Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Associate (Part 2)

     I got a hold of Angel a little past four.  Strange how methamphetamine can relax you.... or at least steel your nerves.  I came right to the point.
     "Angel, you've wanted me in the organization, so I'm in.  And no, I'm not getting divorced, it's okay with Bekka if I hook up with you gentlemen."
     "Lenny, this is wonderful news!  I'm delighted with your decision.  You're in."  All news with Angel was either "wonderful" or "not good."  Not good news meant serious trouble for all those involved with its delivery.
     "Just like that?"
     "Yes.  You'll be an associate of ours, and we'll occasionally ask you to do certain tasks.  Nothing too difficult, especially for someone of your intelligence and resource.  It will be imperative these tasks are carried out precisely as requested, however.  No improvising unless absolutely necessary.  Is that clear?"
     "Yes sir.  So, what would you like me to do?"
     "Just keep running Inana the same way you have been.  We'll let you know when we have a task for you.  In the meantime, enjoy the increase in salary you'll be receiving."
     "Sir, would it be possible to come up and have lunch with you on Thursday?  I'd like to  discuss things further.  Name a restaurant, it's on me."
     Angel chuckled over the line.  "That sounds fine, Lenny.  Come to my house and we'll go from there.  You don't mind Italian at lunch, do you?"
      "Sounds good to me, sir.  I'll follow your lead."

     At ten on Thursday I was headed north on I-5.  Encino awaited me, the smog-choked paradise it was.  Angel was smoking a cigarette in the driveway when I turned in.  As always, he greeted me warmly.
     "Still enjoying the new car, I see.  I'm accustomed to listening for Bekka's hot rod when waiting for either of you.  I'll have to adjust that.  How was the drive?"
     I assured him it was smooth, and should we take one car or two to the restaurant?  I'd need directions, of course.
     "We'll take yours, I've never been in an Acura.  Good cars, are they?  Not just sporty?"
     "They're hot-rod Hondas, really.  Acura is a sport division of Honda.  I've always trusted Hondas, they've never let me down, even the older ones."
     "Well, let's get going.  We're headed for a trattoria in Century City.  You can navigate there, correct?"
     "Yes sir, you just point the place out."
     I zipped us down through Hollywood and into Century City, onto Wiltshire Boulevard at Angel's instruction.  We pulled into the the circular driveway of a restaurant where I forfeited the car to a uniformed dude, my age, to be parked.  Walking through the front doors --- there was a guy there whose sole purpose was to open and close them --- greeted diners with a breath of air-conditioned air, assuring patrons of comfort throughout their meal.
     The maitre'd recognized Angel and we were seated at once, ahead of other patrons waiting patiently on padded benches.  We must have screamed "recording contract" as Angel was in his usual three-piece suit and I was in my usual bleached hair, t-shirt, jeans, boots, and denim.  I did not fit in there, by any stretch of the imagination.  I stuck out like a cockroach on a wedding cake.
     We were seated on the patio.  Once there, Angel asked me, "So, I'm guessing you have questions about what will be involved with your duties?"
     "Yeah, but should we discuss them here?  I mean, it's pretty crowded...."
     "The people who attend this restaurant are too absorbed in their own matters to worry about what other people are saying.  You may speak freely, no one will notice."
     "So Hollywood types really are that self-absorbed."
     "Oh, absolutely.  That is why I own this trattoria.  I can conduct business over fantastic food without concern of other diners.  By the way, our bill here will be nothing, just as yours will be if and when you choose to eat here again.  One of the enjoyments of being an associate of our organization."
     "So if I came here for dinner with Bekka....?"
    "It would cost you nothing, same as at several other restaurants which you  will come to know.  Tipping is even optional, but recommended.  No sense in being a complete heel."
     "I think Rick used to eat here."
     "I'm sure he did.  He was another associate."
     "That's what worries me about this whole deal.  Look how he turned out."
     Angel scowled and said, "Look at the choices Rick made.  Look at his vendetta against you.  You would not be so foolish, right?"
     "No way.  Rick was pissed off at the world.  Can't help but wonder what he'd done from a position of power, you know?"
     "Rick was too self-destructive to worry about that.  So tell me, what are your worries about being involved with the organization?"
     "Well....  That you'll have me out killin' people, for one.  That lays heavy on my mind, Angel."
     He burst out in laughter.  He pushed his chair away so he'd have someplace to bend.  "Oh, is that your concern?  Don't worry about that, we don't give assignments like that to associates!  We keep that for ourselves, believe me.  No, we won't have you killing anyone, Lenny.  More like the deliveries you did when you were dealing that crank in San Diego, that's what we expect from you.  You have no worries, you will not be asked to do anything you haven't done before.  But then again you've done plenty of things in your life, haven't you?"
     I scratched my head.  "I suppose so.  I mean, if you need me making dope runs, fine, I've got no problem with that...."
     "You'll be doing much more important things than that.  Often you'll be carrying nothing but paperwork.  Do you think you can handle that?"
     "Yeah I can.  And the waiter's been standing here for a minute.  I guess he's kosher with this kind of conversation."
     Angel looked up at the waiter and said, "Benny, have you heard anything spoken here?"
     "Not a word, sir," was the reply.
     Angel gestured towards me and said, "Benny, remember this man.  He is in my employ, and is not to receive a check under any fucking circumstance.  Get me?"
     "Got it, sir.  What would you gentlemen like this afternoon?"
     "Sorry Benny, we haven't gotten that far.  Bring us a bottle of the house red right off, though, we're celebrating a small business agreement.  Come back to us in a few minutes, after you get another table or two taken care of."
     "So you don't worry about tourists?" I asked Angel.
     "Not at all.  They are always seated inside.  To receive a patio table at this restaurant, in any weather, is to say that you've made it.  You will always get a patio table."
     I said, "Pulling up, I'd never have guessed this place was here.  How do you stay in business?"
     Angel replied, "We thrive on exclusivity.  Simply having the address out front is too much advertising for some.  This trattoria is built on a foundation of straw, which is strong enough to let it survive the whims of Hollywood and Bel Air.  People who wish to be seen can dine elsewhere.  Those desiring good food and an atmosphere conducive to conversation are happy to dine at this little venture of mine.  Have we been bothered once by the conversation of others so far?"
     "I guess not."
     Angel stated, "This is my personal triumph, a place where people can dine in solitude and not be disturbed by others.  It is all I have ever wanted from a restaurant, and I own it.  How bad can that be?"
     "Sounds pretty sweet, Angel.  Who knows, maybe in twenty years I'll own a drive-in."
     Angel found this hilarious, choking on his wine.  "You may aim higher if you wish, Lenny," he laughed at me.  "It all depends on your goals and energy."
     "Maybe two drive-ins," I said.  The house red was good, not too sweet.
     "Maybe so, Lenny.  So was that your main concern?  Having to kill people?"
     "Or beating up strangers.  That also worries me."
     "Don't worry," said Angel.  "The heavy lifting like that is assigned to people who are experienced in it, almost relish it.  You won't see them at any house parties, let me put it that way."
     "Damn shame, I'd probably get along with them.  So what would you like me to start off with?"
     "You're doing all we need right now, which is running one of our companies in a stellar manner.  Don't worry, we'll have some action for you soon enough, although you might be bored by it.  Nothing special, just making a few deliveries we don't trust to the courier services."
     "I can handle that," I said.

     I greeted Bekka back at the mansion, where she was getting off a shoot.  We were starting our second full feature of the year.  A little behind, but this one had a good plot.  Something about the conflict between two couples and a babysitter, heady stuff.  We'd be listed on Movie-Hound with this one.  This had verifiable chunks of dialogue.
     "How was lunch?" she asked, kissing my neck.
     "I've got a brand-new place to take you for dinner," I told her.  "It's worth the drive.  Fantastic food, and very exclusive.  I've got a member's card."
     "So are you a full-fledged mobster now?" she asked.
     "Nope, and never will be.  You were right about needing to be Italian.  I guess they'll keep me busy, though I'll be a glorified courier from the way Angel was talking.  I can handle that.  It'll be on top of my duties here at Inana, so I'm not sure how things will be timed."
     "You managed to work and keep San Diego spun on speed at the same time, you shouldn't have trouble with your new position."  She rubbed against me in a familiar but wonderful way.  "I can't wait to get home, baby."
     "Neither can I," I told her, "but why wait that long?  We could use one of the rooms upstairs."
     "Someone may find us," she pouted.
     "So what?  You always get to be watched, I never do."
     "And I like it that way.  Race you home."
     When she suggested racing home, she wasn't being facetious.  We would challenge traffic, and each other, all the way home in our cars.  Depending on our mood, the loser had to bring the winner either dinner or to orgasm first.  I think we both preferred it when we weren't hungry.  It set the mood for the evening.  How we avoided swapping paint was anyone's guess.
     I slid into the driveway about two seconds before Bekka came in, punching the key code to let us both in the complex.  We hit our respective parking slots and I dove for the door, getting my key in the lock first, which signified my victory.  I smiled over at her.
     "So what do you want," she asked, "me to make dinner or me to make you come?"
     "Oh, make me come, but I wanna take our time at it.  Who knows, maybe you'll come before I do."
     "This intrigues me.  Let's get inside."
     Forty minutes later I had her ankles on my shoulders, and my premonition came true: she came before I did, twice.  I was on the edge.
     "Where do you want it, baby?" I asked.
     "Give it to me.... Oh shit.... Like this...."
     I did.  My bones turned to jelly.  (Aw honey I'm a wreck....)

     I rolled off and said, "Shower?"
     "Let's order dinner, then shower.  The timing should be right."
     The timing was perfect.  I answered the door with what everyone would recognize as a classic "just fucked" look, everyone but the Pakistani delivering my food.  He just stood there looking confused as to why a customer had ordered food from the shower.
     "C'mon in and set the food down.  You want a rail?" I asked, gesturing him forward.
     "No, we must remain outside peoples' homes," was the response.
     I frowned and said, "But how will you set the food down?"  I gestured him in again and he followed, unwillingly.  Bekka chose that moment to emerge from the bathroom with her robe un-belted and a smile on her face.
     "Oh, nifty, the food is here," she commented, grasping the obvious.  The kid making the delivery literally shielded his eyes and said, "Madam, please!"
     "Oh, whoops!" said Bekka, tying her robe.  "Didn't mean to offend."  She stepped forward bearing cash for the now-traumatized delivery kid.
     "So how much?" she asked, grabbing the kid's arm.
     "Twenty-three and fifty!" he cried, trying to get his arm loose.
     Bekka counted out some bills and said, "Here's twenty-eight.  Didn't mean to offend."  It made sense: an unforgettable tip for an unforgettable transaction.  Other than Bekka appearing with her robe undone, we had done nothing wrong or twisted.  The delivery kid bolted for the front door, stealing a glance in Bekka's direction before he did.
     "I think we disturbed him," I pointed out to Bekka.
     "About fucking time," she replied.  "God knows I can't do it at work."


No comments:

Post a Comment