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Family (Part XXVIII)

By Pete Moss

(Click here for Part XXVII)

But then we have to prep for the big dinner party.

Fuckin dinner parties. Makes my job hard. These weirdos comin over to the house.

I have to drive down to Ventura Boulevard, I have to drive down to Hollywood. There's a delivery of another cooler.

Then all the chopping and slicing and dicing and mixing and stirring and frying and boiling, not to mention dressing and setting the table.

And Lolita is all keyed up.

For some bogus aristocrat.

No wonder those fuckers all got their heads chopped off.

If he was a regular American we could just throw some beers on ice and fire up the grill and tune the widescreen to a ballgame.

Lolita even has streamers and bunting. She's really done her home work. She's got a reproduction of the Habsburg family crest to hang, and a welcome sign in Austrian.

I call Uncle Gigi.

"You have to hear about this Franz Ferdinand..."

"Yes, I have been informed. Lorelei was doing extensive searches. Also, my operatives in LA checked him out after her searches raised flags."

"So what do we do to get rid of this creep?"

"Get rid of? We do nothing of kind!"

"Huh?"

"He is real thing. Both families in Japan and Ukraine would be most delighted if Lorelei should make such a match."

"He's the real thing? You're kidding!"

"Am not kidding at all. You will do everything to welcome his highness."

I hang up.

Alright, I'm still getting a grand a week plus Kaisaer health plan. This stupid fucking dinner party will go on.

I throw myself into the preparations. But something is nagging. What is it?

The smell of smoke, and not from the pan seared garlic and brains.

No time to think about that, the smell of wood smoke. There's no fire in the fireplace. It's July in LA, 98 degrees. No one in their right mind is gonna have a fire in the fireplace, but still I know I smell woodsmoke.

Franz Ferdinand arrives. Again, no car in evidence.

The courtship rituals are almost fascinating, for their putridity. Fucking aristocrats.

Franz is seated. I'm seated. Lolita is seated, after instructing the flunkies on the order in which to serve the courses.

And right before we start, there's a loud knock on the door. Sounds like cops, that kind of forceful banging.

I look at Lolita. She looks bewildered, whoever it is, she didn't invite them.

I get up and get to the door.

It is cops. Those 2 LAPD 'tecs.

"C'mon in," I say. "We were just sitting down to dinner."

The two cops look at each other.

"Smells good," says the one.

"We just have a few questions." says the other.

"Well, can we talk over dinner? Lolita worked really hard on this."

The two cops look at each other. They shrug.

"Might as well," says the tall one.

So down we go into the dining room.

The smell of smoke is stronger now.

I make introductions, but Lolita isn't at the table. She pops back into the room.

Franz Ferdinand wants to say grace.

Now, not only am I smelling smoke, but I'm seeing it. And I'm pretty sure I hear a helicopter.

Not that helicopters are unusual in the skies of LA. Just not so much over Laurel Canyon. More down in the flats.

As soon as he's done saying grace Lolita starts to dish out the food.

"So you're LAPD Homicide Detectives?" says Franz. "That must be utterly fascinating work.

But now I'm definitly hearing a chopper. And the chopper is broadcasting some announcement and there's definitly wisps of smoke trickling into the room.

The chopper and it's blasting message become hard to ignore. Then all at once we hear what the announcement is. It's an evacuation order.

And all of a sudden there's a shitload of sirens. Then we here the rush of a really big fire. A whooshing noise. And heat and much more smoke.

We look around at each other.

"Holy shit!!! the Canyon is on fire," I say.

And we all jump up and dash out of the room, up the stairs and out of the house.

Thick tendrils of smoke are drifiting across the dirt road. A fire truck comes barrelling through, confusion reigns, full on chaos. The two detectives run for their car, talking on their handhelds. They hop in and peel out.

The smoke is getting thicker by the second. I'm grabbed by a guy in a fire suit and thrown into a truck, with Franz Ferdinand, but not Lolita or the flunkies. We've gotten separated.

The truck races down the dirt road, down another twisty road, out onto Laurel Canyon. There's a steady stream of other vehicles evacuating.

We crawl on down to Hollywood as choppers move in, dropping clouds of orange fire retardant. Fire trucks are spraying the sides of the road. Bullhorns are blaring, sirens are blasting. Horns are honking, people are screaming and yelling.

We make it down to Hollywood.

The drop us off at Hollywood High. There's a Red Cross station being set up in the gym, which is rapidly filling with refugees.

Nothing to do but sit around and wait.

"So you really are a Habsburg," I say to Franz, just to say something.

"Yes, I am."

"My condolences."

Franz doesn't appreciate my comment.

(Click here for Part IXXX )


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