Determined to drive to Indiana and make up with his family, B-list celebrity Ian Grant is barely out of L.A. when he runs into two cops in a diner--and, as is his nature, decides to mess with them. Which might not have been so bad, but this time around the Winchester Brothers chose a very unfortunate pair of fake cop names.
The latest of my stories featuring the main character from "The Notorious Ian Grant" as he begins a cross country trip toward the events of the novel. My next might be delayed for about a week and a half due to a wedding and a book contract (!); I have one more fanfiction crossover done (everyone's welcome to suggest another one), and also an all original short story we'll be giving away later on my website.
A Poor Choice Of Alias
Could he call it a road trip yet, when he hadn’t even made it out of the city?
Ian Grant pressed his back against the outside of a diner door, desperately signing autographs, if signing autographs was something one could do desperately. He’d managed to gas up the Mustang and pee before the paparazzi found him—the pee part, especially, was a relief. Now, somewhere on the outskirts of L.A. just off the freeway, he’d been found by half a dozen bored photographers and what were probably the only dozen Ian Grant “greatest fans” on this side of the city.
“Yes, thanks, here—love the Mohawk. Who’s it for? How do you spell … ah, Krysanthemum with a K, your mother must be very proud.”
His new adventure had not started off well. He’d had to stop and pick up some toiletries—no way was he going back to face Bethani in that hotel room. The pop star was probably still throwing furniture around to protest the very idea that anyone would dare break up with her before she did it first.
Nobody recognized him at the dollar store. When he realized the Mustang was down to a quarter of a tank, which would certainly not get him to Indiana, he made another stop and was again not recognized. A guy’s luck had to run out, sooner or later.
“Gotta go, sorry—thanks!” Ian managed to squeeze through the door and, much to his surprise, no one followed. The fans were apparently content after he signed napkins, breasts, and the side of one head. The photographers were apparently disappointed that he wasn’t drunk and drag racing Justin Bieber, the cheating little bastard.
Turning in the sudden quiet, Ian took in a diner that Norman Rockwell might have painted. Well, maybe not, but it had the counter and stools, and the line of booths along the window. It also had only two customers, and a woman behind the counter who looked like Betty White with a hangover.
“What’ll you have, Mr. Grant?” She looked completely unimpressed, which Ian appreciated. The two guys in the booth didn’t seem aware he’d even entered.
“Cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake, please.” Was that traveling food? Sure it was. Better than baked beans for a long trip in a smallish car.
“You sit right down, and I’ll bring it out for you.”
“Thanks.” Turning, Ian faced the two other customers. “Could have used your help back there.”
Both men looked up in surprise. “Excuse me?” said the tallest, an oak tree of a guy with longish dark hair.
“Come on, I know cops when I see them—aren’t you supposed to protect the public and prevent riots, and stuff? And most of them had to be underage … isn’t there a curfew?”
The two men looked at each other.
“Don’t bother denying it,” Ian continued. “I know cops. I peed on a cop, once.”
The other man tilted his head. “Must have been the highlight of your day.”
“No, that came later. Look, you’re both wearing dark suits that you’d obviously rather not be wearing, which means they’re for work. Those striped ties could only be chosen by men on a limited budget with no fashion sense. Since you don’t appear to be happy to see me, those are definitely guns in your pockets. You, you’re the older one and have a more or less military approved haircut, which means either your boss requires it or you’re too busy to mess with grooming. You, you’re the up and coming rookie, and I’d guess from your longer hair that you’re angling for an undercover job, or working one already.”
Standing back, Ian crossed his arms. “I played Sherlock Holmes in community theater, once.”
They exchanged another glance, then reached into their pockets. Ian watched carefully to make sure they weren’t the pockets that were happy to see him, but they produced ID’s.
“I’m Agent Grant,” the older one said. “This is Agent Charles.”
He was still staring at them when hung-over Betty White approached with his food. “Where would you like this, dear?”
For a moment Ian froze, then he waved his hand toward the already occupied table. “Why, right here with my old FBI pals Grant and Charles.”
He hadn’t noticed the materials they’d scattered out on the table, along with half-eaten food. The two men hurriedly closed books and laptop lids and moved notebooks aside, looking none too pleased as Ian sat beside the tall one, so-called “Charles”.
“I’m starving, fellas.” Ian took a sip of the shake, then grabbed the cheeseburger. “Work up an appetite, doing what I do.” He dug into the food.
Good peripheral vision was a wonderful thing, allowing him to see the glance they exchanged. Finally Charles said, “Um … so, what do you do?”
“Drug smuggling, mostly.” He took another bite. “You must eat a lot, Agent Charles—you’re big as a moose.”
Good thing Ian was an actor. He managed not to smile in the silence that followed, until “Grant” cleared his throat. “So—that makes you hungry, huh?”
“Only when I’m sampling. I’ve got a snoot full right now, I gotta tell you.” He giggled. “Oh, and sometimes the hookers are hard to control, and that burns a lot of calories. Much easier when we’re just smuggling terrorists, but it’s a big organization … I do the job they assign me.”
The two men sat in silence.
“Beats the contract killing.”
To their credit, neither looked scared. More … stunned.
“Very stressful, even when the cleanup crew comes in. You always worry you’re going to have to kill witnesses. I mean, you feel bad for those people, you know? “ Ian looked up. “Oh, I forgot to introduce myself: I’m Ian. Ian Grant.”
“Ah … pleased to meet you.” Grant said. “Same name. There’s a coincidence.” Then his eyes suddenly widened. “Wait, Ian Grant the actor?”
“That’s me. I also write and sing a little … I’m like a Renaissance man, only without the class.”
“Hey, I’ve seen some of your movies! I watched you on To Dance With Celebrities, too … can’t believe Alan Rickman beat you.”
“Well, he’s got style, you know?”
Charles’ brow suddenly furrowed, as if he was trying to bring back a memory.
But Grant was still gushing. “I loved Fleshpot Killers—but I have to admit it wasn’t you I was watching most of the time …”
“No—well, you couldn’t, I was killed off in the second reel.”
“Is it true they offered to double your salary if you went full frontal?”
“Yep. Interesting story, that: When I refused, the lead actress decided she didn’t want to go fully Monty either—until they offered her double the pay, then she speed stripped. So the way I see it, I got her a raise.”
“Heh.” Grant grinned. “And she gave me a raise.”
Charles suddenly sat up straight. Thinking Ian couldn’t see him, he gave a quick shake of his head.
The game is up. “Yeah, I couldn’t go all nude—it just wouldn’t sit right with my old man. He’s a famous actor, maybe you’ve heard of him?” He looked toward Charles, who now wore a sheepish expression.
“Your dad?” Grant frowned. “Yeah, big movie star … I can’t remember his first name, though …”
“Charles. Charles … Grant.”
Grant’s face fell. “Oh.”
“Big name. Got an Emmy, two Oscars, three wives …”
“So that’s why you were feeding us that line about being a gangster.”
“Had you going there for a little while, didn’t I?” When they didn’t deny it, Ian poked a French fry in their direction. “Okay, so I was wrong about the cop thing. Let me reintroduce myself: Ian Grant. And you are?”
The two looked at each other, then Grant shrugged. “Dean.”
“Sam”, said the oak.
“And … wait, don’t tell me! Either bounty hunters, or you’re got your own bodies to bury.”
They looked at each other again. Those two looked at each other a lot, didn’t they? But they seemed to share an unspoken bond, like longtime partners, or brothers. “You got us.” Dean raised his hands. “We chase around the country lookin’ for the bad guys.”
Sam nodded. “We’d appreciate it if you kept it to yourself.”
“Not a problem. Besides, I don’t want to embarrass myself by admitting my first guess was wrong, even though my part as Sherlock closed after a week.” Glancing at his watch, Ian bagged up the last few fries and shoved them into his jacket pocket. “This was fun, but I’ve gotta role.”
“Hey, before you go …” Looking embarrassed, Dean grabbed a clean napkin and slid it Ian’s way.
“Well, sure!” Although it seemed egotistical, Ian always carried a pen for cases like this. He scribbled, “To Sam and Dean: May the angels watch over you. Ian Grant”.
Dean’s eyebrow rose as he studied the message, then he carefully laid the napkin on his notebook. “Thanks, man. You got any new movies coming up? Hopefully with that same actress?”
“Maybe.” Standing, Ian waved to hung-over Betty White. “If the trip I’m going on doesn’t work out, I need to be back in three weeks for meetings on a series of books they’re trying to turn into a movie. Have you heard of the Supernatural series?”
Dean began choking. “Sorry—ach—went down the wrong tube.”
“We’ve heard of it,” Sam said with a weak smile.
“Well, I don’t know too much about the property, but we’ll see how it works out. See ya, fellas.”
Ian wanted to get to his car and be on the road before Sam and Dean realized he’d stiffed them for his check. He quickened the pace when he heard a raised voice, just as he reached the Mustang:
“Son of a bitch!”