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By Mike Hudson

It rained that morning and was cool, chilly almost, and it made him think of upstate New York. He sat alone on the wooden balcony, high up in the hills, overlooking some forest and some lesser houses and Wonderland Avenue and the light wasn't coming, fog and low gray clouds hanging and he felt like he used to feel at deer camp when he was a kid.

There were deer in L.A. too, but Fisher was up now, making coffee and on the phone already, talking to some New York money guy about Lady Gaga and why the record business was so screwed and he paced up and down on the balcony, smoking, and in the bedroom a naked girl named Sally thought vaguely about whether or not to get up and put on the robe Fisher had left there and go out to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee.

On the opposite hillside two buzzards circled and from the look of it there was something dead over there and Tom wondered if it was a deer and then he heard Fisher say, "Now we're talking about playing with other people's money." A loud car came down Wonderland and Fisher said, "Yeah. That kind of book could make money."

It was 10 in the morning and he drank a Red Stripe and the sun finally started to come out and he drank that in too. He closed the little black notebook he'd been writing in and put down the pen.

"Yeah, something like that would work," Fisher said to the money guy in New York and somewhere up the canyon some kids were playing around a swimming pool and Tom could hear them laughing and shouting and it made him glad to hear that.

On one of the computers inside the house Nico sang "All Tomorrow's Parties" and then the Skype rang on another computer and it was a stripper from Milwaukee who wanted to talk to Fisher or him but they were busy so her call went unanswered.

"You could spend 10 years writing a bad book," Fisher told the money guy from New York.

Tom thought of a man he once knew, a man who had been like a father to him once and who taught him how to make a business out of doing what they did. The man was dead and gone but that morning, sitting on the balcony with the Los Angeles sun penetrating down and into his bones, with Fisher pacing back and forth and a police helicopter passing overhead and the smell of money all around -- hundreds smell just like ones and contain equal trace amounts of cocaine -- Tom thought of that man, who would have been happy and proud to see him there like that.

The stripper from Milwaukee Skyped again and he went in and took it. Fisher was on the phone talking to somebody else about money now and so he talked to the girl and watched her getting undressed and thought about those beautiful Wisconsin Dells and the Land O' Lakes and all that but then he looked at his watch and saw it was noon, which meant it was three o'clock in New York, and he thought about taking a shower before lunch.

He told the stripper he had to go. Fisher was off the phone now, sitting in one of the faded rattan chairs out on the balcony smoking a cigarette and Tom went out and joined him.

"When was the first time somebody told you that you were a sociopath?" Fisher asked. Tom smiled. It was an old joke between them.

"Only another sociopath would ask a question like that," he said.

The naked girl Sally finally got out of bed and put on the robe Fisher had left there and came out and poured herself a cup of coffee. She looked in the refrigerator and took out a tray of suppersata and prosciutto and provolone cheese and some cantaloupe and brought it out onto the balcony and put it on the low table in front of them.

"You're still here why?" Fisher said to her and Tom wondered whether they'd have oysters for lunch or go to Canter's and the girl Sally said, "Go to hell."

By then the sun had burned off the last of the fog and it was warm with a cool breeze and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

In the whole blue sky.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Sept. 27, 2011