Dear Gato,

I didn’t tell you what happened to Mickey after he was finally evicted from the movie trailer because I didn’t know. I tried calling him for a while; no answer.

So I lost track of Mickey until one day when the phone rang. I knew before I picked it up that it would be something to do with Mickey. Sure enough, it was Tracey on the line. And she’d gotten a call from a recovery clinic. According to Tracey, he’d resurfaced at the wrong clinic, which is highly unusual, even for Mickey.

She seemed to have gone softer on Mickey since their fight, since she might be a richer woman due to his raising of her alimony allowance and the potentially endless stream of residuals from that giant gator sequel Mickey penned. The success of the ALLIGATOR franchise is due largely to its becoming a blockbuster hit in East Asia. The box office was ringing nonstop in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and further afield.

Soon enough I found myself in a car outside the New Dawn recovery clinic just north of Oceanside, with Mickey’s ex-wife spying on the clinic from outside. I could see why Mickey thought she needed help more than he did. It’s just a different kind of help, a difference that was lost on him.

“€œWhat better place to hide, where better to escape, than a cult?”€

From her Lexus hybrid, we look out over the building, which is imposing in a faux Zen way. I turn to Tracey and ask:

ME
You sure about this?

TRACEY
Everyone comes here…Downey. Rourke. Drew Barrymore used to get her homework sent here. It’s like a country club. They do memberships. Mick had a year’s membership inserted by the insurance company in his contract for The Shed. It was on page nineteen, not that he ever knew. That was back in the good old days, when CAA wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole. I used to read all his contracts. If you want to hide out, this is the place to go.

Tracey and I walk into the clinic together.

INT. ‘NEW DAWN’ RECOVERY CENTRE”€”THAT MOMENT

Bombay walks up to reception. A young NURSE sits behind the desk.

ME
I’m here to visit a close friend.

NURSE
I’m afraid that won’t be possible, sir.

ME
Excuse me?

NURSE
There are no visitors at New Dawn. Rebirth is very much a solitary process.

ME
(seeing a timetable)
There’s a lot of group stuff for such a solitary process”€”

NURSE
“€”I’m sure your friend will make contact with you and all his psycho-emotional constituents when he’s achieved full realignment.

ME
Nurse, it’s very important that this constituent here speak with him”€”

NURSE
I’m not a nurse. I’m a patient. Right now I’m involved in an occupational role-play. It’s one of the Vanquis-level courses they run here. But no visitors. That’s the golden rule.

ME
What is Vanquis?

NURSE
Vanquis is a couple of levels below Supreme Being, our highest alpha.

I was asking the nurse, “In which wing of this quack house do they keep the Bodhisattvas?” when Tracey pulled me away by the arm.

We were pretty sure our boy was in the zone, but we weren’t certain. Now we hear from the nurse’s mouth that this “€œclinic”€ is more of a cult than a recovery center. Reluctantly, we retreat to the car when a divine inspiration hits me. If we couldn’t get our boy out of here”€”and I think there was no disagreement over the benefit of removing him from this particular sect”€”then could I get myself in?

Within minutes, having recalled the special-ops moves I’d studied from TAKEN 1 & 2, I vanished into the background. Tracey would wait in back-up mode in the car.



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