mostly blood and bones and pain

diary of a professional antagonist

Tag Archives: Cinema

You’ll Never Work in This Town Again

I started life as an actor, a jobbing, useless motherfucker desperate for attention and cursed to serve my more supple skin days in the car parks outside parties I wished to be invited to. I did it all, park cars, take tickets, find keys, keep wives at bay while their director husbands had their cocks sucked on by my coat-check girl colleagues – all of whom found careers in the spotlight, even if they still bow down before they get the green light. Me, I took the hard road into the light and had to pave that same road in blood before I got my shot… and then blew it.

It was a cold, crisp December night. The Ritz looked prettier than a supernova and I felt like shit. 2:30am and only one set of keys was left. I told the others to go, hoping on a big tip but really waiting on the owner for something else, an introduction. Then he staggered out, the director of what would turn out to be one of the greatest movies of all time. The 70’s were already flying but this was going to change things. I helped him to his car, he fell in before vomiting all over my shoes, then apologized. I played it cool, said I was waiting for an excuse to get a new pair of brogans anyway. I told him I was an actor and would love to work for him.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Drive me home, kid, I’m late.”

The wait was worth it, I had a foot in the door and one of the icons of the 70’s now owed me. Then we got to the house he was staying at in the hills and things changed. A black sedan was parked outside. I helped him to the door, it was already open. Something was off, the air was dead and I didn’t like the way the floorboards creaked inside. Deliberate. Expectant. He pushed the door open to reveal an abyss of darkness beyond.

“Come back tomorra’, kid. We’ll work something out.”

“Thanks, Mister –”

Suddenly, an electrical cable whipped through the air behind him, wrapped around his throat and dragged him inside. I ran – into an elbow. When I woke I had a view of the stars I hadn’t asked for and a gun pointed at my head. The director was on his knees, begging for his life, saying I was his nephew and that we would do anything to live. These weren’t the kind of guys you fucked with. These weren’t actors, these weren’t Hollywood. This was a different ball game that jumped the fence and invited itself to the party. Nobody was going to tell these guys ‘no’, not the cops, not their wives and, as piss leaked into my shitty brogans, I realized I wasn’t going to say it either.

They told the director to fuck off back to New York and never look back unless he wanted me, his ‘nephew’, to experience the digestive system of a fish. Naturally he agreed and after he crashed his car twice trying to get out the front gate they took me as collateral into the dregs of the city’s slum in the back of a car, despite my pleas of mistaken identity. A couple of seconds later I knew life was about to change in a very real way when a .38 revolver was placed in my hands. The fingers that pressed it into my grip were colder than the devil’s and harder than the bit of a jackhammer.

“Get a feel for it, kid.”

They raised it, forced me to point it at the back of the driver’s head.

“Go ahead. Pull the trigger.”

The driver flashed a look at me in the rear-view, his black eyes filled with dead fury and burning intensity. He winked at me then said –

“What’cha waitin’ for?”

I looked at the man in the shadows next to me. The brim of his hat bobbed ever so slightly and I caught a brief reflection of silver light in the black coals where his eyes once used to be. I couldn’t tell which of them said it, but someone whispered –

“Snap back the hammer, then squeeze. It’s that easy.”

I admit, I thought twice about putting it in my own mouth and doing just that, then a hard *snap* jolted me to my senses as a blade jabbed me in the ribs and cut the skin. I pulled back the hammer and held my breath. Time stood still. Snow flakes seemed like they were floating for an eternity toward the front windshield.

*CLICK*

The gun was empty. A booming laugh filled the car, my arm was still locked forward. Something like post-traumatic stress was setting in but then I noticed what they noticed –

“Look at that.”

“Rock steady.”

My arm, unflinching, holding that weapon like it had been born with it. The man in the shadows started to clap, he stopped when I pulled the trigger a second time, then a third and my eyes locked on those black coals of his.

“I’m hoping for your sake four, five and six are just as hollow.”

He didn’t move, but the driver did. I had his attention, he was worried. He knew how to count and knew the score.

Four.

Five.

*BAM*

The tires screeched, we hit an embankment then slammed through a wall. The accelerator was still down when I came to, blood dripped from my face, none of it my own. The man in the shadows stood outside looking in and I could feel cold steel against the skin on my neck.

“That was a first, kid. You’ve some nerve, but you’ve got balls, too.”

“I don’t know what I was –”

“You’re workin’ for me now.”

He pointed at the driver.

“I’m a man short and the work’s backed up.”

“What kind of work.”

“Cleanin’.”

It wasn’t long before another car pulled in beside us. He got in but before he left threw the .38 to one of his goons and pointed at me. I was left with an edgy, semi-psychotic looking waif.

“When you’re ready, kid. Let’s do this.”

He took me to a warehouse where this fat bastard was tied to a chair with a bag over his head. This was to be my training. Over the course of the next eight hours he showed me the how’s and where’s of the trade then made me finish the job. Details aren’t important, suffice it to say my stomach was long since gone and the shred of sanity that remained was going to leave me on the breadline or in bottom dollar jobs for the rest of my life. Somehow I made it through and they set me up in an office on the strip with nothing more than a phone and a poster of the ocean – one a reminder of where they wanted me at all times, the other a reminder of where I’d end up if I tried to run.

So, for four years I sat there, took the odd call and rid the world of one more scumbag. I started to decorate the place, decided if I was going to have an office on the strip I might as well act the part, so I had a guy engrave my name on the door and put ‘productions’ after it. I never made it as an actor, fuck that game, I was going to be top dog, hot as shit producer, no credits to his name but a shit load of firepower backing me up. They dropped in once or twice, thought the idea was funny then realized there was an angle and put some money behind me. I was legit, I was making porn, but I was legit. They ran drugs, guns, everything through that little office, made connections they couldn’t have before and introduced me to all the wrong people. It wasn’t to last and the fun was about to come to a dead stop.

Word had spread about an indie producer who kept a low profile, they were billing me as a Howard Hughes type and some buzz started to build. The guys didn’t like it and I got the feeling they were about to send me to the ocean for a long swim. A knock on the door saved my life. A hero of mine, a real life, big shot producer walked in the room, introduced himself and said –

“What’s your story, kid? You’re starting to steal my thunder.”

I had the cover story down but my mistake was underestimating this guy, a guy who had heard every bullshit pitch from A to Z and knew a phoney when he saw one. Somehow, all that blood and firepower made me forget that I was stupid. He had heard things, names of people seen up here and knew I was knee deep in shit so rancid I’d leave a stink on the strip that would outlast the next four generations of my seed. Then he dropped a bomb on me, he was talking to the feds and guaranteed that if I gave up what I knew there would be a way out. The weight of the last four years buckled my knees and I finally gave up.

They moved hard and fast. It was a blitz, and before I could breathe the first breath of the next morning all my employers were behind bars or full of lead. With nowhere else to go I went back to the office and found my hero waiting with a big, fat cigar in his mouth, directing the removal men as they cleared out all of my shit.

“You did a good job, kid, but I promise you this – you’ll never work in this town again.”

He patted me on the back on his way out. A fed took me out of town then dumped me in Salt Lake City to lie low. I stayed there for a few years, living out a shitty, boring existence and to fill in the time started to write. Lucky for me my hero’s promise didn’t have the legs to outrun cancer. He sank into the dirt a few years back and the door to the strip opened once more. Sure, I’m a hack, a bum, a screenwriter, the lowest of the low, surviving on that one shred of sanity, but that’s all they ask in Hollywood, and if you last long enough someone will make a movie about you, too.

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Sunset of My Youth

So, at the moment, I’m going through what people keep telling me is a mid-life crisis. Apparently trying to have a good time when you’re a man of a certain age means you’re totally fucked in the head – I wasn’t aware of this. Admittedly my behavior has been a tad off. I’ve been hanging in bars I used to frequent during my college days, I found an ex-favorite pair of jeans and an old-school beanie I had forgotten and I’ve been grooming my stubble into a neat little design – add my Oxford cut coat to the mix and I think I look pretty damn good. So did the little honey I took out last week, well, that is until the generation gap made itself known.

I met her in a downtown cafe after the lunch bunch had rushed back to their nine-to-fives. The only two people in the place. Me, sporting the aforementioned, sipping on a type of coffee I never heard of before, reading Don Quixote. She, tank top, jeans so tight they must have been sold with a body laminator, and high heels, damn. I was desperately willing my gearstick to stay in neutral as I stole the occasional glance but my tongue was paralyzed, until she spoke…

“Hey, there. What’cha readin’?”

“Oh, hi. Don Quixote. ‘Read it?”

“No. ‘On my wishlist.”

“Here. Have mine. I’m re-reading – ‘my favorite book.”

“Oh, I couldn’t.”

“You can. You must. I insist.”

“Thanks! So, what kind of a guy gets to sit in coffee shops reading his favorite books mid-afternoon on a Monday?”

“A writer. ‘Name’s Chukkas.”

Carla, with a K. Chukkas? I like that. What do you write, Chukkas?”

“Screenplays, mostly.”

“Oh, cool. Anything I’d know?”

“Not unless you tune into the high numbers.”

“Still, that’s awesome. I’m a philosophy major.”

“Deep thinker, eh? A lady worth getting to know.”

“Pff, I don’t know about that.”

“I can tell, I sit here a lot, character profiling, and you’re the first person in a long while I didn’t feel the need to invent a life for. You look like you’ve got things to say, like making a wider contribution is a fundamental right, a purpose, and not just something you hope for in your life.”

“Jeez! Thanks, man.’Glad I talked to you today.”

“Anyway, my book has a new keeper, my Chi-whatever-the-fuck-it-is is cold and I’ve a deadline to meet.”

“Aw, really? Just like that you’re leaving?”

“Gotta, but we should catch a movie or something sometime.”

“Yeah, that’d be cool.”

“OK, then, here’s my card.”

“Uhm, one sec, let me just scribble down my number.”

“Cool. Thanks. I’ll call you.”

“Sure. See you, Chukkas.”

I couldn’t fucking believe how well it’d gone, corny line aside I didn’t want to bury myself in a hole in perpetual descent to the center of the earth. She was smoking hot and I bailed before I had to, but also before a stream of bullshit exposing me as a sperm loaded dirty-bomb counted down and unloaded in her ears. I figured that there were at least fifteen years between us, that was me being most generous to myself, the reality was probably closer to eighteen but fuck it, this warranted the first purchase of boxers since two years ago and my dick was more excited than a T-Rex on sighting a nice, big, fat, blind, three legged buffalo on an open range.

This night last week was one week later. I had to hold off long enough to pretend that I actually had a deadline to meet and that once that was done with, a date with her was top priority and the best reward I could ask for after all my hard work. In truth I’d spent the week trying to build up some stamina, practicing on porn, congratulating myself to the point of mania then icing my balls close to the point of frostbite. She looked so screamingly hot, wedges, skin groping skirt and top, body tighter than a sniper rifle – I was sweating so much I was afraid she’d look down and think I’d pissed myself. I chose some boring looking, art house, Eurotrash shit in hope that it’d impress her and score me a few intellectual points and basically allow her to see me as a good guy – a good guy whose penis was worth getting to know.

Aside from an old, scowling couple who HAD to sit in the same row a few seats away we had the cinema to ourselves. About half way through the movie I couldn’t take the sight of those crossed legs and the rhythmic movement of her upper body any longer and did something to a twenty-something I hadn’t done for a long time – I made a move. The fact that she responded favorably made me wonder if I was really so deeply embedded in fantasy that in reality I was a drooling, slobbering cretin thrown in the corner of some hospital for the deranged and daft-as-fuck. Well, I thought, until I come to I’m going to see where this goes – please don’t be a dream, please don’t let me wake up when I’m this close to second base.

I didn’t, and as my balls swelled and begged for release I suggested we move back a few rows and make good use of the bright of the projector light and allow our actions all but vanish in the darkness below. She gave it a thought then agreed, on one condition – I had to wear a rubber. Fuck. Back in my day people just went for it, but with all the god-damn shit you can catch just by looking at someone’s crotch these days she was insistent on it. Here’s where my sad, middle aged life began to reveal itself. I’d never used a rubber before and as I wandered out of the auditorium toward the restroom where she assured me I could find one, panic began to set in. The success or failure of this event would determine my confidence to engage with the youth of the nation for the rest of my life. All I could think was, if this doesn’t work out I’ll be stuck with loose-skinned clap traps, just like the one slouched next to that mean looking old fucker sitting two seats away from Karla for the rest of my life.

I have to admit, in the restroom I was actually embarrassed as my dollars disappeared into the vending machine. There was something humiliating about it, buying rubbers in a cinema toilet seemed like something a kid would do because they couldn’t muster the nerve to buy over the counter. It didn’t help when two fifteen year olds disturbed me and laughed at catching me in the act. In the dying light as I re-entered the auditorium I thought the expiry date looked past. I soon forgot when I noticed that the old couple were necking, now alone, and Karla was in the back row, barely visible beneath the glare of the projector light. I hopped in next to her and the party was officially kicking off.

It was getting hot. Crazy hot. I was dehydrating faster than any human ever had, steam was rising from me as I tried to put my stamina work into effect and savor the event, then came the time to embrace the modern world. The bastard rubber couldn’t have been drier and the forced removal of hair from my nether regions didn’t help my confidence. Karla was getting frustrated at the delay. In a flurry I finally managed it. Comfort wasn’t on the agenda and I felt that part of me was being strangled to the point of asphyxiation. Bad enough as I felt, disaster then presented itself.

I straightened up a little to make my approach and bridge that generation gap in the most spectacular way, then suddenly saw a flash of white light, stars, and heard a smack that echoed through the room followed by the sound of my own vocal chords emitting a scream that hadn’t been heard in my family since neanderthal times. The rubber had exploded and was now flayed and hanging from my cock, looking like a back fired acme gun that Wile E Coyote had attempted to shoot. As it split it gave my balls the ultimate lashing and long after Karla had abandoned the auditorium I hobbled down the aisle and knew that it was time to hang up the beanie and buy a pair of New Balance.

I’m happy to report that I’m slowly getting back to myself now. I tried calling Karla but the number has been disconnected. I wandered down to the coffee shop earlier, ordered a good old-fashioned, all American coffee and read the sports pages in hope that she might wander in – alas, no. Once the swelling goes down I figure I’ll hit up some of the bars that cater to men of my age and while I’m emptying the frustration of another humiliation into some aging body, which’ll probably be older and hopefully more desperate than me, I’ll think of Karla and imagine myself her Don Quixote, riding off into the sad sunset of my youth.

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