"I don't like Evian," McDermott says somewhat sadly. "It's too sweet." He looks so miserable when he admits this that it moves me to agree.
Glancing over at him in the darkness of the cab, realizing he's probably going to end up in bed with Courtney tonight, I feel an instantaneous moment of pity for him.
"Yes. McDermott," I say slowly. "Evian is too sweet."
Earlier, there was so much of Bethany's blood pooled on the floor that I could make out my reflection in it while I reached for one of my cordless phones, and I watched myself make a haircut appointment at Gio's. Courtney breaks my trance by admitting, "I was afraid to try Pellegrino for the first time." She looks over at me nervously - expecting me to... what, agree? - then at McDermott, who offers her a wan, tight smile. "But once I did, it was... fine."
"How courageous," I murmur, yawning again, the cab inching its way toward Nell's, then, raising my voice, "Listen, does anyone know of a device you can hook up to your phone to simulate that call-waiting sound?"
Back at my place I stand over Bethany's body, sipping a drink contemplatively, studying its condition. Both eyelids are open halfway and her lower teeth look as if they're jutting out since her lips have been torn - actually bitten - off. Earlier in the day I had sawed off her left arm, which is what finally killed her, and right now I pick it up, holding it by the bone that protrudes from where her hand used to be (I have no idea where it is now: the freezer? the closet?), clenching it in my fist like a pipe, flesh and muscle still clinging to it though a lot of it has been hacked or gnawed off, and I bring it down on her head. It takes very few blows, five or six at most, to smash her jaw open completely, and only two more for her face to cave in on itself.
Whitney Houston burst onto the music scene in 1985 with her self-titled LP which had four number one hit singles on it, including "The Greatest Love of All," "You Give Good Love" and "Saving All My Love for You," plus it won a Grammy Award for best pop vocal performance by a female and two American Music Awards, one for best rhythm and blues single and another for best rhythm and blues video. She was also cited as best new artist of the year by Billboard and by Rolling Stone magazine. With all this hype one might expect the album to be an anticlimactic, lackluster affair, but the surprise is that Whitney Houston (Arista) is one of the warmest, most complex and altogether satisfying rhythm and blues records of the decade and Whitney herself has a voice that defies belief. From the elegant, beautiful photo of her on the cover of the album (in a gown by Giovanne De Maura) and its fairly sexy counterpart on the back (in a bathing suit by Norma Kaman) one knows that this isn't going to be a blandly professional affair; the record is smooth but intense and Whitney's voice leaps across so many boundaries and is so versatile (though she's mainly ajazz singer) that it's hard to take in the album on a first listening. But you won't want to. You'll want to savor it over many.
It opens with "You Give Good Love" and "Thinking About You," both produced and arranged by Kashif, and they emanate warm, lush jazz arrangements but with a contemporary synthesized beat and though they're both really good songs, the album doesn't get kicking until "Someone for Me" which was produced by Jermaine Jackson, where Whitney sings longingly against a jazz-disco background and the difference between her longing and the sprightliness of the song is very moving. The ballad "Saving All My Love for You" is the sexiest, most romantic song on the record. It also has a killer saxophone solo by Tom Scott and one can hear the influences of sixties girl-group pop in it (it was cowritten by Gerry Goffin) but the sixties girl groups were never this emotional or sexy (or as well produced) as this song is. "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" is a glorious duet with Jermaine Jackson (who also produced it) and just one example of how sophisticated lyrically this album is. The last thing it suffers from is a paucity of decent lyrics which is what usually happens when a singer doesn't write her own material and has to have her producer choose it. But Whitney and company have picked well here.
The dance single "How Will I Know" (my vote for best dance song of the 1980s) is a joyous ode to a girl's nervousness about whether another guy is interested in her. It's got a great keyboard riff and it's the only track on the album produced by wunderkind producer Narada Michael Walden. My own personal favorite ballad (aside from 'The Greatest Love of All" - her crowning achievement) is "All at Once" which is about how a young woman realizes all at once her lover is fading away from her and it's accompanied by a gorgeous string arrangement. Even though nothing on the album sounds like filler, the only track that might come close is "Take Good Care of My Heart," another duet with Jermaine Jackson. The problem is that it strays from the album's jazz roots and seems too in. fluenced by 1980s dance music.