“…For God’s sake Annie, don’t get messed up in this. Hello! Have you been listening to me? Movie people have a long, ugly history of hushing up murder. I can think of three suspicious deaths—no four, four that never came to trial. Don’t mess with these people. That is, if there’s anything really to mess with. Could all be a chemically induced delusion.”
“Mr. Starkey wasn’t delusional. And, he’s music, not movies.”
“Even worse. And I’m talking about more than one person here. Anyway, you’d be surprised what grief can do to your head,” Natalie asserted. Anne studied the contents of her bowl and then looked up. “I’m not talking about you. Who wants to think their son partied too hard and died?”
Anne wondered if she’d been the guest of honor at this particular party or not. “Nat?”
“How do you think a sex club operates?” Anne inquired.
“I guess you probably pay some kind of fee and then you go have sex with like-minded people. Why? Is there something I should know?”
“That detective, Vasquez from Palm Springs, wanted to know if I knew about a club there, The Buccaneers.”
“What? The Buccaneers?” Natalie had a wry expression on her face. “Don’t tell me… It’s where you go to have pirate sex? Like, with a parrot on your shoulder?”
“Natalie! You never take me seriously!”
“How about… Perverts of the Caribbean?” She rolled her eyes, “Buccaneer, oh pul-eeze! Who thinks of these things?” Suddenly she became indignant, “Why did Vasquez ask you that? Wait, Cliff didn’t ask you to go there with him, did he?”
“No!” Anne tried not to let her mind slide down any distracting avenues. “I don’t know why he asked me. Do you—do you think they hand out mood enhancers at clubs like that?”
“You mean like sex toys, or are you talking about Viagra?”
“I can’t imagine they’d take on the liability. No. But I’m sure your fellow club mates would have plenty on hand. Do you think that’s why the detective wanted to know? That he thought Cliff went to The Buccaneers and—”
Anne, mentally quelling several of her own questions, felt a sudden need to change the subject, “Those deaths you mentioned—the four hushed-up Hollywood deaths—were they recent?”
“Define ‘recent,’ ” replied Natalie.
“See! I thought so. You’re talking about the thirties, or something,” accused Anne, “I know, it’s probably in your teaching syllabus: Depravity and Death in Art Deco L.A. What? Next you’re going to tell me Uncle Manny dated Thelma Todd. People can’t, people don’t do things like that anymore!
“Don’t be naïve, Annie.”