Avenging Olimpia

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4-23-09 5:12 –– I wake up and spit because my mouth tastes like cigarettes. The worst taste I got about the whole sordid business, however, was the look on Paulo’s face as he passed me in the hall. I was leaving, and he was going back to finish her off. He knows I can’t shake the whore from my heart so in some sick way only a piece of shit like that would ever truly understand his following me is supposed to be some kind of trump dicking. Fuck off, bent nose.

What he doesn’t know is the real thing that welds Saraha to my better judgment: the girl can write even better than she can fuck. But I don’t want to think about that now. I haven’t written a word in three days and I can feel the cloud descending. At least I have some raw memories to use.

I head into the bathroom and shove a toothbrush in my maw. I wanted to be angrier but the truth was my always-sore-these-days body was grateful for the lay and it was tricking me into thinking I got a fair deal. Fucking hell. The only thing worse than women are men.

“O’Leary owned a parking garage in Astoria”, she told me. “I don’t know who owns it now, but it’s across the street from a huge warehouse that sometimes doubles as a movie set,” she said, a flick of ash falling from one breast. I asked her how she knew, and she said she used to send two guys over to Paul Mazursky when he was in town but she thought it was only to play cards. I started to feel nauseous after that so I left, thereby cutting me off from knowing anything else.

I didn’t need to.

What I needed was a fresh shirt, a map and something that could hurt a man if it came to that.

4-23-09 5:40 –– Fuck the tourists, the part-timers, the snooty upper crust cunts and the cops––the subway at dawn is kinder than a kettle. And quieter. Nobody’s there to label you if you’re sat on the ground talking to a bottle of Bulleit with one shoe on. I spent lots of time down there, waiting for a train to no place in particular. Sometimes I was hiding. Sometimes following. Today, I’ve both shoes, no bottle and I just need to get to Queens.

How times change.

And yet, they stay the same. Saharah still on my mind (and my dick no doubt), I think about how she must have comforted Yaasmin after telling her that I was fucking both of them. That bit of misguided tenderness is why I take a ginger step into the rear car of the “R” when the doors open. Soon they were fucking without me. Not that I wanted in on it, but any man, no matter how angry, would prefer the option to refuse. Especially if he was going to get a kicking for his trouble.

Kaufman Astoria Studios lorded over the corner of 36th like a made man. The walk from 34th woke me up and for some reason my leg felt better. I think maybe this could be my day after all with Sahara finally coming through and then I see the garage––boarded up and wedged between a newly gentrified section of the block flanked by a fucking Starbucks and a Pizza Uno. My guess is they’ve sold the lot and it’ll be renovated into an Internet cafe or some happy horse shit before I need another shave.

Dead end.

Fuck you very much, Saharah.

My leg is hurting again when I limp into Starbucks. There’s a plump, Asian kid and a brown-skinned girl with enormous hoop earrings making sucking sounds with the machines. A couple of hipsters drink lattes and type madly on their laptops by the window. I catch on that they’re a film crew by the walkies on their belts.

I order a double espresso and ask, “What’s the movie?”

Floppy-haired Jew kid looks annoyed and says, “Fireland. It’s about an Irish bookie who was murdered around here. Student thing.”

“But the budget’s big,” said another one of them with fat, red cheeks. The Jew kid gives him a look and he says, “Well…it’s not small. It’s big for a student thing.”

“Oh, yeah?” I say. “Sounds like a piece of shit. Who wrote it?”

“I did,” answers one of the other kids. He was long-faced and sad-eyed with not an ounce of muscle tone to be found. His sandy brown hair hung like a beaver pelt around his ears.

“Where’d you hear about it?” I ask. Normally, I’d be that guy and he’d blow me off with a look but I know writers. You can have the run down, anytime, anywhere.

“My professor. He said he knew the guy. They grew up together, or something.”

“And he’s putting up the money?”

“Yeah…he’s loaded.”

I receive my espresso and swirl it around in the cup. One sip and my leg feels better. Now, it could’ve been the smell of the beans or the dilating effect of the caffeine. More likely it had to do with my figuring that no professor has the kind of cash this kid is talking about unless he’s got a side gig. Or had one. Or knows something that maybe he’s not supposed to know.

“He around?” I say.

“Yeah,” says the writer. “He’s across the street.”

“No shit.”

4-23-09 5:51 –– Back before I bought new suits with writer’s fees I used to sneak onto movie sets. The trick was to look like you belonged there; like you knew what was up. The world––in case they’d swapped it out for a nicer one while I was asleep––is run by shitty people. Washington: lying people. Mafia: cheating people. Hollywood: both kinds. If you cased them for a while, you could parrot their bullshit.

I stepped between two, long, white trucks full of aluminum light stands and followed the narrow corridor towards a large pull-down door. It looked like the crew entrance, and I kept a mental note of the stands. They looked a little flimsy, but good enough for buying some space and winning attention. About halfway in, I see a very tall and in-shape man turn into the corridor from the driver’s end. Driver, I think. Either that or the lousy story called for a bearded fucking wall. Whoever he is, I can’t pass without him ducking under or backing out.

I see him squint at me, and I say, “Hey, are you supposed to be here?”

He stops and looks behind him. Yeah you, motherfucker.

“I was going to ask you the same question,” he says.

“Whattya know…you first.”

He doesn’t like my tone. That’s okay, I don’t like his stupid fucking face. Especially when he gets a dismissive smirk on it, and says, “I’m here to pick up a few light stands, dude.”

I’m now thinking about ripping his balls off. Instead, I say, “I saw some back there. Now, how about you help me?”

He leans against the truck, processing the indignity. “How?”

“I need you to tell me where she is.”

“Who?” he asks.

“You know…our star”, I say.

“Kim?”

“Unless she’s being a diva, in which case I’ll grab a drink first.”

“She just finished a scene. I guess she’s in her trailer.” He tilts his head to the side like dumb dog. “Are you her dad or something?”

I fantasize about a light stand up his ass. “Are you fucking kidding? I hate kids. Just point me in the right direction and I’ll let you get back to work.”

He raises a giant arm and jerks out a thumb. “Other side of the building.” I see him lay a hand on a walkie. “Can I ask who you are?”

I walk up close and look him in his dull eyes. “I’m afraid not. Unless you want to talk to her lawyer.”

“Fuck that,” he says. I gesture around him and like a good gofer he presses himself against one of the trucks. It’s not enough room to slide through without rubbing against him so I reach inside my jacket like I’m fumbling for a piece. Before I can say a word he ducks under the truck, letting me pass.

Moral of the story: if you find yourself under a truck, you’re not doing it right.

Now, off to find a woman of legal age. I really do hate kids.

4-23-09 5:53 –– I leave the troll in my wake and head inside. I’m hit with the tsunami of unreality that always confronts me on a movie set. It’s as if I’m privy to the creation of the universe as it really is––a dark and cavernous space of finite proportions and functional construction lit up to look like more than it is. In this case, I’m staring at an upscale apartment scene where a slim, casually dressed woman with dark, curly hair and huge, brown eyes is fluffing pillows. Where the fuck everybody else is, I don’t know. Care factor? Zero.

She smiles at me and says hello in that affected, LA drawl where a word unfolds again like a sleeper futon. I like the left coast in the way a guy likes a chaser: as an enhancement with no bite.

“Hey,” I say, “is this Fireland?”

“This? This is where Maddie––Kim’s character––and her stepmother live. They’re running out of money so I’m trying to make it look a little entropic.”

I have a seat on a chair that looks like a scoop of ice cream. “You come up with that?”

“I’m the set designer. It’s my job.”

“That right?” I undo a button and try something that might connect with a privileged art student from the Hills. “Lucky for them. I hear the producer’s not exactly hands on.”

She barks a short guffaw and for some reason a Cairn Terrier I knew as a kid pops into my head. I loved that dog. We all did.

“I wouldn’t exactly say that,” she says. “I’ve seen his hands on plenty around here.” She finishes laying an expensive looking cashmere throw on the back of a comfortable looking sofa and straightens an assortment of bangles on her wrist.

“One of those, huh?”

“I wouldn’t mind so much if he knew what he was doing…in any capacity.”

I stretch my neck and look around. “You mind if I ask a question?” She leans languorously against the sofa and crosses her ankles. Her eyes remind me of Olimpia’s, but only for a second. Olimpia’s were more almond shaped, whereas hers are rounder––a child’s eyes. A precocious child, maybe even a little wicked. I guess her to be of mixed, Middle Eastern descent, possibly Jewish. Impolitic to wager aloud, I say, “Why haven’t you kicked me out of your chair, Ms. Set Designer.”

She giggles and slowly runs her finger under her nose. “It’s Jennifer, and…I don’t know. You look good in it.”

“Am I on camera, Jennifer?” I ask.

“We’re on break,” she says, pulling at a curl. “The DP’s waiting on a lens.”

I stand and walk over to her, stopping too close. “Then maybe I should get up. Don’t want you to get in any kind of trouble.”

Any kind?”

I chuckle, and hold my hand out. She takes it. Keeps it.

“Hobert,” I say, looking deep in her eyes. Scratching the back of my neck, I continue, “And, you know…I’d love to see more of your work.”

“Yeah?”

“Sure.”

She starts walking, leading me along. We reach a door and she turns, backing into it and turning the knob at the same time. The door swings open and behind her I see a high, white, canopied bed covered in brightly colored stuffed animals.

“What’s that, a wedding cake?”

“Yeah,” she says. “Wanna piece?”

(continued)