The Weather

Fine Dining: Suspect Four

On October 20, 2012, a frantic downtown Los Angeles nightspot patron made a frantic 911 call, claiming that four verbose and still-relatively-young people who were way overdressed, dressed as if they were going a distant cousin’s mid-budget wedding, had come inside, taken over the restaurant’s most oblong booth, and ordered dessert. Click on these links to read Detective Patrick Benjamin’s interviews with suspects one, two, and three.

Suspect Four: Tom Dibblee

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Mr. Dibblee. Thank you for coming in. It’s been a rough evening.

TOM DIBBLEE: My sympathy for you is minimal, due to the obligations of our dynamic, you being my interrogator, me being your suspect.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Strictly business.

TOM DIBBLEE: Fair enough.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: I’ve learned that you have eaten dessert. If you could…

TOM DIBBLEE: Tell you about it? Just the facts? Gladly, Detective. With more pleasure than you can imagine. I eat dessert all the time and nobody ever asks me about it. Most often, it remains my secret. Until now, nobody cared. Thank you for ushering in this wave of change.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: The facts, Mr. Dibblee.

TOM DIBBLEE: Our reservation was for 8:45 PM at Patina, a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles in the Walt Disney building, about a mile away from our pre-dessert dinner gathering in Echo Park. So 8:30 was exactly when we left Katie’s apartment to get into Adriana’s Prius…

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Were you hungry at the time?

TOM DIBBLEE: Yes and no. Before we left Katie’s apartment in Echo Park in Adriana’s Prius, we’d eaten some brie with those crackers that have dried fruit mixed into them. They’re like a type of bread that’s been sliced, shrunk, and hardened into a cracker: bread-shaped but small and hard, crackers that look they were cooked in a special toaster. And Peter bathed; he took a bath.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Where?

TOM DIBBLEE: In the tub. Peter took a bath. The emphasis of what I’m saying is that he was clean. Peter was clean when he got into the Prius. And let me tell you about that Prius for a second.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Do I have a choice?

TOM DIBBLEE: I’d been in that Prius one time before. Now this is in no way a divergence tactic, but I’d been in the Prius once after drinking at a bar, and after that first experience, I was convinced the Prius was immaculate. My whole impression of getting a ride from Adriana had been that she was a keeper of an immaculate car.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: I suspect you revised your impression of both the woman and the vehicle.

TOM DIBBLEE: Now we’re working together, Detective. We left Katie Browne’s apartment in Echo Park a mile away from Patina downtown. At exactly 8:30 PM we got into the Prius, and it was not immaculate, not at all. There were towels gathered in bunches in the back seat, flip-flops, general detritus, catalogues, unpaid bills.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Is she filthy?

TOM DIBBLEE: I wouldn’t go so far as “filthy.” I would say she’s a filth organizer. The front seats are immaculate, like off-the-lot immaculate. The back seats feel as if she had just been to the beach. I love the beach, we all do, but it felt as though she had just gotten back from it, and, and also, stopped at a Target on the way home. She’s got both going. Like, she threw a bunch of plastic bags and receipts on top of a pile of damp-sandy towels. So I sit back there, we drive down. I recall that Katie was quite excited about the affordability of the valet parking, which was eight dollars. We were going to valet park. So we drive downtown, easy enough, Google maps. We drive downtown, watching the dot move on the Google map, trying to find the restaurant. But, we pass the restaurant valet stand which is twenty feet shy of the entrance. And we don’t valet park because none of us are willing to yelp at Adriana to slam on the breaks and go in reverse especially given that we’re on a busy street. So we don’t valet park. Instead we park on our own, underground.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: At this rate, Mr. Dibblee, it’s going to take you three hours to recount five minutes. I asked you for the facts beginning at 8:30 and you’ve gotten to 8:31. So let me help you along: you parked, you ordered bottled water, you ordered the cheapest champagne on the menu, you sat in an oblong booth in a misshapen formation that would subject your group to a faint, overhanging awkwardness, you selected your napkin colors, you opened the menu.

TOM DIBBLEE: Exactly. We opened the menu, we saw the desserts, there were five, and we asked for all of them, each. Five dessert courses, each. You put yourself in that position. We ate ourselves into sugar oblivion. A terrible hell of stinging tongues and aching teeth. Imagine it, Detective. Consider the facts. On course number three, the novelty is gone. Course number four you’re like “I’ll hang with this,” course number five, it’s sheer brutality. You’ve got the worst sugar headache you’ve ever imagined. You’re suffering. And so what you start to imagine is what would relieve you from this sugar nightmare. So at this point, I imagined I could have guzzled quadruple the water that was on the table, had our water not been eight dollars a bottle.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: You were paying eight dollars for every water bottle?

TOM DIBBLEE: We paid for water because they offered us still or sparkling. Now, we could have rejoined with “tap,” but we didn’t have the nerve.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Some witnesses said that you volunteered your mother to pay for the meal.

TOM DIBBLEE: I did.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Did you call her beforehand to ask?

TOM DIBBLEE: I talked to her beforehand not specifically about this dinner, but I alluded to something she might want to support.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Something she could support… That would be?

TOM DIBBLEE: Procreation. Grandchildren, Detective. I told her I was “going out for dessert.” From that, my mother inferred procreation.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Your mother imagined you in the act of sexual procreation.

TOM DIBBLEE: Sexual intercourse is a loose and nebulous concept, Detective.

DETECTIVE BENJAMIN: Not for everyone.

TOM DIBBLEE: My mother imagined me “going out for dessert,” Detective. She asked with whom. I replied “friends,” but I could hear her wheels spinning. She knew that there would be women there. Men do not go out “for dessert” without women. So my mother knew, therefore, that she had a chance. And so, to reward my mother for her upward-trending prospects, I supplied her credit card. And soon, I will receive an email asking what the hell Patina is. And to it, I will reply creatively.

Click here for Detective Benjamin’s interview with witness number one, known prostitute Maggie Mull. 

Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.

Patrick Benjamin is a writer living near Los Angeles. He lives with his sister and grandmother.