"Fixed Odds in Tinsletown", pt.3
Updated: Jun 30
I’m still awake when the alarm Bella sets for me lights up. As usual, I kiss her on the forehead and she mumbles something I can’t make out. As usual, the check is in the bottom drawer of the bedside table, a dirty secret spelled out in four digits. I pad over to the wine fridge and pull out something red, slightly chilled. When I leave, I close the door quietly behind me and wait until I’m in the hall to slip on my boots.
I punch the cork into the vintage with my house key. I order a car with my phone and the driver lets me drink in the backseat. I get to thinking. Maybe Dicky isn’t dead after all. I dig around the web and find pictures of his mug, the eyes too close together under salt-and-pepper hair, the wide mouth outlined by two deep creases, smiling in frames of azure oceans and shining skylines. When was the last time he posted something? I download one of the apps I’d swore off a couple years ago. It’s there I get derailed.
As the car slips along a roomy freeway, tinny K-Pop playing quietly in the cab, I see the list of tags and follows. One catches my eye. It’s a throwback I know I shouldn’t look at, but I do: a big group of us, back in college, beers aloft. I’m off to the side, sitting on the couch with my girlfriend, Harper. My arm is around her. Our smiles match.
I tap her name. There’s her and her husband, her and her kids, her with a few familiar faces. I remember for a moment what it’s like to see friends on weekends, to grill meat and talk shit, to call someone just to say hello. I feel sick to my stomach. This used to be my life. All of a sudden I feel the urge to wear a wedding ring, go hunting for schools, make consistent deposits into an IRA.
What if this Hollar’s a cop? What if Dicky’s really dead? What if Clare, the most consistent face in my life, has killed?
If this were two years ago, I’d call a friend. Together, we’d figure a way out of this. But I stopped returning texts and calls a while ago, cancelled my membership to the group. If this were two years ago, this never would have happened.
I tip back the bottle and look back at my phone. I find Dicky Overland’s page and see he hasn’t posted in six months. Whether he’s buried or on the lam, the internet’s a dead end.
When I wake, I feel scooped out, the pillow clammy beneath my cheek. I try and sleep, but a thought pokes up out of the darkness: tonight, I see Clare Overland. Quickly, I head to the kitchen for sustenance.
In the cupboard I find half a bottle of Campari and a sack of quinoa. I grab one of the two and pour it into a pint glass with ice.
Back in the bedroom, I fish Hollar’s business card out of the pocket of my jeans and dial his digits. When he picks up, it sounds like he’s eating peanut butter.
“Remy Hollar?” I ask.
“Has Brady Chase finally got his head on straight?”
“I wanna meet.”
“Don’t believe I stuttered.”
“So he’s a tough guy, now.” I can hear him smirk.
“I got some questions to ask you. You at the address?”
“Me and you don’t do faces unless you’re with the broad.”
“The woman’s not a currency.”
“Bring Ms. Overland to the address tonight. Pretend you’re taking her on a date.”
“Answer me one thing. Who’s paying you?”
Hollar hangs up without another word.
Around 9 p.m. the yellow lines in the center of Benedict Canyon are wiggling a little in my vision as they unfurl through the old Wildcat’s windshield. I turn onto Cielo, and then it hits me. What if this whole Dicky Overland bit is a snare job? What if he never bit it in the first place, and, in fact, he’s the one waiting on the other side of her door? I can see it now, the grin on his face.
The iron gate shuts behind me, and I drive between the row of Cypress trees towering over a long gravel driveway. Ahead, the house is lit up like a Jack-o’-lantern carved from one hunk of caramel stone. I pull into the circular drive and kill the engine, eye the rearview. I could turn around now.
Meet the Author
Jon grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the only child of a railroad worker and a jack-of-all-trades mystic. He is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and currently resides in Los Angeles, where he writes stories in his free time and dreams of living life without a car.“Fixed Odds in Tinseltown”is his second publication.