Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chapter 21

Paul and I screamed as well, but to each other in shock and surprise. Us? We shot down the boulevard, my poor little Subaru screaming under the strain. Wild eyed and with our jaws hanging open, we were literally vaklemped. Several blocks later, we escaped into the Trader Vic’s parking lot at the Beverly Hills Hilton. Sitting in the dark of the bar, our booth illuminated with a little tea light, we chanted “Oh, shit” until we laughed ourselves hoarse. Then we sipped on fruity drinks and munched on chi-chi (but still fried) appetizers in bewildered silence.

“Darlinnnn…” someone purred into my ear. Gripping my seat, I slowly, cautiously turned to find Jasmine standing at our table, hand on her hip, toes turned out to accentuate her figure. “What are you doing here getting sloshed in the middle of the day? Shouldn’t you have your little nose to the grindstone in that cute boutique office of yours in the oh so trendy Wiltern?”

I pointed over at Paul, who leaned forward into the tea light. Jasmine let out a gasp of surprise and looked from him to me. “What are you doing here with him?”

I looked at Paul, who just shrugged his shoulders. “Um, sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, but, well, Paul and I are together.”

Jasmine promptly dropped her pose and slid into the booth next to Paul. Totally focusing on me, she continued, “What? Are you kidding me? When? How? Why?”

“What do you mean ‘Why’? Look at him. Why not?” I shot back.

“Thanks babe,” said Paul. “Nice to know you’re with me for my looks.” Paul smiled and turned back to Jasmine, who was having trouble controlling some emotion I couldn’t quite make out in the shadows of the tea light. I squeezed Paul’s leg. It was warm.

“Lois, you should not have kept this from me,” Jasmine said in unusually clipped tones. “How long has it been that you two have been together?” Her very expensively manicured finger ping-ponged back and forth between Paul and me.

“No offense, Jas, but since when are you my mother?” I was curious aboutt her new attitude. I was also tipsy enough to put aside the fact that she was my best referral that I tried hard never to offend or embarrass.

“This is all a shock. Is it not enough that Kip is gone and no one knows why?” Jasmine dabbed at her eyes with a Hermes handkerchief. “Now I find that you, Lois, have taken up with this man, a man who labors with his hands and carries dirt and filth around on his clothes.”

As I recall, Jesus labored with his hands.

She continued, “I wanted you to succeed, Lois. You had so much potential. You were perfect for the right man with means. That is why I pushed Kip to hire you.”

“OK, stop right there.” I put my drink down and lit a cigarette. This was making me nervous.
She was starting to sound exactly like my mother. I squinted into the darkness. No, it was still Jasmine. “What do you mean?”

“I wanted you in a position to meet someone who could give you the lifestyle you deserve. You struggle so much, darling. Working at what you do is not going to make you rich.” Jasmine continued to dab at her eyes. “You deserve better.”

“Fuck you.” I said it. “Fuck you.” I said it again.

I could hear Paul breathing, the warmth flowing over my neck and collar bone. “Jasmine, I think it’s time for you to leave,” he told her. “No one is in a good place right now. The cops will figure out what happened to Kip. I know that you’re hurting and you’re taking it out on Lois.”

Jasmine turned and glared at Paul. “Bastard! You didn’t deserve Kip and you don’t deserve her!” She gestured at me.

Then Jasmine stood up to leave, poised as ever. Turning on her toe, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “Stupid, silly girl. You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself involved with. TTFN.”

What the fuck! All right! I had to know once and for all. I started to slide out of the booth, but Paul grabbed my arm, “Where are you going? She can’t help it. She was in love with Kip.”

“It’s not about her. I want to know what that god damn fucking ‘TTFN’ means!” I hissed.

“Well, I know what it means so sit your drunk ass down and be calm,” said Paul, pulling me back into the booth next to him.

“How would you know?” I demanded, arms crossed, daring him to educate me.

“ ‘Cause I’m an uncle, that’s how.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” I demanded again.

“It has to do with Winnie the Pooh. Tigger says it all the time,” he explained. “It means ‘Ta-ta for now’.”

I gasped. “You have got to be kidding? I have been plagued by a rich bitch’s use of a term from a children’s story?”

Paul smiled in affirmation.

“I thought I was so old and uncool that I didn’t know what that meant,” I confided. “And I was killing myself over a children’s story. Bitch.”


I looked over at Paul. He was an uncle. How come I didn’t know that? I knew who his mechanic was and the name of his gardener, but I hadn’t known he was an uncle. I am an idiot in the forest of trees.

“Do you think it’s safe to leave?” I asked.

Paul thought for a second. “Yeah, if they haven’t found us by now, I don’t think they’d still be out looking for us.”

We shimmied out of the booth and made our way to the front door. There were no suspicious characters in the parking lot, so we got the valet to get my Subaru. Paul drove back to my place so I could check on Brian and Kash.

No cat greeted us at the door when we arrived. That worried me. I checked the doors for forced entry. Would someone steal Kash? Would they hold him for ranson and blackmail me
until I confessed to Faraday’s murder? Wait, what would they have to blackmail me with? I think kidnapping my cat would be enough leverage. I stepped across the threshold into the kitchen and continued to the slider. As soon as I clicked the lever, Kash’s head popped up from the couch outside. So he was cheating on me with Brian. Caught you in the act, cat!

Kash looked at me with half-lidded eyes, yawned, and then stretched his legs over the back of the couch. Brian’s head instantly shot up as I’m sure Kash had dug his hind claws into his thighs. He looked at us with glazed eyes and then lazily waved when he saw that it was just us. Well, at least everything was right with this world. Paul went out on the patio to talk with Brian while I gathered up more clothes and amenities that I needed over at Paul’s. I wondered if Paul would give me a drawer? Better yet, a dresser. Did Paul even own a dresser for himself? I would have to check. Maybe I was getting ahead of myself. Just pack your suitcase, Pushkin.

Paul came back in and we set out. He had briefed Brian on what had happened to us at the lawyer’s office and told him not to answer my phone or the door. Brian was also to call us everyday and update us. And I needed him to take care of the apartments while I was gone. Let the tenants know that I had a ‘family emergency’. With any luck, my picture wouldn’t end up on any tabloids to dispel this white lie.

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