“In Hell with Maya” (last part)

The day after In Hell with Maya came out, Wednesday, was an easy one for me, since Maya, Robert and the boys had their appointment with the therapist to discuss the book in the afternoon, which is when I usually work with the boys. I promised Jacob we’d get in some BP after he got back, but it was gonna be a day off from sports for Matteo…which I always get the feeling he doesn’t exactly mind. I’m determined to make him like sports one of these days, and he’s getting a little less difficult about it than he was when I first met him, but he’s still a long way from loving it the way me and Jacob do.

I went to see Joyce, although I needed to be back at night so I could go to the lawyer’s with Maya and Robert in the morning. Joyce was pretty dang pissed off at the chick who wrote the book, although she kinda almost started a fight with me when she implied that I was partly responsible for getting involved with reality TV in the first place. Y’all know that I didn’t do anything to get ‘involved’ with reality TV, unless you count taking a job to work with kids and climbing out of a pool trying to get involved. It all just kinda happened.

Joyce calmed down before we could get in a real fight…and I kinda liked the way she was sticking by me. Some girlfriends, I reckon, would have asked if what the book said was true. I know Joyce can be a little jealous of Maya at times, but I was glad that she didn’t think that Maya and Robert were a couple of perverts who only have me around to satisfy their twisted sexual appetites.

And maybe I gotta reassure y’all, although I’d like to think you know me pretty well by this point, that, while I’ve been a pretty big horndog at certain times in my life, it’s always just been me and a chick. No group sex, no dudes (especially no dudes), nothing weird or sick…and absolutely nothing to write a book about. (Ok, maybe you can write a blog about some of it lol.)

The trip to the lawyer’s on Thursday morning was a new experience for me, as I’ve never been to a lawyer’s office before. I’ve never needed a lawyer. The one time I got in trouble with the cops when I was 16 they dropped the charges after they’d scared the shit outta me (which was the point, I think), so no lawyer there. Dad had his lawyer look at my contract with my agent and my one with the ‘Dads before I signed them, and Joyce had a lawyer friend of hers look over my agreement with the Sharpmans, but I’ve never actually been to see a lawyer.

Among other things, that meant I didn’t know what to wear. I figured that my usual ‘look’ of tshirt and shorts wasn’t going to cut it, so I opted for a button-down shirt, khakis and leather shoes. I realized I was getting dressed for the lawyers’ like I was getting dressed for church, but it seemed like the right thing to put on. (Turns out Robert had put on jeans, so I was probably a little overdressed, but it was too late to go back and change when I saw what he had on.

This was also the first time I got to ride in Robert’s car, which is a Mercedes Maybach SUV that I’ve been admiring since I first saw it in the driveway, although it’s not the kind of car I’d ever want to own…which is good, since it’s probably not the kind of car I’ll ever be able to afford. All I can say is that it was so comfortable in the back seat that all it needed was flight attendant serving drinks, to be like what I reckon flying first class must be like.

It wasn’t a short drive, since the lawyer’s office was downtown and we got hung up in traffic on the 110 right past Dodger Stadium, so I had to make more conversation with Maya and Robert than I’d ever made before. That was a little awkward at first, but one of the things about Maya is that she’s good at putting people at their ease, even if it was pretty dang confusing to be in a car with that perfume of hers. On the way we talked about the boys mostly, how Jacob was liking the new base path and batting machine, and what Matteo was going to be doing now that he’s reached his goal weight. Maya gave me permission to go off the Beverly Hiils Institute of Advanced Bullshit’s maintenance exercise plan, which was good, because me and Matteo had thrown it out a couple ago already. We’re still working in the gym a few days a week, but we haven’t been worrying too much about doing all the weight work the program says for him to do.

The one thing we didn’t talk about was the book; I reckoned they were saving that for when we got to the lawyer’s office.

I said I’ve never been to a lawyer’s office before, but I could tell this was a dang fancyass one. It was on a high floor in one of the tallest buildings in Downtown LA, and the first thing I noticed was how thick the thick carpet was when we got out of the elevator. That made me dang glad that Maya and Robert were paying for the lawyers. I couldn’t even guess what you paid lawyers whose offices have a view like this one did.

I reckon that, when you’re a TV star, you don’t have to wait in the waiting room, since the receptionist came out from behind her desk when we came in and took us straight away into a conference room with a bigass table and 12 chairs that I thought looked kinda intimidating. The receptionist offered us coffee or water and went off to get them as the three of us sat down next to one end of the table, with me facing Maya and Robert…and feeling pretty dang awkward again.

Maybe I looked like an intimidated illiterate redneck, since Maya said to me “don’t worry, Michelle is very nice and very helpful. She’s the best and most human lawyer we’ve ever had. You’ll like her, trust me.”

With that, the door opened and in came a tall black woman who I thought looked around Maya’s age along with, ok, I gotta say it, a short and nerdy dude whose collar wasn’t sitting right under his jacket. He was probably not much older than me, but he looked a lot older, since he was losing his hair already. They were both wearing masks (I could tell that Michelle’s mask was supposed to go with her outfit), so I couldn’t get a full idea of what their faces looked like, which always bothers me, but that’s how things are today.

When we sat down again, Michelle took the seat at the head of the table, and the nerdy dude sat next to me. We clearly weren’t bothering about social distancing.

“So,” said Michelle, cutting right to the chase, “ we have a libel situation…and the question is what are you going to do about it?”

“That’s why we’re here,” said Robert.

“You have two options,” Michelle said, “and they’re very simple: either you sue or you don’t sue.”

That kicked off a whole discussion, not all of which I understood. Like I said, I have no experience with lawyers, and it was clear that Maya and Robert did. There was talk of all kinds of damages (at least I know that damages are the money you get paid when you win a lawsuit) and how much the author would be able to pay if we won, and, well, a whole lot of other legal shit that pretty much left me out of the conversation.

I wasn’t the only left out, though: the nerdy dude next to me didn’t say anything, either.

Finally, I thought I saw an opening for the question that was on my mind since Tuesday:

“Can I interrupt, ma’am, for a second?,” I said, raising my hand like I was in school.

All eyes on Baseball Boy.

“I know you sue for money and all that,” I said, a little nervously, “but what about proving that…that…the author is lying? Don’t we want the world to know that there’s no truth to what she said? I like to think of myself as a good Christian, and I don’t want people thinking what’s in the book is true.”

I was a little afraid everyone would look at me like I was retarded (as Jacob would have put it); that’s not exactly how they looked at me, but I got the feeling there was something they all understood that I didn’t.

“The problem,” Michelle explained, looking at me, “is that winning a lawsuit doesn’t always make people believe that what they’ve read is a lie. And it takes a long time for a suit to get to trial, so that, by the time there’s a judgment, most people will have forgotten about the book.”

“And having the case come up in court might only rake up the rumors again,” the nerdy dude next to me said, finally speaking up, maybe because I was talking too. “People forget about celebrity gossip pretty quickly.”

“What we should do is write a book about someone else and shift the attention onto them,” Robert said.

It was a pretty lame joke. None of us laughed, and Maya gave him the look Jacob gives Matteo when he says he’s acting retarded.

“People are going to believe what they want to believe, Hunter,” Maya explained. “We’re still figuring out a response on the show, if we do anything, but,” she shrugged, “there’s nothing we can do to change people’s minds, I’m afraid, if they want to believe all the things that cow wrote in her book.”

“Maya’s right,” said Michelle. “A lawsuit may give you a feeling of vindication by the time it’s over, but it’s not going to convince too much of the public if they want to think that the allegations in the book are true.”

“On the other hand,” the nerdy dude said, “if you don’t file suit right away, it might lead people to think that the book is telling the truth, right Michelle?”

“Yes,” she said. “The simple act of filing the suit is your best weapon as far as public opinion is concerned. Does that make sense?”

For some reason she was talking to me rather than to Maya and Robert.

“I reckon that makes sense,” I said, tentatively, although they’d gone around in circles once too often for me to keep up. I was only slowly seeing the logic.

“My suggestion,” Michelle said, “is that you sue for libel and defamation of character. The amount of money is almost immaterial, since, while you can ask for ten million dollars, Miss Ramos probably doesn’t have it. And, you have to be honest about this, there’s something to the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

I guess I looked like I wanted to say something…which I did.

“But I work with kids. Are parents really going to want to have their children work with a sexual deviant?”

“That’s true,” Maya said in my defense, “squeaky clean All American Boy is part of Hunter’s image. He really can’t afford to be tarred with the same brush as me and Robert. Although people thinking we have a spicy sex life might turn people off of a show about our pretty wholesome home life, it may also get other people to tune in.”

“Then the only solution is to sue,” Michelle said.

I’ve never sued anyone, so the whole process had to be explained to me. The dude sitting next to me was pretty helpful. Turns out the only defense against libel (here’s something I learned: it’s called libel when it’s written and it’s called slander when it’s spoken) is to prove that you were telling the truth. Which that bitch who wrote the book wasn’t. I don’t know that any of the book is true, although I reckon maybe some it might have happened. But I know the sex stuff is a lie…and I especially know that the sex stuff involving me is a lie. I mean, I know what I’ve done and haven’t done…and I’ve never been to bed…it’s so fuckin gross to think about it that I don’t even want to type it.

“I do need to ask, since it’s going to come up,” Michelle said to me, “but do you have anything in your past that might lead a jury to believe that you did…what the book says you did?”

“No,” I said.

“Are you sure? No sexual misconduct in your past?”

“What do you take me for?,” I asked, a little annoyed.

“A very good-looking young man whose looks may have gotten him into trouble at some point in his life. Just being honest,” Michelle finished up.

“Nothing,” I said. “I got an offer from an escort service once, but I didn’t even call the person back.” I thought of Keaton telling me that I wasn’t cut out to be a whore.

“What about promiscuity?”

She might have had me there.

“Michelle,” Maya interrupted, “we don’t need to start cross-examining Hunter now, do we?”

“Besides, what difference does it make what I did before I did…before I didn’t do anything with Maya and Robert?” It felt dirty even asking that question.

“Your character is going to come under scrutiny if this comes to trial. It could get unpleasant for you.”

“I really don’t want to have to go into it,” I said, especially in front of people whose kids I take care of, “but I reckon you can say that I slept around a lot in college and when I was playing ball. But…I mean,” I said, feeling more embarrassed by the minute, “it was always with just one girl at a time. Never anything sick or perverted.”

“What about now?”

“I have a steady girlfriend.”

“For how long?”

“We started going out getting on 3 years ago.”

“And?”

“And we’ve been monogamous.” At least once I broke up with Monica. But I didn’t go into that or give any dates.

“Please,” Robert interrupted, “do you need to embarrass him so much? I can see him blushing.”

“Thanks,” I said, trying to look away, since, when people look at me when I blush, I only blush more.

“You can tell he’s as clean-cut as they come,” Robert continued. “We wouldn’t have him taking care of our kids if he weren’t.”

“And he checks out,” Maya said. “We had a whole background check done on him when we hired him.”

I looked up, surprised.

“We do it for everyone,” Maya explained. “Your contract authorizes it. We thought you knew.”

Looking back, it makes all the sense in the world that they would have had me – and anyone they trust their kids to – checked out. I was just so embarrassed by everything that I literally put my face in my hands there and sat there waiting for my face to stop burning.

“Take it easy, man,” the dude next to me said, putting a hand on my shoulder. My estimation of him went way up after that random act of kindness. “It’s just all in a day’s work for us.”

I took a deep breath. Then another. Finally I was able to look up again.

Lucky for me, the meeting got pretty boring after that. I followed most of what was being said, and, basically, it was decided that we were going to try and sue the heck out of the meanass fucked up bitch who wrote the book.

So now I’m a co-plaintiff in what they were calling a $10 million lawsuit, although they told me not to get my hopes up of seeing the $10 million. You can sue someone for as much as you want…but they can only give you what they have, and I doubt that that Jill bitch made 10 million bucks out of libeling Maya, Robert…and me.

I may have a whole mess of followers on a Twitter account I have nothing to do with (Destiny barely tells me what she’s posting before she does it), but I know I’m nowhere near famous enough to sell as many copies of a book as it takes to make that kind of money.

Maya, of course, is way more famous than me, but even she admitted while we were at the lawyer’s that “that cow” (as she keeps calling that Jill bitch) can’t realistically make as much money as we’re suing for.

Which left me wondering why we were suing for that much money. I never got that explained to me.

It was quite a morning, and I was pretty wound up when I got home. Before it was time to go get Jacob, I went out to the tennis court with a bat and switched on the pitching machine. It’s lucky I was on a tennis court with a fence at the other end…otherwise I’d have been running all over the place collecting baseballs. It’s not like I had the pitching machine set for 90 mph (yeah, we got a super fancyass one that can go that fast), but I hit a shit ton of what me and Jacob agreed to call home runs according to the rules of our batting cage.

And I felt a heck of a lot better after punishing practically every baseball we had.

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