4. The Kid

4. The Kid

They lived on a cul-de-sac, in a little neighborhood surrounded by hills. The streets wound around and around through the hills, so that, driving late at night in somebody’s brother’s car, they felt lost on streets they had known since childhood; trapped like rats in an endless maze. But finally, as always they would find themselves at the park.

There, on hot summer nights, their lives happened: in gulps of warm beer, in the whispered stories and blasted music and the girls who maybe, just maybe, would let you disappear with them into the lush darkness in the gully, down by the stream.

Within that suburban square mile of trees, baseball fields, and the dirty trickle of the stream, they built a kingdom completely their own.

The Kid was a kid like any other. In the pack he stood back- blended in effortlessly as if it was what he had been born for. He drank with them, shotgunning from the cans of warm, cheap beer, puked in the bushes as they laughed and cheered and then did it all again; but even when drunk he never fought, or pawed at the girls, or stood on the rocks with his shirt off and howled curses at the moon, never truly lost control like some of others.

Like Jimmy McAllister- still famous at the park, still toasted for the time he took Melanie Anderson down to the stream, Melanie Anderson who gave every boy in school a hard-on when she wore that halter top with her tits just falling out- “Probably the girls, too!” said somebody out of the darkness, and they all laughed. Jimmy McAllister was upstate now; eight years for armed robbery. He told them he never even touched the gun, was just along for the ride, but the judge didn’t give a fuck.

The Kid loved Jimmy McAllister, even if he had never seen him- he loved the idea of Jimmy because he gave them something to drink to, gave them a picture of a world outside the park and the dead-end streets, even if it did end up in a cell in Pelican Bay.

So when they raised their cans to Jimmy, the Kid pounded his. The scene before him swam, and the cigarettes in the dark became fireflies, leaving glowing trails behind them in the air as the invisible owners opened one more beer for Jimmy and all the other heroes of the park.

The Kid staggered unnoticed into the bushes, making it to cover just in time. Minutes later, as he kneeled, still retching, he looked up into a blinding light. He blinked, trying to convince himself what was he seeing wasn’t a hallucination, or a dream:

In the parking lot of the park, their park, next to Eddie’s brother’s Taurus, there was a long black towncar. It gleamed supernaturally in the moonlight. The Kid heard footsteps on the gravel. Instantly he knew: they had finally come for him.

3. Joanna

3. Joanna

The scripts piled on her nightstand, the hard cardboard covers from the most prestigious agencies folded and stained and ignored under last night’s drinks, her cigarettes, or sometimes even a book of poetry by a fashionably semi-obscure and famously dirty poet-songwriter of the nineteen seventies.

And here she was again this morning, with the languid sunlight creeping across the floor towards her bed. When the sun reached her pillow and started to crawl across her face, she sat up in bed and pulled a certain dog-earred script off of the pile.

No one watching would have known that she looked more at the patterns that the words made on the page, or the composition of the paper itself, or even the tiny hills where the ink rose off of the page- anything but the words themselves.

She finished the page and turned to the next. The sun was warmer now and her hand let the script fall; she observed passively, detached, as it moved up her body and ran through her hair. She never tired of her hair; its texture, the mixture of her natural smell hidden beneath the twenty-dollar-a-bottle shampoo she insisted on having delivered from the Pacific Northwest. Her hand grew bored with her hair and wandered south, down the line of her neck and into the downy folds of the blanket.

As she slipped her fingers under, as the elastic of her panties snapped back and held them, she felt what she always did: a little electric shock that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. More than simple lust, it was the realization, always a surprise, of the beauty of her own body. Instead of being the girl in the centerfold, she was the fourteen-year-old boy finding the magazine in the back of some dark closet forbidden by his father –  the idea that she had been given unrestricted access to this body amazed her- it was simply too good to be true. There was no vanity- she saw her body always, purely and simply, as the teenage boy would have: as a gift too amazing to ever dare ask for- and yet it was presented to her in the morning or early afternoon when she awoke, by some infinite grace she could never hope to understand- she could only fall to her knees and worship.

In the afterglow, the sunlight fell across some words of dialogue on the page of the script, sprawled across the floor where she had must have kicked it, and for a fleeting narcotic moment before her mind returned to its usual sharpness, she let herself imagine that it might be the one. That after all the years of “guest starring,” and “also featuring,” of work that ranged from the awful to the simply forgettable, that she might find… not money, or stardom. No. She wanted something more, she told herself, and most days she could even make herself believe it. She was simply waiting for the story, for the character that was her. Then, the world would see, would know what she felt in her bed each morning as the sun moved slowly across her pillow and her hand progressed lazily down her stomach and onto her thigh.

On the nightstand, her phone vibrated. Joanna reached across and rejected the call without even looking at the display. She knew as surely as she knew anything that it would it not be the last call of the morning from that number. There was no need to answer yet.

Outside her window, a horn sounded. At the window, she saw the long black car on the street below, the uniformed driver waiting for someone she never imagined for a second wasn’t her.

2. Hanson

Part two of the below.  I am really ripping off someone’s style here, I just can’t quite figure out who. Maybe a combination of people. I haven’t really written enough literary fiction to have a voice that is entirely my own,  I think.

– – – – –

2. Hanson

Eric Hanson fucking hated this Whole Foods nature tofu wheatgrass shit on his plate; hated it more on principle than anything else. It had been twelve years now, twelve years since he rescued her, like he always rescued the damsel in distress, from the obscurity of a minor cable series. And now here they were. He stared at her, trying hard to burn through her with his gunmetal grey eyes. Finally her image blurred and he only saw the pictures on the wall behind her- himself, young, bronzed, in the uniform of a starship captain. His wife said something to him that he didnt hear.

How had it come to this?

What were they?

The phone looked not too unlike the 1960s vision of a futuristic communication device that he held in several of the pictures on the wall. When it buzzed with a message it was as good an excuse as any. He set the fork down, very quietly, stood, placed his ninety-dollar silk napkin on his plate, turned, and walked- with twenty years of classical training in London and on both coasts, walked with utter quiet and purpose out of his house.

His training failed him for a moment, and he paused on the front lawn. The grass, immaculate, deep technicolor green, cut to exactly one-eighth of an inch. The sun was dropping behind the houses on the hill in the distance, down the street that curved down and away, deeper into the gold-tinged urban suburbia of West Los Angeles- hill after golden hill, dream house after dream house after dream house.

After all these years he never failed to stop short when he saw the view, still never quite believing that he lived here. He tried to remember his Midwestern childhood, a dim dusty world of farms, muddy fistfights and never enough room for the seven brothers and sisters that shared their three room shack- but when he thought of it now all he saw was his own television biography, a 20 second montage of sepia-toned photos with solemn voice-over narration.

Hanson walked down the gentle curve of the hill. At the bottom, he stopped and typed a text message into the gleaming black phone.

He was playing basketball with two of the neighborhood children, Chinese boys who had set up a hoop in the street, when the car pulled up. It was a late-model BMW with tinted windows, almost a limousine.

Hanson timed his exit perfectly: he tossed the ball to the oldest boy as the car slowed, and then gave them his best starship captain salute as he slid into the backseat. The boys stared as the car rolled down the hill, into the sunset.

1. Blanford

This the beginning of a long-short-story or maybe novella or something I started and gave up on.  I don’t have an outline and don’t entirely remember where I was going with it. Anyway.

– – – – – –

1. Blanford

Blanford didn’t know what these pills were anymore. Ecstasy was fairly self-explanatory- but Vicodin? Xanax? Klonopin? Whatever happened to Quaaludes?

Jimmy Blanford knew Quaaludes, knew the velvety texture of the capsules (he would have called it “sensual” if he was the kind of guy to use words like “sensual”), knew the way then felt on your tongue, knew once the right doctors in Beverly Hills to get the prescriptions from- knew the Beverley Hilton pool one long-ago sub-tropical night in 1974, knew that German girl and the feel of her wet bathing suit and the three hundred dollar brandy they used to wash down the pills- knew the hallway back to the presidential suite, and the German girl on the big bed covered with gift baskets from fans and a guitar bought for twelve thousand dollars, cash, somewhere between Mobile, Alabama, and Fort Worth, Texas.

But all that was in another time- not just another time, another world, as if a door to some fairytale of his damp English childhood had been opened and then just as quickly slammed shut in his face. “That’s not bad,” Blanford thought, out loud, and almost reached for the pen on the nightstand, here in Los Angeles, 2006. Or was it 2007 now?

Outside his window, through the blinds that had been drawn for three weeks straight, the absurdly bright California sun- (the sun in Southern California is always absurdly bright to an Englishman, like some kind of cosmic practical joke, even thirty-odd years after his first touchdown at LAX) – beat down on tourists and second-tier agents by the mediocre hotel’s mediocre swimming pool.

Blanford’s hand moved onto the little hotel pen, and rested there a moment. A razor-thin slice of ridiculous California sunlight crept through the blinds and rested on the phone that never rang anymore. His hand moved past the pen and towards the pills. He hadn’t been a total waste, had he? They had come to see him in thousands, ten of thousands, hadn’t they? And not just to get stoned and try for a blowjob in the carpark after- they had come because they wanted something. And he had given it to them.

He had, hadn’t he? Wasn’t he entitled to this? Hadn’t he earned it, so many times over? Hadn’t he done enough for those fuckers?? Who could say he hadn’t?

Blanford’s hand was resting on the pill bottle when the phone rang.

“Tarantino Beer” (2003)

This was a class assignment to write a commerical parody. I was trying to move it beyond the standard  “making fun of something I saw on tv” into something a little more abstract.  There is footage of this being performed somewhere on a miniDV tape buried in my closet.



Attractive young people are enjoying a night out.

RYAN and FRANK are gazing longingly at some hot girls (KIP and ELIZABETH) across the room. Everyone is holding boring, generic-looking beers.

Man, they’re so hot! I wish we had
something to talk to them about!

Suddenly, everyone freezes and an announcer in a tux or similar (Robert) enters, perhaps accompanied by music.

Hey guys! Nothing to talk to the
ladies about? Then try one of

He passes them bottles of exciting looking beer.

“Quentin Tarantino Has No talent

That’s right! It’s the beer that
finally says what right-thinking
people everywhere have suspected
for years, but didn’t have the guts
to say!

The guys excitedly drink.

I never got what people saw in that

Hey you know what they call a Big
Mac in France? They call it,
“you’re a talentless, pompous

They laugh hilariously and high-five.

And for the lady, there’s “Quentin
Tarantino Has No Talent Lite!”

The ladies (KIP and ELIZABETH) suddenly get QTHNT Lites in their hands and are now magically sexier, unbuttoning their shirts or something.

All the violence and racial slurs-
it always felt so forced to me

Yeah, like a kid showing off for
his friends in the schoolyard- kind
of sad really.

The guys and the girls are partying together. The room is abuzz with chatter about how much Quentin sucks.

They all laugh hilariously and slap each on the back.

When you’re looking for a good
time, remember-

They all raise their beers and toast.

Quentin Tarantino has no talent!

“Waffles” (slightly offensive perhaps)

TOMMY standing alone.

ANTON and BEN, guys from the future enter.

Whoa, who are you guys?

We come to you from the future- all
the way from the year 2937!

What wonders of Earth in the year
2005 can you show us?

Well, I can’t really take you to
see the president or anything, I’m
just a guy from a small town.
(beat, thinks)
Hey, we’ve got a Waffle House. You
guys like Waffles?

Anton and Ben snicker each time he says “waffles.”

You guys keep laughing every time I
say “waffles!” What’s so funny
about some nice fluffy waffles and
some warm, hearty syrup?

They laugh even harder on “syrup.”


Nothing. So you really like
waffles, do you?


And you like them with lots of

Yeah, so what?

They finally stop laughing.

(to Anton)
OK, I guess we should tell him.
(to Tommy)
You know words change meaning over
time? Like in the 1950s the word
“gay” just meant “lighthearted,”
but in your time it means


Well, in our time, “waffles” has
come to mean “anal sex,” and
“syrup” means “seeing your grandma

Wow. The future sounds really
different. Can you take me there?

Sure, let’s go!

They transport him to the future.

Now here we have a future
restaurant, equivalent to one of
your 21st century waffle houses. We
better brief you before you go in,
so you don’t make a fool of

They both whisper in Tommy’s ear.

They enter and a WAITRESS approaches.

Greetings gentlemen, may I take
your order?

Tommy beams, he’s ready for his big moment: he thinks about it and speaks carefully, trying to remember the right words:

I’ll start out with “anal sex” with
plenty of “seeing my grandma naked”
… a side of “Twatty twat twat
cunty cunt cunt cunt twat”,
oh yeah and for a drink I’ll have a
“people should be allowed to keep
the Chinese as housepets.”

He grins at the dumbfounded waitress and the staring

What? I Bet you thought I was of
those dumb 21st century guys who
comes in and orders “waffles” and
everyone laughs at him.

Something to dawn on him.

Wait a minute… This isn’t the
year 2937, is it?


And you guys aren’t really named
Ben and Anton, are you?

They take off their “future man costumes.”

Nah dude, it’s us. Good one, huh?

But the sign outside, it said
“future house?”

Yeah, we just kinda covered up
‘waffle” with a big sheet with
“future” written on it.

So what do you really want, future


Ben and Anton laugh at him.




Greetings, 21st century humans.

The sketch you have just scene
paints a highly unrealistic picture
of life in the year 2937.

As future robots, we have been
programmed to find this highly
offensive. We wish to inform you
that life in the year 2937 is far
more than a flimsy basis for
puerile human humor. We have
achieved amazing advances in
science, art and medicine that have
made the world a more wonderful
place than you can possibly

Message completed. What activity
should we now engage in?

I desire… Waffles.

They start to have gay robot sex as “Let’s get It on” plays.


“Ristorante Existentialiano”

TED and LINDA are having a candlelit dinner at a romantic Italian restaurant.

Oh Ted, I love Italian restaurants,
they’re so romantic. Ooh, look,
here comes the waiter- those
Italian waiters are so cute, always
talking about love.

The WAITER approaches.

Good evening, how you folks doing
tonight? You two make-a a very nice
(winking at Ted)
I think maybe you going to marry
this girl, yes?

Well, I don’t know, we just started-

Linda is eating up the Italian waiter schtick, she loves it.

I am Italian, I know these things.
I think you two make each other
very happy- for about 34 months.


I think you two have a very
romantic wedding. It like a fairy
tale- for the first two years. Then
she a-sleep with your

Excuse me??

Love fades- it just-a a fact of the
life. But who knows, maybe you two
have a beautiful little girl-
(to Linda)
You like little girls?

Linda is back to being happy and giggling.

Oh I always wanted a daughter ever
since I was a little girl. I’ll
call her Ashley.

Ashley, that’s-a a beautiful name.
I bet she’ll be a beautiful girl.
You both love her so much, I think
you get in a protracted custody
battle over her. Maybe you use her
as a bargaining chip in your own
bitter legal battle, no?

What’s wrong with you? Get away
from us and send us another waiter!

The waiter retreats and WAITER #2 enters, even more stereotypically Italian.

Good evening, folks. I’m so sorry
about that, signora. You a very
beautiful woman, I’m sure your
looks not-a fade for another five
years, maybe even ten!


The even more stereotypical MANAGER approaches.

Good evening, folks. What-a seems
to be the problem?

These two waiters have been
horrible to us!

They told us we were going to get
divorced and have a custody battle
over our daughter Ashley!

I’m so a-sorry folks!
(to waiters)
Antonio, Francisco, come over here
right now? Did you tell these nice
people they was a-going to get a

They nod meekly and hang their heads.

You know I didn’t raise you like
that! What you were telling them,
that’s a nothing but cheap
pessimism! What do I always tell

Nothing really matters, papa.

Human free will, it’s just-a an

That’s a-right? What’s the
difference if they get married or
not? In a hundred years, we all be
dead anyway. You get married or you
don’t get married, in a
meaningless, uncaring  universe,
how it can it possibly make-a a

Ted and Linda are shocked and speechless for a long beat.

So, maybe I can tell you the

(through tears)

We got a grilled Halibut. The
halibut, that’s very good, because
his parent’s never wanted him, so
his whole life he very eager to

(also in tears)
What else?

We got the duck. It’s an exquisite
dish. The duck, it’s cooked in a
white wine and butter sauce, and he
hates you, and he hopes you get-a
the AIDS.

Linda turns on Ted:

Ted, he said the duck hopes we get
AIDS? All I wanted was a nice
Italian dinner- what is this some
kind of sick joke, bringing me to a
place like this?

Nothing’s ever good enough for you
is it, Linda- I don’t know why I
even bother!

(to waiters)
Isn’t it beautiful- they hate each
other. This is why I get into the
restaurant business. Come here
(he hugs the waiters)
This is a very special moment, so I
just want to tell you, you not
really my sons. Your mother, she
have the sex with the mailman!

We hate you, papa!

I hate you Ted!

I hate you all!

I never been so happy- now who’s a
ready for some duck?

“Dark Side of the Sketch”, 2004

Two STONERS are planted in the front row of the audience.

Two ACTORS enter onstage and start a sketch about a character named “Flipperhands.”

(acting cheesily)
So here I am, at the hair salon. I Couldn’t get an appointment with my regular girl, so I guess they’ll give me the new guy. I sure hope there’s nothing odd about him.

Actor #2 enters, wearing swimming flippers on his hands and speaking with a silly Italian accent.

Hey, you need-a the haircut? I cut-a the hair real nice!

But you’re hands, they’re-

Whatsmatta, you think I can’t give-a the good haircut, just because I got-a the swimming flippers for the hands?

In the front row, two STONERS are watching.

Man, this sketch sucks, change it.

No way, dude. I heard something awesome- check this out.

He clicks a remote and “Dark Side of the Moon” starts to play- the song “Money.”

Well, how much is the haircut?

See dude, he’s like talking about how much it costs- money! And the song is called “Money” – isn’t that freaking awesome??

Aw come on man, it’s just a coincidence.

Coincidence, you say? Watch this dude!

The song “Time” starts.

Well, OK, but I need this haircut fast. I don’t have time.

(elbowing his friend)

Wow, that’s so fucking awesome! So awesome I want to get really like, you know, stoned and stuff!

They proceed to get really stoned and stuff; some stoner friends join them and make so much noise that the sketch actors can hardly be heard.

Suddenly ROGER WATERS, mastermind of Pink Floyd, rushes onto the stage, appearing as he did in the 1970s.

(to stoners)
Stop it stop it you bloody idiots!

Who are you dude?

I’m Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and I wrote “Dark Side of the Moon!”


Shut up you bloody twit! How did I ever get a bunch of idiots like you as fans? It may be rock and roll, but “The Dark Side of the Moon” is a serious work of art, about the pressures that push human beings to the brink of insanity.

Which pressures would those be, dude?

You know, like the constant knowledge that every passing second is one step closer to the inevitable meeting with the grim angel of death.

So, essentially, “time?”

Yes, OK, to grossly oversimplify my vision into a single word, time.

Just as he says the word “time” the song “Time” starts playing.

Oh bloody fuck.

Hey man, are you really going to get back together with Pink Floyd?

Never. Gilmour has no artistic integrity- all he cares about is money!

The song “Money” starts to play. Waters realizes what’s happening to him-


He flees the stage as Flipperhands watches, non-plussed.

“The Amazing Goliaths” c. 2005?

They were the team everyone thought had a chance, but they were right- this Summer, get ready for the Amazing Goliaths!


A COACH is giving a pre-game pep talk to his football TEAM.

OK, men, listen up! Today is the most important game of your lives- the state championship!

But coach, this stadium is so different from our home field!

I know, Travis. But we’re still the same team. Sure, their field may have 3500 crappy bleacher seats- it’s nothing like our 60,000 seat NFL-quality stadium at home. And the team we’re facing tonight, they train on rusty weights in an old barn- not like our multimillion dollar state-of-the-art training facility. Now they may call me crazy, but I still think we have a chance to win this game. Because at the end of the day, they may have more hustle, and heart, and good old fashioned gumption than us, but we’ve got something you can’t measure- superior athletic ability! Goliaths on three!

The team all put their hands in:


Team exits, pumped up, then re-enters.

Alright, men, it’s halftime! Now I know things look bad- we’ve only got a 41 point lead. Now I want to tell you men a little story. It’s about a kid named Randy. They told Randy he was too small to play football. And he was born with Mulitple Scelorsis, and only one limb. Randy doesn’t have long to live, in fact he’s probably going to die right after the game tonight. All Randy ever wanted was to just carry the ball in a real football game. His story is an inspiration to us all. Randy plays for the other team, so Brent-

He points to BRENT, the biggest, meanest player on the team.

-when Randy gets the ball, I want you to knock the living crap out of him. It’s not going to be easy, but I think you can do it!

OK, coach!

The team all put their hands in:


They exit for the second half, then return, having won the game.

OK, team, huddle up! Now we were facing some real challenges tonight, but we stuck together, and we won the game by 120 points!

The team cheer and high-five each other.

(getting serious)
Men, I want to tell you something- this is a great victory, but I could have done it without each of you- football is an individual game, and together as a team, we’re much weaker than we are as individuals! One day, men, when you’re old and about to die, you’ll look back and realize how pointless this experience really was- but know this- however pointless it was to you men, it was more pointless to me. We may have started out as a family, but you’ve all become like a football team to me.

The team all put their hands in:


They start to carry the coach off on their shoulders, then think “ah, the hell with it” and walk off in opposite directions.

“The Bag Show”


Greg is a talk-show announcer. The cast who are not in the scene should be planted in the first row, to play the talk show audience.

And now ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for your favorite afternoon talk show, “Look Closer!”
Your host was discovered in 1999 by producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen in the checkout line at a West Hollywood Albertson’s. They cast him in “American Beauty” and the rest is Hollywood history! And now, here he is, the inanimate object who symbolizes the presence of beauty in even the most mundane everyday objects, The Plastic Bag!

The Bag floats onto his podium at center stage (Ryan is controlling the bag). The AUDIENCE claps and chants.


The bag floats a little up and to the right and the audience quiets down and sits.

Today’s topic is Daughters who just ain’t no good, and the mothers who can’t control them! Now let’s meet our mother, Jolene.

JOLENE (Melissa), white trash mom, enters.

Thanks for having me, Bag. I’m here because my daughter Tami ain’t no good- her and her boyfriend Craig are always having the intercourse instead of helping out around the trailer- I don’t know where I done up and gone wrong with that girl!
The Bag bobs around in the air sympathetically.

And now here she is, Jolene’s no-good daughter, Tami!

TAMI (Kip) comes out to a chorus of boos.

(flipping off audience)
You don’t know me- you don’t know me!

She sits down next to her mom.

You ain’t no good, girl!

So what, you think you gonna bring me hear and this piece of plastic is gonna tell me what to do? He ain’t beautiful- he ain’t nothing but a bag! Why don’t you go carry some kumquats, you bag!
The audience boos loudly. The Bag wafts angrily towards Kip.

Now you gone and done it, Tami! That Bag is only trying to help you- I’m ashamed to call you my sassy white trash daughter!
Kip hesitates then breaks down and cries.

I’m sorry, mama! I’m sorry I done went and had intercourse with Craig- and I’m sorry Craig done knocked me up!

Why you no good-

Melissa grabs Kip, looks like she’s going to slap her, but the Bag wafts meaningfully.
Melissa stares at the Bag for a few meaningful seconds, then breaks down in tears.

Oh girl, I’m sorry! You’re right, Bag- she’s my beautiful baby girl- and I’m gonna have a beautiful baby granddaughter!

I love you, momma! Thank you, Mr. Bag, you done shown me the error of my ways!

The Bag wafts approvingly.

(to audience)
I knew I needed help raising my girl right, so I took her on Oprah, Rikki, Jerry, and Dr. Phil, but it took a plastic Bag to help us patch things up and show us the way- all them folks is smart, but when it comes to tellin’ simple folks like us how to live, I guess they just ain’t as useful as a good ol’ plastic bag!

Kip and Melissa hug.

And now it’s time for the bag’s final thought.

The Bag wafts around a little bit- the audience gives him a standing O.

Tune in tomorrow, when The Bag talks to men who have a gay crush on their neighbor, but are afraid to admit it! Until then, remember: beauty is everywhere!
(in quiet disclaimer voice)
The Bag is not a licensed therapist, or alive, or capable of safely transporting a gallon of milk home from the market without help. The Bag Show makes no guarantee that you will appreciate the symbolism behind The Bag. The Bag Show recognizes that the whole bag thing may be just weird and confusing to you and, even though you pretended to get it when it won all those Oscars, “Titanic” is really more your speed as far as Best Picture Winners go. Tune in every day at this time for another episode of “The Bag Show.”