Lillian McCord picked at her vegetarian Cobb salad. Flavored cubes of tempeh had been substituted for the chicken, and savory tofu for the bacon. “Why the hell are you even contemplating this, Cynthia? You have no proof that Gilmore was behind the attack on Chet.” She speared a piece of romaine and hard-boiled egg and chewed on this with nervous energy. “This is something you should take to the authorities.”
“I’m not worried about Gilmore’s toadies at Fox News lambasting me,” Kang cracked. “They’re too busy hiccupping over Obama or arguing about how much is too much in their never-ending quest to whip up senseless paranoia about him. Fact, as I also have to start ramping up for re-election, I could use a few attacks from those chuckleheads. It’s good for my street cred.”
“That’s not all they do,” her friend observed.
“Yes, I know, evil never sleeps over there.” She did a low sibilant laugh à la the Shadow.
“I am, Lil. My staff has already put together a detailed file on this plutocrat–he’s not exactly a Howard Hughes recluse, you know. He’s put his boat in yacht races, sponsored the Iditarod and what have you.” Kang had more of her own salad, made with real slivers of chicken. The flesh of dead animals helped keep her aggressive, she reasoned. Politics was not for chumps nor wussies, and you had to be fortified to do battle against the mastodons and the saber-tooths. And Mace Gilmore was damn sure a predator of the highest order.
Kang swallowed. “He’s been hauled before the SEC and Commerce and has had to pay the piper.”
“Those millions in fines are just the cost of doing business, as far as he’s concerned,” McCord said.
“True. But he’s aware of, and cultivates, his public image.”
“Then why,” she said, briefly pointing her fork at her lunch companion, “would he sanction this attack on Chet? Something could have gone very wrong and the blowback catch Gilmore full in the face… to use a Cheney-like hunting metaphor.”
“As I said, that’s a question that needs answering.” Kang had more of her Arnold Palmer.
“Wheels within wheels turning, but not in the same direction?”
Before answering, Kang reflexively looked off for a moment across the patio of the Beverly Hills eatery.
“Don’t worry, no one here knows who you are,” McCord declared. “I picked this place because it isn’t where pols hang, and for you it’s like hiding in plain sight. These west-of-LaCienega denizens are far too consumed with the latest in botox advancements or locking down their next three-picture deal.”
Kang smiled ruefully. “Busted,” she admitted. She told McCord about her conversation with her brother about Gilmore’s wife, Cenine, and the suspicion that she was running ecstasy through the Pasta Grotto restaurant chain. “She’s about three decades younger than Newsome and according to what my staff dug up has a, shall we say, colorful background. He met her when she was a cheerleader for the Barons, a team he has interest in.”
McCord absorbed this. “So what’s that got to do with Chet getting attacked?