September Rent/A New Pair of Clients (part 3)

After my interview with Maya Bedossian’s assistant for a job working with her two young boys, I went over to Keaton’s. I had a lot to tell him…and I needed to ask him if he was the person who mysteriously paid my rent for the month of September.

“Why the fuck would I do that, bubba?,” he asked. “I wouldn’t let you live on the fuckin street if it came to that, but that’s still a long way off.”

I wanted to say that I thought it was exactly the kind of thing he might do…and that his reaction would be exactly what it was if he had done it. But then I decided to take Keaton at his word. He wouldn’t lie about something like that. Yeah, he’d definitely growl instead of saying ‘you’re welcome’, but he wouldn’t out and lie and say he hadn’t paid the rent if he had. I’ve known Keaton a while now, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say something that wasn’t true.

“So if it wasn’t you, man, who was it?”

“[Danged] if I know,” Keaton said. “You’re sure it isn’t Joyce?”

“Positive. It’s not something she’d do without asking me. Ditto Dad and Meemaw. I don’t think any of them would let me be put out on the street, but I don’t think they’d mysteriously pay my rent either.”

“You gotta ask Juan Diego if he can find something out. He knows everything else that happens around here, I’m sure he can find out who paid your rent, bubba.”

“He certainly didn’t know this morning,” I said. “He thought it was me.”

“Maybe he can ask the owners or whoever’s on the other end of the online payment system. Or do you want me to help you break into his apartment so you can search his desk for evidence?”

I told Keaton asking would be easier. At least for starters lol.

Then I told him about my new prospective clients.

“Did you meet the great star herself?,” he asked. “Is she as hot as she looks onscreen?”

Funny, I didn’t even realize I haven’t met my new employer. My mind was on other things when I was there. I know I’ve got a girlfriend…but I gotta be honest and say that Sandy made a big impression on me. It’s not the first time that’s happened in the time I’ve been seeing Joyce…it happens irregardless of how good a relationship you’re in. I wasn’t gonna ask Sandy out on a date or anything…but, as a red-blooded Southern male, I wasn’t gonna not notice what she looked like.

“I’m surprised someone like that lives in San Marino. You’d think she’d of moved to Malibu or something.”

“It’s a pretty palatial house, from what I could see of it. Makes Travis’ parents’ house look like a normal single-family dwelling.”

“Think you’re gonna be ok with the fat kid?,” Keaton asked.

“C’mon, man…I haven’t even met him yet. Or were you one of those jerkoffs who made fun of fat kids when they got picked last.”

“Tell me you never did that,” Keaton said.

“Once or twice maybe…but Dad set me straight real fast and I never did it again. The lesson was that not everyone got the athletic gifts I got and that I should be grateful to the Lord to have them…and that every other kid had gifts of his own. Meemaw says that it would be a very boring world if we all had the same gifts.”

“Your Meemaw was right again,” Keaton said. “And, for the record, no, I was not a jerkoff who made fun of fat kids who got picked last. But once I did get in a shitload of trouble for punching out one fuckin stupid kid for doing it a couple times too many. Although I did think that the kid who kept getting shit for getting picked last could have made a little more effort to be better at at least one sport. It goes two ways. It’s like saving Carter’s ass all the time…I don’t mind doing it…but it would be good if he could learn to take care of himself some.”

“Well…maybe I can help this Matteo kid.”

“Or maybe not, bubba. But it’s worth trying.”

Then we watched Kershaw lead the Dodgers to beat the D-backs…and see Seager get three hits in one game.

I drank more than my usual 3 Stone IPAs watching the game…maybe because I wasn’t keeping any beer in my house for the duration and they were a treat. I was steady as I walked across the garden to my apartment, but I had no trouble falling asleep.

Except that I woke up in the middle of the night and started worrying about the rent and who paid it. And, yeah, I started thinking real selfishly and wondering whether whoever it was was gonna pay it again… Then I started worrying about when I was gonna be able to get back to work.

In the meantime, though, the money from Maya Bedrossian would come in real, real handy. While I was lying awake worrying I got to thinking about the younger brother and how he might mess up the gig for me. I don’t usually get worked up so I wake up in the middle of the night, but, when it happens, getting me back to sleep ain’t easy. A beer sometimes helps, but I didn’t have one in the house. Then I remembered that Joyce had given me a little bottle of something called melatonin to get me to sleep back during the quarantine when I was super stressed out after getting laid off. I couldn’t remember where I put it, but I eventually found the bottle, swallowed one tablet with some water, and got back in bed.

I guess the melatonin worked, since I fell asleep…and woke up at 11, despite my being pretty strict about waking up around 9, even if I am unemployed. I was pretty groggy from the melatonin too, but two big mugs of coffee and another bowl of cheap cereal took care of that. It was already hot by that point in the day, so I dressed for getting sweaty. I figured I’d do well with the older boy if I showed up in a Dodger tshirt, so I put on the one with Seager’s name and number on the back. Then it was just shorts and tennis shoes and a ball cap. I figured that they’d have all the equipment we’d ever need, so all I brought along was a glove and a bat that was my size, just in case I had to demonstrate something.

I went to look for Juan Diego on my way out, to see if he could discover about the mysterious rent. I found him outside Keaton’s building, installing new mailboxes.

“Better, eh?,” he asked. (That’s a Mexican “eh” and not a Canadian one. I reckon you have to spell them the same way, but they sound very different.) “More room for your mail. I’m putting them in on the other side as soon as I’m done here. What can I do for you, cazador?”

“It’s about the rent.”

“Ah, si. The mystery.”

“Is there anything you can figure out? Maybe go back into the computer and find the credit card information or something? I asked everyone I could think of, and they all say they didn’t do it.”

“I say don’t question it,” said Juan Diego. “I’m not connected to the system that processes payments online. That all goes through the owners and the accountant…and I’m sure they keep that kind of information confidential. But I can ask.”

“Thanks, man.”

“You got another job teaching baseball?,” he asked, indicating the gear I was carrying.

“Maybe,” I said. “Cross your fingers.”

Juan Diego crossed his fingers for me and went back to work while I headed for the shitbox.

When I got to the Bedossian house, it was the same drill: park around the side and in the front door, which the housekeeper in the black and white uniform opened for me. She was clearly expecting me and, after taking my temperature, told me to wait while she got Dr. Peterson.

The house has a big flight of stairs in the entryway that kind of sweeps up in a semicircle. Very impressive, even if it looked like it came out of one of those movies me and Joyce watch. (If y’all know The Little Foxes, it was exactly that kind of staircase. Although I hope life in that house isn’t like what it’s like in the movie lol.)

Dr. Peterson didn’t so much come down the stairs as he fuckin worked them. I know it’s kinda gay for me to know who Bette Davis is, but, while we’re on the subject of The Little Foxes, that’s who Dr. Peterson reminded me of. He was tall and thin, probably 6’1” and not even 175, with a shaved head that made his head look enormous. He had pale skin and blue eyes, but something makes me want to describe them as ‘watery’, since their color isn’t very saturated. Of course the rest of his face was covered by a mask. The shaved head made it hard to tell, but I put his age at somewhere around 35. He was wearing a shirt, tie and dress pants…and made me feel underdressed.

“Mr. Block?,” he said, doing a poor job of hiding that he was checking me out. (Ok, I was kinda checking him out too…but in the way he was checking me out lol.)

“Yes. Hello,” I said. I put my hand out, like a always forget not to do, but pulled it back before he had to worry about what to do with it. “How…um…are you?”

“Fine. Trying to keep cool.” He sounded a little British to me, although I already suspected he was putting on the accent.

We both forced a small laugh. And then there was an awkward pause.

“I’m…um…here to see the boys and see if there’s a chance of our working together.”

“Ah yes…the trial visit. You’ll probably like Jacob. But Matteo is going to be a problem. Very stubborn child. I have trouble with him in the schoolroom too. He only wants to study what he wants to study.”

“Sandy…um…Mrs. Bedossian’s assistant…”

“I know who Sandy is,” said Dr. Peterson.

“Well…she said that he likes to sit inside and read. I’d of thought that would make him a good student.”

“Sometimes,” said Dr. Peterson.

“Have you been working with them…for Mrs. Bedrossian…for long?”

“No one calls her Mrs. Bedrossian,” said Dr. Peterson. “It’s not even her married name.” I stood corrected, not too nicely. “Everyone calls her Maya. You might as well join the club. And I’ve been working here since they closed the schools last March, and it’s not easy. I’m a Yale Ph.D. – and this is what I’ve ended up doing.”

I guess I was supposed to be impressed by the Ph.D. thing, and maybe I was. A little.

“My father always says work is work,” I said, I reckon trying to make him feel better. “I like being a baseball tutor, but it wasn’t my master plan for life, either.” I could tell that that didn’t make him feel better. Oh, well. I tried.

Luckily, the boys came downstairs just then.

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