To set the scene for you, the protagonist Gleason is a disgraced former LAPD officer who currently owns Discreet Hosts, a fetish club for the rich and famous of Los Angeles. His off and on girlfriend asks him to meet someone without explanation at a rooftop German Beer Garden in downtown LA (it’s not there anymore, but it is a place I used to hang out at in the real world). He arrives and finds her there with a few people around her table. This is one of the few actual legit mysteries I wrote and is the 2nd in the SoCal Noir Detective Stories book series (Hollywood Scum Must Pay, Spank Me, JCPI, Pimps Must Die, and Die You Commie Bastards). Most of the books I do are humor-based action and adventure. This one has a lot of humor but it also has a lot of Hollywood intrigue.
Gleason is shifty, paranoid, brutish, violent, and suffers from numerous psychological disorders. In other words the typical hero of a Bronco Hammer novel. John Carver (JC) Christianson and Gilpenny make cameos as well.
The following is copyrighted content – Spank Me Copyright©Sierra West Books 2018
“Over here!” She shouted and stood. She was wearing a very revealing peasant blouse and a short skirt, both in black, accenting her long blonde hair. Every guy in the place suffered a case of whiplash as their heads jerked around to check her out. Miss Beer Frau in the coupon booth was cute, but Dinah was gorgeous, a strikingly gorgeous woman. Her dark brown eyes locked on mine and she gave me an inviting little wink. Damn… she was stunning. I was captivated but tried to fight it off… remain cool.
I put up one finger in the universal, wait a minute sign and ordered a giant black beer from the bar, then settled in at the table with her and her friend.
I noticed a man sitting beside her as I approached. I wasn’t exactly sure if he was with her, or just sitting near her. Some people can be together, but they don’t look like they belong together. It was like that. He was out of place. The man was average in appearance and build, maybe Persian, definitely Middle Eastern, athletic, thick wavy gray hair, and sharp features. But he quietly got up and left while I was ordering my beer. I didn’t have a good feeling about him, but he was gone before I got to the table and he never came back.
“I’d like you to meet my friend,” she said in that sexy voice of hers that made whatever she said the most important words you ever heard. She was so beautiful. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of her face and look at her stupid friend, but I did.
The man sitting across from her looked somewhat familiar. A short version of someone I had seen before. A little guy wearing a half-assed disguise of a hat, glasses, and a rain coat with the collar flipped up. If he was trying to disguise himself as a flasher, well… mission accomplished.
I politely put a hand out and shook the soft feminine hand of a Hollywood action star.
“Mr.?” He asked carefully, not entirely sure he wanted to know who I was.
“Mr. G. My Colleagues call me G.”
“G man?” he snickered at some weak joke he apparently conceived in his little pea brain.
“No, It’s just Mr. G.” I squeezed his hand hard enough to make him squeak out a girlish fart before I let it go.
He tried to recover from his embarrassment by being serious again, but he came off looking like the dork that he was as he subtly tried to massage the pain out of his hand. “Mr. G. Nice to meet you. I’m…”
“I recognize you.” It was Darren Cross, the dickwad action movie star.
“Oh, so you’re a fan?” He asked with some kind of grandiose delusion of superiority.
“No, I just see the stupid movie posters everywhere I drive in LA. They are worse than graffiti… Just my opinion.” I punctuated my observation by chugging half my heavy glass stein of black beer. “What do you want?” I growled.
The woman reached over and put her hand on top of mine. “Play nice, G. There is a proposition coming.”
Her touch was warm. She stroked the back of my hand with her fingers, gave my hand a little squeeze, and then left it there. I liked it. It felt natural. She was trying to keep me calm. It was working.
“Yeah, I have a proposition.” He said indignantly.
I turned my attention back to the film star, “Proposition, or do you just need help? If you need help, I can refer you to a private investigator I know. I also retain a very good attorney. Or are you looking for something else?”
“Something else,” he said quietly, looking around for eavesdroppers as he spoke.
He leaned in, ”A person I know is being blackmailed,” he whispered.
“So?” I was getting tired of this guy already.
“That person is being blackmailed for information… information about me.”
He said that like it made a difference. It didn’t.
“Like I said, so?”
“They are being blackmailed with photos from one of your… what are those things called? Oh yeah… your discreet events.”
Son of a bitch… someone else had a copy of the event video security file? How could that be? Unless… Marcus had made another copy. Shit. But that meant the blackmail material had to be at least two years old. That was how long it had been since Marcus took a swan dive, and not a word of it until now. Why?
“So as you can see, Mr. G., this is really your problem too,” the little movie star added smugly.
I looked at the woman. My eyes telegraphed a ‘where did you find this dipshit’ look, and her eyes telegraphed back that she received my message loud and clear. She responded with a little helpless, cute chick ‘sorry‘ look. It didn’t work… she was anything but helpless. She was the premier call girl in LA for the last five years. She was probably more in demand than any of the ‘hot-in-the-movies’ but ‘skanky-in-broad-daylight’ bunch of A-list actresses who turned tricks on the side for cold cash and thrills. She was rich, tough, and sneaky. Whenever I had the time for a personal life, I was in love with her. Her name was Dinah. I never knew her last name. She probably didn’t have one. This is LA, after all. Mononymous people are not unusual here.
I looked him directly in the eye. “Right now it sounds like I could solve my problem by getting rid of you, unless you have a better idea.” I said coldly to the diminutive film star. I wondered how in the hell he always looked like such a big bad ass in the movies. He was about the size of the average eleven year old kid, but he had a very large head and well defined facial features that apparently worked out well on camera. Hollywood magic must do the rest.
I think my hard stare scared him a little. He put his hands out in a sign of surrender, “No need to go there, Mr. G. I just mean I want to hire you to help me get this guy off my back.”
This clown was annoying me. I felt Dinah squeeze my hand again. I somehow sensed she was sending me a psychic message… hear him out. Shit… it wasn’t psychic, she just whispered it.
I took a deep breath… Time to remain calm. Focus… “What’s he got on you?” I asked, more patiently this time.
“Nothing,” he said a little too defensively.
“Really?” I sort of snickered. “Yeah, right… I’m only going to ask one more time, what does he have on you?”
He moved around a little in his seat like he was considering standing up and doing something stupid. I could see him clench his tiny fist. He made the tough guy face that is usually displayed in the billboards and giant posters with his catch phrase, ‘You want some of this?‘ But wisely, he didn’t say anything.
I continued, “Then you seem very concerned over nothing, movie boy.” Screw being calm… I was getting annoyed with his mistaken belief that his film macho heroics translated over to his being tough in real life.
He was pissed at my cheap shot, but was not prepared to do anything about it, not in here in reality land. I am sure that inside his mind, his movie persona was beating me senseless for the insult.
Cross tried again, “He claims to have been in some kind of perverted relationship with me, and whoever has dirt on him, wants to use it to get to me. It’s about the deep pockets. I got a lot more to lose than that slime bag director. Everything he does is derivative anyway. He’s never had an original idea.” Cross said dismissively.
“So he is going to tell the tabloids you’re gay?” I asked, trying to sort out this convoluted mess.
“I’m not gay. He’s gay. He is going to say I’m gay and he thinks he has enough credibility here in town to damage my career. But I’m not gay,” he whined petulantly.
“You realize, nobody cares if you are, right? You would probably sell more tickets if you came out.” I was starting to feel a little bad for the guy.
“I’m not gay. How many times to I have to say it.” The little guy stomped his foot.
He was visibly upset now, so I decided to back off, I am not a complete asshole, and there was no reason for me to torment him. I’m not that kind of person. And like I said, it doesn’t matter if he is gay or not, but I did need the whole story in order for me to be of any help. Human sexuality is almost always a key factor in any dramatic bullshit going on. If you look deep enough the motive is almost always wrapped comfortably inside a sex and money proposition… sex and money, rarely just one or the other, but almost always both.
I think he was fighting back tears and if I was capable of feeling guilt about it, I would have felt bad about pushing him so hard for the truth. He was totally gay. I had been in living in LA long enough to figure that out. But I didn’t care a bit. I don’t think anybody cares anymore what someone else does as long as they do not beat you over the head with it, or act as if they are better than you because of it. But these Hollywood types, they never learn. He should have been more worried about being a frail five foot five guy with a big head who is trying to play roles for men who were six foot two. But that is just me, and I’m an asshole. I’m also six foot two.
“So you’re are not gay. Fine. What does the blackmailer have on your creepy director pal?”
“Apparently some film clip of him killing a male prostitute. A snuff film, but he said it wasn’t real. The whole thing was staged by Discreet Hosts. He paid big bucks for the experience.”
I could feel my brow furrow. I got a meaty forehead. When I’m concerned, it makes the skin on my forehead pile up like a mutant sharpei and I get a head ache, then I get cranky. What kind of deal was this? As far as I knew, Marcus never set up anything like that in the past. We just did safe, friendly little fetish parties and a few consensual open sex parties. Never anything violent or dark, and why should we. I make about two hundred thousand a week each of the forty weeks a year I work, and most of it I don’t pay taxes on. That is plenty of money to be comfortable with in my little five thousand square foot downtown condo and with my fleet of cool cars and trucks. And over the years, Marcus made a lot more money from the business than I do now. There was no need to get creepy. Well, creepier.
“That isn’t making a lot of sense. Discreet Hosts doesn’t do anything like that.”
“All I know is the guy said it was Discreet Hosts that set up his snuff film experience. He said he paid a man thirty-thousand to make it happen, film it, and then give him a digital copy… supposedly the only digital copy, but apparently not.”
“I will need to talk to your friend.”
“He’s not my friend. Not now, he isn’t. And he is completely gay, so why would he be my friend. I’m not gay. Did you miss the part where he is coming after me because somebody is coming after him?” He chattered this nonsense like an annoying spider monkey on crack.
“No, I heard it just fine. I just don’t believe it. I think your pal made this shit up.”
Cross lost it and took a threatening tone as he leaned over the table making demands, “You don’t get it G. I am telling you… this is your problem. I will burn you all over this town for recording your little events. Everyone will know. You need to fix this now or you will never work in this town again.”
I punched him in the face. He fell backwards off his seat.
The big bodyguards scrambled over to him, helping him up off the floor. It happened so fast the other people in the beer garden assumed he just fell over backwards, probably drunk, and these two nice gentleman were helping him back up. They were very, very good.