California Highway

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San Diego

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Tyler is packing up and getting ready to leave for San Diego — his final stop before heading home. He looks at his phone and sees a few missed messages from Robert and figures to make it to San Diego before returning the calls. After all, he is running behind schedule and does not want to lose any more time.

The drive to San Diego was uneventful. But when he arrived, it was a breath of fresh air. He had felt that his purpose was realized simply by making it there. The air was clean. The scenery was impeccable. After everything that has happened on the road trip, it had all come to this—a sense of euphoria. Tyler felt as if he had made it home.

He found a pub in Coronado where he could watch the boats and enjoy the scenery for a while. As he looked over the bay, he remembered that Robert had called and decided to listen to his messages.

Robert’s first message was letting him know he was having lunch with Joe. It seemed odd, but Tyler was okay with it and could not wait to see what Robert reported back.

Tyler listens to Robert’s second message. Now Tyler was confused.

Dammit, Tyler. This is Robert. Call me back. I just got some info that’s going to blow your mind wide open. Call me!

Robert made it sound urgent. Tyler wonders what kind of information he had found out from Joe.

Robert’s next message was nothing more than a hang-up. Tyler did not know what to make of that. But based on the second message, Robert had found something out that he needed to know about.

As Tyler is sitting at the bar, drinking his cocktail and watching the boats go by, he picks up his phone to call Robert back. But before he can, he is approached by a young girl in her early 20s. She reminds Tyler of Karen, back in the “good ol’ days.” He had no idea why she would be coming up to him.

“Hi, Mr. Bishop?” She said.

“Okay,” Tyler responded. He was confused. She knew him, but he had no idea who she was.

“You are Tyler Bishop, right?” The girl asked.

He did not know if he should be truthful or not but decided she was cute enough to not matter. “Yes. That is me,” Tyler said.

“Oh my god,” she was excited. “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve been following you since you played in Santa Cruz at the Paradise Pub.”

Tyler was flattered. But because of the way she was acting, he was also a bit scared. “Okay,” Tyler said. He was getting in a position where he could run away quickly if he had to. After all, this was his first stalker. He did not know what the protocol was on how to handle them.

This girl had enough energy to supply the southwest electrical grid for days. Tyler was frightened. He had no idea what to expect.

The girl handed Tyler a business card. It read,

Brandy Evans, Capital Sound, Talent Assistant.

“Oh,” Tyler said, “You’re a talent agent?”

Brandy laughed. “I wish. I’m only an assistant right now. I find the talent and then recommend them to the agents.”

“Oh, so like a Scout,” Tyler said.

“Well, I also take care of all the paperwork and phone calls.” Brandy said, “Scheduling, events, and everything else they tell me to do. I like to think that I assist in making them look good.”

“Nice.” Tyler was not sure if he wanted to continue the conversation or not. With the amount of energy she was showing, it felt like she was about to snap at any moment.

Tyler started to turn away. “Wait,” Brandy yells, “I wanted to ask if you had time to talk for a moment?”

Tyler stopped. “Sure. I guess.” He looked at the bartender and ordered a round of drinks for the two of them. “What’s up?”

Brandy smiles, “Thank you for the drink. As I said earlier, I find talent that I think the agents at my company would be interested in representing. Then they take my recommendation and either go for it, or they don’t. But that rarely happens.”

Tyler speaks up, “So you want to recommend me? Is that what you’re saying?”

Brandy laughs. “Well, not really. I kind of already did. After your performance in Santa Cruz at The Paradise, I sent a video to my boss. They loved you, and now they want to move forward in representing you.”

Tyler tried to not show any emotion. He took a sip of his Manhattan, looked at Brandy, and said, “Seriously? What does that entail?”

“Well, it means we will find you gigs and promote you. We will also find songwriters if you need them. We’ll book you time in our sound studio. We will do whatever we need to do to make you as famous as you want to be.”

“Really? That sounds great.” Tyler is excited to get an opportunity like this and cannot wait to meet the agent he would be assigned to.

Brandy continues, “Tell you what. Here’s the hotel address I’m staying at. My boss will be here this afternoon at around five. Can you come by and meet with him?”

Tyler agrees. He takes the address and exchange phone numbers to get in touch if they need to. Tyler finishes his drink and stands up. “Thanks a lot. I’ll see you at five.”

As he walks away, he cannot help but think about all the excellent luck on this road trip. He cannot wait to get back to his room and call Robert to let him know what has been happening.

* * *

Meanwhile, back in Benicia, Robert is sitting in his office chair. On the other side of his desk, Josh has sat down. “So, Robert,” Josh starts talking, “or should I call you ‘Detective Robert?’ Looks like you’ve been doing a little investigating, huh? Are you trying to find out some information for your little friend, Tyler?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Josh.” Robert plays dumb.

“Oh, really? You’re going to sit there and tell me you weren’t just having lunch at Bella with Joe? And you’re going to tell me that Joe didn’t say anything about me?”

“We just had lunch. Why? Should I be concerned you did something wrong? Why are you acting so nervously, Josh?” Robert was trying not to give away the fact that Joe did divulge some information that Tyler would be interested in.

“Nervous?” Josh replied with a sound of insecurity. “I’m not nervous. You’re the one that should be nervous, Robert.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Josh.”

“Really? You weren’t having lunch with Joe to find out what he knows about me?” Josh was questioning Robert, assuming he already knew the answers he was looking for.

“No,” Robert responded.

“You wanted Joe to tell you about how I know Michelle, and how I set Tyler up to get caught with his hand in the cookie jar,” Josh said.

“Cookie jar? What are you talking about, Josh?”

“I know Joe told you he saw me paying Michelle. I know he told you how I used his phone to call Tyler that night and pretend I was Joe firing Tyler. I know Joe probably told you all about it.” Josh was getting upset.

Robert finally got the information he wanted. “Listen, Josh. Seriously, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Joe wanted to have lunch to discuss the wedding that we are doing together. That’s it. Nothing else.”

Josh had a feeling Robert was lying and was getting more and more frustrated. “Wedding? What wedding? Who’s the wedding for?” Josh was obviously trying to catch Robert in a trap.

“The Millers.” Robert paused for a second, trying to think of a name.

“The Millers? When?” Josh was not buying it.

“The 27th. Why the fuck do you care?” Robert responded.

Josh was visibly upset and stood up from the chair. Pointing his figure at Robert, he yelled, “FUCK! ROBERT, I KNOW THER’S NO MILLERS, I KNOW THERE’S NO WEDDING, AND I KNOW YOU’RE FUCKING LYING TO ME.”

Josh swooped his hand across Robert’s desk, knocking items onto the floor, and stormed out of the office.

Robert was happy Josh was gone. He started to pick things up off the floor. He was on his knees, gathering some things when he glanced up and saw a pair of female legs in front of him.

“Robert,” It was Karen. “are you okay? I heard everything Josh said. I was just outside the door.”

Robert was delighted to know there was a witness to this whole fiasco. “Karen, am I glad to see you.”

“I should have known that Josh had something to do with this. He’s such a jealous guy.” Karen kneeled down to help Robert collect some items from the floor.

“Yeah, that’s obvious. We need to tell Tyler about this when he gets back.” Robert said.

“Oh, is he still on his road-trip? When is he supposed to return?” Karen inquired.

“Well, his court date is set for Monday. So, he better be here before then. In the meantime, I’m going to try and find out who this Michelle girl is and see if I can get her side of this story. Joe had mentioned that she works at the high school.” Robert picked up the last item off the floor and stood up. He looked at Karen. “Do you want to join me?”

“Me? Confront the girl that caused all this?” Karen was sarcastically questioning Robert. She knew she wanted to meet this hussy and knew she wanted to kick her ass. “Yeah, I do!” She was glad Robert was coming. He could serve as protection for the little bitch.

It took a few minutes for Robert and Karen to get to the car and head to the high school. Once they got there, Robert looked at Karen and knew what she was thinking. “Karen,” Robert said, “don’t go and cause any problems.”

Karen looked at Robert, surprised that he seemed to know what she was thinking.

Robert continued, “It’s bad enough that Tyler has a court date. We don’t need one for you, too.”

Karen looked at Robert, “I’ll be fine,” she said, followed by a whisper, “as soon as I kick her ass.”

Robert heard her, “Hey! What did I say? I just want to talk to her. I don’t need you kicking anyone’s ass… yet. You can do that after this whole thing is over with.”

Robert and Karen get out of the car and walk up the high school steps to the main administrative office. Robert asks the woman standing at the counter, “Hi, I’m looking for Michelle?”

Robert did not know, but the woman he was talking to at the counter was Michelle.

She responded, “Can I ask what this is regarding?”

“I just need to talk to her about a personal matter. Is she here?”

Michelle had no idea who Robert was or what the personal matter was that he wanted to talk to her about. The one thing she did know is she did not want any trouble. She responded, “Michelle is not here right now.”

“Do you know when she’ll be back? I really need to talk to her.” Robert was visibly disappointed that this lady he was talking to was of no help.

“No, I do not.” She said it in a tone that gave Robert the impression that he was bothering her.

Robert looked at her and handed her his business card. “It’s important that I speak with her. Can you please give her my information and have her call me?”

Michelle looked at the card and saw that he was a realtor, “Yes. I’ll give her the message.”

Robert and Karen turned away to walk out of the office when a voice yelled from the back, “MICHELLE, CAN YOU BRING ME THE SMITH FILE?”

Michelle whipped her head around, looking at Robert and Karen. Her eyes got big, hoping they did not hear what just came from the back. But they did.

Robert turns and looks at Michelle, “You’re Michelle?”

Karen also turns and looks at Michelle. But Karen is not as pleasant as Robert. “YOU BITCH!” She lunges towards Michelle. The counter in between Karen and Michelle was the only thing that saved her.

Robert quickly tries to grab Karen. “HEY! Karen! Calm down.”

Karen still lunging forward and trying to grab Michelle with anything she could. She only stops when Robert holds her back. “You bitch!” Karen yells out again.

By now, they have caught the attention of the person in the back. They came running up to the front to see what the matter was. “What’s going on?”

Robert quickly intervenes, “Nothing, nothing. It’s okay.” Robert grabs Karen, “Karen, go wait in the car. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Karen turns and leaves angry. She did not even look back. She knew if she did, she would have tried to jump over the counter to get at Michelle.

Robert makes sure that Karen is gone, “Michelle, I understand you had something to do with the trouble a friend of mine got into a few days ago?”

Michelle looks at Robert, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Will you please leave?”

Robert continued, “You were paid money by Josh to do something for him. What was it?”

That comment got the attention of the person that came to the front during Karen’s rant. He looks at Robert. “Hello, I’m Mr. Cunningham, the principal. Is there something I should be aware of?” He glances at both Robert and Michelle.

Michelle looked at Robert with glaring eyes, “No… There… is… nothing… to talk about.”

Robert looked at Mr. Cunningham. “Yes, there is. It seems that Michelle here…”

“WAIT!” Michelle interrupts Robert. “We can talk outside.”

Michelle looks at her boss, “Excuse me, Mr. Cunningham. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Michelle leads Robert outside. “What is it?” she snarled. “And make it quick.”

Robert looks at her, and because of that statement, decides to take it slow. “How much did Josh pay you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she responded, crossing her arms and looking away.

“Yes, you do, or we wouldn’t be standing out here hiding from your boss.”

Michelle knew she was caught. “Okay, it was a thousand. What’s it to you?”

Robert’s eyes got wide, “A thousand dollars? To do what?”

Michelle continued, “I was working with the police that night doing prostitution stings. Josh just wanted to make sure that I got your friend Tyler caught. So, I did.”

Robert was surprised at what he was hearing, “You’re telling me that Tyler paid you to have sex?”

“No, I didn’t say that,” Michelle said. “He didn’t give me any money. All I had to do was give the cops a signal, and they would arrest him. So, when Tyler asked how much, I gave the signal.”

“So, there was no money exchanged? No sex? And he still got busted?” Robert was starting to get flustered. “Even I know that if no money was exchanged, there is no crime committed. It sounds like you gave a false signal.”

“Listen, Josh just wanted to scare the guy and make it look like he was in trouble. There was no harm done.” Michelle was trying to sound innocent.

“No harm is done!?” Robert was now angry. “Because of this, Tyler lost his job, he was arrested, and his girl left him. Don’t be telling me that no harm was done.”

“Oh my god,” Michelle said, surprised. “They took him to jail? They weren’t supposed to do that. Only scare him and let him go. He never gave me any money. Even the cops know he didn’t do anything wrong.”

“His court date is on Monday,” Robert told her. “I expect to see you there so you can straighten this whole thing up.” Robert turns and walks back to his car, where Karen is waiting.

Karen asked, “So, did the bitch say anything?”

Robert, visibly upset, responded, “Yeah, the bitch is a bitch. Josh paid her to do what she did to Tyler. And what’s really wrong… Tyler didn’t do anything wrong. The police weren’t supposed to arrest him.”

“What?” Karen is starting to get mad all over again. And now beginning to feel guilty for breaking up with Tyler when he did not do anything wrong.

“Yeah,” Robert continued on, “And Josh is behind this whole thing.”

As Robert and Karen got back in the car to head back to Robert’s office, he filled her in on everything he knew.

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