Jax, I took you to my parents because I was losing control and falling too hard for you. You just cured me of that.
Don’t be like that, Lana. Rolf tells her. Stay out of this, she tells him. I’m going for a run, Rolf says. Don’t leave here without working this out. And he gets up and heads downstairs.
Everything I told your parents was true, Jax says as they stare at each other. And I took you at your word. I didn’t ask Rolf to mesmerize you. I’ve got to use the bathroom, Jax tells her. Bettina and Rolf made a kale smoothie. There might be some left in the fridge. He gets up and disappears.
When Jax comes back, he sees Lana drinking some of the smoothie. This is good, she tells him. It took them like five tries to get it right so her father liked it. A little bit of cinnamon did the trick at the end. Jax and Lana grin. I screwed up; I went for a short cut, Jax admits. Lana sighs. I didn’t want to have a sex talk with you. So I let my parents do it for me. You’re a really smart guy; I knew you’d be able to read between the lines. She pats the seat on the couch next to her, and Jax comes over and puts his arm around her and she snuggles up to him.
Lana, there’s something we need to talk about. Rolf is leaving the band. Before we went into studio, he told us that this is his last album. That he needs to explore the inchoate alone. He’s heading off to drum out in Australia with the Aborigines. I think that’s why he’s not giving Bettina a chance. I’m almost positive that he’ll tour with us – he feeds off all the energy. But Simon thinks he’ll just do the one show to pay his dues. What do you think?
Lana doesn’t say anything. I think he’ll even give me this house if I ask to buy it from him. Maybe we’ll just trade. I want a fresh start, Lana. I do too, Jax. But I want to clear my name before we go down that path. Let me help. You are helping - just by being here.
Who is Deluca? Do you know him? He’s black, not Italian. He told me that he read The Godfather and the Bible in prison, and decided to change his name when he got out. DeLucre is what he had in mind, but with ebonics being what it is, it became Deluca when he got back on the street, and he went with it.
Jax takes his arm off her shoulder and starts to pivot so he can face her. You move and I’m leaving. He sighs and puts his arm back around her. How do you know him? We’ve had a couple of night law school classes together in the last year. Which? Business entities last semester, and Evidence this semester. It was his notes I borrowed when I got back from our Vegas trip. He’s an interesting guy, Jax; you’d like him. He came up from the streets, but he’s not a thug. How did he get into law school? He’s just auditing the classes with the permission of the instructor.
How did you feel about that? I was wary at first, but it soon became obvious that he was there to learn. You knew who he was from the get-go? Lana nods. If you Youtube Tank’s grandmother, the one who the city paid the huge settlement to, he’s the handsome man with the goatee sitting next to her every day at the trial, and escorting her in and out of the courtroom.
I suppose he got his hands on that money, Jax says. You suppose wrong. She gave it all to her church. So at least something good came out of all of it. Her lawyer wanted to take a third, but Deluca convinced him just to bill his hourly. Lana chuckles. I didn’t ask how. He still takes her to church every week.
So what are you going to do? Jax, I’m going to be proactive and just sit still for awhile. I don’t understand. Your do something mentality isn’t constructive here. And besides, Rolf wouldn’t have brought it up unless he’s got a plan.
I better get home and see Bettina; she’ll be waiting up for me. Lana gives Jax a kiss. Do you want me to go to church with you guys? No. Why not? Because you should surprise my parents, Lana replies. It will impress them that you’re serious about us. What does your dad wear? Shirt and tie. If you decide to actually do it, don’t hide in the back. Go and sit right next to my mom. She’ll be nice to you, Jax.
Lana opens the apartment door and finds Bettina waiting for her on the couch. I finished off your smoothie. It was good. Lana tells her. Daddy and I had a big fight, Bettina replies. Let me get changed into my pajamas and brush my teeth, then we can talk, Lana tells her.
Okay, I’m listening, Lana says as she sits down on the couch a little while later. First, tell me what happened after I left. Rolf went for a run. Jax and I made up. What did Rolf say? Nothing about you or your dad. Was he upset? Rolf, upset? No. What was his reaction? I started to break up with Jax, and Rolf said don’t be like that, Lana. And I shut him down and told him to stay out of it. And that’s when he said that he was going for a run. Don’t leave without working this out. And he went downstairs. Have you ever been downstairs? No. Why would I want to go down there? Aren’t you curious? No. Bettina, Rolf is a really cool guy; he’d never come right out and say it, but downstairs is off-limits; it’s his personal space.
Daddy says that I cannot go over there anymore. Then don’t. “But Lana trusts him”. And do you know what he said? "You’re not Lana". Bettina frowns at her. Why are you making such a big deal out of this, Bettina? Hello, we have connection. Have you ever talked to Rolf without speaking? No, but I’ve never stared at him without blinking either. That’s way too intimate; you need to be careful. You sound just like Daddy.
So tell me how it went. Daddy and I showed up, and Rolf opened the door just as I was about to knock. And he looks between Daddy and I, and then motions us to come in. And we followed him into the kitchen, and made a smoothie for Daddy, and we all talked and visited.
Daddy invited him to play golf, and Rolf said, let’s go; I’ll get my clubs. The moon will be up by the time we get there. And Daddy started chuckling. At my age, I don’t sneak into golf courses. Who said anything about sneaking in? What about Saturday? He’s going to the Symphony. And after this weekend, he’s got band duty.
And I ask him if he wants a date for the symphony. He’s already got one. Who’s playing? Daddy asked. Tchaikovsky.
What does she have that I don’t? The Make a Wish Foundation reached out to me, Bettina. And I told him that was the best answer that he could have given me.
Jax comes back to his mansion to find the driveway full of cars. I wish I had a basement that I could retreat to, he mutters. He walks in the door and everyone is watching Wrestlemania on the bigscreen, all drinking Miller High Life.
Where’s Jon? I brought him to the airport, Simon replies. He said that he had to run an errand. He’ll be back tomorrow night.
Jax heads into his office. And sees a can of Orange Crush on his desk. He turns on the computer, and looks at the search history. And then sends a text. Jonny, call me when you get this. We need to talk, he tells Simon, my office. Simon gets up and stretches, and then follows Jax. Jax points out the telltale can on the desk. Check out his search history. Samantha Zeller, New York. I don’t like him going there alone to track her down for Mike. We should have never told him about what Rolf did for Lana and I, Jax says. Jonny’s harmless; he’ll be fine. Simon comments. I want to bring in Lana on this, Jax says. She can tell us where to go so we can intercept him. Let’s get going, he tells Simon. He’ll be fine, Simon repeats. I don’t like this, Jax repeats. Rolf said she was dangerous and an assassin. That was a metaphor, Simon says. No, I don’t think it was. He demonstrated his gift again tonight, and freaked out Bettina’s father, who practically dragged her out the door. I’ve got to hear this, Simon says...
So Rolf called her “Simon’s girl” and deliberately DQ’d himself with her dad? Jax nods. Point is, I think Rolf called it like it is about Sam. Call him, and see what he thinks. Jax calls Rolf and it rings through to voicemail. Jax immediately calls again, and Rolf picks up this time. What? Jon headed out to NYC to track down Sam for Mike without telling anyone. I only found out because it was on the search history on the web browser of my office computer along with his telltale can of Orange Crush. He’ll be fine. Rolf says after some reflection. Don’t worry about it, Jax. You and Lana back to good? Yeah. Right on. Anything else? Nah, just worried about Jon. Let him do his thing; don’t call him off. Get some sleep. Click.
New York City
The receptionist looks at the introverted man dressed in black with his shirt collar buttoned all the way up, and tries to place him. A waiter at a high end restaurant maybe? She intermittently glances at the mystery man, who sits with his head down, staring at the floor. She stands up to stretch, and sees that he’s holding a bouquet of flowers. He’s working up his courage, she thinks and smiles to herself. An hour later, she pages security. See what his deal is, she tells the retired police officer. Who walks over. I’m meeting someone here, Jon tells the man before he can even ask. Who? Sam. The security guard stiffens and turns around. City is getting overrun by fags. It vexes my righteous soul, he thinks. The gentleman is meeting someone here, a Sam, he tells the receptionist. Find out the last name of the party. The security guard goes back over. Excuse me sir, what is the last name of your party? Zeller, Jon replies. Filthy sodomite, the old guard thinks.
Zeller, he tells the receptionist. Who does a quick search on the directory listing. Oh, she’s with Rivulet Equity. Samantha. The old guard nods and breathes out a deep sigh of relief. Pays to be slow to anger, he reflects.
Ten minutes later, the elevator opens and Sam comes out in a silk blouse and pantsuit, and strides up to Jon. I picked these for you, he says, with his head down, not looking at her. Who are you? She asks him. Jon. We meet in New Orleans at the bookstore. She nods. What are you doing here, Jon? I’m here on behalf of my friend Mike. How so? He wants to hire you. I’m for hire? She says icily. Rolf has Lana. Mike wants you. She takes a deep breath. Are you Forrest Gump simple? He shakes his head no.
What do you want me to do? She asks him. Call him. She looks at him, and sees that he won’t meet her eyes, let alone look at her. Dial him up on your phone, Jon.
Jon, it’s shines, man, that you’d be willing to do this for me, but you should have told me. I’d have gone with you. Mike, this is Sam. There’s a long pause. What did you do with Jon? You better not have hurt him. She sighs. I don’t hurt people who bring me flowers, Mike. Oh, cool. So Jon says you want to hire me. Yeah, I’ve got some security concerns. Um-hmmm. I doubt that; anyone who comes after you has a serious flaw in his victim selection process. Mike chuckles. We’ve got a big gig coming up here in New Orleans. I could use you for that. When is your concert at Raul’s club? Next weekend. We’ll be in touch. She disconnects and gives Jon back his phone. Come with me, she tells him, and takes his arm. Jon glances at the security guard as he walks by him. The man grins widely at him, and nods in greeting to Sam. Chivalry does pay, the old guard thinks. Good for you, buddy.
There’s someone I want you to meet, she tells Jon as they emerge out of the elevator, still clutching his arm. She takes him into a cavernous conference room, where her uncle is surrounded by men in white dress shirts. Many, but not all, have skullcaps on. Uncle, this is Jon from New Orleans. The receptionist said that he was waiting for several hours in the lobby with flowers for me. One of the younger men gets up from the table and offers Jon his chair. Anything to drink, sir? Jon shakes his head no and looks down. Bring him a water, Levi, Sam orders, as she takes up her seat at her uncle’s right hand.
That reminds me of a story I heard, her uncle says. A man has just had enough, and decides to divorce his wife. He goes to see his old Jewish lawyer, who is just as mean as a snake. And tells him his tale of woe. She’s just not the woman I married, he sums up. Yeah, I get it, but we need to blindside her. She cannot see this coming or she’ll start scheming. It’s going to take me a month to get everything ready. In the meantime, you need to treat her like a queen. And when we’re ready to go, then you just tell her, and you’ll disappoint her as much as she’s disappointed you. The man gets up and shakes his lawyer's hand; I knew I hired the best. I’m going to do exactly that. And on the way home he stops at a flower shop, and gets his wife an arrangement. The next morning, he brings her breakfast in bed. A month flies by, and then he gets a call from his Jewish lawyer. The divorce papers are all set and ready to go. She isn’t going to know what hit her. What are you talking about? The man replies. I don’t want to divorce my wife; she’s changed completely. Everyone chuckles around the table. One of the men sitting next to him writes get flowers on the way home on his legal pad. Jon looks up at her uncle. So attitude determines outcome?
Well, Sam? This is Jon from the rockband SH5. We met in New Orleans at a Barnes & Noble. Why are you here? Jon looks down at the table and doesn’t answer. He’s shy, uncle. I think he wants to invest with us. Jon shakes his head no. Mike likes Sam, he says. Mike is the other guitarist in the band, she tells her uncle. What’s in this for you? He’s my friend, Jon responds.
His friend Mike wants to hire me to do protection for him. The band is playing a gig next weekend at the nightclub that we were talking about acquiring. It might be worth a trip. How much is my time worth, uncle? How much does your drummer pay Lana Radley for her services? Eighty dollars an hour, plus expenses. Jon murmurs. Cheap whore. Sam mutters loudly. Jon looks up at her in shock, and sees her uncle cuff her hard on the head. It’s just an expression, she exclaims. Find a better way of expressing yourself, her uncle tells her, and apologize to this man. I didn’t mean to bear false witness, she says with her head down. Jon is now staring wide eyed at the wizened old man with the goatie. Your shirt is unbuttoned, Jon tells him. I can see your gold pendant. Top three buttons undone is my trademark, the man replies confidently. Try it sometime. I think you could pull it off. Jon drops his head.
I’m glad you came here, Jon. I’m sending Sam back with you. She gets room and board. You will see to it that your friend Mike pays Lana Radley $80/hour for Sam’s time as reparations for her slander. He turns to Sam. You are to invoice him weekly and bill your time in half hour increments. He looks back at Jon. Your friend is to pay with a personal check, not cash. This is a formal business arrangement. Jon nods.
How long do I have to endure this indentured servitude? Sam complains.
This reminds me of a story I heard, about a man who goes to see the stereotypical Jew lawyer. Everyone around the table laughs. I’m a mean old snake, but I love my Sam. Tell me, Jon, what is the most expensive dowry that you’ve ever heard of? I’ve never heard of any sir, only expensive weddings. That’s a good answer. $200MM is what a father gave his daughter when she married a Greek prince in 1995. I’m prepared to top that. It’s all on you, Sam. And if there’s not a merger, then there’s going to be a hostile takeover. Meeting adjourned.