Okay, so I have to say that “the pad” that Simone has me house-sitting in, is a little creepy and any time I ask about the owner I get the brush off. Thing is, I’m staying at this like seven thousand square foot mansion overlooking the city of glitter and gossip and Simone is paying me good money, plus I get to have Mama Cass with me—well, I get to have her with me at the house. Simone doesn’t allow her anywhere near her. And when Simone makes demands, at what she’s paying me, I pretty much ask, “how high?” get it? As in jump? Never mind.
Anyway, back to the creepy factor. I’m not really sure why I find this house creepy. It’s huge and a woman alone in a huge house basically constitutes creepy to me just because…but it’s more than that and I can’t explain it. And, Simone’s sister Brenda had mentioned she thought it was creepy but she’s never elaborated.
The house is tastefully decorated—all in whites, pale yellows, hardwoods, lots of bamboo and has this kind of modern, eclectic, panda, Asian theme mixed in with Mexican architecture and ceramic pottery. It’s kind of like the Mexican drug cartel meets Asian simplicity. Throw in the handful of Buddhas and crosses throughout in forms of statues or in paintings and I figure I’m covered in the religious aspect. My dad would have a heart attack. I mean mixing Buddha and Jesus is cool to me, but I don’t even want to think about my dad’s reaction.
No it’s not the religious emblems that creep me out, they in fact, make me feel better about the place. I guess it’s the size and I’m not used to it. But Cass absolutely love, loves, loves this place. She has especially taken to the swimming pool, which she makes laps in on a regular basis. We spend any free time we have with me tossing a tennis ball into the pool for her while she leaps in, splashing me with water. I can’t help but laugh.
She was doing just that when I got the call from Simone that she actually didn’t need me for the night. That was a first. In the three weeks that I’d been working for her, she needed me pretty much night and day to do her makeup, change her makeup, fix her face—do it Goth, do it like Garbo, do it like Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, you name it, Simone had her demands about her face. But tonight, she didn’t need me.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” she sniffled. “I mean. No. I’m fucking sick! Me! I have some cold or something horrific. I was going to tell you to bring me soup, but my sister said she’d get it. She said that I work you too hard. Do you think I work you too hard?”
“Um…no. I’m good.”
“I thought so. Fine. But I do have a photo shoot in the morning and I can not look like death warmed over,” she said, her voice sounding nasily. “And my nose looks like Rudolph the fucking red nosed reindeer.”
I cringed. Her use of the constant “f” bomb grated on my ears. “I can fix that. Don’t worry.”
“Good. Be here by seven, and bring me a double shot, skinny, pumpkin spice latte and don’t let them give you that shit that they only sell the pumpkin lattes during the fall months. They have it. I want it. See you tomorrow.”
I hung the phone back on the cradle on the cream and teal colored granite counter in the kitchen and sighed. “Early morning, but night off,” I said to Cass who sat at my feet wagging her tail. “Let’s go to Nick’s!” My dog was good company but I liked hanging out at the bar. I know that sounds totally seedy, but it’s not like that. Nick always lets me sing, and I usually head in there nightly after dolling up Miss Diva. I grabbed my guitar and promised Cass some fish tacos. It didn’t take much to convince her. She flew into the back of the van and we headed toward La Cienega.
The usual crowd was there. Mumbles was on his forty-fifth gin and tonic, and Candace was likely on her sixty-eighth “Candace Special,” which all I know has Midori and pineapple rum in it. At least that’s what I put in it when I make them for her and she hasn’t complained yet. I shiver at the thought of the taste of it, and what her liver might look like.
“Evie, g’see you. Got black eye.” Mumbles pointed to his good eye.
Whoa! He did have a black eye. “How did you do that?” I asked.
“Oh, he fell off the stool last night. We missed you,” Candace said.
“Someone really needs to check you two into rehab.”
“Ouch. That hurts.” Candace waved a hand in front of her face. “But know what honey, you may be right, but what’s the good in it? I ain’t got no one in the world.”
“Uh huh. You do, you just like to be the victim.”
“Damn girl. That’s not nice to talk to Auntie Candace that way. Now you be nice and poor me another “Special.” Nick is in the back cooking me some food.”
I knew what that meant. When Nick started making food for these two, he’d cut them off. The sad thing was, I also knew they’d buy some booze somewhere else and be back at it tomorrow. I didn’t know how to handle them. I liked both Candace and Mumbles, but I also knew that alcoholics couldn’t be reasoned with while drunk and frankly I have no clue when these two aren’t three sheets to the wind.
I walked back into the kitchen where the smells of grease and hot sauce (Nick loved to cook with hot sauce. I think he uses it as a preservative) permeated the air. “Trying to sober up Tweetle Dee and Tweetle Dum?”
He turned to face me spatula in his hand. He had a worried look in his eyes that I’d noticed lately but it quickly faded with his smile. “Oh what’s the use in that? Actually, remember that cat I was telling you about, the music mogul dude?”
I nodded. “The one who was supposed to come and hear me three weeks ago, then two weeks ago and then last week?” I loved Nick and I know he wanted the best for me, but all the same this music producer thing was starting to feel a little like a fish chasing after a big piece of bait that keeps eluding it—yeah, I’m the fish.
“Now, Evie. Come on, you know these guys are busy people. But he’s for sure coming tonight. No doubt.” He pulled his Blackberry from his front pocket. The text is right here. “Music Man coming. He’s confirmed, Kid. I was gonna give you a call and tell you to dump that pain in the ass Slutone.”
“Mhhm hmm,” he replied. “She’s not good for you. She’s not good people, Kid. I’m telling you.”
I shrugged. “I can handle her, besides the job is easy…”
“Oh really? Being at someone’s beck and call at all hours just to slap some powder and lipstick on her is easy? Sure the makeup part, but that chick has you right here.” He held up his pinky and tapped it.
“Look. I know she’s different.” He eyed me. I held up my hand. “But the pay is great, and I have a place to live in because of her and I can keep Cass with me.” Cass looked up at from where she’d flopped herself down onto the floor.
“Whatever.” He fanned his hand over the meat on the grill. “Once this dude hears you croon you can tell Slutone to go to hell.”
“Nick,” I warned.
“I’m sorry. I don’t like the way she treats you. Anyway, enough about her. Get your guitar ready and set up the mike. You have a gig tonight, Kid and you are going to be a superstar, right Cass?”
Cass lifted her head up and gave sharp bark.
“Even she knows it,” Nick said, pointing to my dog.
“Okay, alright. Done deal. I’ll be right back. It’s in the van.” I headed out to the van. As I slid open the doors to retrieve my guitar, my cell rang. I looked at the number. Oh no. It was Simone. I muted it and took out the guitar. The phone rang again. It was her again. I gritted my teeth. Why did my dad have to be a Baptist minister? Guilt washed over me as I stood looking at the number, ignoring it. Damn. Damn. Damn! What if something was really wrong?
Fine. I flipped open the phone. “Hello?” I said meekly.
“Edie…” she still didn’t always get my name right. “I need you to come now. I think I’ve taken too many Sudafeds. The lights are so bright and blurring and oh my God! I’m dying. I know I’m dying.”
“Okay. Um, well where’s Brenda?”
“That stupid bitch went to a party without me. I won’t really ever forgive you for glamming her up. She thinks she’s fucking Lady Gaga now.”
“So I need you now!”
“Here’s the thing…I’m over at Nick’s.”
“That dive? On la Cienega that you hang out at? Seriously do not get that at all.”
“I know, but Nick has this friend who is a record producer and he’s coming to hear me sing tonight,” I said trying so hard to sound hopeful and not pathetic.
“Oh God, you’re kidding, right? You’re so fucking pathetic. Please. That guy doesn’t know anyone worth anything. Look you want an audition. I’ll get you one over at Sony.”
“Yeah. Sure. Now get your fucking ass over here before I die!”
I looked back at Nick’s place and then down at Mama Cass who stood there staring at me, and I swear if she was a human being, she’d have been shaking her head and I do think the words coming out of her mouth would have likely repeated Simone’s--the ones where she mentioned I was so f…ing pathetic. “I know. I know,” I said gritting my teeth.
I walked back into the bar and didn’t want to face Nick. I turned Candace around on the bar stool. “Oh no, no more lectures chickadee. I ain’t going to rehab. I don’t have no one to love me and I can’t afford Betty ford, and insurance who the hell has that?” She glanced at Mumbles who sort of nodded.
He mumbled. “I got a black eye.”
“Plus I was sober once and it sucked.”
“Right. I don’t want to lecture you, “I replied. “Just tell Nick for me that I had to go. It’s an emergency and I’ll try and be back as soon as I can.”
I knew—know—it was a crappy thing to do. I really believed Nick this time about the music guy, but I also had been here long enough to realize that Nick’s music mogul may have been past his prime and frankly I couldn’t take the chance of losing my job with Simone. Plus she promised me an audition with Sony!
“Emergcy?” Mumbles looked at me. “You got black eye,” he mumbled.
I ran out the door and got behind the wheel with Cass staring at me as if I was the devil incarnate. I felt her eyes on me and was afraid to look over at her. She can chastise like nobody’s business. Only my father does a better job. We sped down La Cienega and back up to Wilshire. Hopefully I could save Simone from her Sudafed overdose and become the next pop sensation.