When I got to the front door, it was slightly ajar. That, brothers and sisters, was not a good sign. If someone got here before me and capped Izzy, I was a dead man. Contract jumping makes everyone look bad and Bob wouldn’t make himself an example, so if our target was face down in a pool of his own blood and piss, I was going to be joining him shortly thereafter. The house was ransacked when I walked in.
Sh*t, I thought, My first gig and I’m about to become another bad Hollywood ending.
Then it hit me. And by it, I mean the broad side of a .45 to the broad side of my lousy head. Pistol-whipped like a b—h. I went down, of course, my head ringing like crazy, and saw myself being surrounded by several large men. Then one of them kicked me in the head with his large boot and I was out. When I woke up, I my wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape and I was hanging over the edge of Izzy’s pool diving board.
“Good morning, Sunshine,” Izzy said.
As a wake-up call, the thugs holding my feet slid my head down into the water. This was rather unexpected so I had no chance to take a breath and nearly drowned before they pulled me up again.
“So, you’re the button man they sent? What a f—-g joke.”
Again, into the water. I anticipated this time, but they just held me under longer. When they pulled me up, Izzy was lying by the side of the pool, smiling at me.
“We’re only going to ask you one time who you’re working for. A very simple Q&A. If you answer honestly, then you get a nice little bullet in the back of the head. If not, we’ll just keep dipping you, slowly drowning you over several hours. It’s definitely one of the worst ways to die, suffocating and coughing and puking Guantanamo style. So, here’s your one chance, nobody. Speak up.”
“Okay, Izzy. I work for the general public. They hired me because you and the other lazy, gold-bricking, nepotistic, brain-dead, money-sucking, sh*t-eating zombies that run this town have murdered cinema like she was a 12-lira Italian with two wooden legs and a glass eye!”
He started laughing out loud.
“And for your sins against the silver screen, they’re gonna keep sending mother-fuckers like me till you’re all lying face down in the desert outside Barstow—with no f—-g face!”
“Give that piece a sh*t a drink of water to go with his speech,” Izzy coughed.
Then . . . “Izzy! Where the hell are you!”
The sound of Peeka’s shrill, insistent voice, followed by her Yorkie’s incessant yapping, echoed through Izzy’s grotto. Next thing I know, the thugs have let go of me, presumably to disappear before Peeka saw them, and I’m sinking to the bottom of the pool. I’ve been close to death many times in the past, not only as an intern, but also when I was a child. For some reason, though, I never believed at the time that it was going to happen for real. I always felt that I would somehow pull through, scraping the skin off my teeth but alive nonetheless. Not this time. As I sank to the bottom of the pool, occasionally twisting into a position where I could see the surface and the patio lights, I resigned myself to my demise. Bound like an exile, my nimble mind could find no avenue of clever Houdini-style extrication. This is it, I thought to myself.
I don’t know what was worse—knowing I was going to die or knowing I didn’t care. It’s an awful thing, feeling no affinity for your own life. As I held my last breath, more out of amusement than self-preservation, I tried to think of one thing that I would miss. Nothing. Well, maybe baby-back ribs and Belgian ale, but I was sure they’d be serving that in hell. Then I tried to think of one person who might miss me. Less than nothing. And with that, I closed my eyes and started to allow the air to escape slowly in a feathery stream of bubbles that reminded me of precious stones.