The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 20
I forgot all about British Columbia after our night in the pool together, about Rico and Stephanie and the pot farm, about the mural I’d planned, even about the fact I still rented a room at the West End Residential Hotel in Culver City.
Over coffee the next morning, from her half-moon shaped dinette looking south over the pool, the cityscape, she sang in teasing, schoolgirl-style: “Guess what? I’ve got a plan…”
Me: Uh oh. I was afraid of that.
Sandy: It starts with me taking you home Friday night. I’m spending the weekend in Montecito with my partner. Oh, god—you haven’t met Adele yet. Not a full-time thing. We collaborate, sometimes. Back Sunday night. Call you then?
Phone rings Sunday night. “Guess what?” she sang.
She had a surprise for me, she said. Two surprises. I took the crosstown # 3 to the Century City Mall where she picked me up, in the Benz, this time. “You drive,” she whispered after stepping out, embracing me as if we’d been apart a year.
I cut the lights and the engine in the driveway and handed her the keys. She glanced at them but her right hand remained on the passenger door armrest, her left on the headrest of the driver’s seat. My seat. Moonlight bouncing off the garage door illuminated her face. “It’s yours,” she said.
Me: Wait. Sandy. Please. You don’t have to do this.
She put her finger to my lips. “I know. Let’s go in and I’ll tell you the rest.”
I met Adele at a Mexican food joint famous for their burritos and fish tacos three blocks from the potential client”s modest home in Pasadena. A straight forward deal: she’d introduce me to the Schwartz’s, I’d decide how their desires fit with reality, offer suggestions, make sketches, write up a proposal.
A week later I was on the job.
Done with the Schwartz’s after six weeks, I immediately landed a similar gig at an eight unit condo complex in Santa Monica, through Sandy, again. Three weeks or so into it, the Benz suddenly stopped running. Our arrangement was that if anything went wrong with it while in my possession—my responsibility.
“Carburation problems, definitely,” said Jack, the mechanic.
The timing could have been far worse. My tools were stored job site, and except for the delivery and installation of the plants, the project was nearly complete. A quick, lightweight mountain bike, ($500 later), along the canal In Culver City to the bike path on the beach solved getting to and from the condo job.
As I attached the sprinkler system wiring to the box inside the small laundry room under an upstairs unit, a gentleman introduced himself: Brad. Ah ha, finally, the missing member of the condo homeowner’s association.
Brad wasn’t happy. The sprinkler system manifold was too close to his tenant’s unit. Brad wanted it moved. “Also,” he went on, following the course of some muddy, exposed PVC, “my code enforcement guy is coming out Monday morning. Nine sharp. I wonder if all the work you’ve done is up to standard.”
Me: Sounds to me, Brad, like somebody on the board made a decision and you coming after me is… what do they call that, displaced rage?
Brad: (Getting in my face) Doesn’t matter what they call it. Are you a licenced contractor? Insured? Ever been sued? See you Monday, asshole.
Riding back to Jack’s garage later that afternoon I giggled, thinking about Brad’s threats. The plants had been ordered, contract signed, final check for $1800 cashed.
Jack’s news, on the other hand, was depressing: the Benz’ carburation problem was linked to something far more serious. I’d need a rebuild. Estimated cost: 6k.
Jack: Sorry, Robert. I’ll keep it here for you till you decide.
Riding back to the hotel, searching for a liquor store, I noticed a Hare Krishna guy—a recruit—selling trinkets from the open sliding side door of his VW bus.