Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chapter 19

“So what did they quiz you on after they separated us?” I asked, pulling bowls from the cupboard. We danced around each other in the kitchen, preparing our dinner. I had mixed us some strong gin and tonics with lots of twists of lime in large high ball glasses. Sour puckers. Great for winding down from stress.

“Detail-type things. How long had I worked on the bathroom? Did I know anything about electronics or wiring? Did I know anything about lunar phenomena? Did I know the location of Kip’s ex-wife? How long had Trevor worked there? Was I in league with him to steal from Kip? Weird stuff that….”

I spit out my drink and coughed for like a minute into the sink. “His ex-wife?!” I asked after I finally recovered. I dragged on my cigarette and my larynx relaxed. Smoking is really good for throat relaxation. A nurse told me that once. Kills all the nerve cells that tickle the crap out of you at the most inopportune moments. So, when you see doctors and nurses standing around smoking, you know it’s good for you. Not.

Paul slapped my back a couple of times and held my arms above my head. He tossed my cigarette into the sink and washed his hands. Seeing that I was fully recovered, he began pulling plates from the cupboard, enlightening me. “Yeah, yeah, crazy bitch. I couldn’t believe Kip married her. ‘Course I also couldn’t believe what she did to his bathroom.”

“Well, don’t just babble! Who was it?” Shit! I was about to know something Harshy didn’t know. How rare was that? She was going to shit her pants. I was definitely going to have to call her later that night. Or maybe she already knew this information and it was so boring, she forgot to mention it? That wasn’t like her. Maybe Faraday’s wedding wasn’t a highlight on the LA society scene. Or maybe Hollywood actresses upstaged him?

“You remember that actress, Charlene Dietz? She had Kip’s number from day one. She knew how to play him. Man like that could have anything he wanted, because people wanted him. They wanted him as a client, investor, friend, lover, etcetera, so they were like dogs to him. They would do whatever he wanted, no matter what was asked. Charlene was a woman who knew how to deal with a man like Kip and somehow she figured out his Achilles heel. She made herself very unavailable to him and blew him off, denied him, and flat-out ignored him whenever they were at the same functions or events. With her wily, womanly ways, she knew that if she treated him like he was a nobody, he wouldn’t be able to resist her, that he would come after her. She would drive him crazy, weakening him for the kill.”

Well, duh, all women know that trick, said the spider to the fly. Guys are so simple. “So what did Kip do to get her to go out with him?”

Paul shook his head, inhaling his gin and tonic in one swallow, and laughed. “He asked her to marry him. Ego.”

“And?” The suspense was killing me. This was so cool – hot gossip, and from my boyfriend, no less. He was a keeper.

“She said yes, of course. It was what she had wanted the whole time. Kip and his millions!” revealed Paul. “Marriage didn’t last long though. That was the only thing that I ever saw crush Kip to the point of paralysis.”

“Wow,” I said, sipping my drink and dragging on a new cigarette. Paul waved the smoke away and turned on the stove exhaust hood. Patient man. “So, where is she now?”

“I don’t know and that’s what I told the cops. Haven’t seen her in a couple of years,” said Paul. “And Kip kept blaming his business funk on that stupid bathroom design. I think the truth was that she really got to him and he was willing to try any gimmick to get his game back. He was superstitious like that.”

That guy was his own traveling freak show. “Oh, so you think that’s why he hired me to redo his bathroom? To erase his memories of the blonde, gorgeous, man-killer?” I asked, snarling a bit at the end, because I was not even close to being the beauty that Charlene was. I was satisfied with this reason why Faraday had never hit on me. Ha, ha! To even think such things, Lo. Yuck.

“I’m sure of it,” affirmed Paul. “Once he had Jasmine hanging around again, they got as thick as thieves. I’m sure she convinced him to have the bathroom redone to erase any memory of her. Charlene was the one with the Bat Cave = Superhero concept.”

I laughed. I had told Paul of my design theory about Faraday’s bathroom after we’d gotten together as a couple. We had dished about our ideas and opinions and laughed ourselves silly when we realized that we’d had a lot of the same thoughts even though we were at opposite ends
of the room. Paul thought that I had hit the nail on the head with my theory.

“I thought I told you about Charlene when we first started the bathroom?” questioned Paul.

“Not a word. You were probably afraid of scaring me off because you knew I would immediately ask you if she had an interest in you at any time,” I said looking at him for conclusion. Now that he had brought her up, I really did want to know this information. I couldn’t stand the idea of anyone else desiring him.

“You’re probably right and, yes, she hit on me all of the time. I didn’t spend much time at the estate during their marriage,” said Paul. “Charlene may not have respected their marriage, but I did for Kip’s sake. Kip didn’t really notice my absence anyway. He was very into his new Charlene, obsessed and consumed by the relationship. I always wondered if that suffocation was what made her leave him.”

“When did she leave?”

“About two years ago. Kip immediately left Los Angeles after the breakup and went overseas for a while to ‘recover’. When he came back, that bathroom made him hysterical. I thought Bruce was going to have a permanent shit stain in his pants the way Kip carried on,” explained Paul.

“So she was gone only a year before the bathroom renovation got started? How could everyone keep this from me?” I asked. “Don’t bother answering. I know, I know, they were all under strict orders never to say her name in the house or acknowledge her existence, right?”

“You got it, babe!” Paul clinked his glass against mine.

Wow. I dragged on my cigarette. This was news. Why hadn’t the police asked if I knew of an ex-wife? Maybe Paul had already told them I didn’t know about her? When would they have had the time to ask him and get that info to Detective Patrick? Maybe Bruce had told them that no one knew about Charlene except the estate personnel. That would include Paul.
Charlene Dietz, Super Star actress. All the big money movies, an in-demand celebrity for every block buster summer feature. Why would she marry Faraday? He never seemed the type to be interested in movies, music, plays or any other form of entertainment. If it wasn’t business or sports, Faraday wasn’t likely to be involved. Charlene made her own money, so I couldn’t see her marrying Faraday for that reason. Or had she? Financial problems? Or was she attracted to him physically? Creeeepy! Seemed a long shot though as he had easily twenty years on her. Just the thought of them together in the biblical way made my skin goose pimple.

Or maybe she just had a thing for geeks? More likely he was just another challenge, a conquest to occupy her mind when she had down time from movies and was bored. Was she the female version of Faraday? Little game of cat and mouse? Boy, if I were Faraday and I’d found out that I was just an amusement, a way to pass the time, I might go ballistic. I’d have to make a point to ask Harshy all about Miss Charlene Dietz when I saw her next. Guy as well. Look into her financial and legal situations. That should be easy enough for him. I should see them both together so I wouldn’t have to repeat myself.

“I can see the gears moving a little more quickly than usual.” Paul jolted me out of my reverie that was so deep my drink was still settled at my lips and I hadn’t taken the intended sip. Instead, I sloshed it up my nose. Paul handed me a paper towel, laughing in his sexy way. He was the only person I could take outright laughing at me; I trusted how much he loved me.

“Just musing over this latest tidbit,” I said. “Do you think Charlene could be a factor in all of this?”

“I don’t see how. No one’s seen her in Kip and Jasmine’s social circle in at least a year and a half,” said Paul.

“Do you know who saw her last?”

Paul stared out the kitchen window, biting his lower lip in thought. “Weirdly enough, I think it was Bruce, of all people. Man, she treated him like dog shit on her shoe. He hated her like you hate cauliflower. Last sighting must’ve been when she came to collect the rest of her things. Faraday had put her stuff in a dumpster. Rented the thing until Charlene came back. A ‘personal message’ I think Kip told me. She’d been in Europe shooting one of those period pieces actors do to pay the rent. Boy, was she hopping mad when she saw all of her stuff in that twenty-yard dumpster! Bruce had to baby-sit the stuff the whole time, waiting for her return. He was pissed when she did finally come back and then promptly turned around and left it all after she got the ‘message’. He had a celebrity garage sale on Mulholland Drive, just off of the servants driveway.”
I laughed. I could see Bruce on a little folding chair at the end of the driveway, holding court with all sorts of celebrity whores trying to buy up Charlene’s clothes, shoes, perhaps used underwear? Yuck!

“So she hasn’t been seen around the estate since?”

“Nope, she’s a faded memory, a blip on the estate record. When the police brought her up, everything came flooding back to me,” said Paul. “Every awful thing.”

“I wonder if Trevor knew anything about her? Did she even know who he was?” I asked.

“No, Trevor was hired at the estate after Charlene. To tell you the truth, I think Trevor is pretty much clueless about everything important that went on at the estate. He’s a target because he’s easy for the police to deal with. I think if you threatened him enough, Trevor would admit to anything,” said Paul.

“Interesting. After dinner we should call down to the station, see how he’s doing, and if he’s been released yet. Find out where he’s staying, so we can keep an eye on him,” I suggested. “I guess if we haven’t heard from the cops by now, he must not have pointed a finger at us?”

“Great,” Paul groaned, “just what I want to do this evening.”

“It won’t take so long. Then we can finally take some time for ourselves,” I promised, taking Paul into my arms and kissing him passionately and playfully.

“You big tease, freako,” he said as I nodded in return.

I laughed and pulled away. Going to Paul’s phone, I pulled Detective Patrick’s card out of my bag and dialed the station. The desk sergeant – or was she the intake officer?- answered the phone, “Yes, hello, this is Lois Pushkin. I was in earlier and interrogated by Detective Patrick…”

“Yes, I remember you. Cute shoes,” she replied.

“Oh, well, thank you. Um, so, could you tell me if Trevor Gerard is still there or if he was released?” I said. “Uh, we need to know if he needs a ride home?”

“Yeah, right.” She was not so complimentary now. “Mr. Gerard was released shortly after you and Mr. Atkinson. He was able to get his own ride home courtesy of the LAPD.”

“Oh, OK, thank you,” I said and hung up. Turning to Paul, I said, “Well, I guess Trevor isn’t such a threat to us after all. He was released shortly after we were. Nothing has happened so far. So maybe nothing will?”

“Don’t count on it,” he said moving behind and wrapping his arms around my waist. He kissed me lightly and repeatedly on the back of my neck. Between kisses, he said, “He’s a snake and he’s going to lie in wait for the opportunity to strike. He’s a regular gutter club punk. Best not to be so trusting at this point. Right now, we’ve got only each other to trust.”

I turned around to face him, “Don’t forget about Harshy and Guy. We can trust them, too.”

Paul sighed and pulled me into his body. “Yeah, that’s true. And let’s not forget the other punk, Brian.”

“Shut your mouth! Brian is a wonderful young man. He just has habitat issues. And an addiction to TV. You like him, admit it,” I teased.

“He’s OK. If you like him, I like him,” assured Paul. He started pulling me up the stairs to his bedroom.

“Anything to shut me up?” I asked, following him willingly. His hand was warm and his ass hot.

“Wait!” A thought shot through my brain. “Let’s make sure that we’re being given protection by the LAPD.”

We crept back down the stairs and pulled back the window coverings to the windows facing the street. After a few seconds, a cop car leisurely drove by. We looked at each other. Next, we went to the windows off of the kitchen facing the side street. Just down the block was a plain brown wrapper parked across the street under a tree. I suddenly hoped that the police didn’t have one of those listening devices that looked like a dish in there. Everything that Paul and I had said could’ve set the police off. But if they were still sitting there, perhaps they didn’t have the
technology. Budget cuts. Or maybe we just weren’t that interesting.

After making sure that there were no scuba cops in Paul’s pool, we returned to our task at hand. At the top of the stairs, Paul kissed me longingly. When we took a pause, I was breathless. I was also feeling quite dog-tired, but I wanted him so bad. The booze had kicked in and made me fluid and willing. Our hands were all over each other as we made our way to the bed. Clothes were stripped and tossed. Tracks leading to our location, should anyone need to find us. Hopefully not Detective Patrick and his goon squad. I laughed out loud at my frightful thought.

“What?” murmured Paul, lifting his mouth from my breast, his hand in midstroke between my thighs.

“I was thinking how much I didn’t want Detective Patrick to find us together like this,” I whispered, pushing his hand back into play.

“Please don’t think of other men when I’m pleasuring you,” Paul said. “You’re going to give me a complex.”

“Very funny, babe. You know that you always have my complete and undivided attention.” I moaned when he ramped up the action on the sweet spot. God, I was going to gyrate off this bed and spasm on the floor.

Taking his own sweet time and making me a prisoner of my mind and body, Paul finally entered me and brought me to another body-and-soul-shattering climax. Oh, I am not worthy, I am not worthy. But I’m going to stay and take all I can get until he gets wise to me.

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