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Hidden Bodies 23
Another point of contention, according to the comments section of a high-end real estate blog: the home recording studio. “Home recording studio” is real estate jargon for a soundproof fucking cage and some anonymous commenter likens this airtight box to a panic room and this is good news. I could use this. I could put Fincher there. But first, I have to get him there.
So now I have to convince Robin Fincher to come to Mexico. But you can’t seduce anyone without knowing what they’re into. Because of the headshots in his car, I start at IMDb, where he has a comically long bio in comparison to his few credits. He moved to LA to be an actor, downgraded his dreams and worked as a stunt man, a stand-in, a crew guy, and then finally he gave up and joined the LAPD. But Robin Fincher also has a website. And it is immediately clear that he did not become an officer of the law to protect and serve. Robin Fincher became an officer of the law to get back at Hollywood for kicking him to the curb.
He crossed his IMDb-LAPD streams in 2011 when he started moonlighting as a celebrity bodyguard. He brags that he can protect you and hang out with you all at once. And yes, that phrase is trademarked. The most recent picture is of him and Teri Hatcher.
I lean back in my chair. He claimed he’s on a mission to find Delilah, California, that he cares about our girls. Well, we’ll see about that. I search for projects currently shooting in Mexico and there’s nothing but a remake of Romancing the Stone. No, I need to appeal to his obvious desire to be friends with these beautiful fucking people. I create a new e-mail account: [email protected]
She’s the perfect bait. She has a family to protect, like Teri Hatcher. She’s hot. I learned from the Sony hack that people in this business don’t bother to spell check so here we go:
Dear Officer Fincher this is out of the blue but my friend Teri Hatcher was raving about you going bed bath and beyond to help her. I’m going to cabo and would love some extra protection. Not sure if you do this. Feel a little silly like the singer in Taken but you sound like the best ther is. We r going tomorrow can you possibly be there? Of course we will reimburse u 4 all travels. Hope u r available fingers crossed Xx megan fox
If I got an e-mail from someone claiming to be Megan Fox, I would assume it was spam. I would think someone was fucking with me. Fincher is a cop. He’s not a moron. But maybe he is because look at his fucking response, almost immediate:
Dear Ms. Fox,
WOW! I am a huge fan. I am so honored 2 help u. Yes! I am the best. Teri is the best too. I’m glad she knows I’m using personal resources to keep track of her stalker. There are so many sickos out there. I am honored 2 serve and protect. I am attaching my headshot and résumé so you know what I look like. (no objection if you want to pass it on to your agent either! I’m in SAG/AFTRA). See you tomorrow!
Wow is right. LA is a mirage. Robin Fincher is a police officer. The man carries a weapon. And we all know the stereotype of the bad cop—racist, violent—and we know the good cop—the one who pays for the poor mom’s groceries and winds up in a viral news video. But what about this cop? What about this Angeleno, the one who pushes his headshots on Megan Fucking Fox, the one who isn’t even savvy enough to maybe wait until getting to Mexico to start pimping his no-talent ass?
We need some sort of awareness program about aspirations, the way they degrade the brains of Los Angeles. I am honored 2 serve and protect. No, Robin. The word is to. No, Robin. You don’t serve or protect anyone and if you did, you’d be hunkered down over a cloudy cup of coffee, reviewing every step that Delilah ever took. Obviously, this fucker is never going to find her. And while this is good news for me, it’s also devastating for the population of the city he loves so much. We Angelenos are not served. We are not protected. The city can’t afford to look after everyone and the county is just too spread out. I would kill Fincher even if he weren’t hell-bent on putting me behind bars. I will kill him because he failed us all when he chose Megan Fucking Fox over the young dead girl, the one whose whereabouts will remain unknown, forever.
IT’S nine A.M. but the other passengers on The Love Boat IV are already drunk. The Quinns own four boats in Cabo and this is the one they use for fishing for marlin, which is what we’re doing, supposedly. It’s a guys go fishing while girls get mani-pedis on the cat boat arrangement. We have enough food and beer and tequila to feed fifty people, but it’s just me and Forty and Milo and a couple of guys from production whom I didn’t know all month, don’t want to know now.
I’m sitting in a plastic bucket seat holding a fishing rod and Captain Dave is telling me what Love and Forty were like when they were kids. Captain Dave is a salt-and-pepper guy who looks older than forty-six. He doesn’t have kids of his own. Some people are born to be uncles and Captain Dave is that kind of people. He’s also a recovering alcoholic who’s obsessed with what everyone else is drinking at all times. Life is hard for some people.
“But you know,” he says, segueing from a story about the first time they jumped off the boat, holding hands. “It’s really hard to talk about Love and Forty without talking about Milo. I mean, he was always there too, and you should have seen his hair back then.” He laughs. “Huge.”
“I gotta see pictures,” I say, and kissing ass is hard work, but I need Captain Dave to be on my side. I’m gonna need his help this weekend. And lucky for me, he’s likable enough.
“We got pictures on all the boats,” he says. “I just don’t know where exactly on this one. There are more on the yacht.” He twists the cap off another O’Doul’s. He sips. “But yep, that’s why I called Milo the third twin.”
I look at him. “Did you say you called Milo the third twin?”
He answers through a burp. “Yawp. You need another drink?”
I shake my head, and he continues to yammer on about Love and Forty and Milo always together and I stare at the water. I thought Forty came up with that phrase and Captain Dave finishes his fake beer. He stands, stretches. “All right,” he says. “I think it’s about time we chum up.”
“Aye aye, Cap,” I say, as if I know what that means. I offer to help Captain Dave with the barrel he’s messing with, but as always, he says he’s all set. He peels off the top of the barrel and now I smell death and decay and I cover my mouth and he laughs. “Boy’s first chum,” he says. “Don’t worry. Ya don’t get used to it.”
Then he whistles and his assistant First Mate Kelly, a fat guy from Georgia, rings a bell and blasts Jimmy Buffett. Apparently it’s time to go fishing and Captain Dave scoops chum into the water. All I can think about is Fincher and how I can drive this boat out here and drop him into the water, just like I did with Delilah, the girl he’s supposed to be looking for. Done and done.
Forty is plastered and he barely makes it to his chair and Captain Dave stuffs his fingers in his mouth and whistles. “Nope,” he says. “Give it a sober ten and then come back.”
Forty whines but Captain Dave isn’t having it. “My boat, my rules,” he says.
Forty goes back down while First Mate Kelly helps Milo and me set up our rods. We dangle them in the water and Milo hums along to Buffett and tells me about Johanna, the makeup artist from Boots and Puppies. They slept together last night and she’s young and hot and I guess he deserves to rub it in my face a little. Forty returns and asks for a rod and Dave says no and Forty lunges for the chum bucket and nearly falls in.
Captain Dave screams. “Wheelhouse,” he commands. “Now.”
Forty obeys and Milo laughs and I shake my head. “That captain is something,” I say.
“What do you mean?” Milo asks. And it’s funny to me that I was going to kill him a few days ago.
“I mean, he’s on a mad power trip.”
“Well,” Milo says. “He’s Cap. He can be.”
“Yeah, but it’s Forty’s boat.”
Milo turns his reel. “No,” he says. “The Captain controls everything. It doesn’t even matter if Ray is here. Boat owners say it’s better because when you’re messing
with Mother Nature, you want someone who respects that above all else.”
“Huh,” I say. Boat people. I pretend to care if a marlin nips at my line while I think about Fincher. He arrives later today. My plan is simple: get the keys from Captain Dave when we dock. Meet Fincher at Axl Rose’s house. Knock him out. Get Fincher onto this motor vessel and drive out here and dump him. Then, go to the Office with Love and eat fish tacos and drink margaritas and dance.
Milo gets a bite. He has to hand the rod over to Kelly to reel it in because he’s too weak to do it on his own. But then, when Kelly reels in the fish, he hurriedly hands off the rod to Milo so that Milo can pose, as if he alone caught the fish.
Captain Dave comes back and says we should probably head back to shore because they’ve been having issues with pirates.
And that’s when the girls’ boat comes up on us and all the girls are dressed up like pirates, firing with squirt guns, drunk, squealing. Captain Dave drops anchor and laughs. Love cannonballs into the water.
“Come on!” she says. “It’s beautiful!”
It is, but none of these people understand that I’m not on vacation. I’ve got to get on the burner phone I bought before we left and call all the realtors who have attempted to sell Axl Rose’s house in the past two weeks. There are twelve of them and one of them has to know where the house key is.
I beg off, and while everyone else swims, I go down into the cabin and go over my spiel. I’ll introduce myself as Nick Ledger, a legendary bicoastal realtor to the stars. I’ve seen him on shitty reality shows and I do his voice pretty well, thick Bronx, like he smoked a thousand cigarettes. I’ll tell them that I’m down in this sand pit for two goddamn days and I get to Axl’s house and there’s no fucking key because you people are so sun-stroked you fugghet how this works.
I’ve watched a lot of shows about real estate. I know the way they name-drop and talk to each other and swear at each other. I know they all have different phones for different purposes. I practice the key phrases: very famous fuck you money times ten client and I know who you know who I’m talking about is here. She’s more private than your wife’s dildo collection and she is pissier than your wife when you cum in her ass and I am standing here without the key to the one fucking pagoda that might be good enough for her, given her unique requirements.
I call the first realtor, a woman who looks slutty and stupid, like she would bang Nick Ledger, but she tells me to fuck off. I call a guy with big ears who looks like he was bullied most of his life. He can’t remember who has the listing and he wants to know if I’m shooting. I call another woman, older, probably went into this business after she saw American Beauty on cable. She has a New York accent too, Long Island. She says honey, the key is up my puss. Good luck getting there.
She hangs up on me. I growl. Nick Ledger is an asshole and a bridge burner and I should have impersonated someone dopey and happy, but they don’t have people like that in high-end real estate, at least not on TV.
This isn’t working, so I go into the real estate directory and look for brokers without pictures. The real fuck-ups who can’t even get it together and show their faces. There is a guy named William Papova and this is harder, calling someone when you haven’t prejudged them based on their proclivity for neckties or earrings.
He drops the phone before he answers, stupid phone, and his voice is abrupt: “Who is this?”
“It’s Nick Fucking Ledger,” I say.
“From the TV show?” he asks. YES. “Rock Star Realtor?”
“Excuse me, are you giving me shit about a project that benefits my fucking business?”
“No, no, no,” he says. “I know you is all.”
“Well, listen, I got your number from that piece Sonja.”
I don’t know a Sonja but I imagine realtors in Cabo know Sonjas. “Sonja,” he says. “Okay.”
“I’m here twenty-four fucking hours and my team drove the car off the cliff and they don’t have a key to Axl’s and I need a key to Axl’s.”
“For the show?”
“Fuck you and answer the question.”
He puts me on hold a minute then returns to the call, out of breath. “I can get you a key and leave it in the outdoor shower but you can’t fuck me here and tell anyone at Caldwell. I’m trying to make things right with them.”
“Deal,” I say. “Just make sure you leave the fucking gate open, too.”
I tell him good-bye and go above deck and tear off my shirt. Rock star realtor. I put my phones into my seat pocket and cannonball off the boat like Love did. Under the water I open my eyes and look around the Sea of Cortez for Delilah.
But that’s ridiculous. I left her in the Pacific.
THE water was beautiful but the situation is irritating. I still don’t have Captain Dave’s key. He keeps them looped to his belt; they may as well be attached to his dick. He’s that guy and it would just be nice to have the keys in hand. I don’t know how I will get the keys. But I will get them. It just means I need to get to know Captain Fucking Dave a little bit more than I would have liked. And it’s not the end of the world, but I’m sick of small talk. We’re back at Love’s Mexican mansion for disco naps and Love is trying to convince me to stay with her instead of going for a run. “You don’t need to,” she says. “You look great.”
“Thanks,” I tell her, antsy. “But it’s more that it feels good, you know? I’m used to it now.”
“Maybe I’ll go with you,” she says, and flops onto her back. She’s in the center of our round, heavenly bed. She’s drunk and beautiful and this house also feels drunk and beautiful, cavernous and curvy like the Pantry, with random dramatic chunks of coral suspended on the walls.
I check the time on my phone. I have an hour until Fincher arrives and Love is begging for it so I undress and tend to her on the bed. She’s good even when she’s slurring her words and I feel revived. I needed that. I shower. I get into my running clothes—no shirt in Mexico—and I go downstairs and Cathy, the housekeeper, startles me. “Are you going for a run?” she asks.
“Yeah,” I say.
“Evian or Fiji?” she asks.
I smile. “How about both? And then they can be like hand weights.”
She brings me two bottles and I thank her and she nods.
“Hey,” I say. “If I wanted to take a boat out . . .”
And the woman who was so eager to hydrate me is a different person. “Nobody drives the boats except Captain Dave or one of the first mates,” she says. She softens. “But you let him know where you want to go and you got it.”
Fucking fuck. But I nod and take Captain Dave’s number—I’ve been able to convince people to do what I want before—and outside the uphill battle continues, literally. It’s hotter now and I have to run uphill to get to Axl Rose’s fucking house and I am losing my breath and this is not like the flat, forgiving terrain of Palm Springs. I’m not even there yet and already both waters are gone. I stop in front of a giant ugly house, hands on knees to catch my breath. There is concrete everywhere, jackhammers, unfinished business. I always loved all this shit when I was a kid—dump trucks, concrete pourers—but now it irritates me. You can’t tell if they’re renovating or starting from scratch and sometimes rich white people remind me of teenagers who can’t stop picking at their scabs.
I wipe my mouth and keep going. My thighs are on fire and my eyelids twitch but I make it and the gate is open—thank you, William Papova. Axl Rose’s house is a Spanglish mausoleum and no wonder it’s been on the market for several years. It looks like there were battles here and maybe an explosion. There is this fucking stupid cactus in the middle of the front patio. I imagine some cunt interior decorator digging a shallow hole at the last second, as if the cactus were going to make the buyers fail to see the incomplete landscaping, the frozen-in-time fiasco of it all. I walk around to the side and sure enough, I find a little hideaway with an outdoor shower. There’s an overflowing ashtray and bottle of shampoo and a leather satchel and r
ealtors are people too. You can feel the frustration, the many salesmen who smoked and showered and fucked and whined about this odd fucking house.
I jog around to the front of the house and unlock the door and it’s like that moment when the lights go down in the theater. It’s starting. It is.
The house has marble floors and high ceilings but it’s not inspired like La Groceria and you can tell they’re trying to stage it to appeal to Mr. and Mrs. Middle America, which seems counterintuitive, as Mr. and Mrs. Middle America generally can’t afford a mansion in Cabo. I go into the kitchen and help myself to bottled water from the fridge. Then I reach into my fanny pack and begin preparations. First, I e-mail Fincher:
Hey Robin cant wait to see you! left the gate open for you. we’re with the babies downstairs sooo cute. When you get in, come down and join us. xoxo Meg
I don’t know if she goes by Meg but Robin will like the familiarity. And now for the real fun. I use the fishing line I grabbed on the boat today to set a trip wire at the stairs, affixing them on either side with Bliss Poetic Waxing wax strips; Love won’t notice they’re gone. Then I go back to the kitchen, take out two more generic water bottles, and crush several Percocets into them. I stick them in an empty ice bucket along with three expired Kind Bars, then take the spiral staircase down into the basement and here it is, the panic room/home recording studio, a soundproof box with two leather chairs in it.
There’s a second key on the chain William Papova left me, and it fits in the lock on the door. And yes, it locks from the outside, because sometimes you need to lock Les Pauls and Grammys and recording shit up.
I bring the bucket inside and set it on the floor. I pick up a microphone and tap it. I turn on the biggest red button and I tap it again. It works. Finally, I wheel one of the leather chairs just outside the studio and I wait for Fincher and sure enough, he does not disappoint. Fifteen minutes later, I hear him drop his bag by the front door.