I watch her disappear into the sea of white faces at round tables. Wonder what she had in mind to do? Maybe she’d get Grummett so high he’d run naked down California Blvd. and get himself arrested. Yeah, that’s something she could pull off.
The skinny white lady finishes yakking and the master of ceremonies runs onto the stage. She’s the eleven o’clock news weather lady with the huge phony tits. She walks through the audience grinning like she was back on television telling us about how the next storm was going to wash us away. She got around to introducing the special guests in the audience, sticking a microphone in their faces and expecting them to say something deep. I figure that would just about take the entire evening since everyone seemed to be helping Chinese kids or Africans with rickets and whooping cough. Then the old man starts waving and I realize he wants the woman to come to our table.
“Hey, I say, you’re not going to do that to me. That would be some cruel ass shit.”
The old man laughs at me. I turn to walk away, but the old man reaches up to grab my shoulder. The old dude got a grip.
“Don’t think you’re leaving. You’ll have to drag me across this floor because I’m not letting go.”
The weather woman reaches and the old man takes a second to catch his breath. Marisela is alarmed again like the old man might run out of air and she’d have to resurrect his ass.
“We’re honored tonight because we’ve got the new President of the NAACP here with us!” He says, and I duck my head thinking of making a broken field run for the exit.
Applause thunders all around me.
The weather lady put the microphone in my face. I guess expecting me to say something meaningful.
“What it is! I guess you all weren’t expecting me, but I’m here. I used to be in the Panthers, but the NAACP is cool too. Stay strong in the struggle,” I say before I knew I was going to say it, but I did stop myself from giving them the power salute.
The applause stops.
The old man looks at me and the weather lady looks spooked as she hurries away.
“Well, I guess you handled that well enough.”
“Thanks,” I say.
I saw that the old man had a whiskey for me and I drank it in one burning gulp.
“Keep an eye for out Ashley. Find out what she’s doing with that idiot.”
I nod glad as hell to be able to get up from that table. I walk about the floor straining to see for her and Grummett but it was fairly dark. After I was asked three times to clear fools plates I got sick of it and returned to the table.
“I didn’t see them,” I say to the old man.
Check the outside bar. He likes to roost there.
“Wouldn’t he be with his wife?”
“His wife weights 300 pounds. She can barely fit into a deluxe muumuu. He’s always looking for panties that you don’t need to wrap around a cow.”
“Sure.” I say, wondering what the hell he was talking about. I find the outside bar and the old man was right. They were there, sitting close, but in the darkest corner of the bar. I didn’t approach them. I sat back to watch the show. She’s working him, flipping her hair smiling and leaning forward so her blouse hangs open. He had no idea of what he was in for. Barbarella wasn’t some rich guy’s airhead daughter. No, she had a ruthless heart.
She stood up to leave but Grummett grabs her hand and leans over and whispers something. Both of them take long sips of their martinis.
Then he pops up and stares at his watch. He kisses her briefly on the cheek and runs back in the direction of the banquet. Barbarella stands and stretches, and lights a cigarette. I wait a second and walk up behind her and put my hand on her hip.
“I wondered when you were going to come over.”
“You knew I was there?”
“Oh, I saw you soon as you arrived, skulking in the shadows.”
“No, I do not know, but that’s cool. Buy me a drink.”
She waves over the waiter and orders me a Jack on the rocks.
“So, what’s the deal with him? You got plans for his ass?”
She laughs. “Not him, he’s just the water boy for Hubbard.”
“He’s got it in for my dad, they used to be partners a long time ago but Hubbard outfoxed him for a lot of money. Grummett does what this Hubbard tells him to do. Hubbard is more ruthless than my dad by a long shot, and that’s saying a lot. Hubbard would love to humiliate him one more time just for the hell of it.”
“You gonna let him run your dad like that? You’d stand for that?”
“Well, if I wanted I could go over to a hotel and spend time with him and find out more, but I’m not in the mood.”
I guess I looked shocked, not that I should be. I surprised myself.
She looks at me with all the seriousness in the world, and then she takes my hand and kisses it.
“Sometimes I feel crazy and when that happens I can do anything, I don’t care about what happens to me. Right now I don’t have that going on; truth is since you’ve been around I’m calm. I know it won’t last, but right now I’m enjoying it.”
“Maybe you got one of them split personalities. I remember reading that book about a chick who had a bunch of them.”
“It runs in the family whatever it is. I’ve been to a number of doctors and they all have different diagnoses. My mother was like that and she died in a hospital. My doctor said I have manic phases. I don’t care. It’s who I am and when I feel that I just go with it.”
I sat there in the dark, looking at her and knowing she was telling the truth. Well, she’s crazy; I figured she was always crazy, like Mercedes who thought anything was possible because she made it possible. I never knew if she was going to pistol whip somebody or invite them out for barbecue. Mercedes didn’t go through a phase or any of that shit. It’s easier if you ask me, that a crazy bitch is always a crazy bitch. At least you know what to expect.
“Anyway, right now I’m not interested in what Grummett wants me to do to get a clue of how Hubbard plans to fuck over my dad. I already know. Hubbard is going to demand a partnership, or he’ll block it.”
“What does he want you to do?”
“He likes rough trade.”
She looked at me and I shake my head.
“Some people get off on being whipped or spanked. I guess they didn’t get enough of that as a child. Grummett gets off on having his ass spanked red.”
“Damn…that’s some crazy shit.”
“He pays a lot for a good spanking.”
“I don’t kick anybody’s ass that enjoys it; I don’t care how much they pay me.”
“I’m glad you’ve got your principles,” she said, and slid onto my lap. She kisses my cheek softly and slowly acting like she enjoys it more than she should. I was rock hard, thinking of doing her there, but I saw the waiter looking horrified.
“How much money Hubbard stands to make?”
“A lot of money could be millions, especially if Hubbard gets an eminent domain to expand the development to Washington on the north and Fair Oaks on the west.
“That’s my Mama’s neighborhood. What’s in it for her? She’s got a house.”
“Crumbs, basically. Property there doesn’t go for that much so Hubbard gets it for song.”
“So, she’s fucked?”
“I wouldn’t say fucked, but I wouldn’t say she’s going to be fairly compensated.”
“Okay, let’s visit Grummett. I will kick his ass even if he does like it.”
She told me to take the drive along the Arroyo where it’s dark as hell, down to the Rose Bowl and back up again by the Colorado Bridge or Suicide Bridge where people like to jump and leave a mess down below. Grummett had a little townhouse over by the Rose Bowl, near that mansion that looks like Batman lives there, the one with the gigantic, stained glass window and serious fencing designed to pierce a stupid deer or dumb ass burglar.
She knocks on the door, after a long moment of waiting, it opens just a crack and I see lit candles. The door opens wide and there’s Grummett looking uncomfortable with me standing behind Barbarella. We walk in and the robe wrapped around his skinny ass makes him looks seriously silly.
“I didn’t know you were going to bring Mr. Calvin.”
“Mr. Calvin likes to party, she said, like it was a best kept secret.
Grummett looks very pleased with that news and looks me up and down.
Yes,” he does, she said. Grummett drops his robe and we see him in a little red leather dress thing.
“Well, let me be a good host,” he says and waves for us to follow him into the kitchen where he starts mixing margaritas.
“Help yourself to the weed,” he says pointing to a number of perfectly rolled joints.
“Really?” I ask.
“Really!” Grummett repeats with enthusiasm.
“You some generous,” I say, and slip a couple of joints up my sleeve for later.
“If you feel like coke I can make a phone call.”
I shake my head. “Naw, man, but thanks anyway. Last thing I need to do is coke, I’ll be up all night looking to shoot stray cats.”
Barbarella looks interested, but she glances at the clock on the wall.
“I really shouldn’t, but a margarita sounds good.”
Grummett smiles and pours the margaritas into glasses so big I had to hold it with two hands; he lit a fresh joint and led us to the couch.
“So are you ready to party?” He asks.
I don’t understand what white people mean when they say party. One thing is true, it usually don’t have anything to do with dancing.
“Don’t we need the right mood music?” Barbarella asks.
“Oh, yes,” he said, and hurries over to the sound system and surprises me with what he puts on, Al Green. He nods at the both of us with the confidence of somebody who knows a little something. With my buzz coming on strong, I had to grab Barbarella’s hand and get her up to Texas Hop.
“What are you doing?
“It’s just a cha cha.”
I try to show her, but she holds onto me like I’m keeping her from drowning. It’s a whole lot of work and I’m glad when she gives up on dancing. Grummett sits slumped in a chair, joint about burning his fingers; he looks pretty damn pathetic.
“I hate my job so much it makes me want to scream, he mutters. I need to get away from here”
“You need to be disciplined,” Barbarella says with enough seriousness to make me laugh.
“If you say so,” he says, and drops to his knees.
“Crawl into the bedroom,” Barbarella commands with a nasty edge to her voice. That fool did crawl like he was born to crawl, but no baby every crawled like that, serious carpet burns dragging himself on his stomach with Barbarella right on him slapping his red, skinny ass.
“You deserved to be whipped, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I do. I deserve that more than anything in the world. I’ve been a horrible, horribly bad person who needs to be disciplined.”
“Oh, yes, you do, she says, and the little freak grunts with pleasure.”
Barbarella finds a hellish little knotted whip on his bed and tries it out on her hand.
“This should do nicely.”
“Oh, yes! He says like a happy little boy.”
I let them go at it and close the door and turn on the television. Motherfuckas like Grummett should just go to jail, doing time would be happyland meal-time for a freak like him.
A Hitchcock movie was on so I finish a joint and pour myself another margarita and sit back enjoying it, ignoring the muffled screams in the next room. I start to nod, buzzed so much I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
“You want to lend a hand?” Barbarella’s voice wakes me, standing there in her panties and heels, whip in hand, looking hella exhausted.
“No, I’m doing righteously right here. Is beating his skinny white ass tiring you out?”
“I told you it’s a lot of work.”
“Don’t expect me to be doing shit like that. I ain’t into it. I told you I ain’t into beating some white man’s ass cause he wants me to.”.
“He’s got Hubbard’s ear. He can make sure your mother gets a better deal.”
She had to go and say something to make me feel guilty. I put down my margarita.
“Yeah, that’s why I’m here. I’m supposed to be thinking clearly and responsibly.”
I grab the Margarita and down it in one big fucking gulp.
“That’s right, Calvin. Otherwise I’d be home sleeping.”
“What am I supposed to be doing to him? Can I do it at a distance, like throw darts at his nuts from across the room?”
Barbarella sighs and runs a hand through her hair, and then she twists it into a knot on top of her head. Whatever it was he wanted done it had to be fucking crazy for her to hesitate to tell me.
“Seeing that you are a big black man.”
“I don’t fucking listen to a sentence that starts off with ‘seeing that I’m a big black man. That’s that supposed to mean? That I’m not a skinny little white freak like him? I know that already.”
“I know you do.”
‘“What does he want me to do?”
“You might not be comfortable with this.”
“Listen, when I went to the place I didn’t fuck the faggots. I don’t fuck dudes. I don’t like dudes and I ain’t starting to fuck them now even to get my mama a better deal. Anyway, she wouldn’t want me to do something like. That shit is wrong.”
Barbarella rolls her eyes.
“I’m not stupid. I told him you wouldn’t fuck him.”
“Fuck him? Do I look like I’d fuck him? I don’t want to touch him. I don’t want to see him naked. I’m not getting naked. I’m not going to piss on him and he’s not gonna piss on me.”
“Don’t get defensive.”
“Shit, now my high’s gone.”
“He just wants you to help him.”
“Help him do what?
“How the hell we’re suppose to do that, cause like I said if I get something on me, I’m gonna kill somebody.”
“She runs her hand through her hair once more and sighs like her dog died.
“He wants to party with us, see us fucking while he gets off.”
I had to shake my head. As I said, when white people talk about partying, it’s never got no partying to it.
“See, I’m the type who likes to keep his dick to himself unless I’m sharing it with a woman. I don’t want to be thinking about some freak behind me, beating off like that.”
“I think we should give it a try. Grummett will help us if we help him.”
“Don’t matter cause I ain’t in. I ain’t gonna get hard with that kind of pressure.
She took a step toward me, wrapped her leg around one of my mine, and unbuckles my jeans and then she got on her knees.
“It ain’t gonna work.”
Just with her mouth close to it I was as hard as a bullet.
“Don’t you want it?”
“No, I’m cool.”
That’s when she got up on me like I was a tree and I’m still thinking this is some wrong shit to be doing with Grummett around. I turn and there he is looking at me all bugged eyed like he never seen a black ass or a white one. I turn away walking with her riding me which isn’t all that easy. I got her on the couch for some privacy and she wraps her legs around my neck, grunting into my ear. I think I lost it then, forgot where I was, everything, but giving it up. I did not care where I was and who was there just as long as I was with Barbarella, until I look up and see Grummett at the edge of the couch with his dick in one hand and something long and black in the other that he plunging up his ass like his life depended on it.
“Oh fuck! I’m coming, Barbarella shouts, or it might have been Grummett, all I know is I was trying to get the fuck away from him, but Barbarella’s locked around me. I thought that fool was aiming in my direction and I kick backward and the couch flips. Grummett lay twisted under the couch, hissing with pleasure. Me, I was spent and the way Barbarella was breathing next to me, I don’t think she wanted to do anything but catch her breath.
I damn near lost mine when someone started pounding on the door. It had to be police working a nightstick because that’s how they do it, to wake a dead motherfucker. Grummett hops up and drops the dildo, and straightens his leather dress and walks to the door, Barbarella tries to stop him.
“Don’t you need your robe?”
“Oh, my God, I almost forgot.” He picks it up off of the floor and ties it tight around himself and answers the door just as the pounding starts again. I straighten the couch and retreat out of range. Police don’t need to see me.
“Good evening, officer. Is there a problem?”
“We received complaints of loud noise, possibly a fight going on here.”
“Oh, I just had my television too loud.”
“You look ill. Are you ill?” The police officer asks.
“Yeah, he’s ill, he’s an ill motherfucker, I whisper to Barbarella.
“I’m doing quite fine, officer. Thank you for your concern. I’ll make sure to lower the volume on my television.”
Grummett slams the door, but as soon as he does the policeman starts to pound on it again.
Grummett yanks it open.
“What is the problem, officer?” Grummett demands.
“I’m writing you a citation. This is the fifth time I’ve had to come here for a noise complaint.”
Grummett put his hands on his hips and leans toward the policeman.
“You must understand that I will not submit myself to this kind of treatment. As a city councilman I’m shocked that you think that you can intimidate me. I will file a complaint tomorrow along with a visit to your chief to inform him of your heavy-handed treatment of one of his biggest supporters on the city council. I don’t expect he’ll be happy to hear that you insulted and humiliated me!”
There was a long pause and then I hear the cop mumble, “I’ll be going now.” Grummett slams the door without another word. I walk into the living room and pick up my pants and drawers off of the floor and put them on.
“Damn, Grummett, I didn’t know you had that in you. You punked the hell out of that cop.”
Grummett rips off his robe and tosses it on the floor, and scowls as he straightens his leather miniskirt, while brushing back his thinning hair.
“You know that’s why I became a politician because of people like him who take advantage of people who can’t defend themselves. I can defend myself and I refuse to allow fascist bullies to dictate to me how I may live my life. I won’t accept it, and I won’t accept that happening here in Pasadena. This is the new Pasadena where everybody will be respected by the police or I will personally sue the hell out of them until they get the message.
All I could is stare at him, this skinny, balding man in a ridiculous red leather miniskirt moved by what he had to say like I hadn’t been moved since I first heard Malcolm speak when I was fifteen. I ain’t gonna lie and pretend I was comfortable with that and even though just twenty minutes ago we were partying like fools in here, a regular orgy and he hadn’t bothered to pick up that big ass dildo he left right there on the floor right where the cop had to see it. But, shit I don’t care, Grummett has heart and a huge set of balls I don’t want to think about.
About Rogue’s Rules
Rogue is based on a cousin of mine who came back from Vietnam damaged but determined to figure out how to put himself back together again. Los Angeles of the seventies was probably as decadent a place to be in the United States as anywhere, and I wanted a character who could move through that world and be tough enough to survive and maybe even prosper. Rogue is that character.