She hit the button. ‘Who’s there?’
‘Janet, let me in.’
‘Go away, Mauve. It’s finished.’
‘Janet, if you don’t let me talk, I’ll press this damn button all night, and all of the other tenants’.’
Janet looked at me. ‘I have to see her. Lock yourself in my bedroom.’
I nodded, grabbed the last two beers, and resigned myself to being arrested by a dyke cop.
Janet woke me up by switching on the light. I glanced at my watch. Past midnight.
‘So she’s out of your life?’
Janet sat down on the bed beside me.
‘Shayne, it’s complicated … let’s leave it at that, huh?’
‘I said, leave it. It’s my life, okay?’
I let it drop. I realized she was upset — sharp voice, untidy hair, and smudged makeup. Made me jealous as hell.
She tugged at my arm. ‘I’m tired.’
A signal that my bed was in the living room. I took a shower, put on some shorts, and headed for the couch. She had left a couple of blankets out, but I couldn’t get back to sleep. My feelings for Janet were all over the place. It just wasn’t working out like I’d hoped.
I turned the TV on low and flicked aimlessly through a few channels before returning to the news.
My story had slipped a few notches; no news meant just that. Although Janet had shielded me, her place was unsafe, and it would only be a matter of time before a jealous Hennessey spotted me. I hit a few more channels and found a Road Runner cartoon. I could relate to the bird outrunning all of Coyote’s traps; I felt the same, but in my life who was the Coyote?
Of course. It had to be him.
I switched off the TV, got dressed, left an “I’ll keep in touch” note for Janet in the kitchen, and walked out to join the party. I swore I would never return to the mansion, but I had to go back to the beginning and find out.
Big Island nightlife, renowned for carrying on to dawn, and Van Grossman’s weekend pool parties were notorious for being exactly like the Boogie Nights movie, attracting all the young starlets and their partners — young studs — who were Robert’s indulgence.
Naturally, I was refused entry at the gate until I mentioned Mr. Van Grossman might be interested in hearing about my encounter with Mr. Lo. I seemed to have pressed the right button, because a chauffeur, driving a Mercedes convertible, was sent down to the gate to pick me up.
The mansion was set in acres of green parkland and palms and built like a Roman fortress with spectacular views over Kona Bay. I parked my Chevy in the lot by the gate and slid into the convertible like a returning filmstar.
Loud, raucous music welcomed me as I approached the fortress, illuminated by colored spotlights. Several armored gladiators patrolled the entrance; serving girls scurried to and from a huge barbecue grill carrying plates of food. The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas transferred to Hawaii.
Must have cost millions.
A lackey greeted me and I was escorted to the poolside VIP area where I was cornered by two gorgeous Japanese twins — Mi and Yu.
‘Hi,’ I said, in my best Mike Myers voice. ‘Do I get a top-secret massage?’
Mi — or maybe it was Yu — giggled. ‘Later, baby. Later.’
Subdued lighting focusing on massive floral arrangements under a warm, starlit sky added a romantic glow. I was in the middle of a vibrant in-crowd, some lounging on cushions, a few noisy ones horsing around in the pool. Drinks flowed like a never-ending waterfall. I shared champagne cocktails with the twins, but then I smelled the spicy aroma of Ganga.
I looked up to see Robert, dressed in a toga, a huge medallion around his neck, with his arm around a similarly dressed young stud.
‘Enjoy tonight,’ he said, pointing at the twins. ‘Tomorrow, we’ll talk.’
If he had been surprised at my appearance, it didn’t show. I’d washed the makeup off my face, but I could now finger genuine stubble. Made me look like Johnny Depp, so Yu said, our fingers intertwined. I had to admit, my ego had been flattered, and, with Janet off my radar, I felt like being self-indulgent.
The bedroom wasn’t the penthouse suite, but it had a king-size bed and a Jacuzzi built for three. Soapy massage, a few lines of coke, and a happy ending…
I woke to the sounds of gulls boring a hole in my head. I sat up, wished I hadn’t, and sank back down.
Then sat up again.
I was on my own. Hairs on my arms began to stand on end. The previous time I had woken alone in Van Grossman’s mansion with a headache to end all headaches, I’d gone searching for my playmate, only to be greeted by her dead body in the pool.
With a bullet hole in her head.
The wall clock indicated I’d be late for lunch if I didn’t make a move. A hot, then cold, shower kicked me back into gear and eased the fuzziness. My clothes were neatly folded and smelled fresh, as if they had been steam cleaned and pressed. I dressed and went in search of company.
I guessed there had been near on a hundred people at last night’s party; today only a team of domestic staff clearing up the debris, a few security guards, and a couple of house guests — both male studs, drinking coffee and smoking Marlboro lights on the terrace.
I joined them. As I was on first name terms with Van Grossman, I felt entitled to ask.
‘Seen Robert, around?’
One, who looked like a well-known cage wrestler, pointed to an annex next to the pool.
The other one sniggered; blew a ring of blue smoke at me.
I guessed I should have been impressed by the minimalist conversation.
‘Thanks,’ I said.
When I stepped into the dining area, Van Grossman was seated at the head of a twelve-seater table loaded with enough dishes to feed last night’s VIPs. His new partner, the stick man, and two studs seemed to be engrossed in intimate chitchat. I coughed. They all looked up. Van Grossman grinned, picked up his cell phone and pressed a button.
‘Well, if it isn’t Mr. Revs. I was waiting for you to surface. Sit down, kid, join the party.’
I shrugged, took the seat with an empty plate on the table, and helped myself to a couple of barbecued chicken legs.
Van Grossman smiled. A kind of knowing smirk that had me wondering what the heck was going on.
I soon found out.
Two uniformed cops burst into the room; hurried over to me, and snapped on handcuffs before I could blink.
‘You’re under arrest.’