L.A. Fadeaway, Part 2

la fadeaway pt 2

by Alex Kugelman

(Missed part one? It’s here.)

The next morning I woke up in one of the dozens of empty bedrooms in the mansion and saw Eli sitting at the foot of my bed in a robe. His five o’clock shadow and seamlessly slick bed hair made him look cooler than I ever had, and he wasn’t even trying. “I’m Jeremy,” I finally uttered. I stuck out my hand and Eli shook it firmly. “I know who you are, you’re the third cousin living here this summer right with the—um… internship?”

We were second cousins actually; I don’t think third cousins exist.

“Yep, that’s me.”

“Cool. You get in this morning?”

“…No, actually I got in yesterday”

“You should have come by, I think we had some people over.”

“I did, it was just, you were a little busy I think, you had your two friends with you, and they were blonde, and.”

Eli laughed and rubbed his head, “To be honest, I don’t remember anything… sorry about that, bud.” Eli hopped off my bed, laughed again and headed toward the kitchen and I followed.

“So you’re from Buffalo right? I hear its cold as shit up there.”

“Albany, actually, but yeah it gets pretty cold.”

Eli opened up a large double door refrigerator filled with bright fruits and different neat containers of food and sighed. “ We don’t really do the cold that much. I mean, yeah, we go to Aspen once a year and the Swiss Alps every now and then for Christmas, but I don’t fly to somewhere to be uncomfortable, you know? Rather just go to Fiji.”

Eli slammed the refrigerator door shut. “There is never anything to fucking eat here. Should we get breakfast?” It was 2 pm. I nodded.

Before heading into the garage, which was more of a stable than a garage, Eli studied a wall rack full of keys. None of them were actual keys, all the cars they owned were push to start ignition, which I had only seen in music videos. Eli grabbed one of the faux-keys that had a triton symbol on it and marched through the garage door. He clicked the pod twice and the lights of a sleek blue sports car flickered.

“This is your car? What even is this thing? I’ve never seen one before.”

“It’s a Maserati, and it’s not my car.”

Eli drove to breakfast, technically brunch, as if there was a bomb he was running to defuse. Eighty miles per hour on sharp canyon turns shook my body and I feared that I was going to fly out of the convertible. Eli swung into the back parking lot of an old Jewish deli and parked his car next to an identical Maserati. Weird coincidence, I thought. For some reason the patrons at the deli treated Eli as if he owned the place. He knew everyone’s name and they knew his name; he reeked of importance.

Before we could even order, the actual owner of the restaurant placed two large corned beef sandwiches in front of Eli and I along with a bucket of sliced pickles. Eli shook the owner’s hand with both hands as if this deli owner was the Godfather. He took a large bite out of his sandwich and hummed with joy. I did the same and mimicked Eli’s food groan even though I don’t like corned beef.

“Fucking shmucks run this place” Eli spurted out with a mouth full of corned beef. “They’re always asking for a handout, an investment, they want to make this place bigger. I say its fine the way it is, let me eat my fucking sandwich in peace.” I nodded. He seemed right.

After breakfast Eli suggested that we should go to Fairfax and then Melrose because I needed new clothes. I didn’t, I had plenty of clothes, plenty of bathing suits, I needed nothing. “I’m a little limited on cash, actually, but I’m down to check it out.” Eli smirked and nodded and we were off to defuse another bomb.

Fairfax was apparently the coolest street for clothing in LA. Kids wore sweatshirts and tight jeans and beanies in the ninety-degree summer heat, Eli told me “Fashion’s not about comfort.” Eli walked into some designer street wear boutique and I followed quietly.

Eli was never quiet; he made an entrance whenever we entered somewhere because it was warranted. People were happy to see him and he was happy to see them, I doubt that Eli genuinely knew these people but it behooves both parties to be acquaintances. After inexplicably obtaining over $2000 of new clothing for free, Eli took me to Bel Air to stop over at a friend’s. I didn’t mind: Eli bought me a pair of Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses for the ride.

Bel Air is the one percent of the one percent. Eli’s friends house was not a house, it was a compound. It was almost as if the architect got lazy and decided to stuff three mansions into one—it didn’t make sense. A beautiful woman in a sundress who had to be in her forties came down a long staircase with open arms and a warm smile.

“Eli, my baby,” she whispered loudly as she hugged Eli for dear life.

“It’s been too long, I haven’t seen you since…”

“Palm Springs,” Eli reminded her. Suddenly it all came back to her and she began to chirp laughs.

“Palm Springs, that seems like ages ago. Who’s your friend?”

I smiled and offered the woman my hand. “Jeremy.”

She eyeballed me from head to toe, clearly disapproving of my northeastern duds. “Pamela, pleased to meet you. Are you one of Eli’s infamous associates?”

I nodded but Eli quickly shook his head, “No, not yet” Eli said with a sly smirk.

Pamela took us to her infinity pool and offered us angel hair pasta with clam sauce. She spoke about how the navigation system on her Bentley was all screwy and she needed a new one and how annoyed she got with the paparazzi the other day because they thought she was Jennifer Aniston. “I have much better legs than her,” Pamela joked. After about two hours of poolside chat about restaurants, cars, Bradley Cooper and collagen injections Eli pulled out a bag of thick white pills and plopped it on a glass ottoman next to Pamela.

“So blunt! I almost forgot why you came over!” Pamela chuckled and took two of the pills and washed them down with a glass of white wine.

Eli smiled and I just stared. Pamela kissed Eli and told him that Jeffrey would have the money by the fourth. We left Pamela with her bag of pills and were back on the road in someone’s Maserati.


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