Point of View

By Epicon Stories All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Humor

The 101

The black sedan rolled up to the driveway, crunching the gravel and rolling over the concrete. I watched from a window with a post-11 a.m. bourbon and a cigarette, both finished the time pulls up. Yet it isn’t his fault that he’s late; that was my decision.

After my bodyguard alerts the driver, the passenger door folds and slides open into a gullwing. I missed the satisfaction of opening and slamming a car door- one of those things I only get with pre-owned joints.

“Good morning, Michael.”

The driver leaned back casually. He’s an old friend- been with me since after I won the Oscar for convincingly playing James Dean for 75 minutes.

“Not really. Got a gig this morning.”

“That’s not great news anymore?”

“Not anymore. Not when you have producers that would likely put you in a porno if it would pay for their mansions.”

“You sound angry.”

“Angry isn’t the right word. It’s a mix of fury, repulsion, and condescension. I’m fuming between the ears. You received the coordinates?”

“Yeah. Mark sent them to me.”

“Then let’s get this over with.”

As he pulled away, I look behind at the house. It was her idea to remake the facade in brick and wooden accents. It looks so good that I continue to lie to myself that it’s not worth it to change it. Vines overtook the east wing, carefully maintained to look like some monster took a hold of my house and was dragging it into the abyss.

“You remember when Directors would come over and ask me to help write stories?”

“No, because I have a home to go to.”

“Right. It was the good old days when directors and actors made what they wanted. They all worked like friends, with producers arranging them like arranged marriages. Anyways, I used to have big name directors come to my door; Wilkins, Aster, Johnson-Roiland, Stallard, and Lorelei before she directed 'Abraham and the Four Kings'.

"They’d bring big ideas and we’d hash them out over coffee, cigarettes, and whiskey. They’d leave with a fantastic script, and I wouldn’t star in most of them. Not because they didn’t want to make money, but because I didn’t fit the vision they were looking for. If their producer forced them to bring me on board, they’d stop the whole fuckin project. Why? Because a director has a vision in all of the colors of the fucking rainbow. These producers? They see only green.”

“Jeez, you sound like the world is changing, and not for the better.”

“It IS changing. That’s what I’m saying. It’s changing faster than I thought.”

“How so?”

I sat back in my chair, surrendering to the conversation.

“Since movies built themselves around franchises. Not just in toy aisles but now in theater aisles. It used to be about the toys, hell that’s why the PG-13 rating exists. But they completely jumped the middle-man and just started making enough movies to satisfy the craving, while toys, knapsacks, and tablet covers cleaned up the extra cash.”

“Is that bad?”

This had become a conversation piece that actually changed when a poker mate told me their opinion about this. But I wasn’t convinced.

“No. But it’s not good, either...”

The highway flowed nicely, like blood in a clean vein. I insisted that my driver stay in the seat and take control when we passed 65. I can’t trust a computer hive-mind to get me to work in one piece. Maybe in another lifetime, I’ll be a programmer or something.

“You hear about my Dodgers last night?”

“Nah. I’ve always been a Brewers fan, Judd. You knew that. What did they do for you this time?”

“Blew out the Pirates again. I tell ya, these teams get so lop-sided. You get a bad draft pick and BAM, it’s over for another year.”

“That hasn’t changed much.”

“Y’think so?”

“Sports has always been so competitive. They traded in gladiator spears for bats. At least not as many people die.”

Judd chuckled.

“Anyways, so what’s the role they got you?”

“I think I have an idea, Judd. All I know is that it’s for the Civil War. They say it’s something big, Oscar-worthy.”

“Did they tell you that or do you hope so?”

I spread myself out on the cool leather seat, a stupid grin on my face.

“I kind of hope so. There’s something tribal about hearing your name be announced and seeing your name in lights. I especially like it when they put my name on the posters. It feels like I’m selling the movie for them.”

“I dunno, Mike. Movies aren’t selling like hot-cakes anymore. There aren’t many films that break $3 Billion at the box office, especially those that play in cinemas. You saw the numbers for the latest Marvel flick?”

“Yeah, I saw them. It’s the only thing I look for in the paper anymore. It bombed in Japan, as far as I’ve seen.”

“Worse. They’re saying it bombed in India, too.”

“Who said?”

“The Cinema Inquirer.”

“Bunch of bullshit artists, Judd. Don’t trust them. They get their numbers too early and call them for the weekend. BoxNumbers gave them 2nd place in the Box office behind the new Jabwad flick, with 10.2 million. Lemme guess, they called 500K?”

“Yeah. How did you know?”

“The majority of Indians don’t watch movies during the week. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the key. Only the modern ones watch during the week. The reason they said such low numbers is because their CEO is on a crusade to ruin any of those big cinema franchises, especially the Cinematic Universe Marvel has been cooking for over 61 years. Disney will never let it die, not until the last bit of webbing has been squeezed out of Spiderman’s wrists.”

The smooth drive slowed down as it turned off the 101 to exit 7. The limo turned down Santa Monica as a vibration could be felt on my wrist.

“That’s probably Mark, asking where I am. Hmph, like he really is in a rush to eat. ”

“Well, the Larchmont does have full reservations almost every hour of every day.”

“Doesn’t matter. If they knew it was me, they’d save a whole wing for me.”

“Would they really? Even now?”

“I’ve always gone there when I’ve done a Paramount joint. They have a big picture of me on their wall. Hell, I even have a usual there. Maybe I’ll order five courses, really get his forehead sweating.”

“Go for it, man. I’m sick of late-night Chinese food adventures.” Judd chuckled again as the car turned on North Gower Street. The cemetery to our left grew over the fences, as if death itself reached out to everyone, waiting to eventually catch some passerby in its cold, icy grip.

Nostalgia hit me like a tidal wave as we turned onto Melrose Avenue. The Paramount Arch, newly redesigned, stood proudly in its place. I’ve done my fair share of joints with various movie studios- hell, I’ve even done voice acting in my later years, with small trips to Boradway- but this was the place where I got my big break; this was where Josie Willtemberg and Marty Guttierez convinced Mack Barrie and Jacek Davidson that I could play a mean James Dean; where Steven Spielberg gave me advice while sitting across from George Lucas at a luncheon; Where Patricia Wright and I shared a bottle of gin and the taste of lemon between our lips the night our movie hit number one at the box office. It was through that hallowed arch that Mariner Sparks told me that Disney may make dreams come true, but Paramount’s where they begin. I wonder where they all are right now. Half of them must have been grabbed by a cemetery tree by this point...

A twinkle hits my eyes as I see the familiar arch pass by my window. Yet a thought in the back of his mind wondered if it wasn’t proud, rather predatory- like a lighthouse attracting ships to crash into it.

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