It’s easy, almost too easy, for executives to get fired at a film studio. 1,761 words. Part One. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.
My name is Santa. You may be interested to hear that I really do not exist. I use the above alias because it is an honest and decent and reliable one that generally puts the average listener at ease. Everything I say through Daniel about the Roomers ⎯ although I do not take oaths ⎯ is true.
This is the one and only time you will ever hear from me directly. If that upsets you, either because you won’t hear from me again or because you have to hear from me at all, you have only Daniel to blame for that. He has already, on account of his narcissism and his inability to properly “pitch,” butchered two rumors.
So, first off, allow me to clarify who your moldy narrator is. Daniel, to begin with, is not by my side because he committed Le Suicide. That’s not how it works. The reason he sounds and speaks exactly as I do is because I have, in my possession, his guilt which is my pleasure to keep dank and alive. His pure vivid soul is breaking bread somewhere else. (We won’t go there.)
One of the great workaholics, and with an unrivaled combination of social anxiety disorders, Daniel treated not a single one of his afflictions with psychotherapy, drugs, sex or alcohol. So when the weekend numbers for his baby The Ring Of Fire came in, none of the above vices sufficed to console him. Looking back you, too, must have noticed that ROF’s nominal losses alone (without adjusting for inflation) made John Carter, 47 Ronin and Mars Needs Moms look like hits. So when the evening of Monday, March 24th, 1997 arrived, Daniel indeed went headfirst Sylvia Plath-style into his oven.
Since I have put you on the topic, let’s solve the nearly career destroying anti-Semitic rumor. Daniel prior to dying seemed unable, with simple Deontic logic, to discover who Jerry was trying to frame. (Obligation and permission, by the way, are some of my favorite subjects.)
Shall we try using Hollywood common knowledge, a categorical syllogism?
1) None of Jerry’s friends made him feel like a fish out of water as they all had less power than him.
2) Since his friend Dorothy got her promotion she had become the drop that made his tank overflow.
3) Therefore, Jerry must, if he wished to survive, spread a hook, line and sinker.
At any rate, down to business. The two rumors that needed to be revived and revised are: one, the Roomers were not capable of passing a polygraph; two, they were capable of passing on an autograph. Make sense?
They all hate movies except for Rose so they are not aroused nor do they have any use for a star scribbling on a napkin. Got it? An entire family with the ability to beat a lie detector test because of their squiggly conscience is simply absurd, if not impossible. Evil is not genetic. Trust me. (Don’t start with the astrology stuff either. Debilitated moon in your rising sign with an aspect from an Aquarian Saturn blah..blah..blah.)
Such things don’t make people ugly.
I’ve created a few works of art in my time that I was sure would become masterpieces but which instead left me hanging. What you guys on Earth refer to as the “Macdonald Triad.” A young girl or a young boy who is through their adolescence infatuated with fire, cruel to animals and a chronic bedwetter yet their environment is simply too ⎯ how should we say it ⎯ generous and concerned, devoted and tender, stimulating and empathic for their psychopathy to blossom. This is why I now tend to spend more of my time on the nurture side of things. As nothing is more iniquitous than my ability to nurture down and crack, quite successfully, all those people in life who were given such a promising start.
Two, Rose and Violet are not monozygotic. Same mother and father, yes, but more than just one egg was cracked. Catch my drift? One looks like Poison Ivy and the other looks like the broad from The Constant Gardener which means they are fraternal, not identical, twins.
Now that we’re clear on that, let’s move forward…
Your interlocutor, Daniel, seemed much more interested in mood and tone, set-up and scenery, themes and mise-en- scène, and was only going to set sail through the nineties, anchoring in the personal hell Rose and Violet experienced upon witnessing (a mere three months after their impressible sweet sixteen) the Satanists who butchered their mother and father the night they all moved into Daniel’s Mulholland home.
Normally, I wouldn’t mind spending time on this, because it was bloody and it was mercilessly sadistic. But then what? I don’t care for murder mysteries; they’re anti-climatic. I have zero patience for police procedurals as I always know in advance who the killers are. Besides, after remaining unsolved for so long, their parents’ murder became a cold case. I do like suffering.
Violet dealt with it her own way: by inching towards total and complete catatonia. While Rose took another tack and became a “captain” and a “cutter” or what head doctors call “an overachiever” who found relief via “non-suicidal self-injury.”
But their suffering wasn’t terminal. I was convinced that both Rose and Violet would, because they never got closure, collapse. But they didn’t. So you have me to thank for taking you out of the nineties. I’ll be telling Daniel (in real time) what’s happening with Rose and Violet now.
How one of them stayed in Los Angeles and climbed, in essence, out of hell relatively quickly. While the other couldn’t get out and became a world-class drifter, primarily through the colonias of Texas. And how Violet, wandering back to the City of Angels after being estranged for nearly twenty years, is about to reconnect with her sister and consequently reject Rose’s obligatory offer for a Pretty Woman makeover. But first…
On March 24th, 2000, Hailstone Studios chairman Steve Meyer finally had his smoking gun.
His VP, after three years, had put two films in turnaround which, when picked up by other studios, later became hits. Jerry also had failed every year to develop a viable tentpole for Hailstone Studios. That was the reason, on paper, that Steve asked Jerry to join him at The Ivy for lunch. Chewing food is a primitive and unconscious outlet for conscious hostility and aggression, which Steve always used to his advantage during stare-downs to dominate any excuse-making opponents with his overbite.
Off the record, Steve, with his mouth full of steak, was about to fire Jerry because ⎯ you guessed it ⎯ Jerry collected Third Reich memorabilia and Steve now had proof. Steve, however, bit off more than he could chew and, before he got a chance to can Jerry, began to choke on his turf without the surf.
The Ivy hostess, beautiful and severe like a towering wave about to break, was the only one in the restaurant who was quick on her toes and pretended to know the Heimlich. It worked. Steve vomited all over her, apologized and offered to pay for her dry cleaning. Upon realizing that the worm Jerry hadn’t even gotten out of his chair to help, Steve began to cry, thinking about his wife Edith, his children and how close Jerry had come to keeping his job. The hostess, Rose, deserved much more than dry cleaning. The next week, Steve (after firing Jerry) created a made-up title for her, so she could learn from the ground up how he runs Hailstone Studios.
March 24th, 2000, was also the day that nineteen-year-old Violet came out of her three-year stupor with a burning left foot, which she ignored. After her release from Cedars-Sinai, she became increasingly obsessed with an albino falcon that seemed to watch over her. She was convinced it was from Ixtlan. Certain it was trying to lead her to Don Juan Matus.
She began to hitchhike just to keep up with it ⎯ out of California, through Arizona, past New Mexico. But once she arrived in Texas, it disappeared. As you can imagine, the white savior narrative (that Jerry Lyne, incidentally, always used to pitch) only works in movies. The colonia she settled into was “red,” the lowest of its kind: no drinkable water, no paved roads, no solid or water waste disposal, no electricity ⎯ shall I go on? A Caucasian teenager who never finished high school is supposed to solve this? She could barely take care of herself.
The fungus that burned on the left foot she ignored had now spread, discolored, hardened and cracked all the nails. Terbinafine had only been around for a few years and was certainly not available where she lived to cure her stomach-turning athlete’s foot.
So before I give you back to Daniel, you’re probably wondering who spread the rumor about him being a Satanist? Ready for this?
Back in 1994, right around the time the six degrees Of Kevin Bacon meme broke out. Daniel was in Honolulu negotiating with the State of Hawaii Film Office for The Ring of Fire. Out of sheer boredom later that night, at a bar, he found himself sitting beside a volcanologist and inquisitively asked how hot was Earth’s core?
The scientist responded, “Between 10,000 and 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” and then asked, “Why?”
“Because I’m a Satanist,” Daniel said, “and I need a crater as hot as hell to sacrifice a child.”
I couldn’t believe it myself, but six degrees is true. You’ll understand when you see what a scientist, who had never left the island of Oahu, had no contacts in the film industry, or did not possess an ear for mirth and sarcasm, did with the name Daniel Kennedy from Castle Heights, Los Angeles.
1) The volcanologist had… 2) a sister Alice who had… 3) a dentist Greg… 4) whose wife Barbara was having an affair with… 5) a stuntman Gordon… 6) whose niece Kimberly lived in L.A. and worked in the mailroom at Hailstone Studios.
There is ⎯ sorry ⎯ one additional point so irrelevant but nevertheless a detail so it must be mentioned. The Satanist videotaped, inside the Mulholland home, the ritualistic killing of Gale and Seth. The ostensible snuff film, however, is so underground that ⎯ ah, what the hell, I’ll just say it ⎯ my home would have to freeze over before it ever resurfaced. A VHS tape amongst all the content these days posted on YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix doesn’t stand a chance of being discovered. Even though on the spine it’s clearly labeled “Looters Invade,” one would be guilty of watching way to many thinly plotted movies to seriously assume, let alone believe, that the killers would announce themselves so insolently in an anagram. Transpose “Looters Invade” and you get “Do Revelations.” That’s just a coincidence, as is, and I swear to God, reading too much into “Rose and Violet.”
9 comments on “The Roomers
This short left me quite intrigued, cleverly layered with depth, but gives the reader a vastly different perspective on what was set up in the first story.
Great story! This author has an original voice and an engaging style. A lively read.
Very well written. Not an easy read though, one really must think!
Intriguing story! Complex narrative brought together with wit and creativity made a thoroughly entertaining read.
Interesting read that really made me think. All the twists and turns kept me on my toes.
Interesting. Had to cross over to the first story more than once to get my bearing on this one, but once I got it there’s an effortless stream of consciousness narration that’s worth noting. One that does not overshadow the through line. That’s not an easy thing to pull off.
I’ll be honest: I could read this several times and still not get a handle on, or pin-point, who the most compromised person is. It’s a good story, really well written, and made me think. Not sure if that’s a good thing!
Funny. That is often times how rumors start!
Lots of surprises, twists and turns!!!