Thankfully Billy had a couch for me. Though by the time we got to his rat trap of an apartment in Silverlake and talked, drank and smoked for another two hours, I could have nodded off on hot coals.
Billy was Liz’s younger brother by four years, and as black a sheep as a family could have. “Daddy Doomis” had a career in banking carved out for him since he started high school, so Billy spent the next ten years rebelling, escaped to L.A. to become either a mechanic or rhythm guitarist and changed his last name in the process. He and Liz wrote and saw each other occasionally, but there were long stretches they didn’t talk at all.
I bought Billy breakfast this morning at Meg’s, a loud, wonderfully greasy pancake and eggporium on Cahuenga, where I ordered Meg’s Cheese Waffles (don’t ask) and listened to a little more Liz lore.
“I worry because her taste in guys can be pretty rank—sorry, old man. Jumps into love pools when she oughta be perched on the diving board a while, yknow?”
“And she didn’t tell you where she was driving?”
“Big nope. Not like I didn’t ask her nine times. She’s got a new mood every day and when she ain’t talking the best thing I can do is back off.”
“Where might she go, if someone was after her?”
Billy’s breakfast arrived: country steak, hash browns, three eggs and two giant pickles. I had no clue where in his body he was intending to put it all.
“Well…she always liked the desert. Y’know, Palm Springs, Thousand Palms…Whatever-Palm-You-Feel-Like…’Course if someone was on my tail the last place I’d go would be the big Wide Open.”
“What would be the first place?”
He wolfed down some potatoes, crunched into his first pickle. “Mom and Dad’s. Instinct, right? She sure got enough repair work from me to get her to the midwest. I don’t know, though…”
“You don’t know what?”
“Why she’d even bother with them crazy fossils.”
“Hey, c’,mon. They’re your mom and dad.”
“Tell ya what—”
He dug a handful of change out of his pocket, slid it over. Plucked a miniature pencil out of the side of his pompadour I didn’t even know was in there and scribbled a phone number on a napkin. “Call Mommy and Daddy Doomis on that pay phone in the corner. Ask if Liz is there, or on her way there. Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya, and don’t use my name.”
First my eggs were scrambled, now my mind. I dropped my fork, grabbed the change and headed for the phone. A long distance operator got me through after two failed attempts. An older woman with a soft, brittle voice picked up.
“Hi, ma’m. Are you Mrs. Doomis?”
“I’m Sid Crawford, a friend of your daughter Liz on the west coast?…Anyway, I have a possible writing job for her and I’ve been trying to reach her.”
“Lizzie lives in Los Angeles, sir. How did you get our number?”
“Umm…from another friend. It doesn’t matter. Is she there now or is she supposed to be coming there? I heard she might be—”
“Not to my knowledge, sir. And I don’t appreciate you calling us. Is she in some kind of trouble again?”
“No, no. I just…What do you mean by ‘again’?”
Suddenly the phone was snatched out of her hand by a guy with a voice harder than concrete.
“What about our daughter? Who IS this??”
“Sid Crawford, Mr. Doomis. Nohing’s wrong, I was just trying to reach her. Sorry I—”
“Reach her for what?”
“Never mind, sir. Thought maybe she was visiting, that’s all.”
“Is she missing again??”
“Umm…no. Well, sort of. She packed up and left from L.A., and I didn’t know how—
“Forget it, Mr. Doomis. Maybe I’ll try back another time—”
“WHO ARE YOU??”
I hung up and retreated to our booth, shaken. Billy’s plate was almost wiped clean.
“Not especially. But according to them, Liz has been in trouble and missing before.”
He sighed. Leaked out a long, slow burp. “Yeah, well…parents like to exaggerate. ‘Course, Liz’s goofy moods make her do some goofy things.”
To thank me for buying his breakfast, Billy gave my Coronet a free hour-long tune-up at his shop before I hit the road. We exchanged phone numbers, vowed to stay in touch about Liz. I liked the kid.
And now my Dodge purred and raced like an eight-month old kitten. I took my time heading north. Stopped for a Mexican lunch in Santa Barbara, a glass of wine in San Luis Obispo. Tried to tune in the Giants’ afternoon game on my radio but could only get preachers, Pat Boone and scratchy fiddles. It was dark and I was beat when I finally got to my neighborhood. Trudged up the apartment steps and paused.
The window next to the door was open. I carefully stepped inside, saw a few magazines knocked on the floor, my bedroom in slight disarray.
Someone had broken in again.
PIT 001 011 000 – 3 10 0
S.F. 000 013 00x – 4 10 1
W-Miller L-Friend HRS:Kluszewski, Davenport, Wagner GWRBI-Davenport
Sure know why the Pirates are in last. They never walk, can’t win a 1-run game to save their life (9-16 now), and with Dick Groat injured even we can beat them. Down 3-1 in the 6th, Wagner ties it with a 2-run smash , and Cepeda, Kirkland and Davenport all single off friendly Bob Friend.
PHI 000 010 000 3 -4 11 1
L.A. 000 000 100 0 – 1 5 0
W-Cardwell L-Williams HR: Anderson GWRBI-Anderson
Another thing that’s clear is that the Dodgers can’t beat the Phillies, having now lost seven out of nine to them. Don Cardwell, with his surprising 2.47 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, shares pitching skills with Stan Williams until Harry Anderson gets bored and bombs a 3-run homer in the 10th.
MIL 202 000 010 – 5 11 1
CHI 000 000 001 – 1 6 1
W-Rush L-Phillips SV-Robinson HRS: Roach, Crandall GWRBI-Roach
Mel Roach knocks one off the foul pole to begin the game, Crandall follows with a blast and Bob Rush shuts down the suddenly anemic Cubs, who lately seem to match whatever the Dodgers are doing.
CIN 300 001 000 3 – 7 9 0
STL 100 110 100 0 – 4 9 0
W-Acker L-Paine HRS: Musial, Moon, Cunningham-2 GWRBI-Burgess
It’s an odd day on the calendar, meaning time for another Cards loss. All their runs come on four solo homers, but they can’t push across a winner for Phil Paine, who painefully allows three in the 10th.
DET 000 000 002 – 2 9 2
BOS 000 001 000 – 1 5 0
W-Aguirre L-Wall HR: Kaline GWRBI-Kaline
After two insufferable games, the Tigers get revenge on the Red Sox with a 2-run Kaline shot in the 9th off closer Murray Wall. Before he connected, they’d left 14 runners on base against the dicey Ted Bowsfield.
K.C. 001 121 001 – 6 14 2
NYY 100 000 000 – 1 7 0
W-Terry L-Turley GWRBI-DeMaestri
Wow, this Ralph Terry kid’s pretty good. Maybe the Yanks should try and trade for him sometime soon. Not that New York is panicking or anything, but the White Sox are now two games out…
CHX 400 000 200 – 6 11 0
WAS 000 000 000 – 0 7 2
W-Donovan L-Romonovsky HRS: Torgeson, Callison GWRBI-Torgeson
Dick Donovan’s third shutout of the year probably shouldn’t count, considering the opposition, but he’ll take it.
CLE 000 202 010 – 5 8 1
BAL 101 010 000 – 3 9 0
W-Narleski L-O’Dell SV-Score HRS: Hardy, Vernon GWRBI-Vernon
What’s this Billy O’Dell losing crap? And to Ray Narleski? Bob Nieman being out of the lineup sure doesn’t help the Birds’ sketchy offense.
National League through Wednesday, June 11
American League through Wednesday, June 11