Much to his surprise, Samantha was the next visitor to come to Mason’s hospital room that afternoon to see him. Samantha had put Prince into the Sundog Boarding Kennel and had flown to Hollywood late the previous night. Blue Birdie was being cared for by the maid, Ellen Baker, in the Traverse City mansion.

            Samantha said hello and kissed her husband on his forehead. She asked, “What happened to you, Mason? Paul told me you got involved with a huge drug deal that went bad. Did another man get murdered?”

            “Yes,” answered Mason, upset with Paul for telephoning his wife in Traverse City that resulted in her trip to Hollywood.

            “Did the shooting have to do with a major cocaine deal?” she wanted to know.

            “To be honest with you, yes it did,” he replied.

            “Oh dear. Mason, who was that woman I saw at your mansion this morning?” asked Samantha.

            Thinking fast Mason lied and answered, “Oh that’s Charlotte, my housekeeper.”

            “She didn’t look like a housekeeper to me. She was wearing a black nightgown,” said Samantha, acting suspicious and not believing him that the attractive woman named Charlotte was a housekeeper.

            “As long as she is living at your mansion, I’m staying at the Hollywood Hotel. Oh Mason, you could have gotten killed if you were involved with a major drug deal. Paul said you’re no longer needed for the movie to be completed. He wants you to come home to Michigan like I do. Paul also told me you are using cocaine every day, even in the morning.

            “You will be safe in Traverse City, away from the temptation of using drugs that are available in Hollywood. With help from organizations like Narcotics Anonymous and rehab at Munson Hospital we can fight your cocaine addiction together. You’ve had enough excitement here in Tinsel Town. Please come back to Traverse City and live with me,” pleaded Samantha.

            “No, I won’t go back to Michigan. Hollywood is my home now. You go back to Traverse City and don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine here,” he told his wife bluntly.

            Samantha started crying hard. She begged Mason to come home but he firmly told her no way was he leaving Hollywood.

            Mason is in a ton of trouble. As much as I tried, I can’t convince him to come home and recuperate from his wounds. I’m worried about him and our marriage more than ever before. I don’t know what to do, thought Samantha, feeling depressed despite her medication for the condition.   

            After an hour Samantha left the hospital, and spent the night at the Hollywood Hotel. She flew back to Traverse City the next morning. Samantha was disappointed in Mason’s refusal to return home. Arriving at Cherry Capitol Airport after midnight she went to her mansion, falling asleep at the lonely house. She was without her husband back at Traverse City and he missed any addiction treatment sessions.

            A few days later Detective Longley released the uniformed police officer from duty in front of Mason’s hospital door. The detective knew Mason was a drug dealer but couldn’t prove it. Longley moved on to other crime cases, once again disheartened by the fact that Mason had gotten off the hook. He planned on retiring soon, feeling totally disenchanted as a police detective and with defense team lawyers in general, like Marc Evans.

            Early the next morning Samantha telephoned Pamela and told her best friend she needed someone to talk to about the many problems she had with Mason. They agreed to meet for lunch at Sleder’s Tavern on Randolph Street. Sleder’s is the oldest historic saloon in Traverse City. When Samantha and Pamela met they hugged each other warmly. They sat down in a booth and ordered thick cheeseburgers and French fries, the house specialty, with root beer served in frosted mugs.

            “Pamela, I have something to tell you,” said Samantha starting the conversation.

            “What’s on your mind?” she asked.

   “Mason got shot four times in Hollywood and is in the hospital. He’ll live but it was a close call.”

            “Oh, my God, what happened?” asked Pamela, more worried about her best friend than Mason, who she’d never liked.

            “The police said Mason was involved in a major drug deal that went bad and was robbed. Another man was killed in the attack, supposedly his partner who was selling drugs in the Hollywood area. Mason will be in the hospital another week according to his doctor. His movie agent told me he has been abusing cocaine every day even in the morning. I begged him to come back to Traverse City but he won’t return home.”

            “What are you going to do now?” asked Pamela, worried about her friend.

            “I’m under the care of a psychiatrist who gave me a prescription for depression. He recommended I see a clinical psychologist named Dr. Barbara Goldsmith once a week on Thursdays. I like her a lot. The next time I see her I’ll ask if she has any advice for me,” said Samantha.

            “That sounds like a good idea,” agreed Pamela, surprised by Samantha’s information about Mason.

            “There is something else too. When I visited Mason’s mansion there was an attractive woman there dressed in a black nightgown. He later told me she’s his housekeeper. I didn’t believe him. I think he now has a mistress in Hollywood,” shared Samantha.

            “That isn’t good at all,” said Pamila, upset with Mason betraying her friend.

            Their cheeseburgers, French fries, and pop arrived and they ate lunch quietly. Pamela felt sorry for Samantha but didn’t know what to do about Mason’s refusal to come back and live in Traverse City. She thought it wasn’t her place to tell Samantha to get a divorce over Mason’s extramarital affair with the other woman living in his mansion.

            “Pamela, maybe you can come over to my home someday soon and met my puppy named Prince,” suggested Samantha. “He is a friendly Romanian Mioritic Shepherd and keeps me company on the lonely nights I don’t have anyone around the mansion. He recently has been housebroken so I don’t have to ask the maid to mop up the kitchen floor anymore. Do you want to get to know Prince?”

            “Sure, I can do that,” replied Pamela. “I’ve never heard of that dog breed before. What color is Prince?”

            “Pure white,” answered Samantha.

            “Oh, I love that color of a dog’s fur coat,” said Pamela. “I bet he’s a beautiful puppy.”

            “He is a pretty dog. I’m so glad I bought him. I had a dog pen constructed behind my mansion so he can run free.”

            “Good idea,” said Pamela, happy for her friend and eager to meet Prince someday soon at Samantha’s mansion.

            After lunch Pamela said good-bye and returned to her dorm room while Samantha returned to her mansion. Samantha was pleased Pamela had dropped everything and come to lunch on such short notice. Pamela had been a fine friend through all the storms of Samantha’s life.

            During her next therapy session, she provided Dr. Goldsmith with an update about Mason being shot and his hospitalization. She told the therapist that Mason was addicted to cocaine and probably had a mistress in Hollywood. Samantha reported that Mason had told her he wasn’t going to ever return to Traverse City.

            Dr. Goldsmith outlined Samantha’s options thoughtfully. She warned Samantha to avoid the trap of being Mason’s enabler and advised her to consider moving on in life without him. Samantha told Dr. Goldsmith she was reluctant to get a divorce in hopes Mason would finally come home. She was afraid single men would just want to date her because she had money, a mansion, and a Cadillac. They agreed to talk about her marital situation and options like a divorce at their next weekly session. Samantha felt better having unloaded all her feelings and getting help from Dr. Goldsmith.

            Back in Hollywood, Charlotte visited Mason every day at the hospital; she was still after his money. He spent a long week recovering from his wounds. Slowly his strength returned and all the pain stopped hurting him without any more shots of morphine. Only his arm was still stiff. During his hospitalization, Mason had a powerful desire to do some cocaine. When he was released from the hospital he went back to his mansion and began snorting even more cocaine daily while sitting around the swimming pool. He got higher and higher on the coke he snorted, becoming severely addicted to the narcotic.

            After the shooting incident Mason always wore a T-shirt in the swimming pool to cover the scars on his chest and arm. Charlotte continued to regularly abuse Quaaludes. Although they had large stashes of drugs in the bank’s safety deposit box, they began looking for a new connection at the studio.

            They weren’t successful in finding one. Their previous favorite connection, Kevin Mattson, was dead, murdered by the Black Eagles cartel.

            One Friday afternoon at Welling’s studio Paul Finch approached Mason with two tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game. The Dodgers were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. They were evenly matched teams. Charlotte didn’t want to go to the stadium. She thought baseball was boring although she was happy that Mason had plans to attend. Unknown to Mason, Charlotte wanted to spend the afternoon at the Hollywood Casino and spend her allowance gambling at the roulette table. She was hopelessly addicted to gambling and often gambled away all her money.

            Mason wanted to go to the baseball game and see the Dodgers play. He found Michael eating Lays potato chips and drinking a diet 7 Up in the studio’s commissary. Mason greeted Michael and asked him, “Do you want to go to a Dodgers’ baseball game this Sunday afternoon? I have two good tickets.”

            “I don’t think I have any plans for Sunday. Sure, I’ll go with you. I would love to see the Dodgers play again. They have been my favorite baseball team since I was a kid,” Michael told Mason.

            “Bring your swimsuit along so we can take a dip after the game,” said Mason.

            “Okay,” said Michael.

            They agreed to leave Mason’s mansion at ten o’clock Sunday morning and take in the pregame tour. Right on time on Sunday they drove through heavy Hollywood traffic to Dodger Stadium. Once they’d found a parking space they walked up to the stadium and saw the new Jackie Robertson statue, which looked impressive.

            “It must have been tough to be the first black man to play major league baseball,” said Michael. Being black himself he knew what it was like to feel discriminated against by white people.

            “I agree with you,” said Mason. He was not prejudiced against anyone and enjoyed the company of his black friend.

            They walked inside the stadium, giving their tickets to a gatekeeper, and went on a VIP pregame tour. They saw theMemorabilia Hall highlighting the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball organization. Next, Mason and Michael got an exclusive look at the Lexus Dugout Club VIP Restaurant behind home plate that housed the Dodgers’ World Series trophies. They had beers at the bar inside the restaurant.

            “I didn’t realize the Dodgers had won so many World Series trophies,” said Mason.

            “Neither did I,” said Michael. “They are an amazing team.”
            After finishing their beer and checking out the restaurant they went on to enjoy the Dodgers’ batting practice in the 56,000-seat stadium. Mason took pictures of the batters’ practice with his digital camera. With a crack of the bat some of the baseballs sailed out of the park and were home runs. They both enjoyed the Dodgers’ batting practice.  

            Following the pregame tour, Mason and Michael took their seats in the first row behind the catcher and umpire. They ate Coney Island hot dogs and peanuts, and drank some more cold beer. The exciting game had an even 3-3 score by the seventh inning stretch. The game ended during the bottom of the ninth inning with a Dodger walk off a home run. The Dodgers had won the tightly fought game. They both applauded and cheered the home team.

            Once the baseball game ended, they had to fight traffic in the parking lot and streets to get back to Mason’s mansion. Charlotte was home and told the two friends she’d had lunch at the Library Bar on Hollywood Boulevard, which was a lie. She had spent the afternoon gambling at the casino, losing more of Mason’s money.

            Mason and Michael snorted some lines of cocaine. They swam in the pool high and then relaxed in lawn chairs. Afterward, Michael said thank you for everything and left the mansion to go home. Being so high on coke he almost got into an accident with a city bus on the way to his apartment. Mason snorted some more cocaine while Charlotte got a buzz on with Quaaludes. They were both completely addicted to the narcotics but were in denial. They didn’t believe that they were hooked on the drugs.

            Feeling exhausted from all the cocaine he had snorted and the intense sexual activity with Charlotte the previous night, Mason slept in the next morning. He did not rise until ten o’clock. Once awake he cleaned up in the bathroom and did a line of cocaine to start off the new day. He had become a hard-core coke addict and didn’t care for much else in his life. His movie agent, Paul Finch, and his Welling’s studio friends noticed a big change in Mason’s attitude about the movie. Losing interest, he didn’t care about the film production anymore or anything else but getting high on coke.  

            They thought he was going downhill. Mason was completely strung out on cocaine. Apart from cocaine, all that interested him was sex with Charlotte and Cheyenne, plus his porno movies and panties collection.  

            In Traverse City on the Fourth of July, Samantha and Pamela wanted to go to the National Cherry Festival that was held each summer. They were excited to attend this year’s exciting event. Over 200,000 people attended the festival and the population in town grew in size, becoming crowded. All the increased traffic was a problem in the busy city.

            At seven o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, Samantha picked up Pamela at her Northern Michigan College dorm. Samantha drove her Cadillac Escalade to an all-day parking lot for $5.00 on Pine Street. They walked to the Open Space on West Bay, and passed a few tourists. Each paid for their pins, which not only allowed them into the Open Space but also made them eligible to win a new car. Pamela would have loved to have the car in her life. Her Ford Focus was getting old and had high mileage on its odometer.

            The reason they’d arrived so early was to beat the crowds attending the Very Cherry Pancake Breakfast. They got in a short line and were served cherry pancakes with maple syrup. Sitting down at a picnic table Samantha began the conversation, saying, “Pamela, you had an excellent 15K Cherry Blossom Race yesterday and won a medal. Good for you.”

            “It was only a third -place medal. I would have won the race if I hadn’t had a leg cramp from the last stretch to the finish line. Still, the race down the Old Mission Peninsula was fun. Maybe next year I’ll win the whole shooting match and finish in first place,” said Pamela, hopeful for a better performance in the future.   

            “Third place out of one hundred runners isn’t shabby, that’s for sure. You are a great runner,” complimented Samantha, happy for her friend.

            “How did you like the 5K Walk and Run?” asked Pamela between bites of her cherry pancakes.

            “I was exhausted after the event. It was more of a walk than a run. I got tired halfway through the race and stopped running. Last night I slept hard for once. My leg muscles tightened up,” said Samantha, telling her friend about her struggles during the moderately long race.

            After the cherry pancake breakfast Samantha and Pamela walked around the Open Space viewing all the exhibition booths selling cherry products. The majority of the products came from the Old Mission Peninsula. Samantha bought a quart of fresh cherries and shared them with Pamela. Then they walked downtown on Front Street and shopped for Traverse City T-shirts available in tourist stores.

            They stopped at Kilwins, known for its chocolates, fudge, ice cream, and peanut brittle. Going inside the crowded store Samantha and Pamula waited in line and ordered two strawberry ice-cream cones. Once they had the ice-cream cones in hand they went back outside and sat on a bench. They people-watched the many tourists along Front Street.

            “Traverse City is certainly a tourist town during the summer months. I think Kilwins is super,” said Pamela as she licked ice cream off the cone.

            “I like the sweets too,” agreed Samantha. “They have the best peanut brittle in Michigan. I love to munch on it and get the sticky candy stuck in my mouth. It’s delicious.”

            “I agree with you Samantha,” said Pamela, finishing her strawberry cone.

            Following their ice-cream treat and shopping trip, they went on a Ferris wheel at the carnival near the Open Space. The view atop the Ferris wheel was breathtaking and they could see the entire festival grounds below them. Both of them swung in their chair while riding on the attraction, laughing hard.

            After the Ferris wheel ride they went back to Samantha’s Cadillac. They got two lawn chairs out of the back of the car to sit in while watching the Cherry Royale Parade. The young women got a good spot on Front Street to view the spectacle. Soon a large crowd of people lined the parade route. Children pulling red wagons on the street were selling pop and candy. It was a festive atmosphere as they waited for the parade to begin.

            Once the parade started, a color guard of horses, riders, and flags came down Front Street. They turned left on South Union Street past the three bars: the Union Street Saloon, Bootleggers, and Dillinger’s Pub. Fire engines with their sirens blaring and their lights on followed the color guard. Marching bands from across the Midwest and floats came along behind them. The beautiful local Cherry Queen and her court were in a large float full of bright flowers, waving their hands to the crowd.

            The Cherry Royale parade lasted two hours and then ended. Samantha and Pamela loved the colorful floats. After the parade, they walked back to the Open Space. By now many people were sitting around the Food Court. Several Traverse City restaurants had booths full of cooked food for sale. Samantha and Pamela got in line at the U&Ibooth, which was one of their favorite restaurants. They ordered lamb gryos and ice-cold cherry aide. Sitting in the Open Space on their lawn chairs they ate their lunch and watched sailboats gliding along West Bay. Samantha commented how pretty the view appeared. Pamela agreed with her friend. After eating their meal, both women put on sunscreen to protect their necks from burning.

            When lunch was over, they took their lawn chairs and got a good space from which to view the Blue Angels Air Show. The Blue Angels came to perform at the Cherry Festival every other summer and were a favorite event among spectators. After some warm-up with biplanes that did acrobatics, the Blue Angels began to perform. There was a loud roar from their jet engines. The blue-and-yellow McDonell Douglas F-18 Hornets did a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The Navy jets flew in a diamond formation, did loops, high-speed passes, belly-to-belly acts, and wing tip-to-tip stunts as if they were easy to do. One of the most crowd-pleasing demonstrations was two jets making opposing passes toward each other in what appeared to be a collision course. At the last possible moment, the jets missed each other. The large crowd clapped in approval.

     Following the air show Samantha and Pamela went to the Beer Tent and spent some cherry bucks for a cold brew. That evening the Fourth of July fireworks drew even more crowds of people. After the exciting fireworks show, they took their lawn chairs and put them in front of the band stage. Later that night, REO Speedwagon came on stage and performed their hit songs Can’t Fight This Feeling, Keep on Loving You, and Here With Me as well as I Don’t Want to Lose You.

            When the concert ended, they walked back to the Cadillac and put the lawn chairs in the back. Samantha and Pamela had had a fun and full day at the Cherry Festival. They went home. Once Samantha returned to the lonely mansion, she realized she hadn’t thought about Mason all day.                                         

            One morning at Welling’s studio, Mason was watching Charlotte’s performance with the lead actor Brett Saven on the set reciting their lines. Eric Northland, the director of the movie, started out the dramatic scene announcing “Ready—Set—Action” and the actors began saying their lines. All of a sudden, Eric ordered “Cut.” It seemed Charlotte had forgotten to say an important part of the script.

 Eric got off his director’s chair and walked up to Charlotte, saying, “You forgot a line again. At this rate, we will be behind schedule. Try to remember your lines.”

 Charlotte burst into tears and told Eric, “I’m done for the day. No more shooting scenes for the movie.”

 She rushed over to her dressing room in a trailer and slammed the door shut.

            “Okay, everybody, let’s take a thirty-minute break. Mason, can you see if you can get Charlotte back on the set?” asked Eric.

“Yes,” answered Mason.

He walked over to the small trailer inside of which Charlotte was crying and opened the door. “Charlotte,” Mason asked, “can I come in and talk with you?”

“Yes,” answered Charlotte in a sobbing voice. She was smoking a Virginia Slims cigarette and the trailer was full of smoke.

“You have had a rough day with your lines,” Mason said. “Let’s practice the scene one more time and get you back on the set.”

“Okay,” agreed Charlotte, however, she felt reluctant to try again.

Mason picked up the script and coaxed Charlotte into repeating the lines of the scene. Slowly she stopped crying and began to memorize the lines. After a few successful times repeating her lines, Mason asked, “Are you ready to go back on the set and do the lines again?”

“Yes.”

“Then let’s go back and pick up where you left off,” Mason told her in an encouraging tone of voice.

Charlotte pulled herself together and returned to the movie set in the studio. She apologized to Eric and the crew for making a scene. She did much better, remembering her lines after she had practiced them with Mason. Eric went on like nothing had happened and the rest of the day went by without another incident.