Saffron, the safehouse

05Mar09

saffronI’d made up my mind to get out of LA as soon as it stopped raining. After I’d triggered the fury of a local drug cartel with a series of investigative reports for the weekly, my fixer sent word they were looking to set me straight.

The driver’s-side window to my ’89 Cutlass didn’t roll up, and the piece of clear tarp I’d duct-taped to it was useless against the downpour so, when I showed up at Saffron’s house in Franklin Heights, my left half was completely soaked.

“Jesus,” she said when she opened the door, “nobody knows how to deal with the rain in LA. What the fuck are you doing here, Knox?”

“I just need a place to camp out for a day or two. Do you mind if I stay with you? I would have called, but my cell phone’s been disconnected.”

“Who’d you piss off this time?”

“A crew of Salvadorenos out in Pico-Union. Can I come in please?”

“Alright, but that doesn’t mean I forgive you.”

Saffron, my former editor at the Daily News, was referring to our six-week affair, some eight years back. She’d always played like she was still mad about the way it ended, when I snuck off with some staff photographer. Hell, I only did it because I figured she’d be sneaking around on me soon enough.

She made me some tea and we sat down in her living room, where I told her about my situation.

“So your plan is just to hightail it out of town?” she asked skeptically.

“Guess so. I think I’ll head up to the Bay. Maybe do some freelancing until it cools down here, so I can come back and get all my stuff.”

“Stuff?”

“I got stuff, Saffron. My grandpa’s typewriter, a couple boxes of records, books. I can’t just leave it behind.”

“OK, forget the stuff,” she said. “What I don’t get is why you’re being such a sissy. You pissed off some thugs. What’s the big deal? They find you, tune you up a bit to soothe their hurt feelings and send you on your way. They’re not gonna kill you.”

“Are you kidding? These guys are ruthless gangsters! They’ll chop me up into pieces!”

“And bring that kind of heat down on them, for killing a gringo, albeit a washed-up journalist? I read that piece. There wasn’t THAT much dirt.”

I smiled. “You read the piece?”

Saffron ignored my satisfaction and went on to lecture me about how I needed to grow a backbone and that I was never going to get my act together if I kept on running from my problems. Right when she was saying something about how I was a self-destructive mess, we heard a knock on the door.

We both froze. “It’s them. I know it’s them,” I said. I ran and hid in the closet, while Saffron walked to answer the door.

Sure enough, from the closet I heard a Hispanic accent tell her, “We’re looking for Dupree.”

Saffron, never the intimidated type, asked, “You gonna kill him?”

“No, Miss. We just want to talk to him about his article. We have a few corrections.”

“He’s hiding in the closet.”

They pulled me outside, made me promise to run a retraction of some of my more egregious reports and knocked me around for a while in the rain. I guess Saffron was still a little bitter, then.



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