psychics are fake news.
The numbers don’t lie. The odds are stacked against you. From birth. LOL. Actually, the Powerball has one good outcome: it proves that psychics are fake news, and the TV show Supernatural is ridiculous.
Boldness is a required trait to make it as a peeper for a pulp paper. You need to possess certain acting skills that would preclude you from an otherwise natural tendency to look over your shoulder, and draw suspicion. The best approach is a direct one, projecting that you belong where you do not. For this job, those in awe of celebrity and wealth need not apply. Let them be the readers rather than the writers of half truths, innuendoes, and postulations about whether some privileged headcase ‘hotsie totsie’ is doing their kid’s nanny, downing Ecstasy pills like dinner mints, or dying of some rare tropical disease. For my part, I no longer had time to be in awe of anyone. And anyway, I knew the rich and famous didn’t get that way by magic. Entry into their class has certain requirements, too. Besides winning the gene pool lottery with well-connected parents, these required traits include unbounded ambition, a lack of inhibition, a young and trim physique, a first-name grasp of the “in” and “it” crowd, acting ability during interviews and required awards shows, street smarts, a trust fund, an ego-driven myopia, and luck. Or any three of the above.
—I am feeling giddy, if not lucky, as I hoof imperiously past the little sign Guests Only Beyond This Point. Neglecting to wave at the security camera, I just give it my best George Clooney smile. . . this, while my lopsided but self confident demeanor suggests Chris Tucker in a Rush Hour sequel.
—Needing a prop to make it through the pool area and into the elevator, I purchase a ten dollar raspberry daiquiri at the bar, discard the straw, down half of it immediately, and set off past the buffet where chefs in ridiculous hats serve prime rib and roast rack of lamb to unsmiling people in Gucci loafers and sandals. I draw a few stares from men with pony tails, but I decide that each of them is no one important, this season. To wit, no one on the hotel security staff. This gives my smile just the snooty edge it needs.
—As I stroll nonchalantly past the pool area, I draw a complimentary embossed towel from a stack of them, then drape it across my shoulder, and continue on. When I detect other eyes focused upon me, I wave at someone at the other end of the figure-eight shaped Olympic sized pool, over where the swim-up bar is. The old fart must know another pudgy Nolte lookalike, or maybe he needs cataract surgery, because he waves back.
—The elevator is next, just past the Grecian fountain where a scantily clad and muscular youth made of marble attempts to drain his endless urn–or maybe his bladder–by holding it tilted from his waist. Alone inside the cool metal cubicle at last, I then hesitate pushing the button marked PENTHOUSE because of the camera monitor in the corner, which gazes at me like the red eye of a Hal 9000. Or rather a Sal 5000.
What to do?
—Bravely, I sneeze and punch the button anyway, going for distraction in the hope that my doubling over gives me the benefit of a mistake. Unfortunately, nothing happens. The button is depressed, but the elevator does not move. Have they disabled it somehow, and are they now moving in to bounce me like a lush who’s just touched a table dancer’s tit?
I try depressing the button just below PENTHOUSE. Thankfully, there is an engagement, and the elevator finally starts to rise. On my way up I then begin to wonder if the saying about its being lonely at the top is true, or if whoever wrote the saying is now either working for Vanity Fair or for “The Donald” in that gaudy mirror maze known as the Trump Tower penthouse.
—Floor twelve is the end of the line. For me, anyway. There is no floor thirteen, and no way to go higher without Charlize Theron or Salma Hayek on my arm. So I get out. The elevator indicator in the hallway has a down arrow only, and I suspect that the purpose for the keypad I glimpse above the main control panel is to enter a code, which can be changed each time a new guest rents the paradise above.
—Briefly I peek into the stairwell, and indeed see a chain that blocks the way up, with another security camera guarding what is surely a locked door up there. I speculate how long I might have to wait in the twelfth floor hallway before hearing the elevator go higher in response to a call, at which point I might push my own call button as well, and join Howard–if it is really Howard–going down. The figure that comes to me is six hours minimum, until nightfall. Or possibly seventy-two hours plus six until Howard goes stir crazy again. Meanwhile, I have maybe ten minutes before security comes for me, probably in response to a hotel guest’s sighting a deranged killer in the hallway through their door’s peephole. All of which presupposes, of course, that whoever is monitoring the video displays has, in fact, gone to take a piss while I fondle the elevator controls. No doubt if I now break into some room in search of a way to climb verandahs on the outside of the building, they will put me in a straight jacket instead of handcuffs.
—And so it appears not to be my lucky day, once again.
Or so I imagine.
—What happens next is beyond luck. Meaning it could only be fate. It happens like this: I had decided to try asking for Howard at the front desk. The direct approach. If the response was “Howard?” it would tell me one thing. If it was “we can’t give out information about our guests” it would tell me another. Maybe then I could decide if I was wasting my time, and also whether I should waste Sal’s money on filet mignon and Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1958. So I call for the elevator. I enter. As the door slides closed, just for fun, I punch some digits into the keypad, and depress PENTHOUSE.
—Then the elevator begins to move. . .Up.
—I suck in a breath and hold it. Then I laugh despite myself, because the numbers I have just punched are 1, 5, 1, 2, 3, and 7. The first three numbers of Howard’s now infamous winning lotto are 15, 12, and 37.
—I cover my mouth with one hand as the door slides open again. Then I step out quickly, and am faced by a heavy wooden door in an alcove portico. The little gold plaque reads PRIVATE. On either side of the door stand two black marble swans. The carpet is white and plush. There is no security camera, and I know why. Because the thing about rich people is that they love their privacy, unless they make their money from the masses, in which case they really love their privacy. Management knows this, and so as long as said god or goddess continues to pay their tab and tip well, they respect any bitchy wishes. I might have wondered why Howard didn’t just move to Palm Beach, that more secure haven for multimillionaires and billionaires, but of course I know the reason for that, too. He would simply never be accepted by the social elite there. During the social season he’d be a running joke, with no pedigree or claim to fame other than having picked the right combination of numbers and coming out top pathetic numbnuts. Aristocratic and sophisticated heirs to fortunes from oil and real estate and haute couture were loathe to add anyone to their party lists not already considered “in” by right of birth or conquest. It’s a town where plastic surgeons are thought of as ‘hired help,’ and where the best lawyers are required to do pro boner work. Even Sean Combs was once thrown out of a club after having wandered over from Trump’s Maralago estate, while rich has-been musicians are regularly rebuffed by local cocktail waitresses who have better prospects. How would they treat Howard, those Beluga caviar eggheads whose guest houses made Town and Country? While he might never be hounded by the paparazzi there–because the Palm Beach police stop anyone who doesn’t belong–he’d never get a membership in the Palm Beach Country Club as a Jew, either. Even at triple the $150,000 fee. Unless he was a headliner Vegas comic. No. In all likelihood, he wouldn’t even be sold a house, and would end up at The Breakers hotel after bribing every member on staff with a new Rolex. Not worth the aggravation.
—So here I am, standing outside the Doral resort’s penthouse, wondering if all this is worth the aggravation. But then I think what the hell. It’s not like I have another hot prospect, or even a luke warm one.
—I step to the door, stretch out one fist, and pound.
—There is a click, and then, without needing to be unlocked, the door suddenly whispers open. . .
—I must have staggered in, because I next find myself standing alone on a white marble foyer floor, looking up at a high sculptured ceiling where a crystal chandelier hangs over a Louis Philippe trundle day bed in the living room. The Steinway baby grand piano beside it gleams with an obsidian gloss under the multifaceted light.
—“Hello?” I call, and get no answer.
—For a moment I half expect some vacationing socialite to appear–perhaps Rene Wyatt in a Bill Blass gown with a Craig Drake diamond choker and a Cartier watch. And she would no doubt ask me if I’d like to join her for Kirsch flavored vanilla cream and pan fried apricots, prepared by her personal pastry chef Renoire.
—But when neither Rene nor Michael Dell, (much less Oprah Winfrey), appear to tell me about dinner with Oscar de la Renta at Kensington Roof Garden, I begin to feel the knot in my stomach tighten like the invisible noose around my neck.
“Hello!” I call again, even louder. “Mister Rosen?”
—With suicidal recklessness, I step toward the bedroom, past an elaborate black marble and glass bar bearing several ornate lead crystal rocks glasses. One of the glasses is a quarter full of diluted whiskey, amid which floats the remnants (just a half moon sliver, really) of an ice cube.
—I knock on the bedroom door. “Howard?”
—Still no answer. I step to one side before turning the doorknob, in case a gun is trained on the opening. I turn the knob, and push the door wide. There is utter silence, unless you count the rough thud of my heart every half second.
I peek quickly, like an infantryman does when he scouts for a sniper. Then I bring in my flank.
—The room is clear of hazards, except for a man’s Bertolucci watch on the teak dresser. It’s a hazard because any moment the police will be here to arrest me for breaking its restraining order.
—“It’s just me–hotel security,” I say aloud to anyone who might be hidden in the walk-in closet, one hand over the mouth of a Kerry Blue Terrier named Filbert or Fifi.
—Nothing. I move to the closet’s accordion doors, past the canopied king size bed with its mussed red silk sheets. An original oil painting near the closet portrays a Hinckley yacht docked in Martha’s Vineyard. I imagine Martha Stewart in the closet, now, clutching a sharp cleaver.
—“Oh, shit,” I say, at last, and then simply throw the doors wide to see. Just as I do, though, (to find no Cesare Paciotti boots, no women’s clothes at all, but rather a man’s), I hear the entry door in the other room slam shut. This is followed by the distinctive sound of a deadbolt being thrown.
—Do you really think me that deadbolt dumb? Sal had asked me. It’s a question I now ask myself as I tiptoe back into the living room to find a short, middle-aged man with platinum blond hair turning to face me with a bag of ice. I focus on his face as all four of our eyes widen in shock–his with terror, mine with vague recognition.
—“I’m. . . here to fix the ice machine,” I manage to say.
(from THE INSTANT CELEBRITY)