Simon, this is Bettina. Yeah, Legally Blonde reporter; I know who you are. Click. She hangs up on him.
Three days later, there is a loud pounding on the apartment door. Lana racks her 12 gauge shotgun. Whoa, Whoa. The voice on the other side of the door protests. Jax? Yeah. Who’s with you? Simon. Oh. Are you going to open the door? No. It’s late. Come back tomorrow. What time? And he hears a commotion and Bettina opens the door.
I left like a hundred messages saying I’m sorry, Simon tells her. We don’t receive gentlemen callers after sunset, Bettina tells him, while Lana gives Jax a quick call me sign from behind her. Goodnight. And she shuts the door.
Jax calls Rolf from his car’s Bluetooth. Hey, Jax. What’s the good word? Simon’s in town. Hoping that it’d be cool if we stop by. Something we need to talk to you about in person. Simon and Jax hear Rolf mutter something in Old Norse. I’m all carb loaded and ready to distance run. What’s this about? Bettina won’t speak to Simon, and Lana just met us at the door with a shotgun. Your girlfriend; you deal with it. Click, Rolf hangs up. He doesn’t want me over, Simon says. Rolf doesn’t want anybody over. Lana is the only one he trusts. When she was living there, I was welcome to stop by as her guest. Now that she’s moved in with Bettina, not welcome. So she works for him during the day, part-time, doing what? She doesn’t talk about it. They’re tight. She just told me once that she has a good gig.
Jax calls Lana next. Hello, Jax. I had a really good time the other night. Is it all right if I just tell you that, instead of writing you a note, like Bettina says I should? Actually, I would like to see a writing sample, so I can analyze it endlessly and parse every word for hidden meanings. She laughs. Simon’s with me. Silence. I don’t even rate a hello, he questions. More silence. That’s just cold, he comments. She doesn’t want to interview you anymore, Simon. So I flew in from Portland just to be rejected. Silence.
When can I see you again? Jax asks. I’ve got a case I’m working that’s going to take me out of town for a couple days. Is this about what you and Senator Johns discussed? Jax, you know I cannot talk about my work. Bet she talks about it to Rolf, Simon mutters. Rolf is “of counsel”; Jax is my boyfriend. Is that clear, Simon? Not really. Rolf is a limited partner in my private investigation firm, so he knows what cases I’m working and where I’m at in case something goes bad, and I don’t check in. Silence, as Simon looks at Jax with raised eyebrows.
I’d like to get in on that, Jax mentions. And I’d like you to keep on being my boyfriend. Don’t make this about us, Jax. Pause. We’ll talk when you get back into town. Luv you. She doesn’t respond. And he ends the call.
Ouch, Simon says. It was too much for her, especially with you in the car listening in. So how did you meet her? I was watching Rolf’s drive from across the road. Stalking him? Yeah, pretty much. I’d just send him some riffs that Mike and I had been working on, and really wanted his feedback, but you know how he is about his privacy. So I figured I’d just happen to bump into him around town, and ask him. So this beater car turns in, woman driver. And a couple minutes later, comes back out with Rolf in the passenger seat. And I follow them to a car wash, and pull up alongside. And offer to trade Rolf rides. And he plays along, and acts like he’s thinking about it. Then I ask him about our riff, and he says that it’s going to be huge, and that he’s been trying to match it. And that he needed some fresh air. And I was so elated that I begged him to trade cars. And he said three day trial, and looks over at Lana. Who has said nothing the whole time, and just piled her law school books on top of the car – she’s taking night school classes - as Rolf vacuumed it out.
And when he’s done, she puts them back, and I know she’s not going to trade. And Rolf comes over real quick and gives me a man hug. Thanks for offering, bro. Well played. Later. And they leave.
So I see her car go into the drive every day, and it’s there all day. You are stalking him, aren’t you? I’m just curious. And I’ve got a lot of time on my hands.
Anyway, one day after a workout, I decide to stop by. And she opens the door a crack, and sees me. Hi, I just stopped by for a drink of water. I’m all out, and show her my water bottle. She has her right hand behind her, probably on her gun, and takes my water bottle with her left. Wait outside please, sir. And she shuts the door, and comes back a minute later with the water bottle. And gives it back to me, left hand again, and shuts the door. Simon laughs.
So the next day, I came back, and same story. I’m Jax, I tell her, as she shuts the door on me. Simon laughs some more.
The next day, it’s just raining cats and dogs, as I run up to the door. And Lana opens it, and looks at me with frown, but I can see she’s trying not to smile. And she opens an umbrella, and steps outside with me. I’m Lana. So what do you do here, Lana? I’m a private investigator. Mr. Asgaard has hired me to handle some security concerns for him. Got a card? I ask her, and she gives me one. And watches me closely for a reaction when I read her full name. I’m outta water. And she hands me the umbrella, and unscrews the top of my water bottle, and holds it out into the rain. You’re not going to invite me in, are you? And she shakes her head no. But we got to be friends after that. The next day, when I came by, she sat on the steps with me, and we each had a glass of water and talked. So what’s Rolf’s security concern? She’s never told me. But no one gets in that house. Rolf ever come out and visit? No.
So how did you start dating? So Rolf calls me up out of the blue one evening, and asks for a favor…
That’s the best story I’ve ever heard. So Bettina is after Rolf? Jax shrugs. Like I said, Lana doesn’t talk much. She lost pretty much everything after that shooting. Her friends, her badge. Even her fiancé. Who was he? Some mortgage broker – sounds shady, but it’s not. And the guy’s done really well. He and his trophy wife were at the fundraiser for Senator John’s that I told you about. Awkward? Actually, he seemed like a really cool guy. He came over with Kostamo, while Lana was off talking with the Senator, and we visited for awhile. Then he told me that he’s glad that she landed back on her feet, and that he regretted the way he acted. And he shook my hand. And he looked down and said “I was a fool”, and left it at that, and walked away. He didn’t ask me to tell her that he was sorry, which kind of impressed me.
So this Kostamo? No idea who he is or what he does. Think Tom Cruise in Collateral. Lean, perpetually unshaven, hair dyed grey, and gives off this danger vibe. Actually reminded me of Rolf some. A very contained person, except when he’s on stage. I’m going to have to learn Old Norse, you know that, right, Simon tells him. What he did was brilliant. You’ll never be able to replicate it, Simon. There’s no A/V; he saw to that. Just a couple of poor quality fan recordings on Youtube from way too far away. We should have cancelled that show when I got sick. It would have hurt us with the fans, and the album sales. You know that. Simon frowns. His stunt could have broken up our band. He sang in some other language; it was like a Rammstein concert. And you know why he did it. Just because he knew that I could never top it, Simon blurts out vehemently. How do you think I feel, knowing that the fans say that it was THE ONE CONCERT?
What about our acoustic sets and radio interviews when he’s not around? Or all the awards shows? Jax counters.
His presence grows with his absence. He knows that. It’s all about his own brand, his mystique. That’s why he hired your girlfriend to be his bodyguard. What do you think she told the Senator when he asked for references?
If this is going to be an issue for you, then we need to have a band meeting. Simon shakes his head no. This is me just venting, and working some stuff out. Doesn’t leave the car. I just got used to being the indispensable man, Jax. And then he does my job better than I could ever do. You were there; you know it’s true. It was the opening bang, Simon. I’ve never seen anything like it; it was legend. I’ve got guys calling me up from other bands asking for tape, so they can study his moves. No one yet has called me up and asked for his lyrics. Get it? He doesn’t want to be the frontman, Simon. That’s just not Rolf. Look at how he lives.
Yeah, you’re right. I still think it would be cool to learn Old Norse though. Jax laughs. Where would you even start, bro? That’s the mystery of it. Simon replies. How did he learn it? Why is that university professor saying that Rolf’s rendition gives him chills, that he’s using words and phrases that make linguistic sense in the context of our lyrics, but are nonextant. Nonextant? Simon shrugs. Rolf is the coolest guy I know, Simon. But he is a man apart. I see a lot of similarities between him and Lana. Now your man crush is getting creepy, dude. And they both laugh.
So what are you going to do about Bettina? Gotta go shopping for a white suit and a straw hat tomorrow. Jax laughs. Such beauty – dehmands tribute. Simon proclaims in Southern gentleman. So saith the frontman of Yankee Die, my new Nashville side project. Want in?