In the backseat of the car everything has a kaleidoscopic quality as objects and people expand and contract into dizzying shapes and red hot sunny burns. Even through the black tinted windows I feel the nuclear rays of the sun pierce right through to the back of my skull causing me to stretch my hood right down over my face. When I got up this morning everyone had either fled the scene or was still in hiding except for Leanne, who couldn’t even look me in the eyes as she wished me good luck, like a child seeking sanctuary in a cereal bowl between two squabbling parents. When I arrive on set I realise it’s actually the place where Jorge trains, PK something or other; a cheap, bright and nasty converted warehouse covered in blue gym mats and lame mantras like “you only live once, you might as well be a badass” and “you can have results or excuses not both” and I snigger at the duality of the last statement as if that’s the biggest problem these repressed fags have to face.
Inside I’m quickly escorted to a little office, the kind of place where disgraced former high-school greats try to guide their future ghosts of Christmas past only to end up haunted by both the ignorance of their youth and sense of inevitability.
“You look rough dog.” Kris says leaning back with a can of Red Bull and a mid dunk Michael Jordan greeting me from the bottom of his soles on top of a small wooden desk.
I nod in tired indifference and he smiles before motioning for a drawer underneath the desk and sliding over my piece. I pick it up and am impressed by the colt replica’s resemblance and rub the cold steel over my forehead before placing it to me temple, shouting “ditty mao” like in Deerhunter causing Kris to totally lose his shit, “Relax”.
“That thing is fully loaded Rickie.” He says bolt right up in his chair and mentions something to do with Brandon Lee being killed by a blank and to be careful. Kris spends the next ten minutes meticulously prepping me for my next scene, stressing its importance like the mother of a loser son continuously overlooked by every sports team or social club they ever tried out for.
“What are squibs?” I say.
“They’re just an industry term for specials effects. When the gun is fired the squibs are triggered and fake blood is produced.”
I nod in casual approval and Kris slides in front of me on the edge of the desk in preparation for his big coach speech, “Rickie we’ve only got one shot at this. We don’t have the budget for reshoots,” and he’s right up in my face with his hand on my knee, squeezing firmly, “nail this today and I promise you’ll be Hollywood royalty within twelve months.”
He continues to try to gee me up but I’m still spent from the previous night and when I ask him for the end of his Red Bull he produces a mini-coke mountain from his pocket and I’m unsure whether to climb it or snort it and decide against both in my delicate state and half-heartedly rub a bit into my gums.
By the time I arrive to the set I’m totally jacked and smash my scene in one take, walking up behind Jorge on a pull up bar and emptying the full clip in his back until he crashed into a bench, falling to the floor in an awkward and undignified manner causing the squibs to paint the room like a 1970s slasher film. Can’t this asshole get anything right? After a few seconds I hear someone yell cut and I’m moved into the green area while the rest of the crew prepare for the next scene. Inside Kris gives me a big congratulatory hug before ushering me into his jeep on the way to the next shoot.
“Man that was fuckin’ awesome.” He says pounding both fists mock drum roll on the steering wheel. I try my best to hide my delight while simultaneously framing questions to keep him talking about my performance, “I guess. I wasn’t sure about my delivery and I thought Jorge’s fall was a bit OTT, like Jesus I get it now die already.”
But Kris seems preoccupied and gives me nothing more than a wry smile.
“You hungry?” Kris says.
“I could eat.” I say and by the time we finally pull up at a Subway, just around the block from where we were last night, I’m ravenous. Inside the place is nicely air-conditioned and quiet except for a couple of wannabe Hillside esés huddled over a smartphone, swiping left or right and contributing the necessary stock hollers to accompany the group consensus. By the time we take a seat I’m traumatised by the choices and my head is pounding, every answer followed by another question; what size,
which bread, do you want it toasted, do you want cheese, plain or smoked? causing me to bail, “Just get me whatever you’re having Kris.” I say before seeking refuge in the corner furthest away from human contact. By the time Kris comes down I’m not even hungry and pick around the meatball mess out of obligation, my pounding headache causing me to wince like a suspicious cowboy throughout.
Back in the jeep Kris’ pep talks are as jaded as the palm trees on Sunset Boulevard as we make our way to the Hollywood station, where a music store implores the public to “give peace a chance!” under a giant billboard of Tarantino’s latest film and I’m reminded of the time Cass insisted we leave the Beverly Hills hotel, as soon as we finished our cocktails, in protest because of the backlash she received after she tagged in on Facebook. Outside the station Kris is in overdrive telling me that everything I’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear, and I’m not sure if he’s talking about my hangover, until he grabs me tightly by the arm with the intensity of a jonesing crack fiend.
“Remember Ricki we’re filming from the inside so don’t worry about fluffing your lines, just keep going. Once you’re inside ask for Detective Frank Pembroke.”
“Is he from Homicide?”
“You know Frank?” Kris says incredulously and I explain that I used to watch the show a bit as kid causing Kris’ whole demeanour to instantly change.
“No Ricki, different person.” He says with a smile, “Anyway once you’ve ‘fessed up, tell Frank you wanna call Skip.”
“You got anywhere in mind you wanna hit after to celebrate? My treat.” which I respond to with a tired, sweaty shrug of indifference.
“Leave it with me.” He says and after an equally surly fist bump I slowly shuffle from the jeep into the real life set of a thousand cop movies – the famous black and whites gleaming in the LA sun like State Championship winning cheerleaders. Walking up the to the precinct I’m reinvigorated by the “Cops” theme tune as I bounce up the steps, “bad boys bad boys watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do when they come for you…”