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  • R.L. Merrill

An Interview at Franklin Gardens... For those who want more Cosmo...


Interview at Franklin Gardens

I just arrived at the Franklin Gardens and things are in full swing upstairs. Some naked chicks just ran past me with a… oh jeezus, a naked Jinx following them and they all cannonballed into the pool! Cosmo is sitting at the top of the stairs playing guitar and he smiles as I approach.

“Ro! Come on up, baby, and grab a beer. Glad you could make it!”

“Thanks for inviting me, Cosmo. So my early readers had some questions for you after they read the first act of Teacher.”

“Far out! What do they want to know? Hey! Sam! Don’t you dare hang on that-”

Holy… “Did he really just pull the gutters down again?”

Cosmo is just shaking his head. “I don’t know how many times.” He groans loudly. “What can I do? So, what questions do you have for me, baby, and I love that pink hair! Damn. Hey Johnny, you remember that chick with the pink hair that was here last week?”

Johnny snickers. “You mean the one who had the carpet that matched the drapes?”

Oh, Lord. “Ok, first question: What do you consider to be your lucky charm?”

He ponders my question with a seriously silly expression. “You know? I don’t think I have one. I don’t think I need one. Unless you count that pair of panties I caught last time we were playing at the Roxy. I held on to them, you know. They were these lacy pink things… Damn. Wish I knew who threw them. Anyway, that night when we got back, there were these two chicks that came back with us and-”

“So panties. Wow. Ok. Next question: Why do you only shower on Sundays?”

Johnny laughs again, gets an ugly look from Cosmo, and slinks away with his Butthead-like giggle.

“The shower thing. I don’t know. It’s really blown out of proportion. See, my family is Greek, you dig, and when I was growing up, it was my parents, my grandmother, my aunt and uncle, my three cousins, and I all living in one place with one bathroom. That was in the beginning when they were just buying up the properties around here-”

“Wait, properties?” Jesse wanders over on Danny’s arm. “You mean, they own more than one?”

“Yeah,” Cosmo answers, looking quite uncomfortable with the topic. “The Grammaticas own like thirteen apartment complexes between here and Los Angeles.” Everyone falls silent at that pronouncement.

“Dude, that means you’re like-”

“Whatever,” Cosmo says, brushing it off, but I know there’s more I need to ask him. Then a topless chick in bikini bottoms presses herself to his side and purrs, “Play that song again, gorgeous,” and I’ve lost him.

The naked chicks come barreling up the stairs giggling and knock into me, spilling my beer all over me. I am able to clean up my mess in Cosmo’s kitchen and make my way over to where Danny is holding court talking about his days living across the street.

“At least you *bleep*ing guys are happy drunks! We always had a bunch of fights at our parties. There was never a night when someone didn’t end up bloody on the ground. Usually Bronson-”

“Danny,” Jesse says, playfully smacking his chest. “He might not appreciate you telling everyone. Besides, you were lucky. Not everyone can be as badass as you-”

“Please, honey. Anyone who knew Blackened back then remembers. It took awhile for him to learn to fight his own battles. He and Julian were mama’s boys. They had no clue how to handle their *bleep* around these *bleep*ing people. And it’s not luck, honey. It was necessity.”

Jesse sees me and nudges Danny. “Danny, it’s Ro. She wanted to ask us some questions.”

Danny puts on his best smirk and slides his shades down his nose.

“Ok, but I didn’t think you wanted me to tell her about that one thing-”

“Danny! No! She just has some clarifying questions to ask. Perv!” He leans down to nibble on her neck and she smiles dreamily. Talk about awkward.

“Jesse, I can actually start with you. A reader wants to know, since you eat so healthy, are there any foods that are on your no-no list that are a huge temptation?”

Jesse groans. “Pizza. I love pizza and there’s just nothing good about it for me. I’m very lucky to have Nora cooking for me and I’m feeling better. However, Nora tried making a gluten-free, dairy free pizza with tofu pepperoni, just so we could try it and-”

“Holy *bleep*ing *bleep* that was some nasty *bleep* *bleep*ing *bleep.*

I can’t help it. When Danny gets on his cursing rants, he’s hilarious, but I’m trying not to offend sensitive ears here.

“It was pretty gross. She tried, and Nora really is the best cook ever, but it just wasn’t pizza.”

Danny pulls Jesse into his arms and pats her head.

“There, there honey. When you are feeling better, we’ll go back to Mulberry Street pizza, we’ll get their thin sliced New York style pizza, we’ll get naked and I’ll do that thing where...” He whispers something in her ear and her knees start to buckle. I think I just lost them, too.

Not long after this, the cops arrive and break up the party. It seems neighbors called when they saw Jinx and the girls streaking through the complex. They ended up on Hollywood Boulevard and were cited and brought back to the Gardens.

I decide I should leave before they ask me for any I.D.

TWO DAYS LATER...

I called Cosmo the day after the party. He was pretty hung over but said he’d be happy to talk to me the next day. That’s today, so I’m heading over to the apartment complex. I arrive to find Cosmo in cut-off jeans and no shirt sitting on the steps playing an acoustic guitar.

“Hey, Ro Baby! What happened to you the other night?” I plop down next to him, an incredulous expression on my face.

“You’re serious? I wasn’t about to get arrested because of you guys. I’ve got books to write, you know. I’m supposed to be an upstanding member of the community. Besides, I recall you were, ahem, a little upstanding yourself! You took off with half-a-bikini girl, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Sheryl. She was a nice girl. A bit too animated, though. She made the strangest faces when I was-”

“Cosmo? Yeah, um, I’m not sure-”

“What? You don’t want me to speak of cunnilingus? It’s perfectly natural, baby. Don’t you enjoy it?”

“Um, Cosmo? I’m supposed to be asking you the questions-”

“Yeah, but come on. Don’t you enjoy a man feasting on your forest? Delving into your core? What else do you romance writers call it, ‘kissing her most sensitive lips’?”

I burst out laughing, my face turning red. I should have been ready for this.

“Let’s just say it’s easier to write about fictional people doing it than to talk about my own experiences, especially with someone I only know in a professional sense.”

He grins, knowing he’s got me, and decides to give me a break.

“So what else do you want to know?” I swallow hard and glance over at his hands as they slide lovingly up and down the fretboard of his Marshall acoustic. He never stops playing, it seems.

“When did you learn the guitar?” He frowns and looks down at his hands, never pausing.

“I taught myself mostly. I was given my papou’s guitar when he passed. I was thirteen I guess. I had some old Greek music I used to listen to and I tried to play along. Then my cousin gave me a Stoke album. He was my biggest influence in rock music.”

“You mean Stoke from Flames and Ashes?” He nods, starting to play one of the legendary guitarist’s riffs. I smile.

“I love their first album. They got a bit theatrical in later albums.”

Cosmo smirks and I can’t help but notice how his lips purse together like a gentle kiss when he fingers a higher note. His long black curls reach the middle of his incredibly long back. He’s not got the smooth chest of most Hollywood men. I dig it that he’s au naturale. He’s so tall, like close to six and a half feet tall, I’d guess. And those legs…Why am I paying attention to this?

“Ro?” Damn. Caught.

“Sorry. You were saying?”

He smiles knowingly at me. He knows the ladies dig him. How could they not? Except for that whole smell… It’s Saturday. Strange how his hair doesn’t look greasy or anything.

“I was saying, baby, that on their third album, Stoke really gets artistic with his solos and his fret work. It’s a work of art. The rest of the band was too strung out at that point, and maybe he was, too, but man.”

I listen to him play for a few more minutes and a thought comes to me.

“How are you doing with Jesse being gone so much?” A darkness crosses his face and his brow furrows. This might be a sensitive subject, but I need to know where his head is at.

“Lonely. I mean, I’m like the sole adult in this madhouse now that she’s gone so much. I’m pretty sure she’s going to move in with Black. She hasn’t said as much, but they’re in deep.”

I wait to hear anger or bitterness. None.

“So what does that mean for you? If she moves?”

He strums the guitar for a long minute before he answers. “This is off the record, right? Because I don’t want to cause any problems for Jesse.” I nod to reassure him.

“I’m solid. I can handle it. They’re really beautiful together, you know? Like she’s like this angel and he’s, I don’t know, a fallen angel,” he says with a chuckle. More strumming. “It’s like they both found their perfect match. She found temptation, him redemption.”

“That’s really sweet, Cosmo. But what about you? I know what happens with them. I want to know what Cosmo wants. What do you want? You’re usually all about everyone else. It’s just you and me here.”

He leans over just so and fingers my pink locks, his breath on my neck giving me chills. Focus, Ro!

“I want what every man wants, baby. Don’t you know what every man wants?”

I gulp. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come here alone.

“What does every man want, and how are you able to tell me what every man wants?” He shakes his hair out and sets his guitar aside for a minute, reaching for his beer.

“It’s simple, really. Beer. Food. Pussy. Maybe some good music.” I burst out laughing.

“Not every man wants beer. Or Pussy for that matter!” He smiles wickedly.

“Ok. Every red-blooded male that’s not gay and isn’t a snob. How about that? It’s what we all want, what we all dream about. Sure there’s other stuff that makes life sweeter. I’d love this band to really take off, but I don’t know. I don’t need it to happen. I can be happy here at my little hovel.” He looks around and puffs out his chest.

I look around and try to hide my sneer. This place is a hellhole. “Fine. Beer, you’ve got that. Food… Who cooks around here?”

“Jinx sometimes, although he burns it as often as he makes a masterpiece. We get girls who come over and cook for us a couple times a week. They bring the food, too, which is great. Food and pussy.” He chuckles and I roll my eyes.

“That leaves pussy-”

“Yes it does, and can I tell you how sexy it is hearing that word roll off your tongue, baby? Hey, do you-”

“COSMO! My sex life is totally off-limits!”

“I’m just kidding you, baby. You’re just so easy to make blush. You ever change your mind, I’d love to get between-”

“Cosmo-”

“Yours are long, just like I like them, and the way you move when you’re walking up those steps-”

“Yeah, I think I better go-”

“I’m sorry,” he says, throwing an arm around me. “You’re just so easy to mess with. Fine. You want to know about pussy. I don’t partake of most of it that comes up here. Truthfully. I often wake up and find chicks in my bed, but these girls are just that. Girls. Knowing Jesse for these past five years, it’s been a real honor. She’s so poised, so incredible. Any woman I choose is going to have to be like that. Brilliant, responsible, gentle but strong… Like Jesse, but not. I know I couldn’t have lived up to her expectations. Hell, I guess I should get some expectations for my life, you think?”

I smile at him, seeing a dude who is really having a bit of an existential moment. He looks out over his domain, and unlike a second ago, he seems almost disappointed. Almost like he could tell what I was thinking, he says, “I gotta get a life. Ha. I used to laugh when Jesse would say that. I kind of know what she means.”

We talk for a bit longer, but I can feel him pulling back into himself. He picks up the guitar and starts to play a really melancholy, bluesy tune and hums to himself.

“Hey Cosmo, I’m going to take off. Can I come back sometime? You know, to see how you’re doing?”

He doesn’t really look up, just says in a tired voice, “I’ll be here. You know where to find me.”


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