By Pete Moss
We take a vote.
Then there's a rapping on the door. Everybody jumps.
We assume our routine defensive positions.
I go to the door and open it and look out. There's only a couple of neighbors strolling away.
I look at the door. There's a notice tacked to it. I take down the notice and go in the house.
"What's this?" says Spela.
"There's a community meeting. Organized by this Govinda dude," I say.
"A community meeting about us?" says YoYo.
"Looks like it," I say. I finish reading the flyer and pass it around.
"An actual paper flyer tacked to the front door. How tacky," sneers Spela.
Dragen studies the flyer intently. "As your attorney I would advise you to attend this meeting," says Dragen.
"It's a trap!!!" says YoYo.
"I don't think so. It's real. We need to respond. We, or rather you," says Dragen, pointing at me, "As the nominal property owner, need to engage the community."
"When's the meeting?" I say.
"Tomorrow. Looks like in the garage of the house two down from here."
I look at Spela. She looks at me. "As your PI I feel compelled to accompany you as security," says Spela.
"It's a trap you stupid white people!!!" says YoYo.
I look at YoYo.
"The paranoid negroís opinion is duly noted," says Spela.
"Can't you two play nice?" I say. "We're supposed to be on the same team here."
"One of these days I'm gonna belt you right in the mouth. POW!!!" says YoYo to Spela.
"Be the last move you ever make," hisses Spela. The two females retreat to separate rooms. Spela to her laptop. YoYo, muttering angrily, cleaning her gun until it absolutely glows.
Yakuza seems unfazed by anything. Calmly pedaling his bicycle powered generator with his earbuds in.
Grigori comes out of the kitchen with his suitcase. "I cook many things, leave in fridge. I check back in maybe 3 days," he says. He opens the front door, looks both ways and walks out.
"How about you Dragen?" I say.
"I'll stick around see how this meeting goes," says Dragen.
"Should we bring guns?" I say.
"I don't advise it," says Dragen.
And so two days slip by and then Spela and I make a quick trip to the meeting site. I don't know what to expect. But there are at least 40 people in the garage milling about. The mood is unmistakably tense & angry. There's also a table with coffee and sweets. Like an AA meeting, oddly enough.
When Spela and I walk in, everybody stops talking and stares at us. Then Govinda gavels the meeting to order. Nobody is drinking the coffee or eating the cookies. Things get acrimonious right quick. The louder faction wants us out of the neighborhood yesterday. Then there's a moderate faction who are willing to give us few weeks to sell the place and ride off.
Spela and I are finally asked what we intend to do. "Stay put," I blurt out.
"Oh no you won't!!!!" screams an obese guy wearing a backwards Harley ballcap.
"Shut up you fat Nazi!!!" yells somebody. Next thing the cookies are flying through the air and tempers are boiling over.
Spela and I beat a quick retreat. "That went well," says Spela.
I'm sitting around with Jonathan and David in the kitchen.
"See the Warriors got to get rid of Bogut. He hurt too much. They need a more durable big man," says David.
Jonathan pulls a pint of scotch out of his pocket and pours shots.
"You think they sign Durant?" says Jonathan. He sips his scotch and savors it. David downs his shot.
"That's not how you drink Scotch," says Jonathan.
"Oh so now you Mr. Scotch connoisseur?" says David.
"Matter of fact I am," says Jonathan. "Anyway the Warriors ain't gonna sign Durant. Not enough room under the salíry cap."
"Well they gotta sign somebody. Ezeli ain't nothing but a stopgap," says David.
"True that," says Jonathan. He takes another sip on Scotch.
"I thought black guys always drank Henny," I say.
David laughs. Jonathan looks at me and cocks an eyebrow.
"Can't stand that Henny. Not when there's good scotch around," says Jonathan.
I take a sip of my Scotch. It tastes like peat moss. I almost spit it out.
"Man, that's Laphroig, you know. That's some the finest shit on the market," says Jonathan.
"I'm not a Scotch drinker," I say.
David and Jonathan look at each other. "Don't tell me you like Henny?" says David.
"I like Rye mostly," I say.
David nods. "Rye is good," he says sagely.
Now Spela comes in the kitchen. She rolls her eyes. "You guys sitting around getting drunk at a time like this?"
"We ain't drunk. At least we ain't fighting with our man here like you and YoYo," says David.
"Anyway, I think I found something we can use to get historical status for this house," says Spela. She pulls up a chair and plops the laptop on the table. "This place was the boyhood home of Lonnie Pilkinton."
"Who?" I say.
"He was a founding member of the Screaming Grapes, later he worked for years as a session musician at Different Fur. And he was also a original member of the Oakland Chapter of the Hells Angels."
"That's it?" I say. "Who the hell are the Screaming Grapes?"
"Hey there's an actual Lonnie Pilkinton†Day set aside by the Oakland city council," says Spela. "The Screaming Grapes had a couple of regional hits back in 1973."
David and Jonathan and I all look at each other. Pedro comes into the room and sits by his food dish. I get up and shovel some food out for him. Pedro waits patiently and then eats with poise and restraint.
"I dunno," says David.
"What else we got?" says Jonathan. "What'd this Pilkinton dude play"
"Bass guitar," says Spela.