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Chump
Part Two

by Richard Natale

The showbiz somebody tries to overcome his nobody past. 1,742 words. Part One. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


“I didn’t know this guy, Tate, was a good friend of yours,” the Netflix show’s cinematographer, Percy Swain, said when he ran into the producer in the hotel lobby a few days later.

“He’s not,” Dale Beauchamp replied, succinctly, about Tate Frawley, the local guy who’d been hired only because he owned an ARRI and let the production have it for free as long as he was hired to operate it. “We grew up together. Haven’t seen him since high school. How’s he working out?”

“He’s capable enough. Bit of an attitude problem, but nothing I can’t handle.”

“Sorry. Didn’t know it was him until after you gave me the green light. Since we were in the home stretch, I didn’t want to risk losing another day of shooting.”

“Forget I mentioned it. When I’m exhausted, the slightest ripple threatens my authoritarian demeanor. Hope you’re pleased with what I’ve done.”

“Percy,” Dale grinned, “the dailies look terrific. You’re one of my not-so-secret weapons.”

“Thanks,” Percy said, expelling a deep breath. “I really needed a good ass-kissing this morning.”

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05132017 Chump IMAGE 1500 b

Chump
Part One

by Richard Natale

Today’s showbiz somebody was a nobody way back when. 1,481 words. Part Two. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


On the third day of production, Dale Beauchamp dragged himself into the hotel just after midnight. He scanned a room that had seen better days. The bedspread was faded and one of the armchairs had an injured foot that caused it to list to one side. In the absence of any four-star accommodations within ninety miles, this was his home for the next four months during filming of his new series for Netflix.

Initially, he’d considered renting a house in a more secluded spot. But WiFi out of town was sketchy and the production office was only a two-minute walk from the hotel. The only decent places to eat – mostly mom and pop diners, and one not half bad “upscale” bistro – were located along the anonymous undulating blue highway outside his window. Otherwise, it was Arby’s or IHOP or other chains as far as the eye could see.

The set caterer, Cindy, was a townie who’d worked a few commercials, an affable young woman whose sewn-on smile never flagged even when she’d stubbed her toe. Yesterday, for the first time since he’d left home in Catesville, he ate sandwiches made with Wonder Bread. While he was far from a Hollywood elitist, Dale was caught up short by the fact that Wonder Bread was still being manufactured.

He made a note to have Lucille, the production supervisor, speak to Cindy but held out little hope. Their catering budget was restrictive. Working for streaming outlets made him nostalgic for the relatively lavish perks of mainstream cable, which were already a far cry from network shows. Every spare penny went to talent and production values. If it wasn’t up there on the screen, there’d be no second season, and he’d be making the rounds again with one of the half dozen film and TV projects his company was developing: working harder just to keep his name visible, praying for a break-out hit to afford him some leverage.

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