Lions make leopards tame.William Shakespeare
Del Sol Valley
Over the weeks and months following their very failed arrival in Del Sol Valley Everett and Maeve found a few engagements, solo and as a duo, playing at bars and lounges, they were able to rent a small, simple, fully furnished house in Del Sol Valley. It was far from fancy, just plain and old, creaky, with unreliable plumbing, moody electric lines and a breaker that seemed to randomly trip at the worst possible moments.
Rett’s beloved bright green Dodge Challenger and its contents remained lost, but the insurance kicked in and they were able to replace some things, including a new car. With his first big paycheck and his grandpa Blaine on the phone with him directing him towards the cheapest essentials and steering him away from the unnecessary stuff, Rett bought recording equipment.
At this point Rett and Maeve made just enough money to make rent, pay for utilities, food and the occasional extras.
And then came the afternoon Everett wouldn’t soon forget. He heard a car pull up front, looked out the window and saw Maeve getting out of an expensive newer model BMW, followed by a man Rett had never seen before.
Instead of just dropping her off, he was now walking her to the front door. Suddenly it dawned on Rett that the guy was coming inside. Quickly Rett tried to disappear.
“Do something inconspicuous you idiot!” he told himself.
By the time the door was unlocked, he was making coffee.
“Oh, hey Rett. Rett, this is Paul, Paul, my roommate Everett.” Maeve introduced the guy.
“Oh, looks like your roommate is planning to be up all night. Coffee this late in the afternoon …”
Rett was instantly fuming. What a … !
“Coffee doesn’t affect me much at my age …” he informed him coolly, hinting at the fact that the man looked to be in his late thirties, if not older, while adding a bunch of insults in his mind.
“Come on Paul, this way …” Maeve said with a certain type of smile towards Paul, before she grabbed his hand and pulled a willing subject along towards her room door, behind which they disappeared while making out, which made Rett feel odd. Was she gonna … with that guy?! That OLD man?! He wasn’t even that good looking!
As covertly as he could he watched them disappear in her room, then couldn’t help but creep around her room door, listening for indications of what may be going on inside.
“What are you doing, you moron!? What do you think they’re doing in there, dumbass!” he told himself quietly then went out to a bar, and didn’t return till late, only to find that Paul’s car still parked outside their home.
When Rett got up in the morning, Paul was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. Initially Rett turned back around to hide in his room, but Maeve saw him.
“Morning Rett! Why don’t you join us?”
“Sure.” he said, after grabbing some coffee, while giving the stink-eye to the unwelcome guest roosting at their kitchen table.
“You hungry? I made bacon and eggs.” Maeve offered.
“Nah, thanks.” Rett told her, while adding in his mind ‘I already feel like puking looking at that grandpa!’
In order to not seem affected, he joined them, quietly sipping his coffee while eyeing that Paul guy, who was very visibly flirting with Maeve – and she with him.
The small gleam of hope that Paul would just be a one-hit wonder with Maeve, just an itch she felt like scratching, didn’t materialize, he kept showing up and disappearing with Maeve into her room, so eventually Everett fell back into his own old habits. As his fame grew, so did the amount of women just offering themselves up and at some point he just quit turning them down.
One of the mornings, when he finally walked into their kitchen a few weeks later, Maeve greeted him with a smile. Luckily, this time it was just them, no Paul.
“Morning sunshine. Where is Miss Tightest-Pants-Ever? She was on you like a tattoo after our gig last night. Jeeze that girl was ripe for nookie! What a hussy!”
“Don’t know, don’t care. Last time I saw her was at the corner of Main and Starlight Boulevard, where I kicked her ass out of my car. She may have been ready, but the rest of her didn’t keep what those tight pants promised. As soon as I found doubled-up full body Spanx after starting to unwrap her, I shoehorned the bitch back in and returned to sender! No five star Yelp review from me. The low-hanging fruit and I fell for it. Where is Mr. Snoooooooore?”
“Paul isn’t boring, just not as flamboyant as you. And he didn’t stay over. Just left after … you know.”
“Interesting that you instantly knew whom I was talking about though. In other words … snooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooore.”
“That’s because unlike you, I stick with one person when I date, so whom else could you have meant? Duh! How about you, Rett? Already got the next chick for the night lined up or need to go hoe-hunting later? How do you even remember all their names?”
“Who cares about names? I call them all ‘baby’, they love that shit and that’s that. Whoever the lucky winner will be tonight – spoiler alert – we won’t be getting married anyway. I know, heartbreaker.”
“Let’s hope you’re not. We shall find out in about 9 months, right? You should start a filing cabinet with portrait pics and a few details of all your one-night-stands, so at least you get an idea about what your oopsie-kid will probably look like when the child support order comes in.”
“I told you, I am careful. Nothing has changed. This guy here isn’t going into production anytime soon, if ever.”
“You’re right about one thing. Nothing has changed. Guess they are right about the leopard and his spots.”
“Meaning what? If that’s intended to make me feel bad, try again! I am healthy young man just at the verge of fame in a city like this with offers from hot women raining down on me nightly. Do you expect me to sit there holding my own each night waiting for Mrs. Right to just materialize in my arms? Nah, thanks, I rather take Mrs. Right NOW. I got needs too. Let’s not forget they get something out of it too, not just me. I give and I take. Plus, if they are dumb enough to think they’ll find real love by hitting up a guy at a bar and fuck him right off the bat, that’s on them. Blame their parents, not me!”
“Well, you won’t find Mrs. Right by probing the whole city with your special wand, whether you cover that shit up or not. We had that before, remember? Didn’t go so well for you.”
“Thanks mom, going excellent for me, now that I don’t bother with fake friends anymore. Same reason I don’t suffer the delusion that I would find Mrs. Right even if I tried. Not in this city where everyone fakes everything and definitely not now. I am already too famous for that. If I date now, the girl is dating the image on the posters and the voice on the radio and whatever riches she may think I already have, not the real me. Nobody finds love in this place, it’s way too artificial and we are in the wrong line of business for love stories anyway. That’s not what showbiz is known for. That includes your precious Paul.”
“You don’t know that, you presumptuous Grinch.”
“Maeve, I DO know. And I know exactly what those women are like. If I were to take any of those girls out for a night of sitting on the hood of my car, to watch the sun set, while eating McDonald’s, they wouldn’t give me the time of day, let alone a single kiss or anything more. Their juices flow in direct correlation with the amount of champagne, and the fancier the place I take them to, the faster their special sesame opens for me. I know that I am paying for it and I know what I am paying for.”
“I miss us doing that. That was always so much fun. The watching the sunset on the hood of your car eating McDonald’s part, I mean.” Maeve’s voice was underlined by melancholy.
“Well, I am right here. Just need to get rid of snooooooore-Paul for an evening, because if he shows, I am gone.”
“What do you have against him, Rett?”
“You mean other than that he’s so fake, slimy and disgusting that I wouldn’t wash my balls with him? He’s not right for you. Something about him is off. I think he is just like me, just lies about it. That’s the difference between you and me. I am having fun, you are invested. He’ll break your heart, Maeve. I know the type.”
“Maybe you know a type, but it’s not Paul’s. Don’t assume all men are like you. He genuinely cares about me.”
“So do I, but I don’t take you into your room for a hump and then leave, like he does. I also don’t command all your attention, and at least I am honest about just wanting the girls I deal with for one thing. I don’t lie to them. He does lie to you by the sounds of it, even though he does the same to you that I do with all the chicks I wind up nailing. He may make it seem more sophisticated, but all he really does is wine and dine you, then takes you somewhere to put out for him while telling you pretty little lies you seem to want to believe to keep you warm for the next round. Have you ever even been to his place? You two seem to just always end up here to the point I am starting to consider making him pay part of the rent. Major flag right there unless he lives in his nice Beamer. That BMW is new and wasn’t cheap, so I am thinking he’s got a house to match or he is an even bigger idiot.”
“You’re an idiot! That has nothing to do with anything!”
“If it quacks like a duck …”
“Speaking of duck …. go fuck yourself Rett!”
The discussion ended with Maeve storming off into her bedroom and Rett breaking his favorite cereal bowl after throwing it against a wall in a burst of anger.
Half an hour later he was sitting on the couch watching TV when Maeve stormed past him, slamming the front door shut in her wake. Rett watched Paul’s car drive off with her.
Hours later, Rett was working on a new song he was writing, when his phone rang.
He ignored it at first to not lose his train of thought, but the caller was persistent. When he pulled it from his pocket he saw it was Maeve.
“What now? I am busy!” he barked after he accepted the call.
He only heard sobbing sounds, instantly his anger gave way to worry.
“Maeve?” he asked more softly.
“Rett … can you come get me? Please … I am sorry …” she sobbed.
“What? Where are you?” Rett’s voice sounded alarmed.
“I don’t know … desert … he just left me when I told him no. We had a fight, he said terrible things … he didn’t want to stop, so I slapped him … he slapped back and I punched him .. and …. he just left me here … there are coyotes, Rett … and I think a snake … I am scared.”
“Go to your Maps App and send me the GPS coordinates. I’ll be right there!”
Everett found Maeve shivering and scared out of her mind. He wrapped the poor girl in his jacket, let her sob into his shoulder for while, then gently helped her in the car and drove her home.
About an hour later, she was curled up on the couch with him, still shivering, this time it was nerves. None of them spoke, he just held her quietly.
“I am sorry Rett.” she finally said.
“Nothing to be sorry for. That ass Paul should be sorry, and next time I see him, he will be.”
“He’s married, Rett, with kids! I am such an idiot! You were right! He was using me, I was like one of your girls to him, no more! Just a whore! I found out by accident. We were out in the desert, like you and I used to do when we just got here, to watch the sunset, and he got all grabby. Thought the romantic moment struck a mood with him, but when he was taking off his clothes I grabbed his cell phone to take a selfie of us against the sunset, right when a text came in. A woman. She wrote something about their youngest having a fever, asking Paul to come home from his work meeting ASAP to take them to the ER. I confronted him and we fought, it got so nasty, then he just wanted to force me to put out anyway. Of course I didn’t, fought back, and when I sucker-punched him in his junk, he crawled into his car, drove off and just left me there. I got him good though, Rett. He’ll look like he was told no by an angry woman! At least a black eye and a broken nose and hopefully bruised nuts swollen to the size of soccer balls!”
“That’s my girl! Let him explain all that to the missus. Hopefully she’ll get the memo and dump his cheating ass.”
“I think I am not gonna make it. I give up. I can’t do it. I am never going to be a real musician. This city and everything in it is a few sizes too big for me. I quit.”
“WHAT!?” Why? Because of some asshole? Forget about that fool!” Rett said but Maeve just shook her head.
“There is something I haven’t told you about, Rett. Remember when I got that call for a meeting to maybe sign a contract with a producer for an album of my own?”
“Sure I remember. So they didn’t make you an offer after all. It happens. What about it?”
Maeve averted her eyes, pulled away from Rett, got up. It was obvious she was fighting with some rough truth.
“That’s not what happened, Rett, I only said that so you wouldn’t ask questions. When I got there the guy showed me a contract, my name on it, six figures payment, but then wanted me to … well, pleasure him. When I refused, he said no contract unless I do. I told him what I thought about that, with a lot of sentence enhancers and he had security kick me out. That’s a burned bridge for me.”
“WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME!?” Rett stood now too, shocked.
“Because I was embarrassed, of course! I thought I made progress on my own. Instead … that. Is that really all men see in me? A blowup doll with a heartbeat?!” she was at the verge of a teary meltdown.
“Only assholes, Maeve. I don’t see that. I see a determined and talented young musician. And a girl with the face of an angel who will morph into a fire-breathing dragon whenever I forget to wash my breakfast plate while still chewing the last bite or if I ever forget to put the damn toilet seat down.”
“You use ALL dishes for each meal then dump them in the sink and expect me to eat off the counters! And you ALWAYS forget to put the seat down! We’ll talk if you ever go to the bathroom tired and end up with a wet butt!” Maeve told him angrily, but no more sign of tears.
“I never would because I look before I sit down anywhere! And we still only have like three plates and one cereal bowl, so of course all dishes are dirty at the same time!” he smirked
“We have two bowls.”
“Not anymore. Sorry. I’ll replace it.”
“OMG Rett, we sound like an old married couple!” she said, dropping her head against his chest again.
“I know, disgusting.”
“What am I gonna do, Rett?”
“Not give up, that’s what! I have like 7 years head start on you. I released my first single with my grandpa’s help when I had just turned 15, Maeve. Of course I am more successful than you, who literally just started since we got here. If I weren’t, I’d be the one who needs a career change.”
“If you put it that way … I am so tired now, I can barely think …”
“Go to bed, get some rest, tomorrow we’ll come up with a plan. I can already tell you one non-negotiable detail of that plan. We are now a duo. That way, no more #MeToo moments for you or someone’s limping and bleeding, I’ll make sure of that. We’ll make my head start in the business work for the both of us.”
“I’d like that. Hey Rett, remember that night at the B&B when we first came out to Del Sol Valley? Think we can do that again tonight, here at home … purely platonic, please?”
“What? Squeeze both our asses onto the couch together till mine ends up on the floor?”
“No, a bed-version of that. You even get to choose the bed, yours or mine, I don’t care, but … I think I’d feel better if you are next to me. Only for tonight.”
“My bed then. I don’t want to lay around in any Paul puddles. Yuck. Also on the list for tomorrow: laundromat! Or just buy you brand-new bedding and burn that shit!”
“You are so gross Rett! As if you wouldn’t have … stains … in your bed.” Maeve had to stifle a giggle.
“If there are, they’d at least all be homemade. Unlike you, I never bring anyone home. I leave them right the fuck where they throw themselves at me and then go home and shower, like a good asshole.”
“You definitely are a good asshole, Rett.” Maeve giggled.
“I think this may well be one of the nicest things you have ever said to me.”
“Want me to follow up with some insults?”
“Nah, not tonight, honey. Hey, Maeve. Left or right side?” he asked while pulling her with him to his room.
“The middle, you jerk!” she laughed.
“No surprise there. I’ll just curl up on the floor and call it a night.”
“Nope. You already have a job as my body pillow.”
Not even five minutes after they turned in, Rett gently touched her shoulder, but no reaction.
“Maeve? Hey Maeve … nice ass! What, no biting my head off? Do you need new batteries? Hello?! Nothing? She already fell asleep on me … dayum girl … Well, in her defense, we both had a helluva night. Well, good night then, Miss Reed. Hope I at least make a decent body pillow.” Rett said quietly, and within a few minutes fell asleep himself.