The celebrity Super Bowl pick is a time-honored tradition, one we at KSK are more than happy to take part in. For the next two weeks, stars from all over the world will drop in to make their picks. Today, it’s hard-bitten crime novelist James Ellroy.

Eli.

The car idled.

He puzzled over the permutations of his name and which larger words the letters could fit into, neatly and with meaning:

E-L-I-T-E
B-E-L-I-E-V-E
C-E-L-E-B-R-I-T-Y
E-L N-I-N-O

No dice: he dismissed the exercise as foolish and detrimental. He hated his indulgence. He hated that so many others had no problem doing the same.

Eli forced his mind toward Dick Contino, Italian crooner who purveyed the fatalism that was his own. In his mind, Contino croons the wah-wah ballad “Angel Act” achingly, full of baritone tremolos – quintessentially the pussy-whipped loser in lust with the noir goddess who’s out to trash his life.

E-L-I-M-I-N-A-T-E-D

No time: there’s the door.

Tom and Bill crashed out of Rainbow Gardens, three ladies in tow. Two slinky gamine types trailing Tom with high-pitched giggling. A sloppy mother figure barely able to prop herself on Bill. Her exposed breast cupped in his hand with the insouciance of a child being guided across a street. Eli eyed the party closely. It was a scene he had seen played out on a near nightly basis with as many permutations as there were with his name.

L-E-I-S-U-R-E

Tom and Bill, nut-cutting bigwigs with a penchant for pad prowling and and big boy narco scores. Kings of ’50s Los Angeles and livers of the dream. Ladies provided the filler around their tandem. In gestalt, there formed meaning.

Tom Brady: leading man looks with leading man talent. It worked for him and he worked it with playboy ease and bon vivant bravado. Tom possessed dark traits that the zeitgeist was happy to conceal. Eli half-expected flash bulbs popping around him even at this hour.

Bill Belichick: power broker who had little need to conceal anything. He did anyway. Bill was a Svengali to starlets but a compatriot to Tom. Bill fed Tom innocent woman and beaucoup drugs. Tom didn’t need Bill’s help to score either of those. He took them just the same. More important was that being with Bill meant he didn’t have to hide anything.

Eli wanted to brace them. He always did. It gave him no satisfaction that he finally made pissant charges stick on Tom and Bill years back. Those in the department predisposed to leeriness of Eli’s abilities laughed it off as dumb luck at best and a waste of time at worst. They were probably right. It was only a minor setback to the duo anyway. Here they are in this shit-ass place yukking it up and fucking around like nothing ever happened.

Tom spotted him. It didn’t matter. This wasn’t a mission to surveil. Tom shot him the mega-watt grin. Eli reciprocated for the fuck of it. Here’s lookin’ at ya. Years of being resented and mocked for his glory boy family pedigree by coworkers and quarry alike made Eli keenly aware of his lack of intimidation. He rolled with it.

Eli wanted to know if he was getting to them. He wasn’t.

Good. They suspected nothing. They rode off.

Something else tweaked him: AMBUSH. Eli yanked from the car. They slammed him. He flailed. He got clotheslined, he got rabbit-punched, he got tape slapped on his mouth. He was full-fledged fucked.

His last thoughts were of mom. She would have counseled against being so bold.

Three shots. Eli’s stare lingered on the pavement. Still here. He made himself roll over. It registered immediately: His swinging dick spic informer Cruz had tailed him. Bailed him out. He must have expected he would have had to. Cruz looked pissed.

“Get up.”

The tape stifled Eli’s annoyed sigh.

“Get up.”

He did. Olivia would be waiting later with soup.