422. Karma Chameleon

The next day I drove Chris to meet Lacey at her mom’s house in Beverly Hills.

We got lost twice on the way there because neither of us knew our way around there and the roads are curvy and confusing, and at least once on the way I told Chris I felt like we were back in the days of driving lessons. Except this time neither of us knew where we were going.

We pulled up at the place about forty five minutes late. Chris had been there before, but he’d never driven himself there so I would have cut him some slack, especially since going on Lacey’s directions wasn’t the most straightforward thing ever. But Lacey tore him a new one right out there on the front patio.

I had planned to stay there in the car until I heard for sure whether he was staying with her or giving a goodbye speech and leaving. I had figured they would do their talking in the house while I waited out here.

No such luck. With her lighting into him right on the front stoop, amid the artfully sculpted topiary bushes, I got to hear the whole thing.

I was trying not to listen. But that was impossible since she started out at the top of her lungs. “Where the hell have you been?”

Christian tried to be real soft and contrite. “Driving around trying to find this place. Lacey, I’m sorry.”

“You bet you’re sorry. Sorry excuse for a man.”

“Excuse me? Look, if all you want to do is dish out verbal abuse–”

“I can’t believe you left me alone there last night! Do you know what could’ve happened to me? I had to take a cab here!”

“If you want me to pay for the cab–”

“No I don’t want you to pay for the fucking cab! I make ten times what you make, fuck face, and don’t you forget it! I had to spend the night here all alone! My mother’s in Cancun!” Now she sounded on the verge of tears.

“Hey, I’m sorry, but I told you, I can’t be around drugs. I can’t be around you when you’re on drugs–”

“Because you’re a wimp and a loser! I know the real reason you want to get off coke, because you can’t afford it.”



“Lacey! We got off coke because you almost died from it.”

“No, I didn’t. I turned out fine. My only mistake was picking you, you fuck faced loser. What the hell was I thinking? The drummer! Who the hell dates a drummer?” Suddenly she was banging on the window of the passenger door. “This is your fault! It’s always supposed to be a lead singer or a guitar player, but you’re both gay.” She repeated it like a five-year old, in a petulant, nasal sing-song. “Gay gay gay!”

I think Chris would have gotten back in the car then, except now she was between him and the passenger door. “Lacey–”

“They’re going to turn you gay, too. You watch. You’ve already got no balls. Next thing you know, you’ll be putting on a dress and lipstick. Loser. Loser loser loser.”

I started the engine and that spooked her away from the door. If Chris had been my size, I would’ve seriously considered rolling down the back windows and gesturing for him to dive into the back seat and just peel out of there. But Chris was too big for that.

Her rant from there broke down into more name-calling and once she started stomping around, he made a quick dash for the car, slammed the door behind himself and I wasted no time in speeding out of that circular driveway. She chased after us, screaming, “Noooo! Don’t leave me alone here! Noooo!”

I waited until we got out of sight of the house. “Should we go back?”

“No way, man,” he said.

“Should we call the police?”

“On ourselves?”

“No. To tell them she’s distraught about being left alone.”

“And have them bust her for being high as a kite? I’m not feeling that great about her right now, Daron, but that doesn’t mean I think we should get her busted.”

“Ah. Sorry, it hadn’t occurred to me.” I pulled us onto a busier road.

“You remember how I turned into a paranoid jerkoff who didn’t even seem all that much like me when I was using?”

“Yeah. I get it. That’s not the real Lacey.”

“Except if she’s going to insist on doing drugs, that is the real Lacey. That’s the Lacey she chooses to be.” He made a hand gesture like he was flicking something away with both hands. “Well, she made it easy to dump her, I guess, given that it sounded a lot more like she was dumping me, didn’t it?”

“Jeez, man. She… jeez.” I didn’t know what to say.

“Fuck. I can’t believe she stooped so low.”

“I know. It’s like she hit you below the belt with everything she could think of.”

“And where does she get off? Okay, money, big fucking deal, if she wants a guy with a wallet larger than hers she’s narrowing her dating choices drastically, but come on. All the stuff about you and Ziggy? Like she’d have left me in a heartbeat for one of you guys if you hadn’t been doing each other?”

“She was just making digs at everybody. And what’s wrong with drummers? Heather Locklear married Tommy Lee, didn’t she? And Barbara Bach married Ringo.”

“Okay, but maybe being a Beatle trumped being a drummer.”

“Are you saying you agree with her?” My head spun a little.

“No. No no,” he was saying, but I could tell the whole thing had been a massive blow to his confidence.

“Okay, so, I’m going to make a suggestion now and you should totally shoot it down if you think it would be a bad thing mentally or rehab-wise or whatever. But I could really use a drink.”

He exhaled heavily. “Yeah, me too.”

“Is it too much of a crutch?”

“I don’t know.”

“If it were nighttime I’d take you to a bar with incredibly loud live music. But something tells me if I take you record shopping or something all you’ll do is brood and hear her voice in your head over and over. At least a strong drink will shut that right up.”

“Yeah, all right. It’s only, what, two o’clock, though? Where are we going to go?”

“I have an idea.” I had to figure out in my head where I thought the place was, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t too far from where we were.

I was right. I pulled up at the front of the hotel where we had stayed in June, gave Remo’s truck to the valet, and took Chris into the lobby bar.

The place was pretty much deserted. We took seats at the bar. I wondered if there was any chance in hell that the bartender who had been so nice to me when I’d been so freaked out the night of Lacey’s overdose was there. I figured the chance was pretty slim.

Maybe I was lucky then. Crystal came out from the back then and I gave her a big smile and a hug across the bar like we were old friends, which surprised me because I honestly hadn’t been sure she’d even remember me.

“So this is my friend Christian,” I said, introducing them, “and my drummer, though I don’t think you met last time we were here.”

“Nope, didn’t have the pleasure,” Chris said.

“Chris just got dumped by his girlfriend in no uncertain terms,” I added.

Crystal made a frowny face. “Not the same girlfriend who had the problem at the party?”

Chris looked a little red-faced at that. “Uh, yeah, same one.”

“Well, it sounds like maybe you’re better off without her,” Crystal said, “but you know, who am I to judge? I’m just the bartender. What can I get you?”

“Something mind-numbing,” Chris said.

“Mind-numbing because it’ll mule kick you in the teeth with how alcoholic it is, like a martini, or mind-numbing because you’ll suck it down so fast you won’t realize how strong it was until you try to stand up? Like… a margarita.”

Chris thought it over. “I’m trying to be really mindful of what I put into me, you know? So something where it doesn’t hide it. I’ve never been much of a martini drinker, though.”

“Well, I want a View Car A,” I said.

“Vieux Carré,” she corrected with a bit of a laugh.

“Yeah, that. Sorry, never learned French. Chris, you want to try it? This is the drink that convinced me I actually like mixed drinks.”

“Okay, sure.” He watched her mix it and then took a sip of mine. “Huh, kinda good. Not sure about the cherry, though.”

She mulled it over. “How about absinthe?”

“You have absinthe?”

“Well, I have Pernod. I wasn’t meaning as a straight up drink. I’m thinking you might like a Sazerac, though. It’s a lot like what he’s drinking, only no cherry, and the glass gets a Pernod rinse.”

“Sure, what the hell.”

She mixed him something that looked and smelled a lot like what I had, only with a twist of lemon peel. We clinked glasses.

Eventually we ordered some food, too, and after our second drink I borrowed the phone and told Jonathan where we were and that we’d be there a while.

I don’t actually remember a lot of what she and Chris talked about. I drank too much for that. But I do remember she really made him feel at ease, and flirted a little, which made him feel like less of a loser, I think. She’d had a lot of friends go through AA or Narcotics Anonymous and sympathized with both his rehab and the fact that his old friends had gone so far into “God Squad”-land that he couldn’t even be around them either.

At one point when Chris went off to the men’s room, though, she asked me how I was doing.

“I’m actually living here, in West Hollywood,” I told her. “At least, for a little while.”

“You don’t sound too sure about that.” She was shaking my next cocktail and had to step back from the bar for a moment to shake it vigorously. Then she stepped close again to pour it. “You don’t like it here?”

“Well, I’m living with a friend who got a gig that’s supposed to last six months, and I said okay, I’ll move in with you, and gee, when I say it like that it all does sound kind of sketchy, doesn’t it?”

“Does it?”

“You’re right. I don’t really like it here. But there’s work for me as a session player here, so that’s good?”

“True. But you really sound to me like you don’t want to be here.”

“LA’s nice to visit…?” I tried.

“You’re a sweetheart. I’m not offended if you don’t like my town.”

Chris came back then. “You badmouthing LA?”

“Maybe,” I said. “So here’s a question. When are you going to go back?”

“To Boston? I was supposed to be here until Friday. I guess I have to see if I should change my ticket or what.”

“Or what,” I said. “Let’s stay at Remo’s in the canyon until then. Another friend of ours,” I explained to Crystal.

“Oh, I know who you mean,” she said. “If you see him, tell him I said hello.”

At that point Jonathan came in, and we moved to a table with fresh drinks so we could tell him the whole saga of Lacey’s Jekyll and Hyde act, and he ordered dinner, and eventually we were full and ready to go home, and I wasn’t in any shape to drive. So Chris drove me back to Remo’s while J. said he was going to stop at home to get clean clothes for tomorrow.

At the house we sat with our feet in the pool, and eventually Chris took the rest of his clothes off and dove in. “What’s the point of staying at a house with a pool if you don’t swim in the pool?” he asked.

“You know, that’s what I say every time I bother to get in,” I said, swishing my feet back and forth.

“Hey,” he said, from the deep end, where he was treading water, his hair floating around his shoulders like dark seaweed. “I want you to know, what Lacey said? I was really not okay with.”

“She sure was spouting a load of crap.”

“No no, I mean specifically the stuff about you and Ziggy. Honestly. Where does she get off saying something like that? Like all men are nothing but potential dates for her? I knew she lived in a world of self-delusion but that takes the cake.” He shrugged. “I’m over being fucked up about you being gay, I guess. Her saying that too you made me madder than anything she said to me directly.”

“She’s crazy.”

“She is. Really. It’s like we never had a relationship. It’s like she was going through the motions because she wanted to have a rock star boyfriend and that was it. What I don’t get, though, is that she spent all that time in Allston, decorating the house, and going to my rehab with me, and all that, way beyond what you’d expect from somebody just dating you for the fame.”

“Well, but it’s like you said, the drugs undermine it all. They warp the reality around you. That bit about how the reason you got off coke was you couldn’t afford it? It’s like the drug itself makes her think of that shit.”

He nodded. “I know. Crazy shit. But it’s over. I’m not even going to think about her anymore.”

And that was it… for the next couple of days. The morning he was due to leave, she called from a rehab center and begged him to forgive her. She said she had been so high she didn’t even know what she was saying. She said she’d understand if he couldn’t be with her, but she begged for another chance. He told her he’d think about it, and talk with his therapist back in Boston, and call her next week. And then he hung up on her before she could repeat her tearful confession.

As I dropped him off at the airport, I asked, “So, are you going to give her another chance?”

“I don’t know. Maybe if she’ll sit down with me and my therapist, so the therapist can translate for us, and see what comes out of that. Then maybe.”

When I got back to the West Hollywood house, there was a message on the answering machine from Lacey’s manager wanting to confirm the details of the donation I’d be making. And then a second one from Carynne saying that she’d already talked to the donation people and they were working it out. So after all that we were far from done with Lacey Montaigne.

(I admit I had no memory of how much WTF is in this video. 1870 Mississipi? Really? -ctan)


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