Diego found his way out. Buster remained inside. A few minutes after Diego left, he heard pounding on his door. Buster peeked out. Smash was there. Buster moved to his bedroom. He had a gun there, small but useful. When the knocks shook the whole door, he called out.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you! I've got a gun and if you come in here-"
A shot fired. It was way off, hitting somewhere in the kitchen. Buster hid behind a wall. Smash kept up his game. The door heaved. Buster watched as it fell to the ground.
As it did, he heard yelling from the hallway. The landlord was there. He said cops were on their way. Smash was pissed and went after him. The landlord ran but they chased him. Buster didn't know what was going on but it sounded like they locked him in a closet. Then they barged into his room.
Smash led the way. He couldn't see Buster at first. He had a gun in his hand. Buster didn't hesitate. He shot him in the arm. That gave away his position though. He ran into his bedroom. He was on the third floor so he couldn't jump out the window. But he could hit his way out. He grabbed a metal bat out of the closet.
As he did, blue lights flashed on the wall. Smash's guys ran. They left him bleeding in the living room. Buster found him. Smash tried to get away. Buster hit him and knocked him to the ground. A cop entered. Buster threw down the bat and raised his hands. The cops handcuffed Smash.
"How many shots were fired?" the cop asked. "Two," Buster said. He nodded and helped lead Smash out. On their way, they found the landlord. Smash's guys were gone. Buster and the landlord couldn't identify them, even after long questioning. Buster had no new information just that Smash was pissed about something.
Kevin looked Buster over. Buster was frazzled, his beard not shaved. Kevin knew what happened, as did everyone in Hollywood. What no one knew was why. Why would Smash do something like this? Did he intend to kill Buster? The cops sure thought so, and his judge wouldn't offer him bail either.
"What do we do from here, Kev?" Buster asked. Kevin shrugged, "I don't know, man. I've never seen anything like this. Usually they do something more private if they're going to rough you up. This idiot made the national news. I don't know what's going on, but I don't like it. I don't like it one bit."
Kevin normally laughed and smiled a lot. Today his face was blank. Buster looked out the window. Their expressions matched. They sat in silence, waiting for something. After a few minutes, Buster checked his phone. He wanted to know what people were saying. He wanted to know if he could add this to his plot and have it go somewhere.
Everyone was baffled. Why would a guy like Smash do such a thing? Everyone wanted to know. No one wanted to talk. And Smash was still in jail, so he couldn't talk. Only Muffy could.
Buster looked up to Kevin, "What's Muffy got to say about all of this?" he asked. Kevin thought for a minute, "Don't know. No one's seen her in a few days. She probably flew off somewhere more private." Buster disagreed, "No, Smash was pissed about something. Why else would he bring his whole entourage?"
"I don't know, but...maybe we should've stayed out of this. Maybe she is too powerful to fuck with. I don't know, but I just have an awful feeling about this," Kevin whimpered. Buster looked to the door. Someone was knocking. Kevin opened it. A woman in dark sunglasses came in, her hair covered by a shawl. Kevin eyed Buster as he offered her a seat.
"Thank you," she whispered. When the door was closed, she uncovered herself. It was Muffy. Buster exhaled slowly. Muffy nodded, "I figured you wouldn't be happy to see me. Look, I don't know why Smash did that. I'm just glad he didn't hurt anyone, especially me," she said. She pulled off her sunglasses. Her right eye was black.
"Did he do that, 'cause that counts as hurting you-"
"Yes, he did," Muffy nodded. "We found out I'm pregnant. I haven't had intercourse with him, only you. I thought I was on the pill, but I guess I missed a few. Smash wanted to hurt you. I don't know why. I just want this to end, that way we might be able to be a family."
Kevin threw up his hands and left the room. Buster watched him leave. Then he looked back to Muffy. She looked fragile. He'd never seen her like this. She'd been broken somehow.
And yet, he didn't believe her.
"I thought we had something. I thought I liked you a little. I know it was just sex but we had potential. I won't be tied down like this. You used your power over me. You did this to yourself. If you're pregnant, then it's your problem. I'm done. I think I'll go back home and forget all of this ever happened."
"What about your screenwriting career? You wanted that so badly!" Muffy cried. Buster shrugged, "I'd rather keep my plays to myself than let someone like you ruin me. I'm going home. I won't tell anyone anything anymore," Buster whispered. He grabbed his coat. Muffy reached for him. Buster pulled away, "No, Muffy. It's over. This is your problem now. You're the big powerful celebrity. You figure out what to do."
Muffy cried, pleaded, and begged him to stay. But Buster was done. He left the office. He found Kevin at the water cooler. Buster could smell alcohol in the air. He was tempted to get a drink himself. Instead, he asked for a private room so he could book his flight. Kevin showed him into a storage room. He lingered for a moment.
"So, what's going on now?" Kevin asked. Buster looked up. A soft smile was on his lips, "Nothing anymore. I'm going home. I'm going to find something to do for myself back east. I'm done with this place. Being shot at showed me how stupid all of this is. If that's the game they want to play, I'm out."
Kevin asked about his screenplay. Buster shrugged him off. Kevin left the room, leaving him alone. He didn't see Buster leave. All he knew is that Muffy was gone, her shawl left behind. Kevin wondered what would happen now. Like Buster, he almost didn't want to know.
It'd been a few weeks since he left Hollywood. Buster was a clerk at a hardware store. He was helping a guy fix a shovel when his mom came in. Buster had left all his things behind. He claimed he didn't want them, but Bitzi wanted him to have his stuff. She handed him a key.
"Everything is in a storage locker outside of town. Do what you want with it, but please don't run away like that again. Kevin was so worried about you-"
"Kevin? How did you get in touch with Kevin?" Buster asked. The door opened. Kevin stepped in. He was still in his Hollywood garb. Buster grinned and shook his head, "So, how's he involved?"
"I broke the story of Smash living up to his name on Muffy's face," he grinned. "I got good money pulling my security tapes for proof, and Smash? Well, he's not getting out of jail anytime soon. She's not pregnant, thankfully, but that's more good for her than you. I did some reading. If she forced you-"
"My mom's standing right here," Buster grimaced. Kevin blushed, "Sorry, Ma'am. We'll talk business before I leave. I hear there's a nice diner we could hit up." Buster nodded, "The Sugar Bowl. We'll go when I'm done with work."
Kevin looked him over, "Damn, you really are done with Hollywood." Bitzi nodded, "He's done with his screenplay too. He put his computer in his old room and got a new one, a blank slate. Nothing good would've come of it, he said." Kevin whistled, "Wow, I just...wow, Baxter. You surprise me more every day."
Buster shrugged as another customer came in. He shooed them away. He'd meet up with Kevin later for lunch. They talked as guys, not cohorts in a grand scheme. Buster realized they'd be good friends if Kevin didn't thrive on Hollywood drama. When he left, Buster would have to find new friends too.
Arthur and Jenna wouldn't be his friends. No one from his school days could be his friend now. They hadn't been where he had. The only ones who had were corrupted by celebrity, even Fern. Buster didn't want that life anymore. He'd find himself again. It would just take time.
Muffy was facing her own dilemmas. Her brand was in trouble. She had to fix it somehow. She came out with a new perfume line. It only made a profit when she advocated for domestic violence. She promised never to be with a guy like Smash again. The public loved it. They seemed to forget the whole scandal just to get her fashions again.
She was lonely though, so lonely. She thought of calling Buster every day. It was just sex, power over a subordinate, but it did mean something. It wasn't much but it was something. It was done now, over and finished. She'd never have a guy like him again. She'd learned her lesson. She knew it was best not to mix work and fun, and that she had to pick the right guy for her. A body guard wasn't the right guy.
Life would move on. Even if they didn't want it to, they had no choice. Everything had an order. Buster knew that now, and he was glad to be free of it. He'd write again but not now. He needed to recover first.