Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Chapter 2


    Taken with Holga Camera

Larry had been able to shirk any real responsibility for as long as he could remember. No kids. Never had a relationship longer than two years and then only once came close. Not a bad looking guy, pretty charming. But big. Dark hair, dark features, prominent brow, deep voice built for menace if he cared to use it. Six three, two thirty. Even now he still looked pretty put together. Big enough that he had once played the part of a wrestler on Magnum P.I. and was even a possible suspect well into the second segment until his alibi turned up solid. All that, and he had never officially pursued acting. Fresh out of college, with sociology degree in hand, Larry had bolted for the west coast and landed in San Francisco. He had then spent the better part of six years mostly content to park cars, party as often possible, paint a little when the mood struck. Then he sort of stumbled into an acting gig and for a few years did commercials and television work. He actually worked with Tom Selleck again on a TV movie, adapted from a Louis L’Amour western. His favorite observation, then and now, was "The fuck kind of name is Louis L’Amour for a guy who writes westerns?" And Larry was of course one of the rowdy barroom gang. He got to break some stuff in a bar, though he never did get to do any cool stunts. Just a bunch of whooping and wearing a gun and hitting on the harlots off-set for a good three days. He came to think that Tom Selleck was pretty cool though, and sort of a charming guy actually who would hang out, getting high with the stunt men, laughing his ass off at stupid shit. And then Tom also wound up becoming kind of an acting inspiration for Larry because he was a pretty sizeable guy too. But Larry was pretty sure that Selleck's bigass moustache was going to hold him back. And it did.

So before acting found him and raised his profile from barely employed clear on up to underappreciated. Larry had been living in the city, off of Filmore in the Haight. Had a couple of roommates, one a money manager and the other who played some music, was a bartender, writer, big thinker, huge drinker. Everything was great being young and living in San Francisco excepting that somehow, through a revolving cast of friends and would be girlfriend’s there arrived a parrot that nobody wanted and nobody would claim any longer and which yammered incessantly. Straight through the night, from the kitchen, like somebody’s midget grandma returned as a parrot and with some kind of evil malady of the feet to keep her bitching all hours and scratching back and forth.

So, the guy who played music, Mike, well to hear him talk there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do which was pretty funny too when he got rolling about black ops or salsa dancing or market trends or authentic tamales or money laundering. It seemed that being from New Jersey qualified this guy for just about everything but he was definitely decent to get a beer with. They’d go to Harry’s and sit the bar, talk to the ladies, most of whom would have way too much talent for a couple of ingrates but the talk was always good. There were always beautiful women at Harry’s and dressed so that you can’t help but look. Fine clothes. Except for those power suit types. Larry basically felt a solid wave of revulsion when an attractive woman would roll in feeling full sassy but decked out in those fancy pants. The kind of dress pants that swing around the ankles, light and swishy, about twice as flared as bell bottoms, more skirt or dress than pants, usually flashing some kind of crazy pointed shoes in which her sorely misshapen feet numbly wince with each step but dutifully bring lady to the party. The women’s suits sometimes came with the pants, sometimes dressy cocktail outfits would have the pants. There was some kind of correlation between those pants and good money but it just didn’t make sense that those flapping eyesores could be more expensive or more fashionable than regular clothes. He felt genuine disappointment whenever a girlfriend of his would turn up flouncing around her ankles, usually thinking to herself, "I’m looking pretty good I am... very fine." Then Larry’s jerk would come to the surface to beat her down. But he couldn’t help it somehow, kind of like he had been lied to. He had nothing against jeans or pants that were just cut to be like pants. He could even suffer those strange and shrunken Capri’s, for chrissake. But those fucking fancy pants made him angry. And this wasn’t a gay thing straight thing or a threatened man thing. Girls in pants, fine. Girls in fancy pants, really fucking stupid looking. Even the hot ones.

Then, one weekend Mike’s younger brother hits town, up from L.A. and is all fired up because a film was going to be made based upon one of his short stories. A small film sure but something that might get seen, possibly get picked up. Basically, kind of a loss-of-virginity quest set in smalltown somewhere and which followed a crew of high school friends through a madcap series of zany situations. There’s the requisite jock, the nerd, there’s the sweet guy who’s going steady with the girl next door but she doesn’t put out. There’s the foreign guy. Good stuff. Mike was pushing his brother for a part in the movie, which was a little absurd since Mike was scarily old, at 27, to be hanging with high school kids, even pretend ones. But after a few hours drinking sake and singing Karaoke in Japantown, Mike and Larry both had scored their first serious dramatic roles. Larry was cast as a large but effeminate lounge singer and Mike was cast as the guy who seemed about five years older than all the other kids in high school, with full on facial stubble, drove a muscle car, slept in class, got a few laughs. The movie was finished in a few weeks of summer time, then did its turn going to a few festivals and then pretty much everyone involved moved on to the next best thing as the movie eventually lost its momentum. But Larry wound up cozy with one of the girls from the film and had already decided to head down to L.A. for a while.

Jump cut to ten years later and we find that Larry has returned home to Sendersville to help take care of his mom. She was no longer remembering things as well as she used to. Nothing clinically significant, at least not at first, but nevertheless Larry’s dad didn’t seem to be handling the situation very well. He had finally decided to move back home when, over the past few holidays, he had watched how panicked his mom was getting over the littlest things. She had just about lost it completely this past Thanksgiving when his brother, Jason, was visiting from Baltimore for the weekend and had gone out with friends for drinks until bar time when he had to sneak back into their parent’s house to sleep it off. When their mom heard him coming in the door, she started screaming from the bedroom. Didn’t even get out of bed, she just sat up and screamed for help. Jason had to talk her out of calling the cops. She even recognized him but couldn’t let go of the idea that it was so late and that somehow she really needed help. Dad helped get her back to sleep as though this were nothing unusual. Most other times, she would walk around slightly agitated about fairly normal stuff and it seemed his dad just couldn’t get out of the house fast enough. He would get himself dressed quietly to go to work, or read quietly in the living room. Or eat his dinner quietly. All the time, he seems to be drifting off to a different place, really kind of an equal and opposite reaction as the situation slowly bears down on him. But, otherwise, his dad is in great shape physically though and still works at a machine shop in town. Ever since he was little, there was pretty much nothing his old man couldn’t do with his hands but Larry could see that now in his seventies, his dad was having major difficulty with the idea of becoming a caretaker after having been a provider near all his life. Frustrated that there is no way to fix the woman he has loved for so many years.

So, this is how Larry finds himself back in town. For now, he is renting himself a little A-frame about five blocks over from his folks and pretty much visits with his mother most mornings and then spends the rest of his time trying to cash in on his notoriety as the guy who dated the borg chick, ‘7 of 9’, from Star Trek Next Generations. He amazes himself with how much mileage he can get out of that one in small town America. But trekkies don’t usually tend to be, how to say this delicately, the finest looking of all God’s creatures. And if there is even a single hot girl among the science fiction devoted, then she is keeping it to herself. But all things considered, casually dropping that he used to get baked with Tom Selleck is a pretty good set-up line as well.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yup. That's what I'm talkin' about.
You can just keep doin' that, thankyouverymuch.

Anonymous said...

Gee... or should I say G--the boy can seriously write.

I know Larry. I know a thousand Larrys in Los Angeles.
Countless actors who come here for their big shot, then never quite make it. They hold onto the memory of that one minor or almost major role, that moment of near greatness, that time they hung out with that major star or industry player, or the has been or minior tv star they once loved or just slept with...
I see " Larry" on a daily basis. I know him all too well. His desperation. His sadness. His need to be seen. Accepted. Loved by the massed. He comes to get new headshots twice a year, since he thinks that helps his career. Don't ask me why. Something about keeping it fresh with casting directors.
You've captured Larry's humanity, humor and his sadness. I can't help but route for him to shake of the past and get on with the present. Realize what a sham Hollywood is. Accept that he's been giving a gift to get out of the land of illusions. Find happiness again. But this time for real. I wish this for Larry.

A beautiful piece. And love the louge singer shot.
Susan B.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Two typos. I hate when I do that.

I meant to write....
Loved by the masses.

There's another typo also, but I'm too tired to go back and edit...

Anonymous said...

Nice writing G. I never know where you are going, but I always take the ride.
CM in MN

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