Del Sol Valley Reed
Plopping down onto my soft, big bed like a sack of potatoes I groaned loudly as I let my body fall backwards, while I closed my eyes.
What a nightmare my life was at the moment.
One day of bad choices had tilted everything straight over the edge, and ever since, I have been trying to hang on for dear life, patching holes in the cheap tent that was my entire existence with nothing but Band-Aids left and right, all of them bending and bursting again and again. Basically, a domino effect had been put into motion after my drunk driving spree following my meltdown which ended up tanking my potentially budding career. Not only had I gotten arrested for drunk driving by a chick I had accidentally sexually harassed earlier that same day, but she was now my parole officer. Yeah, I know. I can’t stop laughing either. Pardon the sarcasm, but fate really had it out for me these days.
The irony of it all would be downright hilarious if it wasn’t hell on earth for me. She barely spoke, and if, only about things related to my probation stipulations, but it was impossible to miss that she blamed me for everything wrong in the world today. Literally, EVERYTHING. I don’t know why, but she definitely didn’t like rich people, let alone celebrities. I’d ask why, but as I said, I’d have better luck making conversation with a dumpster.
My manager had since dropped me, as had my car insurance, I had been in talks with two clients for advertisement gigs, a men’s cologne designer and another for male sportswear, both had since withdrawn the offers. While I was already 18 and officially an adult, I still lived at home, so naturally my parents had laid into me, followed by my grandpa Blaine – and on top of all that, things between my sister Sheri – who also still lived at home – and me were tense, and that was the understatement of the century.
My father then took it upon himself to attempt salvaging what little was left of my career, and to start rebuilding it slowly, he had managed to get me booked for some lame ass ads, embarrassing shit, like pimple creams, alcohol-free beer, some stinky-ass deodorant and some ugly ass car, just to get my name cleared and back out there. I was singing praises – no literally SINGING – about laundry detergents and a guitar manufacturer, the latter in full and absolutely ridiculous cowboy giddyup. I hated every second of it. And because I was such a good boy, redeemed from evil and back on the path to righteousness, I also got a new role in some sappy sweet historical romance bullshit that made my toes curl up just thinking about it. Every minute in that laughable, frilly costume gave me hives and made me dry-heave.
But my life thought it hadn’t beaten me into oblivion enough just yet.
No, earlier this morning on my Facebook timeline I was greeted with happy sappy smiling faces of the former love of my life, now the bane of my existence, Caroline Eastwood, who was grinning widely with a new man by her side on the engagement announcement. We still had a bunch of mutual friends, who all had commented, which put it on my timeline.
At first, I sat there, rubbing and squinting my eyes, thinking I was hallucinating, but no such luck, no error possible. Nope, it was there all right. Literally black on white.
Upon that realization, my head had fallen onto the keyboard with a bang, where I fake-sobbed to the tune of my one-man pity party, until I heard a ding. Looking up, I saw that I had accidentally commented on the announcement by rolling my face across the keyboard which somehow activated the Enter key too. So now, joining the happy couple’s 435 and counting virtual well wishes from their friends, came a solid ‘fhfuhfffffffffff..;;;;;;;;;;.’ by her ex-boyfriend to send them off towards the haven of matrimony.
WHAAAT?! NOOOOOO! The horror!
Feverishly trying to delete my comment, I already heard a ding for a private message. As soon as the “your message has been deleted” window popped up, letting me exhale for the first time in what felt hours, but was only a few minutes tops, I checked who wrote me and just about needed a diaper change.
Grimacing, I clicked on her message, since we weren’t friends anymore, it had been filtered into my ‘Others’ folder, and I read
‘Are you all right?’
Was she fuckin’ serious!? All right? Was I all right?! All right didn’t even make the list of all the things I currently was. NO, of course I was everything BUT all right, thank you for asking!!! Can’t you tell by the incoherent accidental reply to your post, which I was originally gonna pretend not to even have seen, that my life is heaven on earth at the moment?
So, what now? Ignore? Delete? React? Reply?
Easier would be the first two, but I chose the last option.
‘Yeah, sure. Congrats, by the way. Sorry, our cat ran across my keyboard.’ I lied. Yeah, sounded legit. Evidently, she agreed as I saw the three dots bounce around, signaling she was responding.
‘Aww. Sweet old Romeo. He must be what? 15 now?’
Was she kidding me? Acting like she cared about my fucking old ass cat, as if we were friends, as if she hadn’t ruined my entire life by riding another man’s cock right there for me to walk in on, while I was breaking my neck to get done with my shoot and back home to her sooner? And now she was flaunting her happiness in my face again with the engagement announcement, while I was on my last leg mentally and socially?! And no, Romeo was 16 already!
Before I could think up some more BS say-something-without-actually-saying-anything response, she already was typing again.
‘Reed, can we talk? I mean, REALLY talk, vis a vis? I hate the way things ended between us and I really don’t want this for either of us. Just a coffee. Or a dinner. Please. There is so much I have to say to you still.’
Holy hell! Until just a few months ago I would have sold my soul for a message like this. Now, I had serious problems with it. And I had a lot to say to her as well. Most of it started with ‘F’ and ended with ‘uck you and the horse you rode in on!’. Anyway … here were my three main issues keeping me from even being able to entertain her idea, except of course that I just simply didn’t want to see her cheating face again.
A) first of all, bitch was getting engaged! ENGAGED! So, now what? Now, after all these months of radio silence, she wanted to rekindle our … whatever-ship over my accidental frust-comment on her engagement post? ENGAGEMENT! Ha, maybe she wanted to hand me my invite to her wedding. Or maybe I was supposed to be her little something-something on the side now. Or we could be besties, and she’d confide all her relationship troubles with Mr. Right-Now in me, while we braid each other’s hair. Ha, HELL-to-the-NO to ANY of that crap!
B) she had stuck her claws deep into my chest, grabbed my broken heart and tore it out of my chest while squeezing it tightly, before smashing it to the floor and stepping on it. But sure, let’s be friends, shall we?! Raise the cup to that. Please do take a moment to adore my intense sarcasm here.
C) there was also a slight logistical problem, aka. ankle monitor. The past few weeks I had spent sofa-surfing, luckily was our home big and had many rooms with many couches and TVS, cos I literally couldn’t go anywhere at the moment without prior clearance from Officer Heartless. And I didn’t have to ask if she would go with me on a not-date with my evil ex, who ended our relationship by dragging her stiletto Escada heels through my heart in the worst way, so we can go have a whatever-ship-like lunch. Even if there were a faint chance Officer Heartless wouldn’t be so heartless to dismiss the request for some social life outside my home anyway, I would NOT want her there. She already had enough ammunition with all my shortcomings she already knew about to shove down my throat daily, no need to have her sort through my dirty relationship laundry too, cos I was sure she could find a way to twist my ex’s cheating to somehow have been my fault too. And how would I explain Officer Heartless circling my head, watching me with laser vision to Caroline, while pretending I was living my best life, cos one thing was for certain, I would NOT tell her about the giant black cloud over my head of late. Uncle Liam and his legal team had worked miracles to keep all of that out of the media, so for all anyone outside my tightest little inner circle knew, nothing had happened. But since Officer Heartless was always in uniform, I couldn’t even pretend she was my new girlfriend. Not to mention, she was definitely not my type. The exact opposite actually. Even off duty she would wear cheap, unshapely clothes that did NOTHING for her figure, flat-chested and unexciting, always in flat, clunky shoes, her hair always up in some old-fashioned updo that did nothing for her scrubbed clean, bland face, with that just a bit too pointy chin and the eyes just a tad too small for her to be even considered slightly attractive. Definitely not on my ‘doable chicks list’. I couldn’t even tell you what color her eyes were, as they usually shone bright red like hell fires while shooting eye daggers at me.
‘Sorry, can’t. Super-busy ATM. Raincheck tho.’ I wrote.
‘Okay, I get it. I’ll hold you to it. Hit me up when things clear up for you.’ Caroline sent back.
Yeah, you bet. Number one on my list of people to hang with, my cheating ex. Hold your breath on that one! HA!
Thinking about that while trying to disappear into the outer limits of conscienceness and eventually fade to invisibility while on my bed I moaned into my pillow.
If I was honest, Caroline kissing up to me in a way did make me feel good. Maybe I wasn’t so easy to forget after all. Then again, she had never tried to get me back. Instead, she went and got herself a new man. Older than her too, by the looks of it. I didn’t know the dude, my guess was he wasn’t from the Del Sol Valley high society crowd or I would have probably at least have see him at some event somewhere before. Caroline was one year older than me, making her 19. That fiancé of hers either needed to up his ante with the moisturizer or was at least 10 years older, maybe even 15 or more. But at first glance I could see he had other qualities. In the bank. The clothing he was wearing was from the just released collection from some of my father’s favorite designers. The dude’s outfit could easily feed a family of 4 for a month in the real world.
A knock on the door pulled me back to the here and now, after my answer I learned from our housekeeper someone was downstairs for me. Argh. Now?
“Tell them I am not available, Rosa!” I yelled at the door.
Instantly our maid argued back in her broken English
“No, Señor Reed, is Officer Hart. Say you must come. Now. She very persistent. She no go away!”
Oh, fresh hell! What now?! Nothing was scheduled! Did the bitch have a brand-new idea on how to torture me and couldn’t wait to test it out?
But Rosa was right, there was no getting rid of Officer Heartless. Shit. And I had to stay on her goodish side, especially considering how much I already seem to have pissed her off. She had to sign off on bunches of crap mandated by court for me frequently, or else my ass would go to prison. No thanks!
“Okay Rosa, I’ll be right down. Thank you!” I yelled back.
So, I puckered up and headed downstairs to face the music.
Not surprisingly, Heartless was loitering around our foyer, rather than sit in the living room as Rosa undoubtedly had offered. Guess that stick up her ass didn’t bend enough to sit comfortably.
“Officer Heartless … so glad you are here. Missed you bunches.” I chirped, fake-smiling.
“Still just Hart will do. Come on Cameron, let’s go.”
“Did you not read the informational leaflet I left with you last time?”
“Ah .. sure … Was my preferred bathroom reading ever since. I never cried harder and laughed more. What about it?” fell out of my mouth. Smartassery was ill-advised, but also sadly a genetic reflex in my family.
“You didn’t even look at it, did you? Well, no surprise there. Had you read it, you would know that I am taking you to a character improvement and solidifying course now. Don’t ask, not my idea, but the mayor mandated it for people like … you.”
“A what now? And for ‘people like me’? Meaning handsome, witty and awesome, but with a little tendency to mess up sometimes, which is, of course, completely understandable, dare I say, even forgivable?”
“Not even close. Entitled one percenters with influential relatives!” she snarled back, then grabbed my upper arm and shoved me out the front door she had opened.
“Ouch! I could almost get the idea that you don’t like me much, Officer Heartless. I really want to know what I did to set your tampon on fire! I sure hope I am not the worst you ever had to deal with, cos that would make you a total rookie!” I grumbled.
Her reply was a gruntlike sound, before I got my head pushed down to enter the backseat of her cop car. The mood that girl was in all the time, I could be lucky I didn’t have to ride in the trunk or strapped to the roof.
That course Officer Heartless had hauled me off to was more toe-curling bullshit. I think Heartless and I had a competition on most eyerolls per minute at some point, since unfortunately for her, she had to remain in the room. At least we agreed on something, finally.
Walking out, I groaned, which shockingly generated a brief, but honest giggle from her. My head snapped around to her, my shock and surprise genuine. It could giggle? Who knew she was capable of genuine, human emotion. Other than anger, I mean. Bewildered, I stared at her.
“That was brutal. I almost feel sorry for you.” she told me, still slightly amused.
“Thanks. I almost believe you.”
“I am serious. I agree here, this isn’t going to fix you. Just wasting everybody’s time.”
“Fix me? I didn’t know I needed fixing.”
“Clearly, you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be wearing your newest piece of adornment.” she gestured to the area where my pants were hiding my ankle monitor.
“No. I need my life to finally quit falling apart on all sides. THAT’s what I need. Everything else will then just fall into place.”
“YOUR life is falling apart? YOU are literally complaining about your life right now? WOW! You are so far removed from reality, it’s not even funny.”
“What?! You don’t even know me or my life. If you did, you would agree and not be so uber-judgmental!”
“Not thanks. I just sat through three hours of soul baring. No more!”
“Then let me guess. You didn’t get the perfect role in the perfect movie to showcase your perfect self perfectly and now you feel like your life has no meaning?”
“Not even close! Well, actually, partially true, but not like that.”
“Like what then?”
“Well, part of my many problems is actually work-related. I didn’t get the role of a lifetime, but not because of what you think.”
“Didn’t put enough zeros on the paycheck for you?”
“No. They wanted me to fake-fuck, fondle and kiss my own sister as part of my breakthrough role! PBP Studios, not some shady backstreet porn place. The big guys wanted that!”
“What?!” this time it was Heartless who looked bewildered, but I could see that she believed me.
“Exactly! I said no to that and the whole industry now says no to me, while my sister got the role. And that is only the beginning of the shitshow my life has become, Heartless.”
“Oh boy! That actually is disgusting! And extortion, in a way. Wow. Eww! Why would they even suggest that?!”
“Beats the shit out of me, Officer! Not so douchy now, am I? Don’t ask me why they would want that. My guess would be because they can, or maybe because they are soulless money-hungry quota-whores. They’re the ones that need fixing and all these courses you schlepp me to, not me. And that was not even the worst that happened to me recently, the bullshit I have to deal with would drive you to drink too! And since I cannot teleport, I had to drive. Which in hindsight, if that ever happens again, I’d have a driver on standby. See, I learned something after all.”
“You’re still a douche. Just with one real reason to freak out over. I actually do get why you would be so upset. Still does not warrant what you did! You still carelessly and recklessly endangered other people’s lives.”
“Granted. But trust me, that sister-fucking thing was only the tip of the iceberg that put my life off keel, I know I screwed up, and I am getting raked across the coals for it to last three lifetimes. I got the memo now, Heartless. No need to keep kicking me while I am definitely already bleeding out on the ground.”
“Okay, tell ya what Cameron. How about a brief reprieve from house arrest? I can stop at the beach for half an hour or so if you want to stretch your legs some.”
“No thanks, against what you seem to think of me I am not a dog in need of a good run around the beach, even if I can almost imagine you throwing a stick for me to fetch for you. And do you even have time for that? Don’t you need to haunt the streets of Del Sol Valley to ruin other hapless bastards lives too?” I retorted impolitely, but she had just pissed me off with her bullshit attitude.
Her idea of doing me a solid was to release me on a beach for half an hour? Seriously?!
“I didn’t ruin your life, you did that! And I am off patrol duty for the time being. I was temporarily reassigned to basically babysit you and one other guy like you as punishment.”
“Punishment? Okay, ignoring the fact that I am apparently now a form of punishment, what are you being punished for? Did little Miss Perfect break the rules? Whatcha do, put a dog ear into the rule book?”
“I am not perfect and yes, I did break a rule. And I am owning it. So, do you want to go to the beach, or shall I take you back home?”
“I want to know what you did first.”
“Because you know all I did wrong and I know you do, cos you can’t seem to stop yourself from rubbing my face in it. So, did you steal a pen?”
“Fair enough. No, I don’t steal. I am being punished – well, let’s call it I am being reprimanded and put on notice for … well … for a mistake I made during your arrest.”
“The baton incident. My body cam and the car cam caught it and some joker at the station posted it on the intranet. So, my superior had no choice but to sanction my improper behavior to make an example of me. Sorry, by the way for that. That was wrong.”
“You sticking a fucking baton up my ass is online?! Shoot me the fuck NOW!”
“Relax, it’s only on the police intranet server.”
“Oh, is that all? So, every cop in the area has seen me getting stick-raped by you? Dreamy!” I couldn’t believe it. So much on the topic of ‘things can always get worse’. UGH!
“I said I was sorry!” Officer Heartless reminded me, annoyed.
“Yeah, I told you I was sorry a million times, and see how that worked out for me!”
“You’re right. I accept your apology for the groping at the bar.”
“I DIDN’T GROPE YOU! I stumbled and your tits and ass got in the way! What were you doing at that bar anyway?”
“Working. My second job.”
“Second job as what? Trip up patrons on their way to the crapper so you can practice your punches?”
“I didn’t punch you! You’d be eating through a straw had I really punched you! I just slapped you because you groped me! Big difference. And I am a barkeep there. My shift had ended before you walked in, I was still cleaning up in the back.”
“Ha. Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” the laughter just poured out of me.
Officer stick-up-her-ass moonlighted as a barkeep?! Priceless!
“Come on, Cameron.” she grabbed my upper arm again and shoved me towards her car, per usual, but I couldn’t stop smirking. Whaddaya know? She was human after all. Hysterical, this.