In 1994 Kurt Cobain faked his own suicide. 22 years later he’s come back to “get” Dave Grohl.
“Wait, this doesn’t make sense. Do you know what he wants? Why in the world would this dude want to talk to me? To us?” I ask Martin.
I have Martin on speaker while I Google the lawyer he’s just mentioned on my aging MacBook Pro. The lawyer’s name, the guy who wants us to come see him, is Vincent Consuelo. I’ve heard the name before I think, but I can’t place it.
This conversation is unusual on several fronts. First, I’ve never spoken with Martin before and he sounds dorkier than I’d imagined. As the editor of a punk rock fanzine/blog I thought he’d be a tough guy, like a muscle-bound-bruiser, Henry Rollins-type. As I listen to his high-pitched, nasal voice over the thin speaker on my iphone though, I have a hard time reconciling that image with this voice. There’s a hint of an accent, a Dutch accent, maybe German, but I’d bet money it’s Dutch. Maybe he’s a skinny, tenacious type of tough, like Steve Albini. The blog that he edits – Victimless Crime – is one that I occasionally write for. Until now, the relationship between Martin and I has been conducted entirely via email so I was surprised to see his message, saying he wanted to talk on the phone. Something was up.
A quick aside – this is a serial fan fiction piece – yup Kurt Cobain fan fiction. I’m proud of it and think it’s a fun, admittedly silly idea. If you are into it please by all means keep reading. There are 7 more installments following this one.
If that’s not of interest there are several other pieces concerning Nirvana on this blog. Perhaps you’d be interested in reading a personal account of the mindset surrounding heroin addiction and suicide. Or perhaps my personal take on Buzz Osbourne’s comments about the Montage of Heck movie titled “Kurt Cobain Was Not a Retard Fucker” or better yet, how about my piece on Dave Grohl titled “You know who really sucks? Dave Grohl, That’s who!”
“I don’t know, man. I’ve never met the dude either. I just know he wants the two of us to go over there tomorrow. Two o’clock. His assistant wouldn’t give me any more info beyond saying that it involves a client of his and that we’ll have to sign non-disclosure agreements. Most importantly though she said we’d be generously compensated for our time. She actually used the word, ‘generously.’”
The search results finally load into the 13th or 14th browser tab I have open. Nothing particularly informative pops up beyond the corporate site for the law offices of Consuelo, Andersson, Petermeyer and Associates. The law office site itself is boilerplate. Estate planning. Finance. Tax liability. It’s as dry as that kind of thing comes. I guess I don’t know who this dude is. I must have imagined I knew the name.
“So you don’t know who his client is? Where did you say his office was?”
“He didn’t say and it’s 11000 Wilshire. Which looks like it’s in… Westwood.”
“Westwood! You don’t seriously expect me to truck all the way from Echo Park to meet some lawyer do you?”
“I don’t know about you, but when somebody says ‘generously compensated,’ I jump. Besides are you honestly going to try and convince me you aren’t intrigued? This guy is a heavy. His client has to be someone important. Or at least rich.”
I’m just acting like a bitch because I hate driving across town but of course I agree; Money is money is money and honestly, this kind of shit never happens to me.
I arrange to meet Martin at a quarter to two in the lobby of the lawyer’s building.
Noodle, my corgi/beagle mutt, comes into the cluttered home office and collapses with a sigh onto the rug near my feet. He must need a walk. Which means this listicle I’ve been working on about the greatest punk-rock records of all time will have to wait. Which is not a problem. Any excuse to put off writing dross like this is welcome. Give me walking the dog any day of the week.
When I get to Westwood the next day, a rare cold and rainy Thursday, I find a metered spot a block and a half from the building. I walk through the pouring rain with an umbrella, avoiding the larger puddles to keep my “dress-up” sneakers, newish Puma suedes, from getting soaked.
The rain reminds me of living in New York City nearly a decade ago. I think for a moment about who I was and the way I lived back there, back then… It feels like a lifetime ago.
I come through a revolving door, enter a cavernous marble lobby and nod at the security guard behind the desk. I stand in the cavernous silence for a moment with rainwater dripping off my umbrella. Not a minute later, a harried looking bald dude steps out of the elevator. He scans the lobby and spots me. “Jonas?” he asks. I nod.
Martin has the size and girth of a football player. He’s not dressed like a football player though. He wears fitted black pants, black creepers, and a maroon Fred Perry polo under a black wool sports coat. It’s ex-Skinhead formal wear. He’s even got the heavy black frame glasses to complete the ensemble. The thing is though; he’s not a skinhead anymore, just bald. I was right, Martin is a tough guy. He just has a wussy voice with a Dutch accent is all…
He reaches out a big, veiny hand. I’m scared he’s going to crush mine. Thankfully, he doesn’t. “Nice to finally meet you,” he says. “The freeway was…”
“Yeah, yeah… Don’t worry about it. You made it.” The traffic. It’s the most boring conversation an Angeleno can have. Still we seem to repeat it endlessly. The traffic…
“Let’s head upstairs.” Martin says.
The 15th floor offices of Consuelo, Andersson, Petermeyer and Associates are done up first class. It’s California-style luxurious, with a single purple orchid floating in a clear vase atop a walnut finished magazine table. The reception area has a view of the ocean. After the woman behind the desk softly announces our arrival into her headset, I make a point of surveying the beach under the low hanging clouds a mile or two distant.
A buttoned-up, handsome brunette woman in her 30’s appears from behind the receptionist desk and introduces herself. She’s Audrey, the woman Martin spoke with on the phone yesterday. She leads us to a conference room with windows looking over the Hollywood Hills and mountains beyond downtown. It’s impressive. You forget that stuff, the mountains, the ocean, is out there sometimes. Or at least I do. She waves at the black Eames chairs surrounding a big glass conference table. “Have a seat.”
Audrey sits next to Martin, calm and self-assured. She has a cute bob haircut that suggests she might have a personality as well. After a couple of pleasantries she begins, “While I’d love to just come right out and tell you why we’ve asked you here today, I can’t. What I am allowed to say is that we would like to discuss a confidential matter with you, a very tightly kept secret…”
She pauses and takes a moment to look each of us in the eyes.
“Our client, whose identity we are not at liberty to reveal just yet, has requested your presence specifically. That is, our client is familiar with and enamored of the work that you do at ‘Victimless Crime.’ That’s why you are here. However, it’s Mr. Consuelo’s job to protect said client. In other words, the fact that your presence comes at his or her behest is quite frankly, not enough. We can’t afford to take any chances with a confidential matter. Not with something this important.”
“Okay,” I say. Audrey gives me a look that says don’t interrupt me.
“We’ve performed background checks on you both already–”
I look over at Martin. He doesn’t look nearly as surprised as I feel. I have a hard time imagining anyone entrusting me with a secret that’s worth-doing-a-background-check-on-me.
“–and there doesn’t appear to be anything that will prevent us from proceeding. Provided, Mr. Lapkus, that you have continued to abstain from the use of illegal drugs?” She asks with a cocked eyebrow.
How do they know about that? I wonder.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business…” I say. “But, yeah. I mean, no. No, I don’t use drugs… and I’ve been sober for a long time. Over five years.”
“Excellent. I believe the reason for that question will become self-evident in due course. Now, with all of that said, we can continue our discussion provided you two sign these highly enforceable non-disclosure agreements.”
She hands each of us a presentation folder with a number of documents inside.
“I’m familiar with non-disclosure agreements, but what do you mean when you say ‘highly enforceable?’” Martin asks.
“The information we are prepared to entrust you with, could theoretically be sold or used to earn quite a lot of money, certainly in the hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars…”
“Holy shit,” I say.
“…and by signing these documents, you would be held financially accountable were you to reveal our client’s information. Meaning you could be sued for whatever you were able to earn, along with sizable financial penalties. It’s not a perfect arrangement. We’d prefer that you kept the information confidential, but it’s our only legal defense.”
I open the folder and attempt to read the document. I get lost quickly. It’s a contract. While I can understand each of the individual sentences what the contract means in totality is over my head.
“I’m interested,” I say. “But I’m no lawyer. I’m not going to be able to understand all of this.” Across the conference table Martin continues reading.
“We understand. We’re prepared to allow you until this coming Monday the 12th if you need to review the document with an attorney of your own. We cannot discuss this matter without having a signed copy of this document, however.”
“I’m just a regular dude. I mean, if I keep my mouth shut about whatever it is you’re gonna tell me, is there any way I’m gonna get into trouble? Like legally?”
“No, you have nothing to worry about,” Audrey says.
I can’t help but let my imagination get the best of me. “Like what if your client murdered somebody? Am I gonna have to go to jail if I don’t rat on him or something like that?” I ask.
“No, no,” she says, not betraying the slightest amusement at my casual allusion to murder. “It’s nothing like that. Nothing criminal. It’s just to protect our client’s confidential information. If you aren’t interested in the proposal we put forward, then tell no one and pretend none of this ever happened.”
Martin flips through the very official looking document. It has several of those “sign here” and “initial here” strips of tape placed in various places on it. He turns to me. “Well? As best as I can tell it looks as straightforward as something like this could be…”
“Fuck. I guess I’m game if you are,” I say. Martin nods and begins signing.
“Can I tell my wife?” I ask Audrey.
“No, I’m afraid not. You can’t tell anyone. Not a soul.”
I shrug. “Well, she’s not gonna like that.” I begin signing. “Here goes nothing.”
Audrey reviews the contracts deliberately, making sure we’ve signed all the required places and then stands.
“Okay, wait here while I make sure everyone is ready to proceed. I’ll be back momentarily.” She leaves the room.
I’m even more curious than when we walked in. I turn to Martin. “Dude! What the fuck!?” I feel like a kid or a member of the Bloodhound Gang or Scooby Doo or something. Suddenly I’m being plucked out of my humdrum existence and thrown into some kind of cartoon mystery adventure where the stakes are ridiculously high.
“Maybe one of us is related to Bill Gates or something and he wants to give away all his money,” Martin says.
“Or Justin Bieber is your long lost love child.” I look at Martin. Crickets. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the funniest joke, but… Martin is so freaking serious!
And then Audrey is back in the doorframe. “Come this way, gentlemen.” We follow her down a hallway to a portion of the office that, unlike the rest of the place, has solid walls. We enter a carpeted, windowless reception area.
She turns to us as the door shuts behind us.
“Once we pass through here, your lives are going to change forever. There are fewer than 10 people on earth that possess the knowledge that you are about to receive. This is your last chance to back out. Are you sure you want to continue?”
“Are you serious? With an introduction like that, how could anyone say no?” I say.
“I’m sure,” Martin says.
Audrey smiles. “I don’t think you’ll regret it.”
She opens the door and we follow her in. This is the largest office we’ve yet seen. It’s also dark, with smoked glass windows. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust. I recognize Vincent Consuelo from his Google photo, who upon our entering, rises to his feet. On a couch, off to the side of the room sit a couple of figures, two men, one blond the other brunette. The light on that side of the room is low. The blond guy has hair down to his shoulders. He holds a water bottle in his hand.
“Mr. Lapkus. Mr. Halberstram. Welcome,” Consuelo says coming out from behind his desk, arm extended. “I’m Victor Consuelo.” He shakes our hands. “I’d like to apologize for all the mystery. Fortunately, all of that ends now. Allow me to introduce my client…”
Consuelo puts a hand on my shoulder and guides Martin and I so that we face the sofa. Before he finishes his sentence a shock of recognition comes over me. How many times have I seen photos of that face? I saw him play 20 plus years ago! Jesus Christ! That face! It’s older, he’s aged but the dude looks just like fucking Kurt Cobain!
Of course that’s impossible…
Everyone knows Kurt killed himself in the most violent way imaginable. Over 20 years ago, he blew his own head off with a shotgun. Did Kurt have a twin brother nobody knew about? Is this some kind of a celebrity look-alike or a body-double person? It makes no sense!
My mind is racing. What is going on here? The figure sitting cross-legged and calm as still water sure does look like Kurt. He’s older sure, but not 20 years older. Kurt would have to be 47 or 48 at this point. This guy is healthy, whereas Kurt did not look well at the end there. What the hell is going on?
Consuelo interrupts my train of thought saying, “Mr. Kurt Cobain. Contrary to popular belief, alive and in the flesh.”
You’ve just read the first installment of “Kurt Cobain Lives.” Be sure to like or leave a comment. You can read Part 2 here.