Back in Venice again and sorta kinda given up smoking, I start to get into the groove of being back in the hood. I walk around, I hang out, I drink coffee in the local cafes and generally give the impression of being a leisure master – high living with no visible means of support.
In the midst of all of this I meet a single, gay guy who has moved into the neighborhood recently and we become chummy. We see each other on the street and chat and it turns out that he doesn’t live that far from me, just a couple of streets away.
After a couple of run-ins on the street, I ask him about his work and he gets a little cagey. Clearly this isn’t a topic for conversation.
Then one day, he invites me over for a few margaritas in the back yard and we get to chatting and finally he opens up about his life. It turns out that he was an undercover narcotics cop for years. A Narc, as he calls it. Total Donnie Brasco kind of stuff. He would pretend to be a guy in the drug trade, make his way into a cartel, then bust it wide open.
I was fascinated. Gripped. He told me stories about his years in New York, always a double life, hard to have a relationship as you could never tell your partner what you really did. Always looking over your shoulder. Always worried that your cover would be blown.
After that afternoon, I couldn’t stop thinking about everything he’d told me, how fascinating it was, what a different life he’d lead. What amazing and different people you meet out here in LA.
After this, he was a lot more open about his past life and regaled me with stories that I just ate right up.
Around the same time, I had started to have a little fling with an actor who lived here in LA. He’d pop over to my place when he was in town and we’d have a little “exercise” in the afternoon. One day he was over and we were lying in bed and I couldn’t help but tell him of the amazing narc that I knew.
My friend rolls over, looks at me, smiles and then proceeds to describe the neighbor in great detail. I was amazed, Wow, you know him too?
Friend: Oh sure, I knew him professionally when I lived in New York. I heard that he lived out here somewhere. I saw him on the street when I was looking for a parking spot.
Me: Did you also work for the police when you were there?
Friend: No, Karl, I never worked for the police.
Me: But you said that you knew him professionally.
Friend: Karl, he’s not a cop. He’s a hair and makeup artist.
I look at my friend and laugh. He keeps looking at me and smiling. Then I realize that he’s serious.
Me: No way. He’s a cop. I mean, he’s told me hours of stories about his life undercover…
Friend: Honey, he’s really not a cop. He’s a fabulist.
My friend then proceeds to tell me all about Fabulists, people who make up entire lives that they never lived. They are able to tell them with such incredible belief that you believe them too. I couldn’t believe it.
Me: No, you must be mistaken, it’s a different guy.
Friend: He’s done my hair and makeup.
I am gobsmacked. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m occasionally gullible, but I usually have a good nose for bullshit. The whole town runs on it and you expect a pinch of it wherever you go but I felt like a manure truck had just been upended on my lawn.
After that when I saw the guy on the street, I could barely look him in the eye. But after a while, I began to think that maybe my playmate had got it wrong.
Till one day I was passing by and heard him talking to someone else about how hard the industry had been hit and that there wasn’t a lot of hair and makeup work around these days.
Busted. Citizen’s arrest.