Tuesday, March 9, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 40: two daughters

Let us return to a certain somewhat run-down Mission/Tudor house (built in 1931 for the popular cinematic comedian Joe E. Brown), in Hollywood, California, on North Ivar Avenue, in that no longer glamorous stretch between Yucca and Hollywood Boulevard, a house belonging to one Mr. Buddy Best...

(Click here to go to our previous chapter; the curious may go here to return to the beginning of Uncle Buddy’s House©, an American International Production in association with Larry Winchester Productions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Uneeda Cracker Corporation.)


The next day, Sunday, after he got back from dropping Deirdre off at the Mariner’s, and after Liz had cleared away the breakfast stuff, Buddy and Philip sat down at the kitchen table to make the supposedly final corrections on what they were lamely calling Nikki Palmer II.

A couple of hours later Buddy said, “Fuck it, that’s enough. Print it up and I’ll run it by Harvey, and Iggy, but I think we got a pretty good script here.”

“Cool. So what’s my next job?”

“Well -- I’ve been thinking about that, and I talked it over with Harvey, and here’s the deal. Y’know, ever since the studio gave us more money to finish up this first Nikki Palmer thing it’s all turning into a big fucking deal --”

“Uh-huh.”

“Which is cool, definitely, but it’s a fuckload more work, and meanwhile we’re locked into shooting the sequel this August. It’s just like, whoa, a lot of fucking work for Uncle Buddy, y’know?”

“Dig.”

“Right, so --”

“So you wanta hire me as like a producer?”

“Uh, no, not exactly.”

“Or like associate producer?”

“No, I was thinking more like production assistant.”

“Oh.”

“Let’s call it assistant to the producer.”

“Uh-huh.”

“One of the producers, anyway. Me, namely.”

“Okay.”

“It’s a chance to learn movies.”

“Okay. Sure.”

“Think of it as film school except instead of you paying tuition, we pay you.”

“Cool.”

“The money won’t be great, though.”

“Dad, do you know what I was making at my straight job? Which I hated?”

“No idea.”

“Not too much. So, like when do I start.”

“We’ll put you on the payroll starting this week.”

“Cool.”

“This is total nepotism, so don’t embarrass me or I’ll fire your ass.”

“Gotcha.”

“Oh, and by the way, see if you can come up with a good sequel title, you know, maybe something more original than Nikki Palmer II. ”

Deep Inside Nikki Palmer?”

“Keep trying.”

“Okay. Hey, Dad, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Shoot.”

“Am I like a total pussy if I just give the fucking house to Cynthia?”

“Why do you want to do that, Phil?”

“Because I just want her out of my hair, Dad. Out of my life.”

“Did you call the lawyer yet?”

“No. I’ve been putting it off.”

Buddy had helped Philip buy a little house in Silverlake when Philip had gotten married. Helped? He had given him the down-payment and paid all the fees.

“Tell you what, Phil: talk to the lawyer first. Talk it over with him, see what your options are. If you still want to give her the house, go ahead.”

“At least I won’t have to worry about keeping up the mortgage any more.”

“You got a point there, kid.”

Buddy pushed his chair back and got up.

“Where ya goin’, Dad?”

“Recording studio. We got half the L.A. Philharmonic in there on overtime. You wanta come?”

“Rock out.”

The phone rang. Would it be her? All hungover and cute? But she’d been calling his cellphone, just as he’d asked her to. Still -- but no, he had to get to the studio --

“Want me to get it, Dad?”

“No, let the machine get it.”

He stood there near the kitchen entrance listening for the answering machine in the living room.

Hi, Buddy, this is Shakira. Are you there?

“Philip,” said Buddy, “you wanta talk to your mom? I really gotta get to the studio.”

“Shit, I’d rather go to the studio.”

Liz opened the back door, wearing her gardening gloves, Madge/Shakira on the machine asking if anyone was there at all, anyone, and Liz said, “Isn’t anyone going to pick that up?”

“Hey, Liz,” said Buddy, “do me a favor, will ya?”

She gave him a look.

Philip?” said Madge’s voice, “Liz? What about you, Deirdre? Is anyone home?

Liz rolled her eyes but she picked up the wall phone.

“Mom. Mom. Mom, it’s me. It’s me, Mom --”

Buddy and Philip got the hell out of there.

****

That week it became apparent that they needed some of the Ancient Mariner’s lines to be re-recorded. Iggy had suggested calling in another actor to do the ADR, because: A, the Mariner was a pain in the ass; B, most of the Mariner’s lines that had to be redone had to be redone not because of technical problems but because the Mariner had fucked up the lines in the first place; and C, he would probably continue to fuck the lines up in the dubbing. But Buddy said no, as much as the Mariner sucked, it was always better to get the original actor to dub his own lines, so they scheduled him for Thursday afternoon. Buddy had intended to leave the recording studio before the Mariner arrived but there was some fucking delay or other and the Mariner was just coming into the anteroom as Buddy was leaving.

“Oh, Buddy, so good to see you.”

He held out his claw and Buddy took it, as briefly as he could.

“Hi, Stephen.”

“So, how are you?”

“Okay. Very busy, you know. Thanks by the way, for coming in and doing this. I’ll see you get a check right away.”

“Oh, I don’t worry about that,” said the Mariner. “So you’re -- fine?”

“Yeah, sure, how’re you? And Joan?”

“Good. Good. Really good.”

And it occurred to Buddy that he still hadn’t talked to Joan about getting a divorce. And why? Well, because he really didn’t want to talk to her. Or to this nitwit --

“I think I know what you’re thinking, Buddy.”

“What?”

“What you’re thinking.”

Three or four responses came to Buddy’s mind but he vocalized none of them.

“We should talk,” said the Mariner.

“Talk.”

“Yes.” Did he mean about the divorce? “But not here of course,” said the Mariner.

“Uh, no --”

“This is not the place.”

“True. Besides, we’ve got a looping session booked for you --”

“Yes. Quite. Tell you what. Why don’t you pop in this Saturday when you drop Deirdre off?”

“Well -- I’ll have to check my calendar -- I’ve been working seven days a week on this post-production shit, but --”

“I could make you lunch. Do you care for pompano? I have a recipe for pompano with pomegranate coulis and everyone who’s ever had it says it’s the best fish they’ve ever tasted. Everyone says so.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I get the pompano glistening fresh from the docks. I have some fishermen friends you see.”

“Ah.”

“Wonderful chaps.”

“Well, look, Stephen, I can’t really be sure about lunch, but if Joan wants to call me --”

“If you can’t make it for lunch perhaps we could do dinner. Or Sunday brunch perhaps. Because I really want you to try my pompano. It is sublime.”

“I’m sure it is.”

“I must give you my recipe. What I do is I sear the fish in clarified butter, and it must be clarified, then -- after I have seared both sides -- I quench the fish in white wine, or perhaps I’ll use sherry or even dry vermouth -- or even a healthy dash of Lillet --”

“Well, look, Stephen, maybe you could just write it down for me some time --”

“Yes, of course.”

And Buddy tried to go past, but --

“Oh,” said the Mariner, “I heard from Cordelia last night.”

“Oh? Good.”

“You know, Buddy, I just want you to know that there are no hard feelings on my part. I know these things happen. And she is an attractive girl.”

“Right. Well, tell her I say hi.”

“I will.”

And Buddy tried to get away again but the fucker clamped his talons on Buddy’s arm.

“Buddy, I want to thank you. For her.”

“For what?”

“For getting her that part, of course.”

“She told you that?”

“Not in so many words; she told me you merely helped her get the audition --”

“And that’s all I did.”

The Mariner smiled, faux-wisely.

“Oh, I’m sure that’s all you did.”

“But I’m telling you --”

Buddy tried to pull his arm away but the Mariner held onto it.

“You’re a good man, Buddy Best. And I want to say -- that agreement we made over the phone, concerning Cordelia, and Deirdre --”

“The famous Two Daughters Agreement.”

“Yes. I want to say that, well, I admit, I was angry, I was hurt, hurt as only a father can be hurt -- but now -- well, at the proper time we will talk about the whole business. Man to man.”

Iggy came out of the recording studio and looked at Buddy and the Mariner.

“That’s okay, Stephen. We don’t have to talk about it, and I’m not going to, uh, see her.”

Buddy sought and failed again to free his arm from the Mariner’s grappling-hook.

“But -- she is -- oh, this is so difficult for me, because she is my daughter, but besides her obvious physical charms, even if she is a bit oh shall we say rondelette --”

Now Heather came out of the studio.

“What?” said Buddy.

Rondelette. Oh, what’s the word in English? Chubby. Yes. But in a healthy way.”

“Christ, I hope you don’t say that to her.”

“Well, I do enjoin her to try to keep a fit figure. An actress’s body is her primary instrument, you know.”

“Uh huh.”

The recording engineer came out of the studio and joined Iggy and Heather.

“But, as I say, besides her fleshly charms -- and perhaps you are a man who appreciates a bit of -- embonpont -- she has also a certain, oh, how shall I put it --”

Je ne sais quoi?”

“Yes, exactly. A certain je ne sais quoi.”

“Right, well --”

Once again Buddy tried to wrest his arm free, but the Mariner’s death-grip held.

“We really should have a good talk, just you and me, a nice stroll along the beach.”

“What about Joan?”

“What about Joan?” said the Mariner, all innocence.

“How’s she going to take you and me chatting on the beach?”

The Mariner chuckled.

“Oh, leave Joan to me.”

Gladly, thought Buddy. And you to her.

Iggy and Heather and the engineer had all lit up cigarettes.

“Okay, well, look, Stephen, I really gotta run, and I think you’ve got some ADR work to do.”

“Yes, quite.” Finally he let loose his hold on Buddy’s tingling arm. “So, we’ll keep it open about lunch Saturday?”

“Right, keep it open.”

Buddy shook out his arm, getting the bloodflow back before gangrene could set in.

“Perhaps we can make a day of it,” said the Mariner. “Play some frisbee.”

“Well, we’ll see, Stephen.”

“Because we really should talk,” said the Mariner. And then, gently, “About Cordelia.”

“But I already told you, you have nothing to worry about. I’m not going to have anything to do with Cordelia.”

“But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Buddy didn’t say anything.

“We’ll talk.”

Buddy didn’t say a thing out loud.

Au revoir, Buddy.”

“Okay. Later.”

(Continued here, although Buddy may wish otherwise.)

(Kindly go to the right-hand column of this page to find a scrupulously up-to-date listing of links to all other published episodes of Uncle Buddy’s House™, not a pretty story but one we insist on telling anyway.

7 comments:

dianne said...

Love it!

Dan Leo said...

As Jeeves said to Bertie Wooster, "I endeavour to give satisfaction."

kathleenmaher said...

The image of the Mariner and Buddy playing frisbee just doesn't quit.

Goodtime Samaritan said...

The mariner is my hero.

Dan Leo said...

The image of Buddy and the Mariner playing frisbee on the beach is indeed a horrifying one.

And, yes, I too confess to a fondness for the Ancient Mariner, God help me.

Manny said...

Let's not forget Philip. You have a fine sense for a young man's idiocy.

Dan Leo said...

That's 'cause I'm young at heart, Manny.