Keith holds out against Helen

Keith-&-LesliHelen’s play was fortified by her full court press, appealing to Scott’s first and last concern, turning a dollar. And this promised to, indeed, pull in a handsome buck.

Keith was hardly averse to making a sweet living and, accordingly, heard his agent out. If Scott got him to sign on, Helen would sign with Scott and so would the kid.

That would mean representing heavy-hitting clients. Three solo artists and, separately, the band. Four handsome paydays neatly rolled into one. Some kind of coup.

Which had the usually low-key Scott heated up. Agents at the biggest outfits in both L.A. and New York were slobbering all over themselves to sign Helen St. James. And would kill in cold blood to represent such a package. Keith heard him and simply said, “I’ll talk to you when I get back to town.”

Scott tried harder: “What’s to talk? This is found money. For you, me, everybody. There’s no downside.”

Keith said, “You ain’t meet me yesterday. I don’t decide nothin’ without thinkin’ on it first and then thinkin’ on it again. But, man, go ahead, sign Helen. Everyone else in the world you want to. Don’t put me in the middle of this.”

“You are key to this deal. No Keith Jackson, no Helen St. James. You hearing me?”

“Bull.”

“No, man. That’s real.”

“Yeah, well, it’s between you and Her Nibs. Talk to you when I talk t’ y’.  ’Bye.” And hung up.

No sooner did he hang up than the phone rang. On the other end, Lesli cooed, “Hey, baby.”

“Hey, lady. What’s good, gorgeous?” Her voice made his day.

She’d called from work and said with a sigh, “Dealing, baby. Politics at this place are getting on my last nerve.”

He smiled. Poor thing. Trapped in bureaucratic circumstance. He encouraged, “Yeah, yeah. Relax. Before you know it, a couple years, you’ll be running the whole damn place.” Maybe the uneasiness, he hoped, had been in his mind.

Lesli said, “I’m ready to run for cover.”

That didn’t sound like her. She wouldn’t run from Godzilla strolling down the sidewalk. Something, he finally decided, was wrong. Just didn’t know what. The rest of the conversation went nowhere.

Keith put in a call to Scott. Wendy, Scott’s right hand, picked up with a bright, airy, “Premier Representation, how may I help you?”

“Hi, Wendy.”

“Yes, Mr. Jackson,” came a barely polite voice. She hated talking to him. Which made it fun to force her to talk to him.

“Can I talk to Scott?”

“Mr. Jackson, how many times do you need to be asked to call Mr. Summers on his cell? There’s a reason he gives that number to his clients.”

“Promise, next time I will.”

“You always say that.”

“And I always mean it. Just don’t trust cell phones. How would I feel if he was tooling down some expressway at all kinds of miles an hour, wound up wrapped around a tree and the last number on his phone was me talking to him?”

“They don’t have trees on any expressway I know of.”

“Yeah, well, tell him I called, will you? Please?”

“Have a nice day, Mr. Jackson.”

“’Bye.” She hung up. A saucy, short little White chick who supervised three assistants and handled Scott’s career so well she was damned near as important an asset as his clients.

Keith wasn’t at all sure what was going on with Lesli. Just what sort of storm he was about to find himself weathering. That business about politics on the job didn’t throw him. It wasn’t the first time she’d brought it up.

Next week: Keith treats himself to some Zsamé.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.