Monday, November 23, 2009

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 25: call-back

In our previous episode our raffish hero Buddy Best found himself in an odd but strangely enjoyable compromised situation with the lovely and strange Cordelia, daughter of the bad actor who has absconded with Buddy’s wife...

(Go here to read the first chapter of this “sweaty submersion in a sultry sea of sin and snideness” -- (J.J. Hunsecker, in the Hollywood Reporter.)

Two days later Buddy was going over a revised music budget with Harvey and Debbie in Harvey’s office when Marlene came in and shut the door behind her.

“Buddy, there’s some girl here for you.”

“Some girl?”

“She says her name’s Cordelia. She didn’t give me her last name. She says you know her.”

“Oh. Right.”

“Do you want to see her?”

Marlene and Debbie both were all over him. Harvey just looked amused.

“Uh, okay,” said Buddy, “ask her if she can wait fifteen --”

“Buddy,” said Debbie, “you can go talk to her for a minute. Don’t be a jerk all your life.”

So Buddy went out into Marlene’s office. Cordelia was standing there, staring at one of their trashy promo posters. She had a red backpack on. She turned.

“Hi there,” he said.

“Hi,” she said. Her hair was pulled up on top of her head, most of it was, some of it curled down. “I was kinda sorta in the neighborhood so I thought I’d drop by. But you’re busy, right?”

“A little --”

A dress -- a sun dress? Red-and-white checks --

“So, do you want me to come by later? Or --”

Marlene was looking at them over her computer screen. Harvey and Debbie were looking at them through the open door.

“No, let’s go in here,” said Buddy.

And he opened the door to what was nominally his office, but which he hardly ever used. Cordelia stepped in and Buddy followed her, closing the door behind him.

Sunlight blazed in through the windows from the parking lot outside, and he looked at Cordelia in daylight for the first time.

“So,” he said.

Red lipstick, a little make-up --

“So,” she said.

“So, what’s up?” said Buddy.

He might have offered her a seat but the three chairs in the room were piled with videocassettes, DVD’s, CD’s, books, scripts, trade papers...

“I wanted to see you in person.”

She seemed so serious all of a sudden that he wondered if her father had come back and done something weird or hateful or both.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, in fact I’ve just come from an audition, and I have a call-back tomorrow.”

Oh --

“Oh, that’s great,” he said.

“Yeah, out of nowhere I get this call this morning, can I come to the Paramount lot and read for this movie.”

“Great,” said Buddy. “Super. Cool.”

“I thought it was a joke,” she said.

“So it went okay.”

“Yeah. It’s for this Northwest Mountie movie with this guy Christopher Lambert. Do you know him?”

“Oh, yeah, I’ve worked with Chris.”

“Really?”

“Oh, sure. Five, six years ago, picture called Dead Vengeance? No it wasn’t, it was Dead Betrayal. Dead Vengeance was -- who -- oh, Eric Roberts, right, Eric --”

“Ah. Is he nice?”

“Eric Roberts?”

“No, this Christopher Lambert.”

“Oh -- very nice. He wasn’t there?”

“No. Just the director, this weirdo Joe guy --”

“Uh-huh. So -- Northwest Mountie --”

“Actually it’s a Northwest Mountie vampire movie. At first they had me read for this saloon girl who gets killed by a vampire, but then they didn’t seem to really care about that part so they read me for a featured role.”

“No kidding.”

“Yeah, this lady doctor on an Indian reservation. She hooks up with this Northwest Mountie guy who’s investigating these murders.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Vampire murders.”

“Well, y’know, that doesn’t sound like just a featured role, that sounds like the female lead --”

“Buddy, did you set this up?”

“No --”

“Okay, I know you did, I can tell. Can I smoke in here?”

“Sure. Give me one.”

Getting the cigarettes meant she had to take off the red backpack and open it and root around in it.

“Okay,” said Buddy, “before I went to sleep the other night I watched your movie, or some of it.”

“I know, it’s bad.”

“That’s true, but there’s good stuff in it, and you were excellent.”

“Really?”

“Really. By the way, the credits --”

“I know, the credits sucked.”

“No, I mean, your name -- you just go by ‘Cordelia’?”

“Yeah. Do you think that’s pretentious?”

“No. I think it’s cool. Like a French actress...”

She had finally come up with the box of cigarettes, maybe the same one from the other night, but she didn’t open it.

“So, anyway,” he said, “next morning I had the tape copied and sent the copy over to, uh, weirdo Joe. I knew he was looking for a new female lead for this Christopher Lambert picture they’re doing because the girl they had fell off a horse and broke her leg.”

“Oh my God, that’s terrible.”

“Well, it’s only a broken leg.”

“Yeah, but still --”

“Well, anyway, so I phoned him and asked him to look at the tape. I told him you’d been on One Life To Live, I said you were a nice person, and if he liked the tape, maybe he could give you a call. Don’t you want your cigarette?”

“Oh. Yeah.” She dropped the backpack to the floor with a thud, and opened the cigarette box. “You didn’t tell him to give me a part?”

“What do I look like, Sam Goldwyn?”

She took a pause here. Buddy suspected she hadn’t gotten the reference. Then she said:

“I told you I wasn’t looking for any favors from you.”

“I didn’t think you were.”

“But you did me a favor.”

“Why not?”

She looked very seriously into the cigarette box. She looked up.

“I hope you didn’t think I would go to bed with you because of it.”

“Never crossed my mind.”

“Right.”

“In a million years,” said Buddy. “On the other hand, this guy Joe, Joe Morrow --”

“I know.”

“You do? Already?”

“I could tell. He’s a lecho. A lecho-weirdo.”

“I mean, he’s legit, decent director, but --”

“Right.”

“Just --”

“Don’t worry. I can handle him.” She gnawed her upper lip for a second. “Tomorrow I read with this Lambert guy.”

“Chris you’ll like. He’s French actually. Christophe -- Lom-bair.”

“Oh no.”

“No, he’s cool.”

“He’s not weird?”

“No. And he’s a good actor.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything.”

“He’s in those, uh, Highlander movies?”

“Never heard of them. But what do I know. I just watch old movies. Bette Davis. Barbara Stanwyck. Deanna Durbin. Have you had lunch yet?”

“No.”

“Do you want to -- I mean, some place cheap this time -- and you have to let me pay --”

“Okay -- look, give me like fifteen or twenty minutes --”

“All right. I’ll just walk around --”

“No, don’t walk around around here -- look, go outside, go left and walk down to the corner, you’ll see this joint called the Musso and Frank Grill.”

“Buddy, I grew up in L.A., I’ve heard of Musso and Frank’s.”

“Oh, okay, sorry.”

“I mean, I’ve never actually been there --”

“Oh. Well, would you like to try it?”

“I’d love to.”

“Okay. Go around the back and go in and tell the guy you’re waiting for me. Tell him I said I’d like a booth. Then order a martini.”

“Well --”

She had that furrowed brow look again, even though her brow wasn’t really furrowed.

“What?”

“I’ll have an iced tea maybe.”

“Okay, iced tea’s cool. Don’t you want your cigarette?”

“No.” She closed the box. “I’ll save it for after. I mean after lunch. Do you still want one?”

“No, maybe later.”

****

“So, who’s your little friend?” said Debbie.

“She’s not my little -- she’s -- the Ancient Mariner’s daughter.”

“Oh my God.”

“Yeah.”

“What did she want?”

Harvey sat there, taking it all in.

“She, uh, it has to do with her old man.”

“And Joan?”

“Uh, yeah. It’s -- it’s personal stuff, Deb.”

“Sounds odd to me. Why is she coming to you?”

“I don’t know. She’s got a maniac for a father. My wife ran off with the maniac. We’re related in an weird way.”

“A very weird way.”

“Okay, look, let’s wrap this shit up, guys,” said Harvey. “We got the dude from HBO --”

“Showtime,” said Debbie.

“Thank you. The idiot from Showtime at what?”

“2:30.”

“So let’s grab some lunch. What’s the special at Musso’s today? Is today corned beef day?”

“Uh, look, not Musso’s,” said Buddy.

“Why not?”

“Because I’m having lunch with the Mariner’s daughter at Musso’s.”

“Oh, my God,” said Debbie. “You are busted. You are so busted.”

“What?” said Buddy. “We’re having lunch.”

****


She was standing on the sidewalk outside of Musso’s. On Gene Autry’s star. She had sunglasses on.

“Why didn’t you go in?”

“I felt funny.”

“Oh. Okay, well --”

“Buddy.”

“Yeah.”

“You live near here, don’t you?”

“Yeah, pretty close, up on Ivar. Why?”

“Is there anybody home right now?”

“At my house? No, not that I know of --”

“Let’s go to your house.”

It was hot on the sidewalk. Tiny beads of moisture glistened on her upper lip.

“Okay,” he said.


(Continued here, because the literary world demands it.)

(Please refer to the right hand side of this page for a listing of links to all other available chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™, recently shortlisted for the Maury Povich Book Club.)

13 comments:

kathleenmaher said...

Well now I'm totally in love with Cordelia. She has me in her sway.

>“I wanted to see you in person.”<

I've had that feeling, and when I was her age, acted on it almost always to my dismay.

kathleenmaher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kathleenmaher said...

Sorry for the ugly deletion. In my impatience, I must have pressed the button twice.

Dan Leo said...

Hey, the more comments the better, Kathleen!

Goodtime Samaritan said...

Hmmm.

Skipping lunch and going right to dessert?

dianne said...

I am intrigued. And I can't wait for ancient Mariner to make another appearance. Meanwhile, Buddy's first wife is brewing something up.
I love this story.

Dan Leo said...

Dianne, I love your taste in literachure!

And don't worry, hang in there, I think that the Mariner and Joan will show up a few episodes down the line, with bells on...

Dan Leo said...

Oh, and Di -- Buddy's first wife? Madge aka "Shakira"? Yep, I think something is brewing up at the old ashram...

Manny said...

Sometimes I think everything in sexier in L.A. Even her red backpack got me.

Dan Leo said...

Heh heh, I know what you mean about the red backpack, Manny. I wonder what all she has in that damn thing, anyway?

dianne said...

okay, cigarettes,lighter, makeup,comb, money, a book/script she's reading, some candy wrappers, (maybe some candy) some tissues...
she needs a bigger backpack already!

Dan Leo said...

Right, Di -- and then I was thinking she knew she was going to an audition so she might have brought a different top or two, maybe a whole different outfit. And then I just remembered, it's gonna turn out she was planning on going to a dance class later, so there's another change, shoes, towel...she needs two backpacks!

dianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.