Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BUY THE RIGHTS

One good thing about Los Angeles is that people want to be seen. Everyone’s putting their name out there, trying to be the next something before they become old news.

Jasmine is no different. I Googled her on the Blackberry and came up with a bunch of hits, different places she worked and credits like “Associate Producer” for piece of shit films no one’s ever heard of. I wrote down the number for the most recent hit, where she was listed as “Development Associate.”

What the fuck is an “Associate?” I guess it’s when you’re not cool enough to be the real thing, they slap that name on you so you can feel better than the rest of the fools out there. Think of me as Trey, “Associate Spy” and genuine ass kicker.

As soon as business hours started, I called her office. No stink-ass payphones for Trey. I’ve still got the Blackberry. Some hot and cold running secretary answered the phone and I asked for Jasmine. When the girl asked who was calling, I gave the Nerd’s name. That got me right through.

First thing Jasmine says, “Where are you?”

The Nerd burrowed so deep that neither his wife or his mistress know where he is. But Jasmine didn’t sound like the annoyed princess, wondering where her sugar daddy is with the next box of chocolates. She sounded like a crook, a backroom dealer with money on the table and a car waiting outside and three other stops that night and no time for bullshit. This is a girl I can deal with.

“This isn’t the Nerd.” But I used his real name. “This is the guy who knocked on your door the other night.”

“I called the cops.”

Fucking great. She told them what I look like. Fuck. Hope they don’t call Ballentine. At least she gave descriptions of Sig and his North River dicks. Maybe the cops’ll take them off my hands.

I didn’t chew her out. I need her on my side. Slow, I explained that the fight at her door had nothing to do with the Nerd.

She asked if I knew where he was. I said I didn’t. But I wasn’t looking for him. “I want to talk to the man in the black Mercedes.”

Jasmine’s slick. She didn’t let his name slip. “Why?”

“I have what the Nerd was going to sell him. The Nerd fucked himself out of the deal. The man in the black Mercedes has to deal with me directly.”

“How do I know you’re not lying?” This girl is as sharp as a knife, I tell you. Cuts through the bullshit. Body and brains.

“Black bag, thumb drive. Identities.” That got a long silence.

Then, “Give me a number where I can have him get in touch with you.”

“Ain’t no number for me.” No idea when this Blackberry’s gonna get cut off. “You have him standing by. I’ll get in touch.”

“Don’t call me here again.” Her voice was low and guarded. First time I heard a little shake in her, the collision of separate worlds.

“Give me a better option.”

Jasmine reluctantly ground out the numbers for her cell phone. I wrote them down on a little piece of paper with a short pencil I boosted from a library. She said it would take some time to get the guy to come around. He’s careful. I said I knew, the dude slipped away before I had a chance to talk to him in person. Trey even went so far as to apologize to the lady for getting her involved. I’m so smooth. And she took it like I meant it. Which is bullshit. She’s probably the one that started this deal in the first place.

I imagined the Nerd lying next to her hot body, crying after he came too fast. She’s stroking his hair and he’s worried about the economy and she’s thinking he might cut off the sparklies. So Jasmine’s sharp brain makes a plan. The Nerd’s in software, somehow she knows he can collect identities. And because she’s hot and parties with people with money, she’s friendly with Rodeo, who’s some kind of high-end criminal. Bang. It all comes together for her.
Everybody wins. Especially her. The sugar daddy doesn’t die and the sparklies keep flowing. She didn’t plan on Trey.

I had to ask, “What’s a development associate?”

“I read scripts and ideas, develop them into movies.”

“I have a great idea for a movie.”

Low laugh. “Pitch me.”

“Super sexy cold motherfucker from the Pacific Northwest comes to Los Angeles, finds himself some trouble, kicks some ass and comes out on top.”

“Who plays you?”

“Michael Dudikoff.”

“Who?”

No wonder new movies are shit. No respect for the classics. Must’ve watched this movie a hundred times with my dad and my friends. “The American Ninja,” I tell her, then hang up on her. Time. She’s got a little time. Then she’d better have Rodeo for me. Let’s get this over with. I want my money. I’ve had enough of this town.