Literature In Los Angeles

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page


In LITERARY FICTION on March 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Short story by Jon Dambacher.

He justifies the older black and white headshots by dropping trade paper quotes about such and such casting director, “…prefers black’n white because they’re more classic.”

He shot photos of himself in the bathroom when he first got to town but now is too lazy to drop the weight while eating a salad with the dressing on the side, which he pours on.

The Whole Foods vegan cookies and sugar-free brownies are his favorite.
He sits in his apartment scrolling through the online casting calls.
Soon he starts flipping through the local celebrity gossip pages more and more. He used to scoff at them when out to lunch with a girlfriend by saying, “Did you see what Monica Reed did at Razor Blades last night?”
“Oh, god,” she’d grunt before chewing into her soyrizo breakfast burrito, “What’d she do?”
But, he’s slowly become apart of it.

In another conversation the girlfriend asks, “You did theatre in New York. Do you think theatre is dead?”
Moments like these are the closest thing he’s ever going to get to being interviewed. Moments like these keep him alive.
Before answering he leans back into the café booth, darts his eyebrow muscles to really develop a response, “Um, no, I don’t think it’s dead, I just think…”
These talks will be the last fragment of genuine happiness.

The hand-delivered trade papers start pilling up on the driveway at 5am.
The casting websites are all minimized at the bottom of his computer screen to be looked at this weekend.
Celebrity news is flipped through zombie-like while he’s at the store waiting to be asked to decide between paper or plastic for his frozen pizza. On a much smaller scale, this question is also treated as part of the extended interview. Considering he’s a role model for Americans everywhere he wants to send a good message, “Ah, you know what, I don’t need a bag. Save a tree.”

He goes to sleep early and wakes up late.
He’s the most famous person living in his apartment building. Everyone invites him to their courtyard birthday barbeques.  Everyone removes their ear-buds when they’re in the laundry room together to say, “Hey.”
They’re all casual about it, which he really appreciates.
Word got out about him being a connected industry guy after he was leaving self-addressed Warner Bros. postcards in the communal junk mail bin.
Manila envelopes which contained Screen Actors Guild magazine subscription information began to stick out further than all the other trash. If ever a package came, either the Superman themed remote control or the Planet Hollywood t-shirt from eBay, it stayed on the doorstep of Room 3 for days before someone finally mentioned it when sliding quarters into the dryer, “Hey, I grabbed a package for you that came. It was left for a while out in the hall. I think you were out of town or something. I’ll bring it right now.”
“Oh,” he says, shrugging his shoulders ever so delicately, “…yeah, I was. Got sent to Europe for this thing.”
It feels so good. “Thanks for grabbing it, though.”
“No worries,” she says, shrugging her shoulders with simulated comfort. “I know you’re busy.”
He chuckles.
She nods, “Oh, I understand. Believe me.” She begins sharing, “With this new deal at work I’m….” And he stops listening.

When she finally leaves him there, alone in the laundry room, he stacks quarters into fours, creating small towers, calculating each dollar to the amount of his load.

His job keeps his mind there in the entertainment world, as he’s waiting tables off the Walk of Fame under the feet of Hollywood Boulevard.
Every morning as he steps into work he’s joining his fellow cast members. “Hi, welcome to the World Famous Fab-Fifties joint.  Our special today is the James Dean burger with Marilyn fries. With our World Famous Shakes you’ve got some options: Bing and Bob, strawberry banana, or do a solid and get the peanut butter chocolate which is the Bella and Boris.”
There is great satisfaction that floods his face when he gets a younger group of people and uneducated table who ask, “Who is the Bing and Bob” or “Bella and Boris milkshake named after?”
He read his lines so cleverly and never misses a cue: “They’re legends.”

Collecting his few dollar tips he smokes cheap cigarettes out back watching the Star Waggons lining the street.
This is a reminder to lose those thirty pounds for updated headshots. He sees those new headshots being taped up to quark boards inside the wagons of the costumer’s trailer; lines of outfits with his headshot copied above the collar; his latest headshot next to his many wigs in the makeup trailer.
Every foot under Hollywood, having come from near and far, has lined up – all faces looking inward – to get a glimpse of him emerging from his trailer, walking into the camera’s focus as someone asks him, please, to do what he is known best for all around the world:  singer/songwriter, actor, writer/director/producer, author, entrepreneur, and social media consultant.

The black and white headshot falls to the carpet of the trailer floor turning to dust.
The cardboard cutout wilts to ash, blowing away in the smog up over the Forest Lawn Mountains.
He flicks his cigarette into the street, turns his back to the sun and returns to drop off Table 53’s tuna melt and fries with a side of ranch.

Story by Jon Dambacher.

Photo by Unknown Author.

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