Chapter 40 – Meetings and Ideas (Los Angeles)
The soft sound of the doorbell rings through the wood and white tile landing. A large window is behind us, looking out onto the back of the apartment building and beyond, a few hundred yards away, you can see Beverly Hills. But my attention returns when I hear the door handle turn and a smiling Natalie comes out to greet us.
“Hey!” She says as he stretches out his arms effusively to greet us. “Oh, my God, it’s been a long time!”
“Yeah, that’s right!” Replies Camille, infected with her enthusiasm. Natalie shows us into a small hall decorated with sobriety but a lot of taste. “How are things here?”
However, before Natalie can open her mouth, a small whirlwind comes screaming out of one of the nearest doors, the one that leads to the hallway.
Of course, he throws himself directly at me and I barely have time to hold him and lift him in the air.
“Well, what kind of creature do we have here?” I tickle him and he laughs, so I can’t stop mimicking him as I lay him on his side. “What’s up, man?” I raise my fist to hit his. As you know, the explosion goes off by itself, and my dear Max, Luke and Natalie’s four-year-old son, laughs again before I put him down. His mother looks at us with a half-smile full of tenderness. “He’s a champ already,” I say as the little guy runs into the house.
Natalie smiles more broadly and lowers her head with red cheeks.
“It’s growing almost faster than we’d like,” she admits, before looking at me ironically again. “You’re good with kids, by the way.”
I’ll admit it―I’m stuck in the place like I’ve been lined up in a sneaker.
How is it possible…?
Quickly, I cross a look with Camille, but her way of looking at me, with unusual tenderness, makes me suspicious. What’s going on here? What have I missed? Has she told her already?
Without answering my mute question, Natalie leads us inside the apartment to a living room with a terrace overlooking the sea. From there, her husband and my best friend in New York shows up.
“Moose!” he greets me with love.
“Luke! Good to see you, man!” I answer as we shake hands and hug. He keeps taking my head off, but I don’t care. When I walk past the open terrace door, I breathe in unintentionally and close my eyes. “Oh, my God… I missed the smell of the sea too much…”
Luke giggles, but I think I know why.
“You can get the kid out of Baltimore…”, he starts, while I give him a grin and a laugh too.
“Yeah, that must be it. All my life between Baltimore and Los Angeles… I would almost say that in New York I suffered the unspeakable…”
“Hey!” I hear Camille behind my back, with a tone of false reproach. “I think I’ve taken care of that, don’t you?”
We all laugh and, while Camille and Natalie go to the kitchen to get something to drink, asking if we want anything, Luke leads me to the terrace. There I take another deep breath and let the sea breeze blow through my curls. My hair is a little shorter than usual, but I would never give up that sign of identity. Not when it has to do with the nickname Camille gave me a long time ago…
“I see you… different”, so says Luke, appearing as if by magic with two beers in his hands.
I didn’t even realize he was gone.
“Why do you say that?” I ask.
He shrugs his shoulders and keeps staring at me.
“I don’t know…” Maybe we’re both married men now and the world looks different”, he smiles. “How’s everything going in Vegas? Are you getting along better with your father?”
I lay on the railing before I answer. Camille and I want to give them the news, together or separately, but I’m still so shocked that I don’t even know how to express it. For the moment, I’ll just tell him how the performances are going after The Vortex and how the honeymoon went without going into detail. We guys don’t do that. And as for my father… well, we’ve buried the hatchet since the wedding, but it’s true what Cam says:
There’s a part of my heart that will never fully heal.
“I loved the idea you had for your wedding,” Luke said, taking a drink from his bottle, pulling me out of the blackness of my last thoughts. “And that they let you get married at the hotel is proof that they appreciate you…”
I detect a certain nostalgia in your voice.
“Do you miss it?” I ask, almost knowing the answer.
Luke shows half an undefined smile.
“I’ve never completely given up, it’s true. And neither has Natalie,” he sighs as if he remembers something uncomfortable and secret to me. “But I’m more into movies now.”
“You’re a great producer” I encourage him. I know that several of his films, most of them documentaries, have been successful at different festivals; minor ones, but powerful ones at that. That’s why I’m surprised to see him so downhearted. “You look weird. Has anything happened, Luke?”
At that moment, he turns his head to me.
“The shrewd engineer”, he bugs me senselessly, and then, a few seconds later, he recognizes. “The truth is that I’m not at the best of times. It’s true that with Max and Natalie my life is not the same and I have other responsibilities, but… I don’t know. I’d like to do it again…” he raises his hands in frustration. “Something bigger.”
I know what he means. Something like “Born of a Beatbox”. Something like the World Jam Final. And then, almost without meaning to, I have the solution and I expose it to him. As I unravel my plan, Luke’s eyes shine more and more. A documentary about the biggest dance event in years. The best award for our guild that anyone could ask for. And its results―why not?
But before we go back inside with Natalie and Camille, I’ll tell you in passing.
“Ah, and maybe you can count on my twins for future productions. Who knows…”
Initially, Luke brakes dry. And when he sees me smiling, he lets out a laugh and gives me a big pat on the back.
“Dude, that’s really good news…Worth celebrating.”