The hallway for the suites at the Grand Luxe was lined with white framed prints, which seemed to convey a graduate student’s idea of what contemporary art was supposed to be- as apposed to honest,emotive articulation. The works were a seemingly impenetrable moat, used to separate the classes- some secret visual handshake, more a comment about the piece’s place within the history of mark making, which was commonly misinterpreted as an appreciation in subtlety. Those floated walls and track lighting and expensive frames could have made even a hamburger wrapper seem relevant and Jay was reminded again why he hated rich people, how some of the greatest books ever written were about why these people sucked so hard.
Jay stumbled upon Bastien’s suite, banged on the door and waited. He could hear voices and movement inside and was annoyed by how long it was taking to answer the door. Jay knocked again harder, said “Open up!”
Bastien opened the door, falling on Jay in embrace- the tops of his toes flush with the ground.
“Jay Lee, my niggah, my niggah!” said Bastien hanging on Jay.
Bastien shirtless, forehead sweating profusely, was only wearing board shorts and some old gold Cuban Lynx.
“Come on in, it's a party!” said Bastien, which by the amplification of his enthusiasm, Jay could already tell he was coked to the gills.
“It’s not a party if you do it everyday.” said Jay.
Immediately from being in Bastien’s presence, Jay already felt yacked through osmosis. It was as if his body knew when it was about to get wired, it always prepared him with preemptive anxiousness and his stomach would automatically flinch, wanting to eject what it held.
A girl about fifteen years younger than Jay was sitting on the bed in only a t-shirt and panties. She was one of those girls who looked almost untamable, good to the eye- a definite non-home maker type.
Jay glanced at the table next to the window and could see about a dozen or so rows of meticulously raked lines, as if they were all measured out against a ruler.
Bastien went to the chair next to the table and put an unplugged Fender in his lap.
“Yo, Alexa- this is Jay. This is a muthafuckin playboy, right hea - one of the only people who truly knows what time it is. Jay this is Alexa. My uh, friend.”
Even when being introduced to Jay did Alexa still not look directly at him, as if for a second she barely glanced in his general direction in a lame attempt to feign cordial interest.
“Me and Alexa were.. er just having band practice!” said Bastien strumming on the guitar with one hand and holding his id against the table with the other.
“She’s the singer, I’m the guitarist!” Said Bastien in a tone that suggested Jay should automatically be as enthused as he was.
“Oh yeah, Sounds promising.” Said Jay quickly, as to steer the conversation somewhere else, half wishing he hadn’t ever shown up.
Alexa got out of the bed walking towards the dresser, adjusting the back of her underwear as if she didn’t want any one to see her backside exposed, even though she was exposing more of herself making such an adjustment.
“I gotta go.” Said Alexa, going for her dress.
“Where?!!” asked Bastien as if there was no other worthwhile place in LA to be at that very moment.
“I gotta go to work.” Said Alexa a bit too coolly to be the truth.
“Baby, when you with me you don’t have to work!” Said Bastien in a way that no sane person could take seriously.
Alexa closed the bathroom door and Bastien looked over his shoulder to confirm some sort of unnecessary confidentiality.
“So what up, Dun? You want a line?” asked Bastien.
“Nah. I’m cool.” said Jay sitting on the unmade temperpedic bed.
“Hope I didn’t interrupt anything. ” said Jay nodding towards the bathroom.
“Naw- if you would have, I wouldn’t have answered.” said Bastien smiling, looking Jay directly in the eyes, then puffing air in and out through his nostrils rapidly- mimicking the cadence of chuckling.
“ Hey so Yox- maing. What you got for me son?” Bastien, twisting one of his mini dread locks, edging a line with his id.
“I told you I wasn’t getting you caps!” said Jay like a parent, reaching in his top pocket, throwing the tiny blue zip bag onto the table where Bastien was sitting.
Bastien grabbed the tiny baggie and held it up to his face pondering it as if it was an annoying cartoon caterpillar, the expression on his face tensing up “Whats this!?” he asks incredulously.
“It’s weed Bastien, you know you roll it into little cigarettes. Smoke it? It’s supposed to chaaange the world, even helped hasten the end to the Vietnam War.”
“Naw, fuck that! I don’t smoke weed no more. Bammer's for pro ams.” Said Bastien like a prima donna, testing Jay.
“You’re the pro am! And besides, this ain’t bammer, son. This is tha real deal Holyfield. Chronic, nig. Ask your boy TP bout it- he knows. Might help you out with your style.”
“Fuck dat! I got the tightest style! Even when I say style I got my own styyylee.”said Bastien, anxiously tracing the blue baggie against the pile of cocaine.
“Yeah all right fine, Princess Sal- have it your way. Then you can just give it back.” Said Jay like a debutante.
“Naw is cool- I'm bout it, might keep it for a lil post mannie sesh in the ayum. ” said Bastien, pulling out the key pouch from the inside lining of his Quicksilver trunks and stashing it there. “My girl Lexi might like some, better than smoking sherm.”
“She’d have to be smoking sherm to be here with you. Besides, where’s Janie?”
“Ah, she’s chillin. She’s in Saint-Denis, holdin down Château Salabanzi.” Bastien, fiddling with the silver tuning peg of his guitar, in a way that Jay could automatically tell he really didn’t know what he was doing.
“A bit hard to write convincing love songs when you’re cheating on your wife, don’t you think?” said Jay, eyeing Bastien’s forearm, which for some reason had a giant “SRV” tattoo in a font that looked like Century capitals.
Alexa came out the bathroom fully clothed and Bastien escorted her out, closed the door behind him, turning the hallway into a private meeting room.
Jay looked around the suite- a room probably twice Jay’s monthly rent per night.
A white chandelier made from cast deer antlers hung directly across from a painting of what liked like Kirk Cobain, by Elizabeth Peyton. The floor was of exposed lacquered concrete and between the bed and the bathroom was a photogenic rug that looked five inches thick. Bastien’s gear was sprawled on the floor in front of the bathroom’s threshold: wife beaters strewn about, flight envelope, torn ticket stubs, some sort of charger converter, a Japanese light meter, some un-plugged mini speakers. The disarray looked as if Bastien had been looking for something hidden in his luggage.
The organizational algebra of Bastien’s existence hinged on three and a half minutes of that flawless skate cartridge footage, which allowed him to do practically whatever he wanted with the remaining stray seconds of his life. Bastien, a master of flinging and balancing himself- the king of pop and lock.
Bastien opened and closed the door to the suite and leaned his back against it, “Ah, I love being me.” he said out loud almost to himself, invariably bragging for Jay as his audience.
Bastien wiped the sweat from his forehead, pinched the tip of his nose and looked at Jay with a concerned, significant look, “You sure you don’t want a line?”
“Naw really, I’m actually starving right now. Haven’t eaten anything all day.”