Entourage:2039, Chapter 25: Turtle Attacks!! (part one)

Is this all weird, confusing and a little scary for you? Start at chapter one.

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It’s 4 a.m. In a Santa Monica penthouse suite, Ari Gold sleeps. There are four armed guards outside the door, an entire hotel full of his men, his private army camped on the surrounding streets and doing God-knows-what in the bar and down on the dark beach. There’s even a detachment on the roof with big guns and shoulder-mounted missiles, to guard against an aerial assault. But that’s not going to happen- Ari’s army owns the air. His drones go over every hour on the hour, ready to rain death on anyone who dares to cross him or, on a slow day, pretty much anyone at all.

There are eight empty little liquor bottles by the bed and on the floor. Pills too, horse pills. This whole pharmacopeia is enough to bludgeon Ari into unconsciousness, if not peace. And so he sleeps, lost in the past and his dream of Vince, twisted in 800-hundred-dollar black satin sheets.

***

But while Ari sleeps, Turtle is wide awake- completely wired, actually. No drugs involved. Turtle is on a natural high, because he loves this shit. Turtle is on the 101 freeway, southbound in what used to be the number four lane, approaching the Alvarado Street exit.

He’s not in a car, of course. If you see a car on the 101 these days, it’s a burnt-out rusted hulk, Continue reading Entourage:2039, Chapter 25: Turtle Attacks!! (part one)”

Entourage:2039, Chapter 24: Happenings at an audition for a three-line role, occurring twenty years previous.

The young actor is on Riverside Drive when the traffic starts to get bad. He brakes, goes ten more feet, brakes again, slams the wheel, curses. What is he doing out here in the east Valley, anyway? The audition isn’t anywhere an audition should be- somewhere off on the godforsaken edge of Griffith Park. But what the hell, it’s three lines in a feature, and they all started somewhere, right?

When he finally finds the place there’s nothing there. It looks like an abandoned lot- the young actor can’t believe it. He stands there feeling stupid until someone says his name and a millisecond after he gets out “Yeah” he’s being blindfolded and put in a car. “Just relax, we’ll be going underground,” they tell him.

The Actor does his best not to freak out. “What would Vincent Chase do?” he actually thinks to himself, without irony, and what he comes up with is that Vince would play it cool. The Young Actor has never met Vince of course, although he saw him across a club once, getting bottle service Continue reading Entourage:2039, Chapter 24: Happenings at an audition for a three-line role, occurring twenty years previous.”

Entourage:2039 Chapter 23: Vincent and Ari in the Spirit World (part four)

Is this all weird, confusing and a little scary for you? Start at chapter one.

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Vince and the girl visit the production’s barn and quietly retrieve the “Unicorn” – the flawless white horse presented to Vince in the film, now without its horn, of course. They lead the horse along the path to the small stand of forest being used for the shoot, and then, to Ari’s growing amazement, they take off their shoes and walk barefoot into the trees. A little way in, they come to a clearing, where moonlight is shining down on the blue grass. Ari hangs back among the trees, like the multiple-personalities serial killer in eight of the scripts currently piled on his desk. Vince and the girl stand in the moonlight and- they just talk to each other. Ari can’t believe this shit. They’re just talking. Now the girl is holding Vince’s hand, and rubbing her other hand on the back of his neck, and she whispers something in his hear. And… is he?? Is Vincent Chase crying??

Ari tries to turn away – he’s seen enough – but before he can he sees the girl take out some kind of horrible New Mexico turquoise-and-crystal necklace, and he sees Vincent bow his head so she can place it around his neck.

The next morning, Ari is ready to go: he’s seen more than enough. He shakes hands with Vince, and leans in to a half-hug, yelling in his ear to be heard over the prop wash of the waiting helicopter.

“You’re fine. Everything’s going to be OK.” Ari tells Vince, even though the commitment plan is now fully formed in his head- even though he already made a few phone calls to exclusive private facilities when he awake at four thirty a.m. that morning. As turns and walks towards the helicopter, Ari feels good: He is never more true to himself than when he is lying to someone.

And as Vince watches his friend recede into the sky, he feels good too, because he is never more true to himself then when he is telling someone what he wants to hear, when he is being what the world wants him to be.

And just like that, it’s over. Ari sits bolt upright in the California King of the black hotel suite with the black windows in the heart of the black Santa Monica night, with his black heart beating two hundred times a minute in his chest- but fuck that, because he’s still alive he’s still here he’s still Ari Gold who does what needs to be done and runs straight into the guns of the enemy and takes it in the gut, like a soldier.

And Vincent is back: falling into the ocean, and then he’s in the black water and it’s in his lungs and he can’t breathe but he’s not afraid and he sits straight up in the bedroom of the derelict house floating on the dead sea of the night desert, and the girl Mary is there, and she’s been watching him, and everything is new.

Entourage:2039 Chapter 21: Vincent and Ari in the Spirit World (part two)

Between the sky and the deep black water, Vincent Chase has a dream.

Which is confusing, because he was already dreaming, somewhere east of the city, tucked into bed in some never-lived-in ghost of a suburb that is slowly but surely being retaken by the desert. But still, Vince has a dream as he falls, and this is what happens:

In his dream, Vince is in his thirties, not in his prime anymore- his looks are starting to go a little bit, especially on mornings after he drinks. But still, he feels good. When the dream starts, Vince is walking through a forest. The first thing he notices are the gnomes- little men in green pointy hats, surrounding him, walking with him through the forest. It’s a little alarming, but Vince keeps his cool. There are beams of sunlight slicing down through the huge trees, warm on his face, but not too warm- and the whole thing is actually kind of nice.

Now another party of gnomes approaches and they’re bringing some kind of big animal- a horse, Vince sees as they come closer, huge and as white as something in a dream, which this is. Which it has to be, because now Vince is almost blinded by a flare of the sun off the huge beast’s horn- it’s not a horse, it’s a Unicorn! and the gnome leading it bows and curtsys before Vince.

“Your steed, your majesty,” he says, and Vince knows the great Unicorn is his and he can ride it. And the gnomes boost him up onto the back of the beast and Vince feels the power beneath him and he feels he should say something, that everyone is waiting for some kind of speech, but it doesn’t matter he just wants to ride he’s never felt so free in his life and then the director calls “Cut!”

Of course it’s a movie. Of course they were waiting for him to say his line while he just sat there on the horse with the prop horn glued to its forehead. It all comes back now- the fragile levee of Vincent Chase’s mind is instantly overwhelmed by memories, and guilt, and shame, and the voices in his head are joined now by those of three assistant directors yelling at him, shaming him, psyching him up, all in a proxy for the director who is too remote and fearsome to be spoken to directly, like the father Vince never really knew.

“I have to go to my trailer,” Vince manages to stammer out, even though he has no idea where his trailer is- he only knows he’s going to go insane if he stays on this set one more second with the six hundred eyes probing him, judging him. Because he is completely sure, as sure as he has even been of anything in his life, that everyone on the set, down to the lowest P.A., can see directly into his soul. And he knows what they’ll find there: What he himself knew was there all along, in a hundred stoned-sleepless 3ams in Hollywood mansions and foreign hotel suites, which is nothing at all.

Entourage:2039 Chapter 20: Vincent and Ari in the Spirit World (part one)

The party is a quiet one. It should have been a great night- Ari’s army had made their way from Chavez Ravine to the coast with no casualties at all, unless you counted a little indigestion and light vomiting. They’d plundered and looted a swath as wide as a football field across the remains of the city, and now here they were at the end of a hard day’s work, in Santa Monica, ensconced in the safehouse of the late beachfront luxury hotel, Shutters.

The boss had made a perfunctory toast – thanking everyone for their hard work – but no one was really buying it. He wasn’t smiling, and everyone knew what it meant when the boss didn’t smile at all, which was the same thing it meant when the boss smiled too much- which was that heads were going to roll, and soon.

Mr. Gold disappeared immediately afterward, bound for a sound- and light-proof suite on a floor so secure that 99 percent of the guests at the party would be shot dead before they were allowed to set foot on it. So the party isn’t very good, because everyone is just standing around looking at everyone else, trying to figure out who’s going to be dead before seven tomorrow morning. Some people are trying- there was a run down to the beach, and a few people even went in the water, laughing off the risk of certain, fast, extremely painful death that comes when you feel a forty-foot tentacle tightening around your ankle.

No one sees one of Things in the water on this night; no one sees anything much unusual- least of all the spirit, or avatar, or whatever of Vincent Chase floating in the dark outside the big hotel windows and looking in at Ari Gold holding a glass of fine red wine. Not only do they not see Vince, they don’t see Ari either because Ari has retired a good three hours earlier. Ari is 16 floors up, mired in combination of a meditative state, sleep, and a stupor induced by three of the industrial-grade Sequonel tranquilizers he carries at all times, in a little zippered compartment on the inside of his left boot.

The party actually looks pretty good to Vince, floating outside the window. No one seems to be having much fun, sure, and it’s a total sausage fest. But Vince’s standards are not what they once were. He sees these professional mercenaries- sipping wine and cocktails, and talking quietly in pairs and small groups about who pillaged what and the things and people they shot- and he experiences an overpowering urge to be with them, just for ten minutes, cracking jokes and holding court again, having three or four drinks and then, when his new friends have been brought effortlessly into his orbit, heading out to look for some weed, or some girls – anything – just keep the night going and see what happens.

The urge is so strong, there are so many memories coming back now all at once that Vince wants to cry, or scream that it’s all a mistake, it has to be a mistake it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this- but there’s no time because he’s flying now, away from the hotel and the lights of the restaurant perched on the end of this ruined city: The last light in the world- and it shrinks smaller and smaller behind him until it’s a tiny yellow-white dot swallowed by the endless night, and Vince feels himself being torn away from everything that he ever loved, or wanted in his life, and now there is no light at all and nothing below him but the bottomless black ocean, and now he is falling.

Entourage:2039, Chapter 19: Night Flight

Vince and Mary stand in the living of the abandoned, unfinished house. Vince is dazed and confused, dead on his feet.

“We need to get you into bed,” Mary tells him, and no argument is forthcoming from Vince. She takes him up the stairs into the master bedroom- somehow there is furniture here after all- and she puts him into the big canopy bed. Vince experiences neither shame or arousal as Mary strips off his clothes- only a distant, fuzzy gratitude and a longing for sleep.

“I’ll be back,” she whispers, and then she kisses him on the forehead and turns out the light.

Down in the kitchen, Mary fires up the portable gasoline generator she’s brought in, and she has the water boiling in five minutes flat. She uses two teabags, a little sugar, and a few special ingredients all her own.

Mary’s voice calls Vince back out of a deep sleep. She sits on the bedside and she gives him the tea. “Careful, it’s hot.” Vince sits up, leaning back on a big pillow, and he takes the first experimental sip. It’s good.

Before Vince has even finished the tea, he starts to feel himself floating upward, like the ghost of a dead husband he played once in a television movie. He sees the stars through the open roof and they seem to be falling on him, but no- Vince is rising, flying and he’s not afraid now- it’s amazing actually:

He flies out of the house and looks down on the entire abandoned subdivision, the roads and cul-de-sacs from above like runes carved onto the desert by a people now as ancient and inscrutable as any in the Social Studies classes Vince missed anyway because he was making out in the janitor’s closet. Vince flies higher now, far above the desert and west, back towards the ruined city. Through the permanent layer of pollution and soot Vince can somehow see it all: the studio lots, the hills where he once lived, the streets and clubs of Hollywood where he had been a Boy-King- there are almost tears in his eyes now but there’s no time because he keeps flying west, over the luxury fortresses of his former agents and lawyers.

The coast is coming up fast now, Malibu off to the north-west and directly below, the Palisades and Santa Monica, lit by the last red ray of the huge sun as it sinks into the western ocean. Vince circles lower now- he’s not really in control of his flight, but he has no fear either- wherever he’s being taken, he’s pretty sure it will be OK and if it’s not, well… Vince is willing to take his chances at this point.

He makes slow circles over the Santa Monica pier, skirting the blackened hulk of the Ferris wheel, and then lower, below the roofline of the luxury hotels he flies south towards Pico, over the Beachfront Walk where the deathracers speed by, day and night, and then Vince is over Shutters and floodlights beam into the sky around him because, unbelievably, there is a party going on at One Pico.

Somehow Vince knows to fly lower now, and he descends with perfect control until his feet are only eight inches off the path- behind him a three-wheeled death race bike rams its two-foot-long spiked blades through the inadequate armor plating of a hapless opponent and metal screams and blood flies through the air but Vince takes no notice at all – because he is looking the other way, into the big floor-to-ceiling glass windows of the restaurant, and not six feet away, staring out at the waves and holding a glass of red wine, is his former agent and friend, the Warlord Ari Gold.

Entourage:2039, Chapter 17: What a long, strange trip it’s been

It was very dark, and Vincent Chase didn’t know whether he was awake or asleep. He was in a car, and it was moving fast, but that was all he could say for sure. In his dream (or what he thought must have been in his dream), he had been in the passenger seat of another car, somehow on I-95, his mother taking them to Florida, brother Johnny out cold in the back seat. They’d never had the money to take vacations, really, but that one time, somehow, his mom had pulled off. They drove through the night and once Vince had woken up and they were in another state one- he had never heard of before- and it felt like another world.

Time had always seemed like a flexible concept to Vincent Chase. His first year of stardom had seemed like a decade, with the parties and clubs every night, after the party a girl, maybe two, and the guys there in the morning when he woke up to start it all over again, The days just… flowed. And then, later, after the bad movies, and the bad women, and the bad business deals, when he had retreated into himself, and into his penthouse- he could have sworn ten years had passed the second the big heavy door clicked shut behind him. But now, with Mary, time seemed to have suddenly speeded up again, with her he was a frightened old man, and he was a child again, speeding southbound for the promised land. It was all very confusing.

“You awake, baby?” asked his mother, and Vince sped upward through the well of time, into the light, into consciousness, and he knew again that his mother was twenty years dead, and Johnny now too, and the person talking to him was the girl, Mary, in the driver’s seat. Whatever road they were on, there were no lights. Just the faint orange glow of the city, over the horizon in the rearview. Above the convertible, the dome of the stars offered their ancient benediction down to Vince, and the girl, and whatever else was still alive out here.

For a second Vincent Chase loses everything- he has no idea at all where he is, or even who he is: He is blessedly, blissfully, blank. And then it’s all back. The engine purrs as Mary downshifts and eases the big muscle car off the main road.

“Where are we?” asks Vince, and Mary, her voice as soothing and smooth as the one in Vince’s dream, replies, “Almost home.”

Entourage:2039 Chapter 15: Roadtrip!

In the trunk of the girl Mary’s car was: two large bricks of marijuana, an ornately embroidered leather satchel full of dried peyote, six jugs of some kind of clear homemade liquor, and a metal roadie case full of pills: Speed, downers, sleep aids, all the big brand-name anti-depressants, and a few for male sexual dysfunction. Also, there was a disassembled and deactivated cyborg replica of the actor Vincent Chase, aged approximately 26.

The girl Mary, in the driver’s seat of the big red convertible, says: “We should be somewhere near Barstow when the drugs start to take hold.” The real Vince just stares at her, his face a complete blank.

“What?”

Mary takes a deep breath: it’s going to be a long trip. “Nevermind.” She floors it. The huge V8 roars to life with 390 horses, and the GTO leaves a trail of burnt rubber out of the underground carpark. Vince doesn’t even have time to shit himself and anyway, it’s been done. The wall comes up fast but then they’re through, into the tunnel, so fast that now that the blue lights into the ceiling blur into each other, and now there’s no sense of time, or danger, or anything- it’s like a video game.

But the light is coming up fast now, and then they’re out into the daylight, Vince cowering back from it like a newborn, and they’re ejected onto the broken concrete of what used to be Soto Street, and the sky is full of things that look like huge bats, except they’re metal, and they’re launching rockets at targets on the ground, or maybe just at nothing. But the first explosion is too close, and Vince’s lungs fill with black smoke and Mary yells something at him but he can’t hear it because his hearing is gone and then there’s a woman in the road in a black robe firing a machine gun in the air, and Mary jerks the wheel to the right – hard – and Vince passes out cold.

When he comes around they’re speeding north through the concrete bed of the L.A. River, spraying the half an inch of water out behind them. Over their heads, the sky is on fire, but down here it’s quiet, relatively speaking. Mary drives on, with the lights off, one hand on the wheel as she lights herself a cigarette. And the sun sinks in west, dying the ravaged city a deeper shade of red.

Entourage:2039 Chapter 13: Three things happen at once (part three).

When we last left Vincent Chase he was underground. Way underground, in the chamber of horrors presided over by the girl Mary, watching a no-holds-barred sex show given by two spitting images of his youthful self. “Could they come?” Somehow that was the only thought circling through real Vince’s dazed head. It seemed like they were some kind of robots., or cyborgs. Whoever made them had obviously gone into a lot of detail but… would something come out? And if so- what?

Whatever the answer was, he was going to find out soon. The Vince-bots pleasuring of each other was nearing its climax. And so, Vince found as he glanced over, was the girl Mary. Both hands were deep inside her panties now, her head pitched way back, mouth open, watching her own movie on the back of her closed eyelids – waiting for the big explosion.

It came. Literally: It knocked Vince out of his seat. Shook tiles and big clods of dirt from the ceiling, knocked the two Vince-bots to the floor. Something up there had blown up, and it was big. The next few stunned seconds were punctuated with follow-up blasts, further away than the first, but jarring all the same same.

When the fog cleared from Vince’s head, Mary was already on her feet, buttoning her fatigues and frantically throwing items into a duffel bag. “We have to go,” she snapped at him.

“What? Where,” Vince managed to stammer.

“No time for that.” With a strength that scarcely seemed possible in her petite body, she reached out with one arm and hauled Vince’s corpulent bulk upright.

“But… what about… them?” Sure, they were perverts, but they were after all, him.

Mary stopped loading documents from a recessed wall safe into her bag and looked sideways at Vince. “What, the bots? Are you kidding me?”

“I don’t know I just… we can’t just leave them here, can we?”

Mary considered for a few beats. “It’s going to be a long trip. And God knows you’re not going to do me any good. Four- come on. The young Vince-doppelganger she addressed stood at attention, ready to follow his master wherever she might lead. “The rest of you…”

She made a gesture, and the other Vince-bots knelt, without complaint, their faces to the wall. She pulled her pistol from her belt and chambered a round. To the real Vince: “You might want to look away.”

A few minutes later, Mary was dashing down a tunnel, Vince-bot #4 by her side, real Vince wheezing fifty feet behind her, doing his best to catch up. Mary, rounding the bend first, came into a dimly lit chamber that stretched a hundred feet overhead, and longer than a football field in either direction. There were cars here, all makes and models, and tanks, and military transport trucks. Vince caught up to her just as she pulled off the cover.

The car was a ’69. Pontiac GTO convertible, Fire Engine red, perfect mint, with the Ram Air V you couldn’t get from the dealer.

Vince finally caught up to her. The top was already down as she threw her bag in the backseat. Vince doubled over, gasping for breath. Mary smiled a little as she held the passenger door open for him; a real smile this time, not the cynical flash of teeth she had showed him back in the apartment. Now she raised an eyebrow.

“Roadtrip?”

Entourage:2039 Chapter 12: Three things happen at once (part two).

Ari Gold is not at peace. Never has been, and apparently never will be- not if bullshit like this keeps happening. You can’t get good help: That’s the one thing that’s never changed since the old days.

And they still get out of his way when he walks down the hall- that hasn’t changed either. You would too, if you saw the Ari Gold of 2039 coming at you. The big pistol on his belt, the bulging arm muscles, obvious even under his suit. And then there’s those legs- cosmetic surgery has come a long way in thirty years. It’s hard to even call it cosmetic anymore, when the recipient’s leg looks more like a horse’s, and he can (and has) knocked people stone cold unconscious with one kick to the head.

It’s obvious to Ari what happened. They came up through the tunnels, under the wall. The places his men are supposed to be charting, and mining, if they weren’t so scared, and lazy, and worthless. They’re still scrubbing the blood off the walls and taking the bodies away when Ari gets there. He feels nothing for these men, nothing at all. They were weak, and lazy, and careless. All the evidence he needs to make this judgment is right there in front of him, stiffening by the minute.

In a few minutes Ari finds the storeroom he was looking for, the place where they came in. A quick inspection, and he knows exactly who he’s dealing with. The calling card is handed to him a second later by an underling who literally turns and flees in terror before Ari can say a word to him. The black card, blacker now with dried blood, only confirms what Mr. Gold already knows.

He reads the label anyway: “The Murphy Group.” A little smile curls on the end of his lip. They realize, of course, that this means war.

Meanwhile: Turtle’s slow breathing is the only movement in his cell. There is no light, no sound, no nothing. Right now there is not even Turtle. He throws his entire self into the meditative void with an almost Trappist zeal.

Ari Gold is meditating too. His practice area is a little different: For starters, there’s the gigantic gold-plated Buddha that almost envelops Mr. Gold as he sits cross-legged in front of it on the giant, Opium-den-red pillow. There are Buddhas everywhere, and maybe a few of the more well-known Hindu deities for good measure. As he sits, Ari’s mind is not what a Zen teacher would consider “clear” by any stretch. When he closes his eyes, his anger does not dissipate. No, quite the opposite. With his concern temporarily withdrawn from the waking world, Mr. Gold’s rages are free to careen though the black gulf of his semi-consciousness , like pulsars transmitting through deep space.

But maybe that is a kind of meditation. Beggars can’t be choosers. And maybe, just maybe, on some astral plane, the minds of Ari and Turtle meet. They’ve had thirty years after all, to get to know each other, to get inside each other’s thoughts. Thirty years since that fateful day when Turtle barged into the offices of the Miller/Gold agency and demanded Ari helped him go into business. He’d said “no,” of course, given the kid some big, half-made-up lecture about what it had been like for him starting out, and then sent him on his way with no help whatsoever- just as a matter of principle. That had been the beginning. And now, the beginning of the end.

Ari, lost in memory, is maybe the only thing in his entire fiefdom not moving right now: In the cyborg workshops under the Silver Lake reservoir, in the hangars and barracks of what was once the Paramount lot, from the tops of skyscrapers and half a mile under the Hollywood Hills, Mr Gold’s people are preparing to make war.

But first, dinner. Ari halted his practice mid-breath and stood to the meditation cabana. If he’s going to unleash hell, why not a little taste of heaven first? He walks to the table, where a lavish meal is waiting: The finest veal still gettable anywhere west of the Great Divide, and an eight year old Bordeaux brought up from the deep cellar for the occasion. His face bathed in red-tinted candlelight, Mr. Gold eats.