Thursday, January 7, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 31: out of the past

Life has gotten complicated for our hero, that C-List auteur Buddy Best. Somehow he has gotten involved -- alas (or maybe not alas), not to carnal fulfillment -- with Cordelia, the actress daughter of "the Ancient Mariner", the ham actor with whom Buddy's wife Joan has absconded. And Buddy's life is about to get even more complicated...

(Go here to read our previous thrilling episode, or click here to read the first chapter of this “shameless potboiler best left safely hidden under the towels in the bathroom” -- (J.J. Hunsecker, in The Saturday Evening Post.)

Buddy got caught in a traffic jam on Venice Boulevard, but that was all right, he listened to the latest news on Iraq for a few minutes, and then he put Don Giovanni back on. The sun had gone down and he had got to within two blocks of his house before Joan rang his cellphone. He considered letting his voicemail take it, then decided he might as well just get it over with. He turned off the Don and flipped open the cell.

“Hi --”

“Okay, Buddy, just what kind of sick shit are you up to?”

Buddy gave this question some thought.

“Answer me, you sick asshole.”

“I’m trying to think of an answer.”

“Are you fucking her?”

At least this he could answer, and -- a bonus -- he could answer truthfully:

“No.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Did you try to fuck her?”

After only about three seconds of silence on Buddy’s part he said:

“Hey, how was your trip?”

“What?”

“Your trip. To Brittany. How was it.”

“How was my trip? It was nice. Except it rained all the time. And it was cold.”

“Ah. Too bad.”

Now it was she who didn’t say anything.

“What’s that noise?” said Buddy.

“It’s the ocean. I’m walking on the beach. I had to get out of that house. Stephen is very upset. And so is she, apparently. She’s in her room and won’t come out.”

Buddy had parked the car in front of his house now.

There was more ocean noise and then she said, “How’s Deirdre?”

“Deirdre’s good.”

Cordelia’s sunglasses, still on the dash. Buddy picked them up and put them in his shirt pocket.

“Philip and Liz are living with us now, too,” he said.

“What?”

“Yeah -- a lot has been going on.”

“So it seems. Well, look, I’ve thought about it and I want Deirdre to move in here and I don’t want to hear any shit about it.”

The ocean --

“Well?” she said.

“You’re her mother.”

“That’s right.”

“Okay then.”

He got out of the car.

“What are you doing, Buddy?”

“I’m getting out of the car.”

“Oh. Are you going into the house?”

“Yep.”

“Is Deirdre home?”

“She was when I left.”

“Okay. Let me talk to her.”

“Ah-ight.”

“But, Buddy, wait, first --”

“Yeah, babe.”

“Just what the fuck were you doing with that girl? That’s all I want to know.”

“It’s -- it’s a long story, Joan.”

“I’m sure it is a long story, so give me the short version.”

Buddy opened the door. “Buddy?” said Joan. Philip and Liz and Deirdre were sitting on the couch in the dark living room, watching a movie. Out of the Past. He took the phone away from his ear. “Buddy,” he could hear Joan saying again. He walked over to Deirdre and handed her the phone.

“Your mom wants to talk to you.”

“Mom? From France?”

“No. Venice. Venice, California.”

She unfolded her legs and put the phone to her head.

“Mom? What? He’s right here, who do you think handed me the phone? Well who do you want to talk to, him or me?” She looked at Buddy, making her eyes go wide, and Buddy waggled his hand from side to side, mouthing No. “Mom. Mom, wait, let me take this in my room. Mom, wait.”

Now she rolled her eyes, and got up and headed for the stairs. “Mom,” she was saying, “I haven’t talked to you in like three whole weeks, so please don’t immediately start being insane, okay?” And so on until she faded out as she went into her room and shut the door.

Liz and Philip looked at Buddy.

“I’m gonna get a beer,” he said. “Anybody want anything?”



They had finished Out of the Past and had started Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when Deirdre came down. She handed Buddy his cellphone, the phone was very warm, she stood there and looked at the TV screen for a bit and then said, “Is that Marilyn Monroe?”

“Yeah,” said Buddy.

“Who’s the other one?”

“Jane Russell.”

“Huh.”

She headed into the kitchen. Liz and Philip looked at Buddy. Buddy got up and went into the kitchen.

“Whatcha doin’?” he said.

“Getting a Diet Coke,” said Deirdre. “Do you want a beer?”

“I’ve got one working here.”

She stood holding her glass of Diet Coke, leaning back against the counter, and she sighed.

“I really hate her,” she said.

“She’s -- doing what she thinks is right,” said Buddy.

“Right for her.”

“Y’know, Deirdre, I’m -- no great prize either.”

“No one said you were.”

True.

“I mean, you know,” he went on, “your mom just -- wants to -- love, and, uh, be loved.”

“Oh, please, do you write dialogue like that for your movies?”

“I -- try not to.”

“So I guess I have to move in with them, right?” Buddy didn’t say anything. “She wants me to meet Stephen tomorrow night.” She looked at Buddy, but he couldn’t think of anything to say to this either. “And, Uncle Bud, Cordelia is his fucking daughter?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Liz told me you were in bed with her.” What could Buddy say? The I didn’t fuck her quibble was not going to work here. “That is so -- weird,” said Deirdre. “I mean, she’s nice and all, but, dude --”

And now Deirdre was at a loss for words.

“It -- wasn’t a planned-out thing,” weaseled Buddy, and then, fuck it, bring out the quibble -- “And besides, we didn’t -- we’re not --”

“What?”

No, he couldn’t say it, and it didn’t really matter because even if they hadn’t he had wanted to, and he would have if Philip and Liz hadn’t come home, or at least he would have if she had found a condom, unless she changed her mind, but --

“Is everything okay, Deirdre?”

This was Liz, in the kitchen doorway.

“Liz,” said Deirdre, “did you know that Cordelia is the Ancient Mariner’s daughter?”

“The whose daughter?”

“The Ancient Mariner. My mom’s boyfriend.”

“The --”

“It’s Uncle Buddy’s nickname for him.”

“Oh. And why is he called the Ancient Mariner?”

“Because he’s fucking gay, that’s why.”

“And -- Cordelia is his daughter?”

“Yeah. Isn’t that funny?”

Followed by a dramatic pause and then:

“Oh my fucking God,” said Liz. “Dad -- what are you doing?”

“We -- we just had dinner,” said Buddy. “She wanted to talk. About her father.”

“Is he really gay?”

“Not that I know of.”

“But -- wait -- you and Cordelia were having more than dinner, Dad.”

“Well, this was a couple of nights ago --”

“Oh, okay, a couple of nights ago. But what about today?”

Buddy finished his glass of beer and went to the refrigerator.

“This is too weird,” said Liz. “I thought I was fucked-up.”

“Oh, who cares?” said Deirdre.

Buddy took out another Anchor Steam, opened it, poured it into his glass, too quickly, and the head foamed over. He put the glass on the counter top. Fuck it.

“Oh, Dad,” said Liz, and she went to the sink for a sponge.

Philip was in the doorway. The movie was still playing behind him.

“What’s up, family meeting?”

Liz picked up Buddy’s beer glass and sponged the counter-top under it, and even gave the beer-glass a little wipe.

“Cordelia is this Ancient Mariner’s daughter,” said Liz.

“Oh,” said Philip, after a moment. “That’s strange. That’s really -- weird.”

“Here’s your beer, Dad,” said Liz.

“Thanks,” said Buddy.

Liz tore some paper towels off of the roll, dropped them onto the floor where the beer had overflowed, and with her bare foot she rubbed the towels around.

“Let’s just watch the movie,” said Deirdre.

“So you got this from Joan,” said Liz.

“Yeah,” said Deirdre, sounding bored.

“What else did Joan say?” said Liz.

Now Philip was going past her to the fridge.

“She wants me to move in with her. And the Mariner.”

“Oh. And do you want to?”

“No, of course I don’t want to. I don’t want to move down to Venice and live with some flaming gaybo I don’t even know.”

Philip got out an Anchor and popped it open.

“Well, you know Cordelia,” he said.

“Oh, yeah, great. Look, let’s just go in and watch the movie, okay? I can’t think about this now. I’m supposed to see my mom tomorrow. Maybe I can talk her out of it. Okay, whatever. I want to watch the movie. Come on, Uncle Buddy, I’m not mad at you. Let’s watch the movie.”

“Okay,” said Buddy.

So they went in. Marilyn was just starting in on “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. They watched the movie.

(Continued here, if only because of ironclad contractual obligations.)

(Please refer to the right hand column of this page for an up-to-the-minute list of links to all other published chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™, currently “in development” at American International Pictures.)

7 comments:

kathleenmaher said...

“Oh, who cares?” said Deirdre.

I don't know who Deirdre's father is, but it's not unheard-of for a really smart girl with a silly or shallow mother to figure out herself and pretty much everyone else while she's still a teenager.

It'll be really sad for Deirdre, living with her mother (and the Ancient Mariner.) But sad times like that don't last forever and she's more resourceful than most.

Dan Leo said...

Yeah, who knows...This is a big upheaval in a 15-year-old's life. The usual deal, the parents doing what they want to do, the kids paying the price.

Goodtime Samaritan said...

Yay! movie night at Buddy's house!

dianne said...

“I mean, you know,” he went on, “your mom just -- wants to -- love, and, uh, be loved.”

“Oh, please, do you write dialogue like that for your movies?”

“I -- try not to.”


So true. In those situations, we talk just like that. Language is sometimes inadequate.

Dan Leo said...

I know what you mean, Di. Writing for me is a constant battle with the inadequacy of words.

Manny said...

Hilarious!

Dan Leo said...

Glad you dug it, Manny!

The joys of family life...