The not so secret emails.., p.11
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.11

           Robert Bryndza
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  “Where’s my son?” I said pulling a crumpled newspaper off me and shaking her hand. She said we should go somewhere private, and took me to a nearby coffee shop.

  “Now Mrs. Pine-chard,” she said, unloading papers from her briefcase. “I’m here from a Bail Bond company. I can tell you that Rosencrantz was charged at four-thirty this morning.”

  “Charged?” I said. “With what?”

  Tammy shuffled her papers, “charged with possessing a small amount of Marijuana.”

  “Oh! Thank god for that,” I said. “I thought it might be Heroin.” Tammy looked at me with disapproval, and explained that the State of California is very strict with all drug offences.

  “How strict?” I said holding on to my coffee cup. She said that Jail time is mandatory, but the good news was Rosencrantz had been granted full bail. Until he goes to trial. I put my head in my hands.

  “How much is bail? “ I said. She said it was sixty-thousand dollars.

  “Sixty-thousand dollars!” I shrilled. “That’s good news? That’s nearly forty-thousand pounds!”

  “Have you heard of Bail Bonds?” said Tammy. I said I hadn’t. She explained that her company would post bail for us, in return for a ten percent deposit.

  “So in your case six thousand dollars,” she said. I sipped my coffee and wiped away fresh tears. Then my phone went. It was Daniel saying he was in the Delta Airlines Terminal.

  “Good timing,” said Tammy. “We have to scoot. LA Men’s Jail is an hour away, and the freeway is hell at this time of day.” I found Daniel and we went down to the car park. He looked as bad as I did. His face got paler as I explained what had happened.

  “Can I say something?” he said. “Now don’t freak out, but wouldn’t it be… Character building for him to spend some time, you know thinking about what he’s done?”

  “What?” I said. “Leave our son in with rapists and murderers! Who knows what will happen to him with his good skin and good looks. He’s our son!”

  “Where’s the money going to come from then?” He said. “I’ve got your Solicitor breathing down my neck for thirty-thousand pounds.” I said I would put it on my credit card, the one for emergencies. And if not, I would happily forfeit the money so that Rosencrantz’s life isn’t destroyed. We got into the back of Tammy’s huge four-wheel drive Porsche, and screeched through the underground car park, emerging from the dank fluorescent lighting into blazing sunshine. My stomach lurched as she accelerated down a ramp and joined the freeway. Tammy seemed immune to the speed, zipping across four lanes and putting her foot down when we reached the outside lane next to a central reservation. We jolted forward and sped past the slower cars.

  “Car Pool Lane,” she said, as Daniel and I grabbed the armrest. Los Angeles stretched out into a haze of yellow smog. It rippled where it met the blue horizon making me think of piss stains. In the distance, I could just make out the Hollywood Sign, but we were moving in the opposite direction toward a cluster of Skyscrapers and even danker smog. I caught Tammy’s eye in her rear view mirror.

  “You do know Rosencrantz is not a drug addict,” I said.

  “I don’t mean this to sound rude,” she said. “But in the eyes of the State of California he is a drug addict and the sooner he admits it the better it is for his liberties.” My stomach leapt as Tammy took an exit. Within seconds, we were amongst the dusty slum boulevards. Endless dirty squat houses slid past punctuated by the occasional 7-11 and fast food joints. A tram crossed our path.

  “He’s an idiot,” said Daniel. “Did you ever imagine we would be doing this?”

  We passed what could only be described as a Mega Church, a huge warehouse with a giant mural of Jesus holding his arms out then hit the area known as Downtown. High rises slid up out of the road and we squeezed through them until we approached a wide silver building called Men’s Central Jail. Men’s Jail I thought. Rosencrantz is still a boy. I felt cold and sick with fear. We were waved through a Checkpoint and pulled in to the car park. I went to get out of but Tammy said it would be quicker if she went alone. She took a Visa machine card reader from her glove compartment and plugged it into the cigarette lighter.

  “This is the document for Bail,” she said. I signed at the bottom. “And your credit card for six thousand dollars.”

  I handed it over, she swiped it, and handed it back.

  “Okay,” she said applying red lipstick in the rear view mirror. “Let’s get Guilderstern.”

  “It’s Rosencrantz,” I said.

  “Sorry honey,” she said. “One character from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is as good as the next,” and she skipped off with her high heels clacking on the shimmering tarmac.

  “Why did she have to say William Shakespeare’s Hamlet?” said Daniel. “As if we didn’t know who wrote it?”

  “Cos that’s the problem right now.”

  “I don’t like her,” he said.

  “You’re a cock,” I said and got out of the car for a cigarette. Daniel stayed inside sweating defiantly. After an hour, Tammy came out with Rosencrantz in tow. He looked pale, with greasy hair, wearing skinny jeans and a Cher T-shirt. He ran to me and I hugged him checking he was intact. I wasn’t sure if it was him or me who stunk. Daniel just glared through the window. We got in the car, and pulled away. We sat in silence for several miles. We took a different route, which led to the freeway along the beach. I opened the window and the sea air whipped away a little of my fear and I closed my eyes against the sun. I asked Rosencrantz if he had had a decent breakfast. He looked at me disdainfully. Then I asked him if he was a drug addict.

  “No!” he said.

  “But you are an idiot, are you not?” said Daniel.

  “Takes one to know one,” said Rosencrantz.

  “Okay. Time-out people,” said Tammy. She passed back a document, which told us Rosencrantz couldn’t leave the State of California until he gets a Court date.

  “I wanna get you in to see a Lawyer friend of mine, he’s the best,” said Tammy.

  “What time?” I said.

  “Honey, I haven’t got the appointment yet. I am just going to drop you… Here.” The Ocean stretched along one side of the road, hotels, and restaurants the other. I asked Tammy what we should do.

  “Find a Motel and sit tight. I have your cell. I will call you when I know more… Stay out of trouble.” I think she was talking to all of us. As she roared away, we stood awkwardly on the street corner. It was like we had been dropped into an episode of Banged Up Abroad. Only Rosencrantz was thankfully, for the time being, not banged up.

  “Right,” said Daniel. “ I have to go.”

  “What? You’re just leaving us?” I said.

  He said he had to fly back to Cleveland because he’s due on stage tonight.

  “Aren’t you more in front of the stage?” said Rosencrantz. Daniel took a step towards him.

  “In a hole in fact,” said Rosencrantz looking at him. Daniel stared back.

  “I think it’s called the Orchestra Pit,” I said sliding myself between them. They continued to stare each other out as Daniel hailed a cab.

  “Find a Motel, sort this out,” he said. With that, he jumped in the cab, and it sped off.

  We have made our way down to the beach; It turns out we are in Santa Monica. Rosencrantz recognised it from Baywatch. He has gone to get us ice cream. I am sitting in the sand, watching surfers in the clear blue water. I have no clue what to do next.

  Sunday 26th April 21:08

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  We found a cheap Motel. Santa Monica is rather posh, so we walked along the sand to Venice Beach. It’s rather like the Margate of California, only the weather is better, and instead of little flowerbeds full of Busy Lizzies, there are huge Palm trees. Ironically, our Motel is above a bong shop; I can hear the crowds walking and rollerblading along the prom below.

  We spent the afternoon on the beach and Rosencrantz told me what happened. I
t was Christian’s idea to buy some weed, when they were in Las Vegas. They only bought a small amount, enough for a few joints, which they smoked in a nightclub. Christian dropped one of their joints when he was dancing, and neither of them realised it had fallen into the turn-ups of Rosencrantz’s jeans (what are the chances)? Three days later when security looked through the clothes in their suitcase at LAX Airport, the joint fell out. He burst into tears when he told me that Christian let him take the blame. Apparently, he just mouthed, “I have to go,” and carried on through Security. I asked him why Christian would do that?

  “He’s desperate to work in America, in fashion,” said Rosencrantz. “If he has a criminal record he can’t get a work permit.”

  “What about you?” I said. “I thought you two were, well I thought he was the one?”

  “Me too,” said Rosencrantz softly.

  “I was going to say yes, about Christian moving in with us.”

  “Don’t mum,” said Rosencrantz. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore.”

  He is now lying on one of the twin beds in our poky Motel room with his face to the wall. I feel betrayed too. I liked Christian almost as much as Rosencrantz did.

  Tammy phoned an hour ago, she has got us a meeting tomorrow morning with a Lawyer at a firm called Gregory Caplan Associates. I need to buy some clothes.

  Monday 27th April 12:00

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  I woke up at five this morning in a cold sweat, and looked across at Rosencrantz sleeping. The thought of having to fly home without him filled me with an icy trickling dread. Not even the sweet smell of weed from the bong shop below could get me back to sleep, so I went down onto the beach and sat up against a Palm tree with a fag. It was warm, and buzzing with joggers and dog walkers. I was enjoying the sun when I heard the woo-woo of a siren. I looked up and racing over the sand was a Policeman on a Quad bike. He pulled to a stop near me and I looked around to see who he was going to speak to. I was surprised when I realised it was me.

  “Morning. Ma’am,” he said.

  “Hello,” I said puffing away.

  He just stared at me. “Are you aware you are in violation of code 4631 which prohibits smoking on State Beaches?”

  “Oh bugger, I mean sorry,” I said stubbing it out in the sand.

  “If you could watch your mouth please ma’am,” he said. “Are you aware it’s also an offence under code 4521 to leave garbage on the beaches.” I apologised, scooped up the cigarette butt, and popped it back in the packet. I grinned at him hopefully, but he removed his helmet and got slowly off his bike. He fined me one hundred dollars! He also lectured me on the dangers of smoking and gave me a leaflet for a support group.

  I made sure I disposed of the leaflet properly, then went to a shop on the promenade and bought a cheap Teflon suit to wear at our meeting. It makes me look a bit like a Hillary Clinton impersonator.

  Monday 27th April 15:30

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  We just met with our Lawyer, Gregory Kaplan. He is tanned, in his fifties and perfectly coiffed from head to toe in a suit so sharp it could have cut him. I presume we are low priority clients, as we didn’t meet in his office but a long corridor, he calls his ‘walkthrough.’

  We waited for an hour before he burst out of a door and we scuttled along beside him as he talked. He thinks he can get Rosencrantz off with an infraction, which is a fancy way of saying, I know I did it so you don’t need to give me a sentence because I have already learnt my lesson. We will also have to pay a fine and it’s recommended we donate to a drugs charity. At the end of the corridor, he shook my hand saying,

  “Give me three days and I think I can get a court date.” The ninety-seconds we were with him cost $400 dollars.

  Tuesday 28th April 17:45

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  This afternoon we took the bus to Manhattan Beach, which was divine. The houses were all painted wood and shutters. The beach was teeming with surfers and their fashionably tousled girlfriends. We walked a long way in the surf, carrying our shoes. There was a van with the Paramount Pictures logo parked on the sand and a camera crew was filming a scene with some gorgeous young twenty something actors playing a game of Volleyball.

  “That’ll be you one day,” I said to Rosencrantz.

  “Yeah right,” he said. “Like they’re going to let me back into the country after this.” We spent the rest of the day in silence.

  Wednesday 29th April 14:46

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  Gregory Kaplan’s secretary phoned this morning,

  “Coco Pinchard, can you please hold for Gregory Kaplan,” she said. I was in the middle of making sandcastles with Rosencrantz out of empty McDonalds cartons, so I dusted off my hands and waited. Five minutes passed before he came on the line. He sounded like he was in a helicopter.

  “ I got us into a court on Friday,” he said. “10am, it should be smooth sailing honey. Judge Walsh is on the case and he leans well to the left. I can pretty much guarantee we’ll be home free.”

  “Brilliant,” I said. “Let’s hope he doesn’t lean too far and fall off his chair!” However, Gregory had already hung up. I came off the phone to see an elderly lady with a little dog giving Rosencrantz ten dollars for our collection of sandcastles.

  “It’s very Bladerunner,” she drawled. “And I love the Hillary Clinton impersonator, nice touch.” I realised she must have thought we were some kind of street entertainers. I told Rosencrantz to collect our things and we left.

  Thursday 30th April 10:22

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  I am freaking out. Gregory just called and shouted down the phone why we hadn’t declared Rosencrantz’s ‘priors.’ I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, but it seems in his preparations for tomorrow’s case he found that Rosencrantz was arrested when he was fifteen for being drunk in Leicester Square.

  “Honey you gotta be straight with me,” said Gregory. “Now we have drug and alcohol issues. You told me this kid was clean as a whistle. “

  “I thought he was, he is!” I said.

  “Well, find out!” he snarled. “ You don’t fuck with this Judge.” He slammed down the phone. I confronted Rosencrantz, lying on his bed clutching a photo of Christian. He told me that in 2005, he had been to watch Phantom of the Opera with a friend, and they had topped up their Coke cans from a bottle of Tia Maria in the sideboard. A Policeman found them throwing up in Leicester Square and took them to Charing Cross Police Station, where they were cautioned.

  “Is there anything else I don’t know about?” Rosencrantz said there wasn’t. It’s hardly shocking stuff, two tipsy teenagers doing a Euan Blair whilst singing show tunes.

  Thursday 30th April 18:56

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  Another terrifying phone call from Gregory. I was on hold for ten minutes before he told me that the hearing has been put back a week.

  “It’s gonna be tough,” he said. “Your kid isn’t looking good now, with a prior.” I tried to explain that Phantom Of The Opera had been involved, as I know how the Americans love Lloyd-Webber, but he hung up. I called him back, but the line was busy. Then I tried to call Daniel. We only have forty dollars left and I haven’t paid for our Motel room tonight.


  Friday 1st May 03:37

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  Daniel is trying to work out how to wire me money. I have to keep the credit card free for legal fees. For the time being, we have moved to a cheaper Motel at fifteen dollars a night. It’s further back from the beach on a run down Boulevard. Yesterday afternoon we were watching an old cowboy film on TV when there was a power cut. Only, the gunshots continued from the car park out front. No
one died but the paramedics knocked on the door afterwards, looking for an ear.

  I was woken up at one and two by cars roaring up and down, at three I went outside with a cigarette in my mouth and walked slap bang into the tallest and most beautiful black drag queen I have ever seen.

  “Oh my lordy honey,” she said in an accent from the Deep South. “Could I bum a light? And fire? There’s no smoke without fire,” she said winking. I offered up one of my Marlboro lights.

  “How’s business?” she said, exhaling. I said it wasn’t too brisk.

  “Nawt too breesk,” she said imitating my accent. “I love the way you people talk. I’m Shaquille,” she offered a powerful hand with bright red nails.

  “Coco,” I said shaking it.

  “Mmm, Coco,” she said. “I like that. Most British women I meet are Sue, Janet, or Marge. Is that what they call your drag queens over there?” I said I didn’t know, and for some reason, told her about the first time I met Daniel at University. How he gave me the nickname Coco when I won a bottle of Chanel No.5 in a raffle.

  “Love at first sight?” asked Shaquille.

  “It was. We’re separated now.” We smoked in silence for a bit.

  “Can I ask you something, honey?’’ she said. “ Why is a nice girl, named after a very nice perfume, staying here?’’ I told her, and began to cry.

  “Oh my! These tears are real!” she shrieked hugging me against her padded bra. “I never seen real tears in years. In LA, you wave your acrylic nails in front of your face, and you try… But this! This is real, British, bad-dentistry tears!”

  “Everyone’s teeth here are really white and straight,” I said.

  “Even the whores,” she said, flashing her perfect teeth. I didn’t know what to say to that so I offered her another cigarette.

  “Your son at school?’’ I told her Rosencrantz wants to be an actor.

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