“Draw me like a mule’s ass, will ya?”
“Even the damn horse is drawn prettier than me. Fuck!”
He walked over to the wall to pull out the darts and start over again, but stopped dead in his tracks when he heard an envelope being slid under his door. He froze waiting for the messenger to leave. After about thirty seconds hang time he walked over to the peephole, saw no one, pressed his ear to the door, heard no one, and bent to pick up the envelope.
It was addressed. “Crash Walker ” in cursive script on vellum paper. He pulled out an expensive invitation on linen paper with gold flecked lettering:
"Your attendance is requested at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for the World Premiere of Twentieth Century Fox’s production of ‘Rodeo Man’”. “Rodeo Man” was a big-budget Western Crash read for and didn’t get. Slightly bitter, he considered shitcanning the invitation but couldn’t pass up a chance at some major Hollywood exposure with the big dogs. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride.
Walker set aside the invitation, went to the bathroom and put some Brylcreem in his jet black hair and struck a few studly poses in the mirror. He quickly headed to the Thrifty Drugs to get some more cologne.
Decisions, decisions. What will it be this time, Brut or Hai Karate? He snapped up the Hai Karate because the girls in the commercial were sexier. Why didn’t he ever get to work with babes like that? He wondered. Running low on shaving cream he grabbed a can of Noxzema, which also had hot girls in their ads. Walking past the toy aisle he saw a pair of Colt .45 pistols. Not resisting the urge, he picked up the guns and did a few fancy pistol spins, drew them like he did on TV, and playacted a few gunfights, posing like a fool. He heard a few little girls’ voices giggling behind him. He turned quickly around.
Three girls around six years of age were standing behind him watching his six-gun antics, and were now just staring at him and smiling. “Hey kids, what do you think of six-gun action?”
“I like action”, a pert 17-year old blonde with huge pools for blue eyes in a tight t-shirt and jeans walked up and smiled. The little girls started giggling again.
“Well, hi!” Walker straightened up. “Do you like the shoot-em-ups on TV?”
“Depends on who’s firing the gun”, her eyes widened.
“Ha, ha, well, okay. I’m Crash Walker, you might have seen me on television, I get around. What did you say your name was again?”
“EMILY! Children! We’re going home!!!” a fat, frigid woman in her fifties resembling an uglier, heavier version of the blonde barked at the teenager and her sisters. “And never chat with sttttrrrrrrange men, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times!”
“Gotta run!” Emily leaned over and kissed Walker on the cheek, whispering, “I dig guys that wear Hai Karate!” then joining her mom with her sisters.
“EMILY! Defying your mother, just for that - no dessert tonight!!!”
“Oh, brother!” Walker mumbled, putting the toy guns away. A druggist in the background frowned at him.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at night, spotlights spinning around into the sky, neon dragons flickering on and off, fans cheering at the sides, photographers popping flashbulbs, the red carpet, limousines pulling up, and Army Archerd dressed to kill announcing the stars as they arrive into an old broadcaster’s microphone.
“Gregory Peck and his charming wife are here!” Archerd beamed, “Let's see if we can get him to say a few words!”
Ten minutes after Peck said his few words Crash Walker arrived in a rented limo he charged to Quinn Martin Productions, the producers of “Wrangler’s Canyon”. “Crash Walker, ladies and gentlemen, the star of ‘Ringo’s Canyon’, as can be seen every Friday night at most of your local television stations”.
Walker nervously exited the limo to scattered and evaporating applause, a few anemic flashbulbs popping. Archerd stepped away for a quick glass of water. “Well, at least he got my name right”, Walker thought.
“And here’s Doug McClure from The Virginian, that hot Western television show, and right behind him there’s Mr. and Mrs. Michael Landon from Bonanza, another great Western, we have some top-notch cowboy talent tonight! Grauman's Chinese Theatre - a veritable temple of filmic entertainment! Yessir, Entertainment hangs its hat here!”
“Raymond Burr of Perry Mason fame is here tonight, and what a patriotic American he is, Ladies and Gentlemen, his date for tonight is a Naval Seaman, just back from Vietnam , a young, handsome sailor bravely serving our country!” Raymond Burr and the sailor stood very closely smiling for the cameras, and then quickly raced into the theatre so they wouldn’t have to answer any prying questions.
Walker entered a devilishly red lobby, and the crowd looked like the Who’s Who of Hollywood : actors, comedians, singers, choreographers, cinematographers, screenwriters, scorers, directors, producers, and all of their seducers, male and female. Way back in the crowd was Animation and Family Film King Jack Duffy with his small entourage. Duffy occasionally glanced over at Walker , trying not to stare conspicuously, but peering over too many times. Walker noted this, becoming more nervous than before. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The last time he saw Duffy was at Camarillo State , just like-
“I got my eye on you”, a woman whispered in his ear. He turned around and saw April van Winter smiling at him, wearing a tight gold metallic dress. “That’s my eye patch joke, what do you think?”
“You look good in gold”, he said, enjoying the low cut of the front of her dress.
“Yes, me and Oscar, the two best in class dressed in gold”, she said, leaning by the tall statue of the Academy Award.
“What’s Jack Duffy doing here?”
“I don’t know, maybe they’re showing one of his terrible cartoons at the beginning”, she made a sour face, then leaned behind Oscar, “Cover me, darling”.
She pulled the right side of her skirt to the side and pulled out a tiny red flask hooked into her garter. “The last time I did this in front of movie royalty that little cunt Milton Berle chased me around Judy Garland’s house”.
“Too bad. If Judy Garland had your legs he’d be chasing her around instead”.
“Why, thank you, darling! You get a swig from me for that bon mot! But keep it hidden, Duffy and his cartoon police might have us kicked out”.
“Fuck him, and fuck movies called ‘Rodeo Man’”.
“I agree, sweetheart, what common American trash. Now take the Italians, ‘Billy The Kid Versus The Vampire Queen’ awaits. You’ll be my Kid and I’ll be your Queen”. She kissed him on the ear.
“A vampire with an eyepatch with a cultured New England accent, that’s better than ‘Rodeo Man’”. Swig.
“A little Cape Cod, a little Cinecitta, it’s classy cinema all the way for us!” Swig.
“Hey, April, who’s this guy?” a simple-faced, muscle-bound blonde guy in a tuxedo barged in eying Walker suspiciously.
“Why, this is famous American television star Crash Walker, soon to be the star of my next Greco-Roman blood sucking classic!”
“Oh, yeah? Chris Johnson, nice to meetcha”, he monotoned, pitching his hand out for a shake. Walker shook his hand and Johnson began crushing it. “Haven’t we met somewhere before?”
“I don’t think so”, Walker held his breath, ignoring the pain.
“I know!” he smiled. “Henry Willson’s place! His Easter Egg Hunt Party!”
Jesus, did that even exist?
“Sorry, Chris, I’ve never been to Willson’s house…ever”, Walker shook his aching hand behind his back.
“You’ve probably caught one of Chris’ distinguished performances in his latest beach epic. He plays Dunderhead, that lovably stupid Greek god of the surf set. His last picture was called, what was it, darling?”
“Tidal Wave!” he barked like a trained seal.
“Ah, Tidal Wave! I think I missed that one. Is that the one where you split The Red Sea?”
“No, I turn into a dolphin. Hey, guy, are you sure we haven’t met before?”
“No we haven’t, and yes, I’m sure”.
“Excuse me, Mr. Walker”, a heavy-set, older man, grabbed Walker away from his conversation, “I’m Hank Biedermeyer of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and I’d like to ask you a few questions for our readers. As a TV star, how do you feel about the current issues of the day?”
Walker took a deep breath. The last paper he cracked open was The Hollywood Reporter. “Well, I do try to catch up on my reading…” he turned to April Van Winter and friend and realized they had gone into the theatre.
“How do you feel about the Communist threat? Do you think student unrest in the colleges is a danger to National security? Can you contain Negroes rioting in the streets? Should drug offenders be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law?” He opened his pad to take notes.
Walker chuckled. “Are you asking me to comment or do you want me to pass legislation? I’m just an actor, you know”, he remarked, catching Jack Duffy and two other rich, dapper looking gentlemen staring straight at him fixed with angry faces.
“An actor and an American, an American who’ll step up to his responsibilities To The People should he be called!” The reporter’s voice pompously rose louder and louder, his fat face turning a deep red.
“Hey”, Walker backed off slowly, “You’re not a reporter. Who are you?” He stared at Duffy and friends, now turning their heads away and drifting off into the theatre.
“Mister Walker, the country is in turmoil and you cannot ill afford to selfishly look the other way. The people demand that you serve them, and serve them you must, all cowboy film antics aside. You must brush away childish pursuits and-“
“EXCUSE ME!” Walker ran over to a black kid usher by the rear. “Hey, man, how do you get out of here?”
“Just walk down towards the rear of the facility by the Emergency exits”, the kid said.
“Thanks”. He practically ran all the way, looking only once behind him.
He stepped out to the cool air by the fire escapes and the parking lot. He lit a cigarette and ducked out of harm’s way. Taking a deep drag, he drawled, “Well that wasn’t a lot of fun. What could possibly happen now?”
As if in response, the doors flung open and a tired-looking woman with auburn hair was practically ejected out. “Don’t try coming back in, either. We’ll be watching all the entrances!” A silver haired man in his theatre uniform shouted, tossing her handbag after her.
“Fuck you, asshole!” She yelled, picking up her shoe and throwing it at the door. She drunkenly stumbled to the ground and picked up her handbag, accidentally picking it up upside down and spilling all of its contents. “Motherfuckers!” She began crying.
The elegantly-dressed woman gathered all of its contents, and looking around caught the man standing in the shadows. “Crash Walker?”
“Valerie, what are you doing here?”
Her sorrowful face with her makeup running down melted into a blatant sneer. “Crash Goddamn Walker! You owe me plenty! Maybe thousands!”
“Cool it, Valerie!”
“BUY ME A FUCKIN’ DRINK!”