I'm posting up part of Chapter Three on Dead Celebs today. This is a work in progress, so if you see any typos, mistakes, etc--I apologize in advance. If this is your first time reading from this WIP, please scroll down so you can get the first two chapters in.
Also, don't forget that if you pre-order a copy of "Happy Hour" this week, you'll also receive one of my mysteries (free), both books signed and randomly inside some of the Happy Hour books are coupons where you can send it in and redeem free books and a wine and food basket. Sounds like Christmas! In fact, you and I both know how quickly the holidays sneak up on us. Well, there is no better gift in my opinion than giving a book to someone on your list. Happy Hour is the book to give to your friends, your mother, your daughter (grown ones). And for the kids on your list, get a copy of Zamora's Ultimate Challenge. Right now, there are two local fifth grade classes reading this book for their literature for their first quarter, and the responses I'm getting from these kids are awesome. They love the book! It's a family book that has a lot of fun adventure in it, along with some great lessons. If you have sons who like video games--or daughters who like to read fantasy, then I promise they will enjoy this book. I had one kid who got caught reading past her bedtime with a reading light under her covers! Both books are easy to order--just click on the buttons to the right of the page and there you go--all done. Don't forget to click on over to http://www.lorisreadingcorner.blogspot where you can read partials from Happy Hour this week, plus she has a ton of other great books over there to check out. I also uploaded book trailers at the bottom of this post for Dead Celebs, Happy Hour and Zamora's Ultimate Challenge, so you can take a "look" at the books.
Did I also mention that you won't be charged any shipping this week either?
Okay, I am done trying to sell you books. I hope you enjoy the excerpt from Dead Celebs. Let me know what you think.
Two weeks passed and I was playing and singing nightly at Nick’s. I’d also learned how to pour a stiff drink or two, and cook up Nick’s extraordinary tacos. The hours were great—six to eleven every night but Monday (bar was closed. Nick said he needed a day off, but I had a sneaking suspicion there was more to it than that. Not sure at all what that was or why I felt it, but I did). The pay wasn’t great. I made eight bucks an hour plus tips, and the tips were, well, a bit meager. Nick’s didn’t exactly attract the big tippers, but the clientele did know how to have a good time, except a few of the regulars who sat slumped on the stools for hours on end.
One guy who went by Mac, I had to rename Mumbles, and it stuck. Mumbles only gave answers to questions or made conversation (if it could be called that) by mumbling. He was a stout old character with deep lines across his forehead and around his eye. Yes, I did say, eye. He was nearly bald and wore an eye patch. As I said, he’s a character. Don’t know how he got the eye patch, but one day I’m sure I’ll decipher that. I think his accent is Irish—I do believe I’ll get that one figured out, too. It just takes some time to be able to translate mumbling.
One evening I slapped him on the shoulder as I came in, guitar strung on my back, Cass tailing me. “Hey, Mumbles. What’s up? How’s it going?”
I think his answer was something like, “Uh, huh, yeah. Good. Hell. Yep. Okay. Don’t know. You?”
I decided to mumble my response, “Me. Too, uh huh. Good. Okay. Think so anyway.”
That was how my friendship began with Mumbles. I think we communicate quite well actually.
Candy who preferred to be called Candace--even though she revealed to me one night that her name was really Candy and not a nickname at all--was also a regular who sat two seats away from Mumbles. I think Candace was once beautiful. She has deep set green eyes, long white blonde hair and a terrific smile when she smiles, but time, a hard life and booze have taken its toll on her. It’s funny what people will reveal after they have a few drinks. I knew all about Candace’s four husbands, hopes of being an actress, her daughter who hadn’t spoken to her in eight years and her cat named Goldy.
And I had learned a bit about Nick himself. He didn’t so much have a ton of show biz contacts as he’d initially indicated. Turns out that Nick was the star of a 1960’s show called “Next Door Neighbors.” He didn’t talk much about it, but I know he played the precocious child on the show.
“How long has it been since you had an acting gig?” I asked during close one night.
He sighed heavily. “Gosh. Long time. I think 1980. Played a bit piece in a The Rockford Files. That was it. Can’t tell you what went wrong, kid, but it did.”
I had a feeling I might have known what went wrong. I’m one to keep my eyes and ears open and I’d noticed Nick on the phone a few times and I over heard him placing bets. Like Mumbles and Candace, Nick liked his liquor too, and something told me his addictions got the best of him. But I wasn’t one to judge. Nick had given me a job and he encouraged me just like Betty LaRue had.
Problem was, the money factor. I loved singing nightly at Nick’s. I loved to sing. Period. And play the guitar. But fifty bucks a night at best was not going to get me far. Cass and I were still holed up in that motel. It stank. It was loud and I was way over it. However, choices were few and far between. I’d been on the apartment hunt on a daily basis. Not much luck with that. Studio apartments in L.A. ran at least twelve hundred bucks a month and then renters wanted first and last month’s rent. On top of that most didn’t rent to dog owners and if they did, they wanted at least a month’s worth of cash for the deposit. You do the math. Yep. That five grand was looking like chump change.
Late at night, lying on the creaking, uncomfortable motel bed with Cass, I found myself in tears. Cass scooched closer to me and licked my hand practically off. She knew I was sad. When the tears didn’t stop coming, she stood and licked my entire face dry (so to speak). I couldn’t help but start laughing, which only wound Cass up even more as she twirled in a circle, her tail swinging back and forth wildly and smacking me in the face with each twirl. “Easy girl. Easy. Stop. Stop it.” I laughed even harder, and then a knock at the door made me stop. Midnight. I’m in a dumpy motel room and a knock at my door. Thank God I had Cass. However, Cass started barking and the knocking grew louder. Uh oh. “Just a minute,” I yelled. “Cass, stop, stop, shhh.”
“This is the manager. Open up the door. Do you have a dog in there?”
“No. No. It’s the TV.”
“Open this door, or I will call the cops.”
I closed my eyes and cringed. “Cass get down, “I whispered. “Down.” She growled. Not at me, but at the door, and usually my dog minds me, but come on, it was midnight and the voice on the other end did not sound happy. I got her off the bed and locked her in the bathroom. I cracked the door and there stood the manager—ugly, overweight, spectacled and in a wife beater and grey sweats. “Hi.” I put on my best fake smile. “Is there a problem?”
He crossed his arms. “You have a dog here.”
“No. It’s the TV. Animal Planet channel.”
“We don’t get the Animal Planet Channel. And the dog is scratching on the bathroom door. I’m not deaf. Plus the maid saw you with the dog. You need to get out.”
“No dogs. No cats. No birds. No lizards. No pets! Get out.”
“Did I stutter?”
“I, I can put her in the van for the night.”
“Nope. Out. Bye bye.” He wiggled his pudgy fingers at me. “You got ten minutes.”
I slammed the door in his face and could hear him say, “I’m charging you for the night as well. I can’t rent the room until it’s fully cleaned and debugged, which I’ll charge you for.”
I swung the door back open. “You can’t do that.”
“Read your contract, honey. I can. No pets. Pets have fleas and I am running a nice place here. I can’t allow someone to stay in this room after a dog has been in it.”
“My dog does not have fleas.” She probably did. I have seen one or two on her, but seriously, this guy was not running the Ritz Carlton by any stretch of the imagination.
“Credit card on file will be charged for fumigation. Good night. You now have eight minutes.”
I slammed the door again, sighed, had no time to cry, and took Cass out of the bathroom. I quickly threw my things into my suitcase and Cass and I left the motel without a clue as to where we would go.
We drove around for thirty minutes with me in a daze and Cass curled up in the back seat. I finally decided the best idea would be to park in a residential area and just get up early in the morning and move. I found a quiet street that was well lit, parked and climbed in back with my dog. Was this how people wound up on the streets? I couldn’t go back home. Not after all the faith Betty had in me, and I didn’t want to prove to my dad that I couldn’t make it on my own. I also didn’t want to wind up on the streets pan handling with Cass, looking sad and desperate. I could ask Nick for more money. I could ask him if I could work the day shift, but I knew that wouldn’t work either. Nick had hired a nice man to bartend during the day. His name was Juan and he had three children to take care of because his wife was very ill. I could not do that and I knew that Nick did not have the money to pay me more. I also knew that I didn’t want to give up the singing. It was all I had besides Cass and she counted on me.
I put a blanket over me and Cass and eventually I slept, only to be woken as the sun came up with someone mowing the lawn. Who mows their lawn at seven in the morning? It didn’t matter. I needed to move anyway before the neighbors wondered about the beat up van with the homeless lady and her dog inside it. Reality hit me then that we were living out of my van. Reality also hit that I needed a shower. I was determined today was the day I got a day job and found a new place for me and Cass.
I washed up and put on some war paint inside a McDonald’s restroom and got me and Cass a couple of egg McMuffins. I put U2 into my tape player. I needed to update and upgrade to an Ipod but the tape player still worked, and I played Beautiful Day, singing all the lyrics as Cass howled out along with me.
Full stomach, sort of clean and an attitude adjustment by none other than Bono himself, and I was ready to take on the day. Little did I know what was in store for me. By eleven o’ clock I received a phone call from Nordstrom. They needed a new MAC girl! For the record, MAC is the best, the best makeup in the world. Everyone who is anyone wears MAC. Madonna wears MAC. I don’t, but that’s because I can’t afford to wear MAC, but thank my lucky stars that my mother took such great pride in teaching me how to make up my face and hers and everyone else’s who lived in Brady. And we didn’t do gaudy. We seriously tore pages out of the fashion magazines and immolated the faces on those pages, and I gotta say that although I don’t wear much of the stuff myself, I’m good at putting it on others. I jumped on it. I was going to get this job. I almost got the van up to sixty on the freeway. It was shaking.
I walked in, tried to be as sophisticated as possible wearing all black because black is the MAC theme and I got hired. I did. That night I celebrated at Nick’s with a glass of cheap Merlot and a hamburger.
Nick toasted me. “You’re on your way, kid. You are, and speaking of, I have a guy who is a producer. One of the best, coming in next week to hear you.”
“Can’t say, but I can tell you he’s the man and I told him you were terrific. He’s excited to meet you.”
“Great,” I said but a little uncomfortable that Nick wouldn’t tell me who the guy was. Why the secret? Why the mystery? But that was Nick. Sort of a mystery himself.
Nick held up his beer and hollered, “Everyone…” (everyone consisted of Mumbles and Candace and three other people I didn’t know), “Cheers to Evie. She got a great new job today and she’s going to be the next music sensation!”
Mumbles stood up then and mumbled something like, “Evie, good deal girl. The best. Good girl.”
“To Evie,” everyone sang out.
Maybe this was the City of Angels of after all.