Cashing in

office

“What do you mean my advantage in this situation,” the tiny aspiring thespian asked.

“Well, I mean you are awfully small, you are very distinctive. Plus how many repressed memories are out there just walking around? It might make a really good reality show,” Byron said.

“What’s a reality show, “Fred asked.

“How old was the woman whose head you were in now,” Byron asked.

“I have no idea,” Fred said.

“What year was it when she came into your restaurant?”

“1984,” Sam said.

Byron smiled. They had no idea about cell phones, lap tops or reality television. They didn’t know about gay marriage, 911 or the internet. His mind raced at the possibilities.

“People become big stars now a days just from being themselves. You have to have something about you that’s special and you certainly have that.”

The waiters all  high fived each other. The four men began to plan the show. It was decided they would live in a doll house in Byron’s apartment which just happened to be located in Beverly Hills.

…………………………………………………………………….

Medgar Simpson parked in the Ralphs lot and ran into the store. He did not feel comfortable leaving his apartment for very long these days.  He bought fourteen frozen dinners a box of cereal bars, a six pack and an enormous bag of potato chips for himself. The then Purchased tofu, veggies and rice, brie cheese, mac and cheese and fancy wine for his guests. He drove back to his building and ran upstairs. The tiny people were sitting in their terrarium playing Sorry and using themselves as pieces.

He said hello to them and got a few grudging responses. He put away the groceries while heating up a frozen meal. After gobbling it down he cracked opened a beer and made a salad, boiled water and stir fried some tofu. He opened the wine to let it breath and then poured it into tiny thimbles. When the water reached a boil he made the mac and cheese and doled out ten servings onto a set of Barbie plates. Along with the salad. He carried the meals in two at a time where they were devoured by his unappreciative charges.

“Could you cut the tofu smaller next time,” asked the woman in the house dress.

“Where’s my fish,” asked Jesus.

“You’ll get some tomorrow,” said Medgar in the most pleasant voice that he could muster.

“Excuse me,” said the man wearing the tweed jacket.

“Yes, professor,” Medgar asked wearily.

“I Believe I requested Brie?

“You’ll have it tomorrow as well. I can’t serve all the food at one meal.”

“When will we be interviewed,” the woman in the house dress asked.

“Tonight, or possible early tomorrow morning. Dr. Peterson will be over as soon as his wife falls asleep.

Several hours past and Medgar had two more beers. Dr.  Peterson arrived at midnight explaining that he had given his wife an Ambien. He took each of the little people into the bathroom and interviewed them one by one. Medgar sat and took notes as he recorded the interview on his cell phone.

The woman in the housedress had been Shelia’s aunt who she had caught reading her diary when she was young. The boy on the bike was a grade school bully who had grabbed at her in front of her entire sixth grade class. The man in the tweed jacket was a college professor who made fun on a poem she’d read in class. She had repressed a memory of a time when she had peed in her pants at scary movie she’d seen involving the Catholic Church. THis explained what Jesus was doing there. The teenage version of her was there because she had repressed her entire 15th year. David Strathairn was merely a forgotten star crush. He complained about the fact that he had been completely naked for the last 30 years. Dr. Peterson ignored his request for pants.

When he was done and the little people were asleep. Medger and the doctor sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating chips.

“It’s quit fascinating, really,” the doctor said. Every one of her repressed memories has to do with some sort of public humiliation, except for that actor of course. Not only is it a great psychological study, but a sociological one as well. She grew up white, middle class and Jewish. She never had to worry about survival as a child, yet she has a very survivalist mentality.  She does almost nothing now but sit and stare at the television set; she is a completely blank slate.”

“You’re going to be very famous, “Medgar said. “

“So will you, my friend. I just want to study them for about another month. “

Medgar felt his butt cheeks contract. Another month of playing nurse maid to the tiny people? Still he wanted those referrals of whom Dr. Peterson had spoken. He smiled and the two men began to plan a strategy for their study.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Byron sat in his office waiting for the publicist who shared his virtual office to arrive. He’d found his card in the desk and decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a partner in this new endeavor. He heard the elevator creek and crash, followed by steps down the hallway.

The door swung open and a slight, dark haired man entered the room.

“Byron?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Jay Pikeman.  The two men shook hands.

“So, I’m curious to see what this is all about. You say you have some sort of miracle you want to show me?
“Yes, but before we get started. I’m going to have to ask you to sign this agreement,” Byron handed Pikeman a single sheet of paper that basically stated that he would not disclose anything that that was about to be seen or discussed. After the papers were signed the men sat down and Byron opened the desk drawer. The three waiters climbed out. Pikeman gasped and smiled.

The three waiters introduced themselves. Byron explained that they were repressed memories from a woman’s head. Then they discussed the reality show. The three waiters had been living in a luxury doll house in Byron’s living-room. They already had a bit of film footage. The three young men had been 21 for 30 years. They would all be 51 years old now. The show would focus on the three young men hunting down their 51 year old selves and bounding with them.

After the meeting, Pikeman left and the waiters climbed into Byron’s briefcase. Everyone was happy accept for Sam. As they rode home in the dark briefcase he thought that he did not want to meet himself at 51; he wanted to be young. He did not want to be a novelty, he wanted to be a serious actor. He began to plan his escape.

Bang (part 6)

mic

Penelope tried to ignore the thoughts that kept running through her head. She worked on her resume for a while and then watched the news. Everyone was talking about the Hollywood Liberation Front, including the ladies on The View. Whoopi said that she could understand the frustration the young actors were experiencing.  Nicole said she thought the whole thing was just a publicity stunt and Miss Piggy, who was guest hosting said that she thought it was very sad that aspiring actors now-a-days wanted instant stardom rather than working their way up the way she had.

Penelope put on her sweat pants and jogged around the block ten times. She took a shower and got dressed. When she came out into the living room she could hear Tabitha and Billy who were sitting in the kitchen.

I wanted to do one of the shows focusing on how astromometry can help people, you know to raise awareness for people in like, Oklahoma who may not have access to some of the centers, but the producers wouldn’t let me. They said people wanted to escape from their problems when they watched television. Plus, the network has all these product placement deals that they do with companies and their just wasn’t time to talk about Astromometry. So I was struck down on two counts,” Tabitha said.

“That sucks, “Billy said. “But, you should be proud of yourself for caring in the first place. “

Penelope rolled her eyes, sat down on the couch trying not to make any sound.  Tabitha cared? Tabitha didn’t even realize she had been kidnaped she was an airhead, Penelope though.  The only thing impressive was that she even knew Oklahoma was a state. She felt like rushing into the kitchen and grilling Tabitha on current events. She couldn’t help but notice that in the entire time they had been together Billy had never once told her that she should be proud of herself for anything.

“This is really good soup, by the way,” Billy said.

“Thanks, my mom taught me the recipe. “

“Are you guys really close?”

“Yeah she’s like my best friend.”

Penelope wished Karen from here old job were there with them. She would have a field day making fun of Tabitha. They could spend an hour making fun of the way the starlet walked like she was on a runway all the time.

“That’s really cool. Penelope hardly even talks to her mother,” Billy said.

“Oh no, that’s sad.”

“Yeah, I think every woman needs to have a good relationship with her mother in order to be really well adjusted.”

Penelope felt her blood pressure rising. She calmed herself down by telling herself that Tabitha could do A LOT better than Billy and three weeks wasn’t really that long. Her thoughts were interrupted by Tabitha laughter which sounded like she was taking large gulps of air.

Josh and came back and said he had successfully hacked into Reality Now’s computers with a few tips from Mike. He had the e mail addresses and social security numbers of every producer on their staff. That evening Mike came over and Tabitha sat in Front of the computer again.

“Hello, America. Today, The Hollywood Liberation Front hacked into Reality Now’s computer system and found a great deal of personal information. There are several E mails that we are certain the producers and officers at the company would not want the public to see. We demand one week of age equality for background extras. That means that backgrounds on TV shows must  be comprised of fifty percent persons over forty on all productions for one week.”

After they were done filming the group retired to the kitchen for ice cream sundaes.

“In addition to all of their personal information we have a whole munch of e mails about not letting the show Constant Camera get “too dark,” Josh told them.

“The script was really funny tonight guys,” Tabitha said. I love the Idea of having these really goofy demands.

Time (part 9)

 

 

clock

 

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 2)

clock

 

 

I ran down Van Nuys Blvd to the train station in the sweltering heat. I noticed my purse was still the small red one I’d been carrying when I left and the same $75.00 was still in it. I checked the bills and found that one of the twenties was from 2014. I tried it in the fare machine and miraculously it worked a day ticket and fifteen dollar coins spat out at me.

When I got off the train I bought a copy of the newspaper the date was October 20, 2009

I rode the train to my old building in Beverly Hills and ran up the stairs to my old apartment. As I was on my way up the stairs I realized I no longer had the key. I went to the management office and explained that I had lost my key, I was given a duplicate after signing a form saying I would pay $25 along with next month’s rent.

I walked up the stairs and opened the door to my former life. I had rented the apartment the year before. I couldn’t believe my good luck in finding an apartment for only $1000 a month in Beverly Hills I couldn’t believe the money I was making as a psychic.

It had started two years before that at a party. I was going through a rough time financially and I had been looking on Craigslist for ECT jobs when I came across an ad for a man who needed a psychic for a party. I called and told him I was a psychic and I would work his party for $100 plus tips.

I arrived at the fancy night club where the party was being held and stumbled through the first couple of readings. My third reading sat down at the table he was a tall thin man with a large nose feathered hair and a fake tan.  He said he was trying to make a big business decision.

I told him that he had been an artist in a past life and a business man in another and that those two things were constantly in conflict. I asked him if his conflict had something to do with art and commerce.

“Yes, yes that’s it exactly,” he said.

“You should listen to your artistic side,” I had told him.

He said he would take my advice.

I worked at about a party a month for a year after that in addition to my phone survey job and selling my plasma. One night the same man came up to me and said that he had taken a chance and produced a pilot of a television show that had been picked up by a network. He wanted to thank me and he wanted to recommend me to all of his friends.

After that I was working three nights a week and making about $500 at each party. I took to Googling hosts and their Facebook friends so I would seem to know more about them; no one ever called me on it. I started to get a good reputation. I finally splurged and got the apartment.

Just after I signed the lease my old Honda died on me and I had to get a new used car to get to jobs and to keep up appearances. It was on October 21 of 2009 that I had bought a car that would prove to be an enormous pain in the ass and even something that would be responsible in part for my eventual downfall.

I sat at my old desk and turned on my old laptop. I checked my calendar and found that I had a party booked in Santa Monica that evening. My heart raced. All it said was the name Sampson and an address. I didn’t remember the party at all. I went to my email, but then I remembered I changed accounts and I didn’t remember my old password. I was asked a bunch of security questions and I finally got back in I searched for an email, but I couldn’t find anything. I went to Facebook and found that I was mercifully logged in. I scrolled though my messages, but there was nothing. I typed the name Sampson into my friends, and nothing came up. I looked for recently added friends and found four. I went to each of their pages and finally saw that a Chad Peterman had posted a party invitation featuring me as the entertainment.  I breathed a sigh of relief and began to stalk the people who were invited to the part.

I took a shower with my old lilac scented soap, donned my gypsy outfit and headed to the door. I attempted to call a cab, but my phone wouldn’t work. I located my old phone sitting on my old coffee table. I sat in the back of the cab rehearsing my old line of bullshit in my head.

 

Time (part one)

 

clock

 

I felt hopeful when we saw the ad for a roommate in North Hollywood. My unemployment check did not begin to cover the rent on my Beverly Hills studio and what little I made from audience work and blogging just barely made ends meet.

I’d only met Tom, my new roommate briefly. Tom’s last roommate had run off without paying the rent and he was desperate to find someone new. I noticed that he was kind of nice looking, tall with dark hair and around thirty five. I’d felt a bit inferior being short, a little plump and pimply with hair that refused to do what I told it to. He told me he was in the business of selling travel packages and I told him I was unemployed . I decided not to mention my former career until I got to know him better.

I drove the rental car that was loaded with all my worldly possessions to the small two bedroom on Van Nuys Blvd. A few days after I moved in Tom went to Arizona on business   and I had some time to set up my room, unpack my things and snoop though Tom’s room.

At first, I was a bit disappointed. There was a plain storage bed with a non-descript blue bedspread flanked by two night stands. I snooped through the draws and found tee-shirts and blue jeans, a few Playboy’s, condoms and a copy of On the Road.  There were pictures of family and a movie poster or two on the walls. In the drawer there was a picture of Tom shaking hands with a young Andy Kaufman and a poster from a Dali exhibit in San Francisco.

I entered the closet only to find, a couple of nice suits and many button up shirts and Dockers.  I moved an empty suitcase out of my way and that’s when I saw a door with a golden nob. I opened it and found myself in a small booth. On the wall of the booth were three dials one said day month and year, another said time of day and another still said location.

I quickly shut the door and replaced the suitcase. I went back to my room and thought about what I just saw. It couldn’t be. It had to be some sort of joke. Maybe the apartment had been used in a movie.

The next day I went to a French fry tasting focus group. I got back, with $75.00 in my pocket, feeling very full and wanting a nap. I realized Tom would be home in the morning, so I snuck into the room for one more look.

I opened the closet door and went towards the booth. I heard the apartment door open and shut outside.  I started for the door of Tom’s room, but it was too late. He opened the closet door and saw me.

“Tracy,” he said confused.

“Hi, I just…I um …I … I mean um…I want you.” I said.

“What?”

“I want you…I was just I was going to you know sleep in here be here when you came back.”

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon and I wasn’t coming home til tomorrow morning; you were going to stay in here the whole time?” He eyed me suspiciously as he came towards me.

“What were you really doing in here, looking for money,”

“No, I swear,” I said.

“You want me? Okay, fine…Let’s go.”

“Well, I . I mean um. Okay um…let me just jump in the shower I guess.”

“Oh relax, he said. You obviously know about it.”

“What is it? I mean it looks like a replica of a movie time machine.”

“It is a time machine…a real one.”

“Oh come on.”

“No, really. I found It here when I moved in.”

“How does it work? I mean if you have to be in the booth to use it, how do you get back?”

“That’s the frustrating part. You see it has limited abilities. I can travel back in time but the place lever is stuck in Los Angeles and not only Los Angeles, but this particular apartment which was built in 1976 .

“You can’t go back further than 76,” I said disappointed that I would never meet my uncle Marty.

I can’t travel anywhere on a plane or rent a car because my driver’s license was issued in 2014. I’m afraid to spend too much money for fear of calling attention to myself.”

“Cant you just go back a couple of days. I mean you could win the lottery. In fact today is Friday, the lottery is on tonight. I said hopefully.

“Look, Tracy I know it probably sounds a little silly, but I don’t want to mess with fate.”

“What makes you believe in fate?”

“The same thing that makes me believe in time machines.”

“oh.”

“You can try it if you’d like. I would just ask that you tell no one and that you don’t do anything that could affect history too much.”

I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I could go back to any time in my life after the age of one. The possibilities seemed endless. I decided to go back five years when I had made a terrible decision to buy a used car that was a total lemon and that I had totaled in an accident.

Tom set the dials while I watched. He exited the tiny room and closed the door. I pushed the start button and the room started to vibrate. There was a loud screeching noise and then, nothing.

“Tom, I think it stopped,” I said.

There was no response. I stepped out of the tiny room into the closet. This time it was packed full of women’s clothing. I crept to the door and opened it to find a very pink bedroom decorated with elaborate pillows and a Johnny Depp poster.

I walked out the door and started towards the living room. I was stopped when I felt a pair of eyes on me. I turned to see a red-headed woman wrapped in a towel staring at me in horror.

“ I….I said I’m sorry.”

I ran out the door and into the street toward the train station.

Fortune

 

 

 

gc

I left the Egyptian Theater after seeing Rear Window feeling incredibly depressed. During the film it occurred to me that no matter what, I would never ,ever look like Grace Kelly. It also occurred to me that I would never be as talented as Alfred Hitchcock, but mostly it was the Grace Kelly thing. I stopped for a slice of pizza and a beer when I noticed a fortune teller across the street.  I really didn’t believe in such things , but it’s not like reality was offering me anything to look forward to, so I headed over to see if she could bullshit me into enough of a happiness coma to get me though another two weeks of selling snake oil to the elderly at my crummy telemarketing job.

I walked over to the shop and went inside. A small dog greeted me as I entered. I sat and waited in the reception area which consisted of a single fold out chair and a small round table with magazines on it.  After a moment a dark haired woman, who seemed to have forgotten to wax her mustache came out and greeted me. She led me to a small back room.

“You have nice eyes,” she said attempting to butter me up.

“Thank you,” I said unmoved.

“So what brings you to me?”

“Shouldn’t you know?

“Don’t be a smart ass,” she said.

“Very well,” I said. “I want to know if my life will ever get any better or if I’m ever going to have a reason to live.”

“No.” she said

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean no, that’ll be fifty bucks, “she said.

 

“You want me to give you fifty bucks for that; are you insane?”

“You asked a question I answered it.”

“Based on what,” I asked indignantly.

“Based on this whole thing you’ve got going on.”

“What whole thing?”

“You plain and pale, you’re old and you have a big nose and you go to old movies and psychics by yourself on a Saturday night.”

“But, I mean …. I mean aren’t you supposed to give me like false hope or something?”

“You seem to be someone who thinks of yourself as to smart to fall for that shit. If I told you’d just talk smack on Facebook and I’m not your human kicking post.”

“So then, according to you I might as well just go home and slit my wrists,” is that correct?”

“Well, you could always just concentrate on revenge. You could make everyone whose ever treated you unfairly suffer.”

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“I have some potions that…”

“Oh no you don’t.”

“If you don’t want potion you could try the internet to get revenge. A fake Facebook profile? Maybe you should fine Jesus?
“Maybe you should asshole,” I said turning to leave.

“Where’s my fifty buck,” she asked.

“Sue me! I said walking out.

All of a sudden I couldn’t move. I was frozen with one foot out the door of the shop. The gypsy came and picked me up. She kept me in the shop for several weeks using me as a conversation piece and a coat rack. I was eventually sold to an antique collector from San Francisco. He had me shellacked and I currently on display in his dining room. I am called “loser on a stick as I am standing on a giant stationary parrot swing.

The collectors are all very fascinated by a sculpture that can talk. I like it here, much better than the call center I had been working in in LA. I am feed very good food several time a day and when they want to exercise me they take me to the park and spin me around on the merry-go-round. The maid washes me every few days and when I can persuade her two she gives me wine or pot brownies.

I’m not sure where everyone thinks I went, although I bet my landlord is upset. I bet they were happy at the call center.  I’m not sure if this curse will ever wear off; I’m not even sure I want it too.

Sales and Marketing

 

craig

 

 

Kleinman sat across from Lucy Fisk his new boss at Fisk and Peterman as she greedily shoved Greek salad into her mouth while washing it down with giant gulps of the triple Sambuca that she’d ordered. Kleinman sipped daintily at his, as he was afraid to get drunk so early in the day.

“So, we’ve got this kid whose been working in our department. Some hipster from Dumbfuck, Goddamn Idaho. You know the type; He was the smartest kid in his high school class of twelve people. He thinks his an intellectual because he’s heard of Gertrude Stein even though he’s never read her, which to be fair is more than the other Dumbfuckians know. He started out as an intern and he banged Agnes so she went and hired him.”

“H’mmm, that’s too bad,” Kleinman said unsure of why she was telling him this.

“He messed up the Hacha Spice account, by fucking posting the fact that our “fan videos were paid for. Spacha Sauce got hold of It and it was all over Twitter. Agnes feels he should be given another chance, I say, bullshit fire him.”

“Wow, that is a really tough position to be in,” Kleinman commiserated trying to think of a way to change the subject.

“So I said okay, but if he screws up again he’s out and she said okay.”

“That seems fair.”

“I think it’s not fair at all, I mean he really fucked up. Kids today feel like they have to put their whole lives on the internet. I don’t get it, are they trying to get their identities stolen? Do they want to be blackmailed?”

“People are getting more tech savvy and less sophisticated,” Kleinman said feeling uncomfortable with the way the conversation threatened to become philosophical.

“Anyway, that’s where you come in. Ya see I have a little favor to ask. You better drink up, it’s a dozy.”

He gulped down his drink as she ordered two more.

“I want you to get him fired.”

“You want me to fire him,” Kleinman asked feeling quite dizzy.

“No, no I want you to get him fired.”

“How?”

“Up to you.”

“I’ll get fired as well.”

“No, I’ll protect you,” she assured him.

For a moment he just sat there in his drunkenness, wondering what to do.

“Look, he should never have gotten his job in the first place. He gave Agnes some nauseating smelly artist bullshit about how he wanted to learn from an older woman; when really he was just a horny kid who’d fuck a dirty sock. He never demonstrated any talent for the job and we almost lost our shirts because of him.

“Is this why you hired me,” he asked not wanting to know.

“Not entirely, but we may need to trim the fat in six months if you know what I’m saying.

The pair returned to the office quite drunk. They pretended to work for four hours and went home.

Kleinman saw the kid in the elevator. He attempted to strike up a conversation, but it didn’t work.

He went home and looked at the want ads on Craigslist, but no one wanted a forty year old copy writer. He watched TV and wondered how he could get the boy fired without it being obvious.

He went on Facebook and looked the kid up and found him quite easily. There were several pictures of the young man enjoying himself at various event. Going back in the kid’s history he noticed there were several pictures of him with an attractive young lady with dyed red hair and a nose ring and then there were not.  Kleinman chuckled at the fact that He’d listed a litany of famous novels as his favorite.

He started to friend the kid, but then he thought better of it. Something like that would be too obvious and may even be harassment.

He began to create a new profile a woman named Lolita, with pink streaked hair and a love of old movies.  He found a picture in one of his own more attractive Facebook friend’s archived photo albums. He created the profile, sent a friends request and waited for the games to begin.

Joan Rivers and The Ultimate Ugly Duckling…

joan

I can’t even remember the first time I was teased at school or for what. There were so many things to be made fun of, the pale skin, the frizzy hair, the learning disability. When I look back on it I get lost in a daze of blackouts and denial. What I do remember was a television movie called The Girl Most Likely to …… starring Stockard Channing which was about an ugly, picked on girl who gets, plastic surgery, becomes beautiful and then gets murderous revenge on everyone. Although it wasn’t critically acclaimed, the film offered me the comfort that no school counselor, religion or friend ever could.

The film begins with heroine Miriam arriving for registration day at the fifth college she has attended in her search for a husband. In spite of her being smart, helpful and amusing she is repeatedly rejected by her classmates and is the victim of many a practical joke. One night, when she is furious after a prank she gets into a car accident and when they take her body cast off she had been transformed into a beautiful swan.

Now, there are many ugly duckling stories out there. The fat pimply girl grows tall and thin with perfect skin and takes off with the one man who was always kind to her, or the one who never noticed her. Or, the fat girl who is taunted by the crowd, but loved by the cutest boy in school. There is the Cyrano story, where the ugly person loves the beautiful person entirety for their looks and impresses said beautiful person with their words. None of these fables resonated with me in the way that I wanted.  As much as I wished I could grow up to be tall and thin and gorgeous, I suspected it wouldn’t happen. I was to learn that most men are far too shallow to love anyone for their personality. I found the Cyrano story to be too hypocritical to be enjoyed.

The Girl Most Likely To …was different. Although Miriam certainly transforms, it is revenge and not romance that is on her mind. She doesn’t want the love and admiration of those who wronged her, she wants their blood. She knows that men are stupid and they like big breast, so she points her newly enhanced boob at her victims and points them right in the direction of their demise, She gets a plumber to drown himself, a quarterback to sky dive to his death, arranges for surgical accident for a doctor (Gopher, from love boat) and has a cheerleader backflip right out the window. I loved it!

I had come home from a hard day of being teased to find I had a new friend – or a friend. Miriam was smart, sharp witted and self-deprecating. Her suffering had built her character and her power of observation. “

I wished that Miriam was real and I fantasied that we’d go on missions together. Whenever I was laughed at, I would think of what she would say. I fantasied that we got a particularly mean classmate of mine to do a handstand on the el tracks.

In a few years I would learn that she was, indeed real and her name was Joan River’s. Ya see, Joan co-wrote the script for the movie. The film is laced with running themes from Joan’s stand up routine. She has a slutty roommate named Heidi (Abramowitz?) She realizes all men care about are looks, “The only one to ever ask me to go to bed was my mother,” and of course she ends up getting life changing plastic surgery.

When you are homely and picked on adults are quick to tell you that you are not homely and the other kids are just jealous of you. After they finish lying to you about how pretty you are they will then proceed to tell you that looks don’t matter and its inside that counts, which is bullshit. Oh don’t get me wrong its inside that SHOULD count, but it doesn’t, just turn on the TV and tell me I’m wrong.

I would watch TV at night and I was always thrilled when Joan was on The Tonight Show. She was like the adult role model I’d never had. She told the truth about the way things were when everyone else tried to make me think it was all in my head. It made me feel strong, smart and observant- like her.

“No man ever put his hand up a woman’s dress looking for a library card,” she once told Johnny Carson.

When Joan died last week I felt like I’d lost a friend. Although I didn’t like it much that who she was wearing had a face, parents and a central nervous system, I still admired what she had done. It wasn’t just that she was a woman who was salty, it was that she was a person who was honest and showed us that truth was painful and the only way to deal with that pain was to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Her strength in the face of her critics was amazing. Most people would have backed down and said they were sorry for offending people, but not her. This is remarkable, because, given the amount of plastic surgery she had, her attention to fashion and her need for fame she clearly cared what other people thought. She was willing to stand up for her right to say anything she wanted even though it must have terrified her to do so and that is the definition of courage.

Much has been said this week about how she paved the way for a lot of female comedians, but none of them were really in the same class as she was. Kathy Griffin makes fun of celebrities, but she often predicates her insults, by saying that she love or admires the person. Sarah Silverman is really risqué, but she is definitely playing a character on stage. Chelsea Handler merely takes cheap, unfunny shots at the physicality of a little person and expects us to be shocked at the fact that she drinks, sleeps around and admits it. But, Joan took no prisoners, she meant everything she said, she wasn’t playing a character her humor came straight from her own pain and rage. She might have been crude, but she was also quick witted and observant in a way that is very rare.

No one will ever be able to break ground the way Joan did again. Female comics have become bawdy to the point of being tiresome. She once told a reporter she believes in reincarnation and she wanted to come back as her dog. So if you see a poodle puppy walking down fifth avenue in high heels barking at everyone, don’t be afraid to laugh – that’s the way she would have wanted it.

The Ringtone

cell

Belinda lay in bed staring at the ceiling. That morning marked her third straight month of unemployment. She was reviewing all the interviews she had in her head and wondering what she did wrong. Her benefits would run out soon and they weren’t really enough to live off of. She realized she should probably plan on going to sell plasma that afternoon.

She heard her phone buzz and she fished it out from under the bed and looked at the text. “I might not make it tonight…may have to work, Bill” the message said. For a moment she was confused; she didn’t know a Bill, it was obviously a wrong number.

“I really want to do this, would tomorrow night work?

 

She chuckled a bit she wondered what the circumstances were. He was Identifying himself, so whoever he was texting was obviously new in his life or he would be programmed into the phone he was attempting to text. She wondered if it was a date, or maybe a special professional meeting.

“Let me know,” said the next message.

She realized that she should text him and tell him he had the wrong number. She decided she’d do it as soon as she officially got up. She fell back to sleep for a bit. Then she got out of bed made coffee and took a shower. While she was showering she imagined what Bill must look like. She envisioned someone not very handsome, but very well groomed. Possibly the sort to wear designer clothes, go to the gym daily and get $100 haircuts on his balding head. She was sipping the coffee and looking at Indeed.com when she heard her phone buzz again.

She picked up her phone to see yet another message from Bill.

“Please do let me know if you’re getting these texts,” the next message said.

‘God, desperate much,’ she thought.

“I got them,” she texted back.

“Cool, is tomorrow okay?”

“Are you sure you won’t have to work again,” she wrote back.

“Yes, this was a one time emergency. Thanks for being cool.”

She wondered if he was being sarcastic or if he was simply trying to kiss her ass.

“It’s just that I canceled plans for tonight.”

“It’ just that I can’t do six. I can do eight if I drive like a maniac?”

“eight is fine.”

“Still want to go to Zorba’s,” he asked.

“Tots” she wrote back with a wink and a smile.

She went back to applying for jobs and surfing the net. She walked to Walgreen’s and bought some Dryel sheet which she used to clean her best interview dress. She put it on and drove to Zorba’s where she arrived at 7:50.

The bar was sort of dead that night two old men sat at the bar not speaking to each other. There was a married couple having dinner and talking about their lawn behind her and there were two women at a booth chatting quietly. One of them, a pretty, thin brunette was devouring an enormous piece of cake and appeared to be quite drunk. Her plump blonde friend appeared to be comforting her. Belinda attempted to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“It’s better to find out now than once your actually..” the blonde’s voice drifted off into the distance.

Belinda strained to hear what the brunette said, but only heard part of it.

“…took one look and walked out?”

With this a tall thin man with brown, thinning hair walked into the bar. He was wearing a nice suit and seemed to be in a big rush. He glanced around the bar looking right past her as he went. He walked over to the two woman.

“Bethany,” he said to the Brunette just as she was stuffing a giant piece of ice cream and fudge covered cake into her wide open gape.

“Bill,” she said when she could speak.”

“I’m sorry, if I’m a little late there was traffic and..”

“A little late, try two hours.” The blonde said. “I’m sarah.”

“”I thought we said six,” Bethany said.

“No, I texted you and told you I couldn’t make it until eight?”

“I never got it. Why didn’t you just Facemail me?”
“I don’t know I thought that since you gave be your cell I should just text, besides I…”

”You know what, Bethany exclaimed. I really don’t want to hear it. I’m really sick of cyber dates that I never hear from again. And every single plan being tentative, and saying lets hang out instead of do you want to go out with me? I’m sick of saying ‘it’s no big deal’ when it is a big deal. I sick of sleeping with people and acting like I wasn’t expecting anything. I ‘m sick of it! How dare you be two hours late, you dumb schmuck! What’s with the suit? You want everyone to think you have money? Learn how to spell if you want to impress people.  I’ve never texted with anyone who made so many mistakes.

Bethany got up and through some money on the table. The two woman stormed out. Everyone stared at Bill. He checked his phone and pushed a button. Suddenly a National Anthem ringtone went off.  Belinda instinctively turned to reach into her purse, but then realized she couldn’t answer it. Bill hung up and dialed again, this time when the Anthem played he looked around the bar, his eyes landing on Bethany.

He hung up his phone and the ring tone stopped. There was dead silence in the bar everyone stared at Bethany as he began to walk towards her.

Casual Encounters?

 

 

 

craig

Melody took a deep breath and pushed the elevator button. Her heart raced as the elevator rose to the tenth floor. She’d made sure to take a picture of the hotel and post it on her Facebook page with no comment, she wanted to let people know where she was without telling them, just in case anything went wrong.

She was fairly new to Craigslist. She’d looked for jobs there before, but she’d never looked at the personal ads. It had been almost a year since her horrific break up with Sam and she still could not stomach the idea of having an actual boyfriend again. For several weeks all she could think about was sex or her lack of it. She spent her evening reading Erica Jong and Anais Nin and trolling the internet for subtle but thought provoking videos. She’d started reading Craigslist casual encounters the week before. At first she’d just looked at them never intending to do anything. At night he would fantasize about doing everything in the ads. She imagined the men as being ruggedly handsome, not wanting to think about what the men looked like in real life.  She realized that it was just a fantasy and she was sure a murder, rape or mugging awaited anyone who would answer such a thing.

Then on Saturday she saw an ad that she couldn’t get out of her head. “Let’s just make out I’m in town for a week, come to my hotel room! I’m staying at the Plaza.”

Something about the ad sounded safe and sincere. They had exchange e mails. He had sent her a picture of himself, but it was very shadowy and distant and in it he was wearing a “No Fear” T-shirt. She’d asked how recent it was and he admitted it was ten years old. He told her he was forty and she’d confessed to being thirty five. They arranged to meet the next afternoon at one. She’d told him she was too paranoid but described herself, a petite brunette, considered fairly attractive.

She got off the elevator and walked towards his door. She stood there for a full five minutes before getting up the courage to knock on the door.

“Come in, “a voice said.

She walked into the room leaving the door wide open as she went. There, in bed, wearing a vintage Spud’s Mackenzie tee shirt and acid washed jeans was Ryan Bisc a partner in the law firm where she worked.

For a moment they did not speak. He looked as though he was trying to place her.

“Do you work for me?”

“Yes,” she said. “I’m Melody, I work in research”

“So you saw my picture and you decided to come and maybe work some kind of deal or something?”

“No, the picture wasn’t very clear and it was old. I work in a different part of the building and I only see you like one a month. I thought you said you were from out of town?”

“I guess I just…I’m sorry. Could you close the door.”

Melody closed the door and sat down.

“Are you married,” she asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because, I don’t know I just thought that…”

“Are you married,” he asked.

No, I’m not even…no.

“Well, I should go..”

She got up to leave and he walked her to the door. On impulse, she grab him and kissed him. He resisted and first and then pulled her towards the bed. Suddenly his cell phone went off.

He jumped up and answered it.

“Uh, huh…..Okay…okay. Did we ever get the witness statement? Well, it’s a lot different if she actually broke something. Before we were told she just had a black eye….uh huh….uh huh.”

Melody sat up. She tried to signal to him she realized they were talking about the Robinson file which was sitting open on her desk. She tapped Ryan.”

“Ryan, I…” she began she slapped a hand across her mouth.

“Well get it to me as soon as research finishes it.”

He hung up the phone.

“Were you working on that file.”

“Yes, I have the witness statement on my desk.”

“Oh well the defendants attorney needs to see what we have,” he said.

“Um, I said I would be back from my dentist appointment at 3:00.”
“Oh, yeah I guess it would look kind of suspicious if you went back now.”

They sat there in silence for a moment.

‘Dentist” he said with a chuckle, “did you ever see the movie M.A.S.H?”

“I didn’t.”

Oh, Well you should.”

She looked at him confused.

“Wanna watch a movie,” he asked her.

They sat on the bed and watched Rain Man until it was time for Melody to go to work.

When she got home she went on Craigslist again, this time looking in the legal assistance section.