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Group Therapy Available

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From Craigslist: Group therapy available for anxiety, sex addiction and anorexia.

Medger Simpson parked the ratty Geo Storm several blocks away from his virtual office on Wilshire Blvd. The young psychotherapist wondered what Dr. Peterman, who he had not seen in five years, could possibly want to talk to him about.

Dr. Peterman was a psychologist who had worked in the mental hospital where Medger had done his college internship. The doctor specialize in multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia. Medger had facilitated a group therapy for families of patients with multiple personalities.

In all the time they worked together Medger had never gotten the impression that Dr. Peterman was partial to him in any way. Peterman had given Medger reasonably positive reviews. But, the doctor had always seemed cold and authoritative toward him. He was certain that he had been forgotten the second he walked out the door.

Medger climbed the stairs to his third floor office. He wondered why anyone would take the elevator when the stairs were faster and safer. When he reached the office he noticed with some irritation that the publicist he shared the office with had left some goofy looking guy’s headshots all over the desk. Medger put the headshots in a corner and placed his sign on the door. Soon after which he heard the elevator cranking to pick up his visitor.

Dr. Peterman entered the office the office wearing sweats and tennis shoes. The two men shook hands and asked after each other’s health. Dr. Peterman shut the door and sat down.

“So what can I do for you,” asked Medger.

Dr. Peterman leaned toward Medger in a conspiratorial fashion.

“Medger for the last six months I have been conducting an experiment on a young woman with schizophrenia. She had all the classic symptoms of it; voices in the head, delusions of grandeur and the paranoia that goes with it…

”Uh huh,” Medger said wondering where this was going.

Well, One day she came in for her usual appointment and I examined her. I was looking in her ears when I saw a tiny woman running down her ear canal. At first I thought I might be seeing things. I continued the examination and said nothing. But the next week I examined her and I saw a small boy riding a bicycle back and forth.

Medger sat back in his chair.

“DR. Peterson….um, are you having… do you think…are you in therapy right now,” Medgar said wondering if the doctors wasn’t experiencing a psychotic break.

“Don’t patronize me, Medger! I’m perfectly sane. I do, however know how crazy I sound. You’re the first person I’ve told about this.”

“Thank you, I’m flattered.”

“Medger, I have devised a device to extract these creatures. If I can take them out and study them. I may well be able to cure schizophrenia. If nothing else I could certainly cure hers.”

“Sir, what you are talking about is very dangerous. Not to mention illegal…..”

“I know it is. I can’t do it in the hospital. That’s why I’m coming to you.”

“What could I do?”

“Well, Medger, I was wanting to have you assist me and use your office for the extraction.”

“Dr. Peterman…..I don’t know. Isn’t there someone, well I mean you must have many trust worthy colleagues.”

“Yes, but I can’t go to any of them I am too closely affiliated with them. You and I barely know one another, no one would ever suspect.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to say no. You can’t just go around experimenting on people.

“Look, I’ve talked to the patient about it and she wants it done. She is very high functioning. She says she would rather be dead than keep taking meds all her life. I will give you fifty thousand dollars in cash and do anything I can to ensure that I will refer the most famous people I know to you for their psychotherapy.”

Medgar told the doctor that he would think about it and the two men parted. As he walked back to his car he wondered if he would end up losing his psychotherapist license over this. He drove back to the valley with his stomach in knots.

A week later he found himself at his office pacing the floor as he waited for the doctor to arrive. As he waited he imagined one of the men he shared the office walking in on him. It was impossible of course the door would be locked and their card keys wouldn’t work, but he worried just the same.

A few minutes later Dr. Peterman entered the small office with his patient Shelia in tow. She was a short, pale, slightly plump blond woman in her mid-forties. She looked nervous when she entered the office and there were sweat stains on the armpits of her Winnie the Pooh Tee shirt.

Medgar closed the door and the doctor sat Shelia down in a chair. The valium he had given her was beginning to set in. The doctor pulled out a contraption that looked like a giant twisty straw and inserted into Sheila’s ear and poured water into it. Nothing happened for about fifteen minutes. Then Medgar was astonished to see a tiny woman in a house dress swirling out through the straw. She landed on the carpet gasping for air. She was followed by the boy on the bike, a man in a tweed jacket with patches on the elbow, three waiters, a tiny Jesus, a teenager who resembled Sheila and a tiny version of David Strathan.

As the tiny people fell to the ground Dr. Peterson instructed Medgar to put them in a small fish tank. After Shelia’s head was empty, the men secured the fish tank and put the fish tank in a large box that Medgar placed on a dolly. The doctor handed Medger his money and instructed him to meet him back at the office in two weeks. He suggested feeding the people plain oatmeal.

Medgar went to retrieve his car from the parking lot next door and the doctor and Shelia left. Nobody noticed the three tiny waiters cowering under the desk.

Bang (part 4)

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Mike set up the lights he’d procured from the studio and Tabitha sat in front of the laptop. She opened her script and gave it the once over. She laughed and said it was funny. She turned on the webcam and everyone was silent.

“Hello my name is Tabitha Kraft and I am a member of the Hollywood Liberation Army, the group that is responsible for the Central Casting robbery. We represent poor artist who have been taken advantage of by big corporate studios. We will continue to stage acts of rebellion until our demands are met. We want public transportation to be free for three months. We want background actors to be given a fair rates. We want free health care for freelance workers in California. That’s all of now. “

She turned off the webcam and everyone clapped.

“That was great, “Billy said exuberantly.

Penelope eyed him suspiciously.

“Well, we’ve got a big day tomorrow, so we should probably turn in,” Penelope said.

Everyone began to head to their rooms.

“Hey, Mike could you call Steve and tell him I love him and I’ll see him Sunday.”

“Okay, “Mike said.

Tabitha went into the guest room

“How did you get her cell phone,” Penelope asked Mike.

I told her she had to be without her cell phone for seventy two hours in order for this part of the show to work. I told her the director though her reactions would be more natural if she didn’t have any contact with the outside world.”

“That was okay with her?” Penelope asked, shocked.

“ Yeah , she’s in the Church of Astromometry. They require their members to do a pop culture cleanse once a year with. No internet, television or phone for one week. She started it tonight. Two birds, one stone I guess. “

Penelope and Billy headed for their room and Josh went to his. Mike left and took the computer to an internet café where he would park just close enough to the building to post the video on Youtube using the café’s free wifi.

Penelope undressed and put on the night gown that she had taken to wearing. Billy stripped down to his boxers and climbed in next to her. He seemed cheerful.’

“”You know, maybe this will work out,” he said. “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be like a gangster.”

“You mean a folk hero,” she asked.

“Yeah, like that. You know I expected her to be some kind of a spoiled bitch, but she’s actually really sweet,” he said.

Penelope didn’t say anything. He turned out the light and kissed her, she did not stop him, she realized it was the only way he would forgive her.

Josh stayed awake in his room with the door slightly a jar so that he could see the door to Tabitha’s room. They had agreed to stay awake in two and a half hour shifts, just in case Tabitha got smart and tried to leave.

Time (part 9)

 

 

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The machine rumbled and stopped; I stepped out cautiously. There was nothing in the closet except two rats who stared up at me after I came out of the machine. I bolted out of the closet and into the bedroom which contained many more rats. I ran to the front door, but there wasn’t one: they building had been abandon. I walked down the stairs avoiding several more rats along the way. I almost tripped over a homeless man on my way out.

The street outside was just coming to life in the early morning hours and a boy skated past me on a hover skate-board. A little old lady walked by me with a small yapping dog in a pink designer bag. I did a double take and realized that the dog was actually a robot. The woman looked familiar as well, she was tall and thin with white hair and a pointy noise.

I walked towards the train station to find it still open and operational. I went to buy a ticket, but discovered that the machine was not accepting cash. I went into a drug store and went to the prepaid credit card rack. The selection was very sparse and there were signs everywhere saying “Micro-chipping deadline January 31 2041.

I loaded the card with $100 and walked back out into the street. The neighborhood had definitely gone way downhill. I wondered if North Hollywood wasn’t the new Downtown, based on the homeless people wandering around the train station. There were many abandon apartments and several homeless shelters lining the street.

I purchased a ticket which I was shocked to see was $10.00. I asked several people on the train platform if they’d ever heard of an antiques store called Luther’s most of them looked at me oddly and shrugged their shoulders. One man told me he could find out he rolled up his sleeve and revealed a small screen on his arm. He gave me an address in Silver Lake.

I got on the train to find almost everyone staring at their arms. I looked around at how the girls were dressed. Business clothes hadn’t changed that much and skanks had taken to wearing halter-tops with skorts and high heels. I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of people looked a lot fatter than they did back in 2014; I’d never felt so thin. The train itself was likely the same one I’d ridden on thirty five years earlier (a few hour ago). It had not aged well, the seats were torn and there was scrub off graffiti on the walls.

I got off at The Sunset and Vermont station and headed up the escalator. Several hover mopeds raced by on the street. A couple of young white men walked by wearing backwards baseball caps and pants down around their ankles. I walked by a pizza shop called Old School Slice, boasting bacon, gluten and sugary sauce on the windows. I found Luther’s in a tiny shop on Sunset. I walked in to find a pretty young woman standing behind the counter wearing a backwards baseball cap, a Taylor Swift tee-shirt and a bored expression.

I looked around the store for a moment. There were several old movie posters including Showgirls, The First Wives Club and The Interview. I looked to see if there were any posters for any of the early 21st century Oscar winners, but I couldn’t find any.

Two soft faced young men wearing backwards baseball caps walked by me. I noticed one of them had a teardrop tattooed on his face.

“What you have to understand is that most of Penshee’s concepts were based on Buscaglia’s early writings, which were fundamentally exercised in pop culture existentialism,” one was saying to the other.

A man of about eighty or so entered the store carrying a large box. He set it on the counter and began to remove Items the girl did not help him.

“Do you know how many copies of we have of A Night in Paris? The girl said tossing it aside.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a Salad Spinner, “The man said trying to sound cheerful.

“You spin meat in here?”

“No People used to make salad out of vegetables instead of meat and candy. It used to be hard to get them all combined.”

“Well I doubt people are gonna wanna put there algae tablets in it.”

“Believe it or not some people still eat vegetables,” the man said somewhat impatiently.

“”A hundred,” she said.

“Okay,”

“Fifty Shades of Grey? Everyone who went to high school listened to this book,” she scoffed.

“That’s signed by the author. I know you can use it you have a very educated clientele around here. Radsters love classic literature. I’m not so old that I don’t know that.”

“I’ll go get Barry,” she said rolling her eyes.

A moment later she returned with a man of about fifty who came out and took a look at the book. There was more negotiating and the old man walked out with $200.

“Hey there Kelly are you still here? See something we can help you with,” Barry said to me.

“Ah no, Well I mean yes I’m not Kelly. I’m her sister Tracy. I’m visiting from Denver. I thought she said she was coming here and I guess I must have missed her.”

“I thought your hair looked different,” He said.

“You don’t happen to know where she might have gone do you, “I asked trying not to sound too anxious.

“I really don’t know. She never says much when she comes in here just sell her stuff and goes. We’re always glad to see her! I don’t know how she does it, but everything is always so well preserved it looks like she bought it yesterday.”

“Oh, she comes in often then I take it? “
“About every two months or so, but she never mentioned having a twin.”

“You don’t have any idea where she might have gone do you?”

“Sorry, I don’t” Barry said.

“Why don’t you just use your GPS. The girl said pointing to her arm.”

“Oh, yeah right duh, I’ll try that,” I said heading into the street.

I walked down the block looking to see if anyone would lend me an arm.

Time (Part 7)

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“So what happens now?” Younger me asked.

“What do you mean,” Tom said. “You’ll just have to go back to 2012.”

“Maybe she’s here for a reason,” I interjected.

“Maybe we’ve completely screwed up the entire world,” Tom said beginning to get angry. I wondered if his anger didn’t have something to do with me. I mean, he was out of my league.

“Did you notice the entire world being screwed up when you went out just now,” I asked.

“Not any more than usual.”

“Did you go to my old apartment, was I there?,: I asked.

“I went there, I knocked on the door, but you didn’t answer. I asked a neighbor if they knew you and she said she thought you had moved a while ago.”

“This is awful I could be lost somewhere in the last five years,” said younger me.

“Look, I really do think the only way we can ever solve this is to go back to the day I disappeared,” I said.

“What if you were murdered,” Tom suggested.

“I wasn’t murdered because, I’m alive in 2015,” younger me said.

“That’s not necessarily true,” Tom said. “There could be hundreds of you running around all with a different scenario.”

“My head is swimming,” I said sitting down and beginning to cry.

Younger me came to my side and patted me on the back.

“Okay, let’s go to the date you disappeared” Tom said with a shrug.

There was no way the three of us could fit into the time machine together. Younger me went first, Tom made sure the dials were set to October 7th 2013. There was an awkward silence between the two of us as we waited for the time machine to stop. Tom refused to look at me at all, staring directly at the door. I wondered what would happen in the future to make us a couple. He didn’t even seem to like me very much.

After fifteen minutes Tom got in the machine and I followed fifteen minutes later. I arrived to find Tom crouched silently in the closet. Tom put his finger to his lips and motioned for me to get down. We could all hear someone milling about in the bedroom, but the door was closed so we couldn’t see them. After a while the tenant left and we all took a guess that we were alone in the apartment. We ran for the door and out into the street.

“Where is she,” I asked.

“I have no idea,” Tom said.

We got on the train and headed for downtown to catch the bus to Beverly Hills.

“Tom, were you living in that apartment in 2012,” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you think that was you in the bedroom?”

“It could have been. It might have been you as well I mean maybe she, um, you got curious and was walking around the apartment looking for stuff.”

“Here’s what I don’t get, when I traveled to 2009 I went to my apartment and lived my old life for, basically forty eight hours and I was the only one there. So when younger me traveled from 2012 how come she encountered me. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Whenever I traveled to the past I was always very careful to never change anything, “ Tom said coldly. “I was always afraid if I did that I would mess everything up.”

We passed the rest of the trip in silence. We arrived at out stop and walked a few blocks to my old building. We walked up the stairs and knocked on my door, but I did not answer. I opened the door and we walked inside. I was embarrassed at how messy it was.

We turned on my computer and went into my e mail. The very last message I had written was not there.

“Tom I have something to tell you, “ I began.

He shrugged and listened to me,

“I never was psychic of course and I never believed that I was. I started my business out of economic desperation. I t grew and grew and I got pretty good at it. I moved into this apartment from an absolutely horrific dump that I had been living in. I felt like a phony, I needed an outlet and there was no one I could trust, I only had fair weather friends. I started a secret blog where I wrote what I really thought about my clients and I never showed it to anyone. I said I lived in New York and not LA and I never shared it on any kind of social media, it had very few hits and I used no tags, but really, I should have made it private.” I felt like I was going to cry.

“I had been driving around in an old beater and it died. I went out and bought a used Honda that looked nice on the outside. It broke down a lot and I finally had to have the transmission replaced. I should have bought a new car… I did not.  The mechanic asked me out his name was Steve. We dated for a year. One drunken night I told him about my confessional blog.”

The thing is, Steve was not a nice guy. He was emotionally abusive. He called me an idiot a few times, sometimes he wouldn’t talk to me for days. Eventually he cheated on me. I went on Ripoff Report and gave Transmission Co, his garage, a bad review. He retaliated by going on Rip Off Report with a link to my secret blog. I started getting less and less business. I had to take a customer service job. I was eventually fired and went on unemployment and needed a cheap place to live and that was how I found you.”

“When did this happen,” Tom asked unfazed.

“We met in November of 2010 and broke up towards the end of 2011. I posted my post on January the 5th of 2012 and he posted his a couple of weeks later.”

We went to my old blog and found that it was still  up and active. As I read the posts from 2009 on, Tom looked around my apartment. He looked through my desk drawer and pulled out a large red greeting card envelope and began to read the card inside.

I think you better look at this,” he said.

Hope Begins to Die and Samuel Goldwyn Profits

My foray into screenwriting began twenty two years ago right after I saw the movie Dogfight, the tale of a young marine who has a contest with his friends to see who can invite the ugliest girl to a party. The girl played by Lily Taylor finds out about the contest and tells the Marine, played by River Phoenix , off. They proceed to spend the night walking around San Francisco. They fall in love and she looses her virginity to him. The movie pissed me off. I went home and wrote an angry short story about a girl who is invited to a dog fight and murders the boy who invited her. I stuck it in a drawer and thought no more about it; it was therapy.
Ten years later I saw the film Adaptation for the first time. The semi true story of an insecure writer who is commissioned to adapted the book “The Orchid Thief” for the screen. Much of the film dealt with the writer’s contempt for Hollywood clichés. I could relate. I had always preferred independent films myself. I hated movies where the guy and the girl, meet cute hate each other then realize they love each other. I couldn’t stand it when the characters grew up completely due to a single life changing incident. I also don’t believe anyone grows and when people do change, its not always for the better. I too hated all the ridiculous plot twists and think a simple human story is more interesting. I fell in love with Charlie a bit, although he had been fictionalized. I have to question how I would have felt if I had known that the real Kaufman is 5’2 and about a hundred pounds with a bad Jewfro and glasses, bearing no resemblance Nicolas Cage who plays him in the movie.
The very fact of the extremely appealing Mr. Cage playing Kaufman is another thing I hate about Hollywood; it glamorized everything. Prostitutes were beautiful grown women instead of pre teen run –a-ways, Women who had been alone forever were portrayed by stunningly beautiful actresses. We were asked to believe they were alone because they were married to their careers. In real life the women I’d known who had been alone for years, myself included, were all goofy looking, nominally employed chicks. In the movies men were often wrought with one moral conflict or another, they would have a crisis of conscience and end up doing the right thing. In real life I had witness greed beyond belief. I rarely if ever saw anyone so much as question their stock market investments, jobs or the moral beliefs of those close to them.
After seeing the movie four times in one week I got it into my head that I too could write a screenplay. I would change all those Hollywood clichés. I would be the voice of the ugly woman! I took the short story out of my desk drawer and over the coarse of the year, turned it into a screenplay about an ugly girl with a tennis playing trophy wife step mom and a sister who is a model. The girl is invited to a dogfight, kills the boy who invited her as well as his friend. She then makes it look as if the two boys are having an affair and frames a third boy for the murder. When the media picks up on the story the gay rights movement of the nineties is born. The girl uses the media attention on the case to advance herself. She profits from her crime and becomes a producer of reality television shows.
I timidly began to shop it around. Oh, I never showed it to anyone I knew. I entered it into a contest or two and never heard back. I discovered something called a Pitchfest. Which was an event held in Los Angeles where people from all over the country went to pitch their stories to Hollywood producers. Tickets to the event were $375 and it would cost at least $400 to fly to LA and spend the night in a hotel. I decided it was a ridiculous thing to do. The screenplay was for an underground film at best and I didn’t think it warranted any kind of investment.
About a week later I went gambling in the mountains with a friend of mine. I made a silent promise to myself that if I won big I would go to Pitchfest . I felt that there was absolutely no chance of this happening . I put a dollar in the machine and won $775.00 exactly. I was extremely freaked out. I bought my tickets the next day.
I arrived in LA a month later. I didn’t tell anyone I was going. I expected to fail miserably. I couldn’t sleep all night before the Pitchfest. The writers started arriving at 5:00 a.m. to sign up to pitch to the various production companies that would be attending the fest. Each production company would listen to fifty seven minute pitches. It was like speed dating . At the time I thought it was exciting. Now I realize it was part of the Hollywood Caste system. In spite of the exorbitant amount of money the writers had paid to attended the festival they still had to vi for a position in for the very chance at talking to some nothing little d boy schmuck from the production company. If we were lucky enough to get a spot we would get to pitch our story and hope the loser would agree to look at it.
I was so nervous during my first pitch session that I actually stuttered a bit. The man I pitched my screenplay to actually felt sorry for me and agreed to read my script. I pitched my script to a total of twenty five companies and received seven script request (more than anyone else). I was sure that I was in. One of the companies that requested a script was Samuel Goldwyn, I was thrilled, almost no one got a request from them.
I returned to Denver and sent out seven copies of my screenplay. I waited impatiently to hear back. I spent many a day fantasizing about what it would be like when my screenplay sold and I was a successful screenwriter. I never heard back from any of them.
A year later I sent my screenplay around to several agents. I got them all directly from the Writers Guild of America website so I knew they were “legit”. There was a woman named Jennnette who was starting a new agency. I thought I might have a chance with her. I got a call from her a month later saying she wanted to represent me. I was thrilled. I told everyone I knew. She sent me a contract and I was sure that I was in. I considered moving to Los Angeles right then .
I didn’t hear anything from her for three months. I emailed her at one point to check on the progress . She emailed back saying,
“we took a pass on this several months ago.”
I went out of my mind. I called her screaming that we had a signed contract with one another. She called me back and said she couldn’t find the contract. I faxed it to her and she apologized. I began to get regular newsletters from her. I talked to a couple of her other clients who said she had not managed to sell anything for them. A year later I got a letter from her saying she would not be renewing my contract. I was at about this time that Samuel Goldwyn released the film Pretty Persuasion about a Beverly Hills High school girl being raised by a tennis playing trophy mom who lies about a teacher molesting her and becomes famous in the process. I noticed a few similarities to my screenplay, but not really enough for a lawsuit.
That’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand about the theft process in Hollywood . They don’t steal your whole screenplay, they just lift certain elements out of various screenplays and put their own name on it.
The film was a flop. The girl, played by beautiful Evan Rachel Wood was completely unbelievable as a high-school reject. High school rejects don’t look like her, they look like me and the character I created for my screenplay.
In spite of all this I didn’t give up. I still wanted to see my characters come to life. What would happen next would be yet another lesson in who to trust and an example of blatant stupidity on the part of everyone involved.

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