Maybe an hour later Bart shook out his hands and said good night.
I got up to leave, too, but Remo said a little awkwardly “Wait one more second” so I told Bart I’d be along. We were all three wearing jocular smiles but Remo’s eyes went somewhat serious. Bart, never blind to those sorts of things, waved goodbye with a little twitch of his eyebrow in my direction.
I sat back down on the bed, the Takamine in my lap. “Something on your mind?”
Remo put ice into two glasses and poured cold water from the bucket into them. “I wanted to ask you about something before Digger came around.” He put one glass down on the bed table for me and held the other one in his hand. It gave him something to look into when he wasn’t looking at me.
“I haven’t told him yet, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
He laughed. He looked into the glass of ice water and laughed. “Wow. No, that wasn’t what I was going to ask. But put that thought on hold for a moment, okay?” He sat back and sipped. “No, what I was going to ask was how much you knew about Digger’s business.”
“Why do I smell trouble.”
“Not all that much, I must admit. Some kind of accounting, isn’t it?” I thought for a moment. “At a multimedia agency called WTA. I haven’t really asked him about it–it’d just give him another shot at telling me I’m stupid.”
He pointed his chin at me in that therein-lies-a-tale way. “Yeah, he’s in the accounting department. You know who WTA is?”
“I don’t know what it stands for. But I couldn’t tell you what RCA stands for either.”
“But you know the gist. They represent movie stars, supermodels, retired athletes turned TV personalities, et cetera.”
“Yeah, okay. I figured it was something like that. Like William Morris, right?” I hadn’t realized quite how showbiz connected it was, though I should have guessed from Mills’ enthusiasm about it back when. “Is there something wrong with this Agency?”
“Not per se. The thing to remember is that Digger’s not an agent there. He’s an accountant. He’s not like a big deal-maker or what have you. He’s the guy who makes sure they get paid when they’re supposed to, and then pays out to people what they owe.”
“Yeah, okay, accounting.”
“But think about your old man for a moment.” He pointed at me with the finger of the hand holding the glass, ice cubes tinkling.
“Always looking to move up. Always wanting to be where the action is.”
“You got it. But there’s no way he’s going to move from accountant to agent within an agency like that. So he’s got to go out on his own.”
“Like he did with us. Managing us on the side.” I put the guitar aside and sat forward. “Where’s this all going, Remo.”
He waved with his free hand and drank down a goodly gulp of water. “I think its going to create a certain amount of bad blood with certain people. I think he’s using you as an example of the kind of fame he can create as an agent/manager. And, I think he’s using your money to finance the plan.”
“He did ask me about buying in.”
“And how much did you give him?”
Remo looked worried. “I wouldn’t be saying all this if I didn’t think there was a reason to worry.”
“And that is?”
“I don’t think the gamble is going to pay off.”
“How can you be sure?”
“I can’t. But he’s been known to mishandle money, you know. The word gamble is a little too apt sometimes. Digger wants to live the high life.”
I decided to start sipping water myself and picked up the sweating glass. The water was cold in my throat and I coughed. Smooth. “He does seem to be doing alright by us.”
“That’s true. Maybe I’m short-changing him a little. But he should still have told you if he’s using your money.”
“Do you know that for sure?”
“Well, what’s he said?”
I thought about it. “He told me today that some model, Galanga Gorman or something, is going to sign on. And he said he wanted to set up an L.A. office.”
“He already did.”
“What do you mean?” I emptied the glass and put it down.
“He rented out an office suite in the same building where Nomad’s back offices are.”
“Yeah, he called maybe a month ago to ask me if I knew any place, and as it turned out the whole fourth floor of our building was vacant, so there you go.”
“A month ago?”
“He’s got a secretary in there and everything.”
“I don’t suppose there’s any way I can find out if he actually started spending the band’s money without asking him directly, is there.” I pushed my hair out of my eyes.
We both sat back with an almost audible hmm. Remo put his glass down on the table with a clunk. His voice got even more serious. “I don’t want to bring up a lot of old shit, but you know, I’ve still never told you the whole story of why we left Jersey.”
“You said you had to move the band to L.A. for business.”
“Call me a coward, but we moved partly to separate ourselves from your dad. You know he had been calling Artie without telling me, as if he were our manager? He got one of our advance checks cut to him.”
“What!” My mouth was hanging open in shock.
“Yeah. He paid it back, but I was never sure exactly what was going on. I really don’t know, to this day, how much of it was a miscommunication between me and him, like, if I’d let him think he had more to do with us than he actually did. I mean, yeah, I let him help out sometimes, but he offered, you know? I thought he was doing it as a friend, making calls, or agreeing to take calls during the day for me when I couldn’t be available because I was working. Whatever. I don’t know if he needed that money for something like a gambling debt and he got lucky enough to clear it and pay us back. Or if he really thought he was within his rights to start managing our money or what.”
Remo was nodding. “I should have told you all this before, but, once you got the deal going with him, I didn’t want to make waves.”
I swallowed hard. “He did actually do everything we asked. Thus far. And our relationship with BNC’s been much better. I mean, he really pulled us out of a hole there, when it looked like Mills was going to bury us…”
Remo shook his head. “That’s the whole thing with managers–you want someone you can trust, but that nobody else can.” He yawned then. “He’s a good dealmaker, I have to give him that. Just don’t let him get too crazy with the money, that’s all.”
“Thanks.” I stood and stretched, remembering suddenly that I still had not showered. “I better get out of here.”
But as I was walking toward the door I thought of one more thing. “Hey, Reem’, how did you know about him wanting to break off from WTA in the first place?”
Remo shrugged and yawned. “He asked me if I’d sign up as one of his clients.”
“And wha’d you tell him?”
Remo shrugged. “I put him off. See what he says. I’ll have to tell him ‘no’ one of these days.”
I nodded. I was only recently developing the ability to do that myself.
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