HOLLYWOOD—Mr. Leonard got a jailhouse call from Jason when he was in the middle of some very important cheesecake and the first thing out of his Brooklyn mouth was “drop dead.” And that's exactly what happened, the phone obeyed: it dropped instantly dead, though he had more to say.
“Whatsa matter honey?” said this 19-year-old, who looked young enough to wreak havoc with his teaching credential. She could crumple it into a ball and rip it into shreds.
He hopped out of bed and started to pull on his underwear.
“Bye. I gotta go help a friend.”
Meanwhile, across town on the other side of Cahuenga Pass where it was ten degrees cooler, Kit nudged her mom with all the ferocity the eight year old could muster.
“Mom mom mom, wake up!”
Suzanne slumbered deeply, having put a considerable dent in a vial of sleeping pills.
“Mom mom mom, please. Dad needs our help. He's in jail.”
Kit shook her mom's shoulders. Suzanne, the star of the hit series Swag, breathed momentarily louder and a nostril flared. She buried her head in a puffy down pillow and curled up under the layers of thick down comforter and satiny sheets, sheets that silkworms had died for.
“Mom, wake up, please.”
* * *
In a holding cell in Van Nuys Jason stewed. His fingers itched to hold a soothing volume of Mylanta. Like a junkie craves a fix, he craved spiritual comfort in the stale cell. He had left Mylanta in his car. His was car now impounded. Rats. In Los Angeles, the Board Game, one moment you're prancing on the red carpet, and at a roll of the dice, the carpet is pulled from under you: Jason needed to post bail, pay off the speeding ticket, and get his car out of impound. He was looking at a month's salary of night school, easy, and he'd be back sweating every cent to pay for birthday gifts for Kit's schoolmates in Beverly Hills, where everyone was keeping up with the Kardashians.
He looked around the drab holding cell. The flourescents hummed, a newcomer, his breath reeking of two-buck Chuck, ranted, “I had only one glass.”
Jason wouldn't be in this miserable place if it wasn't for Perlmutter and his hare-brained scheme! Should have drove right on, left him comatose on the asphalt of Roscoe Blvd., better yet backed up and driven over him a couple times to finish him off. It was a good thing that Perlmutter had been bailed out promptly. If he'd been here now, Jason surely would have strangled him.
Now perched on the edge of the bunk, head plunged in his worried fingers, Jason shrieked, transformed into a buffalo. He leaped off the bunk and slammed into the bars. The bars didn't recede a nanometer at the touch of his hard flesh and muscle.
“Get me out of here!” he roared.
He backed up and after a running start slammed again into unyielding steel. Jason ground his teeth and hyperventilated. With a hair-raising, blood-curdling banshee cry he again rammed the bars and produced a dull thud. Alerted by the cellmates' outcry, a guard relieved them of his shrieking presence. Jason was forthwith conveyed to a smoothly upholstered cell at the end of the hall, where he could shriek and claw and foam to his heart's content. . . .
* * *
Getting to Van Nuys took Mr. Leonard forever. On the 101 there'd been a bad accident involving a big rig and a Smart Car—maybe it wasn't such a smart car after all. Mr. Leonard knew Jason needed to be out of the slammer; you didn't want to spend a minute more in jail than you had to.
When he inquired at the grease-smudged window about Jason he found, to his personal and financial relief, that his bail was already being processed. Mr. Leonard retreated as the first rays of a new day gilded the edges of leaves in the elm-lined plaza.
OK. I didn't bail him out, Mr. Leonard told to himself. I wonder who did? The intention mattered. Listen, Joey Leonard, you're not really such a self-centered, selfish, egotistical you-know-what. But, hey, your reputation as a world-class jerk is still intact.
(to be continued)
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