Tuesday, February 9, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 36: two calls

Scene: Hollywood, California, a Mission/Tudor house on North Ivar Avenue, the house where C-List auteur Buddy Best lives with his two grown children and his teenage stepdaughter...

(Click here to go to our previous episode, or go here to return to the first chapter of Uncle Buddy’s House©. “Kinda sorta like ‘The Waltons Go to Tinseltown’.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, in The Daily Racing Form.)

Two nights later, Sunday night, Buddy and Philip were sitting at the kitchen table looking over Philip’s transformation of Return to Death Island Part III into (Presently Untitled) Part II when Buddy’s cellphone rang in his pocket. He took it out, it was some unknown number.

“Hello.”

“Hi,” she said.

“Oh, hi, wait a minute.”

Buddy glanced at Philip, got up, went to the back door, opened it, went out, and shut the door behind him.

“Hi,” he said. “I’m back.”

“Is this a bad time?”

“No, not at all. How’s it going?”

“Okay I guess. I spent the weekend getting fitted for costumes and getting my hair styled and make-up tested. I like the outfits because you can’t see how fat my ass is.”

“Your ass isn’t fat.”

“Yes it is, but I’m wearing these like Victorian dresses, so it’s okay, but did you know I have a nude scene?”

“How would I know that?”

“Oh, I guess you wouldn’t.”

“Can’t wait till this movie comes out.”

“Fuck you! I don’t want the whole world looking at my fat ass.”

“You had a nude scene in that other movie, you looked great.”

“Buddy, I was thin then. I weighed like fifteen pounds less than I do now because I was living in New York and working at Barnes & Noble and all I could afford to eat was toast and cereal and salads. Well, I would get cookies and croissants at the coffee shop sometimes, but it was a good diet, really.”

“Yeah. So -- you gonna do the scene?”

“I told Joe I would do it but only if I’m lying on my back so my ass doesn’t show and so my breasts won’t sag so much.”

“Your breasts don’t sag.”

“I told him I didn’t care -- wait, you don’t think my breasts sag?”

“No.”

“Really?”

“Not that I noticed.”

“Wait.”

Buddy waited. He noticed a hazy line of whiteness on the dark ground bordering the bougainvillea hedge. He walked over, and a row of tiny white flowers came into focus. This was new.

“Buddy, are you still there?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, I’m looking in the mirror with my top off, and my boobs sag.”

“Is anyone else there?”

“No, stupid, I’m in my hotel room.”

“Ah. What else are you wearing?”

“Buddy!”

“Sorry.”

“Wait.”

“What?”

“I’m looking from the side.”

“How’s it look?”

“They droop.”

“I think they look great.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I don’t. I’m gonna have to starve myself. And I’m going to insist we do the scene with me lying on my back. And don’t patronize me.”

“Okay.”

“Okay then.”

“So -- did Joe try to hit on you?”

“Y’know, I think he kind of wanted to but he was too tired because he was running around like a maniac all yesterday and today because we start shooting tomorrow.”

“Ah, good.”

“Buddy.”

“Yeah.”

“Should I call my father?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Well, before I went to Stephanie’s the other night I told him I never wanted to see or talk to him again.”

“Ah.”

“I hate him. After the things he said the other day I just really hate him.”

“Oh. Well --”

“Don’t defend him.”

“Okay.”

“But he is my father.”

“That’s true.”

“He doesn’t even know where I am.”

“So he doesn’t know about the movie?”

“No. But I’m thinking maybe I should call him just to let him know where I’m staying and all. And while I’m at it I can tell him what a jerk he is.”

“Well, you should probably call him. I’m sure he wants to know where you are at least. And chances are he feels guilty.”

“Oh, he’s great at feeling guilty.”

Buddy didn’t say anything. Talking about the Mariner was about the last thing he felt like doing.

“But I guess you don’t want to talk about him,” she said.

“I don’t mind,” he said. “What are you doing? You sound funny.”

“What’s it sound like I’m doing?”

“I’m not sure.”

“I was taking my pants off with the phone stuck in my neck.”

“Ah, are they off now?”

“Yes, pervert.”

“Ah. Now what are you doing?”

“Well, I’m going to go to bed now because they’re picking me up at like four in the morning to drive me to the location. First day of shooting tomorrow.”

“Break a leg.”

“Thanks.”

“Are you in bed now?”

“Yeah. D’you want to, um, talk for a while?”

“I better not. I’m in the middle of working on a screenplay rewrite with Philip.”

“Oh. Okay, tell him I say hi.”

“I will. Good night.”

“Good night.”

He went back inside.

“Don’t tell me,” said Philip.

“Okay, I won’t.”

“I don’t know how you do it, Dad.”

“Let’s get back to the script.”


****


He didn’t hear from her again until the following Saturday, around eleven a.m.

“Hi, Buddy?”

“Hi.”

“It’s me.”

“I know it’s you.”

This full and busy week had gone by and now it was like it hadn’t happened.

“Can you hear me okay?”

“Clear as a bell.”

“I got a cellphone. I’ve joined the 21st Century.”

“Great. What are you doing?”

“Oh my God I’m still in bed. I ache all over. All I did yesterday was run up this stupid hill over and over again, supposedly being chased by this vampire. And then I had to fight the vampire. Oh, and wearing this Victorian dress.”

“You’re off today though, huh?”

“Yeah, today and tomorrow. What are you doing?”

“Well, I had to get up earlier but now I’m back in bed myself. I thought I’d try to take a nap.”

“Oh, do you want me to get off so you can sleep?”

“No.”

“You’re sure.”

“Absolutely sure

“Why’d you have to get up early on a Saturday?”

“I had to drive Deirdre down to your father’s place. We worked it out where she goes there on the weekends.”

“Ah. That’s good. I guess.”

“She didn’t want to go there at all, but, well, we sort of made a deal with Joan and your dad.”

She was quiet.

“Did you ever call your dad?” said Buddy.

“I called a few days ago at nine-oh-five in the morning because he always goes down to the beach exactly at nine to do his tai chi exercises.”

“Ah.”

“I didn’t want to talk to him, but I wanted to leave a message.”

“And what did you say?”

“Just that I would call him when I wasn’t so angry with him. But I didn’t tell him where I was or leave him a phone number. Has he talked to you?”

“Oh no. He seems to hide when I drop Deirdre off and pick her up.”

Another one of her long pauses happened here, and Buddy let it happen. Then --

“Look,” she said, “I don’t want to talk about him.”

“Fine with me.”

And she was quiet again.

“So,” said Buddy, “did you do your famous nude scene yet?”

“No. We’re still shooting out on location. We’re supposed to do that in a couple weeks back here in Vancouver. If I do it.”

“Ah, go ahead. Give the world a thrill.”

“Shut up.”

“Okay.”

“So,” she said, “I guess you’re really tired if you went back to bed.”

“Yeah, it’s been a long week, and I’m supposed to go into the office again later today.”

“Buddy --”

“Yeah.”

“I’m gonna suggest something, and you can say no if you want to.”

“Okay.”

“’Cause you probably don’t want to.”

“Uh-huh. And what would that be?”

“Look, I could catch a flight back to L.A. and be there tonight.”

“And?”

“And we could hang out, jerk. I still owe you a dinner. I could stay at Stephanie’s, or -- fuck it, I could rent a hotel room even --”

“I don’t know.”

“What?”

“Uh, I don’t know if it’s such a great idea.”

Pause.

“You don’t want to see me?”

Pause.

“I do want to see you. But I don’t know if it’s a good idea.”

“We could just have dinner.”

“Well, we could, but --”

“But what?”

“I don’t know.”

Neither of them said anything, and after a minute he looked at his phone’s screen and saw that they had gotten disconnected. No they hadn’t, she had hung up. The little weirdo. He folded up the phone and he lay there, saying fuck, fuck and fuck, and touching himself.

Then his phone rang again.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “That was really rude of me. And immature. No wonder you don’t --”

“Wait, Cordelia --”

“What?”

“Listen, I’d love to see you, but here’s the thing. I told your old man I wouldn’t see you any more.”

She paused for one second, then --

“Who cares about him? He’s already made my life miserable a million times --”

“I’m sure he has, but I made a deal with him. I told him that if he would get Joan to allow Deirdre to stay here then I wouldn’t see you any more.”

“Oh. And this was his idea?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, I asked for his help, because Deirdre didn’t want to go there, and I figured he didn’t really give a shit, and then he pulled that one on me. So I said okay.”

“Oh my God I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I hate him.”

“Yeah, well, anyway --”

“What?”

“Well, look, Cordelia, I like you, but really, you and me, it’s --”

“How many times do I have to tell you that I’m not looking for a boyfriend? Especially some old fart boyfriend? I just thought it’d be nice to see you, that’s all. But you automatically think it’s about sex. You big jerk.”

“Ah, our first argument.”

Very short pause, then --

“I guess it is about sex, isn’t it,” she said.

“Well, let me put it this way, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if you were a boy.”

“No.”

He could hear her breathing, and, already it was like a habit, he started touching himself again.

“I could come down anyway,” she said. “He doesn’t have to know about it.”

“Look, baby, I’m not going to skulk around and hide. Not from that asshole.”

“Buddy!”

“What?”

“Fly up here! Come to Vancouver!”

“Whoa, wait a minute.”

“Why not? You’re rich.”

“Okay, first of all, I’m not rich --”

“You can afford it.”

“Okay, I can afford it, but -- all right, for one thing I’m supposed to do some work this afternoon, and then I have to pick up Deirdre and bring her back tonight, and then take her back to your dad’s tomorrow, and --”

“Get Philip to do it, or Liz. Or come to think of it, why can’t Joan do it?”

Now Buddy paused. Then --

“Look, Cordelia, I gave my word.”

“Oh. Right. To my father.”

“Yeah.”

She sighed.

“Well,” she said, “I’ve got my cellphone now. We can talk on the phone, right?”

“Sure.”

“Okay. You should program my number.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that.”

“Okay,” she said. “Well,‘bye.”

“’Bye.”

And then she was gone.


(Continued here, and until there's not a dry eye in the house, and then one more step beyond.)

(Kindly go to the right hand column of this page to find what very well might be an up-to-date listing of links to all other published episodes of Uncle Buddy’s House™, soon to be a major motion picture starring Burt Lancaster and Barbara Stanwyck; directed by Anatole Litvak. A Hal Wallis Production from Paramount Pictures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart.)

5 comments:

dianne said...

Aha. So now we know. That Mariner is an evil bastard. Hope he comes to a really sticky end.

Gayle Force said...

Never trust anyone who does tai chi.

Dan Leo said...

If the mariner was really cool he'd do qi gong

kathleenmaher said...

Buddy's treats Cordelia as if she's kind of ho-hum, when a girl like her ain't gonna come around again in his lifetime. The song's a little bawdy, but it applies. A woman asks Archie Shepp, "Blase, ain't cha big daddy?" (among other things.)

Dan Leo said...

Kathleen, I think that, for Buddy, Cordelia is the light that will never go out...