Monday, April 19, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 46: so crazy

No one can say that our hero, that cinematic schlockmeister Buddy Best, didn’t give it the old school try. He agreed to stop by for lunch at the Venice beach house of his nemesis the Ancient Mariner. He tried, goddammit he tried.

Let us rejoin Buddy in the lavatory of the Mariner’s hearty raw-wood house, where Buddy has just pressed Cordelia’s speed-dial number on his cellphone...

(Go here to review our previous episode or, if you must, click here to return to Chapter One of Uncle Buddy’s House©. “Another wild white-knuckle ride from the author of Waking Up Dead, Dancing in the Gutter, and Goad Not the Madman.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, in Man’s Life.)


“Hi," she said. "Are you still there?”

“Yeah. I’m in the bathroom. I can’t take it any more. He’s insane.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m in this coffee shop and I’m watching the rain.”

“Nice. It’s raining here too. Where are you exactly?”

“In a Starbucks.”

“No, I mean, you’re in Vancouver, you’re not on location?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Where are you staying?”

“The Hotel Vancouver?”

“Wow, fancy.”

“Yeah. So, did he tell you it’s okay to have intercourse with me?”

“Yeah, pretty much. He hasn’t worked it around to the other part of the deal yet though.”

“Where you give him a big part in your next movie.”

“Oh, at least that.”

“Are you going to?”

“I think I’m just going to do humanity a favor and break his fucking neck.”

“Buddy, that’s my father.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay, I wasn’t serious. I wouldn’t want you to go to jail though.”

“Right. Me neither. So what are you doing?”

“Just sitting here. I have a book but I’m listening to my Discman.”

“What are you listening to?”

“Mazzy Star. Do you know them?”

“I don’t think so,” said Buddy. Then he found himself saying, “Listen, how about if I fly up.”

“Today?”

“Yeah. Now. Next plane.”

“But -- what about your lunch with my dad?”

“Fuck him, I’ll make some excuse.”

“He won’t be very happy about that.”

“Yeah, tough. What do you say? Want me to come up?”

“Well -- maybe --”

“Did you have plans?”

“Well, nothing special.”

“So?”

“It’s just -- I was supposed to meet some of the gang tonight at this place where they have pool tables --”

“Oh. The A.D.?”

“First-A.D., yeah, he said he’d be there.”

“Okay,” said Buddy. “Well, look, never mind. It was just an impulse. I -- you know, maybe some other -- um --”

“Do you want to come up just so you can have sex with me?”

“Farthest thing from my mind,” said Buddy.

“Very funny,” she said.

“In fact I was going to ask you to stop pawing me every time you see me.”

She didn’t laugh. Neither did he. He thought he could hear her breathing. Then:

“Can I call you back?” she said.

“You mean like soon, or later?”

“Soon. Stay in the bathroom.”

“Okay.”

She disconnected, and he stood there for a bit. Then he realized he really did have to pee, so he did that, then washed and dried his hands. There were some magazines on the window shelf. He picked the top one up, an old New Yorker. He sat on the toilet seat and started to read a “Talk of the Town” piece about New York City’s oldest doorman. He hadn’t quite finished when she called back.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey.”

“Did you have another call?”

“No, I just wanted to think.”

“Ah. So?”

“But you would like to have sex with me.”

“Of course. Who wouldn’t?”

“Well, you can come up, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have sex with you. Okay?”

“Well, forget about it then.”

“Buddy --”

“I was just kidding.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Well, okay. When are you coming?”

“I don’t know, soon as I can.”

“Well, okay then.”

“So I’ll call you back when I know my flight, okay?”

“Okay,” she said.

“Okay.”

”’Bye,” she said.

“’Bye.”

He sat there, thinking a lot of things, notably What the fuck am I doing? And then after two minutes he called Marlene’s number.

“Hi, Marlene.”

“Hi, Buddy. What’s up?”

“Listen, Marlene, I need a real favor from you. I’ll make it up to you.”

“What?”

“I want you to get me on the next flight to Vancouver and then call me back on my cell. Put it on the Amex.”

“Vancouver?”

“Yeah. I’d do it, I mean I know you think I don’t know how, but I’m supposed to be having lunch with Joan and her boyfriend and Deirdre now and I don’t have time and I really want to get on the next possible plane. I’m in Venice so it shouldn’t take me too long to --”

“What’s the big emergency?”

“Um, it’s not an emergency, I just want to go to Vancouver.”

“Why?”

“Um -- uh --”

“You want to go see that girl, don’t you?” Pause. “That girl who’s the daughter of Joan’s boyfriend? Buddy, do you know how twisted that is on how many levels?” Pause. “Buddy, are you going insane? There are a couple of billion chicks on this planet, why are you flying up to Vancouver to see this one?” Pause. “Are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m still here. But, Marlene, if you don’t mind my asking, how do you know all about -- all this -- I mean, uh, this girl -- Vancouver --”

“Marjorie Goldsmith told Debbie and Debbie told Heather and Heather told me.”

“Ah. Okay.”

“It’s raining hard, you know. There might not even be any flights. They could all be fucking grounded.”

“Yeah.”

Pause.

“All right, Buddy, I’ll see what I can do and I’ll call you back.”

“Thanks, Marlene. I owe you.”

“Fuck you, Buddy.”

Buddy folded up the phone and left the bathroom.

****

He found his way back to the cuisine, where the Mariner was merrily chopping vegetables.

“Ah, Buddy, everything come out all right?”

“Yep.”

“I was afraid you’d fallen in.”

“Heh-heh. Anything I can do?”

“Yes, I think it’s high time we opened that Sancerre, don’t you?”

“Well --”

“Come, come -- I refuse to cook without a glass of wine to hand. It’s in the fridge, and you’ll find a corkscrew in that drawer there.”

The Mariner blathered on while Buddy found the wine and opened it and found some glasses and poured the wine.

“Ah, the pause that refreshes.” The Mariner stopped what he was doing and went through his tasting thing again. “Hmm.”

Buddy tasted his wine too.

“What do you think?” said the Mariner.

“It’s good, Stephen.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah.”

The Mariner swirled and nosed, and Joan walked into the room. Buddy was glad to see her, more glad to see her than he had been in years.

“How you guys making out?”

She had another cigarette in her hand.

“Splendid,” said the Mariner. “Did you learn your lines?”

“For what, the Kevlar industrial?”

“Yes.”

“Stephen, I’ve got like six fucking lines, I’ll study them while they’re setting up the lights.”

The Mariner produced a stage chuckle.

“Yes, I suppose it’s not exactly Lady Macbeth.”

“Do you need any help in here?”

“Not a thing. Buddy and I have matters well under control. Why don’t you set the table, dear? Just cutlery and napkins. I’ll plate the food in here. And get yourself a wineglass. And one for Deirdre.”

“She’s not having any wine.”

“Oh, just a half glass. Mixed with a little Perrier. Why in France young people drink wine at the age of --”

“We’re not in France. She can have Diet Coke or water.”

“Very well. You’re the mother.”

“Okay then.”

She got some stuff from drawers and went into the other room.

“Well,” said the Mariner, “we’re almost ready to go, we just have to wait till the rice is cooked. By the way, another one of my secrets for this dish, I cook the rice in homemade fish stock. You see I get fish heads from my fishermen friends and what I do is --”

Buddy’s cellphone rang and he took it out of his jacket pocket.

“Oh, shit, Stephen, I think this is work-related. Excuse me.”

“Oh, go right ahead --”

Buddy went into the den and closed the door.

“Hi, Marlene,” he said, quietly.

“Hi, Buddy. Okay, I got you on a 3:45 flight to Vancouver. Business class. Gets in there at 6:29, unless there’s a weather delay, but right now it’s still on schedule.”

“Great. Thank you, Marlene.”

“It’s one way ‘cause you didn’t say when you’d be coming back.”

“Right. Thank you.”

“I’m sorry I said fuck you to you, Buddy.”

“I don’t blame you.”

She gave him the information he needed, and he thanked her again and closed up the phone. He stood there for a moment, then he opened the phone again and made a call to Philip, keeping it quiet and as short as possible. Then he got his jacket, put it on, and went back into the kitchen.

“Stephen, I’m sorry, something’s come up with work.”

“What?”

“Look, thanks for the drinks, but I have to go. It’s an emergency.”

“But -- the pompano --”

“I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you.”

“But -- I made all this, all this --”

“Hey, one thing I wanted to say to you, before I go, I was gonna bring it up over lunch until this emergency came up, but we’re doing a sequel to Triggerwoman II in August, except it’s not called Triggerwoman II any more, I don’t know if anyone told you, it’s called Nikki Palmer now, and anyway, we’re doing the sequel in August, and I know your character got killed off, but there’s probably a good part for you in the sequel. I mean if you want it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, we’ll talk.”

Joan came into the kitchen.

“What’s going on?”

“Buddy has to go, dear. It’s a work emergency.”

“What?”

“But guess what?” said the Mariner. “Buddy says there might be a part for me in the sequel to Triggerwoman II, except it’s not called Triggerwoman II any more.”

“What?”

“Yeah,” said Buddy, “And, Joan, if you want that woman detective part again, well, we’d like to keep the continuity --”

“Really?”

“Yeah. We’ll talk. But look, this mess came up at the recording studio. I have to run. I’m really sorry.”

“Well -- will you be back to get Deirdre?”

“I called Philip and he said he would pick her up.”

“Well, okay --”

“Okay,” said Buddy, “I’ll just run and say goodbye to her. Where is she?”

“She’s -- go through the main room and then back, the first door on the right.”



Buddy knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

It was a girl’s room. Cordelia’s room. Deirdre was on the bed, lying back on a lot of pillows, a paperback of Camus’ The Stranger open on her lap and the fat cat beside her.

“Hey,” said Buddy, “look, I’m not staying for lunch after all. Something came up.”

“What came up?”

“Um -- uh --”

“Just tell me the truth, Uncle Bud: A, it’s probably easier, and B, you know I’ll find out anyway.”

“I’ve decided to run up to Canada and see Cordelia.”

She sat up.

“No way.”

“Way.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Yeah, well.”

“You’re crazy but I’m impressed. Does she know you’re coming?”

“Yeah, I was just talking to her in the bathroom. I mean on my cellphone in the bathroom.”

“You’re a weirdo.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Are they gonna start all acting insane on my ass now?”

“I don’t think so. I promised them both parts in my next movie.”

“You are so crazy.”

“Yeah.”

She sat back.

“Okay.”

“Philip will pick you up. Or Liz maybe.”

“Cool.”

“Okay.”

He came around and kissed her on the head.

“Sorry for abandoning you.”

“I can deal. Have a good time, Uncle Buddy.”

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

“All right. Is lunch almost ready?”

“I think so.”

“Good. ‘Bye.”

She opened up her book again and Buddy went out, closing the door behind him. He went back into the main room. The Mariner and Joan were still in the kitchen, he could hear them murmuring. He supposed he had to go in there and say goodbye and apologize again. And he did that, as quickly as he could.


(Don't worry, continued here.)

(Please refer to the right-hand column of this page to find an up-to-date listing of links to all other published chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™. Guests accommodated at the lovely Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, directly across the boulevard from Grauman's Chinese Theatre.)

7 comments:

kathleenmaher said...

Such wonderful dialogue, as always here, but it's amazing how much the characters reveal in a few words.

Dan Leo said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Sometimes people say a lot with the words that they don't say...

Manny said...

This is a great episode.

Dan Leo said...

Glad you dug it, Manny!

Goodtime Samaritan said...

Uh oh, midlife crisis fever!

Bald Samson said...

Question: is Buddy bringing his Viagra with him to Vancouver?

Dan Leo said...

Heh heh, from what I've heard it might not be a great idea to pop that Viagra pill unless you're absolutely sure you'll have some use for it...