Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Weekend in the desert



It was a rainy December Sunday and my head felt like it was going to explode.  Stuck on Route 66 outside Azusa, the traffic was as clogged worse than the County Court on Monday morning.  And they said that Freeway thing was going to solve it.  Sure. All it did was line the pockets of Judge Doom's heirs.  I should know. I testified at the probate.   It had been a really strange weekend and I needed to get back to the office.  I had a report to write.

My name is Valiant.  Eddie Valiant.  I have a reputation as a "fixer" for showbiz types,  called on to fix things that are embarrassing or illegal.  All the studios use them to some extent, since actors can’t keep it in their pants or skirts as the case may be.  Some people call me the PI to the Toons, because of my involvement in the Acme case a few years back.  I really don't like them much, but I seem to always be drawn in by them.   That and they always pay on time. 

I got the call Wednesday from one of the suits at Warner Brothers.  Their newest Darling had some really dirty laundry and Hedda Hopper was ready to hang it in the breeze.  The rumor was he played for the other team and that wouldn’t look good for anybody.  My job was to confirm or deny source of the stink.   We agreed on a price and I loaded up for Palm Springs.

My target was smaller than I expected.  Maybe 5 foot tall.  He did have a debonair appearance until you got downwind of him, then you understood his stage name.  LePew.  Pepe LePew.  According to the dossier given to me by the studio, his real name Paul Linberger.  One of the few cases of both the stage name and real name worked.  Originally from a town in Northern Wisconsin, he had left after being caught milking a bull. There were odd jobs on farms and ranches from there to here, always ending with some kind of animal behavior and a quick exit.  He had signed to do a one off comedy of a middle aged husband flirting with a cat.  The short did well and they kept him on, pairing him with various female leads.   

LePew stayed mostly in ToonTown when he wasn't working.  But he liked the desert.  Once a month, he headed to the Palm Springs Inn for a few days R&R.  The rumors stated he wasn’t alone, but the guess was it wasn't his leading ladies.  Nobody at the studio particularly cared how he got his kicks.  The real problem was which leading man it was.  If it turned out to be a Disney or Ubwerks character, it could be rather dicey for the studio to keep in the closet.  But I knew it could be done.  Disney had done it for years with Mickey and Goofy. 

The house across the street from the Inn had been booked by J.L. using a shell company he controlled and he gave me the key.  It was a little adobe place that disappeared against the scenery.  It looked like it had been drawn by for a Toon.  It was perfect for watching and waiting. 
I got in town about 4:30.  I was setting up the camera in the living room when I saw LePew pull up in his Thunderbird.  He wasn't alone, a human was with him.  A tall, dark haired fellow that looked vaguely familiar.  They left the car with the Valet and went in.   I slipped out the side door and in to the hotel to check the registration.  A Mr. Pepe LePue and a Mr. Charles Montgomery, room 206.  Cute.  As if that was going to throw someone off.   I went back to the cottage.
I focused my attention on the window.  Soon the door opened.  I noticed the human had a clothespin on his nose, but otherwise was completely interested in the proceedings.  They were clawing and kissing at each other harder than any couple I had ever seen.  Then, something strange happened.  LePew turned around and pulled his tail between his legs.  The human pulled a hidden zipper.  Like a magic, Pepe disappeared and Alfred Hitchcock was in his place.  THIS was the dirty  laundry they were talking about.  And I thought Acme was weird.  I nearly dropped my camera, but I managed to shoot two rolls.

And now I have to explain to J.L. that not only is his new leading man funnier than a three dollar bill, he isn't even a real Toon. 

I need a drink. 

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