On Monday I called down to Carelli Cadillac in Anaheim and asked to speak to Rico. He and Rachel left the party around three in the morning. I wanted to find out what sort of condition Rachel was in, and if I could help in any way. And if Rico planned to kill me and Bekka.
I rang through to the main line, was transferred to the sales office, and finally put through to the "upstairs" office. After speaking with a secretary who spoke Rico Carelli's name in reverential tones, I was put through to his office. He answered on the second ring.
"Hey, how do, this is Lenny Schneider," I said.
"Lenny? Oh yeah, from Vinny's party. I've wanted to talk to you."
I asked, "So how's Rachel?"
"That's what I wanna talk to you about," said Rico. He paused, and breathed heavily into the phone. Then he came back.
"Don't worry, I don't want to kill you," he said. "Beat you up, maybe. But not kill you."
"How is she behaving?" I asked.
"She won't shut the hell up!" exclaimed Rico. "She's totally rearranged our kitchen, she's vacuumed like five times, and she talks constantly. There's nobody home right now, and I'll bet she's still going on about who knows what. The one positive thing is that your wife was right, she's crazy in bed right now. So when the hell does this stuff wear off?"
"Let's see, you're right around the thirty-six hour mark. One or two in the morning will be the forty-eight hour mark. I'm a little surprised she hasn't slowed down some. Did you get a hold of any pills?"
"I don't know where the hell to get that stuff," Rico groused.
"Tell you what," I said. "I've got nothing going on this afternoon and I've got both Vicodin and Valium to spare. I'll run up there and drop off about ten each for you. You feed them to Rachel when you get home, along with some booze. What does she drink?"
"She's hung up on some special brand of vodka called Absolut."
"Bring her a fresh bottle. I'm making no guarantees that she'll sleep, but she'll slow down and shut up for a while, if nothing else."
"That'd be great. I told my secretary that if she calls, I'm down on the sales floor and can't be interrupted. No way could I take a call from her while she's in her current frame of mind."
"Got it. Don't worry, help is on the way. Just give me directions to get to your dealership."
Carelli Cadillac was two exits beyond Disneyland, right off I-5. What should have been a one hour drive turned into two, thanks to a bad accident in Irvine. I finally poured the Acura onto the lot in the middle of the afternoon.
I attracted attention from the salesmen. Some of them actually put their coffee down to look. I was in a year old Acura, which meant that I had some money (or at least good credit). At the same time, I was both young and a punk rocker, two things that would set off alarms in the hive-mind. The salesman I walked up to on the floor was not impressed with me. He was even less impressed when I asked him to let Rico know I was here.
"You wish to speak with Rico directly?" he asked.
"Yeah. He's expecting me."
"It's Lenny, Lenny Schneider. Go ahead and ring him, he'll know who I am," I said.
He dialed a number and waited. While he did, he asked me how I knew Rico.
"We met over the weekend, and how the hell is that your business?"
The salesman relayed my information over the phone, and suddenly blanched. I had Rico's approval. The salesman led me through the showroom, up a flight of stairs, and into a suite of offices, of which the largest one was occupied by Rico. I stepped in the door and he greeted me with a smile.
"Thanks, Rick," Rico said to the salesman. He practically curtsied and scurried back towards the stairs, probably to see what kind of deal he could work for me by trading in my Acura. Selling a new car to the friend of the owner would be a major score.
Double-checking that the door was closed, I pulled out a small bag full of pills. I set them down in front of him. He stared at them, then at me.
I said, "The yellow ones are Vicodin, the blues are #10 Valium. I suggest feeding her five of the Vicodin backed up by six ounces of vodka. If she wants to drink more, let her, so long as she has something in her stomach. Has she eaten since Saturday night?"
Rico frowned. "I don't think so. I went to Jack In The Box for dinner last night, because she was too busy spazzing out in the garage."
I said, "Yeah, she's tweaking. One of the first things you need to do is corner her and remind her that she's under the influence of a powerful drug, and things are not as they seem. Point out that she hasn't rested since she woke up Saturday morning, and it's now Monday afternoon...."
Rico interrupted me. "Hey Lenny, don't suppose I could talk you into telling her all that stuff. She trusts you. She'll probably take the pills from you easier than she would with me, too. C'mon, you owe me."
"Okay, I'll do it. Don't worry about who owes what to who. Remember, I also indirectly got you into some wild sex with your wife."
He smiled, stood up, and buttoned his jacket. "Yeah, there is that. Given how into it she was at the time, it almost made me wish I tried some."
I stared at him and leaned against the door, preventing him from opening it. "You ever had any coronary incidents?" I asked.
"I had a heart attack three years ago. I lost a bunch of weight, stopped working eighty hour weeks, started eating better, laid off the cigars, so I'm doing okay now. Why?"
"Never touch methamphetamine," I told him. "The risk's not worth it."
He stared back, comprehending. "That dangerous, huh?"
"It can be."
"So how come you still do the stuff, anyway? It seems like it's one big headache."
I sighed. "Me and Bekka are addicts. It works different on us. We keep doing the stuff because it's how we get through the day. I know, we're idiots, but we get the crap lab fresh and for cheap, and we're not ready to do the drastic alteration to our lives that would come with quitting speed."
"Damn," Rico said.
"I didn't bring any with me, because I know your wife will ask me for some, and I want to be able to honestly tell her no. If the timing is right, she's just starting to feel a bit run down, and is thinking that another line will make her feel better. No, see, then you run into sleep deprivation, which is when people go nuts, like you were saying Saturday night. Keep anyone away from sleep for a few days and they start getting a little weird. Some people just stand and stare at shit for long periods of time, others wig out and are convinced that Satan is living in their sock drawer. Talking the second one down is a real challenge. I've done it."
"So it is scary shit."
"Man, I hope Rachel doesn't like the stuff too much."
I followed Rico down the stairs and onto the sales floor. I stood and admired a Fleetwood while Rico talked to a couple salespeople. Rico let his sales manager know he was leaving for home early, and would be available by phone.
As we walked through the lot, I said, "You know, I'd trade in my Acura for a full sized Cadillac if I knew I could get it modified."
"Modified how?" Rico asked.
"I want the engine stroked out for more power. I want bulletproof glass everywhere I can get it. And I want armor plating in the doors. Oh, and a hellish stereo, but I can take care of that myself."
Rico gave me a look. "What the hell you want the armor for?" he asked.
I said, "Because I have the bad habit of being shot at. Except for the driver's door window, I've replaced every single piece of glass in my Acura at least once. It's all been shot out at one point or another."
"Damn," said Rico.
"Damn indeed. That's why I want something solid, armored, bulletproof glass, and fast on top of everything else. Can Cadillac deliver something like that?"
"I'll have to look into it. I know GM provides vehicles to U.N. members, and enough of them are paranoid to want what you're asking for, straight from the factory. So far as modifying the engine goes, the Fleetwood and the Caprice share an engine, so if you could somehow get the Police Interceptor modification done to a Fleetwood's motor, you'd be set. You'd be rolling in one mean machine. Tell me, what color would you want it?"
"Black," I said. "What else?"
He smiled and said, "I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, you mind following me out to Newport Beach to my house? It's a bit of a stretch, but you get used to it."
"No problem. Where's your car?"
"It's parked out by the service bays. Just watch for a blue Seville to run by and get in behind. How quick is your Acura?"
"Pretty damn quick," I said. "Why?"
"I'm kind of a leadfoot, and I'd hate to lose you because of my bad habits. Anyway, I'll see you at home."
I ran all the way down the 5 to the 55 sticking to his tail. If I didn't know better, I would have said he was trying to lose me. In attempts to move around marginally slower cars, he would hop from lane to lane. Not wishing to get lost, I stuck with him through all his maneuvers.
We finally arrived at his house, a place off of Newport Shores Drive. We went inside, Rico calling out for Rachel. There was noise from an upstairs room and we headed towards it. "Where are you, hon? Are you decent? I've got a guest with me."
We found Rachel in a guest bedroom, digging through boxes. Stuff was strewn across the rug. Like most tweakers, the reasoning behind the organization was apparent to them and no one else.
"Oh, hey Lenny. Why are you here in Newport Beach?" She was a little difficult to understand because she was talking and gritting her teeth at the same time. She leaned in for a hug.
Hugging her back, I lied. I told her, "I went to talk to Rico about a custom Caddy that I want. How are you feeling?"
She gave me a vacuous smile and said, "I feel great. That meth stuff is awesome! I'm glad you gave it to me!"
"Yeah, but unless you get some rest you're gonna feel pretty shabby. Lemme guess, you got up Saturday morning and haven't even laid down since, right?"
"Yeah, but.... I've been busy. I'm finally getting all those projects I wanted to do done. I'm okay without rest, I feel fine."
"You feel fine right now. You'll feel like shit later unless you lay down for a while. I even have some stuff to help you with it." I pulled out the pills and counted out five Vicodin. Then I had her follow me downstairs, where I displayed the new bottle of vodka to her. I grabbed a tall glass and set it on the counter, and asked her how she took her vodka.
"Um, over ice, with lemon. Are you sure it's safe for me to drink and take those pills at the same time?"
"Sure I'm sure," I said, making her an incredibly tall drink. "All the speed in your system will counteract the deep crash that can happen with booze and pills. Now, if I had you taking fifteen pills at once, that would be another matter. But you'll be fine with just five and one big drink."
She swallowed the pills, washing them down with the drink. "Now what do I do?" she asked.
"Grab a book you like, lie down on the bed, and read. If you start feeling drowsy, put the book down and close your eyes. Just relax and get some rest. Okay?"
"No problem," she said. "I'll read some Stephen King and nap for a while. Say, do you have any more of that stuff with you? It'd be perfect for when I get back up."
"No, sorry, I left it at home. Besides, you don't want to deprive yourself of sleep. You'll be in real bad condition then. You'll be nuts."
Rachel grabbed her drink and headed up to the bedroom. Rico was in the living room clicking the remote, trying to find something that wasn't either children's programming or Phil Donohue. I went and told him that his wife had gone upstairs to rest. He was relieved.
"It's the constant activity that worries me," he said. "It's like she hasn't stopped moving around since you gave her that crap, and I'm afraid she's gonna burn something out or whatever."
"Well, she was still in a positive mindframe when I talked to her, so she's hardly crashing. That's a positive thing. I'd say to go up and check on her in about an hour, see if she's still reading, or if she's dozed off. Go ahead and order a pizza for dinner. Does she like pizza?"
"She loves it."
"Then definitely order pizza," I said. "The smell will attract her attention, and she'll remember she hasn't eaten in two days."
"You've done this before," Rico said.
"Yeah, and with people who were in a lot worse shape. When you're dealing with some fool who hasn't slept for a week and is convinced there are people trying to break into the house, well, you've gotta put up your best arguments. You feel like yelling at them, then braining them with a baseball bat to bring on unconsciousness. Not nice to kill your friends, though."
I stayed until Rico made his check. Rachel was asleep, the book folded on her stomach. I told him that if she woke up and started tweaking around again, feed her a few Valium and more vodka. Rico promised to look into what it would take to get a bulletproof Cadillac, and relay the news back.
I headed back south to La Costa and home. I was relieved I was able to offer the help that I did. Rachel wasn't spun out or in a bad frame of mind, but her husband was concerned about the fact that she hadn't been to bed in two days. Personally, he was overreacting. Those exposés on local news about meth and what a mess it made of people were doing a disservice. The drug wears off, and you're back where you started. People who don't like the feeling take the simple route of never touching the shit again. Those who like it, do it.... And some become addicts like Bekka and I.
Oh well. At least we could afford the high quality crap.