That Girl

Being that I am stuck once again #werking for a living and dealing unwittingly with civil attorneys and the tyranny of financial matters I am dropping a small excerpt of my novel which will soon be published and catapult me to international literary stardom and all the self-delusion I ever knew I had coming to me. This is all  copyrighted material F.Y.I. so don’t make me have to call Redhook for a face-to-face, capisce? Enjoy…

Excerpt from the novel “Hostility” by The Irish Duke

Amidst the morning gridlock Fury headed slowly down Sunset towards Santa Monica Boulevard on the phone to his superstar agent, Sally “That Girl” Stein, an industry powerhouse whose ability to take a litany of verbal abuse from her famous clients with a genuine artificial smile and no hurt feelings he silently admired. 

Fury asked Sally Stein why he (the highly-respected, revenue-generating talent) shouldn’t just take a long drive into the ocean and end on a dramatic fade out since he was never, ever, ever, ever, ever going to get an Oscar no matter how much critical acclaim he was famous for. It was too late, his time had passed, he’d be remembered as all those things that didn’t mean shit without the only statue that mattered. 

He sat in a rigid state of anticlimaxial tedium at a red light thinking no, the Pacific Ocean was too cold to attempt a monumental suicide, envisioning male model lifeguards in speedos giving him mouth-to-mouth, cringing, oh the humiliation. 

This speech was all conjectural as Fury knew he would never consciously contemplate an early exit, even to further his legend.  Sally Stein knew this too, but Fury wanted to hear the lip service he was paying ten percent for.  Sally Stein didn’t break from her tradition of “keep ‘em happy at any cost” and used all the usual words in her always-ready comeback. 

“Baby, you’re a genius, the best of the best, a total visionary, a maverick, revolutionary, all those things only you need to know are true baby, and if the Motion Picture Academy can’t recognize that then they can go fuck themselves, fuck themselves up their Goddamned commie Napoleonic asses without warning or lube baby.  There’s always next year, there’s always hope, just stay strong baby, you gotta do it, can you do that?  Do it for mama?” 

Fury pictured Sally Stein ripping the heads off of Barbie dolls as a form of cognitive therapy, no harm done to anyone who could cause trouble or sue. Somehow he knew her drug of choice, other than fame by association, must be Ritalin she scored from her hyperactive adopted Romanian kid.  At 4’11” and north of 200 pounds she ate nothing but carbohydrates and crow. Still, he appreciated her sense of loyalty and subservience. Rarely did the two ever coexist with any kind of authenticity.

“These things I know,” he said, no hint of sarcasm. 

“Think of Van Gogh,” said Sally Stein. 

“Can’t hear you…”

“Think of Van Gogh!” she screamed. 

Fury almost inferred another deaf-joke but thought that might be overkill.


“The greatest of the great are often the most misunderstood baby, the highest of the high feel the lowest when their highs are mistaken for lows.  The difference is you have it in you baby, you’re a fighter, you’re mama’s little soldier, you stay in the game to win, and baby, your time will come.”

“Sally, what’s the point of servitude to a marquee studio if I can’t get a little something extra when it comes to this one little thing? It’s almost like it’s working against me.  I’ve been doing time on that contract for over ten years, nothing but red tape and favors and the stink of Miller all over me. Might as well be on Wall Street, it’s all the same political bullshit. Is validation really so much to ask anyway? No one says what they mean, no one means what they say. I’m ready to throw down the gauntlet and go Death Wish on everyone in a tie. I’ll tell you this; things are going to change soon. And it’s not like I don’t deserve it, I’m a…”

Sally Stein continued to listen to Fury as she took another sip of her third Diet Coke of the day, looking placidly around her office at all the framed photos of herself smiling with all the famous people she represented. She had been proud to have had John Fury as her client since the beginning of his first experience with west coast budgets and expectations after he’d been working New York Art House theaters and East Coast heiresses for years, unrepresented.  His breakout movie, the revered sleeper hit of 1978, had garnered the Palm d’ Or Prize at Cannes and a multitude of Oscar nominations and wins for everyone except him.  The star power of John Fury and his enraptured, picturesque genius had finally given respect and profitability back to the biggest and most mismanaged privately-owned movie studio in Hollywood, which had somehow lost its way in the hands of disinterested corporate malcontents beholden to Balthazar trustees in New York who knew nothing at all about the redheaded stepbastard movie business.

But Sally Stein knew that, like most things in Los Angeles, she was just another trophy. Trophy girlfriends and wives, trophy cars and houses, studios and agents. Everything was about what others thought of the trophies you collected and the importance of who you lunched with. 

Sally Stein had stuck with Fury these last eleven years through all of his troubles and triumphs.  She truly believed in him and told him so at every chance.  But she also knew he loved to live with the impression that he was better than the politics of the business, that criticism didn’t have to be part of the cost of so-called critical success.  Fury really was a special kind of character, a true expressive virtuoso, whether sometimes unappreciated or just not quite cut out to play certain games necessary to win certain accolades.  That’s why she always used the Van Gogh reference, to which he always feigned deafness, to which she always played along to make him feel superior to her.  Earning the ten percent meant earning it.  Helped her sleep well at night when the Thorazine/NyQuil combo didn’t work.

“I want you to be happy baby, and when you’re happy mama’s happy.”

Fury had a strange and disturbing vision of what his mother must look like now and felt his grip on the steering wheel get uncomfortably tight.  He caught a right-way glimpse in a mirrored store-front at himself, on the phone in a red Ferrari on Sunset Boulevard, tan and slick and far from whatever passed for whatever he thought a misanthropic genius was supposed to look like. Suddenly he felt overcome with complete and total deadpan dread.

“I have to go Sally, I just ran over some Crips-n-Hogs, I’ll be in touch.”



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