believe I’ve never heard of his show. He doesn’t waste any time pouring me doubles out of the bottle the waitress brings over. He asks me if I want to dance and I follow him out to the dance floor. He’s a terrible dancer. He’s basically grinding against my pelvis and slobbering on me. Then he’s trying to get into my panties under my dress like we’re not out in the open and all these people aren’t looking at us. At some point, he grabs my hand and leads me towards the car he’s got waiting for him. I’m not good with cars, so I can’t say what kind of car it is, just that it’s shiny and black. The driver drops us off at one of the big hotels where he’s got a suite. He opens the door like he’s a sheik opening the palace gates. As if a hotel room that looks like millions of other hotel rooms around the world is going to make me go woozy with passion.
Pretty soon he gets back to his sloppy kissing. He’s got my dress off and he says he wants to fuck me like Charles Bukowski and I don’t know who he’s talking about.
I’m probably only fucking him because he’s famous, not because I really like him. What’s there to like in an arrogant middle-aged man with a paunch and a lazy eye? And what’s in it for him, fucking a girl young enough to be his daughter.
“Can I take a picture of you?”
I shrug and he takes it as a yes. He asks me to stop covering my breasts and to spread my legs. I feel horribly shy but it’s exciting at the same time to think this famous dude is going to be looking at my pictures later and reminiscing about our time together. But what if he posts them online? I should have said no. Julita tells me I’ve got a real problem saying no. I’m too much of a yes girl. A goddang people pleaser and where’s that been getting me? Not very far, eh? says the reasonable voice in my head. The other voice, the one that just wants me to take it easy and go with the flow, tells me that it’s fine. It’s just two consenting adults having a good time. Isn’t it?
We end up trusting celebrities almost implicitly, as if their fame is guarantee that they’re harmless. We trust them to tell us what’s fashionable and what’s not, how to eat and how to vote. And sometimes we let them fuck us just because they’re famous. And sometimes we let them get away with the worst.
He goes to take a shower and I walk around the room and look at the stuff lying around his room. There’s his passport on the table. I open it up and look at the picture, which looks nothing like him, he must’ve aged a lot in the past few years. I look at the birthdate and do the math. It turns out he’s 52, not 45 like he told me last night. I pick up my stuff and go straight out the door. I feel sick, not the throwing up kind, just the sick dismay of disappointment. Sick at how they think it’s okay to treat you like an empty shell of a person and then got the nerve to lie to you. I think this might be my breaking point. At last, you say.
I’m sobbing into my sleeve as I walk through the lobby and my mascara’s running all over the fucking place, so I sit down for a minute. In a flash, hotel security is coming my way and they’re asking me to leave and if I didn’t feel like a whore before then I definitely do now.
Esterhazy is a journalist, writer and translator. A native New Yorker, she holds degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University and American Studies from the University of Warsaw. Queen of Corona is her debut novel.