Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Birds of Paradise

The LA Times, led by columnist Steve Lopez, is having a neat contest: leading up to the Festival of Books during the last weekend in April, they are taking user submissions for a serial novel. Lopez wrote the first chapter and all other chapters are submitted by users and voted on by editors. I gave it a shot (and failed, but thanks to The Bird for helping).

Without further ado, my entry:

Falco looked down Wilshire from his fourth floor office. The cacophony of voices in his head were being drowned out by the pounding of his hangover. He asked his secretary Diane if there were any messages.

"For the third time, Councilman, NO." Diane was a slender brunette divorcee. An out of work actress, he hired her as a marriage supplement but soon realized that his tenuous council position required at least one person responsible enough to answer the phones and deflect his wife. "Nobody has called in the last five seconds, five minutes, or five hours. Do you need an aspirin?"

He sighed and pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his brow as he tried to piece together the previous night. Bonner's attitude worried him but not as much as the black Mercedes . A gulp of his Baileys-fortified latte did nothing to clear the fog in his mind. He was trying to get Carmen into the cab with him after the club closed and thought the sedan in Jumbo's lot was the same as the one from this morning. It didn't help that the car from the morning was standard issue for strippers, actresses, and all the rich kids from the Valley to Torrance. Hell, the parking lot had been full of them when he spoke at the commencement ceremony at USC last Spring.

Carmen had never been less willing to go home with him. In the months since their initial meeting at Charlie's Labor Day pool party he had been to the Clown Room at least three times a week. Always the big talker, Falco never paid much heed to the questions Carmen asked about his work on various committees. He thought she was only being polite - getting to know him so she could brag to her girlfriends who were dating pimps and pushers. Now Falco realized she was much more dangerous; a girl with memory, connections, and an agenda.

He called out to Diane, "Lady Di, you'd better make it four, this is going to be a long day. Can you clear my schedule and pull all the notes from all of last month's BF and HCED meetings?"

Diane silently walked into Falco's door and dropped the tablets onto a notepad. She returned to her desk, opened the Council's database, and did a query on Business & Finance and Housing, Community, & Economic Development. She formatted the report, emailed the bundle, and printed the file. As Falco read the report, Diane discreetly went to the Ladies' room, turned on her Blackberry and wrote a message, "C, F asked about meetings. Said nothing about last night. See you at 7. D"

"Di, can you please get Ernie on the phone?" Ernesto Garcia, or Ernie to his friends, had gone to school with Falco nearly 40 years ago. Falco never would have survived growing up white in Latino East Los Angeles without a friend like Ernie. He couldn't count on Ernie for campaign contributions or door-to-door canvassing but he could rely on him for all the other services a politician in LA needed.

No comments: