The final chapter of “Meher, me, two strippers and a bodyguard”.
Interlude: A tale of two cops:
The first night I arrive in Los Angeles Meher picks me up at the airport and we set out in search of our original accomodations, Deano’s Motel in Culver City. Just as we accidentally pass the motel a police cruiser pulls up behind us and hits our rearview with this tremendous spotlight, blinding us and making the officer approaching look like the silhouetted aliens in Close Encounters. The cop emerges from the brightness on Meher’s side.
“You guys look lost.”
“We were just looking for Deano’s motel… it’s right there.”
I turn my head to see the officer’s partner silently hovering on my side.
“You’re lights also out in the back.”
“Oh really? Which one?”
“Well there’s a lot back there… hold on.” the cop steps back as Meher plays with his turn signal.
“The left one?” Meher asks.
“Uh… yeah. Can I see your license and registration?” he takes it from Meher. “You guys from Ontario?”
“Pretty good huh?”
“You must be psychic.”
The cop disappears for a while… a long while and then returns Meher’s papers to him.
“Ok. You know about that light and everything else is fine.”
“May the force be with you.” the cop says, leaving Meher totally awestruck.
The next day I’m standing on the steps of our motel staring toward the street in an effort to mentally will Meher to return before checkout time. A police car pulls up next to me and the cop says “Hi.”
“Hi.” I say and then look back up the street.
“So, you’re just hanging out?”
“Yep.” I explain that I’m waiting for Meher and I notice the cop checking out my legs and boots like: “The kid’s thin… is he heroin addict thin? Hmm.”
“So you’re from out of town?”
“We’re from Ontario.”
“Well okay then.” and he drives off.
Hassled by two cops in my first 12 hours here… and it hasn’t happened since.
There’s nothing you can do… it’s Culver City Jake.
And now our feature presentation:
As Meher and I return from a late lunch of burritos at La Salsa we find Erika standing in the back parking lot of the motel. It seems that the trucker friend of hers who was supposed to pick them up at four o’clock got held up (not like by a burglar) while trying to offload his truck. The forklift driver miscalculated and dropped a skid full of steel on a guy standing in the loading bay. As a witness to the man’s death the trucker has been delayed indefinitely and they’ll need to keep the stuff in Meher’s car until at least 11 o’clock tonight… the plot thickens.
Much, much later:
Tony arrives at about 9:45 pm. He’s got a new hotel room, which he’s put on his American Airlines card, the Hacienda on Sepulveda. It’s as cheap as this place but with a jacuzzi, swimming pool, “the whole bit”. He says that their truck driving friend, Brad, should be here between ten and forty minutes, would we mind if he stayed in here? Or would it mess with our creativity?
I look to Meher for help but he’s not really paying attention so I say, “Well it might be a bit…” my voice full of regret.
“No problem.” Tony says, “I always respect creativity.” and proceeds to plug his phone into the wall. “I’ll just charge this up. Please let me know if it rings.”
I feel guilty for asking him to stay outside but I know I can’t discuss the soundtrack seriously if someone else is watching. When I discovered yesterday that the girls could hear us I became totally distracted.
Meher and I discuss the fact that the piece he’s just spent an hour writing may not be working and we decide that it has to be an orchestral version of the montage ballad. So Meher gets to work and suddenly I’ve got nothing to do. I stare guiltily at Tony sitting stoically on the wet patio furniture.
I go to the bathroom and read a bit while sitting on the john. This serves two purposes: to empty my overflowing surgically altered intestines and to get me out of Tony’s line of sight.
While I’m explosively drawing mud (earlier I had shouted to Meher “I am an artist! Mud is my paint! Porcelain is my canvas!” provoking a satisfying guffaw from Herr Steinberg) I hear Tony’s voice: “Y’know, truth be told… if you get a break in the next ten, twenty minutes you could give me a lift over… it wouldn’t take long… I just hate this.”
“Oh…uh…” Meher replies.
“Do you think you’ll get a break?”
“Oh… no… uh sorry man. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do. I really can’t.”
“Oh alright, it’s just that I hate this, y’know?”
I decide I should put some long pants and a sweater on and go outside to help Tony wait, claiming that I’ve got to stay out of Meher’s way – creative genius and all that. Then I realize that I could drive him.
Once I’ve finished my business I put some pants on and ask Meher if maybe I should drive Tony.
“Just to get it done with, you know.”
“You want to?”
“I guess, I just feel so guilty.”
“Well I hope I see you alive again.”
“Do you really…?”
“No, no… I’m just joking.”
“Yeah… I just fell bad with him sitting out there.”
Tony’s phone rings.
“Tony! Your phone is ringing!” I open the door and then stand near the phone, unsure of wether I should answer it. I don’t.
Tony comes in and picks it up. It’s Leah.
“Well he’s suppose to be here now.” Tony tells her. “Yeah, why don’t you come down here and meet us? Well he said he’d be here now… yeah… hold on. Brad? You’re here? Great! Where are you? Do you see the Dalai Lama? There’s a big ad for Apple Computers… yeah, he’s the oriental guy… big spiritual leader. Did you turn left or right on Santa Monica? Alright, turn around and look for a two hundred pound man all dressed in black waving at you on the street. Ok. Leah? How soon can you get your… beautiful little hiney down here? Yeah he’s here.. ok… we’ll wait.”
He hangs up the phone. “Ok! Oh hey that’s the hotel where Martin Luther King was shot.” Tony is pointing at the television, “I recognize it.”
“Isn’t that in Memphis?” I ask.
“Yeah, and that’s…” He goes on to name various political figures on the screen. His phone rings. “See? I’m pretty educated for an idiot.”
He answers the phone. “Hi… hello… no it’s not Brad. Why would he be answering my phone? Ok… and why aren’t you staying with him? No you stay there…. she’s coming here to meet me. Yeah… you stay there and I’ll get you a lobster and fuck you for a week.”
“Yeah?” I hear Erika’s voice on the other end of the phone call.
“Yeah, everyday and I’ll eat your pussy.”
“Yeah. ‘Til you can’t take it no more.”
Tony says his thanks and tells us what great guys we are for putting up with his shit. “It’s nothing” we say… no, it’s something and we deserve a great big steak. He shakes my hand and leaves to meet Brad who will be arriving in a “really big truck”.
Soon after the air is filled with a loud rumbling as Brad’s truck pulls in.
“See? I told you it was a big truck.” Tony tells me as he collects the stuffed animals.
We go out to the car for the rest of the stuff and sure enough Brad has shown up in the cab of a tractor trailer or semi or whatever… I’m not to well versed in “truck”. As we load the stuff in, Tony reminds us that Brad saw a man die today.
“Ain’t nothing I ain’t seen before.” Brad says casually. He’s about our age with a bandana tied around his head. He’s wearing jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and a five o’clock shadow. “I once saw a guy crushed by a steel core.”
Once everything’s done Tony offers us his phone number and writes it down on a piece of cardboard I ripped off of a pack of excel chewing gum.
“The exchange is the same for both numbers.”
He tells me and then he’s off. A couple of little black kids are hanging out near the entrance to the alley.
“Don’t run off without waiting for your father,” Tony tells them, “This is L.A. you know.”
Epilogue: This journal entry ends with “THE END?”…
But as it turned out that was the end of the story. We never took him up on his dinner offer so that was the last we saw of Tony, Erika and Leah.
We eventually got the score done and I ended up staying in Los Angeles for a few extra days so that Meher and I could just hang out and relax. We even sought out and eventually found a desert landmark that was featured in the original Star Trek and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure… but that’s a different story.