The coco pinchard boxset.., p.12
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.12
 

           Robert Bryndza

  “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, with 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 was 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: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  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 tattoo parlour which sells ‘medical marijuana’; 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. It 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-up 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 Kaplan Associates. I need to buy some clothes.

  Monday 27th April 12.00

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  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: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  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 in 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 drug rehabilitation 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.

  Tuesday 28th April 17.45

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk, chris@christophercheshire.com

  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: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  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 McDonald’s 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: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I am freaking out. Gregory just called and shouted down the phone about 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. Before hitting the West End, 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: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  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 have only forty dollars left and I haven’t paid for our motel room tonight.

  May

  Friday 1st May 03.37

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com, marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  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 rundown 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 agreed.

  “Even the whores,” she said, flashing her own 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.

  “I did too,” she said wistfully. “But don’t you worry. He gonna be just peachy with a momma like you.”

  A BMW came roaring into the car park and tooted its horn.

  “I gotta run,” she said, checking her huge beehive in a tiny mirror. “Thanks for the smokes, Cokes.”

  “That’s what my friends call me,” I said. We hugged.

  Then she was gone, running admirably down the stairs in six-inch heels and into the car. I never saw who was inside. The windows were blacked out.

  Friday 1st May 13.03

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  There was a knock on our door at nine this morning. I thought it would be the Mandarin cleaner turfing us out. She had been banging on doors and pulling drunks out since seven. When I opened the door, stood on the communal walkway, zipped up in his finest daywear, was Chris!

  I screamed and launched myself on him in a big hug. He glanced over my shoulder at an old guy in a cowboy hat sleeping in the next doorway.

  “I have a cab with the engine running, let’s get you out of here.”

  It took us about three seconds to pack. In the cab, Rosencrantz just stared out of the window bleakly, but I couldn’t contain myself.

  “How did you find us?” I said, hugging him again.

  He told me he had spoken to Tammy, from the bail bond company.

  “You’re both to stop worrying,” he said. “I think I have a way to get us all out of the country safely.”

  “I can’t believe you’re here,” I said. “I won’t forget this.”

  “I had air miles… and my life needs some excitement,” he said, embarrassed.

  I jabbered away, not taking much notice as our surroundings changed, until I saw the taxi approach the Chateau Marmont Hotel. It looked like a fairy-tale castle, or chateau; whiter than the whitest American teeth, with little turrets and arched windows.

  “No way,” said Rosencrantz. “This is like the coolest hotel in Hollywood!”

  “My mother had an old voucher she didn’t need,” said Chris.

  “My mother used to give me Green Shield stamps,” I said.

  “I see it as compensation. You’ve met my monster of a mother.”

  It was so wonderful to be in a clean room after days of smelly motels. Rosencrantz and I had a twin; Chris had booked himself the room next to ours, with an interconnecting door. He buzzed around, tipping the bellboy, who only really had my Teflon suit to bring up, and ordered us breakfast. Rosencrantz didn’t take much notice of our surroundings and just sat on the bed and clicked on the television.

  “You fancy going for a look round?” said Chris to Rosencrantz, handing him twenty dollars.

  “Um, like okay,” said Rosencrantz, and slunk out of the door.

  Chris poured us both vodka from the mini bar.

  “That was the most he has spoken in days,” I said. “He’s been listless. Well, you know from all my emails.”

  “I’ve got a plan,” he said

  Monday 4th May 11.56

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Sorry hun. My phone battery died as I was writing my last email. It’s all over. We are in the Virgin Lounge at LAX waiting for our flight home. They have lent me a phone charger.

  This is what happened. As you know, Chris is Rosencrantz’s godfather. What you wouldn’t have known, along with me, is that every godchild in Chris’s family is left fifty thousand pounds in the godparent’s will. He explained that it’s Cheshire family policy, mainly to assist in tax avoidance. His father actively encourages Chris a
nd his siblings to be godparents.

  “Not that I did it for that,” Chris added.

  He went on to say that he had looked into our lawyer, Gregory Kaplan, and that he is a big charity giver, especially when his clients need to get off drug charges, and all donations are put through Gregory Kaplan Associates. It’s legal, but it makes him look like he runs a highly philanthropic firm.

  “This is good for him because he is planning to run as a Senator next year,” finished Chris, sitting back triumphantly with his vodka.

  “I don’t get it,” I said.

  “Gregory Kaplan will be keen to make sure Rosencrantz’s case is steered toward a sympathetic judge,” said Chris, “when he hears that Rosencrantz is donating seventy-five thousand dollars to a drugs rehab charity.”

  “Seventy-five thousand dollars!”

  “Yes,” said Chris. “We tell Gregory that if he doesn’t get the hearing scheduled a.s.a.p, well, some other lawyer gets the case… And the donation.”

  He looked at my face.

  “Coco, this money goes to Rosencrantz, whatever. Instead of waiting until I die, why not put it to use now? If he gets sent to jail, it could destroy his life.”

  It didn’t take me long to agree. Chris picked up the phone and dialled Gregory Kaplan Associates. Within seconds, Gregory was on the phone and within seconds, he was gone.

  “What did he say?”

  “He said he’ll ‘make it happen’.”

  We had barely topped up our quivering vodkas when Gregory rang back. He had scheduled a hearing for nine on Monday morning.

  We spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday relaxing, as much as we could. The Chateau Marmont is very low key, old Hollywood/film noir. Lots of leather armchairs, wooden floors, and ceiling fans. We lay by the pool, drank cocktails, and ate some truly delicious food, but none of us slept soundly and it all went by with a feeling of dread. The court case could have technically gone either way.

 
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