Another extract from The Forest Dark … set in L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel

OK folks, it’s Friday, my brain is fried or dead or something. Maybe it’s the weather. The politicians have temporarily exhausted me and I’ve already voted. Remember, D is for forward, R is for backward. Good thing to remember on November 2.

In the meantime, here’s more from the novel I’m writing, The Forest Dark. Love L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel, so I set a bunch of scenes there. Here’s one. It’s July, 1984…

Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles

Senator von Eiff had called KCET and left a message that Eden should meet him downtown, at the Gallery Bar in the Biltmore Hotel. Eden thought it odd, if not ominous, that he hadn’t asked to speak directly to her since she was present when he called.

This is certainly a wonderful day, and it’s about to get better.

She took the Sunset Boulevard RTD downtown. Normally, she would’ve asked Noah for a ride but he was finally home, and sleeping, which is just what he should be doing, she thought.

Ronnie and he thought it funny that she didn’t drive. Eden had taken the bus all her life and didn’t see what the point would be in learning a skill she wouldn’t need again when back on the east coast.

From the outside, the Gallery Bar at the Biltmore emitted a golden glow, as if those entering had gone to heaven. Or, if her father was in there, maybe it was the fires of hell.

Rhino stood in the doorway wearing the usual black suit, his meaty arms folded tight over his chest.

“Where were you the other day?” Eden asked. “I waited in the gate at the Coliseum just like I was told to, just like a good little girl.”

His rings reflected the light from the chandelier above, making her blink.  “The senator is waiting,” he said, cocking his head toward the bar’s interior. “Go on.”


Eden could see her father sitting in a dark brown club chair at the far end of the room, facing her, his head framed by an enormous arched mirror, like a halo.

*   *   *

“I’ve already ordered you some cold California chardonnay, from a Santa Ynez Valley winery, a place called Bridlewood,” Henry said to her as she approached. A surprisingly hip charcoal sport jacket complimented his perfectly combed silver hair.

“Thanks, Daddy. It’s been a long day, I’m thirsty.”

He patted the arm of an ancient leather sofa next to him. “Did you park in the hotel garage?”

She sat and glanced around. Unfortunately, cocktail hour denizens either hadn’t shown up yet or had gone elsewhere. Perhaps everyone was so engrossed in the Games they didn’t have time to drink. She counted one elderly couple wrapped up in conversation across the polished wood floor.

“No – I took the bus,” she said. “It’s really easy from the studio and you know I don’t have a license.”

The server, a young woman – so short Eden thought at first she was a child wearing blue eye shadow – put the wine and what looked like a Gibson martini in front of her father, then soundlessly left.

“Are we still in that place?” he said, holding up his drink, inspecting the cocktail onion inside the glass, “that obnoxious place where you want to be treated like a child, instead of the daughter we raised you to be, who – and like it or not – is a young ambassador for our state?”

“Oh, Daddy – ”

“Case in point. My eldest daughter, almost 25, calls me ‘daddy’ and doesn’t have a driver’s license. Do you even know what we make in Michigan?”

Eden now wished Rhino had come in with her.

“Cars, Dad, we make cars in Michigan.”

“We make cars! Exactly! I would have preferred for you to tell me you’d leased something like a Caddy, a nice cream Coupe de Ville or one of the big Fords, and parked it out front.” He took a tiny sip of the martini. “Instead, you tell me you took the goddamn bus.”

Eden’s head was going to explode.

She gulped down the chardonnay, which wasn’t in a very big glass anyway, and caught the eye of the tiny waitress, who was watching them from the bar.

“Yes, all right, you can have another. Yes, of course, I’ll pay for it,” he said. “You may need several, as I want to now hear the story of why you could not sit with your mother and your sister at the Olympics.”

Usually it’s not this unpleasant, she thought. Her father did have that great sense of humor. She’d even read once in The New York Times that Democrats thought he “was witty.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Eden started. “I ran into a friend – actually, he was a friend of both mine and Noah’s, the guy you met – and we got to talking and seeing some of the backstage production stuff, you would not believe – ”

“No excuses, Eden. You’ve ignored us for the good part of a week now and your sister is here to specifically see you.”

“But I was working! I’ve been doing this internship you love so much, practically all day and all night!” Eden noticed that the old couple across the room was not conversing with each other anymore, but rather being entertained by the von Eiff family.

She was being too loud.

Henry von Eiff often had that effect on her.

“An internship I can end with a quick phone call,” he said. “And this hanging around with homosexual boys, I really don’t think that’s a good idea, is it honey? We brought you up better than that.”

The waitress was back with another glass of wine for Eden. “Are you finished, dear?” she said, putting the fresh one on the low cocktail table.

She nodded to the woman, but could feel herself begin to shake. This is just what he wanted and she would not lose it in front of him, in front of these strangers.

“They are my friends, Daddy. What would you know about it anyway?”

“Henry? I thought you said the two of you would be coming up to the suite for cocktails.”

Eden wasn’t usually overjoyed to see her mother, but right now was an exception.

Just like she owned the place, Madelyn von Eiff walked across the bar toward them. The way she held her cigarette out, from a distance a person might think she was a skinny transvestite doing a Bette Davis impersonation, just like one Eden had seen in a video at Revolver.

Her dress was powder blue and perfectly matched her shoes. Her blond hair with its streaks of gray was so precisely flipped and hard she could’ve used it as a weapon if she needed to. Behind her was Barbara was almost an afterthought, like a period.


That’s it for now, a work still in progress… have a great weekend everybody!



~ by jimarnoldla on October 22, 2010.

4 Responses to “Another extract from The Forest Dark … set in L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel”

  1. It’s a good read.
    I’m glad it’s moving along.
    Talk to you soon.

  2. Hey Thanks Jason. It’s all coming along, albeit slowly! Have a great weekend. I’m going to the Integraton on Sunday.

  3. Well, I’m intrigued.

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