Category Archives: Short Story

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The Cheese Plate

by L.C. Folk

A film actor with career problems is trying to overcome anger issues. 1,986 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


I  settled into the soft leather seat with a sigh. Nothing like a private jet. First class could not compare. A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBAcross the aisle, a group of reporters huddled around the latest superhero. What was the kid’s name? Jack or Jake. Strutting and flapping like hungry pigeons, the journalists darted in and out for a morsel. Better watch your step, Jake — they are just waiting for you to fuck up. God knows, they’d feasted off me for years. I’d been served up to them like an extra large pepperoni pizza tossed out of a passing car, then run over a few times and left for dead.

I had to be crazy for agreeing to this. The producer, Max, whose jet this was and who used to take my calls, had asked me to stop by his office for a chat. Just in case I mistakenly thought I could not sink any lower, I’d been asked to wait. I spent the time idly watching the studio parade pass by the large bank of windows in Max’s plush outer office. Writers, editors, directors. Leading men and women and their agents. A group of zombies. A lovely young starlet in cutoff denim shorts on a bicycle. This contained circumscribed world, more than several degrees removed from the gritty hole I’d climbed out of, had somehow always made the insistent, all too real messiness, more bearable.

“Kevin, sorry about that, I didn’t mean for you to have to wait.” Max was a small wiry man, balding and too tan. He threw up his hands and shrugged. “But you know how it is, right? Always crazy around here.”

Crossing the cavernous room, I took a seat on one of the overstuffed couches and sank into the feather down for several seconds before touching bottom. “No problem, Max, I know how it is.”

“I want to talk to you about the press junket, which you have so generously agreed to do.” Max sat at his massive Art Deco burl wood desk. It dwarfed him.

I nodded, a sense of unease slowly gripping my mid-section. “I’m all ears, Max.”

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Third Act
Part Three

by Tom Musca

The down-and-out actor finds himself wanting the wrong woman. 2,032 words. Part One. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


As late afternoon approached, Rubi was beside himself knowing that another night in the airport A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBwould be torture. Kate hadn’t returned his last phone call but he knew he had a date with Kristen the day after tomorrow so if he could just survive till then. His first offensive move at the airport was to call his brother and see if Carlo would change his mind about providing funds or shelter. If anatomy was destiny, it was clear why the younger brother was an aging playboy actor and the older a good-for-nothing loafer living in Turks And Caicos.

Carlo was hypersensitive to perceived slights and was rude to the many people he thought treated him like he was a no-talent who basked in the shadow of the famous Rubi. Most people ignored Carlo but even those who gave him a fair shot determined he was indeed a worthless replica of the original. And even though they didn’t look that much alike, Carlo pretended he was Rubi to inebriated women who were seeing double. The older bro’s only steady job was when he’d worked as Rubi’s stand-in back when Rubi was so busy he was turning down acting jobs.

But when Rubi finally got Carlo on the phone, Carlo pleaded poverty and then tried to hit up Rubi for a loan.

With less than $25 to his name, Rubi planted himself near the American Airlines Admirals Club and acted like a man about to embark on an unfamiliar journey. He hoped to be lucky enough to spot an acquaintance he could solicit for funds, even if he had to descend to some lost wallet excuse. Athletes, rappers and other actors came in and out of the club, but Rubi was a stranger to them and to this place. So he settled in for the night right outside the club’s entrance.

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Third Act
Part Two

by Tom Musca

The actor knows he’s down but plots to ensure he’s not yet out. 2,271 words. Part One. Part Three tomorrow. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


At ten after 8 pm, Rubi strode into the sexy gourmet Chinese restaurant that was lit with pools of colored light. A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBThe music was just loud and contemporary enough to make him feel out of sorts. Miami didn’t have many decent Asian restaurants but this one, with its dark wood ambiance and pan-China cuisine, was a notable exception.

The actor went to the bar, then the bathroom. A man of his age could hardly go an hour without finding urinary relief. Rubi looked into the mirror as he peed. Sometimes he still saw himself as bold and beautiful. This was one of those times when his caved cheeks, sagging throat and receding hairline flashed warning signs. Even if he got lucky with one of the Ks would his receptors that measured pleasure still function? Was he was losing his looks, his mind and, worse, his senses? Would the maid show? Rubi was vulnerable and he didn’t like it.

When he scanned the restaurant for the third time he still didn’t see her. That was because when Porfiria left the ladies room and walked past him she didn’t look like the housekeeper he’d seen two days in a row. This Porfiria had had her hair done. This Porfiria wore red lipstick. This Porfiria was in heels. This Porfiria snapped her fingers when she made eye contact with Rubi.

Rubi joined Porfiria at an out-of-the-way table he would not have tolerated if he was with either of the Ks, but with Porfiria it was better that they were discreet. He sat down, then reached over and lifted her hand to examine her wedding ring.

“How much?”

“How much do I want or how much did my ring cost?”

Rubi smiled, still surprised that Porfiria had a personality.

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Third Act
Part One

by Tom Musca

An aging actor down on his luck is hoping to become a kept man. 2,798 words. Part Two tomorrow. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


It came down to the two Ks. Either one would do and Rubi had little preference at this point.A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EB

There was Kristen. A soft-spoken, senior partner in the entertainment law firm her deceased husband had founded. The same firm who used to represent Rubi back when he needed dealmakers. Her hair was long and reddish blond.

And then there was Kate. Her hair was short, stylish and black. This trust fund baby was on the board of every museum in Miami. She had swagger, not to mention a five bedroom condo on the 44th floor of Zaha Hadid’s new downtown tower, a palatial home in the Gables, a four bedroom condo at the Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo, and a cabin on a mountainside in North Carolina decorated impeccably in mid-century modern.

Kristen’s big advantage was that she was absent from her penthouse ten hours a day. Her eye-opening terrace overlooked the Port of Miami with its humongous floating buffet boats that moved with the precision of a clock as they docked on Fridays and set sail on Sundays. Rubi could imagine having her place all to himself until she returned from work when they would enjoy a cocktail hour that stretched well past 8 pm. The perfect capper on a day he spent doing nothing but walking Kristen’s annoying little dog before primping for the night. And although Kate was the more attractive of the two, Kristen even though she had just turned 59 was more creative in bed than her slightly younger competition.

A plus in the Kate column was that she could speak four languages when she and Rubi travelled or made love. Who cared if she occasionally objectified the actor as a living work of art? Truth be told, Rubi liked thinking of himself as a possession, a man who could please a woman in a variety of ways, and by any means necessary.

The most difficult task Rubi faced was not confusing the details of his two paramours. His increasingly unreliable memory made him prone to mixing up the names of the significant people in the Ks’ lives, especially their investment bankers, lawyers, ex-husbands, children and grandchildren. Still, one or the other would have to do. Unfortunately, the choice between the two Ks was not Rubi’s to make but it did have to be made soon. He was an ex-soap opera star who’d recently turned 70 and was in desperate need of a woman willing to make him a kept man.

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Hollywood Roadkill

by Richard Natale

A humongous Hollywood merger has unforeseen consequences for all involved. 2,559 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Margaret Sewell sighed as she sat across from her friend, Lou Delray, at the Fox studio commissary’s outdoor A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBpatio. She had little appetite and barely touched her salad. “My boss said, ‘I wish I could take you with me.’ And he didn’t even bother to try and sound sincere. Then he gave me a holiday gift card to Neiman-Marcus. As if that was supposed to make me feel better. ‘Hey, clown,’ I wanted to say, ‘how about a gift card to Ralphs, so’s I can buy some food after I start collecting unemployment in 2018.’”

Lou was only half-listening. He hadn’t filed for unemployment since losing his first job right after college. For the past twenty years he’d been a teamster driver on a succession of studio TV and film projects. The studio facilities would remain and his boss, Henry, claimed Lou had “nothing to worry about.” But when your boss tells you not to worry, that’s precisely the time to start making other plans.

With the departure of the television and movie production units, sooner or later, probably sooner, something was bound to give. And that usually meant the older and more expensive workers.

“They’re saying that, after the merger, ten thousand jobs are going to be lost in all. Screw Murdoch and screw Iger twice,” Margaret said as she threw her salad into the trash. A number of heads turned and nodded, some eyes rolled, and a couple of mouths uttered sarcastic laughs.

Buoyed by the reaction, Margaret added, “I might as well tattoo ‘Roadkill’ on my forehead. Am I right?”

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America’s Twit

by Howard Rosenberg

And the award for most hated man in Hollywood goes to… 708 words. Illustration by Roll Call editorial cartoonist R. J. Matson.


I’m just back from an emergency meeting of Make Acronyms Great Again (MAGA) in Hollywood.

As chairman of MAGA’s Crisis A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBCommittee (CC), I called the meeting in response to a recent survey showing that most Americans believe President Of The United States (POTUS) nor Son Of A Bitch (SOB) adequately defines Donald Trump. The debate was spirited, acronymists being famously passionate.

“POTUS describes only the office, not the individual,” I began.

“And SOB is much too narrow,” said a linguistics scholar from Berkeley. “It addresses bad character but fails to take into account the buffoon’s low Intelligence Quotient (IQ).”

“Make it Stupid Son Of A Bitch (SSOB),” cried out a ventriloquist who does Trump impressions. “Or Stupid President Of The United States (SPOTUS).”

“Hear, hear,” added his dummy.

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Monkey Wrench xmas

Monkey Wrench

by Steve De Jarnatt

CHRISTMAS FICTION: Two Hollywood families discover the real meaning of the holidays thanks to a transgender plumber. 3,165 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


The last Sunday before Christmas, the Strider twins took their Swedish Vallhund decked out in an elf onesie 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3to the Palisades dog park. They’d came home with what to them was ho-hum news. But to their folks, it was tantamount to a shot at the holy fucking grail.

“Some boy Jared and his sister wanna come over next week,” Cody told his mother, Radha.

“Their last name is Pfeffer with three F’s, two E’s and a silent P,” said Cass who’d transcribed the names and the proposed details of a holiday playdate.

“Jared Pfeffer? Not Bobby Pfeffer’s kid?” Radha twitched.

“On the board at the Brautigan School, Bobby Pfeffer?” her husband Rex said. The parents exchanged a telling look, then both grabbed for Cass’ notepad. Indeed, it was the same A-list family.

Thus the most pivotal event of the Striders’ entire lives would transpire three days later when Jared Pfeffer and his younger sister Blair and a couple of friends would be coming over. A previous engagement with the brood of a basic cable star had fallen through, and the Striders were now a last-minute slot filler.

But the real coup was that, after a screening of the Scrooged reboot, Bobby himself planned to stop by for coffee with his new trophy wife.

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The Maid altered

The Maid

by Linda Boroff

CHRISTMAS FICTION: During the holidays, a domestic stays loyal to a screen bad blonde. 2,642 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Mamie the maid drove around the block four times before she found a parking space for her old Nash 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3Rambler. Her heart gave a tripping little beat — how Barb was going to laugh when she saw Mamie still driving that heap today, in 1966. Barb’s son Johnny had named Mamie’s car “Balky,” for obvious reasons. Each time they got on the road, Mamie would make promises to God: if it would only let her reach her destination, she would be cash-register honest from now on, or teetotal for a year, things like that — promises usually broken within hours. Mamie knew it was odd to think of Johnny being seventeen now, nearly a man. He had been such a fragile little thing, clinging to Mamie’s hand as if she were a life preserver; a gentle, persistent little presence, all those times when his mother the movie star was in trouble, or in court, or falling down drunk or just falling apart.

Falling. The thought made Mamie want to turn the car and head out of this dismal East Hollywood neighborhood as Christmas approached. Grimy holiday decorations on Yucca Street. Already, Mamie’s mouth was dry, and her hands shook on the steering wheel. She tried to remind herself that nobody else wanted to be here either. This place was for people on their way out, not for those who still had hope, or a chance to amount to something.

“Barb Payton, I’m gonna find you,” Mamie said aloud, “if I have to prowl this street forever.”

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Ebenezer Scrump

Ebenezer Scrump
A Christmas Story

by Howard Rosenberg

CHRISTMAS FICTION: Ghosts visit a nasty old showman to unmask his not-so-entertaining lies and life. 836 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


The darkened penthouse of Scrump Tower on Christmas Eve….

Ebenezer Scrump, asleep after hours 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3of heavy tweeting, is jolted awake by loud clanking sounds and a terrifying sight.

Scrump: Who are you?

Ghost: Look upon me, Scrump, for I am the Ghost of Your Past.

Scrump: What do you want of me at this hour, ghost?

Ghost: I’m here to show you the errors of your ways.

Scrump: Errors? Where are you taking me?

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christmas cottage

The Christmas Cottage

by Gordy Grundy

CHRISTMAS FICTION: An artist thinks he’s come up with a wonderful way to find film content and wow Hollywood. 2,674 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


I had never been treated so rudely in my life. I was in a meeting at a major Hollywood studio, sharing my 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3creativity and insight with a top executive, only to be given the bum’s rush by three security guards. As if the humiliation of being dragged out of that office, down the hall and through the lobby wasn’t enough, I was also thrown, literally tossed, onto the street. Onto asphalt, not gold.

The indignity began that November when I read that a major movie studio had bought the film rights to The Christmas Cottage. Not only was opportunity knocking on my door, it was ringing the bell. Hollywood, an insatiable beast, had run out of ideas. Filmmaking was and still is a lowly art form rising to its greatest level of incompetence. While most studios keep producing re-remakes and re-re-remakes, this studio was trying to be an innovator.

The Christmas Cottage is a painting by Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” as he is affectionately known in America’s shopping malls, who composed a warm-hearted landscape featuring a snow-covered cottage nestled in cozy woods.

I saw this new development as opening a Pandora’s Box in the world of cinema. Why stop with a painting? There are many images and objects that can have a high concept. Hollywood has already made films from board games and Legos. Sculpture, conceptualism, postcards, Campbell Soup Cans and traffic signals could also be made into blockbuster entertainment.

I wasn’t sure what the studio had in mind for its feature about The Christmas Cottage. Wouldn’t Picasso’s Guernica make a better movie? How about the hard “R” of any Odalisque by Matisse? Or, given the current trend for Christian entertainment, would not The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Bosch scare a heathen back to God? But who was I to question the superior intellect and creativity of the Hollywood sensibility.

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Nobody Does Christmas Like The Jews

by Nat Segaloff

CHRISTMAS FICTION: Who used to make the best holiday movies? Jews. But do they still? 1,654 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


The ghosts of show business moguls Joseph E. Levine, David O. Selznick, Samuel Goldwyn and William A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBCastle took a break from their pinochle game to agree that what Hollywood needed was a good Christmas picture.

“As long as the goyim are spending everything they have on presents,” Levine said, “why can’t they throw a little of their money our way?”

“After all, Jesus was Jewish,” added Goldwyn, “at least on his father’s side.”

Selznick wasn’t as sure. “I admit that a Christmas picture is good for holiday business. But what happens on December 26? Who wants to see a movie about Santa Claus in January when the bills come in?” he said, shaking his head.

“For that matter, who wants to see a picture about the Civil War seventy-five years after Appomattox?” Levine shot back. “If it’s a good picture, people will come. But you gotta have the right ad campaign.”

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The Monster 01

The Monster

by Eric Bogosian

Eric Bogosian debuts an original short story: A screenwriter desperate for his movie to be made puts it into the hands of a famous actor-director-producer. 4,873 words. Illustrations by Thomas Warming.


Hopefully, this tape will be found some day. Probably by then it’s doubtful anyone will be able to play it 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3back and listen to what I have to say here. But I have no choice. I have to tell this story if for no other reason than to preserve my sanity during these last few hours.

As I lie here, whispering these words to myself in the dark, I can only blame my ambition. Like Icarus who flew too close to the sun, I am being punished. Whether I deserve punishment or not, you can decide.

I’m not exceptional, I’m not special. In fact I’m pretty much a boring person. But just because I was a boring person, doesn’t mean I didn’t have dreams. And desires. And hopes. And fears. And appetites. All of that. Big time. And, in the end, just big enough to consume me. I went willingly into the lion’s den. I was going to dance with the lion. I was going to become a lion.

What the fuck did I know about being a lion?

Six years ago, when I was 28, I was writing for LA Weekly. Online. I wrote an article about a young couple who got lost while hiking around in Joshua Tree. They almost died. It was a pretty good story and, as often happens in L,A,, it garnered a phone call from a studio exec. Focus Features. I pretended that I had an agent and then got this old pal who was an assistant over at UTA to rep me and one thing led to the next and all of a sudden I had a development deal with Focus to write a screenplay based on my story.

I delivered the screenplay (after six outlines), and two days later the exec who ordered it got fired and that was the last I heard from Focus. The movie was never made. And over the past six years, I’ve been able to shuffle along and write scripts for a few other studios. At first it seemed like big money. Averaged out, week by week, it actually wasn’t. But hey, if they made even one of these films, I would have been in Hollywood heaven. Or so I thought.

Lying here now in the darkness, I try to remember the state of my life only one hundred and eighty days ago. It wasn’t bad. I was making enough money that I could afford to shop at Fred Segal every now and then. I could cover my girlfriend Sandy’s side of the rent. (She’s an assistant designer at a boutique on Santa Monica Blvd.) I drove a five-year old Prius. I shopped at Whole Foods up the street from where we lived. I played poker with other screenwriters and actors like Jeremy Sisto and David Zayas. I hit the gym twice a week. I watched my weight. I made it to 34 years old and was still young enough to be “promising.” I guess I’ll never be 35.

I was floating in a dimension that had no past, no future.

And then one day, in the shower, I came up with an idea. Simple, elegant, perfect. A narrative about a returning veteran who becomes a New York City parole officer. Gritty. Full of action. A great role for a macho actor in his thirties. And it could be made for a budget. Easily shot in less than two months. Violent but also filled with pathos.

It was everything I needed to get closer to the sun.

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Picture Up v3

Picture Up

by J.M. Rosenfield

A location manager scouts the perfect house for a film. The only problem is the occupant. 4,973 words. Illustration by John Mann.


I’m on my way to Malibu on the 10 heading west to PCH when I round the curve of the McClure tunnel and 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3bang, that view of the ocean and the sparkling coastline opens up and I say to myself, this is why I live in L.A. It’s for days like this.

I can groove on it too because I work outside. Not like those suits in Century City. "Hook yourself up with a production gig,” a buddy of mine told me when I first came out to the Coast. "They pay you way too much. And most of the time it’s just hang time. Everyone else is doing lunch or waiting for their money on a development deal.” He got that right. But what did he know? Directing his first big feature, he walks straight into the tail rotor of the chopper they’re using to shoot a stunt. Long day. Magic hour. Had the whole crew rushing to pick up a dusk shot. Typical director behavior. Their only reality is their own reality. He bought it good. I don’t need that kind of grief. I’m a team player. Don’t mind doing my small part, hanging it up at night and seeing what’s on the plate for tomorrow. I don’t worry about little gold statues or where they seat me at Spago. Or who returns my phone calls. Don’t need the headaches, the hassles.  I’m in, I’m out. Onward and upward. Next.

Beach Boys on the radio, Don’t Worry Baby, as I make the hard left just before Zuma onto Westward Beach. Roads get all squirrely out here. My Wrangler’s GPS freezes, so I reboot. It can route you all the way to Ojai before it wakes up. I see a guardhouse up ahead in front of State Beach. Surfer dude waves me through. I pull in and turn around. He comes out of the shack and hits me up for twenty bucks parking.

I say, “Where’s Cliffview.”

“There’s no in and out," he says.

I slide my shades down my nose, give him my best glare over the rims.

“Do I look like I’m here for the waves?"

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The Wrap Party 4 final

The Wrap Party

by Adam Scott Weissman

The flirting and gossiping ends badly for someone on this TV series. 3,759 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


The wrap party was being held at the cheesy cowboy theme bar at Universal CityWalk. Caleb hated t8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3hat development next door to the lot where he worked. Even the name grated on him: “CityWalk.” It was everything that pissed him off about L.A.. The antiseptic tourist trap was so utterly un-urban. He could rattle off at least a half-dozen bars on nearby Ventura that were far superior. But he was just a lowly writer’s assistant so it wasn’t his place to question the chosen location for the wrap party. Actually, he wasn’t surprised. He worked for a cookie cutter network procedural, and the powers-that-be had chosen to end the season in the most uninspired way possible. Little wonder that he always could predict each show’s ending.

As he parked his car, he thought about Nora, the staff writer considered a “diversity hire.” She had once confessed to him that she loved the City Walk. Of course, Nora loved the City Walk. Caleb hated Nora. He didn’t see her talent, or what she offered to the show, or why Bryan gave her two scripts. Caleb was really hoping he’d get to co-write the finale, like Matt Weiner’s writer assistants, but instead Nora got it. Like she needed another credit.  Caleb had read her pilot back when he was Bryan’s assistant. It was fine, the dialogue was cute, but the story was nothing special. Rom-com chick stuff. He’d been working for Bryan for four years, and Nora had never worked on a show, but she was a staff writer and Caleb was the writer’s assistant. Bryan told him it was because of money. The show had spent too much of its budget on upper level writers, and the studio would pay for a “diversity writer.” That was Nora. A Korean girl from Encino… How fucking downtrodden.

While she would never tell any of her fellow writers, Nora loved Universal CityWalk. As a kid growing up in the Valley, it was the closest she ever got to actually walking onto a studio lot. L.A. kids aren’t supposed to get starstruck. But Nora just couldn’t be jaded. She wanted to belong to the business, not merely be adjacent, and write for a real primetime TV show with millions of viewers. Now that she was, Nora still liked to visit CityWalk to remind herself how far she’d come. About once a week, she’d arrive an hour before work, go to Starbucks, drink her latte and think about how she was about to go work in a bungalow on the real lot. Though she questioned whether she deserved to be there. But if she really was nothing more than a token, Bryan wouldn’t have given her two scripts. She knew Caleb resented her and coveted her job. But she was working her ass off, agonizing over every word of procedural exposition instead of scripting for people to ignore while they did their laundry. Nora had long ago learned that hard work was the best remedy for insecurity.

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The Small Gesture
Part Two

by Ian Randall Wilson

The studio credits czar finally comes face to face with his comeuppance. 1,651 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


The numbers for the weekend were in and they were bad. The big fall release was a big bomb. A stinker. GA5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBuaranteed to cancel out any profits for at least a fiscal quarter. It was like planting a lawn and watching mud come up. Whoever thought that a film about a beautiful girl lost in the woods being chased by a mutant bear was a winner must had been smoking way too much of the recreational stuff. The mechanical bear turned out to be a better actor than the star. When the script called for the character to be injured, she couldn’t even manage to whimper with any authenticity. Jeffrey had heard children’s talking dolls that sounded more real. So it was another loss after the studio had just taken a half-billion dollar write-down in the last quarter on three heavy-effects movies that "underperformed.” Like that gentle phrase could somehow tidy up another red ink disaster.

What Jeffrey knew immediately was that everyone needed to be sprucing up their resumes because the people in charge always figured that cutting overhead was the way to solve the mess they’d created. Jeffrey wondered why they never thought about firing themselves. Instead, some bean counter ran his finger down a list of names and salaries and decided: this one in, that one out.

Just like what he did on credits.

Jeffrey opened yet another binder of the crew deals. This one in. That one out. He checked the spellings and any strange credit requests. That morning, a dolly grip wanted to be credited as Jim "Jimbo" Smith. But Jeffrey hated nicknames and that was why Jimbo’s was gone. The pen’s tiny flick. The black line. The small gesture. Not even a second’s thought to deny the credit. Goodbye, Jimbo.

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The Small Gesture
Part One

by Ian Randall Wilson

A studio credits czar rules his kingdom unless or until confronted. 1,711 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Sometimes the smallest gestures had the biggest consequences, didn’t they? The pebble to the windshield A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBthat eventually cracked the whole thing. The chance meeting at a premiere that neither was supposed to attend. Say if one morning thirty years ago, a development executive at Fox hadn’t argued with his boyfriend before coming into work, Jeffrey Baummann might had sold the script that set him on the path of a successful writer. Or twenty years ago to the liquor store a minute earlier, and Jeffrey would have bought the lottery ticket that won a hundred mil and not the someone who did right in front of hm. Ten years ago if not for a missed red light, Jeffrey might have met a different woman who could have been his wife. That morning, expending not even a calorie, he crossed out a name on a draft of end title credits for one of the studio’s films.

With the flick of a pen, a black line moved a half-inch right and one less dolly grip went into the roll.

Jeffrey was the studio’s credits czar, a nickname from an old boss to make him feel better when she declined his raise. Afterwards, the late head of publicity at that same studio said at a big meeting, "Oh Jeffrey, you’re the poor bastard who has that job." It certainly got a laugh.

This was what he did: prepared the main and end titles for the studio’s films which meant he looked at lists and lists of names, deciding whose would go in. He eliminated many of them with a small gesture. There was no attempt to find the private echo, this one resonating, that one not. He had a template. He filled it in.

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