Two months after he saved Eddie, Richie drowned in his own condo pool.
Technically, it was a co-op. Richie's real-estate agent had been very emphatic about this. Richie's real-estate agent had also been checking for dust, if you knew what he meant. A lot of open houses were the legacy of Los Angelians who had lived in tinsel bubble before popping it with blow. When they popped off (usually from the blow), real-estate agents tended to beat the relatives to their stash— There was no one to sniff after your fortune if you never made Fortune.
Richie's old dealer had been in the housing game. Got most of his product that way. Richie would have been tempted to sniff around himself if he hadn't been clean for five years. (Bourdon didn't count.)
Richie was high when he fell into the pool, but only on Ambien, fuck you very much. (Bourdon still didn't count.)
Technically, he stepped into the pool, but each step was just a series of controlled falls, as Stan had been fond of saying, the depressing fucker. Richie was either sleepwalking or so out of it that he didn't notice the fifty-foot infinity pool. By the time he woke up, there were more important things to worry about, like why Eddie was kissing him.
Richie spat up a mouthful of chlorinated water, pretty much ruining the kiss, and Eddie sat back on his heels.
"Oh, fuck. Oh, thank fuck. Oh…"
Richie couldn't make out the rest. It might have been a sob.
"You've got to get him to a hospital." That was Ben.
Ben was in Nebraska. Like five hours away. Richie couldn't have been dead for five hours. No way could his brain cells take the hit. The plural was generous to begin with.
Eddie was in town, a little getaway from crowds of New York. Richie had said, "But there are almost as many people in LA." Eddie had said, "But they're not real."
Richie had gotten him a room at the Hollywood Roosevelt and forwarded the confirmation emails so he wouldn't have to see the look on Eddie's face.
"No," he said. "No hospital. It'll be on the cover of— Do magazines still have covers? It'll be on the homepage of People."
"Oh, thank god," said Eddie, even though previously he had been thanking fuck. That was an entirely different spiritual experience. Richie was about to inform him as much when Eddie added, "Shut up and breathe."
"No hospital," Richie said instead, in addition, in case they didn't know he was serious. It was always anybody's guess. Including his.
She sounded tiny. Tinny. Both.
They weren't five hours away by phone. Not even five seconds. Telephones actually communicated information faster than the speed of sound, because fiber optic cables transported signals at the speed of light. Richie had only been dead for… If Omaha was like 1,125 miles away from LA and the speed of light was 186,300 miles per second, then he'd only been dead for like... .006 seconds, plus however long it took Eddie to dial, which was probably a while, because his hands were shaking.
Satisfied, Richie passed out again.