Family (Part IXXX)
By Pete Moss
We help set up cots in the gym. Hand out blankets. Set up tables.
More and more refugees streaming in all the time. A truck arrives and we help unload and help distribute the food.
These refugees aren't used to being refugees. They are pampered Hollywood people, used to having everything their way, all the time.
Their tempers are short, voices are whiny. They push and shove and don't wait patiently and are rude and obnoxious.
Hours go by but finally Franz Ferdinand and I are sitting across from each other on two cots.
He keeps staring at me.
"What?" I say.
"Lolita." he says.
"What about her?"
"Where is she? Have you seen her among these good people?"
"No. Have you?"
"No, I have not."
"So you say you love her..."
"I never said that. She's a 14 year old girl, a child..."
Franz Ferdinand just keeps staring.
"So what about you? You love her?"
"Ah yes, the old Jesuit Debate team trick of avoiding answering a question by answering with a rebound question."
"Yes, I love her." says Franz Ferdinand. "I don't care if she is 14 or 41."
"Fuck you!" I say.
Franz Ferdinand keeps staring.
"Shouldn't we be out searching for this woman that we both love?"
"You mean team up? Me and....you?!"
"Yes, you have a problem with me?"
"Aside from the fact that your a decadent aristotwat? No, no problem."
But he has a point. I hate it when I'm forced to acknowledge that someone I hate has a point.
"Awright, awright, yeah. Let's do it."
"See? In spite of the inborn belligerence of your churlish peasent nature you do have an instinct to do the right thing."
"Kiss my ass, Prince Charming."
And out we go. Hollywood is a mess. Smoke and ash everywhere. But the fire has mostly been contained. We have to take a roundabout route to evade roadblocks but we do make it up into the Canyon.
We're sweating like pigs and just as dirty when we finally make it up to Bluebird Lane. The house is a pile of ash, only the chimney is still standing.
My Packard is a charred hulk. Which just about brings me to tears. Although I refuse to show any sign of weakness in front of Franz Ferdinand.
Lolita is nowhere to be found. No sign of her. Not even the gold spatula that Franz presented.
Now what am I supposed to do. I have nowhere to stay, nowhere to go. Franz Ferdinand goes back to his house in Reseda.
I stay at the evac site in the gym for 3 days, but finally they are winding it down and then I'm out on the streets of Hollywood.
I don't even have the Packard to stay in anymore.
I don't know what I miss more, Lolita or the Packard. Well, OK I guess I miss Lolita a little more than the Packard. If she was around I would have a place to stay. She'd call her uncle and we'd have a suite in a swank hotel, until we could rent another mansion.
Which reminds me, I should call the Uncle. But I want to stall on that, since I'm probably fired. I mean I was supposed to watch out for Lolita, I was being paid to bodyguard her and I lost her.
Who knows where she is, if her charred corpse won't turn up in some ravine?
At least I still have some money in the bank. I rent a cheap motel room. And sit around watching TV. Finally I work up the guts to call Rich Uncle.
But first I have to buy a cell phone, since mine was burned in the fire.
So I walk out onto Santa Monica Boulevard to find a 7/11 where I can buy a burner phone and minutes.
I come to stop at Santa Monica and Vine, waiting for a light, and a nondescript German sedan pulls up.
"Great." How do I know the occupant of the nondescript German sedan wants to talk to me? I just do. That's the way it's been going lately.
The window rolls down and an old lady peers at me.
"Hollister McElroy?" she says.
"Yeah that's me. Whatchou want?"
"Well you don't have to be rude."
I don't say anything.
"Could you get in the car? We need to talk."
"I'm kind of busy..."
"It could be worth a decent fee for a few minutes of your time."
I get in the car.
"I'm Dorotea Theresa Von Hohenzollern De La Bourbon,"
"Whatever. What's up Dot?"
Dorotea looks nonplussed at being called Dot. But she recovers fast. She has something on her mind and she's gonna get it out. Just this once she'll overlook rudeness.
"I'll pay you $10,000 to keep that little tramp Lorelei San Carlos away from my Grand nephew."
I find I am rather annoyed at the old bat for calling Lolita a little tramp. But not annoyed enough to turn away ten grand.
"Who's your grand Nephew?"
"Why of course, Franz Ferdinand Von Habsburg."
"Of course, of course. Ten grand you say?" This could work out, getting paid to do something I was gonna do anyway, keep that Franz jackass away from Lolita.
Assuming Lolita is still alive. And I'm not fired.
"You are aware Lolita is still missing from the fire?"
"Actually no, she's staying at the Chateau Marmot. I can drive you there right now."
"That'll work," I say.
At the Chateau Marmot they have to call upstairs, but Lolita comes flying down and makes a scene right there in the lobby. Kissing me and crying and hanging around my neck and calling me a wicked, wicked man for disappearing for three days. It's embarrassing yet pleasurable at the same time.