Sex and Drugs and Lost Control

“Will you be long tonight Mr. Katz?”

A short and immaculately dressed gentleman stepped out of his SUV. He looked like he was on a mission.

“No. Thanks Juan.” Joel Katz swapped the parking ticket in the valet’s hand for a ten-dollar bill and headed inside. “Don’t take it too far. You never know when I’ll need to leave.”

“No problem señor. I understand.” Juan smiled. He knew the drill.

Something weighed heavy on Joel’s mind as he waited for the elevator.

Outside, Juan backed Joel’s Mercedes GLK onto the sidewalk, parking it feet away from the doors. He left the keys in as he got out. Nobody was about to jack any cars for a five block radius because Juan ran things. Before the end of the night he would convince a drunk production assistant that she came by cab since parts of her three year old Wrangler were already being crated up in a chopshop off Fountain in Hollywood.

Looking up and down the lobby Joel was acutely aware how much his actions altered the lives of everyone he came into contact with. From the hotel concierge to the businessmen enjoying a mutual ego-pumping session in the bar. Even the beaners outside working the valet station. All this influence and no one knew who he was. That ate at his insides. His contract of employment at the network prohibited him from ever divulging what he really did for them. On paper, for the IRS, he was an entertainment attorney. In reality Joel Katz is one of the hidden men behind the Hollywood machine. He’s not alone. There are something like six other people in town who perform similar roles. Joel is the only one working on a full-time contract and reports only to the network’s President. The unique situation has its own share of positives and negatives.

The Skybar was buzzing. The atmosphere was, as usual, electric. Out on the roof patio under a myriad of heat lamps a fashion show for Zuma Stringz, a company specializing in beachwear clothing that does little, sometimes nothing, to cover the wearer’s body. That meant free cocktails. That meant Rudy would be there, somewhere, with his camera.

Appearing immune to the scent of sex in the air, Joel took his regular Cadillac margarita with him to the far wall of the patio. Admiring the view of the entire Los Angeles megalopolis he sipped his cocktail, hoping the sugar and alcohol would hit soon. He closed his eyes. It was already late and he hadn’t been home. By the time he took care of business, drove back across town and got home it would be past two in the morning, presuming all went smooth. It rarely did, hence the strong drink.

“Hey, what’s up!”

A voice that in-your-ears loud and don’t give a shit proud could only belong to one person. Rudolph Whittman. Joel shook the papp’s hand.

“You get it?”

“Hang on.”

Rudy was watching a barman talk to a security gorilla in a tuxedo. He turned to see what they were looking at and pointed his lens in the opposite direction of the runway. While he snapped Joel prompted him.

“Well?”

“Oh hey, Joe, it’s cool. They’re in my bag. Four right?”

“Yeah. Who you shooting?” With all the nakedness in the opposite direction Joel wondered who Rudy was shooting.

Rudy looked from the viewfinder to Joel and nodded towards his subject. “One of yours. You want to buy them? I’m the only guy who got in. I told them I was a Time snapper. The rest are kosher fashion princesses. They aren’t hustlers.”

“You mean like you.”

Rudy nodded. He was a pure cunt. He sidled out for a better angle on the super slim guy smoking on a sofa like a linen clad demi-god complete with a metro-sexual pashmina draped round his neck.

“Yeah, he’s one of ours. So what? When did drinking become a crime? That’s hardly news my friend.”

Rudy checked what Joel was taking from his bag. Joel slipped the four five-ounce bottles into his pockets.

“No, but that is.” Rudy snapped more photos.

“What?” Joel strained his eyes. The bronzed god had tipped three white pills into his hand. Joel patted Rudy’s shoulder before walking to a quiet corner. “Fucking actors. The usual price?”

“Dude, it’s Friday night!”

“So?”

“Give me fifty percent on top. I could be doing something.”

Joel stared at Rudy. “You don’t have a life. What could you possibly do besides pester some fucking whore?”

“That’s not the point. It’s a precedent.”

“Give me a moment. I have to make a call.” Joel pulled his cell out and dialled. “Put me through to Len. I don’t care. Tell him I’m at the Skybar and we have a problem.”

While he waited for the call to be transferred Joel made his way through the crowd. He put his business card on the table in front of the self-appointed centre of the universe that Rudy was snapping. Rudy’s camera flashed. Joel scowled at him. Rudy smiled and went to find some nubile flesh to photograph. He had made his payday. The spray-tan slim Jim looked up, bewildered by the card. Joel was about to show the world why he was paid so much. He glared at the actor.

“You’re going to follow me. You won’t speak. You’ll walk ten feet behind me. If you don’t I won’t be able to get you out of jail.”

“What jail?” The actor knew that between the logo on the business card and Joel’s no-nonsense attitude he had better do what he was told.

Joel nodded to the barman who was now pointing the actor out to three tuxedo wearing security guards.

“Len? Joel. Listen…” Joel stopped and turned round. The actor was still staring at the approaching guards. “Now!” Joel snapped back at his new service user before striding out of the bar talking into his phone.

— — — — — —

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