Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Great Times," Chapter 27

Copyright 2006, Terry F. Phillips Sr.
All rights reserved.

Chapter 27

When the train arrived in Los Angeles, the three couldn’t help but feel better about life in general. They had all wanted to visit California and couldn’t believe their good fortune - especially since the station was picking up the tab.
As soon as they checked into their hotel, they made plans to achieve two ends - to find Eddie Adams and to get in touch with Howard’s friends in the film and TV industries.
The priorities of Connie and Howard were reversed. Connie thought the business end of things was secondary at this time and Howard thought business was primary. Ted was torn between the two, for he realized he was becoming quite fond of Connie by this time. He was also quite fond of his salary.
“Connie, I know you want to find Eddie,” Howard said. “And tomorrow I plan to make some preliminary contacts with my people out here.
“So, why don’t you and Ted work on finding Eddie? Then tomorrow night, we will see how each of us is progressing.”
“Do you mean it, Mr. Howard? Gee, that’s swell! What a guy!”
“Do you know where to look? Let me give you a list of people to contact. If Eddie is out here, he is probably trying to find work. Let’s make a list of the clubs Eddie might be interested in trying first and we will see if he has contacted any of them.”
“Gee, you’re quite the detective, aren’t you, Mr. Howard?” Connie teased.
Using a telephone book in Mr. Howard’s room, the three made a list of clubs to start searching.
Howard said he planned to get some sleep and bid them a good night.
Ted and Connie took the hint and left his room.
“Are you tired?” Ted asked.
“Not a bit,” she responded. “I’m too wound up. Besides, I would like to see some of the Hollywood night life.”
“That might be pretty expensive,” Ted said, thoughtfully. “Tell you what. We will check out some of these places tonight and see how far we can go on the money we have.”
“All right!” she said. “Let me change. I’ll be ready in half an hour.”
And hour and a half later, the couple hit the front door of the hotel and headed toward the famous Hollywood night life.
“Should we take a cab?” Ted asked.
“Oh, no!” Connie replied. “I just want to smell the fresh air, the ocean and look at the palm trees. Besides, if we pay for a taxi, we’ll have that much less to spend painting the town!”
She shot Ted a dazzling smile and laughed, “Let’s go!”
In the space of a the next few hours, the couple, for that is what they felt they were becoming, stopped at Dave Chasen’s, The Brown Derby and all the hot spots.
While their celebration was limited to a few drinks, they did gain valuable information.
Eddie had been in to see the managers about a job, but they couldn’t use him. So, he probably began hitting some of the less popular clubs.
Ted and Connie were given a list of places that might hire someone just in from the East.
Soon, their path took them away from the bright lights of Los Angeles’ more glamorous spots and into the back streets, the not so nice - or safe - areas of town.
Finally, at the Pink Pussycat, they struck gold.
Eddie’s picture was on a portable sign in front of the club and his next show wasn’t scheduled for three hours.
“Come on,” Ted said, taking Connie’s arm. “We’re going to surprise him.”
Inside the dimly lit supper club, Ted found a waiter.
“Hey, pal,” he said, waving a $5 bill. “My friend here wants to meet your headliner.”
“You mean Eddie?” the waiter asked, grabbing the bill. “Sure, buddy. See that hallway to the left of the stage? Eddie’s room is the third one on the right. You can’t miss it.”
Ted and Connie didn’t miss it.
They knocked and heard Eddie’s familiar, high pitched lisp, “Who isss it?”
Without speaking, Ted tried the knob. The door was unlocked and the two entered.
“Hello, Eddie,” Connie said. “Surprised to see us?”
“Well, for goodness --,” he cried, jumping up from his dressing table. “What are you doing here? Come on and sit down. Tell me about Chicago!”
“That’s why we’re here, Eddie,” Connie said. “Mrs. Davis is terribly worried about you - leaving the way you did.”
“How is she?” he asked.
“She is fine, but you have really surprised people, taking off the way you did.”
“Mr. Howard, especially,” Ted added. “He had big plans for you.”
At that, Eddie shifted uncomfortably.
“Yes, I had big plans, too.”
“We know you stopped in New Mexico and worked at that ranch,” Connie said. “I saw you get at the train station.”
Eddie looked at her startled.
“What about the ranch?” he demanded, his friendly tone changed into a hostile one. “What do you know about what happened there?”
His change in demeanor aroused Ted’s curiosity.
“We know enough, Eddie,” he said. “Why are you so upset?”
“You heard about the crash? About the deaths? It was terrible, wasn’t it?” he asked. “So, are you two part of us?”
Connie began to question Eddie’s statement, but Ted put a hand on her arm as a warning.
“Sure,” Ted said. “We’re with you, Eddie.”
Eddie looked at them circumspectly, not knowing if he should believe Ted or not. Still, Ted had showed up at WXBR right on schedule, to take Eddie’s place when Eddie made the rendezvous.
Still, he couldn’t be too careful.
Eddie sneezed and excused himself. Reaching into a drawer in his dressing table, he pulled out an atomizer.
“Please excuse me,” he said. “I have to keep my voice in tip top shape, you know.”
But instead of spraying the atomizer in his mouth, he pointed it at his two guests and squeezed.
Suddenly, Ted and Connie’s world shrunk to just one thing - the mist of the atomizer and the little room in which they were sitting.
Nothing else existed. There were only three people in their world - the two of them and Eddie Adams who was talking, but not making a lot of sense.
“You just don’t remember,” he was saying when Ted fought for consciousness and came up with enough to hear what their host was saying. “When we get you back, you’ll remember it all again,” Eddie continued. “I’m so glad to find someone. I just knew I couldn’t be the only one here and now. Now we can all go back together.”
With that, he continued squeezing the atomizer bulb, so the whole room seemed to be filled with the scent of cinnamon, Ted thought.
Then, all went dark.