Page 33 of Imperial Bedrooms

Julian carefully sits down on the sectional and he's stylishly dressed and seems okay despite what happened to him and he looks like he's making an attempt at keeping it together but he grimaces slightly when he places his foot on the ottoman and when he takes off the sunglasses with the hand whose wrist is bandaged the extent of the bruising is revealed.

"What happened to you?" I ask.

"Nothing," he says. "Doesn't matter."

"Who did that to you?"

"I don't know," Julian says, and then searching for an answer says something that sounds more like a suggestion. "Some Mexican kids." And then: "I'm not here to talk about that."

"Why are you here?"

"I know that you know about Rain," he says. "You didn't need to leave that message the other night. I think everyone knows what's going on."

"Jesus, Julian, what the f**k are you doing?" I ask in a hushed voice.

"It probably seems more complicated to you than it really is."

"That's because you made it more complicated."

He sighs, staring out the sliding glass doors at the afternoon light dimming over the city. "Can I have a glass of water?"

"It isn't complicated for me."

"Well, I guess I'm sorry, but it isn't all about you, Clay."

"What does that even mean?" I say, standing over him. "I don't even know what that means."

"It means that there's a larger world out there and it's not all about you."

"You're f**king crazy," I mutter. "You're all f**king crazy."

"It is what it is, Clay."

"Shut up," I mutter, pacing the floor, lighting a cigarette. "What is this bullshit - it is what it is?"

"I'm not sure why you're so pissed," Julian says. "You got what you wanted."

"And did you get what you wanted?" I gesture at the bruises. "Did Rip do this to you?"

"I told you," Julian says, "it was these Mexican kids." And then he asks again for some water.

When I bring Julian a bottle of Fiji, he nods thanks and says after taking a careful sip, "I don't talk to Rip anymore."

"Why not?" I ask. "Oh, wait, let me guess."

Julian shrugs and winces as he leans over and places the small plastic bottle on the ottoman. "It wasn't so much about me."

"Well, then what do you think it was about if it wasn't about you?"

"Rip snapped when Rain was with Kelly - "

"What does snapped mean?" I ask, cutting him off. "So your girlfriend was f**king Rip and then she's f**king Kelly? And you're still with her?"

"Clay, it's more complicated than - "

"Why is Kelly Montrose dead, Julian?" I ask, standing over him, my hand holding the cigarette shaking. "What happened to Kelly? Why is he dead?"

Julian looks at me and realizes something. Still staring at me he debates whether to say anything. "Look, don't try and connect it all."

"Why not?"

"This isn't a script," Julian says. "It's not going to add up. Not everything's going to come together in the third act."

"What was Rip's connection to Kelly?"

"At first it was about Kelly investing in a club and they had a ... falling-out."

"Over Rain?"

Julian shrugs. "That was part of it, I guess."

I try again: "I just want to know what I'm involved with. Just tell me."

"What you're involved with?" Julian seems surprised. "You're not involved in any of it. Maybe it feels like you are but you're not."

"Amanda Flew is Rain's roommate, right?"

"Yeah, she is," Julian says, confused. "Didn't you know that?"

"She drives a blue Jeep, right?" I say. "Why has she been following me?"

"She left town. Mandy's not here anymore," Julian says. "I don't know why she was following you." Pause. "Are you sure it was her?"

"And both of them were with Rip?" I ask. "Both Rain and Amanda had been with Rip?"

He sighs. "When Rain and I took a break Rip started hitting on her ... and then, when she met Kelly, well, Rip started hanging out with Mandy," Julian says. "And that didn't last, and then he tried to get back with Rain but ... that wasn't going to work."