Month: June 2016

Rescue Me (13)

They each took their normal seat inside the family’s Yukon.  Jared behind the driver, Gravity behind him.  Augusta behind her mother Felicity.  No one sat shotgun beside the driver and no one spoke.  It appears there is nothing left to say.  It has all been laid bare inside a conference room at the lawyers office.  To the tune of $1200 per hour, everything that could have been asked of the girls was asked.  Testimony was polished. Confessions made.  Bail paid.  And there they were, on the 101 freeway in a midday traffic jam.

“I just want to know one thing.” Felicity said after half of the ride had gone by.  Everyone groaned and shifted in their seats.  Feeling immediately trapped. The leather beneath them squealing beneath sweaty knees.

“They already said their piece.” Jared said softly to Felicity as he rested his hand on her knee.

“No.” Felicity sucked in air. “What they said was, they don’t actually know what happened.  All they did was take a shit on our set …they don’t know how the fire started.  I want to know why !”

“Does that really matter?” Jared asked.

“Yeah Mom…” Gravity and Augusta chimed in. “It doesn’t really matter.”

Felicity whipped around in her seat.”Of course it matters. You ungrateful shits!” The twins flinched.  Jared blanched.

“Felicity!” Jared scolded. “Watch your mouth -”

“You know what …I’m sick of this.  All of this.  Sick of coddling the hell out of you two…What you did was horrible!  Unforgivable!  Your spoiled rotten actions cost a man his life! His Life!”  she was screaming at this point and the tears that had previous eluded her were falling freely from her eyes.  She wiped them away with the back of her hand “You’re all acting like this is some sort of game.  Some little ‘oopsie’ that we can just make disappear because of who we are….”

“Mom! Calm down!” Augusta warned.

“It’s not an oopsie god dammit!” Felicity was sucking in her breath fast almost hyperventilating “It’s not going to disappear” sobbing now  “from… your… soul! You’re murderers! Murderers!”

“Mom!” Gravity cried.

The driver casually exited off the 101 at the Hollywood Bowl.  It was a premature exit but the heat in the Yukon was escalating to a level so high, he thought a breather might be necessary in the very immediate future.   Not a moment later Jared suggested they pull over.  The girls were screaming at Felicity.  Felicity was screaming at them and Jared was unsure exactly how to rein any of them in.

Oxygen.  That was his only suggestion.

“Let’s walk.” he ordered and he opened Felicity’s door for her from the inside.  “You two stay here.” He told the girls “And just…hang tight for a min?” he said to the driver who nodded his head.  He shuffled Felicity out the door with a shove of his hip bones.

“Felicity?” Jared spoke softly. “I know you’re upset but I mean…You can’t say shit like that to the kids.  You just can’t.”

“Oh I can’t?”

“No.  It’s not right.”

“I’m sorry.  Are we really going to debate semantics when our children, YOUR children, have killed a man?”

“You know as well as I do that they weren’t trying to kill anyone.” he whispered.

“That’s right.  They were just trying to hurt ….me! And Carlos….Mr DeLeon…just got in the way of their revenge on ME…right?”

“You heard Lester.  They were acting out and it got out of control….beyond their control.”

“Bad shit happens when you’re being a bad kid!”

“They’re not bad kids.”  Jared urged Felicity to take a seat on the curb.  At first she refused but her emotions were sucking all of her energy out of her swiftly.  Her knees were ready to buckle beneath her.  Jared fanned her face with his hands.  “You’re going to have a panic attack. Calm down.”

“I am calm.”

“Ok. Ok.”  Jared looked around them.  They were ironically close to the Universal Lot. A trick of the senses or perhaps reality made him pick up on the scent of burnt lumber.  He needed to get them out of here.  If not for the proximity to the crime but to the fact that they were two A-listers sitting on a curb on the side of the road. A few dog walking lookie loos were already taking notice.  “We have to get back in the car.”

“I don’t know if I can.” Felicity said.  But she stood up anyway.  “How can you look at them knowing what they’ve done?”

“They’re still our children.”

“But who are they?  That’s not who we raised.”

“But it is Felicity.  It is.”

Jared and Felicity climbed back into the Yukon.  Gave the driver the ok to go ahead and they were back in the traffic in a matter of moments.  Jared held Felicity’s hand tightly in his but they both stared out opposite windows.  No more words were said.

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Rescue me (12)

The housekeeper resumed vacuuming a rug in the back office after making a mental note of the time. She ran the vacuum’s attachment along the baseboard, sucking up cob webs and spider eggs. Her name is Guadalupe but the girls have always called her Lu.

Lu has lived with the family for fifteen of the twin’s sixteen years on earth.  She spent her first few years sleeping in the very same room she’s vacuuming.  A small study sized room tucked away behind the kitchen.  But her loyalty, discretion and attention to detail eventually earned her a momentous upgrade from stuffy storage room to full use of the guest cottage, aka a little spot of heaven in the middle of a colorful private garden high on the hill at the family’s compound, all for herself.  Her own oasis that Felicity and Lu had fun decorating and updating exactly to Lu’s specifications more than a few times over the years.  She was no longer just staff, she was family.  Everyone loves and respects Lu.

Lu hummed a little to herself.  She is a busy woman but a happy one.  Before the girls snuck in, Lu had been watching The News while she dusted.  There’s nothing much that goes on around here that she isn’t keenly aware of and she prefers to keep it that way.  It might be more than a full time job being the eyes and ears of the compound but she wouldn’t trade her position for the world. There is never a dull moment, that’s for sure.  Truth be told, she kind of likes the excitement.  Feeds a little bit off the drama.

Lu is always taking mental notes.  Filing away arrival and departure times, guest lists, half heard phone calls, whispered conversations …  She’s a wise woman and she has reaped many rewards for her trustworthiness.  She keeps the family together and her own bread buttered.  Knowing when to speak up, but more importantly when to keep her mouth sealed shut.  She could write a book.  Salacious and well detailed but she never would.  She loves the Simmons-Leto family and wants them to succeed.  Their good name is her good name.

Lu knows the girls didn’t come home last night.  That’s not entirely unheard of or scandalous unto itself except that Felicity also noticed the girls weren’t home. Lu doesn’t like Felicity to worry.  She tries her best to convince Felicity that her girls are far better behaved then they really are.  Covering for them countless times.  Just trying to keep the peace.  But this night wasn’t so easy.  Felicity’s instincts were spot on.  She was worried about her girls and knew something sinister was afoot.

Felicity and Lu shared a cup of tea at 2am and debated whether they should phone the police or wait out the sunrise.  It was Lu that talked Felicity out of the phone call that would have stopped the fire before it began.  To say she felt responsible now, is somewhat of an understatement.  She promised to wake Felicity when the girls came in but did nothing to try and usher them home.  She could have called the twins.  Texted.  Warned the girls they were caught.  But she didn’t.  And a few hours later it was Lu who had to wake Felicity to receive the terrible news about her studio burning along with several other acres of the Universal Studios lot.

After Lu finished vacuuming and put the machine back in its closet she made a quick retreat to her cottage high on the hill.  She usually spent the day in the main house so it was important that she sneak away unseen at this hour.  Once inside her little home she fired up her personal computer, signed in to their security service, downloaded the footage of the girls from The Lab to her PC and did a dirty delete so there would be no trace of that night at the offsite DVRs. If nothing triggered the cameras, nothing could be recorded for days, or even weeks.  No one would notice the missing footage. And frankly, no one but the police would ever be looking. There’s no head of security, no surveillance crew.  It’s just Lu, her PC, well placed motion triggered cameras and a few offsite DVRs.

The girls might think they made it home under the radar but Lu knows better. The girls should know better.  The cameras aren’t secrets. Stupid kids.  Unthinking and sloppy.  Lu will save them from themselves.  She’ll be the one to discard the soot covered clothes Gravity and Augusta haven’t yet realized they left behind at The Lab.  She’ll clean up the mess they left behind in the bathroom, in the kitchen. She’ll protect them from Felicity. She’ll make tea and offer up sleeping pills.  She’ll make appointments with lawyers and feed everyone well as they strategize.  She’ll rein in the girls.  She has a plan to put in motion.  The only snag, the only rogue soldier in this war against Hollywood is the General himself:  Jared.  Lu has no idea what to do about him.

Rescue me (11)

At Jared’s old house, the house his fans would have called The Lab, Augusta plugged her phone in to a charger she found suspiciously waiting for her on a counter in the downstairs kitchenette.  It freaked her out that it was the right charger but she took its presence in her Dad’s house as a good omen.

It is totally a sign from God or something, she thought.  He/She/Whatever doesn’t want them caught anymore than the girls want to be caught. Everything will work out in the end, she told herself.  Good luck doesn’t come to bad people.

Augusta exhaled for the first time in hours.  She felt hopeful and more like herself again. She flumped down on a chair near the kitchenette, paying no mind to the fact that she was exceptionally dirty and likely ruining the chair’s white upholstery, and watched her phone as it charged.

Meanwhile, Gravity was in the shower in her Dad’s old bedroom.  She used shampoo that probably expired years ago (if shampoo actually expires) to wash away the soot and ash from her hair and skin.  The water was heavenly but cold and a ghastly shade of gray as it circled beneath her feet then down the drain.

Gravity towel dried her hair as she rummaged through her father’s closet for some clothes to wear.  Her clothes from last night stunk something awful like a mix of chemicals and fire. They would have to get rid of their clothes somehow, but they’d figure that part out later.

Gravity pulled some colorful leggings off a shelf in the closet and yanked an old band t-shirt from its hanger and slipped both on before coiling her wet hair up in to a messy knot on top of her head.  It was quiet in the house.  Gravity wondered if the fire was out.  She didn’t hear any helicopters circling overhead but she wasn’t exactly sure that she would either.  The house might not be beneath their flight path.  She fought the urge to flip on the television in her Dad’s room.  Mixed emotions filled her.  If she watched, she’d have to acknowledge what she had done.  What they both had done.  Here and now, she was just taking a shower at her Dad’s.  She wasn’t trespassing.  This is her Dad’s house.  Even though her being here was way out of the norm for their behavior.  No one ever came to their Dad’s old house.  There was no reason to.  The house they lived in together was a billion times nicer.

Gravity peeked in the bathroom to see if she had left anything behind and was horrified by the smears of soot she left virtually everywhere.  She got down on her hands and knees and tried her best to mop it all up with the towel she had used.  The towel was ruined.  Her clothes were ruined.  More evidence of the mess they had made.

“I was able to lock your phone from here.” Augusta said immediately upon Gravity’s entrance to the kitchenette.  “And the news doesn’t say anything about us yet.”

“Yet.”

“Look at it.” Augusta held up her phone which was streaming live footage of the scene.  She was giddy with excitement.  Gravity almost vomited.

“I don’t want to.  Go shower.”

“You really should see it.  It’s madness.  This one guy…”

“Shut up!”Gravity screamed “I told you I don’t want to hear about it!”

Augusta slapped her phone down and stood up. “Hold up. Don’t tell me to shut up.”

“Shut up!”

“Or what? What are you gonna do if I don’t?”

“I’m going to leave you here.”

Augusta instantly felt terrified but her mouth wouldn’t let her retreat “You’re not my mother.” she said pathetically.

“That’s right dickface. I’m your fucking sister. Your twin sister.  And the longer we’re here, the more likely we’re going to get caught.  So go wash your fucking ass and lets get out of here.”

Twenty minutes later they were in an Uber. 15 minutes after that they were sneaking in to their house like cat burglars. It was only after they encountered the family housekeeper that they discovered their Mom had already left for Universal and no one had a clue they were gone all night long.  Except, of course, the housekeeper herself.

Rescue me (10)

While Jared and Felicity slept peacefully in separate beds, on opposite sides of the country, their only children, their twin baby girls, did over $300 million dollars worth of damage to the property of Universal Studios.

They set a fire that burned so hot, the sprinklers couldn’t keep it at bay.  A fire that raged so grand that Bubble and Squeak was burned to the ground.  The surrounding soundstages met similar fates.  The concrete walls of the warehouses charred and the entire contents ash.  The studio lot looked like a war zone.  A set for a post-apocalyptic summer blockbuster.  It was epic.  And the girls were unharmed but scared to death.

They didn’t mean to do all that.

As they fled the lot and made their way away from the fast traveling flames they asked themselves “Why the hell is it burning so much?”

“I don’t know but run…oh my god fucking run your ass off!”

“It shouldn’t burn like that.  What did we do? What did we do?”

“Get your shit together!”

Gravity fell to her knees, exhausted and freaking out. “We have to call 911” She screamed.

“We have to get the fuck out of here!” Augusta pulled Gravity violently by her t-shirt.  She launched forward and fell back to her knees.  Her cellphone slipped out of her jean’s pocket.  The chaos and the roar of the fire covered the sound as it hit the pavement.  Gravity and Augusta fled the scene but left behind the phone.  The smart phone.  The camera phone that held snapchats and selfies and an entire accounting of their night trespassing at Universal Studios.  A smart phone that time stamped everything right up until the first chair toppled over.  A smart phone that put them at the scene of the crime seconds before the first flame licked the first beam.

45 minutes later the girls sat in the grass high on a hill in an empty lot on Fredonia Drive and watched the fire rage and the trucks arrive and the planes dump water over what they had done in an attempt to extinguish the fires.  The sun had risen and the news copters were circling.  The twins, however, were dead silent.  There were no words to say to even begin to acknowledge aloud what they were witnessing.  What they had caused.  Tears streamed down both of their faces.  Their soot covered faces.  Their hands and knees shook.  They sat very close.  In silence.

Below them, in starter mansions and old Cali bungalows people were waking up.  Walking out on to their balconies and witnessing the fire.  A few people gathered on the street together.  Neighbors wondering if their own homes, so close to the blaze, could be at risk.  The girls felt exceptionally helpless.  They had done a very bad thing and the proof of that was all over their skin and clothing.  The sun had risen and their bad deed was written all over them.  In the ashes in their hair.  In the very smell of their skin.

The wind from the blades of a helicopter whipped down on the twins as it hovered above them, waiting with its bucket of water pulled from Lake Hollywood for a safe moment to approach and dump a billion gallons on the fire.  The girls scurried away from the wind and further up the hill.  Little branches and twigs whipped up and hit them in the face cutting their exposed skin.  Augusta cried harder.  Audibly sobbed this time.  Gravity tried to comfort her but her efforts were useless.  They were fucked.  Really really fucked.

They climbed higher and higher, trying to avoid the wind from the helicopter and before they knew it, without intention, they found themselves on the blacktop of a street called Wrightwood.

“Shit!” Augusta screamed and she pulled Gravity back in to the protection of the abandoned lot.

A moment later the wind stopped as the helicopter flew over to Universal.

“It’s going to come back around.” Augusta stated.

“I know.” Gravity slid her hand in to her back pocket to retrieve her phone “We have to call someone to pick us up…” she began to say as she searched her pockets for her phone.  As the reality of its loss hit her, her face lost all color and her eyes widened.

“WHAT??” Augusta screamed as she noticed immediately the change in Gravity’s entire demeanor.

“I…” she could barely speak “I lost…my phone isn’t in my fucking pocket!”

“Check your other ones!”

“I did!” Gravity stared across the abandoned lot down towards Universal “Oh my God!”

“It’s not there.  It could have fallen out anywhere.  It’s probably here, lets look around here.” Augusta suggested.

“It’s not going to be here!” Gravity screamed “It fell out when I fell at the place…Augusta, all the pictures we took are on it!”

“I’ll log in to your phone from mine and we’ll do that thing with the app.  We’ll lock whoever finds it out!”

“Do it!” Gravity screamed. No time to waste.  Augusta pulled her own phone out of her pocket and went to utilize it and discovered its dead.

She held it up to show Gravity and frantically shouted “We have to go home! We can lock your iphone from Dad’s computer.  They wont be able to see anything. We have to go home!”  She pulled Gravity forward, down the hill.

“Ok genius how exactly do you suggest we do that?”  Gravity was defeated before even trying.  “We’re fucking caught.”

“No we aren’t.  Shut the hell up.”

“How are we going to get home to do anything?”

Gravity had a point and Augusta didn’t like it.  But there was nothing they really could do in that moment but hope for the best.  Maybe the phone got ran over.  It’s not like they had any other option but to hope for the best.  They couldn’t call an Uber and escape this madness.  Yet, they couldn’t be seen walking the street to find a phone to call a cab either.  It’s not like this is NYC where cabs would be circling like sharks just waiting for the chum.  They were sitting ducks.  They had to be hopeful sitting ducks or else, who knows what would happen.

“We can try to get into Daddy’s old place.” Gravity suggested after ten grueling minutes of silence. “I don’t know what he even has there anymore but maybe he has a charger. Or at least we can fucking shower or there’s a computer or something.”

“How would we even get in?”

“We try the code.”

“What code? You act like you know the code.  We haven’t been there in years.  It probably isn’t even the same one.  What would it be anyway?”

“Everything is always 6277 you idiot. He never changes anything.  Like ever.  Have you even met Dad?”

“Let’s go then smartass.  It’s not like it could get worse if you’re wrong.”

It could.  And it probably will but Gravity was trying to be hopeful.  For the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

Rescue me (9)

Augusta and Gravity Leto stood stoic and still at the center of the darkened soundstage where their parents’ filmed a hit television show. At first the girls were just wasting time. Breaking curfew and stalling the inevitable.  Finding reprieve from a creep in a place that looked so much like home, they felt they had rights to trespass.  But something had changed for the girls while they lingered inside their parents’ workplace.  Negative feelings were bubbling up to the surface and their conversation quickly went from light-hearted and stupid to very serious and dangerous.  Their emotions were of the sort that the best of the best therapy in the world had barely repressed.  Nothing surprising or new, but wickedly intense and overly inflated as they stood in the very place that pissed them off the most.

“We should go.” Gravity suggested again. “Fuck this place.”

“Yeah.” Augusta agreed, but neither girl moved.

The soundstage was all set and ready for a new day of filming a scripted show that painfully mimicked what the girls so desperately wished their home life was like and mocked their own reality.  It felt like the world was able to peek inside their house but see someone else’s life.  It was a mind fuck of epic proportions.  Every episode left Gravity, Augusta and their friends reeling. They all thought it’d be a fucking scream ‘If only Hollywood knew the real Jared Leto…’ 

To say they were angry at how they were portrayed on tv, how the entire family was portrayed on tv, would be one hell of an understatement.  Sure, their friends all knew it was fake, but what about the rest of the world? They had no idea how fucked up it was being born in a spotlight.  The bank accounts could never be big enough to exchange for the rights to your own life.  To live how you wanted to live.  To be who you actually are.

The twins were put out by it all.  Totally over all the attention and lack of normalcy.  They weren’t even sure what being normal is really like.  But they felt its absence.  They felt so used by everyone, especially their parents, but also invisible.  They were this thing: The Leto Twins.  They were merchandise.  They were a television show.  A television show they were never consulted on.  A television show with two actors that painfully resembled them saying words they would never say and acting out feelings they would never feel.  They shit roses on that set and all Gravity and Augusta felt were the thorns.

For years they went along with the program. Thinking Mommy and Daddy know best. Their lives were blessed in many ways, and they tried to appreciate that. What were they really complaining about? A life of luxury.  Perpetual leisure.  Unlimited attention.  It was bratty to even suggest they had something to complain about.  Not when they could go in any store anywhere on the entire planet and pick out anything and everything and have it boxed up and shipped back to any one of the sprawling mansions their family owned all across the world.  They could spend the day snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain and finish with a sunset bonfire on the beach in Malibu. Helicopters. Private planes. Car services. American Express.  They had it all at their disposal.  If they didn’t want to do their homework, it didn’t really matter.  Everyone who met them knew they’d never have to work a day in their lives.  What did it matter if they learned algebra, they could just hire someone to be their walking calculator.

No one expected anything of the Leto twins and that left them feeling like nothing.  There was no purpose to their lives now that there were two very good actresses willing to tell their story much better than they ever could.  And that was the problem in of itself.  They had a story to tell, a really good one. One that they were proud of.  One that they even put on film with their friends.  They thought it had the flavor of Laguna Beach with the attitude of NYC Prep but with bigger names and prettier faces.  They were funny and witty and had amazing footage.  About 18 months before the tv show launched, they presented the homemade reel to their parents Jared and Felicity.  Made a big production out of it it like a film festival debut.  Everyone crowded in to the media room at the Laurel Canyon compound and watched 3 semi-choppy but very entertaining 30 minute vingettes filmed by Gravity, Augusta and friends on Blackmagic cinema cameras.

They expected fanfare and cheers from their parents but all they got was a stiff pat on the back from Dad and “that was cute girls” from Mom.  All of the kids loved it and Felicity and Jared acted like they flat out hated it. No one celebrated.  No one asked a question.  And it broke the girls heart.

But just one fucking year later, ONE year, Bubble and Squeak was born.

Bubble and Squeak: a scripted show filmed to look an awful lot like a reality show that followed the lives of two famous twins born in a spotlight.  Each episode included hijinks and comedy tracks. Fake friends and zero wit. It made the real Leto twins want to vomit.  Bubble and Squeak were assholes.  Big stupid fuckfaces that embarrassed the hell out of Gravity and Augusta every Tuesday at 8pm for years.

Augusta shifted on the soundstage, aiming towards the exit and she knocked over a chair from the dinning room table.  It hit the stage floor with a glorious bang.  It was loud and powerful.  She liked how it sounded so she purposely knocked over a second.  Both girls stared at the overturned chairs in the dim light.  They looked so out of place.  Gloriously out of place.  Gravity walked over to the dinning room set and stood next to Augusta as they towered over the toppled chairs.  Gravity reached across to the middle of the table, set her arm next to a fancy fake floral arrangement and slid her entire arm fast across the polished wood, so fast that when her forearm made contact with the flowers, it sent them catapulting across the fake set and crashed brilliantly into the fake third wall.  The floral arrangement left a dent, a small break in the faux sheetrock.  There was damage.  Noticeable damage.

There was no turning back now.