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Interesting ironies of life

January 3, 1999. I walked into my home office and saw the fax from the corporate office in Indianapolis informing me and seventeen other regional investigators that our service would no longer be needed.

I worked out of my house in California, about seventy-five miles north of Los Angeles. It was a good job, skip tracing and contacting dead beats that had stopped paying and had taken off with cars that were financed by the company that I worked for.

The fax advised me to turn in the company car at the auto auction in Fontana and to send the laptop computer and cell phone back to the company by UPS. I could keep the Polaroid camera and fax machine.

I started checking the classified ads in the Los Angeles Times that day. Newspapers were the main source for job searches back in the day. And I was kind of an old school detective. I hardly used the laptop that the company had provided for me.

I didn’t find anything in the paper that day, but on the second day I found an ad that interested me. The ad did not have a lot of detail about the job that was being offered. It said bodyguard needed for estate in Beverly Hills area. There was a phone number to call between eight and ten in the evening and to ask for Roger.

I called at a quarter after eight that night and Roger answered. He asked me a few questions about my background. I told him I had been a Marine, a cop and a detective for a finance company, and had worked as a bodyguard for the world’s largest toy distributor in the 1980’s.

Roger gave me an address in Holmby Hills and asked me to meet him there at nine thirty the next night. After I hung the phone up, I looked up Holmby Hills in a map book and found that it was a district bordered by Beverly Hills and Bel Air, two of the most exclusive areas in Los Angeles County.

I shined my shoes and put on my best business suit and headed out for Holmby Hills the next night. I knew the routine about going to job interviews at odd hours. It was a way for the person doing the hiring to see if you were willing to take orders without asking questions.

The address was not hard to find, and I could see a huge house as I pulled into the long driveway. There was a buzzer at the gate and a male voice answered asking what I wanted. I identified myself and stated that I had an appointment with Roger. The gate opened and a man with a flashlight signaled for me to approach him. I saw a gun in his other hand as he waved the light showing me where to park.

I got out of my pick-up truck and walked towards Roger. He wasn’t the friendliest person I had met, and he told me to follow him. We walked into a door that led to a mansion. Roger took me to a room that he used as a security office.

He pointed to a chair and said, “sit down,” before he asked if I knew where I was at. I told him that I was in Holmby Hills according to the map. “I know that,” he told me as he gave me a don’t be a wise ass look.

“Have you ever been in this house before,” he asked. I told him that I had never been in Holmby Hills before, and he said, “Do you know who lives here?"

I told him I had no idea who lived in the house, but I figured that there must have been a reason for the questions, and I needed a job.

“This is the biggest mansion in the Beverly Hills area. The owner is Aaron Spelling, do you know who he is.” I told Roger that I had heard the name but really did not know anything about him.

“Aaron Spelling is a television producer and is super rich. Do you know anyone that ever worked for him?"

I said I worked with a guy named Gomez six years ago that told me he worked for Aaron Spelling, but I have no idea what he did. “I never heard of Gomez. I’ll check it out,” Roger said as he wrote something in his note pad, before he handed a one-page job application to me.

“Fill this out. I’m going to be in the other room for a few minutes. Do not leave this room, I have three Doberman pinchers that are loose in the house, and they will kill anyone that they don’t recognize.”

I started filling out the application while I thought to myself, why would I be walking around in a mansion while this big guy in the gray slacks and blue blazer was out doing whatever he did in the house. Roger came back about twenty minutes later and took the completed application from me. He reviewed it and said “The ad in the paper says bodyguard, but it’s more like a house-sitting job. I hardly ever see the owners and their kid. The only time I hear from the lady of the house is when she calls on the house phone to tell me one of the dogs shit in the house. I just tell her yes ma’am and I hop to picking up dog shit.”

He looked at the application again and said, “Looks good. What kind of money are you looking for.” I knew what this type of work paid, and I told him somewhere around thirty-five thousand a year.

He walked me to my truck, shook hands with me and said, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” I knew what that meant, and I would be looking at the want ads first thing in the morning.

I didn’t mind a little down time, and it took me several months before I got hired as a security contractor for the US Army in the middle east. I did a year on the contract and came home in June, 2000. I had made some good money and was looking forward to taking a month or two off, but the old habit of checking the want ads wouldn’t let me. I got home on Friday and the following Monday I was at an office in the San Fernando Valley interviewing for a job as a contract security manager for a large hospital chain in the valley.

I got the job and reported to work the following Monday. As I walked into the security office, I saw a tall man wearing blue blazer and gray slacks talking to the security officer behind his desk. I introduced myself as the new manager to the desk officer. The tall man in the blue blazer looked at me and said, “Mr. Vaughn, my name is Roger Paine. I was hired as your assistant.”

I reached out to shake the man’s hand and told him that we had met before. “We have,” he asked, “where”?

“At the house, about a year and a half ago.” I replied.

“The house,” Roger repeated as he got an oh shit look on his face.

I asked the desk man to show me to my office and told Roger that it was time to go to work. Once we sat down, Roger tried to explain that the rich lady made the decision not to hire me because I asked for too much money. I told Roger not to worry, these things happen. In the next two years Roger turned out to be one of the best men I had ever worked with.

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Leroy B. Vaughn's short stories, fiction and non fiction have been published in print, ezines, anthologies and podcasts. He is retired and lives in Arizona, USA.

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