Imperial Bedrooms

Page 17

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So when will you help me?" she asks while we're sitting in the cafe down the street from the Doheny Plaza, idling over a late breakfast, both of us floating away from hangovers with the dope we smoked and Xanax. "I think you should make the calls as soon as possible," she says, looking at herself in a mirror. "Right when everybody comes back, okay?" I'm smiling at her serenely and nodding. I ignore the creases of suspicion on her face even after I remove my sunglasses, and then I assure her with a "Yes" followed by a warm kiss.

This assumed peace lasts only about a week. There's always the possibility of something frightening happening, and then it usually does. Two days before Kelly Montrose's body is found, Rain wakes up and mentions she had a dream that night. I'm already up, taking pictures of her while she sleeps, and now that she's awake she flinches when I take another one and she says that in her dream she saw a young man in my kitchen, a boy, really, but old enough to be desirable, and he was staring at her and there was dried blood crusted above his upper lip and there was a blurred tattoo of a dragon etched on his forearm and the boy told her he had wanted to live here in 1508, but the boy told her not to worry, that he was lucky, and then his face turned black and he bared his teeth and then he was dust, and I tell Rain about the party boy who had owned this apartment and I tell her that the building is haunted, that at night vampires hide in the palm trees surrounding the building waiting for the lights to go out, and then roam the hallways, and finally the camera gets her attention and she's animated and I keep flashing the camera, my head propped on a pillow while she glances at the flat-screen TV - a shot of people running from a jungle, an episode of Lost, and I reach for a Corona on the nightstand. "The vampires don't roam the hallways," she finally murmurs, recovered. "The vampires own the units." And then we run lines for the part of Martina in The Listeners.

Kelly Montrose was rumored to be with the Hispanic actress who had been found in the mass grave right before Christmas. The last sighting of him was on a tennis court in Palm Springs one afternoon in mid-December. Kelly's naked body was smeared across a highway in Juarez and then propped against a tree. Two other men were found nearby entombed in blocks of cement. Kelly's face was peeled off, and his hands were missing. There was a note pinned to his body revealing nothing: cabron? cabron? cabron? Things I didn't know about Kelly: the crystal meth thing, the stepmother who died during plastic surgery, the supposed connections with the drug cartel. This discovery feels only tangential since I never really knew Kelly Montrose - he produced movies, I'd met him several times about various projects - and he was never close enough to anyone I knew to define any of my relationships. Rain spends the day before Kelly Montrose is found at a distance: pacing the balcony, texting, taking calls, returning calls, increasingly agitated, leaning against the railing, gazing past the plunge of the balcony at a couple of guys jogging shirtless on the street below. When I ask her what's wrong she keeps blaming her family. I keep dragging her back to the bedroom and she's always resisting, promising "In a minute, in a minute ... " After downing two shots of tequila she lazes on the balcony in just a thong, ignoring the helicopter swooping above her, and that night in the dark bedroom in the Doheny Plaza, drunk on margaritas, candles glowing around her while I complain about another movie playing on the giant flat screen, Rain can't help it and for the first time something causes her to tune out and when I finally notice, my voice starts to waver and as I fade into silence she simply asks, without looking over at me, in a neutral voice, her eyes gazing at the TV, "What's the worst thing you've ever done?"

I have to go to San Diego," she says.

I'm just waking up, squinting at the light pouring into the bedroom. The shades have been pulled up and she's walking around in the brightness of the room collecting things.

"What time is it?" I ask.

"Almost noon."

"What are you doing?"


"I have to go to San Diego," she says. "Something's come up."

I reach out for her, trying to pull her back onto the bed.

"Clay, stop. I have to go."

"Why? Who are you seeing down there?"

"My mother," she mutters. "My crazy f**king mother."

"What's wrong?" I ask. "What happened?"

"Nothing. The usual. Whatever. I'll call you when I get there."

"When am I going to see you again?"

"When I get back."

"When are you getting back?"

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