Hollywood is taking me out to lunch at his new favourite restaurant downtown. “I love this place and I’m sure you will too, especially since you’re always bitching about everyone in the movie business being so pretentious. This place doesn’t take reservations or have valet parking. The only problem is it’s getting a little too popular and sometimes there’s a line, but it’s worth the wait. We’ll have a great lunch and then we can talk a little business.”
He parks his BMW in a handicap spot and affixes a cripple pass to his mirror.
“I never knew you were handicapped,” I express surprise.
“I’m not, but I have a friend who is a surgeon and he’s having an affair with some wannabe who wants to be in the movies. So we made a deal. His girl’s in the movie and I have a spastic pass. This place is amazing. It has somewhat of a limited menu, but what they have is good and the atmosphere is invigorating. But before we go in…” suddenly Hollywood grabs me by the collar and rips my shirt.
“What the fuck did you do that for? That’s my favourite Armed Venus, ‘Spurting Joy Wherever I Go’ World Tour t-shirt.”
“This is a theme restaurant and everyone dresses this way. Cheer up it’s the new look that’s sweeping the nation. See I’ve got a ripped shirt too. Now let’s hurry up, we don’t want to miss out, this place is so popular and the prices are great. I want to get there before they stop serving.”
We get in line. For once Hollywood wasn’t lying. All the patrons are dressed as homeless people, and the staff are all wearing Salvation Army uniforms. The food is served cafeteria style and today their specialty appears to be vegetable soup. We sit down at a long table and are joined by six other diners who have really gotten into the whole homeless theme as their clothes are ragged and in some cases dirty. Many of them have blacked out their teeth.
“This place so rocks,” Hollywood states, “The soup’s good too, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but I need something to drink, when’s the waitress going to come and take our drink orders? I could use a rum and coke?”
“I’d like one too,” says the dentally challenged guy with greasy hair who is sitting next to me.
“Make mine a double,” agrees his unshaven dining partner.
I wave my hand and finally attract the waitress’ attention. “Miss, can you bring us a round of rum and cokes?”
“We do not serve demon rum here.,” she bellows. “Alcohol is what got you all in here and if you join me in prayer, you can break the shackles of the devil’s drink and find forgiveness and salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Hollywood gets down on his knees and pulls me down with him, while the guy on my left grabs my bowl of soup and starts digging in. “Start praying,” he orders, “otherwise they’re going to find out we’re not homeless and make us pay.”
* * *
“I can’t believe you tried to take me to a Salvation Army soup kitchen for lunch to talk business. How fucking low budget can you get?” I ask, three hours later as Hollywood drives me home, after washing dishes to pay for our lunch. “What’s the fucking business that was so important that it was worth that humiliation?
“I wanted to tell you that Roger Debris and I had a meeting last night with the finance people and decided that we didn’t have the budget to call the movie “While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog,” The guy who does the screen titles says it would take too long to type and he’d want to charge us double.”
“But it’s the title of my autobiography – it’s the suicide note that my mother left. It also has a hook and is something that everyone will remember!” I protest.
“Read your contract Ric, I own your story lock stock and barrel. I can do whatever I want.”
“But you promised,” I whine as Hollywood checks his iPhone 5 for messages. “When you were trying to get my screen rights you distinctly told me you were going to keep the title. You even swore on a stack of Bibles.”
“Were you saying something?” Hollywood interrupts.
“Yes I was saying that you swore on a stack of Bibles to keep the title, ‘While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog.’
“That’s bullshit, I never fucking swear! Now, Roger Debris wants to call the movie either ‘Behaving Badly’ which has 13 letters and or ‘Parental Guidance Suggested’ which has 25 letters, so I think we’re going to go with “Behaving Badly.”
“What the fuck does ‘Behaving Badly’ have to do with ‘While I’m Dead… Feed the Dog’?”
“Nothing, but there was a movie made in 2009 which bombed with the same title and I got a special deal on their used advertising posters. All I have to do is hire a few illegal Mexican immigrants that I got a package deal on to paste some stickers with Selena Gomez’s photo over the old ones and like you French people like to say ‘voila!’ I’ve got a cheap movie poster and I’ve saved a shitload, plus I’ve disproved a Hollywood myth.”
“What myth?” I ask, staring out the window at the transvestite prostitute walking down Santa Monica Boulevard, who looks remarkably similar to Roger Debris.
“I’ve proved there is a such thing as a free lunch.”