By Paul McGuire © 2010
I slammed the iPhone so hard on the counter that I thought it shattered into a thousand different pieces. I closed my eyes for a second before I glanced at the phone. No cracks. Still in one piece. Those Apple geeks are wizards at space age technology.
It really didn't matter if the iPhone broke. I was about to ditch the hipster-gizmo out of sheer paranoia. My cousin Jake from Idaho sent me a YouTube video from one of those crazy conspiracy talk radio shows where they said that Big Brother can track you (and more importantly... local law enforcement entities) through your mobile devices. It's futile to turn off the phone because you also remove the battery to avoid detection. But the most troubling part is that iPhones don't have batteries to remove. It's all one piece of equipment, which means that Big Brother can and will always track you.
I walked into our kitchen and inspected the sparse supplies. Clif Bars and Diet Coke. Bulk items. Hundreds of cans of Diet Coke were stacked in the pantry along with boxes of various Clif Bars. Kaya and I pretty much lived off of those two items as main staples. Heck, five years ago, it would have just been diet coke and pills. Or, Diet coke and coke... and I don't mean the soda. Cocaine.
I'm a wiser addict now and I know that's important to have some sort of energy bar handy because we lose so much track of time during binges that we go days in between meals. The diet coke soothes the stomach. Some days I'm, shitting my brains out (due to the baby laxatives that Igor cuts the blow with) and other days I'm a constipated wreck.
No one had seen Igor in days. I bought about 85% of my product off of him, mainly because he delivered and we didn't have to leave Kaya's mother's house in the Hollywood Hills, just off of Laurel Canyon. Kaya's mother used to be married to one of the Beach Boys. She was the trophy wife... the second or third, possibly even a fourth wife... and secured a house in the Hills as part of the divorce proceedings. The gold digger had since shacked up with a real estate mogul in Maui which meant that Kaya and I had a free place to stay as long as her mother's new relationship held up.
Neither of us worked. In the traditional sense, I should say. Kaya was supposedly going on auditions, but most of the time, she was too whacked out to remember any lines and flubbed more and more auditions that we were both surprised that her commercial agent kept sending her out. Kaya was the quintessential cocaine tragedy, yet somehow, she kept getting callbacks. I told her she needed to book a commercial fast because I was sick of paying for her increasingly expensive habit.
I made my cash the good old fashioned way -- drug dealing to rich college kids at UCLA and USC. That's where my supplier Igor came in. The Russian and I knew each other for over a decade when we both lived in Brooklyn. Back then, Igor hustled stolen goods like TVs and VCRs and car stereos. His cousins were higher-up in the mob who trafficked a significant amount of weight to upstate New York and Virginia. Igor was a part-time runner in a lucrative heroin ring until one of his cousins got pinched. He disappeared. Shit everyone disappeared. I thought he was dead but it turns out he fled to Los Angeles.
Igor and I reconnected after we literally ran into each other at a gas station near Glendale. He gave me his business card. Vronsky Electronics. He and his uncle opened up a store near Pasadena, but that was just a front. They were supposedly importing fugazi electronics from China and Malaysia but they were actually laundering money for the Mexican cartels.
Igor dealt cocaine and his business was flourishing. He moved into a swanky apartment in a high rise in Hollywood. For Christmas, he bought Kaya and I iPhones and insisted that they were not fakes. But the more videos that I watched on YouTube, the more paranoid that I got. What if the phones were being used to track us... but not from Big Brother or the DEA, but what if the Russian mob were tracking us?
Igor was AWOL and out of town. And, I was out of blow. I had a couple of clients from USC who were pestering me all week. Coke fiends can be annoying, especially stuck up douchebags but I understood their predicament... it was just two days away from their fraternity's biggest blowout of the year and they needed the product I promised them in order to get laid. Lots of it. The richie rich frat boys paid top dollar without even blinking twice. After all it's not their money... it's their daddy's money. Those clueless meatheads snorted so much shitty blow that they wouldn't know what to do with pure and uncut Peruvian gold.
No Igor. Which meant I was on the verge of losing a high volume client and my main connection to USC. Plus Kaya was in a particular pissy mood since we were out of our own stash. She resorted to chain smoking American Spirits and popping Valium to ride out shakes as she sat on the couch and watched Twilight on a loop only occasionally snapping out of her foggy haze to ask, "Where the fuck is Igor? Can we please call Roger?"
I had to call the Lymie. We called him Roger (after James Bond aka Roger Moore) even though that wasn't his real name. I think it was Ralph or Alfred or some sort of name with an A and L right next to each other. Roger the Lymie was our back up coke dealer. Well, he wasn't really a dealer. He was just a huge cokehead who we knew always had blow. He would sell me a bit of his personal stash, which wasn't cheap. I would be making about 75% less on this deal, but since I was on the verge of losing the frat boys as a client... I had no choice.
Roger was one of the few British people I had met who had impeccable teeth. He played in punk bands in the UK circa the early 1980s, but his mates were nothing more than Sex Pistols clones, except they were actually better musicians but lacked the drunken edge of Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, et al.
Roger made his living in LA as a sound engineer. He built a studio in his Malibu home and random bands would spend weeks, even months, at his Malibu home mixing together their album in his basement. Roger's digs became a party house and drug den with rockers crashed out in his living room and random coke sluts roaming around naked snorting all of his cocaine, popping all his pills, and blowing random members of the band.
Roger was incoherent when we spoke on the phone. He was crying and mumbling something about breaking up with his wife, which was peculiar because I never knew he was married. He threatened to have her killed and she stormed out while supposedly to call the cops. He abruptly hung up. I tried calling him back, but the fucking Lymie would not answer his phone. I didn't want to walk into a domestic violence call, but had no choice but to gamble and drive to his house in Malibu.
Traffic was light at 3am and I drove with extra vigilance after I noticed two cop cars who pulled over speeders on PCH. I usually get lost on the way to Roger's but that night I found it easily. Maybe because I was the most sober I had been in days, maybe even weeks, yet I was able to kick a splitting migraine. I knocked on the door and all I could think about was eating Excedrin.
A young woman answered the door wearing a jean skirt. Barely 17, maybe 18 at the oldest. She didn't even say a word. I got a good look at her boobs and tattoos as she walked away. I stepped inside and shut the door. Loud music echoed from upstairs. I walked towards the kitchen where Roger usually held court. He was slumped in a chair with a near-empty bottle of gin next to a couple of empty In-N-Out Burger soda cups.
"Fancy a pull?" said Roger as he handed me the bottle.
I was in rush and had no time to deal with heart-broken drunkards. I pulled out a wad of cash. Roger sighed and stood up. I followed him downstairs to his studio. He opened up a suitcase and pulled out a large baggie and squeezed it for ten seconds before he handed it to me.
"$1,700," Roger said.
Huh? I was getting at least $2,000, maybe even more. I was ready to haggle him down to $2,000 when he low balled me.
"Is it bunk or something?"
"Better than that diarrhea-inducing shite the bloody Russian sells you."
"I'm not complaining, but why so cheap?"
"You have to give someone a ride for me."
"I can't I gotta get back to Kaya."
"Piss off, mate! You're going to do it or else."
"You leave here with nothing."
"Awww fuck Roger, why do you gotta do that?"
"Because I can and she's a crazy fucking high school chick that won't fucking leave. I can't have her parents sending the cops up here looking for her. God knows how many STDs she contracted after gangbanging the band and how many statutory rape charges they'll slap me with. Bad enough with the ex-wife fleeing in hysterics. I can't have another head case lingering around the house. You have to drive her home."
"Where is it?"
"Fuck me. I'm not driving from Malibu to the friggin' OC. What if I pay for a cab?"
"There's a novel idea," Roger said.
"Jesus Roger, are you that drunk that you didn't think you could call a cab?"
"Sometimes I forget things with..."
I pulled out my iPhone and began to look up the number of a cab company. Roger pointed a gun at my chest. "What the fuck is that, mate?"
"Ummmm..... my phone."
"Get that fuckin' thing out of my house. Right. Fucking. Now."
Roger shook the gun.
"Not a fan of the iPhone?" I joked trying to diffuse the situation.
"Not a fan of being tracked by the fuckin' coppers. Give it to me. Right now."
"You're fuckin' drunk and paranoid..."
Roger aimed at the ceiling and squeezed the trigger. The loud shot made my ears ring.
"Give me. Now. The fuckin' phone!"
Roger snatched it out of my hand and rushed out of the studio. He found the closest bathroom and tried to flush my iPhone down the toilet. It was too big to go down the drain and he pulled the dripping wet inoperable black slab out of the toilet and walked outside. He proceeded to jump up and down on the phone in his driveway until we both heard it crack. He pointed the gun at my nuts.
"I have a magnificent habit of going a little crazy sometimes. The next time you show up to my home with an iPhone, I will have you killed. Do you understand? That's how they track you. No more bloody iPhones!"
And I thought I was paranoid.
Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.