According to a good many modern authors, “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” changed how dialog drives story. Even new guys like David Levine and old hats like Nelson Demille. So if you can do this bit at 65% narrative, without travelogue and excessive tags, and keep the people personal I’d like to see it. Otherwise, save the lengthy bear chased the dog sled over the hill and through the woods for Jack London. My people talk because they can tell their stories better than I can.
Jackson’s old apartment, Long Beach, CA – late summer 1982
“There’s a long story about why I hate musicians, Jackson.”
Kaitlin Everson, the actress responsible for the lawsuits that roared like background noise on cheap tape through almost five months of his life stood on the other side of his small kitchen divider, nervously tapping her fingers on the tile top. She looked good. Dangerous. The perfect, swept up cascade of ringlets over dark waves, sprayed-on yellow capris and a snug, lacy sleeves to her elbows top. He stayed with his back against the counter on the opposite wall of his narrow kitchen, arms folded like a shield. As if it would help if she went full Tasmanian devil.
“I’ve heard some of them. Variations on a theme of the real one, probably. That’s why you’re here, Kait? To tell me a long story?”
“Alix didn’t call you?”
“She said ‘My love, the delightful Kaitlin has telephoned. Speak with her, s’il vous plaît?’ No one living has ignored Alix’s s’il vous plaît. So here you are. We could have gone neutral somewhere. Or was that the point, to stay out of public places?”
“No. I heard about this old apartment of yours. What happens here. How comfortable and real it is. The open windows, the sounds, the sweet monster dog. I heard you put eleven top-shelf L.A. women in here on Saturday mornings all summer and there was no trippy bullshit. I wanted to see it.” She stopped her fingers, took a surprise deep breath for someone usually cooler than a bucket of ice. “I sat with Randi Navarro and Cicily Warren at a Women in Broadcast lunch last week. They showed me their personal bio packs and they were the shit. The real shit. Custom color folders, custom cards, embossed calligraphy, perfect complementary colors, not overdone. Definitely not office supply print shop ready-to-wear. They said massive taste, and they would be the first ones out of any pile. I asked Randi where it came from and she said you were involved and that…That I should contact the French lawyer who untied our two-little-bitches-in-Hollywood knot, and you might let me in on who does their work.”
He got close to “Your little bitch in Hollywood knot” and let it slide. “Any of them could have sent you straight to the source. No one needed to send you to me like I clear who gets access to that talent. It doesn’t matter how you and I feel about each other, the point is that a talented person who has something to offer and could make a difference gets what they need to advance their career.” He turned, put the unopened beer he’d been about to drink back in the fridge. “If I had to be ape shit happy with everyone I worked with I’d be screwed. And so would you and so would everyone else in this town.”
“How do we feel about each other?”
“You carried the movie that made us both temporarily insane, and at long last, some money. You’re way too good looking and too talented and your bitch factor is too high for you to disappear. And you’re too smart not to care about something. So I’m down. Like I said, not that it matters what I think.”
She’d leaned both arms on the divider, he stepped up to the counter attached to the other side, thought for a second.
“Look, Kait, I was a green, dopey, shaggy flatland college boy with a deal that fell in my lap. You gave me that shit on your shoes look the day we met Shannon and I figured okay, fair enough. I’m not actress bait, drop it and get on down the road. I always wonder why girls who bail on me do it, but I get it. It’s happened so much my dude to dude failure excuse is that I’m an acquired taste.” They looked at each other for few, like a lion tamer and a lion, trying to figure out who was which.
“It wasn’t personal, Jax. Musicians were like a bad habit until I started getting real work.” She did that thing he thought was a universal girl move, averting her eyes to look at her fingers absently doodling on his tile-topped divider. “After I got the job on the soap and I put that part of me down, some of those guys did some really stupid, mean shit. I went off on one at the Whiskey one night and it got turned into ‘ex-groupie soap star goes off’ press. With pictures of me looking fucked up and mad as hell screaming about all their lying bullshit. I had to sue them all to stop it.”
“So suing musicians is just how you get through your day?”
She didn’t want to buy it. The humor in his voice, his eyes. “Randi warned me you’d find a way to get around me, no matter what I put up.”
“Randi warns every female that’s about to talk to me.”
“She should. And Cicily told me what you did to that piece of work pussy-bait lover boy of hers. I worked a laundromat-on-acid fabric softener spot with that rat fart when I first started, back in high school.”
“Whoa. No shit? The one where the girl pulls her clothes out of the dryer, a guy dumps his clothes all over to run help ‘cause she’s so cute and her clothes smell so good, everything goes all wiggly and BAM, they’re holding hands in a field somewhere?”
“You saw it?”
“Hell yeah. I can’t believe that was you and Gibson. That’s sad, because a lot of us guys wanted to be the dude in the laundromat. You probably started a whole humongous urban myth about picking up chicks with fabric softener, being way wet-dreamable in that almost see-through dress. In fact, I need to call a couple of people and tell them the ‘Smells like sunshine and happy’ chick filed a lawsuit to keep from going out with me.”
“You’re not supposed to be funny, Jax. Or nice. Or easy for me to be with, or work with. I emptied my humility piggy bank and rehearsed some deep southern fried Scarlett O’Hara damsel in distress for this.” She crossed her arms, grabbed her blouse with both hands in the center of her chest. “Oh puh-leeeeease, Mistuh Jay-uc-son, you just hay-uv tuh help poor little ol’ me.” She let go, relaxed her arms back onto the divider.
“That has to be the smallest humility piggy bank on the planet and the best Scarlett O’Hara I’ve seen since some guys explained cotillions to me when I was sixteen. You’re helped, Kaitlin. The only rule is don’t try to be smarter than the people who will help you. That about killed the control freak in Navarro, but if you like her package, that’s how it happens.”
“Screw that stress. Let whoever it is clean up my press world and drop a quarter in my direction when it’s time to pick it up.” She tapped the counter again, caught herself, took another deep breath. “Okay, coming here is what about killed me. And that’s all there is? No ‘who’s on top now.’ No insincere apologies, no games? No pinch my left butt cheek until it’s purple?”
“That’s it. Well…”
She raised one eyebrow.
“Is that your hair?”
“For fuck’s…Yes it’s mine. It’s cut longer down the back so I can put the center curls in and it balances. If I don’t put the curls in I have to do all kinds of crap with clips or my hair looks like a horse’s ass from behind. Godammit, I see it. Don’t you even think it. What is it with everyone and my fucking hair?”
“Everybody says it’s a fall. That bass player you got so pissed off at had a curly fall just like your hair tied to his antenna and lime green crotchless panties taped to his back window. He said both of them belonged to you.”
“They weren’t mine. Not my hair, for damn sure not my panties. I mean give a girl some credit for taste. And that waste of air with all of his phony Kaitlin’s groupie swag taped to his car got his ass sued with the rest of them. I am not a groupie and never was and this is my hair. Once upon a time I liked to hit a fatty and dance and I liked to go out with band guys. Until a few years ago turning twenty-one and regular employment raised my IQ.”
“So you didn’t pull a train after the —”
“NO!” He thought her eyes might catch fire. “You can eat shit and fucking die, Jackson. You’re as bad as all the rest of them.” She spun, steamed for the door.
“That’s the Kaitlin I know.” He couldn’t hold the laugh. “Day-um, bitch. Chill. You hungry?”
She stopped at the door, turned halfway around. “You hillbilly asshole. I’m starving.” She did the index finger flip between them. “You? And me? Now?”
“Let’s go. I can hang with a hot actress, and we can bust each other’s chops a little longer. You forgot these.” He held out two business cards, tugged on her ringlets when she got close enough to take them. He laughed again, she yanked the cards with one hand, punched him on the shoulder, hard, with the other.
“Fuck you, you, you,” a laugh of her own got out. “You goofy, pickle dick hick.” She shook her hair, checked out Paula’s and Stacey’s Morisé Women’s Initiatives cards, dropped them in a clutch not much bigger than they were. “You’re driving. Because I like your old car and want to be seen riding in it. Since that is so incredibly shallow of me, I’ll buy. But only if you take us somewhere in Hollywood or Beverly.”
She looked up, caught him grinning. “And all that ‘I’m really just a cute, fun guy’ shit you’re working like it would make La Brea belch Elvis back? Buy it a coffin. If anyone asks? We still hate each other. Got it?”
Morisé – 1700 Oilman’s Bank Tower
“Kaitlin Everson?” Paula set the folder on top of everything on Stacey’s desk. “I missed the legal do-si-do, but I got the word upfront from Studley. Do we have right of refusal?”
“Alix said that we all underestimate the Director of Women’s Initiatives. That he has turned a negative into a positive and has now completed the process for which he has been in training.” She watched Paula’s face go question mark. “Yeah, me neither. Something about forgiveness and the big picture. Shannon has thinned Kaitlin’s bio to bullet points for me, and Kaitlin is ready for the initial preferences call. Which is you. They’ll shoot the interview in Zane’s green room, edit her aircheck, Jackson will smooth it out next door at Air Biscuit. It’s a genuine project.”
“Don’t you think it’s amazing how they do those interviews? It’s just two people in chairs in Tits’ small warehouse and it looks like someone’s badass living room or the Parthenon or some beach that’s too clean to be real.”
“What is more amazing, Paula, is that Alix threw him and Kaitlin together without an ambulance on standby and that you get away with calling Zane Rialta ‘Tits’.”
“Studley says Alix sent Kaitlin to him with a s’il vous plaît, and everybody out there calls Zane ‘Tits’. It’s like her unofficial celeb toe tag.”
“I’m not sure about the toe tag, but the s’il vous plaît explains this.” Stacey handed Paula a copy of True Star that had landed with the morning mail. “They’re a quarter page in the gossip section, on the patio at a burger place. Smiling. He must have had to send his soul out to the cleaners after.”
“The smile tells me the picture is doctored.” Paula pulled on the sides of her mouth with her index fingers and made a face before she opened the paper, shuffled through to the middle. “‘Heart Throb Actress Starring in Real-Life Romance!’ Who writes this used dog food?”
“People like us who don’t quite have total autonomy about what they publish?”
“Somewhere in that, I heard ‘We’re doing Kaitlin Everson, Paula. Get over it’.”
Anonymole has decided on a whiff of an idea from me that September is scene month. Not every day, but often, we should offer a short scene that stands alone and when you walk away you have a decent idea of what’s going on and might want to turn the page. This is number 8 or 9 or 10 of “Hukt awn seens werks fur mee!”