Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chapter 16

I got into my car and Paul got into his truck. We caravanned back over Laurel Canyon, down to my building on Crescent Heights and into the residents’ garage. Since our relationship had blossomed, I had gotten brave and given Paul his own parking space. Pretty bold move there, Pushkin. Whatever – he doesn’t have keys to my condo yet. We met at the elevators and Paul grabbed my hand and held it. Not resisting temptation, he began caressing my neck with his lips.
He was so warm and smelled like a freshly bathed newborn babe – all musky and sweet. Paul’s behavior was changing as quickly as the weather in the Northwest. All day long, just wait 5 minutes, and he was in a different mood. Or maybe he had just calmed down on the drive over. If the motion of a car could calm down a baby, maybe it had the same effect on adults as well. Paul certainly needed it. The life drama was causing him to be increasingly affectionate at what seemed to me an awkward time. Maybe he was in shock? Post traumatic stress disorder. Was I suffering from that as well? I would have to ask Harshy. She would give me an objective

As we walked down the hall toward my front doors, I could hear fresh, open sobbing and urgent murmuring. When I opened the door, Paul and I walked in on Trevor curled up in a fetal position in my living room. He was wailing and clutching the bouillon fringe of my huge ottoman. Brian paced behind the couch quietly beseeching Trevor to ‘shut up!’ I almost laughed, but caught myself when Brian turned our way. He threw up his hands in frustration and pointed to Trevor.

“Thank you, Brian,” I said as I walked over to him. I hugged Brian and told him he could chill outside while we talked to Trevor.

“Thank God! This guy is wack. Good luck,” said Brian as he passed through the slider. I watched the cushions of the couch pop up as he flopped into it and clicked the TV.

Paul walked over to Trevor and squatted down next to him. When Trevor paused for breath, he opened his red puffy eyes, saw Paul, and shrieked, “What is he doing here!”

Paul abruptly stood up and stared down at Trevor, while crossing his arms over his chest. Trevor was like a badger in a hole, teeth barred and snarling, eyes shifting from Paul to me and back to Paul. Tears were running down his red stained cheeks and his breath was ragged from all of his wailing. Paul watched and waited. I went over and knelt beside Trevor.

I began riddling him with questions. “Trevor, what are you doing here? What’s going on? Where have you been? Do you know the police are looking for you? What did you do?” I riddled him with questions.

Trevor sat up, clinging to me so hard I almost fell over into the sofa cushions. At this vantage point I could see Kashmew hiding up on top of my TV armoire behind my plants. He was glaring at me with his golden eyes and his tail was abruptly flicking back and forth. I groaned and pulled Trevor up onto the sofa and I sat on the ottoman. Holding his hands, I shook them so that he would focus and look at me. He was a wreck and, boy, did he smell! Cigarettes, booze, dance club, BO, and vomit?

“Trevor! Answer me.”

Wiping his mouth, Trevor looked at me through his wispy eyebrows and then slid that look over to Paul. I followed his eyes, understanding the gesture. “He’s OK, Trevor. Paul won’t hurt you. Why would you think he’d hurt you?”

“’Cause he’s threatened to before. He hates me!” snarled Trevor, reaching for a cigarette out of his polo shirt pocket. Lighting it, he resumed, “They all hate me. They always have. Well, I don’t care! I may have ripped Faraday off, but I certainly didn’t kill him.”

“What are you talking about? Where’ve you been?” I asked again.

He looked at me and blew smoke into my face. “Why do you care, bitch?”

I stood up. “Don’t pull that shit with me, bucko! You’re the one who came to my place looking for me. You’re on my turf now.” My Mohawk was back for a moment.

Trevor stared at the floor. Eventually, he lifted his head and stared hard at me. “For as much of a cunt as you were to me, you’re the only one I thought would even listen to what I had to say. I didn’t know that that fucker would be here.” He gestured at Paul who moved over to Trevor, possibly to smack him to the ground. I motioned with my hand to leave off.

“So what do you have to say, Trevor, because you’re really trying our patience,” I asked, glaring at him. I had never been a cunt to him. A bitch, yes, but never a cunt. He wasn’t worth that amount of effort.

Trevor settled up against the sofa, the ash of his cigarette one inch long and threatening my ottoman. I motioned to Paul that I needed an ashtray from the kitchen. Kashmew meowed and wrinkled his nose against the smoke, swishing his tail harder against my plants. I glared at him too. I sat down on the ottoman when Paul returned with the ashtray. Trevor angrily flicked his ash into the glass bowl, sending sparks onto my pants, ottoman, and Persian carpet. I sighed, exhausted with this problem already. We hadn’t even gotten decent questions answered.

Trevor spoke in a quivering voice. “The police are after me. They think I killed Faraday, even though they’re calling it a suicide.”

“And did you?”

“No! Fuck. I did not. The reason they think I did is because of Bruce, that sausage prick.” Trevor blew out defiant smoke rings.

“Go on,” I prodded. This was going to be interesting and, I hoped, highly revealing, especially as I was tired of being the one insulted.

Trevor began to glare at me again, but then resigned the look in his eyes with surrender. “Bruce found out I was stealing money and stuff from Faraday.” He quietly confessed and then stared down at the floor for comfort.

I sat straight up on the ottoman and gave Trevor the once over. Little prick. Had to be to screw up a cush job at the Faraday estate. Trevor was small, slight, be-speckled, and freckled. Must be tough getting the hotties to go for him as a sex toy. Napoleon complex – always compensating. Must have needed the money to “buy” himself a new image to be a contender.

“Trevor, where have you been for a whole week?” I asked. Paul and I hadn’t seen him since my last day at the estate, last Friday.

“I’ve been staying at the Rage Club in West Hollywood off of Santa Monica Boulevard. I used to work there as a server’s assistant. My old boss let me crash there for a few days,” explained Trevor.

I was confused. I looked over at Paul. “Server’s assistant?”

Paul laughed. “That’s fancy lingo for someone who busses tables in a restaurant.”

Trevor glared at Paul and gave him the finger. Paul acted all frightened and ran hid behind the kitchen island.

I turned back to Trevor. “Wouldn’t the police have gone looking for you there?”

Trevor laughed, “Yeah, the LAPD goes into a flaming gay bar. Right. I knew that it would be a few days before they turned over that chore to the West Hollywood police. That’s why I’m here. My time was up. They questioned my old boss yesterday.”

I thought this over. I looked over at Paul. He shrugged his shoulders. Another great shrugger in my life. Brian was still out on the patio watching TV. I looked back over at Trevor who was watching expectantly.

“What do you want me to do Trevor? I still don’t understand why you would come to me. We’re not exactly friends.”

Trevor finished his cigarette and stubbed it out into the ashtray I was still holding in my hand. “I don’t know. I knew where you lived because eventually I was going to trash your pool because you were such a bitch to me at the estate.” I raised my eyebrows to him and he shook his head like that idea was a millennium ago.

“When I was ‘escaping’ from the Rage, I just started walking down Santa Monica boulevard and eventually found myself at Crescent Heights. As I wondered where to go, I remembered that you lived up the street somewhere near the base of the canyon. I thought I could sneak onto the roof of your building and hide out in your pool house until I could figure out what else to do.” Trevor narrowed his eyes at the patio, at Brian. “Little did I know that you lived in the pool house and that you had a young, over-eager security guard.”

“I thought Brian let you in through the front door?” I asked. He had thrown me for a loop. I was shocked by this man’s continued callousness towards me. I don’t know why I kept feeling that way. After a year, one would think that I would be used to it.

“He did, eventually. He saw me scaling your fire escape first and rushed me. I almost fell to my death!” He glared towards the patio again. Lighting another cigarette, he continued. “I climbed down and hid out in your lobby for awhile before I decided to call you on your building call box. Stupid kid answered that, too. I almost hung up, but when I told him my name he said to wait there in the lobby. He was going to call you to see what to do now. Guess he didn’t know I was the same person.”

Trevor paused, thinking, and then looked up at me, anger contorting his already pinched features. “Why would he do that? Why would he ask me to wait so he could ask you what to do next? What did you do, Pushkin? Do the police know I’m here? Did you set me up?”

He began yelling and jumped up, looking around wildly for the police to come storming from my bedroom or my bathroom. “How did you know I would be here? Did the police have a tail on me because of you, Bitch? I knew you had it in for me. Bruce put you up to this, didn’t he?”

Like I had any better relationship with Bruce Hansen. Trevor was hysterical. I burst out laughing so hard, I almost fell off the ottoman and spilled the ashtray. Trevor lunged at me in a maniacal, faggy-way: screeching with hands like bird claws, spittle flying from his lips, eyes wild behind the major corrective lenses. Paul scooped me up before Trevor could do any cosmetic or fashion damage and held me behind his body. Regardless, I was still in fits. I couldn’t help myself. Exhaustion and stress had taken over my body. I was becoming hysterical.

Trevor fell across the ottoman, sobbing loudly, wailing with crocodile tears streaming from his face. Paul hauled him up, scaring him silent, and placed him on the sofa. Trevor whimpered and kept his eyes closed, resigned to the feeling of cuffs on his wrists as they sat parallel and rigid in his lap. I had calmed down to a reasonable facsimile of myself, too.

“Trevor,” I began quietly. I was kinda scared of him at this point. Trevor wouldn’t open his eyes. “Trevor, the police aren’t here. No one is here to get you. No one knows you’re here except us.”

Trevor opened one eye and looked at me, warily. “Then how did that kid know who I was? Why would he ask me to wait, pending instructions from you?”

Now it was my turn for some questions. “If Brian asked you to wait in the foyer, how did you get up here?”

Trevor answered, “I snuck in after some people entered. Said I was visiting you. They were very chatty; had nothing but wonderful things to say about you.” He sneered. “I scanned the tenant board for your condo number. Nice place you got here, Ms. Modesty Mouse. Your boy here let me in after I banged on the front doors forever.”

“From what he tells me, Trevor, you were a basket case, so leave off with the attitude. Obviously, you were desperate for help from anyone who had no idea what you’d done.” I held his eyes with mine until recognition bloomed on his face.

“I told you I didn’t kill Faraday!” screamed Trevor.

“I’m not talking about that, Trevor. I’m talking about all the other crimes you’ve committed that you just brought to our attention,” I reminded him.

“Oh, that, yeah. Well, you still haven’t explained how you knew I would be at your place.”
Trevor shot back.

“Trevor, call it a ‘psychic message’.” I looked over at him. “I just had a feeling in the back of my brain. When I get these feelings, I test them out so I told Brian that if, for some remote chance you or Bruce did call here, that he was to call me. Also, the police told me that they were looking for you.”

“Bitch,” Trevor hissed under his breath.

“OK, I have had about enough of your attitude, you little prick,” announced Paul, storming over to where Trevor sat. Trevor immediately curled up in a ball, covering his face with his arms. I did nothing. I had had enough as well. Paul picked up Trevor, who uncoiled like a potato bug, flung him across his shoulders, fireman style, and headed for my bedroom, where he flung Trevor onto my bed and slammed the door shut. “Now stay in there until we figure out what to do with your skinny, freckled, casper-white ass!”

I slumped into the couch. Paul came and sat with me, holding me in his arms. I sighed, listening to Trevor bawling like a baby in my bedroom. He’d better not get snot on my sheets. Or anything else for that matter.

“What are you thinking?” asked Paul.

“I’m thinking we need more information from him,” I replied. “We need to know exactly what he stole from Faraday and why the police suspect him as the killer.”

“Hmmmph. Good luck with that,” answered Paul. “Anyway, we need to keep the police away from here until we can get any information out of him.”

I had an idea. “Call your house voicemail and also your neighbor on the corner. See if the police have been by or left you a message,” I told him.

Paul walked outside to make his calls. I lit another cigarette and reached into the fridge for a beer. As I screwed off the cap, I watched Paul come back in. “You have to quit smoking.”

“Very funny, old man. You and my cat must have mind-meleded,” I replied, exhaling smoke rings around my beer. “Well?” I took another drag and exhaled. My nerves were starting to steady and I felt buoyant on the balls of my toes. Like a boxer dancing around the ring with controlled rhythm waiting for the next round.

“They called my house and left a message. The neighbor says a patrol car has been by a couple of times,” explained Paul. “I guess they’re looking for me.”

“I wonder if they have an APB out on you?” I asked, more to myself than to Paul.

“Who are you - Jack Friday? ‘APB?’ You watch way too much TV.”

“No, really, I had another thought.” I headed to the slider and opened it. “Brian, can you drive?”

Brian popped his head up. “Yeah, but I ain’t driving your piece of shit to no store.”

“Very funny, asshole. We may need you to drive Paul’s truck somewhere,” I told him.

“Cool.” Brian grinned and laid back down.

“What are you doing? I am not letting that punk kid drive my rig!” exclaimed Paul, looking at me like I was crazy Linda Hamilton from Terminator Two.

“I just thought we could send Brian out in your truck to drive back over around your house and then lead the police on a little goose chase through the canyons. That would give us time to quiz Trevor before we take him down to the police station to turn him in,” I explained.

“Fine. OK. That does sound like a good idea. Let’s do it, but if that kid fucks up my truck…” Paul trailed off emphasizing his warning.

“We should do what?” asked Trevor. Both Paul and I loOKed around at the sound of his voice. He was leaning against the entry wall of the hallway, face all blotchy from his crying jag.

“Sit down, Trevor, we have to talk,” I ordered him to the couch once again.

Trevor sauntered over to the couch, fragile confidence propelling him forward. Paul sat on the opposing couch, keeping an eye on him. Trevor looked at us like we were about to betray him. I went out on the patio and spoke to Brian about our little ruse. He was thrilled. I could see Paul watching us, squirming at the thought. I told Brian to be very careful and do the best casual, slow-speed chase driving he could manage. I told him to be back here inside of an hour. We went back into the living room where Paul stood up and gave up his coat, cap, and keys to Brian. Brian inspected the inside of the hat and sniffed at the coat. Paul berated him for it and told Brian to just get the hell out. I shook my head at the two of them, acting more like father and son then they would ever want me to say.

Trevor had been watching us the whole time. “What the hell is going on? Why won’t anyone tell me? This is my life we’re talking about, people. I need to know, who is my Judas?”

“Oh, cut the crap, Trevor. No one is playing your Judas, no matter how tempting!” I yelled at him. “Now listen to what we have to tell you.”

Trevor relaxed a little bit, brushing his wispy hair off of his forehead and straightening his glasses. He looked right at me. “Now, Trevor, we have not called the police, but we are going to be taking you in.”

Trevor’s weak jaw dropped, “Fucking Assholes! I knew you’d fuck me over.”

“Oh, just shut up, you little prick, and listen to what Lois has to say!’” boomed Paul. This caused Trevor to scramble into a ball on the couch again.

“Thank you, babe,” I said turning from him back to Trevor. “We want to talk to you. And we don’t want you to turn yourself over to the police until we know that you won’t try the same little stunt Bruce did and point your finger at us to save yourself.”

“Like, why wouldn’t I do that?” scoffed Trevor.

I held my breath for a second. “You don’t have to help us at all. But we’re helping you, and we could help you further if you were on our side. We know you don’t like Bruce because he put the police onto you. If you don’t help us, you side with Bruce in our minds and, frankly, you don’t want to piss me off.”

Trevor knew Bruce better than we did and I thought that for our best defense, the more Trevor told us about what we were up against, the less threatened we would be by both him and Bruce. Trevor studied me and Paul. He looked to his clasped hands and then brought them to his face. After a few pensive moments, he butterflied his hands down to his knees and began spilling.

“OK, fine. First, I didn’t kill Faraday. “And I don’t know who did.” He paused and we waited again. “Second, it’s true that Bruce has evidence that I’ve been “borrowing” from the estate. I had a lot of debt when I started there, so I pawned some items and also stole some checks from the assistants’ check book. I swear, I was going to pay back the money and get the stuff back, but, well, it was so easy - so much money flew around there daily and Faraday was gone a lot, so I just kinda let it all slide.”

Paul muttered under his breath, “Bastard.”

Trevor scowled at Paul and then let himself fall back into the couch cushions. “Fuck you. You had it made, asshole. Faraday gave you whatever you wanted, no questions asked. You didn’t realize how good you had it and you weren’t even his meat puppet.”

Paul leaped up from the couch and lunged at Trevor who dug into the cushions, shrieking. I grabbed Paul’s arm and cautioned him to stay back. He shook off my hand and left the room, fuming. Temper, temper. That touched a nerve. Was Faraday gay? Would Jasmine have been that clueless? Or maybe that kinky? No. I’d have to resolve that question with Paul later.

Trevor continued, “I overheard Bruce on the phone speaking to Faraday’s accountant. They were setting up a meeting to go over the books and estate inventory to get all of their ducks in a row. They were going to present information to Faraday to prove that I was stealing. That was Tuesday during the day, the day of the night that Faraday died. You can ask my friends where I was that day. I had already packed and left the estate.”

“So, Trevor,” I said slowly, “you say you didn’t kill Faraday, and you don’t know who did. Do you know how he was killed?”

“What do you mean,” he answered, “ ‘how’ he was killed? You mean murder or suicide?”

“No, I mean, do you know if it was a gun, knife, strangulation...?”

“Oh no, I don’t know a thing.”

“Do you think Bruce could’ve killed him?”

Trevor looked thoughtfully at me. “I wish, but he was too much in love with Faraday and too afraid of him to even think about killing him.”

I was taken back. “Did Faraday know about this ‘love’?”

Trevor laughed. “Yes, and the one delicious thing about working for that jack-ass was how he toyed with Bruce because of what he knew of his feelings.”

I looked at Trevor, stunned by this tidbit. Motive for murder? Jealous love? But why in the new bathroom? And how was he killed? We still didn’t know that detail. We would need to know that for any of this to make sense.

Trevor interrupted my silent commune, “Hey, bitch, my life’s in your hands. What’s the deal?”

Before I could answer, my cell phone rang. “Lois Pushkin,” I said. I watched Paul returning to the living room, a cup of tea in one hand and another cup in his other. He offered one cup to Trevor, who had the smarts to accept it for the truce it was.

“Hey, Lois, it’s Brian. I’ve been stopped by the cops. They’re harassing me about being in Paul’s truck and want to talk to him. They think I stole it,” snickered Brian.

I held the cell phone to my chest and turned to Paul. “It’s Brian. The police have pulled him over, and now they want to talk to you.” I extended the phone to him.

“Hello?” Paul said. “Yes, officer, this is Paul Atkinson. Yes, I know Brian. He’s helping me out with some work today.” A pause. “Yes, he has permission to drive my truck. No, I didn’t know that I was wanted for questioning downtown.” Another pause. “You were tailing me? Is that legal?”

I looked at Paul and he was smiling incredulously at me. “You need me to come down to the police station today? Well, I’ll need my truck, so if you could send Brian back my way. Oh yeah, I’ll need to talk to him again. Thank you for your time, officer.” Paul told Brian to come straight back to my condo and then flipped the phone closed.

We were all going to the Police Station with Trevor in tow. Brian would stay at my place to keep an eye on things. The day had been hell. As we headed toward downtown Los Angeles, I was not looking forward to our evening.

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