Even in the unsentimental world of agents Sandy Muynck was thought of as hard. Hard and good. Smooth quick mind, charm as required, elephant’s memory. From Brooklyn to Manhattan to the southern California estate that had belonged only to major movie stars since the forties stretched a trail of writers, producers, actors, directors and lawyers who had learned not underestimate the little dark-haired woman from nowhere who took a law degree while supporting the charming, useless upscale husband who eventually and conveniently drove his restored 1939 Packard into the gorge that swept breathlessly down to the Pacific on the private road into the compound of which her estate was part. Alcoholic writers showed up sober for Sandy, filthy-mouth producers put a sock in it for her, action heroes on strong drugs were overcome by civility in her cool presence. Her behavior was so purposeful and assured that a kind of mythic power had attached itself to her, and the husband’s spectacular death in the flying Packard only enhanced this. It was said that she had no friends, but she was also known to have a fine sense of loyalty, and never failed to appreciate this quality in others, as long as they weren’t stupid or indiscreet. Boring she had learned to tolerate. At forty-five she looked barely thirty, and she was healthy as people can be healthy when they love their work, eat well and enjoy using their bodies. She could dance for hours, wear out partners the way she wore down negotiators, always with a half smile ready to form on her unlined oval face.
THE BEATER'S TALE - a fable
I am not familiar with your publication, but I am more than pleased to speak with you about the Maharajah if he so desires. Perhaps you can send me a copy of the article when it appears, as well as well as one for His Majesty, of course. In any case, conversation over a brandy-soda at the end of the day is my pleasure and we do not get many visitors from the West these days.
Let me begin by saying that although I have known him from childhood, the Maharajah continues to be mysterious and remarkable to me, which I take as inevitable in a being descended of a God on one side and an ancient Royalty on the other. Some find this heritage difficult to accept at first, but it is well established. I will explain about that later. As you know, His Majesty's word is law in a quite literal way that is virtually unknown in our time, and this creates a unique situation. Then again, you also know that since the British left, the Royal Family has been troubled by the proximity of powerful neighbors. But these mountains that surround us have practical as well as religious significance, our modest army is expert in this terrain, and His Majesty continues to reign over our Shangri-La in peace.
To understand the Maharajah you must bear in mind always the conflict between his divine heritage and the endless details of administration which fall upon him, such as executions, amnesties, floggings, proclamations, debt restructuring, foreign affairs and so forth, none of which are of real interest to him, and cause him much irritation. But he works with a will, and you will not find him in idle contemplation; a bed-time read is his only luxury. Indeed, his capacity for work is prodigious and his devotion to duty unlimited. He sleeps perhaps four hours in a night and is absolutely dedicated to solving whatever problem seems uppermost. Problems remain, of course, many of them financial. The British from time to time offer to underwrite certain improvements our country requires, but he disdains and is suspicious of them. I am so myself, and likewise of the Ghandis. Nor is Pakistan without interest in our affairs. Anyone understands that these parties are not to be trusted, though I have come to think that the British might in the long run have a beneficial effect. Certainly they are peerless administrators, and we lack these.
Before of all else, the Maharajah is a natural leader, born to rule, before whose will opposition melts as before a holy flame. And there is no question but what His Majesty is magnificent on occasions of state, his bearing upright and effortless, head leonine, the well-known hair proud in its silky curls, his words resonant and effortless, convincing to all. When the Ghandis wish to demonstrate their liberality, it is invariably our Maharajah who will be invited to international occasions, for he is an ornament to any gathering. Nor does he need the Ghandis to shine: the British Queen, though her visit was brief, was seen to smile in approval. In an emergency the man is dauntless. Disaster inspires him, mobilizing all his energies. If he sometimes lacks interest in routine matters, what does one expect of a man who is part God? This is indeed the question, I suppose. In any case, his Majesty is bereft of the usual vices, and I must admit that it can sometimes be demanding to live in the presence of such virtue. One is reproached by its completeness: he is faithful to his wife, rises early, never lays about, eats not to excess, has no taste for alcohol, the theater, music, venery, the gaming tables and so forth. His only indulgence is the Royal Collection of antique krifaa figurines. Krifaa, as you will know, is a gem unique to this area, on which the economy is largely based, and woe to any subject who steals from the mines. If he should find a figurine and fail to make it a gift to his Majesty, the punishment is death, for the Collection is a priceless national asset from which we surrender specimens only at times of fiscal crisis, with the assistance of Sotheby's.