Up Close & Personal Excerpt

More House-Hunting – Kelley-Style

After having met Deaken and seeing the relationship he and I had—which was wonderful and trusting beyond belief—the Kelleys decided that he and I just had to get back together under the same roof as soon as possible. I had by this time established a good reputation at the motion picture and television studio, but I did not by any means feel completely secure in it. It was again in a position as a floater, and I didn’t work steadily. I was getting great reviews from every person I worked for, though, and the Kelleys felt certain that I would have a job at that studio just as long as I wanted one.

They again began to look for places to rent. They found one in the newspaper in Encino, drove by it, and then called to tell me about it. I checked it out and fell instantly in love with it. It was perfect! I met with the landlord, and miracle of miracles: he even knew what a serval cat was, having seen one on a camera safari in Africa a few years previously. The landlord was happy to allow me to have Deaken there. I was on Cloud 9. I had located a roommate—presently living in Pennsylvania, but planning to move to the San Fernando Valley—and proceeded to let Fish and Game and the City Animal Regulation Department know the address and the other particulars, so they could inspect the area and okay the permits for Deaken. It was only a matter of a few weeks, now, I thought…

Two days before the move-in fees and security deposit were due my friend in Pennsylvania called to back out on the deal, saying she couldn’t leave her mother, who was in failing health. I was beyond devastated. If I didn’t get those fees to the landlord right away, not only would I lose my earnest deposit, I’d have to start all over again, from scratch, with permits and landlords.

I called the Kelleys from work, nearly in tears, and told them what had happened. They were easily as upset by the news as I was. Then Carolyn said, “Kris, will you let us help?”

I said, “Oh, Carolyn, I can’t. I can’t get this place without a roommate. The monthly rent is $925 plus utilities. There is no way I can afford it by myself.”

She said, “Suppose a little fairy helps with the rent.”

I said, “Oh, gosh, thanks, but I could never live with myself if I did that.”

She said, “OK, then, let us loan you the money for the move-in fees and the security deposit. You can pay us back whenever you can.”

I repeated, “I can’t afford that place by myself. I have to find a roommate.”

She said, “You will. Now, you get that house and worry about a roommate later. It won’t take long.”

De got on the phone and said, “Get that house. Don’t worry about it.”

I moaned, “This is scaring the s— out of me.” I had never spoken in colorful metaphors like that to them, ever.

He said, “I know it is, but do it anyway.”

Carolyn got on the phone with me again and said, “De will get in the car right now and go get a certified check for the security deposit and the move-in fees. What’s your new landlord’s address? I’ll have him drive it over to him right now for you.” I gave her the landlord’s address and then I started to cry, “Oh, Carolyn! You guys are so good to me! I’m crying!” She said, “So am I! See you later!”

I hung up the phone and called the landlord’s wife to tell her that someone would be coming by to deliver the move-in fees and the security deposit. She was happy. Then I felt obliged to forewarn her, “Uh, don’t faint when he gets there.”

She asked, “Why would I faint?”

I said, “Well, did you ever watch the original Star Trek?”

She said, hesitantly, “Yes.”

I said, “Well, the fellow who’s bringing the money is DeForest Kelley.”

She said, “Which one was he?”

I said, “Dr. McCoy.”

She said, “Oh, my God!”

I said, “He’ll be by real soon.”

She said, “OK.”

Later, she told me that she felt great trepidation waiting for De. She was under the impression that he would be as irascible and quick-tempered as McCoy was in his tiffs with Spock. Then she said, “But, Kris, when he walked in the door, he was just the sweetest, gentlest man I have ever met! And do you know what? He is your biggest fan! He says you’re going to be famous some day!”

I thought, From De’s mouth to God’s ears.

So, the place was mine, at long last. On December 22 1990, I moved in. I was certain that it would be just a matter of days before my serval son would join me there. I couldn’t wait! But there was a glitch. Although the inspections for Deke’s facility had been made and approved, and the permits had been issued and were tacked on the facility door, the Fish and Game inspector hadn’t been by for the final inspection. I called two or three times but didn’t receive a call back. Finally, I called and said I’d hold until someone could speak to me and let me know how soon I could expect the final inspection. A lady came on after a while and reported that the final inspection wouldn’t take place for another “six weeks or so.” I just about flipped. I begged, I cajoled, I told the long, long story of how long Deaken had already been up at Shambala, waiting to re-join me. It fell on deaf ears.

Deflated, dejected, and utterly beaten, I hung up and cried.

I finally recovered and called the Kelleys, who had told me to call them the moment Deaken got home with me. I told them the sad story, and De again offered his help; he said he would call Sacramento for me. I said, “Thanks, De, but I don’t think even you can perform a miracle with a state agency. You can’t fight City Hall. If what I told them didn’t work, nothing will.”

De consoled me with, “Well, I know it’s hard to wait, but six weeks is certainly better than six months.” I agreed.

Then I hung up and cried again.

In early January, Desert Storm broke out. The newspapers reported that, depending on the length of the war, gas rationing might become necessary. I was living 35 miles away from Shambala. “If we get gas rationing,” I told the Kelleys, “Deaken may as well be in Siberia! We’ll only be rationed enough gas to get to work and back.” A day or so later, the Sacramento-based Fish and Game agent called me and said, “With Desert Storm underway, you’d better get up to Shambala right away and bring your cat home. I’ll take the responsibility for any flack you get when our inspector finally gets there.” I thanked her, and Deaken was underneath my new roof within four hours.

I will never know if De made the phone call to Fish and Game, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that he did fight City Hall and win yet another battle for Deke and me. I suspect this, because not long after Deke came home I got a very nice letter from Fish and Game apologizing for any inconvenience or extra trauma their delays may have caused me or my loved ones. How many times does a state agency write such a letter?