A little later the phone rings and they’re ready to stash the stuff in the car. Meher goes to help and I watch the girls bounce their luggage down the steps. I notice that Leah is limping a little and wearing an elastic brace around her left knee. I walk around back, to the car.
Meher is talking to Tony while loading luggage into the car.
“Oh Anthony, this is Trevor.” Erika interrupts.
Tony looks sort of pissed off. “Who’s Trevor.”
“He’s with Meher.”
“Yeah, I’m the roommate.”
“Oh.” Tony says having totally lost his initial irritation.
“Is it Anthony or Tony?” Meher asks. “What do you prefer?”
“Oh it doesn’t matter… Anthony, Tony, shithead, whatever… it doesn’t matter.”
“It matters if I’m going to get the shit kicked out of me.”
“Oh no… I only do that sort of thing if I’m getting paid for it. I’m really a nice guy.”
“Well okay then, shithead!” Meher says, walking a little too close to the edge for comfort. I laugh in a nervous don’t-poke-the-lion-with-a-stick sort of way.
Everything gets packed away and Leah’s whining about being tired and how her leg hurts. She wanders off into a swarm of flies that seem to be attracted to something in the alley.
“Shit!” she exclaims.
Tony has wandered away and when he returns he says, “Tell you what… do you like seafood?”
“Well,” Meher thinks for a moment “actually me and seafood don’t really mix.”
“How about steak?”
Tony turns to me. “How ’bout you?”
“Okay, why don’t you let me take you guys out to dinner tonight, on me. A big steak for you and a lobster for him. It’ll be what we’re having. I mean you guys are doing us a big favor and…”
“Well…” we hesitate.
“Please” Tony says dryly, “Please let us take you out for dinner tonight.”
“Can we get back to you later on… we’ve got a lot of work to do and…”
“Sure, you can just call me.” he pats his cellular phone in his breast pocket and a debate results over the price of the phone call. Tony and Erika claim that it’s free while Meher insists that it’ll cost him and I. The discussion peters out and it looks as if Tony and the girls are going to take off when Meher asks where we’re going for coffee. Tony explains that it’s a place called the Arts Cafe just around the corner on Westwood.
They ask if we’re going to drive but Meher points out that there’s not enough room in the car. It is decided that he will drive Leah with her bum leg while I walk over with Erika and Tony. As we’re walking Tony points out an old car in great condition. He says he wants to get himself one, that he once bought one new “right off the showroom floor” for $2600.00.
“That was along time ago.” Erika observes.
“What do they go for now?” I ask.
“Geez, like three times what it cost brand new. That one? Probably fifty-six hundred, although the grill’s got a bit of damage and there are some nicks in the paint job…”
“Looked pretty good to me.”
Tony goes on to explain the horsepower etc. of the car and by the way he describes it, I start to get the feeling that that probably is his car. The idea that one of Tony’s cohorts is cleaning out our motel room as we speak, creeps into my mind and latches on like a pit-bull.
We jaywalk across Westwood and after a minute or so of idle conversation arrive at the cafe. We take a seat at a table outside as Meher and Leah show up, having just jaywalked a different part of Westwood.
There is a solitary gentleman sitting at a second table by the door. Erika reaches over and takes the empty chair across from him. Tony is mortified.
“Hey!” He leans over addressing the guy, “Is anyone sitting here?”
The man shakes his head ‘no’ and Tony makes apologies for Erika. It turns out that the chair is unnecessary as Leah decides to sit on the window ledge, presumably so that she can stretch her leg.
Tony takes orders: coffee for me, hot chocolate for Leah and a frozen mocha-latte for Erika then he and Meher go into the cafe. Tony says it’s on him so Meher orders a cappuccino.
While they wait, Meher discovers that Erika just recently has hired Tony to be her bodyguard but he’s not sure if it’s going to work out (the girls must not be pulling in enough dough). The conversation later suggests that they’ve been a little family for quite awhile.
Leah’s sitting across from me with her sunglasses resting on the end of her nose.
“Look at her, “Tony says “With her glasses like that… doesn’t she look…”
“Lolita!” I exclaim.
“Yes, yes! Exactly.” Tony agrees. Leah looks confused so Tony explains that it’s a film that’s before her time, before his time he thinks, about James Mason falling in love with this 13 year old girl who has this incredible power over men. “They just have to look at her, their dicks get hard and they’ll do anything for her.”
“Hey! Watch your language!” both girls exclaim in unison.
Throughout the breakfast Leah continues to chastise Tony like a little girl embarrassed by her father: Tony talks about smoking a lot of pot and Leah hits him saying “Don’t be telling everybody your personal stuff!” He says “fucking” and both girls give him a dirty look.
Factoid: Tony is 45 years old and thanks his excessive use of pot and other drugs for preserving him. He looks more like late 30’s.
Continues on the next page.