Chapter 6: The Deal
You know Christine. I said, staring at what I assumed to be Christine in my drunken state. I feel like I've been doing this a lot lately.
Doing what? Christine said, or at least the blurry outline of her said.
I looked at the various mugs on the table in front of me. Getting really drunk while doing business.
Well it doesn't surprise me. She said. You don't have much business, so how else would you fill the time?
Always on my back. I said.
Always trying to ride my back. She replied.
I leaned back in my booth and smiled a full toothed drunken grin. Not this time, this is just business.
She flicked her blonde hair to the side of her face and rested her chin on her hand. And what, would that business be, Mr. Grant?
Oh I like that. I said, laughing. Mr. Grant, that's sexy. Very powerful.
Very poor too. Christine said.
I sat up and began to drunkenly mimic Christine. Oh Mr. Grant, Mr. Sexy powerful Grant, watch me file these papers. You like that Mr. Grant, don't you?
I said in a terrible porn voice. Watch me fax these quarter reports you big, stud-like, representation man. Christine began to stand up. And this is when I leave.
I quit my alias and motioned for her to sit down. Oh come on, sit down, you're driving me home anyways.
What do you want Dan, we already ate. She said, returning to her seat.
I leaned in close to whisper. First. I whispered, suddenly raising my voice. I need two more beers over here. I said, raising my hand at a waiter across the Irish pub. And second, I need some legal advice.
Christine rolled her eyes. What did you do, send a girl half your age a naked picture of you like I always expected?
I smiled. Well I did, but she didn't want to sue me.
Christine rolled her eyes again. Then what is it? I'm not a lawyer Dan.
I know that, but what do you know about custody rights? I asked.
Christine looked around the dark pub and then leaned across the table. You're trying to get custody of the kids? She whispered.
I stared at her terrorized face and shook my head. I'm not trying, I just want to know what the process is.
She leaned back in the booth and breathed a sigh of relief. Well I don't know anything. She said, continuing to whisper. But I do know that you're barely adequate to live with yourself.
I tapped my fingers on the table, noting my sobriety rose with that last sentence considerably. You're probably right, Ms. Legal dictionary. You slept your way through law school if I remember correctly, yes?
She rolled her eyes for the third time. And once again, I do more work then I should and I receive insults. She said.
I laughed. What extra work? That legal advice you just gave me? That wasn't advice, that was more like you nagging me.
I just saved you from spending thousands of drunken dollars on two kids who probably don't want to be in your custody. She said, looking away in anger. But whatever, you and I both know I save you from tons of damage that would be caused by your drunken decisions, and I'm underpaid.
I leaned forward. Oh, that's why you went out with me to dinner tonight, because you want a raise.
She turned back and looked me in the eyes. Yes, that's why I came to dinner with you.
Well whatever Christine. I said, once again mimicking her. You and I both know I'm under laid.
She stood up and grabbed her purse. Well maybe that's because you pay me like I work for Nike. I stood up and pointed at her. Wait, what was that?. I said, growing excited. I tried to maintain my rising emotions in my drunken stupor. Are you saying that, if I paid you more, you'd lay me more?
Stop trying to rhyme Dan, I haven't laid you yet. She said.
I began to sober up very quickly in my excitement, and my freshly hung over eyes took in the angel that sat across from me. I had hired her for a reason, and those two reasons were now staring at me directly in the face. I had always dreamed about having closed door meetings, and I was suddenly realizing that back door meetings were in reach. However, I still couldn't afford it.
I'm tight on funds though Christine. I said. Are you still as cheap as you were in university?
She stood up for the final time. f--k you Dan, if you want to get laid, you can. First, quit insulting me, second, start making more money.
She began to walk away when I stopped her with an outstretched hand. Deal. I said, eyeing my hand.
She gave me the finger. Whatever, let's go, I want to go home.
I sat up and followed her to the door. Prepare to be treated like the secret slutty secretary I just found out you are Christine.
So that was the video, what do you think? Lacey said, while towelling off her soaking red hair.
I glanced around the dark studio, as various workers began taking down lighting and props that composed the aesthetic display of the video.
The setting is great. I said. Lighting's cool, the rain pouring over you while you play piano on the beach was good too.
Good? It was great. She said.
Yeah, it really was. I said.
She poked and prodded at her mascara and then turned to me. So why are you here? She said, leaning up against a cabinet.
You told me the date for this video shoot, so I came. I said.
You didn't have to come. Jordan Mason never came to my video shoots, you're not going to, right? She asked.
Well, I guess not. I said, stumbling.
I hope not. I will not. I said.
Good. Great. I said, rolling my eyes.
Jordan didn't tell me much about you. She said, as she sunk into a studio chair and began to flip through a magazine.
Well. I said. He didn't tell me much about you either, although he did say you were busting his balls.
She didn't stir from her position, maintaining the cold atmosphere she produced from the moment I met her. The only way I was busting his balls was the fact that I wouldn't sleep with him. She said.
Well. I said, taken for surprise. I did not know Jordan was like that at all.
He is, definitely. She said, ending the conversation. So I asked for a show on the thirtieth, where and with who? She asked.
Where? I got you a show at the Tin Can, and so far it's by yourself. I said.
Good, no one else. She said.
So are we done here? I'm tired of this set, I want to go. She said.
I guess so. I said, just in time to watch her walk past multiple green screens, camera crews, and buffet tables before I could say goodbye.
Well. I said, scanning my suddenly empty surroundings. Life with her is pretty f--king bland.
The three members of The Halves' and I sat in my car under a burnt out streetlight. We stared down the street to where the road curved out of sight, watching the third last house on the left. Its three dark brown stories were covered in vine, showering dominance and confidence over the front lawn that lay before it, which itself was twisted and spotted with stepping stones and flower gardens, all of which were humming with life this early morning.
So Liam. Shawn said, from the backseat. Is he the oldest or the youngest of your two sons?
I kept my eyes focused on the house. He's the oldest.
How old is he? Shawn asked.
Seventeen, turning 18 in February. I said.
Oh cool, awesome age. What's he like?
I rolled my eyes as I tried to maintain my focus. He's shy, humble, and quiet, which is what I wish you were.
But if he's all that, why did he get hit? He asked, ignoring the conclusion of my comment.
I don't know Shawn, he wouldn't say. I only know that he recently got punched, and that he wanted to go home the day after I took him to my place. I said.
Shawn pulled himself forward with the back of my headrest, to a point where he spoke directly into my ear, and directly into my annoyance. Wait, so you don't know who hit him? He said.
I began to raise my voice. I know that my ex-wife never hit our kids when we were married, and since Phil is the uncommon factor in the situation, it's awfully f--king possible that he's either throwing or making my wife throw. So no, I don't know who hit him, but either way, Phil's going to pay.
And I take it. Shawn said, glancing down the dark street to the third last house on the left. That down the street there is Phil's house.
I took a sip of coffee and placed it back in its cup holder. Bravo Shawn, bra-f--king-vo.
Shawn sat back in his seat, pressed between the two other silent members of the band. Well for God sakes Dan, I'm mad at Phil for breaking us up but I'm not stalking his house like a serial killer. He said.
Well you're wrong Shawn, because I'm not a serial killer. I said. Me caving his chest in wouldn't be random at all.
Come on Dan. Shawn said. You're not going to actually kill him. There are too many witnesses, I wouldn't tell on you, but I don't think Coulter likes you very much.
I turned to look at the meaty guitarist. Yeah, you're probably right Shawn. Coulter doesn't have any balls anymore from all the steroids he took. Coulter unbuckled his seat belt. I'll f--k your shit right in the street Dan.
Shut up Coulter. I said, turning back towards the house. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm not going to kill him.
Well we're not covering for you Dan. Shawn said.
Well then I'm not your agent Shawn. I said.
That's okay. Shawn said. We like Don anyways, he's cool and talks like George Bush.
I took another sip of coffee. Yeah, how'd the rest of that night go anyways?
All three members said various types of good. Yeah it went well, we signed to his label and now we have to find a producer. Shawn said.
That's good. I said. I'll give some people a call and see what I can find.
Shawn hesitated. No, you don't have to do that. We've got our own guy lined up.
Who? I asked.
Our friend. Shawn said.
No. I said.
Because. I said, leaning my head on the steering wheel. I don't want one of your retarded friends f--king up your album that already has a miniscule chance of profiting. No, you definitely can't have a friend.
At least give him an interview Dan. Shawn said.
Fine, but only to kick his ass out when I'm done. I said.
Deal, but can we go? It's getting cold in here.
I turned on the heat in the car as our conversation slowly slid into silence. I thought of all the ways possible of hurting Phil, each one sounding sweeter then the next. I wanted to twist his limbs in the wrong directions, pull his teeth in the dentist direction, and drive my foot a thousand times in the southern direction. However, every time I thought of a new fantasy, the same saddening image of my bruised son flooded into my mind. I couldn't do anything that would land me in jail, for then I would be unable to help my battered kid. Why don't you shit in a bag? I ripped my neck around as the first words from Tanner all night drove me out of my headspace.
Did you just say...shit in a bag? I said, examining Tanner's blank face. He scratched his eye brow. Well yeah, you're too afraid to do anything else, so just shit in a bag and light it on fire.
I stared at the once silent band member in horror. Is he serious I said, scanning the other members faces for any explanation.
Hey, I'll do it with you. Shawn said. He broke up our band, and I loved that name.
That was a stupid f--king name. I said.
It was cool. Shawn said.
f--king stupid. I said.
Regardless! Shawn exclaimed. He messed up each life that's in this car, and Tanner's is the only idea that won't put us in jail.
I eyed the vine covered castle down the street. Well, I do want to f--king lay this guy out.
And what better release of anger than a good shit. Shawn said.
Nothing like a good shit. Coulter said.
Nothing, like a good, shit. Tanner said.
I stared at the band members in the rear-view mirror. I'm learning far too much about you guys, you realize that?
No better way to build team chemistry. Shawn said.
No better way. Coulter said.
No, better, way. Tanner said.
Stop doing that. I said. Are we really going to do this? It's like I'm twelve again.
Shawn leaned closer to me. I loved being twelve. Now are you in, or not?
I looked at the three suddenly primitive human beings in my back seat, and then at the suddenly infuriating house down the street.
I opened the door of the car and stood up. Fine, let the male bonding begin. I said.
Oh, and since this trick is old. Tanner said. We have to put our bags in the mailbox, otherwise he'd remember it from the movies and not step on it.
I stared at Tanner. And what happens if we put it in the mailbox?
A couple different things. He said. I've seen people spray it with a hose, use a hockey stick, lots of different approaches.
I looked at Tanner in horror. You know, you've probably said thirty words to me. And for some reason, about half of those words have been about flaming bags of shit. I said.
I'm a man of my interests Dan. He said.
We began to walk towards the house, bags in hand. I never knew you were a flaming bag of shit' kind of guy Tanner. I said.
He turned to me. Until tonight, I didn't know you were a flaming bag of shit' kind of guy either, Dan.
I laughed as we approached the lawn. Fan f--king tastic. I said. Fan f--king tastic.