The narrator of Hanging Loose, like me, is a nerd and a fan of old movies. He's also a bit repressed but loosens up under the influence. He gets into a pickle at a party in a big house in the Hollywood Hills:
The fresh air sobered me a little, but not nearly enough. When I moved my head, the lights left cool trails. I amused myself with that for a little while, till I realized I really couldn't go back inside to find Sandy and pressure her to get me home. After some deliberation, I decided I could just wait for her in the car, but I couldn't find it. Not only could I not find anything mint green anywhere, but the spot where I remembered we'd parked—as much as I could remember anything—was conspicuously empty. I commanded my two conscious brain cells to come up with a plan. Aha! The gorillas at the gate! With alarm, I realized that said brain cells were attempting to channel Sam Spade.
I ambled down to the gate to question the “gorillas” about Sandy. The errant brain cells assured me that I looked and sounded just like Bogie in The Maltese Falcon.
“Now listen up”—I tilted up my imaginary hat—“because I won't repeat myself. Did you see a dame in a small green convertible leave?”
The two guys, each as big as a door, exchanged a grin.
“Hot blonde in a Bug?” one of them asked.
“Yeah, that's the one, buster. So where is she?”
“I don't think I have to tell you anything,” he said, folding his arms over his chest. Judging from the snickering of the other gorilla, they were both having a good time at my expense.
“Now think again, and think fast!” I said at my menacing best. My delivery was slightly undermined by my slurring.
The heavy I'd been conversing with was having a hard time staying in character too. “She left hot on the tails of a Jag. Your girlfriend?”
I shook my head. “That's just swell. She was my ride home.” The spirit of Bogie abandoned me.
I was screwed. Maybe I could sleep under the azaleas and figure out how to get home once I had more functioning brain matter. Did azaleas even grow in California?
“Tough break, kid. Why don't you call someone to pick you up?”
My brain cells had a conference. I dug out my phone and dialed Sandy. No answer. A third brain cell regained consciousness and had a brilliant idea. I dialed Jez.