Bobby’s mornings in California all seemed to run together. The faux suede couch in his furnished apartment sagged no matter where he sat, and he didn’t want to know about the stains. He’d been making his own coffee since he was twelve, and to save his life he couldn’t figure out the load for the motel size coffee pot that had made asphalt or dirty water every morning he’d been in L.A.
Through the open window he could hear the guys his age with no families or plans laughing when they raised the garage door on the transmission shop behind him. They’d take a technical day off like Thanksgiving to burn a few, open a few and wrench on their personal rides. Bobby knew he’d waste more time today himself at the gas station 7-11 combo on the corner, deciding between a green chili chicken burrito or the two-pack of wasabi egg rolls. Since he didn’t have anywhere to be he might even entertain one of the gut-bomb super size ‘supreme’ burritos.
He watched his Happy Thanksgiving text to Carrie Louise animate itself off the screen of his phone, absently tapped the phone on his thigh and wished he knew why she wouldn’t answer him. That was something he’d work on when the Mad Mods season wrapped. Right now he was living a rental life in a rental world with his suit of armor and radar on 24/7, and it was wearing him down.
Bobby grabbed a light jacket off the hook on his front door, took a casual stroll down the steps of his second floor apartment in the Nineteen-Forties shotgun style eight-plex, daydreamed the way to his car. He almost tripped over the guy in sunglasses and a silk Hawaiian shirt leaning against the car parked on the curb behind the apartments.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. B. Heard you were looking for an honest lawyer.”
Bobby checked the guy. Prematurely bald, or older than he looked, and the car he was leaning on was a cream-colored classic 1956 Porsche 356 convertible.
“Mick did a car like that a couple years ago.”
“This is it, bro. I went back to stock on the wheels. Those TV car guys, they all fuck up a classic with ghetto rims, even when they don’t flare the fenders. Lunacy. Classic design is classic because it was right the first time.” He watched Bobby like he had him under a microscope. “The car would make you think twice about me being honest. Mitch Gellert, your background man? He sent me. I don’t lawyer like most lawyers, I’m more of a financing matchmaker. I put deals together for lost causes without getting the wrong people involved, do the paperwork, watch the investors’ money.” He waited for Bobby to rub his eyes, wake up some more.
“Mick is hopelessly upside down, Bobby. He bankruptcies, takes a walk, cashes out the last deal and runs, cons you into buying his debt. Who knows? Regardless of his exit strategy, he’s done after next year’s season. Maybe this one. Unless our conversation goes the way I hope it does.” Silk Hawaiian shirt lifted the sunglasses, held out his hand. “Creighton DeHavilland. No relation to the movie star.”
Bobby shook the offered hand, leaned on the trunk of his rental. The man wasn’t too slick, or too calm or too pretty or too soft, didn’t smell too good. Wasn’t any of the things Bobby had come to expect from Los Angeles or the boat show posers, business thieves, con artists or any of the damn lawyers he’d met.
“That sucks, about Mick. I had a plan for Mad Mods. A partial plan, anyway.”
“That’s why I’m here. And why you’re done with Elizabeth Vernier rubber stamping your business ventures and cutting you loose to run them out of your pocket. She’s a bitch with a long term agenda. One that doesn’t involve you.”
“How do you know —”
“We’ll get to that. Are you tangled up emotionally, real or imagined, with the lovely not-a-real-parts-girl Bernadette Evrard?”
“No. I mean, I don’t know if we’re friends or if she’s a misdirect or even authentic. I’m trying to play it flat, like Mitch told me. See it all, and wait.”
“She is who she says she is. And she’d like to like you, as a friend. Something about you cutting her some slack, being a sweetheart instead of a dick. Could you work with her?”
“If it was straight, hell yeah.”
“Good. She’s smart and has half a plan herself. If she’d fuck her way into the entertainment business she could start in prime time. She doesn’t want screen time, though, short or long term. She wants management.” He pointed finger pistols at Bobby with both hands. “For that desire to benefit us all, I need to redirect both of you to an entertainment vision beyond the ends of your noses. Let’s go eat breakfast.” He dropped his sunglasses back down, stepped around the side of the Porsche. “Been to Malibu yet?”
“You can eat sting ring chili and fire starter fart tacos for Thanksgiving breakfast?”
“Sheee-it,” Bobby snort laughed. “No reason for today to be all that different.” He ran his hand across the vanilla colored leather with red piping that covered the seats of the Porsche, whistled softly and opened the door.
“I had high hopes that you were a man with an open mind. Serious about the food, bro.” Creighton checked over his shoulder for traffic. “Top is down because it makes me fart just thinking about it.”
“You fart in these?” Bobby poked the side of his seat for emphasis.
“Good as anywhere. Like brisket tacos, you know? I figure if the cow is past worrying, so am I.”