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Hidden Bodies 24
“Hola!” he screams. The front door slams shut. He calls out again. “Hola!” Asshole. I wait with my back against the wall next to the bottom step. “Hello?” he asks, and he is a terrible actor. Anyone who reads acting manuals knows that good actors take direction and he didn’t. I hear a rustle and I picture him delving into his phone and rereading the e-mail where I specifically ordered him to report to the lower level of the house. And I am right.
“Ah,” he says. And now he crosses the marble foyer and looks for the basement door. I can smell him, hairspray and suntan lotion. He whistles. “Knock, knock,” he says. “Anybody home?”
I disguise my voice and call out, “Down here!”
It’s one of those fundamental things about being a human. The sound and the sight of someone falling down the stairs is inherently funny, especially when it’s an asshole like Fincher. He lies in a heap on the floor, knocked out, and I can’t help but laugh as I drag him into the soundproof studio and lock the door.
I stare at him for a moment, and my laughter stops as I notice how vulnerable he looks. His shirt has pineapples and palm trees on it. He’s wearing board shorts and sandals and I’m pretty sure he dyed his hair. He has chicken legs. He needs to do more leg presses. Well, he needed to. It’s too late now.
I call Captain Dave.
“Yo!” he says. “This is the Captain.”
“Hey, Captain Dave!” I say, all cheery and respectful. “It’s Joe Goldberg. Love’s boyfriend.”
“Hey, Greenie,” he says. “What can I do ya for?”
“Well,” I say. “I’ve got a little situation. This buddy of mine showed up and he’s wasted. He passed out. Love’s not a big fan. Anyway, I was thinking he could crash on the boat tonight.”
“Ah,” he says in a grave tone. “Sorry, but no can do.”
I fake a laugh. “I didn’t ask if he could drive the boat,” I say. “I just need to get the keys, get Brian up there.”
“I understand what you’re asking for, skipper, but the answer is still no.”
I can tell that he’s in a bar. I hate alcoholics like that, the ones who want to be near liquor. And I know his kind. I bet he goes to this fucking bar every day, just to prove that he’s sober. “Dave,” I say. “I’m asking you to work with me here. My buddy is out cold. You know, he lost his room key, he can’t even remember the name of his hotel.”
“I’m sure Love would let him stay at La Groceria,” he says.
“Love hates him,” I say. “So that’s really not an option.”
“Well, then I guess you’re gonna have to get your buddy a hotel room,” he says. “Cath can get you a list of your best options.”
“Captain Dave,” I plead. “We’re just talking about one night.”
He sighs. “I remember when my ex-wife fell off the wagon. She said, ‘Dave, I only had one drink.’” He sighs again. “Rules are rules, Joe. Good luck.”
He hangs up on me and the line is dead. Fuck. Fucking AA slave with his O’Doul’s and his restraint and his desire to impart the rules on me, same way he gave it all up to God as if he doesn’t sit here every day, all day, just wanting a beer, just a taste.
I thought money was power. Isn’t that how this godforsaken world is supposed to work? Captain Dave does what I say because Love chose me? I pace. I don’t have the money to get my own boat and I can’t very well leave Fincher in a fucking house. I learned my lesson: You clean up. You get rid of the body. You don’t leave a mug of piss, let alone a cop’s corpse. But what the fuck to do?
Fuck Dave. He was supposed to say, yes, sir and Cath was supposed to be wrong and I was supposed to call a cab, request a wheelchair, get to the marina, grab the keys from Dave. I can’t believe I didn’t make a backup plan. I have a two-hundred-pound failed character actor in a soundproof box and right now, he’s pissing himself in his sleep.
Love texts: hello? ☹
I twisted my ankle on the run home. That’s my story anyway. I took Tylenol, which is why I’m not drinking, and I’m limping and I’m not myself. Love insists that I come to the Office with everyone even though I’m a mess. She won’t take no for an answer, and the Office is surreal, a bar on the beach, in the sand. We sit at a long table. A tsunami could take us at any moment and Love tells me to relax.
“This is Mexico,” she says. “You can get beheaded or kidnapped or shot or mugged or swept away by a riptide, but come on, Joe. A tsunami?” She laughs. “I don’t think so. Though I appreciate your imagination.”
That’s my dark little girl and I look out at the Pacific that took Delilah so completely, so willingly. She helps me even when she doesn’t know it. Mexico is the murder capital of the world, the land of shallow graves and dead bodies. Fuck you, ocean. Fuck you, Captain Dave. I don’t need a boat. All I need is a shovel.
LOVE got drunk at the Office. I left her in bed along with a note that my ankle was feeling better so I went for a walk to stretch it out. She’ll never know that I left at 4:42 A.M. or that I stopped off at that big house, the one where they’re doing the most construction. None of the workers were there yet and I roamed around the lot, checking out the nails, and planks of wood, the slabs of marble, the cement mixers. I went around back and saw that they’re building an infinity pool. And it wasn’t the worst idea, Fincher resting, in infinity.
But now that I’m at Axl’s house, I know I have to do better. This is rock ’n‘ roll. This is time frozen and so many people out there have so many keys. Fincher has to stay here. I can’t be dragging him all over the neighborhood. I mean, yes, it’s Mexico but Mexico is like LA. There are so many different parts of it. This isn’t the area where you can casually behead people and drop them off in a neighboring pool. I have to be discreet. I’ll be sweating today because of that fucker. For now though, it’s time for him to learn a lesson. I’m rummaging through his duffel bag. The contents alone are reason enough to kill him. He brought headshots and five-pound weights and condoms and Jimmy Buffett T-shirts (tags on, asshole) and banana hammocks. Didn’t he get the memo that this was work? But that’s not even the bad part. The bad part is that Robin Fincher keeps an old-fashioned secretarial Rolodex of celebrity encounters. I’m serious. He bought this thing at Staples and I can just picture him in line on his day off. This Rolodex is jammed with home addresses of famous people. When I get back to LA, I can now visit Cruise, Tom if I want or my latest alter-ego, Fox, Megan. And again I say, that’s not even the bad part. Turn over an index card, and shit gets real.
Fincher clearly started this project ten years ago, when he joined the force. Some of his references are dated—Pattinson, Robert. Told him that I loved Water for Elephants and that he and Reese seem like they’re meant for each other. He seemed like the real deal, salt of the earth, more British than you expect him to be. Tell agent to send him reel.
Yes, Fincher has dutifully catalogued his celebrity encounters, all of which happened while he was supposed to be protecting and serving. He has a simple routine. He pulls over celebrities to talk to them and kiss ass. Sometimes his notes are self-interested—Piven, J. Pulled over for jaywalking. Friendly, funny. They say he’s a jerk but he was cool to me. Seemed genuine. Says to call his manager next week. Says he has a feeling about me, says I need new headshots.
Sometimes his notes are sad—Aniston, Jennifer. Said thank you for letting her know about robberies in neighborhood. Told me to stay hydrated. Sweet!
And sometimes they’re downright disturbing, like when he told Adams, Amy that someone ran over the neighbor-up-the-street’s dog.
So you get the idea. Robin Fincher, who alleges to be so protective of California, is in fact, a level ten Celebrity Stalker. I turn on the microphone.
“Hey,” I say. “Wake up.”
I can be loud when I need to be and Fincher rolls over and sits up and blinks. When he sees me, he bolts for the glass. He bounces off it, then, undeterred, body slams it again and again. I put my feet up and ignore him and continue to wo
rk my way through his Rolodex. The idiot is so busy trying to shatter unbreakable glass that he doesn’t even seem to realize that I found his secret stash. When he finally exhausts himself and kneels on the floor panting, I turn on the mic again.
“Sit up,” I say. “Well, first pick up the microphone. Then sit.”
He takes the microphone and he hasn’t learned anything yet. He starts by ranting at me that he’s a cop—as if I didn’t know this—that he’s an American—as if I’m not—that he’s gonna see to it that I wind up behind bars—as if he’s in a position to do this.
“Listen to me,” I say. “It’s not too late to make things right.”
His nostrils flare. “Where’s Meg?”
Wow. I don’t respond to that, it’s too fucking pathetic. I pick up a card from his Rolodex. “I’m gonna ask you a question.”
“She’s supposed to be here,” he says, not listening.
“Fincher,” I interrupt. “I’m Megan Fox.”
He storms the glass again and I have to let him work it out, kick, punch, kick. He settles down, screams. When I think that’s it for now, I continue. “As I was saying, you can make things right by telling the truth. It’s pretty simple. I just want you to explain some of your choices.”
When he ticketed me for jaywalking, Robin Fincher repeatedly reminded me that I had made a choice to jaywalk. And he’s right. I did. But now I know that he made a lot of bad choices himself.
I spin his Rolodex and land on Heigl, Katherine. I take her card and turn it over and I see that he approached her at Little Dom’s, a restaurant in Los Feliz. He told her that she had some fans getting aggressive out front and that she would be wiser to go out the back. He says she was pretty, grateful, took a selfie with me, said she’ll follow me on Instagram. I pick up the mic. “So, does Katherine Heigl follow you on Instagram?”
“Put that down.” Fincher stares at the Rolodex. His eyes are a ride in a theme park, two beady little balls to hell. “That’s police business.”
“Really?” I ask. “Because unless there’s a special division dedicated exclusively to stopping imaginary celebrity crimes, I’d say this feels more like personal stuff to me.”
“You have no right to look at that.” I laugh. He doesn’t. “I have eyes on a lot of people. That’s not my only file.”
“I’m sure,” I say. “Anyway, did she follow you on Instagram?”
“She was very nice.” He sidesteps. “Listen, you sick fuck, this is a big mistake.”
“Robin,” I say. “Do you know you could go to jail for this?”
“Put it down.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I ask. “Why would you ever bring this on a plane?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“It is now,” I say. “As a concerned citizen, I have every right to look out for my fellow countrymen. This is a breach.”
“Tell me what you want,” he pleads. “Just put it down and tell me what you want.”
“What do I want?”
“Anything,” he says. “This is crazy. You gotta let me out of here.”
That’s not happening and he should realize that and I ignore him and I spin through his Rolodex and thank God that I am me, that I didn’t get sick like this, that I don’t covet imaginary friends and pry into places where I don’t belong. What a dreadful existence, to be the man in possession of this Rolodex.
“Fincher,” I say. “You do realize that these things are supposed to have the names and numbers of people who know you too?”
I shake my head. They always get like that when you reach the truth. The way a fish nips at the bait after circling. Robin is breaking. Biting. He is boiling down to his fuck you self. This is his mug of urine, his mistake, and his is infinitely worse than mine. His mug of piss may not contain his DNA, but it reveals so much more, his demented ego, his emotional core. He’s no different from a thirteen-year-old girl writing a letter to Justin Timberlake, thinking he might write back. Fincher’s Rolodex is a motherfucking hope chest.
“Robin,” I say. “Was Eddie Murphy making a big mistake when he didn’t think it was funny that you pulled him over for having a banana in his tailpipe.”
Robin turns red. “Stop it.”
I shake my head. “I just think Beverly Hills Cop was a long time ago and he’s probably a busy guy, you know? He probably had somewhere he had to be. Do you think it was a great choice as an aspiring actor? Did you think he would find you funny?”
“Stop it,” he says. He pumps his fists and you can tell he’s used to carrying a weapon.
“You know you’re supposed to be looking for Delilah,” I remind him. “You just swore to me that you were gonna find her, but you, motherfucker, you took off to Cabo three days later. And we both know you only tracked me down because I was on a set.” I laugh. “You actually had me scared a little. Your whole bad cop demeanor and the way you were sniffing around about me, threatening me, stealing my headphones.”
“As if you didn’t steal them first,” he says, eyes blazing.
“Of course I did,” I reveal. And he smirks, as if he figured something out, as if he won. “But what you don’t realize is that I stole them from Henderson when I killed him.”
Fincher starts to turn purple. “You sick fuck.”
I sigh. “Says the man who travels with a Rolodex of celebrities’ addresses. Do you know what would happen if this got into the wrong hands? I mean, not that you’ll be around to deal with the consequences.”
He’s on his feet now, and he throws the ice bucket at the glass. He throws one water bottle, then the other. He falls to his knees and he’s not crying because I’m going to kill him. Oh, sure, you assume that because he’s locked in a cage and about to die—but Robin Fincher is crying because all he ever wanted was for this Rolodex to be his, truly. He wanted to be buddies with these people. He wanted Katherine Heigl to follow him on Instagram—he even noted with an asterisk on the back, friends call her Katie—and he’s crying because none of that is going to happen.
He will never be friends with Katie Heigl. And in spite of all the red carpet events he crashed with his uniform—you should see this picture of him at an Oblivion event where he’s with Tom Cruise and the security guards in back look like they’re gonna fucking kill him—well, the point is, Fincher met a lot of people. But that was it. You can’t have a conversation with an autograph and you can’t go out to lunch with a group selfie and no matter how grateful Julia Roberts is that you alerted her to some problems with the elevator in the Chateau—bullshit, bullshit—she is only going to close the door and lock it because she doesn’t fucking know you, Robin Fincher.
Now he wants me to leave him alone. But we’re not done yet. “Oh come on,” I say. “This Rolodex is thick. I mean, we haven’t even gotten to Efron, Zac.”
“Stop it,” he says. “I mean it.”
“No,” I say. “We’re gonna get to the bottom of some of these choices. Same way I acknowledged my bad choice when I crossed the street. Yes, I have authority issues. I concede that I should have waited for the walk signal, Robin. I can be a punk. I am a little fucking New York that way and you were right and I accepted my responsibility.”
He cries. “Please let me go, please, please.”
I flip over Crawford, Cindy. He punches the glass. “Stop it!”
“Wow,” I say. “You really think she was flirting with you? Because I don’t know, Robin. I’m gonna guess that she was trying to get out of a ticket.”
“That’s what is so great about your stories,” I tell him. “You don’t even understand who you are, Robin. You’re a police officer.”
“An officer of the law.”
“These people are just like me,” I say, and I point to his Rolodex. “All of us, we’re just trying to get out of a ticket. Don’t you get that?”
ts. I point to him. “You cop,” I say. I point at myself. “Me citizen.” I do it again, repeating that Tom Cruise is like me, a citizen, and that Jennifer Aniston is like me, a citizen. He screams and shakes like a monkey and I won’t let up. “No, no, no,” I say. “You chose to be a cop and you don’t get to be a cop slash actor because you can’t be a cop and an actor and deep down you know this or you would have gone for it, Robin. You would have taken your classes and waited tables and dedicated your life to your dream, but no. You knew he didn’t have it. And this is life, you fucking shithead. You don’t get to be anything slash anything.”
“You don’t know,” he whimpers. “That Chinese guy, the one from The Hangover, he was a doctor before he got into the business.”
I look at this sad man, comparing himself to a brilliant comedic actor. The pure absence of self-awareness is enough to kill me. “Fincher,” I say. “Ken Jeong is talented. You’re not.”
“That’s why Ken Jeong tried to break into the business the old-fashioned way, the honest way,” I explain. “He quit being a doctor to become an actor. You’re a cop. These people in here, they all have talent. You don’t.”
He looks like he might start crying again. But it’s wrong of him to use his badge to harass celebrities and it’s downright disgusting of him to ditch his legitimate police work to go down to Cabo and meet Megan Fox. I don’t feel bad for this fucker. You get a job, you do the job. No slash. The end.
He pounds the glass and his words bleed together, merging into a whiny plea. “Let me the fuck out of here! This is wrong! You are sick and I want out—I want out now!”
“I can’t do that,” I say. “You’re a bad cop. You know where all these famous people are, but you didn’t try to find Delilah.”
He stares at me. “You sick dick,” he rails. “You won’t get away with this.”
“Of course I will,” I say. “If you were a better cop, you’d realize that by now.”