Chapter Twenty Three

 

 

                                           “I am a God Damn party!”

                                          Jim Rook (as quoted in Playboy Magazine)

 

     Rosie Everlasting thought that Chester did indeed seem a little loony since he had fallen into the mushroom. He had taken an incredible fall, especially for a man his age, and wonderfully, he seemed to be completely fine, except for a pronounced limp and a bandaged hand. She wouldn’t have said that he and Mitchell were entirely sane, however. This Giant Beaver thing seemed crazy to her. She wished he had been slowed down a little by the amazing fall. This whole idea of taking the kids camping and driving way up to Beaverteeth struck her as so insane that she had been practically forced into saying that she was going along herself.

     “We’re going to escape!” Mitchell would say. “We’re going to get the hell out of hell. I’m quitting the movie business. Who needs it! Chester knows all. Right, Ches?” he would repeat and  Chester would then shout some nonsense or another that sounded so looney that for a moment she wondered if Shirley Anne had actually shattered him to the point of mental illness.

     “THE GIANT BEAVERS!” Chester would shout and then he would laugh and hop around on his good foot. She should just get the kids out of here, she thought. But, on the other hand, this Rook person was quite something. She was already thinking about sex with him, but since Mitchell had nicely invited her to stay with him and Chester and her kids and Jim Rook were all staying there as well, it didn’t seem to be a good idea to actually have sex with some guy she had just met on the actual premises. Therefore, she had decided (not really, she thought to herself) she would just have to have sex with Jim Rook at the party. This certainly made her feel goofy. She was not the kind of person who had sex with people at parties and had never been, but there was something about Jim Rook that made her feel capable of almost any misconduct at all. She wouldn’t really do it, of that she was sure. But he did make her think about it. He was so nice and sincere and straight-ahead; this big, battered guy, this Jim Rook. He looked sexy to her. There was something elemental about him. He seemed to be taking care of Chester as well, and she liked that, because she liked Chester Honeyacre. 

     “Chester, if I understand this completely, has some magical significance, he is in touch with giant beavers who can predict the future?”

     “Didn’t you hear him?”

      She looked at them all as if they were crazy. “I’m at least going to try to look good for this party and the rest of you can just do whatever you want. Believe me, I don’t care.”

     “Mitchell, you’ve got to dress up. The party’s in your honor,” whined Bela. “Mrs. Christianstein has gone to a lot of trouble.”

     “Mrs. Christianstein  is  a lot of trouble.”

     “She is not. She’s nice. She’s cute.”

     “I don’t care,” said Mitchell happily. “I’ve had it with cuteness. I’m going to put on some old clothes for this party, I’m going just like that, see? All this Hollywood bullshit can just fall away and we’ll say our goodbyes and deal the final blow to Charlie Christianstein and then we’ll be free and heading north to the real world,” he proclaimed happily. “Why is that, Chester?”

     “Because Charlie Christianstein has fucked with you for the last time?”

     “Ha!” said Mitchell. “Hey,” he shouted. “Let’s take this van to the party.” He had decided he loved the van.

     “Great idea!” shouted Chester. 

     “We’ll show these Hollywood assholes what real people are.”

     “Damn straight, Mitch,” said Jim Rook. “Although I’m going to dress for the occasion.”

    “Hey, me too,” echoed Corvin. “I think so, too. Yeah! Giant Beaver Man!”  He punched Chester in the shoulder and both Chester and Mitchell laughed like hell. 

     Sometimes Rosie thought that the kid was just like his horrible father and when she thought that it gave her the cold chills because she realized that she liked these precise qualities about Corvin, these things that made her think that he was like his father. So, she liked Mitchell too, she guessed, although she would never let on to him that she did, given their tortured past history. That was just the way she was. He should never have got jealous of her, she thought. That had been the ruination of their marriage. He had never gotten along with musicians. He seemed prissy to most of the people she knew. He only liked famous people – like actresses – whom he could control absolutely for relatively short periods of time. He liked to play with these actresses as if he were a lonely kid playing with dolls; lecturing them and talking to them and yattering away to them, unaware that he was being watched byadults – like her. One thing about musicians was that they were not fooled and taken in by most of the stuff that actors and movie people were, thought Rosie. 

     So, on this afternoon of the second day of Chester’s mysterious vision, Chester and Mitchell insisted that they all  – JimRook and the kids and Rosie and Karen Mae – climb into this huge van and drive out to Malibu. Once everyone was inside and Chester had fired the thing up, this woman Karen Mae suddenly remembered that she had left mushrooms in the refrigerator at Fort Honeyacreand they swung by there and she ran in and got them in two large square baskets with what looked to Rosie to be whale figures woven into them and with cleverly fitted woven tops. Once back inside the van, Karen Mae seemed quite interested in Rosie Everlasting, so Rosie thought. The woman sat up in the swiveling, padded, furred,captain’s-style passenger seat next to Chester and turned around and asked quite a few questions of Rosie in a dry and intelligent manner; what did she mean by such-and-such a lyric;  what did she actually think of Bob Dylan? What did she think was a really good restaurant in Manhattan? Rosie began to like her. Jim (what a nice guy) Rook, pushed his big shoulder into Rosie while the kids explored the strange interior of the van. The bed was of velvet and dark blue pile and featured little wall-holders that shot and champagne glasses might be easily at hand and its own DVD library with selections labeled “Naval Night Nurse,” “Anal Antics” and “Beaver Fever.” Boneyard had evidently surrounded himself with a broad range of the appurtenances of love. There were drawers that Rosie opened and quickly closed and told Bela to open only on fear for her young life. Everyone was laughing. They drove to Santa Monica to Karen Mae’s fancy pink hotel on the beach and she ran in and grabbed some clothes and ran back out. When she thought about it, she probably felt like a schoolgirl, whatever that felt like exactly. She did not feel entirely sane, that was for sure. 

       She sat up front beside Chester as he drove the Pacific Coast Highway along the far edge of the continent like a rope whipped slowly from side to side. Chester piloted the van expertly in spite of his bandaged hand and foot and  he entertained them with his grand vision of Rosie and Jim and Mitchell and the kids in the parade. He did not mention mushrooms. He continued to talk as if the parade were to happen in but  a couple of weeks.   If it had occurred to anyone but Karen Mae that Chester should not drive, it was not mentioned and she didn’t bring it up. She could see that he was the kind of person who in any group would seem like the natural one to drive. In this crowd of mostly family, everyone just seemed to like and trust Chester. He had flown into the mushroom, he had dropped like a stone, he had very nearly crushed one of the most famous old men in the world and he had taken on himself a comical attitude of mystery about these things. She wondered what she was getting into because they had so quickly become a couple, she and Chester. Everyone in the van seemed to be winking at her. 

     Mitchell’s place up the Pacific Coast Highway at Malibu Beach was a big triangular seagull-like house that seemed certainly inhabited although not quite lived in. The great windows overlooking the Pacific ocean were cloudy with salt spray. Someone as rich as Mitchell Honeyacre could have had twenty-four hour-a-day window cleaners at work, but Mitchell prided himself on living what he thought of as simply, especially now that Amber Bernstein was gone from his life. There was a plainclothes guard in a Hawaiian shirt at the big gate just off the highway.  Once inside, Chester parked the van on a large grey circle of cobblestones. In one of the open garages was a Ferrari. Inside, there were more than enough rooms for all of them. As the house suddenly filled up with people, the various members of the housekeeper’s family started to perk up and for a while they were all just one big happy band of adventurers. A fire was lit in the huge copper fireplace overlooking the crashing surf by Mr. Quanito, who seemed delighted and amazed that Rosie Everlasting could chatter with him in Spanish. Rosie could speak any language, it seemed. Mrs. Quanito was so happy that she began to open and close the huge glass-fronted refrigerator with a big smile before she even thought of what to do next. She stared at Chester Honeyacre. Mr.Quanito, when Rosie asked, said that Mrs. Quanito was psychic and could see a rainbow of colors emanating from Chester and that his face had the figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe as if tatooed on his cheek. 

     Mitchell might have been bereft of Amber Bernstein, but he was never without a girl. His date for the party came roaring up on a Harley-Davidson motorcyle and got in past the guard onlyafter protracted negotiations over the speakerphone system which was itself a small part of a private electronic surveillance network dedicated to protecting Mitchell Honeyacre from harm. The guard in the Hawaiian shirt finally passed her through, mentioning at the same time as did the little TV set in the kitchen, that there was a prediction of some kind of storm coming. This seemed wildly impossible, what with the sunset warmth and the crashing waves down on the beach. Chester did think that thewaves seemed very large, however. 

     Mitchell’s date was one of the most famous young women in the world, the fabulous singer who was named 150 – just the number – named in the way of people who had begun to number themselves for reasons of protest that Rosie could barely imagine and about which Karen Mae was entirely ignorant. Karen Mae immediately thought that the girl was way too young for Mitchell and to Rosie she seemed the fount of a kind of music that was both agonized and agonizing, the kind of music that would be made by someone who might shave her head and fire her drummers one by one for no real reason, in order that she might instill fear in the rest of her band. Karen Mae, who split her musical tastes somewhere in a cultural no-man’s land between Patsy Cline and Gustave Mahler, had never even heard of her or her music. Chester and Jim Rook did not care about her music because they did care about her massive nipples which each protruded through her net blouse under her motorcycle jacket in a way that made her occupation entirely unimportant to any man who could call himself a man. Her appearance stunned both of the kids, who had watched her dancing and singing and undressing on MTV for what seemed like centuries.

     “Do you call her One, for short?” Rosie whispered to Karen Mae sarcastically.

     “Did you hear there was going to be that other one called 675 at this party?” whispered Rosie

     They laughed like old friends.

     “My God, I just thought,” said Karen Mae. “Say they fought each other – for whatever reason – and 150 won. Does 675 then become … uh, 525?”

     “Hah,” snorted Rosie after a moment’s thought. “To the victor go the spoils. Better yet, what if 150 became 775?”

     “825, you mean,” said Karen Mae.

     “Oh, yeah, 825,” said Rosie thoughtfully. “I’m no good at math.” She thought for a minute. “She’d have to have all her stationary redone.” This made them both snork with laughter.  

     “Her calling cards.”

     The girl named 150, to her credit, was genuinely thrilled to meet Rosie, had learned all Rosie’s songs and had grown up more than anything else in her life wanting to be Rosie, and in her own mind  was  Rosie, although in a younger and more stylish – of course – way. She was also sleeping with Rosie’s ex-husband, of course. Soon after 150 came, (and even Rosie had to admit that she was a loud and hilarious  and ballsy little girl) the adults began to slip in and out of Mitchell’s big master bedroom to have hits of the cocaine 150 had brought, hiding this ritual from the kids. The kids, for their part, had half a joint of some fabulous weed (“roaster,” they called it) that Corvin had got from some Art and Music bop-hop kids in New York before they left, but he and Bela would never be so foolish as to do anything like smoke pot this close to either of their parents and thereby lose the moral upper hand. Officially, they were of a generation that just said no and did not approve of drugs or even alcohol, and this was a ruse which pleased their parents, who were card-carrying members of a generation which had pretty much said yes to anything it could get its hands on and did still, though secretly. In a way, everyone in the house was hiding something from someone else and all of them were as happy as clams about it. When Chester noticed this, he wondered for a second if secrecy was what clams were so happy about.

     Rosie produced clothes out of suitcases and she looked terrific,  Mitchell thought, in a beautiful dress that he knew he had somehow paid for. He wished he didn’t still love her so, that was for sure. He knew he could never live with her, she didn’t love him, after all. She hated him, the last they had talked about it, for all the pretending they did for the kids and the world at large. He, for his part, didn’t really even mind the other men in her life, including Jim Rook who had astoundingly produced a full tuxedo from his suit bag and valise. How did he know he would need a tuxedo? Chester wondered. Mrs. Quanito ironed the tux with some reverence. Jim Rook, it turned out, had meant a great deal to her. You never knew where you’ll find a drifterball fan, Jim explained to Rosie.

      Chester had a little cocaine and it made him feel tremendously light-headed and happy. He took a very long shower by carefully manuevering his body to protect the wonderful bandages on his hand and leg, hearing the pleasant chattering of women outside. When he got out of the shower, the TV was on. Hewas amazed to see himself on TV. He could hear his strange voice croaking on about Giant Beavers, flat on his back, covered with blood from Jim Rook’s busted nose. He noticed that the co-hosts, in their cheery and enthusiastic way, had taken to calling him the Giant Beaver Man.

     “… nearly bringing to a halt the last day of production on Mitchell Honeyacre’s long-awaited, mega-budget follow-up to ‘Jack Manosaurus,’ the biggest-grossing Super Flick in history. But it was Giant Beaver Man who proved to be the biggest story of the day, Squeezie.”

    “Migosh, he fell sixty some feet, they said, Shawn!”

     “Right, Squeezie. And this was no Hollywood special effect either! This was real!”

     “Wow! You said it! Superstar Thomas Trust Davies was nearly killed by the falling Giant Beaver Man …”

     ” … and former NDL great Jim Rook, who was in that crazy Jackalope Beer commercial a few years ago, Shawn, is just close as close can be to the Giant Beaver Man. 

     “… and oddly, several things he predicted have come truethis afternoon, Squeezy.”

     “No kidding, Shawn,” cheerily replied the blonde woman co-

host. “Amusement Now! has learned that all over the West, people have been seeing giant beavers in their dreams and all report that there is a Giant Beaver Cult. If Chester Honeyacre is theGiant Beaver Man, that’s the way it seems.”  

     “Either it’s a great performance from a Mitchell Honeyacre relation …”

     “Or Amusement Now! was there – as usual – for a really unique Hollywood event! He’s Giant Beaver Man and he’s tapped into something, sure enough! All Hollywood is talking!”

     “So that’s it for us, Squeezie. Be sure to join us Monday night for the full story on Mitch Honeyacre and the completion of  Jack Manosaurus Two, and the party of the stars at Charlie Christianstein’s Malibu mansion. And we’ll be showing you more of Amusement Now!’s amazing interview with Giant Beaver Man.”

     “If it’s amusing …”

     “You need to see it now! Bye, bye.”

     “Bye, now.”  

     When the program was over, everyone cheered and laughed like idiots. Chester was the Giant Beaver Man, there was no going back. Chester had mixed feelings, of course. He had the sense that he was spinning out of control, but he knew one thing and that was that he had not invented the giant beavers. He may have dreamed them, but he had not invented them.

     Mrs. Quanito had put together some cold salmon and some Peruvian bread and Mr. Quanito served up lots of drinks and Quanito Jr. made sure that they were ready to roll and, in a mood of high hilarity, everyone piled into the big black van and headed up into the hills with Chester driving once again. He was squeezed into one of Mitchell’s old tuxedos, the seams split by Mrs. Quanito to accomodate his bandagings. Mitchell, true to his word, refused to dress up and wore jeans and an old flannel shirt. Chester recognized the shirt. It must have been fifteen years old, that shirt, maybe more. One of Mitchell’s old camping shirts. It struck Chester as odd that he still had it. It was unspoken that Mitchell could do what he wanted. He was the ostensible reason for the party. 

     It was still quite warm outside and the windows in the van were wide open because Chester could not figure out what controlled the air conditioning. The girl 150 had virtually no clothes on – something she was famous for. She was a tough little thing with a sense of humor, once you got close to her, and after a few minutes, almost anyone might get used to her bare nipples, perhaps because she was so wiry and strong that she did not seem to be exposing much of anything on her little frame. Karen Mae did not really understand how she found it so easy to  wear underware and show herself in public. She had bright green hair with a shimmering purple streak down the middle and four nipple rings studded with what Karen Mae thought were very expensive diamonds and the best cocaine Rosie had had since God knows when. KarenMae did not have any of the cocaine. She had never liked the stuff. It made her talk too much. Jim Rook, however, was a different story. He was blasted, but he did not pinch 150’s nipples or pull their rings or even comment much on them, nor did he snort up all of her cocaine, because he had quickly got the point that she belonged to Mitchell. Mitchell Honeyacre was by now sacred to him. He and Mitchell were best friends. He was going to fuck Mitchell’s ex-wife any minute now and that seemed enough to make him happy as well. It certainly helped Rosie to get through the emotional firestorm that 150’s attentions to Mitchell stirred up in her. Corvin had grown up among musicians of his mom’s circle and was therefore more used to the exposure of women’s nipples and so forth than the average guy his age, but still, he had to ride way in the back of the van and stare out the back window or he thought his penis might never become soft in time to get out at the party without people noticing.

     This party for Mitchell was way up in the twisted red hills above Malibu. It was to be a kind of housewarming as well for Charlie Christianstein and his new wife. Mitchell had actually never been to the place until now because he and Charlie Christianstein, contrary to legend, were not very close. They hated each other, in fact. The van swayed up into the twisty roads and no one but the kids and Karen Mae felt sick because of the alert  protection of the cocaine. The red rocks outside the smoky windows made walls above dry streambeds, so spectacular that you would think some flowing invisible substance- the air itself perhaps – was even now carving their courses. Karen Mae wondered if some of the rock was Paleozoic and what crustaceans in certain bedded sediments one might find. She did not mention this aloud. She hoped she looked halfway decent. They came to another set of guarded gates. Corvin said it was like the wild west except in the old Western movies guys in big hats would stop you on the road and warn you off in black and white. Once actually arrived at the Christianstein estate, the third set of huge iron gates were wide open because the valet parkers had taken things over and Charlie’s security  people merely checked license plates and looked ready for action.Many guests pulled up in their big cars and bigger limos, filing up the long curving driveway lined with white plaster walls scored by the pale indentations of faintly green glass blocks, at the top of which they would meekly surrender their cars to the valet parkers. The night was coming on and the sky had turned a grayish yellow with some pinky tones of sunset in it and it might get quickly black, Chester thought, as black as the deep forests of the Northwest. The weather was quite warm and dry and windy now, a Santa Ana condition having set in. This dry hot wind from off the desert had always prompted in Chester thoughts of earthquake and fire and other parched disasters. This Santa Ana wind had the reputation of loosening inhibitions all over what residents of Los Angeles – or at least their news broadcasters – liked to think of as “The Southland,” but he could not imagine inhibitions loosened much more than they were already in the hilarious van as Chester piloted them up the hill.

     “We are a fun crowd, that’s for sure,” Rosie announced. One hand was holding Jim Rook’s and the other pushed hair out of Bela’s eyes. 

     At the great galvanized doors stood Charlie Christianstein himself, shouting in Mitchell’s honor. “He’s here, the hero is here, my baby is here!” he cried out. Christianstein was standing at the top of stark steps leading up to big stark doors and the steps were dotted with hugging figures who were delighted to see one another but even more delighted at the prospect of seeing Mitchell. Charlie even started to applaud as Mitchell slumped out of a van that was so suspicious that security men had  jogged up the driveway like overweight Secret Servicemen and when Mitchell climbed out looking like a guy who was there to do some carpentry, dressed in jeans and big basketball shoes and a baseball hat advertising the new Mitsubishi Kool movie, the guests began to applaud and all over the great brick driveway and sweeping steps and porticos of steel beam and glass, applause greeted Chester’s little brother. Chester handed over the keys to the absurd van and they all followed up into the glittering party in Mitchell’s wake. 

     Here, thought Chester, his little brother was loved by his own people, here in this conquered place.

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