Reality stars Gravity and Augusta Leto, the twin daughters of two-time Academy Award Winner Jared Leto and his long-time companion, screenwriter Felicity Simon, were arrested in Hollywood on Tuesday on suspicion of aggravated arson.
The December 19th fire at Universal Studios, which police allege was intentionally set by the sixteen year old twins, resulted in one death and over $300 million in damages. Fire investigators say that evidence gathered at the scene suggests the inferno likely started on the set of Bubble and Squeak, built in 2016, and spread rapidly across Universal due to exceptionally windy conditions. One person died and four were critically injured in the blaze.
The Leto twins were taken in to custody without incident and booked at Central Juvenile Hall on Eastlake awaiting bond. Jared Leto could not be reached for comment, however, we caught up with Felicity Simon before she stepped into a meeting at her lawyers’ offices and she had this to say: “They couldn’t have done it. No way.”
Felicity closed her macbook, tossed her reading glasses on the kitchen counter, rested her forehead on the chilled marble and willed herself to cry. A cry that was long overdue after a day spent projecting a brave face to the world and pretending there was no way her children were guilty of such an atrocity.
Unfortunately, Felicity’s tears eluded her and the lies she felt compelled to tell were consuming her. There’s a possibility. Sure. And Felicity has suspected her twins are guilty from the outset. But she’s not about to let Diane Sawyer and camp in on that.
She didn’t want to admit it to anyone but Felicity had to be honest with herself, and only herself, right here and now during what will likely be the only private moment she’ll have in the next few days, weeks, months … however long it takes for this nightmare to run its course. The girls are guilty. She couldn’t cry over it but she had to admit it. Accept it. She had to say it out loud: The girls are guilty.
It wasn’t very hard to let her mind ‘go there,’ if she’s being real. The twins are no angels. No strangers to community service and TMZ headlines. This isn’t something they “couldn’t have done.” They very well could have and probably did. And there’s no way to get around that truth. But it’s not all Felicity’s fault. She refused to take the blame for this one. Their downfall was a community effort. If she was going to go down in flames, she was going to take all of Hollywood with her.
It took a village to light the match that burnt down Universal. And every single person in this town knows how long that fire has been smoldering. Hollywood is just as guilty as her girls. And Felicity will make sure no one forgets that. She warned everyone, but no one ever listened. They never backed off. They didn’t let the girls grow up. And now look what has happened.
The only thing surprising about all of this to Felicity is how long it took for the girls to hit rock bottom. She’s been watching the inevitable come to fruition for years now. And she was at a loss to do anything about it. Until today. She’ll take her family back now, you’ve done enough damage America.
Identical twin ticking time bombs: Gravity and Augusta Leto.
What a shame. Tragic Twins. No! Not any more. Felicity wont stand for it.
Gravity and Augusta Leto came in to this world on a headline. More than the latest production of two Hollywood stars, they were stars themselves. No coattails for these kids.
Born in the spotlight. Quite literally.
A spotlight that hasn’t dimmed for a moment of the sixteen years they’ve spent on this earth. They’re infamous and spoilt. And it’s not entirely their fault (or their parents). They are Hollywood’s miracle babies with a life story that never gets stale.
Who could really blame anyone really for how it all began? Innocent enough. Felicity was 31 weeks into an uncomplicated pregnancy, presenting a lifetime achievement award at the Screen Actors Guild gala, when her water broke violently in front of 2.7 million viewers and all of Hollywood’s elite. It was an instant headline. The talk of the town. A premature birth on National T.V. 24 hour news and two beautiful, yet fragile, pink bundles of joy to root for. Those who didn’t watch the birth live, read about it the next day. Watched the recap on the Today show. Found out all about it at the water cooler. A feel good, happy and hopeful story in a post 9/11 world.
Felicity and Jared were touched by the outpouring of love. The gifts. The well wishes. The generosity of a nation transfixed by the twin’s birth story and invested in their future. They gave regular updates to the press. And the nation hung on every detail. Riding a roller coaster of ups and downs with the young couple for months until the twins were stable.
People magazine paid handsomely for exclusive access that yielded a four page cover story that included such tacky pictures as Jared with his hands on Felicity’s deflated womb as they stood next to not one but two empty pink cribs. A closet bursting with purple and pink and ivory dresses that wouldn’t fit the girls for years. Handmade gifts from all around the world stacked in the nursery for the photographs. Heavily staged and tacky photographs with a sensational headline and story beside it. It made Felicity uncomfortable and Jared felt put out. But it was obligatory and necessary given how much everyone out there lifted them up in the beginning of the ordeal.
Telling one story would save them from telling fifty more, so they thought.
Oprah had the exclusive when the girls came home. A promise of authenticity this time around and an exclusive peek at how normal everyone was. A vain attempt at saying goodbye to the spotlight. You can go back to your lives now. Look at how normal we are! It only endeared viewers more.
As a result of that special, the world fell in love with Felicity and Jared just as much as their offspring. Their own careers were enhanced. The ball kept on rolling forward.
So, as thanks for the blessings or to assuage the demand (it varied year to year) the girls’ milestones and firsts were immortalized in countless magazines and one-off specials (reality tv precursor programing). Their First Birthday: viewed by nine million people. Second birthday just as well received and over the top. A big top – as in a circus. Complete with elephant. It never ended.
Without written permission, the children became a commodity. Cooing, crawling, giggling, toddling, tricycle riding, milk drinking marketing machines. Little models. Little actresses. Little divas with PR reps, lawyers, agents. Ribbon cutting. Trend setting. Stars.
There was no reining any of it in, unfortunately. The train left the station and the nation was all aboard. And only in retrospect are the hard lessons learned.
Felicity and Jared tried their damnedest to keep the girls grounded. They really did. They set limits and a fine example for the girls. They always made them clean up after themselves, even with a capable staff ready to do it for them. They had to do their homework before they could watch t.v. They said yes ma’am and no sir. Please and thank you. They had to succeed at being normal before Felicity and Jared would let them access the excess. And it worked, for a little while, to a degree. They were proper children even as their egos were becoming a problem. They were angels in the spotlight and they learned the art of manipulation early. Clever and crafty and eventually shady and slick.
Angels until boarding school. Where outside the bubble they came to fully grasp who they were, what their story meant to the rest of the country and most detrimental: they came to understand that they had a “net worth” and what that “net worth” meant in the grand scheme of things. They became aware, as other children dreamed of the future careers and college, that they would never have to work a day in either of their lives. Moreover, that they would make more money in one calendar year off interest alone than their teachers would make in a lifetime – two lifetimes. Their net worth had exceed their entrepreneurial and wisely vested parents nest egg before the twins were age eight. And now they knew that. They could buy and sell the moon. And there was no shortage of adults circling them like flies ready to help them spend spend spend.
With that knowledge and the power that came with, the tables tipped. Personalities changed and no one was in control of what happened next. Not Jared or Felicity. Not even the girls.
The scene at the airport as Jared rushed to a waiting Suburban was something out of a Michael Jackson biopic. Pure insanity. Hoards of people running. Screaming. Pushing. Shoving. Shutters fluttering. Flashbulbs blinding. Microphones at his mouth. Shoulder-mounted cameras in his face. Intrusive questioning in both ears.
Shouting. Shoving. Chaos.
Death by flash.
Jared tried his best to ignore the calamity he found himself within. He put his phone to his ear pretending to speak to someone far more important than any member of this crowd. If it were a real call, he wouldn’t be able to hear a thing. Pure madness. He was thankful for his props: sunglasses and a black fedora. He could hide beneath them for the short walk to the waiting car. He kept character.
Look distracted. Disinterested. Unpreturbed.
Behind a tinted window Jared exhaled then said hello to his driver.
“Wow man.” the driver sighed as he tried to pull away from the crowd and in to oncoming traffic. A swarm of bodies surrounded the car as they crept forward. It was tempting to run them over. Subhumans. Eventually the throng gave way to the giant automobile. But not before banging on the windows and shaking the chassis.
Jared looked at the floor. He wasn’t sure how tinted the windows were and he wasn’t about to give another free photo-op so he kept the hat and sunglasses on inside the car. And said nothing more. He raised his head, if they could see in, he wanted the photographers to catch him with his head held high, not bowed.
He rang up Felicity and the driver, without prompting, respectfully put up the partition glass between he and Jared. He knew the headlines just like the rest of America and didn’t feel right about listening in on the private conversation of a family in crisis. Jared made a mental note to tip big.
“I’ve landed.” Jared said when Felicity came on the line.
“Oh thank god.” she sighed. “How bad was it?”
“Fucking ridiculous.” Jared explained to Felicity the extent of the madness. How the paps and legit news outlets were falling all over themselves for a soundbite and a loose lip. Lobbing questions at him that no one in their right mind would ever answer about their children. Enraging comments from lookie-loos. Judgements and castigations. “Like goddamn vultures.”
No stranger to swarms of people, he was quick to describe the difference in the two. This felt like bloodletting not a homecoming. The energy the polar opposite of what he is used to. Pande-fucking-monium.
Felicity sighed down the phone line.
“Is there anything I have to know right now…like right now? Or can the rest wait until I’m there with you?” Jared asked.
“The bond is 2.5 million.”
Felicity apologized for everything, not that she was guilty of anything, but that she was legitimately sorry for the pain he was coming home to and Jared promised it would be ok, that he loved her dearly (the girls too) and he’d be home soon and when he got there, they’d talk more.
“I love you.” Felicity said one more time before hanging up.
“I love you too.”
Outside the gates that ran along the front of their property and protected their handsome home stood the second string. Reporters at rest but there none-the-less. Felicity glanced at the television screen in the kitchen. CNN was on but muted. It was an arial shot of her home in one corner of the screen and in another, a reporter was reporting from Felicity’s driveway. Someone she recognized from the business as a friend. A friend who had been behind the gates countless times, now out front giving the scoop. Felicity wished she could cry. This is something to cry over for certain.
Jared would be in the mix again in less than an hour. She felt overwhelming sadness envelop her as she thought about Jared’s homecoming. She wondered if there were anything she could do or say that would make him happy to be home. Anything at all.
Who the hell wants to leave the open sea for a cloudy fishbowl? Nobody. And now, here again, under the worst of circumstances, she expected (needed) him to do just that. No matter what he had planned for whatever part of the world he had been visiting. He had to come back to port. Felicity still couldn’t understand how he dealt with paparazzi under the best of circumstances. It must be such a mind-fuck. And here he is …
Instead of putting on lipstick, filing a vase with fresh flowers or fixing his favorite meal like a good little wifey, Felicity started the coffee maker and set out to organize everything that was known thus far about the fire. Jared wouldn’t want comfort when he walked through their front door, he’d want data. This would be his welcome home. Data.
She took a few moments gathering scraps of paper from all over the house, scraps that held the notes she made during the multitude of phone calls she received from law enforcement and her lawyers over the last 24 hours and sat down at her desk and scribbled out a timeline. She wanted to put some sort of framework to what is known and prepare themselves, the family, for the unknown. She wanted the holes in the story to leap off the page. She knew there’d be holes. There’d be a lot of them.
Jared will, undoubtedly, have a thousand questions for Felicity about what has been happening in meetings and on the phone and she wants to be able to answer everything with as much fact and detail as he requires. If she can regurgitate what he wants to know timely and succinctly, that will please him. And she wants to do right by him the best she can, of course. Facts, not feelings, are what he’ll be most interested in. Of course he cares about the rest, they just don’t have time to dwell on that. There’s no time for wallowing. It’s time for strategy and to sketch battle plans if they are going to war.
Felicity rereads the paperwork. On a fresh legal pad she scribbles out new notes. Through conversations with investigators and the lawyers for the girls, she has a pretty good idea of what they think happened December 19th. On a second page Felicity cross-references the girls’ calendar the day of the fire. Appearances. School. Work. She goes back weeks – leaving very few gaps in the timeline. But there are gaps. Gaping ones. She sighs. There’s much work to be done on the timeline. Too much time still to be accounted for.
Felicity puts that aside and gathers names and contact information on another paper. She organizes the paperwork from the arraignments and the requirement for bonds. She punches three holes in the retainer agreement and a xerox copy of the canceled check and countless other documents and slides them in to the binder rings for safe keeping. Some semblance of organization emerges as she sorts through her notes, re-recording whats important on a new sheet of paper. Thinning out. Straightening up. Highlighting what they know and what’s still a mystery.
Much of it is still a mystery.
Less than an hour later, Felicity hears the groan of the front gate and a car pull in front of the house. She peeks out the window of her study and sees Jared helping his driver remove his bags from the trunk. Two suitcases and a laundry bag. She steps away from the window and sweeps the paperwork she hasn’t reviewed back into a file folder.
It’s thick, she thought, and we have only just begun.
“Where are you??” Jared called up the stairs a few minutes later.
“In here!” Felicity shouted back before scooting to meet him halfway in the hallway. They embraced and Jared peppered her lips with small kisses.
“I’m so glad you’re home.” Felicity says.
“I’ve missed you.”
It was then that Felicity finally started to cry.
After a good cry, they backed out of their hug but Jared held on to her hand and gazed around the upstairs landing like a lost puppy. What to do first? Well, what to do next? He didn’t want to stop touching Felicity. He missed her touch, like crazy. She clearly has been shouldering a lot over the last 24 hours. He felt worthless.
“I need to clean up.” he confessed. Felicity smiled. He looked quite handsome and fresh to her. She couldn’t believe how much better she felt just having him in the same room. They walked together towards the master bedroom chatting about nothing. Worried their emotions might come spilling out uncontrollably again.
How was the drive over?
You get anything to eat?
No. Not yet.
You hungry? I could make you something.
No. Not really. Thanks though…
Are you ready to talk about what happened?
Then: I missed you.
Jared invited Felicity to join him in the shower. And of course, she did. They got reacquainted like lovers must do after being apart for so long. They washed away their loneliness and bonded in a physical and mental sense beneath the warm water. This was long overdue and much needed. More important than anything that awaited them in the study or down at the jail.
After the shower they dressed in casual clothes and Felicity brought the lawyer’s file in to Jared’s study where they dissected every word Felicity has heard in the last 48 hours and every line of written word from the lawyer as well. Dissected and digested until Jared said:
Jesus Christ Felicity, it sounds like they actually did it.
Felicity’s stomach churned and she couldn’t believe her own mouth when the words tumbled out:
I think you’re right.
“What we’ve got here is a cry for help….” CNN.
“Their actions are indicative of an entire generation living without a moral code. Coddled children…” MSNBC
“It’s an embodiment of society’s cultural decay.” FoxNews.
“Sometimes kids are just bad.” Dr. Eileen Hartnett, Today Show
Jared switched the television off, tossed the remote on the sofa and sighed loudly.
“How about all of the fucking above?”
Laying across his desk were newspapers from around the world with headlines similar in nature to what the talking heads on the 24 hour news stations were saying. Pictures of the charred studio lot and aerial videos of smoldering rubble accompanied the chatter about Gravity and Augusta Leto’s alleged crime. It was sensational and likely going to be the biggest story of the decade. Two rich kids, twins, with household names. Faces that America loved. Criminals. $300 million in property damages. One dead. 4 critically wounded. He still couldn’t fucking believe this was their life now.
Jared hadn’t been to the jail to see his girls yet. On the advice of their legal team, the girls were remaining behind bars for the time being, at least until the dust settled a bit. He didn’t like the idea of them being inside a lock up but he agreed it was probably the safest place for them right now. He had faith in the lawyers and their advice even if it meant he wouldn’t see the twins for a while. There is no way in hell he could bring himself to visit them behind bars. He didn’t think he could handle it on top of everything else. On the other hand, Felicity had been down to see them everyday. There are some things a Mother can do that a Father cannot. Visiting their twin daughters in jail is one of those things. Jared didn’t beat himself up over it too much. As long as Felicity went, they would know they were loved.
“Well, the good news is, there is absolutely no video after they jumped the fence. None. And we know they weren’t carrying anything with them when they jumped the fence. So where did they supposedly get the gasoline?” Felicity was talking in to her telephone, debating the merits of the case with someone when Jared peeked in her office. Her back was to the door, she had no idea he stood there. He listened for a moment more before turning away.
“Yes, but, they can’t prove that.”
Jared laced up his old black hiking sneaks and slipped out the back door of his house. Their lot backed up quite nicely to a private drive that dipped in to a few lesser known canyon trails. He figured the paps wouldn’t have come that far down the private drive and thusly he could sneak away unnoticed. Jared needed to work off some of his angst and a hike is the best form of anger management he could come up with given the limitations of his situation. It sounded like, from Felicity’s phone call, the evidence might be weak against the girls, this knowledge propelled Jared forward on a nice long hike.
He got pretty far into a rocky trail before his phone started ringing. With sweat beading on his forehead and the sun shining down on his shoulders he paused for a moment and checked the phone’s caller ID. It was Shannon. He hesitated, then sent the call to voicemail. He couldn’t answer the call and lose his sense of peace. He needed the salve the solitude of nature could provide for his wounds. Another voice in his head would ruin the zen for sure. He promised the air he’d call his brother back sometime later that evening and he kept on hiking. Up rockier terrain and through thicker underbrush. He didn’t know where this barely traveled trail was leading him but it felt good beneath his feet.
When Jared got home later that night, calling Shannon back was the last thing on his mind. Showing on the big screen t.v., that hung high on a wall in the great room, was a salacious crime talk show hosted by Nancy Grace. Felicity was standing in front of the t.v. in stunned silence. Nancy Grace wasn’t running the same stock footage all the other news outlets were running, she was running CCTV footage of Jared’s girls pouring some liquid all over a set that was painfully familiar to Jared. The set of his hit series written by none other than his wife Felicity.
“Where were the parents?” Nancy Grace was screaming.
Felicity started to moan.
“We were right here!” she was crying “Right here!”
Nancy Grace lobbed painful allegations against Felicity and Jared. Basically putting the freaking match in their hands and theirs alone. It was salacious to say the least. Ridiculously unfair and definitely below the belt. Felicity fell to her knees. “There goes our careers.” she cried when she saw Jared standing behind her.
“Shit.” Jared mumbled. “Shit.Shit.Shit Shit.Shit”
“Text someone!” Augusta whined.
“I did.” Gravity replied. “No one is awake”
“Well then how the fuck are we gonna get home?”
“I don’t know! You act like this was my idea.”
“Well it wasn’t mine!”
“If it wasn’t your idea, then why are we out here? You’re the one all pissed at Daddy. Not me.”
Augusta leaned over into Gravity’s face and said “Don’t call him that.”
Gravity rolled her eyes “Oh, I’m sooo sorry I meant to say sperm donor.”
“Shut up. You know he’s a shit father.”
“He wasn’t always.” Gravity said softly.
“Well he is now!” Augusta said “And he has been for years.”
“It’s only because he hates Mom. He doesn’t hate us.”
“He has a shit way of showing that.”
“He’s probably not even gonna be home this week.”
“He’s coming home. They’re filming the show. I looked at his calendar.”
“Ok then, if we’re not going home because big old scary Dad might be there, where are we going to stay tonight?”
“I don’t know.”
The two girls were roaming around town way past curfew. At the time of night when even the tattoo parlors are closed. Their friends had all gone home many hours ago and now no one was answering their texts. Gravity and Augusta were hoping someone would respond and let them sneak in to their parents’ guest house. But it was too late at night. They couldn’t get a hotel room, Mommy and Daddy cut off their credit cards weeks ago. And none of their friends were up. They should have figured out where they were going to stay much earlier in the night. Even Hollywood was quiet. If only their father hadn’t put all their money in a trust, they wouldn’t have these problems. Like it was his money to touch!
Augusta and Gravity walked slowly past the Nissan dealership on Cahuenga beneath the tourist entrance for Universal Studios. They were looking for something to occupy their time until sunrise. Anything to do but go home. Walking around aimlessly was all they came up with so far. Not going home was going to teach someone a lesson. They weren’t exactly sure who though now that there was absolutely nothing to do.
“Do you have any more cigarettes?” Augusta asked Gravity.
“No.” she confessed.
The girls wandered onward to an ARCO station. Finally on a mission. Copping cigarettes at the AM/PM. They’re underage but that never matters to the non english speaking/half drunk/half human mess operating the register. With bullet proof glass between them they ask for their brand of choice.
The clerk grunts back at them. “You got i.d.?”
Both girls look up from the change they had been counting out on the metal counter. “No we don’t have fucking i.d.” Augusta whines.
“I’m just playin'” he cackles as he slips two soft packs of Newport 100s through the safety drawer between. “You two look familiar.”
“Yeah. We get that all the time.” Gravity explains.
“Be good.” he says as he accepts $17 in crumpled ones and change.
The twins walked back across the pass to the edge of Universal’s property while they talked about people in their class. Everyone is an asshole or a liar or cheating on their boyfriend. No one is good in the eyes of the Leto-twins. Everyone has an ulterior motive and a bad backstory. Their Dad is an asshole. Mom is too busy writing. No one is safe from ridicule in this conversation. No one. The conversation does nothing to help their mood.
As they were walking they noticed they were no longer alone. On the other side of the blvd was a man dressed all in black keeping pace with them. Without saying a word, Gravity pulled Augusta down a foliage rich pathway and they crept along behind the brush, up against a fence for safety. The fence abutted the Universal Studio’s back lot. Gravity nervously flicked her lighter on and off.
“Stop it! Jesus Christ. He’s gonna fucking see us!” Augusta exclaimed.
It was that moment, and only because of that man that Gravity and Augusta did the unthinkable and hopped over the security fence that lined the backlot of Universal Studios.
Jared quickly dialed his lawyer’s personal cell phone. It was late but he has no concept of time today. Everyone who knows them, understands and expects late night calls from Felicity and/or Jared, given the magnitude of this week. His lawyer, an expert in contractual law not crime, introduced the family to the best criminal defense attorneys money could buy and Felicity had seemed pleased. She had spoken to them more than a dozen times already. They had probably even sat down with the girls by now, Jared wasn’t sure. He hasn’t made it to their office, yet. But, this wasn’t a call about the criminal attorney or even Felicity. This was a personal call. This was a call about a contract.
“How ya holding up buddy?” Lester Thomas asked as he spoke to Jared from the toilet stall in the men’s bathroom at the back of Poke Bar. His pants were down around his ankles and his date was probably getting antsy out in the dinning area but this was a call Lester would not miss.
“As expected.” Jared said “Listen. I have to ask you something personal and it has to be extremely confidential …Are you somewhere you can talk? Are you in your office?”
“Of course, of course, what’s up?” Lester hit mute on the phone when he heard someone else enter the restroom.
Jared continued after a cough “I need to know what my obligations are here.”
“What’d you say Jared?”
“I want to know if I can walk away from this. Legally!” Jared nearly shouted.
“Walk away?” Lester pulled his pants up with one hand and walked out of the bathroom thru a back exit to a parking lot behind Poke Bar before zipping up completely. “Walk away from what?”
“I need to know what my legal obligations are here.”
“Jared. These are your kids. Your two kids.”
“I never married their mother.”
“But I wasn’t even in the country that night …”
“You’re not going to be on the hook for restitution. If that’s what you’re worried about. It’s too much fucking money. Besides, they have insurance and …”Lester was stumbling over his words, half caused by the shock of Jared’s question and half out of an obligation to say the right thing to a man he thought was just panicking under the pressure. “They can’t take your house.”
“I don’t care about the house!”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“I didn’t set the goddamn fire and I don’t want to take the goddamn fall for what those two shits did when I wasn’t even around. Can I get sued? Can they sue me, personally?”
“Yes. The families of the injured could go after you civilly I suppose. If that’s what you mean.” Lester said in a matter-of-fact tone.
Jared started to sob. “It’s all over Lester. Everything we built. It’s gone. Everything!”
“People will come around.”
“If they sue you, you settle for some insignificant number. Or you fight it. You can fight it. The girls are minors, that’d be the angle but they are old enough to be unsupervised. They were unsupervised a lot with the modeling. How could you be responsible, you weren’t even in the country!”
“As we talk it out, I’m thinking you’re not entirely obligated …I mean, uh…you have a few loop holes to jump through. In fact, they might not even think of going after you since Universal will pay the families. Workers comp… The girls will get some kind of…some kind of help. Very public community service. I don’t know what all that would entail but this doesn’t have to be the end of your career. They’ll come around. People move on quickly. You’re just feeling the heat because its new. It’ll die down. I promise.”
“But Jared” Lester’s tone got heavy. Took on a serious tone “…If you leave them…If you abandon your kids and your wife…If you abandon Felicity, now…you wont come back from this. It will become all your fault. Your only salvation is to go through this shit publicly with your heads bowed and forgiveness as your fucking mantra. Go on every talk show and talk about teen angst and fucking forgiveness. Hold Felicity’s hand everywhere you fucking go. Don’t run dude. Don’t.”
“Ok. Ok. Ok.”
“You did the right thing by calling me. Next time you’re feeling like this, pick up the goddamn phone before you do something stupid.”
“Where are you now? Are you home?”
“Good. Stay there. We’ll draft a statement. A statement for the press. To ease up the mess in front of your house. That’ll buy you a day or two. Maybe.”
“Buckle up Jared. This isn’t going to be easy but you will get through it. You will.”
Lester walked back in to Poke Bar and began drafting statements in his head. There was absolutely nothing he could think of that could properly extend the right level of grief for the victims while maintaining a very safe distance from accepting any type of culpability for their loss or hospitalization. Lester found himself, a lawyer with a career spanning 26 years, at a total and complete loss for words.
Once their feet hit the ground, the twins fully expected a SWAT team to rappel from the sky and snatch them up, but no one came. No alarms blared. Not even a motion light detected their presence. It was no different on the Universal lot after they jumped the fence than it had been before.
After a few moments of stunned silence, they looked at each other and made an instant assessment of their options. Should we stay and face a potential run in with security, or should we go and face a potential run in with that creepy guy in the hoodie? It was pretty easy to come to the conclusion that exploring the studio lot was a much more appealing option. Especially since it seemed like no one would ever even know they were there.
The girls were familiar with the layout of Universal Studios, having been there a million times over the years Jared’s show has been on the air, but they had to admit it looked like another planet at this hour of night. However, they were not deterred or even remotely scared. They knew each monstrous warehouse held instantly recognizable sets, they’d seen most of them several times before. They knew about the recreations of city blocks, the very detailed mockups of streets in suburbia, the dusty wild wild west set somewhere out there in the dark. It was exciting to think that they were all alone with the best of Hollywood. Usually they had a nanny or some sort of overlord directing where they could and could not go. Especially telling them were they could not go. This time would be different.
The twins finally found something to do.
They started walking around just between the warehouses, quietly, not ballsy enough to do more than that just yet. What if the guy who watches the security cameras was just taking a shit? They were laying low, though still trespassing.
As they walked deeper and deeper in to the massive lot and time continued to pass and no security made an appearance, they finally loosened up and started talking again.
“Do you know where we are?” Augusta asked.
“I have no fucking clue. It’s too dark to read anything on the signs.”
“Use the flashlight on your phone.”
“Fuck no! They’ll see us!” Gravity warned.
“Who? There’s no one here!”
“Someone has to be somewhere. We’re not in fucking Idaho. We’re in Los Angeles.”
They were trespassing on hallowed ground. Passing some of the world’s most famous facades. Silently acknowledging their crime but feeling less and less like criminals as they explored along the same roadways the tram tour takes under the black of night.
Augusta moved a little closer to Gravity and linked her arm around Gravity’s elbow. “This place is really fucking creepy at night.”
“Some of this shit is creepy whether its day or night. Look…” Gravity pointed down the hill to what looked like the back of the infamous victorian house that sits on a hill above The Bates Motel. The girls are too young to know anything about Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho but the t.v. series is creepy enough to make the little hairs on the back of their arms stand up just a little at the very sight of the set.
“I always thought that was like a whole house. I had no idea it was open in the back like that.”
“Yeah, it’s just outside walls. No insides.”
“Ew. I don’t want to think about people’s insides. I’ll barf.” Augusta paused then continued with “Maybe we should go over to Daddy’s soundstage.”
“Why? We know what all that shit looks like already.”
“I don’t know. Like maybe for a cover story or something. If we get caught we can say we’re allowed to be here because we’re his kids.”
Gravity checked her phone for texts. “That’s probably the last place we should go. Are you scared or something?”
“It’s just an idea.”
Gravity and Augusta spent the next hour dutifully recording their escapades with selfies on the steps of the Bates Motel, next to the shark from Jaws, in front of the warehouse that stores the sets for Parks and Recreation …they were basically generating a geotagged chronology of their escapade but that didn’t occur to them at all. They were just being nosey, not hurting any thing. Brazen, yes, but not actually bad. In their eyes at least. The powers that be at Universal would obviously beg to differ.
Eventually, without planning on it but perhaps subconsciously drifting towards it, they found themselves in front of the door that led to the soundstage for their parents’ television show. Gravity jiggled the door handle. Surprisingly it opened.
“You’re shitting me.” Augusta sputtered.
Gravity shut the door quickly but quietly. “Someone must be here.”
“No one is here. It was pitch fucking black in there.”
“There’s probably something in front of the door to keep the light out.”
“I’m going in.” Augusta said and she whipped the door open and disappeared inside the very dark warehouse.
“You’re a fucking idiot.” Gravity said as she followed.
She was right though. It sure did seem like no one was home. They were in the living room set of Jared’s hit tv show when Augusta flipped on the flashlight app on her phone. She swung the light beam around the space and plopped down on the green couch that’s a staple in every episode since it started airing. She tried the switch of the lamp on the end table next to the couch and was surprised when it lit up.
“It’s actually a real lamp.” she said.
Gravity switched on a floor lamp that was beside her. “I don’t like it here.” She lit a cigarette and smoked it nervously.
The living room set was definitely weird. All the sets are eerily similar to the rooms in their real home. There might be a fourth wall missing in every room here but the fireplace is in the same place in their living room as it is in this pretend living room. The bookshelves in this Dad’s office are the same in their Dad’s office. Even the kids bedrooms on this show look an awful lot like their own bedrooms. It was uncomfortable. And like everything else tonight, pretty creepy.
“Daddy comes here to play with his imaginary fucking family.” Gravity said as she ashed her cigarette in to the air. Little embers landed on the couch and burnt very tiny holes in the fabric.
“I wonder if he likes his pretend wife?”
“Probably not. Since his real fucking wife writes her lines!”
“Right! In that case, I wonder if he even likes his own character?”
The two girls shared a laugh. Then the darkness returned.
“You really think he doesn’t love her?” Augusta asked softly.
“No, I’m serious. Do you think they’re like going to get a divorce or something?”
“They can’t. They never got married.”
“You know what I mean. Do you think they’re going to split up or whatever.”
“Nope. I think they’re going to stay miserable forever.”
Augusta mumbled “I can’t tell if you’re serious or not.” after a moment.
“I’m always serious.”
“We should take something from the set or like set the fucking place on fire or something. Do something to fuck up their Monday.”
“We should.” Gravity agreed without skipping a beat.
The girls examined one another’s faces looking for a sign that the other was only kidding. Both of their faces were stone. They exchanged some unspoken twin to twin code that summarized all of the pain they felt over the years living a life that to anyone and everyone else who ever so much as glanced at one of their instagram posts seemed like a mother fucking daydream.
“It’s not fucking fair.” Gravity continued.
“This whole thing is not fair. This place shouldn’t even exist.”
Gravity agreed with her sister “Yeah. It’s like they just stole our lives and rewrote them for t.v. without even asking if that would bother us or whatever.”
“I would have said no. Like if someone had asked me if they could, you know. I mean I’m done putting my life on display for everyone. Like learn to mind your own fucking business.”
“Lets do it.”
“Set the place on fire.”
“We can’t. We can’t like just set a fire. There’s sprinklers and shit.”
“We have to figure out how to shut them off.”
“I need a cigarette.” Augusta lit her cigarette and looked up as if the sprinklers were going to kick on as she exhaled. She snapped a selfie of her smoking at the kitchen table in the pretend kitchen. She ashed on the floor. Crushed her butt out on the high gloss table. She took pictures of everything.
“Maybe we should just go. This place has a really bad vibe.”
“Yeah. Let’s get out of here.”
Back to the present.
In a home just a few miles from the burnt-out rubble that once was the set of Jared and Felicity’s semi-autobiographical hit television series, Felicity was dipping her toe inside a freshly drawn bath to test the temperature before sinking in to the decadently deep soaking tub.
A plush bleach white towel, reading glasses and a copy of Hidden Bodies lay next to the tub’s pedestal foot. Candles flickered on the vanity counter and the soft smell of fresh linen filled the air around her. Felicity was untying the belt from her plush bathrobe when Jared knocked softly on the door to her bathroom.
“It’s unlocked.” She whispered, her mind already on another planet. Somewhere peaceful where a loud voice would be completely out of place.
She continued to disrobe as Jared entered the room. He looked around and let a very slight smile take form on his lips.
“This looks heavenly.” He suggested.
Felicity smiled back. “It’s exactly what the doctor ordered.” She held out her hand and invited him in to her space. He took her hand and they fell in to a soft embrace. Felicity’s bathrobe lay open, her bare belly peeked out between the folds of fabric.
“You look beautiful.” Jared sighed. He slipped his hands inside Felicity’s robe and massaged her lower back softly before exploring the rest of her body slowly. Felicity settled her arms high on Jared’s shoulders and leaned in to his touch. So delicate yet strong. The perfect pressure. Familiar and well rehearsed. Her breath caught as he nibbled her neck. Her bathrobe fell to the floor and soon he was disrobing himself. He turned Felicity around so she was facing away from him, she knew what was coming next so she planted her hands on the edge of the tub to brace herself as Jared entered her from behind.
At first, he was reserved. Savoring entering her. Penetrating her deeply. Becoming one. She leaned in to him and rocked to his beat. Delighting in the sensation shooting across her body as he pinched her right nipple and steadied his palm at the curve of her lower back. She gripped the edge of the tub tightly as she reached a climax.
All it once he changed his pace. Famished now. Needy. No time to luxuriate. It was time to revel. Their skin slapped together and echoed inside the bathroom. The water in the tub set to ripple. Jared fucked Felicity like he was saying goodbye. Each vigorous stroke taking away years of commitment. Years of love. Vows never spoken. It was dirty. And a touch violent.
They were strangers for a moment. He a hunter, she is prey. He devoured her.
Then. It was over. Spent inside her. Her knees shook.
“Holy shit.” she exhaled.
“That is what the doctor ordered.” he teased. Still inside her as they caught their breaths.
“Bath?” she suggested.
Felicity swirled her trembling fingertips in the still warm water. Jared politely backed out of her.
“Mhmm.” he agreed.
They settled like two spoons neat in the drawer. The back of Felicity’s head nestled against her beloved’s chest. Jared’s lips peppering her wet shoulders. That togetherness – returning to their bond – is exactly what they needed. Jared’s weirdness. The intensity. Completely forgotten.
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. Lu 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 vignettes filmed by Gravity, Augusta and friends on the Blackmagic cinema cameras they got for their fourteenth birthday.
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.
Augusta walked across the soundstage. Aiming towards the exit in hopes that Augusta would follow. To release a touch of angst, 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.
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 Kentucky 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 Toluca Lake 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.
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.”
“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. “Don’t tell me to 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.
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.
Everyone went their separate ways after they arrived home. The twins practically ran upstairs to their own rooms to hide behind slammed doors. Jared retreated to his office to hide behind paperwork. Felicity stood in the front vestibule, incapable of much more than just that. Her heart broken. Her mouth dry. Her eyes bloodshot. She had finally come undone. Listening to the sounds of her home, she wondered if anything would ever feel right again. Someone flushed the toilet. Someone else turned up music. She just stood there. Stood there and stared at the staircase. The filter on the temporary fish tank sitting on the floor in the front living room kicked on. Lu must have forgotten to call the Pet Palace guy to come out and fix the big tank. The ordinary still demanded attention. Even in the midst of a life upended.
Lu shuffled in to the vestibule with a glass of ice water. Cucumber slices floating above the ice, just how Felicity likes it. Felicity thanked her and drained the glass. Lu rested a soft hand on Felicity’s back and directed her towards the kitchen. The heart of the home and one of her favorite rooms.
“Sit.Sit.” Lu fussed. Felicity flumped down on a bar stool and laid her head in her hands.
“It’s so bad.” she confessed to Lu. “I can’t even believe …”
“It’s going to be ok.” Lu promised. “No matter what happens, you will all be ok.”
“They’re going to go to prison.” Felicity cried.
“So they go …. You have to take care of yourself right now. You are a mess.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because this is life and it goes on Mama.”
Felicity gave Lu a cross look. “You’re able to stay so calm because they aren’t your children.”
Now it was Lu’s turn to look cross. The raising of the twins was just as much her job as it were Felicity’s. Maybe more. Felicity’s uterus gets extra credit but not her. Especially not when the hype machine was at full grind. They both knew that. Felicity stirred the direction of the conversation away from a very unnecessary argument.
“If they were contrite about it” Felicity began “I might be able to deal better. But Lu … Augusta actually rolled her eyes at me. Like I was upset about laundry. I’m telling you – it’s like they don’t give a shit at all that a man died.”
“They might not.” Jared said as he entered the room.
Felicity’s eyes bulged. Lu just looked at him quizzically.
“They’re not going to be able to equate what they did with what happened to that man.” he continued.
“You’re a psychiatrist now?” Felicity asked.
“No.” Jared said “But you’ve definitely watched enough Oprah to know that people can compartmentalize the hell out of tragedy.”
“Teenagers also lie. Every time their fucking lips are moving! I don’t think they were there. There’s no way they would be acting like this if they were there.”
Jared threw his hands up in the air, closed his eyes and shook his head in frustration.
“I’m sorry Jared.” Lu confessed.
“I’m just talking….relax. I need a reason for their behavior. I need to know they’re not crazy!”
“We know they jumped a fence and broke in to our studio. It’s on their freaking instagram. That in itself should show you that they are not innocent children that were at the right place at the wrong time.” Jared reminded the two women.
“But maybe they didn’t act alone?” Felicity whispered.
Lu let everyone’s words hang in the air for a few minutes before adding “Or maybe they walked right in to someone else’s crime scene.”
Gravity could hear the three of them arguing downstairs. She couldn’t make out what was being said because Augusta’s music was on full blast but she could tell they were heated. And probably rightfully so.
Everything was so fucked up and Gravity had no idea how to fix it. She was a bit freaked out that she cared because before all this happened she didn’t think she did anymore. But truth be told, she actually loved her parents. Her life wasn’t so bad. The money was nice. People looked up to her for shit she didn’t even remember doing. She had it easy. They were good to her. Lu loved her.
What was she really so angry about any way? Daddy travels a lot? Mommy has an important job? Gravity felt silly. And stupid. And guilty. A guy died. So she’s probably going to hell now. Even if she didn’t mean it. She still did it. Maybe she should kill herself now. Or let that guy’s wife take her out. An eye for an eye or whatever.
Gravity picked up her cellphone then threw it back down. She stared at it like it was a tarantula in the room. Some gross frightening thing. Then she snatched it up again and googled the phone number of the police detective that tried to interview her while she was in jail. Her lawyer never let the conversation happen happen but Gravity felt like it’s time to come clean. The only way to move on from this is to accept responsibility for what she and her sister had done. She’ll take the fall for the both of them. She’ll say she threatened Augusta or something. She’ll accept the punishment and then maybe everyone can forget it ever even happened.
Lu decided there would be no better time than right now to do a deep spring clean of the house. All the tension in the house was weighing on her and the best way to avoid any more strange kitchen counter conversations would be to keep very very busy. She began in the upstairs guest rooms and worked her way from one side of the house to the other. She cleaned vents, baseboards, behind toilets, under furniture, inside closets, dusted plants and bleached towels. It was a very productive day.
She was careful in Jared’s office. Staying clear of the piles of paper on his desk and books splayed out on the office couch. She stuck to the baseboards and dusting the shelves. ‘Just shaking up the dust mites’ she thought to herself. But the closet in Jared’s office had a strange odor to it. Almost foul. She got on her knees and sniffed around the disorganized walk-in closet trying to find the source of the smell. She found it but she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Jared’s old black boots. The ones he wore undone…with the red laces. Burnt to a crisp. Wreaking of gasoline and fire. Lu backed out of the closet fast…almost a reverse crab crawl. And she bumped in to Jared who was standing in the doorway of his office.
“Whats wrong Lu?” he asked.
Lu was silent.