A showbiz journo goes Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole and ends up at a hellacious party. 3,477 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.
As I lay down, I remembered thinking that I would only close my eyes for a moment. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how intensely I stared, I couldn’t see my way through the thicket of branches and leaves to the clearing that surely waited beyond. I couldn’t even be sure how long I’d been out here crawling up the cliff face after leaving my hotel in Beverly Hills — five minutes? five hours? — wandering aimlessly through these dark woods frustrated, disoriented and suddenly very tired. I, the infamous entertainment journalist Frederick M. Barclay, was about to sit down with the even more infamous studio head Nero in his secluded Bel Air lair to discuss the state of the art. I’d been told that Tony Billings would arrange it. If only I could find him.
Then I found a face staring down at me.
“Jack,” he said, reaching down and taking my hand. “Jack Dante.”
“Of course I recognize you,” I said, as he pulled me to my feet. “You’re one of the greatest living British filmmakers.”
“Am I still alive? I question that,” he said. “I question it every day. More and more, I wander around this city like a ghost.”
“I’m Fred Barclay, the writer,” I said. “I was on my way to the Nero party. I must have gotten lost. How did you find me?”
Two child actors are up for the same film role – much to the dismay of their momagers. But one mother has second thoughts. Last of two parts. 3,610 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.
The ER doctor lifted Sam’s shirt and looked to Susan for explanation. Raised welts covered Sam’s back, already purpling. “Sam? What happened?”
Sam picked at a loose thread on the sheet and shrugged. One of his curls was caught in the bandage above his left eye.
“Samuel McGrath, answer me.” She heard her voice shaking.
“Why don’t you let me have a minute?” the doctor suggested, guiding her to the door. Susan knew what that meant. He had to question Sam alone. Ask if Mommy hits him and whether she uses her hands or a hairbrush.
She stepped into the hall. Wendy was coming toward her. “How’s Caden?”
“His arm’s broken.” Wendy swallowed and took a shuddering breath. “They’re taking a CT scan to check…for swelling. In his brain.”
Susan folded Wendy her in my arms. “Caden’s going to be okay. They’re both going to be okay.”
The door opened behind them. “Mrs. McGrath?”
“What do you mean he landed on you?”
“He said I should lie on the ground. To jump over.”
“He said I had to or he wouldn’t be my friend anymore. And you like Miss Wendy, so—” Sam’s voice broke and he leaned his head into her arm.
A mother brings her young son to Hollywood hoping he’ll make it as a child actor. Then she starts to rethink everything. First of two parts. 5,983 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.
Like so many things in Los Angeles, the rain was fake. That didn’t make it any less wet as it pounded onto the heads of the children, dragging Sam’s curls into his eyes. The director yelled cut and then yelled it again. He wanted scissors.
The make-up girl sprang forward, but only wielded bobby pins to secure Sam’s hair with steady hands and a vacant half-smile…products, no doubt, of the pill bottle Susan had seen nestled between the lipsticks.
Sam’s lips were blue. No one seemed the least concerned about hypothermia. Hell, none of the kids would have eaten lunch if Susan hadn’t reminded the A.D. of work rules. The mothers of the other two boys didn’t like that at all. “You can’t cause trouble,” Fake Blonde warned, while Fake Boobs bobble-headed agreement and added, “You want your son to work again, don’t you?” Better to let their kids starve than take a chance at upsetting the D-list director of a cookie ad. They probably thought Susan was some hopeful Okie – but she knew more about this business than both of them combined. She knew people would take advantage of you only if allowed to. And everyone was out to take advantage.
Susan slipped in behind the make-up lady and caught Sam’s eye. “This is the last take, baby,” she told Sam. “This is ridiculous.” Already twenty-six minutes over schedule.
“But Mom,” he protested through chattering teeth, “this is fun!”