"He told me the guy was just someone connected. He was talking about the industry, but the way he said it, it was like the Mafia. Like he was a made guy. Apparently this guy just grew up in it. Parents in the biz, Grandparents in the biz, on the production side, you know, where the money is. Hung out with stars and didn't even need to impress them. A big deal, but no name on anything. Connected on the side. Invested in a bunch of places, silent partner. The guy behind the guy. "And then he says 'If I'm being honest, though, I've never actually seen him. I'm still Side Party.' "I was ready to walk away at this point. It sounded like snake oil. But then he said he had a task to do, and he needed a hand, and he would try to get me in if I wanted. I said what the hell. He said he'd get back to me in a couple of days with the go-ahead. I waited a couple of days, wondering about it occasionally, but trying not to act like I cared. But I can admit it now, I was curious. The idea that there was a guy behind the guy, a Secret King of LA, well, who wouldn't want to know if it was true? "Two days later Max comes to see me. He says it's 80% cool, we just gotta go see the Clearer. "I'm all, 'The Clearer?' "He says it's just a thing we gotta do. I say whatever. We leave and drive up to Burbank, of all places, and see this person on the ground floor of this building. And we're in the lobby, and there's Kenny G or some shit playing on the radio, and people are flipping through People Magazine, and I'm sitting there trying to imagine what any of this has to do with going to a party with the greatest guy to throw parties. And then some bored guy in a suit he spent way too much money on condescends to bring us into this office, where this woman is sitting behind a desk in this black outfit, hair pulled back, glasses, indeterminate age. And she's looking at me like I just farted in front of the Pope and won't cop to it. Max told her that I was the guy he needed for the task. She kept looking at me, and she was unhappy. But she relaxed her eyes a moment and said it was fine. Then she handed us a white envelope and said we had until 6pm to make the drop. "At this point, I felt like I'd just volunteered to mule dope across the border. I said to Max as we walked out that I wasn't into the Scarface scene, but he said it wasn't like that. The task was difficult, not illegal. We just had to do some hauling and driving. I said all right, but this party better be worth it. He said it would be. So we got back in his Mustang and we drove. And we drove. And we drove. I thought for sure we were gonna end up in Arizona, but it was just somewhere in the Valley. I hate the Valley. "Max pulls his car up and we walk down some dirt road until he stops us. 'There' he says. And we start going through a stand of trees and then he points at a pen at the corner of some farm that has goats. And he says 'Yeah, that'll do.' I say 'What'll do?' 'That,' he says, pointing at the goats. I just looked at him. 'We're getting a goat?' I asked. 'No,' he says, 'We're stealing a goat.'" I couldn't help myself. I laughed at this. Ellory smiled. "Yeah," he said, "It's funny now. But at the time it was the opposite of funny. I always thought of myself as a cool, fun-loving guy, but I didn't sit in a car for hours for National Lampoons hijinks. I wasn't in college anymore. I said so.