In 1995 I was working as a detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. In the ten years I’d been on the job I’d been shot twice, and had spit eight different bullets at three different people. I now lug a .22-caliber bullet in my shoulder for all that fun. I’d nearly gotten killed a few times (My car caught on fire with flames licking my windshield while driving over a hundred miles an hour chasing a guy on a motorcycle. He had just robbed a guy at an ATM with a .45 and was trying to get away. I’d fought lots of guys on PCP, even wrestled my partner in an alley over some forgotten disagreement. I had lived through the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles and had snapped my knee on the job). You could say that I’d been to the circus and seen the show. I was known as “The Calamity Kid”! Oh, I’d been a busy boy!
Well, there I was just minding my own business, you know the drill, working, going to court, handling criminal cases, writing search warrants, trying to make sense out of it all. I mean, what was it all about? Maybe no one cared but me. Maybe I was just spinning my wheels. What did it all mean? I was busy as hell, as all us detectives were, when I got the call. Yeah, “the call.” I was trying to make ends meet for my second wife, my two kids, and I get the call from one of my former trainees, Mike. Mike had been my trainee in 1990 and, by this time, had quit the department and transferred out to the Las Vegas Police Department.
In case you’re wondering, a trainee is a deputy who is not yet completely patrol-trained and is considered lower than a whale turd on the deputy food chain. You know, “Sit down, shut up, get up, get out! Watch the door doesn’t hit you on the tukas (That’s Jewish for ass, which I am not, but he was. No, no, not an ass, he was Jewish. Okay, maybe he was both), on the way out!” They are cannon fodder. This is a totally expendable person, unproven and therefore untrusted.
Back to Mike. He was patrol-trained by me after I’d been hurt on the job a couple of times. I guess they figured if I was still around after what I’d been through, I should get a little promotion and a deputy to train.
Ever get those life-changing moments that don’t seem like much at the time it happens? Like when you go on a blind date and a week later you are drunk in Las Vegas and married to her forever? Well, my phone rang and it was Mike. “The call.”
“Hey, Robert, there’s a Royal Family coming into Los Angeles and the Chief of Security, ‘Steve,’ needs someone to guard one of the Family members.”
“Mike, you’re smoking your socks!” I hadn’t talked to Mike in two or three years and now it’s a Royal Family.
“No, really, Robert, this is the real deal. It’s the richest guy in the world.”
Oh now it was not just a Royal Family but also the richest guy in the world.
Well, I’ll tell you something, folks. You don’t get to be a detective without hearing all sorts of real deals that turned out to be not such real deals. The scams that people get involved in, all stemming from “real deals” that were too good to be true. They always turn out to be not so true. Right? If you don’t believe me, remember when your mama told you, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true! Why do you insist on dreaming of things that just don’t happen?” Anyway I mean out of the clear blue, I get this phone call. I hadn’t talked to Mike in two years. I wondered how many times Mike’s mother had dropped him on his head when he had been a baby.
I mean Royal Family?! Richest man on earth?! Real deal?! Come on!
Okay, OKAY . . . I went for it. I’m a dummy and a dreamer! Hey, you laughing, you would have gone for it too! Right? Right? Am I right?!
But Mike was right. It was the real deal.
The job fell through. I felt like a sucker. I didn’t feel like a sucker; I was a sucker! I went for it and it didn’t happen. So the story I got was that they changed their mind and cancelled everything. The Royal Family changed their mind the day before they were to arrive in Los Angeles. I see you yawning and asking, “Robert, what do you mean ‘everything’? So they cancelled. So what? You sound upset, Robert. Relax.”
Damn right, I was upset!
Maybe there was no Royal Family. How much sense did it make that they would just call the night before their arrival and cancel everything? People don’t do that. Do they? I was thinking how could they just cancel the night before after supposedly booking hotels, security, drivers, and town cars?
Do you have any idea what I had gone through to get ready for their arrival? I had put in for a month off at work. I had spent seven hundred dollars to update my 1980s wardrobe. I ended up having to cancel my time off. I was a class-one real-deal dumbass sucker-believer. I had believed it was the real deal.
As I was asking the sergeant to put me back on the schedule, he looked at me like the jerk I was, since he had already filled out the schedule for the month and had me off and someone else to cover my shifts. I had to explain to my wife why I had spent next month’s mortgage on clothes I no longer needed. I went from becoming the new hero on the block to Rasputin. I was a pariah, something to be shunned. The Royal Family changed their minds about coming to Los Angeles. Now I was a whale turd. I was at the bottom of the food chain.
What I didn’t know was that maybe one out of ten thousand people who arrange things for the Royal Family of Brunei can do so and not have a nervous breakdown. Why? Quick lesson. When the Royal Family of Brunei tells you they are coming into town, you don’t just meet them at the airport and drop them off at the hotel. There are certain arrangements to be made. There are certain protocols to follow and niceties to observe. They require certain special accommodations. This includes but is not limited to housing, drivers, and security. Short list, right? Sounds easy, right? These are only three things you say. What you don’t understand is that each one of these things by itself is immensely complicated.
I hear you asking, “Oh, Robert, why is it so hard?” You still don’t get it, do you? The Family might have up to one hundred and fifty different people accompanying them. That’s right, one-five-o. This would include friends, assistants, assistants to assistants, maids, cooks, nannies, phone technicians, security from their own country, and spies. (What is it now? Yes, I said the word spies. I know you saw the word spies. Yes, I ignored it, be patient and wait until you get to that part in the book!) When you set accommodations up for everyone, it needs to be done to the liking of that particular Prince or Princess. Each of the assistants had their own demands that needed to be met. To ignore the Royals’ demands is to be fired. Never make the mistake of thinking that just because someone is an assistant they can be ignored. This will also result in your standing in the unemployment line.
I see you are unimpressed. You still don’t get it. Remember Steve? Remember the Chief of Security for the Royal Family of Brunei? He was responsible for fourteen different Princes and Princesses. I’ll bet you couldn’t keep track of each and every individual’s likes and dislikes, including the assistants. Let me put it in perspective, how long did it take you to learn what your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend liked or didn’t like? How many times did he or she have to tell you again and again and again, “Don’t do that, I don’t like it!” I know because I’ve been through two wives and I never could get it straight. Now you understand, don’t you? You are just are getting an inkling of the intricacies and nuances of the job.
In comparison to what I had been put through, Steve’s inconvenience was a hundredfold more. Picture the day you almost had your nineteenth nervous breakdown. Nervous breakdown? You bet. Steve had to get word to everyone he had hired that they were no longer needed. He had to cancel hotel rooms, security, drivers, cooks, cars, restaurant reservations, and on and on and on. Of course he did not know what to tell everyone except that the Family had cancelled the trip. It was that simple, and that complicated.
I didn’t know it then, but in a short time, I would be assisting Steve with these arrangements. I wasn’t smarter than anyone else; it’s just that I was willing to endure more pain than anyone and put up with an unbelievable amount of bullshit. Well, okay then, I admit it. That actually made me more stupid than everyone else. But because I was more stupid, I learned more than most about the job from the Maestro, Steve, who was actually more stupid than me because he put up with more pain than even I. But he became a trusted and valued slave for his willingness to forgo seeing his children grow up and time spent with his wife. He gave up his personal life for twelve years for the Royal Family.
Here goes an unbelievable story, but believe . . . it’s all true.