Monday, October 28, 2013

Chapter 9 – The Baby Biz



It was official after her eighteenth birthday on June 7, we were an item. After a month of sleeping, yes only sleeping, next to this punk goddess, we had consummated our relationship. She was young and fairly inexperienced so I was considerate, gentle and careful. I knew she couldn’t get pregnant again since she was already bitten by that bug, but I did feel a little strange making love to her in that condition, even though she had barely begun to show. After a week or so, I put the question to her again: “So what are we going to do about the baby?”
“I guess I’ll call that lawyer guy, if you want me to.”
“It’s your decision, Maria. Is that what you want?”
“I guess so.”
The law offices were on South Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and we were sitting in the reception area looking through brochures and pictures of happy couples with lovely little darlings wrapped in their arms. It all looked so peaceful, pleasant and harmless, but I knew it was going to be difficult for her to give up the baby, and probably hard for me, too. First things first, we had to be accepted by the “firm” , but I really had no doubts that a baby by a Nordic, blonde beauty was going to be anything but accepted, hell, they would most likely throw rose petals at her feet as she walked down the corridor to the office.
The receptionist opened the glass window, the partition that separated the staff from the clients and told us that the attorney was ready to see us now. I held her hand and guided her into the office that looked like any other law office, with floor to ceiling law books, magazines relating to motherhood and parenting, and a few Sports Illustrated mags and Golf Digests for the men. The attorney, let’s call him Roger, was a tall man, thick of chest, with thick salt and pepper hair and an expression of compassion hiding his true lust for money and power. When he took one look at Maria I could literately see his eyes pop out of his head.
“Hello, Mr. Haymer and Ms. Bornemann, I’m so glad you could make it down this morning. Can I get you anything, coffee or a soda?”
“I’ll have a coffee, please,” I said politely.
“Could I have a Diet Pepsi?”
“Of course,” Roger said in his most accommodating voice.
He reached behind his desk and pick up the phone and in a manner of thirty seconds our beverages were set down on the wrought iron and glass coffee table by a pretty, red-headed woman in her late twenties, or early thirties.
“Mrs. Lowery has filled me in on the details and she told me you both are aware of what we do here. As you know, we are not a baby shop and don’t buy babies and ship them off to Africa or anything like that. This is a completely above board operation in every sense of the word. But I’m sure you have questions and I would more than happy to answer any and all of them.”
“How does it actually work,” I asked. “I mean do we pick the adopting parents out of a brochure or catalogue?”
Maria nodded at me as if I was asking a good question, one that she would have asked first herself.
“Something like that. We have several books,” he pointed to a group of books that looked like photo albums stacked neatly on the desk in the far corner of the room. Let me show you.” He pranced over to the other desk and gather up a handful of photo books then set them down in front of Maria. “Why don’t you browse through some of these to get an idea of what I’m talking about.”
She opened the first book and I squeezed in close to her so I could see, too. There were all sorts of happy looking couples, some very young, some twenty-something’s, thirty something’s and forty something’s, some white, black, Asian, European, South American, you name it. Some were Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics and everything else in between. Some were the same age, some had wide age differences, some were different religions and races. It was a very mixed bag. There was a couple that caught my eye because the man was Jewish and the woman was Protestant. He was a filmmaker and the woman was a housewife. They both appeared to be in their mid to late thirties.
“Look at this couple,” I said to Maria. “They would be perfect, don’t you think? He’s Jewish, like me and she’s Protestant, kind of like you, and they’re definitely worth considering.”
“As long as they’re not Scientologists.”
“I assure you Maria, Is it okay that I call you that?” Roger had asked as a mere formality.
“That’s fine.”
“I can guarantee they are not Scientologist. Although we can’t discriminate, we frown at any cult affiliations.”
We left the attorney’s office feeling like we were making the right decision, even though it was going to be a tough one. Important decisions are usually tough, aren’t they? We had both thought that the couple, (the Jewish film director and the Christian housewife) were a heads up favorite in the race for the adopting parents to be. We had come to an agreement with the law office on the compensation package as well. She was going to get sixteen hundred dollars a month that would be retroactive from the first of May. This would include food rent and other amenities. Of course all doctor visits would be gratis and we were given a list of obstetricians to choose from. We ended up going with the first one we visited with since she didn’t want to get too busy with the details; as long as he or she wasn’t a complete creep, they would be fine in her book.
Since the place on El Cerritos was getting a little cramped we thought it would be a good idea to move into a bigger place, maybe even a two bedroom. It was back to Homefinders again. The lists came out twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you had to be there at eight in the morning to get a good jump on the prime candidates. The early bird catches the worm, and all that. We saw a listing for a large room in a huge house in the Hollywood Hills off of Pacific View Terrace right off Mulholland Drive. We called right away and this English woman answered the call. She sounded like a cross between Emma Peel and the Queen of England and she said she would be delighted to meet up with us chappies (pip, pip, cheerio and all that rot; eh what?)
The excitement was mounting as we drove down Mulholland in my Porsche with Maria in the passenger seat and Bridget in the back. Maria was starting to get used to my dog, even though she was drooling on her left shoulder at the moment. I thought it would be best to bring the beast (she was a rather large dog) so the landlady could get an idea of what kind of dog (the sweetest in the world) she was and if it would be agreeable to rent to all three of us.
We parked the Porsche on the street and went looking for the address. The house was below the street level and we had to walk down thirty or forty steps to even catch a glimpse of it, but once we did, we could see it was huge. It was a Spanish bungalow style house surround by palm tree and jacaranda. There were rose bushes lining the walkway and Bridget could hardly contain herself from sniffing every bush. I rang the doorbell and after a minute or two an Amazon woman with long silver-blonde hair with a Virginia Slim cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth and a tall glass of what looked like a vodka and tonic answered the door.
“Are you Nicky?” I asked.
“Ah, you must be James, and this lovely lady is Maria, eh what? Please, do come in.” She was everything that I imagined she would be when I talked to her on the phone. Very British and very attractive, around thirty-five or forty, I imagined. Bridget, who was behind the rose bushes, finally came to the door and made herself at home. She saw a big gray cat on the couch and immediately began to chase her. Not a good start.
“Oh my God, is that a dog or a mountain lion? She’s huge!”
“That’s Bridget Bardog.”
“Bardog? Now that’s a good one.”
I regained control of Bridget and we were invited in and we gathered around the fire in the living room. Nicky invited us to sit on the wicker couch and asked if we wanted a cup of tea or anything.
“A cup of coffee would be great,” I said as I followed her into the kitchen. I knew Maria would want her usual Diet Pepsi.
“Is instant okay?” she asked as she went to the fridge grabbed a bottle of Stoli out of the freezer and refilled her tumbler and it was only ten-thirty in the morning. I could tell by the slight slur in her voice that it wasn’t her first. While waiting for the water to boil we starting talking about our situation and I mentioned my family’s British connection and all the Anglo-Saxon musical relationships I had in the past.
Back in the living room Maria sat there smiling and smoking her Marlboro 100’s and only spoke when she was asked a direct question. After about an hour of laughing, drinking coffee (for me) Diet Pepsi (for Maria) and Vodka (for Nicky), she told us that she would have to speak with her landlord about the dog. Pets were allowed, she said, but one the size of a horse would be something she would have to get approval on from the powers that be.
She called the next morning.
“James, this is Nicky Graham, the woman on Pacific View.”
“I know who you are, Nicky. I could hardly confuse you with anyone else.”
“Right. I just wanted to say that I am dreadfully sorry, but the landlord wouldn’t approve your application. I had to tell him about the dog. It’s a dirty rotten shame, too. I really like both of you so much. We would have had great fun together.”
“Well, I appreciate that, Nicky. Thanks for getting back to us so quickly. I guess it’s back to the drawing board.”
“James, anytime you and your lovely lady want to come by for a visit, just give me a holler. I mean it.”
“Thanks. We just might take you up on that offer.” Goodbye.”
“Cheers, James.”
We didn’t get the room in the house but we did visit her. In fact, we became really good friends. She was one of the only people that supported me in my situation, and it was good for me to have that support. I felt I was all alone,(except for Maria and Bridget) and having someone to talk to about things was something I desperately needed, even though she was a sweet but hopeless drunk.
We eventually found a two bedroom, downstairs apartment on Fuller Street between Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain near La Brea with a small backyard with orange and eucalyptus trees. It was in a very Jewish part of town, which made Maria feel like the token Nazi or something. There was a market right down the street which would later become a Trader Joe’s and a Russian restaurant which had cheap lunch specials, things like beef Stroganoff , corned beef and cabbage and borscht—except I hated borscht. We had plenty of room in the apartment and I rented a piano and promised to give Maria lessons. We began to eat healthy. I cooked stir-fry in the wok my mom had given to me and lots of salads. I only drank beer and Maria had quit the booze and drugs completely. She still smoked like a chimney; well two out of three isn’t bad.
It was now nearing the first of August and the doctors had told us the due date was going to be the end of September of the beginning of October. I had no idea she was that far along since she was only now beginning to show, although by the middle of August, she did look like she swallowed a ten pound bowling ball. It wouldn’t be long now, and I wondered if she was really going to go through with it. She would have to give up a child, just like her mother had done to her. It was a vicious cycle of heartbreak and denial. Yes, I wondered what was going to happen. She tried not to think about it.





Monday, October 21, 2013

Chapter 8 – Sex Trap



“You’re what?” I shouted in complete and utter shock.
“You heard right.”
“How far along are you?”
“I don’t know, maybe four or five months.”
I couldn’t believe what she had just laid on me. There she was smoking Marlboro 100’s and doing cocaine and she was with child. I had to make her see the error of her ways. But wasn’t this the pot calling the kettle black? I wasn’t exactly Mr. Clean and Sober, not yet anyway.
“What are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know. Forget about it.”
“Forget about it? Whether you like it or not, you can’t forget about it. In about five months there is going to be a big surprise coming out of your uterus. That is something you just can’t wish away.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Really? I think we should, Maria.”
After going through two abortions with my first girlfriend, I had a generous amount of guilt stored up. I felt like this was an opportunity to make things right, at least try to make up for the hasty decisions I and my girlfriend had made in the distant past—at least it seemed like another lifetime ago.
“Whatever you decide to do, I will back you up one hundred percent. If you want to have this child, have an abortion, which may be difficult at this late stage, or give it up for adoption. These seem like your only three choices.”
“Right now I want to get high and forget about it.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Think of the baby. It could be born dependant on drugs. I’ve seen some TV specials about it, and it is not a pretty sight. Is that what you want?”
“No.”
“Good.”
About two weeks before I met Maria, a friend of mine, Jon Lowery’s wife, Beverly, had been approached by an attorney when he found out that she was pregnant. He asked her if she wanted to put the baby up for adoption. She adamantly said, “No way!” But he gave her his card nonetheless. I was over their house in The Valley buying an amplifier from Jon when I mentioned that I was living with a young German/Finnish girl who was pregnant and was confused about what to do. “Is it yours?” she asked point blank.
“No, I met her under that condition.”
“Good.”
She then gave me the phone number of this attorney in Beverly Hills, the same guy that approached her. I thought it may be a good thing to do. Not only do they pay your expenses, they let you choose the adopting couple from a file with pictures, ages, religious background and everything you need to know to make a rational decision. I was going to run it by her when I got back home.
Meanwhile Maria was hustling these so called “Sugar Daddies” for money. She swore up and down that she wasn’t sleeping with them, but we weren’t sleeping together so it was really none of my concern, although I did care an awful lot about her.
Let me tell you a little about this almost eighteen year old woman/child that was sharing my bed, an frustrating the hell out of me because, as of yet, we were not doing the deed. Her real mother was a Finnish woman by the name of Rita Surhasko living in the house of a German woman and working as an au pair, (a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family). The Borneman’s were the host family, the mother’s name was Suzanne and her husband was Hans. They had two children, Ana and Kai.
So three year old Maria, whose real name was Jutta Marja Surhasko, lived in an upper middle class home in Obertshausen and shared a room with her single mom, Rita. One night when Rita went out for a drink in nearby Frankfurt, in the American sector, she met a United States Army soldier and they fell in love. This soldier was scheduled to leave for America in a couple of weeks and had asked Rita to marry him, unfortunately for Maria and Rita, he didn’t want any excess baggage tagging along—no kids, at least no kids from another marriage. I don’t know if Rita was despondent or even depressed about the choice she had to make, but she finally came to a decision to marry this soldier and leave her three year old daughter in the care of the Bornemann’s. After a year or so little Maria was legally adopted by them and Rita and said soldier moved to Riverside, California and remained there until her death in the nineties.
Suzanne Bornemann was a force to be reckoned with. Not only had she grown up as Nazi (she had joined a Youth for Hitler club), but she was a full-fledged Scientologist—an O.T. level five, which is very high up in the ranks of that organization. What a lethal combination. While the Bornemann’s were on a sojourn to Clearwater, Florida, with the entire family (including seventeen year old Maria) to bask in the light of Scientology, Maria had run away. After many days and nights of hitchhiking (with her looks I imagine it wasn’t too hard to find a ride), she finally ended up in Hollywood, California. While in Hotel Hell she met a young punk rock skateboarder dude named Rusty and they became an item. He was the father of her soon to be child, if she decided to go through with the pregnancy, or if the fates deemed it to be.
What a tragic story, I thought, and there had to be something I could do to help this poor, beautiful but unfortunate woman/child. I couldn’t get her off the cigarettes, but she did cut down to a half a pack a day. As far as the cocaine, I insisted that she give it up and what was good for the goose was also good for the gander. I was almost sober now, except for the occasional beer and joint, and she was as well. She never did indulge in marijuana saying it made her paranoid, and I could understand that since pot is the bullshit eliminator—it is impossible to lie to yourself and have a good high.
Lying in bed with her night after night and not even touching her was starting to get to me. I told her I wanted to change the status of our relationship and asked if we could make love on her eighteenth birthday which was less than a week away. I didn’t want a pity fuck, I needed to know if she was attracted to me, and if so would she be able to let go of her problems for a night. I know you might think, it was sleazy to want to make love to a teen-age pregnant woman, but honestly she still had a flat stomach and I wondered if she wasn’t making the whole story up so I would have sympathy for her. How sleazy was it really? I thought I was falling in love with her and there was only a thirteen and a half year age difference between us. Look at all the seventy year old men (movie stars and directors, artist and sculptors etc.) that sleep with eighteen year old girls and are well respected members of society. I felt okay about it; even if the general consensus was that I was robbing the proverbial cradle.
At this point, everyone I knew was against me and my decision to harbor a teen-age runaway. My father and mother, sister and brother, Chas, Stephen, Paul Downing, and Larry Harrison—everybody tried to talk me out of helping Maria, but I had gone too far to turn back now. The only one who seemed to like her was good old Bridget Bardog. On the third of June, four days before her birthday, Chas was having a belated birthday party for himself on Milner Road, which was a few blocks away and a year or so later it would be directly across the street. I told Maria I was going and if she wanted to come along that would be fine. She said she had some “business” to take care of and declined the offer. I hopped in my Porsche and drove the half mile to Chas’ duplex while the party was in full force. Chas always had the best parties, always lots of women, booze and food, and this one was no exception to that rule. I was determined to meet an older woman (at least twenty) that would distract me from my feelings for Maria. There was this very attractive dark haired, dark skinned woman standing by herself in the corner looking around to see what her next move was going to be. It was me. I asked her if she wanted to sit in my Porsche (even though it was a glorified VW, it still looked the part of a sex trap) and talk, maybe listen to a cassette of some of my music. For the life of me I can’t remember this young woman’s name but I do have a good sense of what she looked like—she was pretty and kind of intelligent, and she was in my car. After getting to know her a little we started to make out in the front seat of the car. I knew I couldn’t invite her back to my place since Maria might be there, but it would serve her right to bring home another woman, at least it would force the issue. Instead I got her phone number and promised to call her in a day or two, and then we went back inside to join the party.
I left the party a little after midnight and went home expecting to find Maria there, but she wasn’t, only Bridget, who was in desperate need of a walk. After the dog did her business outside, I came back in to the apartment and noticed a note and a cassette on the bed. It was from her and it was scented with rose oil. She had written that she really liked me a lot but was so confused in her life, and if it weren’t for me, she would be lost. She went on to say that her words could not express her feeling but it would be better expressed in the song, More Than This, from the album Avalon by Roxy Music featuring Brian Ferry. What can I say? I was touched.
When she came back to the apartment an hour or so later, she saw me reading the note, (I had read and re-read it about a hundred times). She broke down and cried and we spent the night in each other’s arms. I can’t tell you if we made love that night, and I can’t tell you that we didn’t. You decide.








Monday, October 14, 2013

Chapter 7- Watching the Detectives


I was at my parent’s house on Canton Drive, not the one where Robbie and Carol’s wedding rehearsal was, it was across the street. The owner of the first Canton home was a man by the name of Pat Senatore, who is best known for playing bass in The Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert’s famous band. He still is the Artistic Director for Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz in Bel Air, California where he performs and books the music. Pat had decided he wanted to move back to his old haunting grounds and gave my parent’s a generous three months notice. The found the “Leave it to Beaver” house across the street with three bedrooms and a nice, but steeply inclined yard with eucalyptus trees, bougainvillea and low hanging ferns. It wasn’t as artistic as the last place, and there was no guest house, but it was very homey and they were relatively happy there. There was plenty of room for Danny and J, the two puppies that Bridget Bardog had given birth to the year before, to run around in.
 I was there that afternoon in March talking to my mom and dad about the strange series of phone calls I had received the night before. They thought it was insane, but they thought my life was generally insane, so it was par for that course. I asked my dad if he knew anything about Nastassja Kinski, if he had ever worked with her and such. He said he thought she was a wild child and was very beautiful and was the daughter of Klaus Kinski—that’s all he knew on that subject. When I got home to my apartment on El Cerritos, I noticed that my phone machine was flashing indicating that there were unheard messages. I thought that it would be amazing if one of those messages was her, or maybe Bowie. I rushed over to the Phone Mate and pressed the button. The first call was from Chas asking if I wanted to go down to the Sports Connection to work out. The second message was from her.
“James, this is Nastassja. I wanted to thank you again for saving David’s life and if there is anything I can do to thank you, I will. Cheers for now.”
That was it. I was over the moon with excitement. Was it really her? If this was a joke it was going too far but I had to be sure. I made a copy of the message on my double cassette recorder and listened to it until the magnetic backing on the tape was wearing thinner than an anorexic junkie. Her voice was low and sexy and there was a hint of some kind of European accent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I just wanted to put my finger (and a lot more) on her. I figured I would call Chas back and talk it over with him, which I did on the Lifecycle exercise bike next to him at the Sports Connection.
“James, are you bullshitting me?”
“No Chas, this really happened.” I told him the whole story and he stopped pedaling and listened skeptically.
“Jeez, James. Why do things always happen to you? I remember when you walked through the checkstand at Ralphs and all the computers went crazy, and when you drive under a street lamp they frequently burn out.”
He had a name for me—the human sunspot. I told Chas to keep this whole thing to himself and he promised he wouldn’t tell a soul but it was a moot point since there was a girl behind us who had overheard the brunt of the conversation. Her name was Karen and she was known as the mouth of West Hollywood and not just for oral sex. I thought I was in trouble now and soon the whole town was going to know the story after I had promised David and Nastassja that I would keep it under wraps. I turned around to face Karen and told her that I was only kidding about the story and it was only an idea I had about a short story or a song. She smiled and said, “Sure James, I won’t tell a soul about your little story idea,” but I knew she wasn’t buying it—I was screwed.
I went to the local video rental shop (Blockbuster hadn’t even come into existence yet) and rented every Nastassja Kinski film I could get my hands on. There was Stay as You Are with Marcello Mastroianni and The Hotel New Hampshire (it had just come out that week). Of course there was Cat People with that theme song by David Bowie called Cat People (Putting out the Fire). This was the movie where she met David and where their intimate relations had started. I didn’t have a VCR machine so I went over to the house on Canton Drive and watched them. I thought I was Sam Spade or a modern day Sherlock Holmes, listening to every line she spoke then rewinding it and comparing it to the voice on the answering machine tape. It was very similar but I had to be sure and the only way to be sure was to have the tape analyzed.
The next morning I got a call from some woman from the Nation Enquirer, a tawdry newspaper that prints articles about babies born with three heads from outer space or the latest Elvis sightings, that kind of tabloid. She had heard about the David Bowie story from the mouth of Hollywood I assumed, or from some other loosed-lipped individual. The aggressive woman on the other end of the line was offering me fifteen hundred dollars for an exclusive story about the events of the other evening. I laughed. “I don’t care if you offer me fifteen thousand dollars, there is no way am I going to divulge anything about David Bowie, Nastassja Kinski. I felt like it would be betraying a friendship and I am not one to do that. It would be sleazy and cheap. Now maybe if they had offered me a million dollars I would have definitely considered it, but I knew nobody was going to offer that kind of money. I didn’t even know if the whole escapade was for real or not, but I did have a recording of Ms. Kinski, or from a woman who claimed to be her.
There was a private detective that had an office in the 9000 building on Sunset Boulevard that I had met before through Larry. His name was Tony Pellicano. He would later be known as the P.I. to the stars having clients such as Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Steven Seagal and many others too numerous to count. He later would serve a thirty month sentence in jail for wiretapping, racketeering and obstruction of justice. Tony had just arrived from Chicago and had met Larry at, where else, The Rainbow Bar and Grille. When I called Larry about my dilemma, he was the one who set up the meeting with Pellicano.
As I sat in the waiting room firmly grasping a cassette in my sweaty hands, I looked at all the photographs on the wall. There were signed pictures of Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine in his Kung Fu garb and his brother Keith. There was another photo of him arm in arm with billionaire, Kirk Kerkorian. He called me into his office and I told him the story and asked him if he could authenticate the voice on the tape by comparing it to some of her dialogue from a film that she had made. He said he could do it but it would cost me a hundred bucks to get started, and that was him doing me a favor since I was a friend of Larry’s. Usually for something like this it would cost a grand just to get started. I told him I would get back to him about it since I didn’t have a hundred bucks to spare at the moment. He smiled and shook my hand saying, “Okay Jimmy, when you get the cash I can get started. It shouldn’t take me more than a week or two to get some kind of result for you.”
“Thanks, Tony. I will call you as soon as I get the money, thanks.”
I left his office feeling a little dejected. Did I really want to invest a hundred dollars just to find out if all of this was on the level? Wouldn’t it be better to wait until she called again and arrange a meeting with the starlet? I thought that would be the more prudent way to go. I went home and threw on my roller skates to get some exercise for myself and Bridget. Our usual route was to go down the stairs and hang a left on El Cerritos and another left on Hollywood Boulevard past Grauman’s Chinese Theater heading east. Winding our way through the pedestrians and tourists I saw a couple of young punk rock girls with shaved heads and safety pin earrings. They couldn’t have been more than sixteen or seventeen and looked like they hadn’t had a decent meal in days.
One of the girls called out, “You got any spare change?”
I stopped on a dime and turned around as Bridger sniffed them out. They seemed harmless enough to both of us.
“If I give you some money what are you going to do with it?” I asked.
“Get some food,” the second and less attractive girl said.
“I’ll tell you what. Let’s go to the pizza place down the street and I’ll buy you both a couple of slices. How does that sound?”
They looked at each other and nodded their heads in agreement. The next thing I knew they had followed Bridget and me to Tony’s Pizzeria on Hollywood and Wilcox and I ordered four slices and four paper cups of water, one for me, two for the girls and one for Bridget Bardog. They began to tell me their life stories of how they came to Hollywood to meet rock stars and do drugs and ended up on the street. They were obviously runaways. I knew they weren’t going to tell me who, what and where they were running from, so I didn’t ask. After they scarfed down the pizza like there was no tomorrow I asked them, “How would you girls like to earn ten bucks each?”
“Yeah, I suppose you want a blowjob or something,” the prettier of the two said.
“No, I don’t want to get arrested today, thank you very much. Are you girls handy with a mop, brush and vacuum?”
“What? You want us to clean your place?” the less attractive runaway asked.
“Exactly. We could stop by Savon and get some Mop and Go. My apartment is just a few blocks past that. Are you game?”
They looked at each other with suspicious eyes then the pretty one said, “Sure. Ten bucks each?”
“Ten bucks each.”
After tying Bridget to the bus stop bench we went inside the Savon. While paying for the cleaning supplies at the cashiers I spotted a stand with Star Scrolls so I picked out an orange Scorpio scroll. I didn’t really believe in those Astrology cons, but I liked them for cheap entertainment, and sometimes they were fairly accurate. Unwrapping the scroll, I read that on May ninth, which was only a few days away, I was going to meet the sweetheart of my dreams who was going to knock on my door, completely out of the blue. I thought that was reaching a little and laughed as I rolled the scroll up and put it in my pants pocket.
When we got back to El Cerritos, they asked me if they could stash their backpacks in the bushes in the back of the apartment complex. I said it would be alright. Then we walked upstairs and they surveyed the work they had committed themselves to and realized that I was getting off cheap. There was so much dog hair you could weave a carpet from it. After three hours of sweeping, vacuuming and mopping they were done. I gave them both ten bucks each and a couple of cokes. They thanked me and I returned the favor.
“I wouldn’t leave your backpacks past Tuesday morning, that’s when the gardeners come with those blowers and they might steal them.”
“Okay,” the pretty one said. “You are pretty cool for an older dude.”
I laughed. I guess to them I was an older dude, but I was just thirty-one, and a young looking thirty-one for that matter.
The next day they came back with a couple of other girls and asked me if they could hang out at my place for a little while. They looked pretty rough and tired. I said it would be okay and the three of them came inside. I made them all tuna melts, (my specialty) and gave them each a soda. They thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or lines of speed, whatever floated your particular boat. I took it as a compliment.
On the night of May 9, 1984, I was alone in my apartment wondering if the Star Scroll had lied. I was supposed to have the sweetheart of my dreams knock upon my door and it was 11:30. I resigned myself to thinking it was all a bunch of bull and then took off my pants and turned on the TV to watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (in my opinion he was the greatest host of that show ever. He would retire in 1992). I was settling in for the night thinking I should get some rest, maybe make a few call backs in the morning on some sales leads I had secured for Independent Data Supply and after that I would put the finishing touches on a new song I was writing about Nastassja called Messing Around With the Wrong Heart, when there was a knock on my door. It was one of the runaways who had brought a friend to hang out. I was dumbfounded because there was this punked-out vision standing in my doorway was drop dead gorgeous even with half of her blonde hair shaved and a long string of paper clips dangling from her ears. She looked like a model, or could have been one if she cleaned up her act. She spoke in a German accent and said her name was Maria. They stayed until four in the morning and I thought I was going to die from frustration. She had the bluest eyes I had ever seen and she was tough as nails on the outside but inside I knew she was just a hurt kitten. She said that she was living in an abandoned and condemned building on Hollywood Boulevard they had aptly named “Hotel Hell”. I said she could stay here at my place if she wanted for awhile to get away from that environment. She said she would think about it. She did stay. Damned if those Star Scrolls weren’t right on the money. Little did I know at the time she would be more trouble than a jar of nitroglycerine on a rollercoaster. Live and learn, right? Not always.

After a week with Maria I had forgotten all about Nastassja, Tony Pellicano and David Bowie. I was much too busy with Maria now. I found out she was a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday so having sex with her was out of the question—for now. Then she dropped the bomb. She told me she was pregnant.
            

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chapter 6 - Life-line



After that conversation with The Man Who Fell to Earth aka Ziggy Stardust, I went back to sleep, or at least I tried to sleep, but I found myself staring at the ceiling and wondering if it all was a crazy dream. I finally closed my eyes and fell into a light sleep when I was awakened by the phone ringing again. I looked at the clock on my bedside table and it read 2:00. I fumbled around in the dark and eventually found the phone; I picked it up on the fourth ring, just before the answering machine kicked in—it was him again. This time his voice sounded different, it was dragging and he sounded like he was either drunk or under the influence of prescription medication—like Valium or something of that ilk.
“Hello?”
“Cheers.”
“Is this David?”
“Yes. I wanted to thank you for talking with me before. It really helped.”
“That’s okay. Are you still in Yonkers?”
“No, I’m in Lake Geneva.”
“Switzerland?”
“No, it’s really in a town called St. George. It’s in New Nork...New York.  It’s um...it’s in the Linger Flakes, I mean, the Finger Lakes region.”
I could tell he wasn’t quite himself and his words were slurred and running together. I got up from the bed and stretched the phone cord as far as I could, far enough to reach the kitchen. With the phone resting between my shoulder and my ear, I got a glass out of the cupboard then opened the fridge and poured myself a glass of water to get the cobwebs out of my mouth.
“Are you all right, David? You sound kind of out of it.”
“I took a few pills.”
“How many?
“Twenty-seven.”
“Twenty-seven what?”
“Valium.”
“Jeez David. That could be lethal. I know you said you were in St. George but where exactly are you?”
“I’m in some flea bag of a hotel. It’s actually not too bad, but the people who work here are a fucking pain in the arse.”
I could hear banging in the background like someone was trying to gain entrance into his room. His voice was becoming more and more lugubrious and slurred. I was pacing back and forth on the hardwood floors of my studio apartment. I was getting a little worried about the man on the other side of the line.
“Is that someone knocking at your door?”
“Yeah, I locked them out. They’ll have to break the fucker down.”
“David, open the door.”
“I can’t.”
“Why?”
“They may resuscitate me.”
“Are you kidding me?” David, open the door!”
“Sorry mate, I can’t. Not this time.”
I had to think of something fast. Maybe a little reverse psychology, but that could backfire and blow up in my face. If this was a joke it had gone too far, but I couldn’t risk the fact that it might not be one at all—it could be real.
“Do you really want to die, David?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Do you really want to be another rock and roll suicide, like Jimi, Jim and Janice?”
“Hendrix’s was accidental. This is not.”
“It could be an accident because you might feel differently in the morning, but if you don’t open the door that morning may never come for you.”
“It’s supposed to rain anyway.”
“Seriously David, do you want this to be your legacy? I always thought you had more guts than that. Look at what you did with your music. You changed everything.”
“Yeah. Ch...ch... ch... changes.” He started to laugh and I could see he was coming around to some sense of reality. A sense of humor is the first step.
“David?”
There was a long lull in the conversation and I wondered if he had nodded off or worse.
“Are you still there?”
I knew I had to keep him awake since the full effect of the valium might not have kicked in yet. I could hear him breathing albeit lightly on the other end of the line somewhere in Lake George, New York.
“David, are you still with us?”
“Uh, huh.”
“I want you to listen to me, okay?”
“I’m all ears, mate.”
“There was a reason you called me. I know you were trying to reach Iggy, but you got me. I think it was all for a reason—fate maybe. I think down deep you wanted to reach out to somebody who could be honest with you, who could give you unbiased truth. Don’t you think that’s possible?”
“Anything’s possible.”
“David?”
“Yeah?”
“Will you do me a favor?”
“Hmm. What now?”
“Will you please put down the phone and open the door? Not for yourself, not for your fans, not for your brother, or anything else, but will you open it...for me?”
“For you?”
There was a chilling silence on the other end of the line except for the persistent knocking that was become more and more frantic with each second. This was the most unreal situation but I had no time to try and understand it. I had to get him to open that door.
“What do you say, will you open the door, David?”
“Hold on a minute.”
I heard the phone drop to the ground and then what sounded like staggering footsteps. Although it was only a few seconds that had elapsed it seemed like an hour or more had passed. Then I heard two, maybe three people rushing in to the room. It was apparent David had opened the door and let them in, whoever they were. I listened to the scene and I could only imagine that they were pumping his stomach. Then a voice came on the phone.
“Hello, who is this?”
“It’s James. I am a friend of Mr. Bowie. I think I convinced him to open the door.”
“Well James, I wanted to let you know that by doing that you probably saved his life. Thank you, James. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye.”
I hung the phone up and wondered if it were true. Had I saved his life?
The next morning I got another phone call. It was a woman with a sexy European accent.
“Hello, is this James?”
“Yes. Who’s calling?”
“Is this our little hero?”
“Hero? Who is this?”
“My name is Nastassja. But that doesn’t matter. I wanted to thank you for doing what you did. He is going to be all right—for now.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s in a private hospital here in St. George. It if wasn’t for you, he wouldn’t have made it there.”
“All I did is what anyone else would have done. I am not a hero. I’m, what I hope would be called a friend. That is what friends do.”
“Not everyone would have had the intelligence and forethought to convince David to do anything he didn’t want to do. What did you say to him to finally get him to open the door?”
“I just told him that there was a reason he called me. I told him that he was reaching out to someone to save him. I was in the right place at the right time, that’s all.”
“That’s a lot. Are you in Los Angeles?
“Yes. Why?”
“I go out there from time to time to film, and I have a lot of friends there too. I would like to meet you someday and thank you personally.”
“Is this Nastassja Kinski?”
“Yes.”
“Oh my God, I think you are beautiful. I love that Avedon photo with you and the snake.”
“I was scared to death to have that thing crawling all over me. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.”
“You didn’t look scared.”
“I was. He just caught a moment in time when I relaxed. It didn’t last long—the relaxed part.”
“Will you call me later and give me an update on David’s condition?”
“Of course. I’ll call you tonight. Goodbye old man.”
“Old man?”
“Yes, you must be at least thirty, am I right?
“I’m thirty-one. Is that old to you?”
“No, I just like to tease. You seem like a fun person to tease. Okay James, I will talk to you tonight if I get a minute. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, Nastassja.”
I hung up the phone slowly not wanting to release from the conversation I just had. Could it be true? Was that really Nastassja Kinski? Did I really save David Bowie’s life? Either I really was a hero or this was one of the most elaborate jokes ever, and I was the brunt of it. I had to find out. The next time she called I was going to tape the conversation.