I worked late in the editing room last night. I’m flying to Chicago tomorrow to show Delirious at Roger Ebert’s Ebertfest; a festival that highlights the year’s Best Overlooked Films. It is an honor to be sure, though the pleasure is decidedly double-edged.
I wanted to take a DVD of the Doors rough cut with me to watch over the weekend. By the time it was burned it was well after 10pm. I drove back to the Loftes and just as I stepped out of the elevator I literally ran into Tregor who was charging by with three big bags of ice. He was wearing the same white track suit he’d had on in the Fitnesse Centre though now a thick gold chain was swinging around his neck.
“Yo, T,” he said. “Where you goin’?” A knot of annoyance creased his brow. It was only then I remembered it was the night of his party. “You’re goin’ the wrong way. My apartment’s down here. Take one of these suckers.”
He shoved a bag of ice in my arms and stomped off down the hall. As exhausted as I was I followed him. I figured I’d stay 10 minutes just to be polite, then slip out, go back to my quiet little lofte and crash.
Four hours later I was still on Tregor’s balcony, squeezed against the railing by a young woman named Patina Glow. As Tregor had predicted she was in the adult entertainment business. She wore a tiny pair of green terrycloth short-shorts and a matching tube top. We’d both had a few drinks and were feeling no pain. Actually I was feeling some pain. With Patina’s weight against me the metal railing was grinding into my spine. Every time I shifted to find relief Patina took it the wrong way and courteously returned the gesture, jamming the railing deeper into my vertebrae.
Donny and Doni were on the balcony too, both now wearing sunglasses and matching backwards baseball caps. Donny thought it was hilarious I was there. He kept winking at me. Which kind of pissed me off after a while with Tregor standing right next to me. He had both arms around his fiancee, Summer Springs, a tense blonde whose breasts were so packed with silicone they looked about to explode.
Tregor leaned forward, listening with a frown of concentration while Summer and Patina discussed politics. Summer favored Obama while Patina was a fierce Hillary supporter. Suddenly Tregor blurted, “Goddamit, I don’t care if she is a woman! I don’t care if her ass looks like a laundry bag filled with wet socks. I ain’t votin’ for a woman who made her old man seek elsewhere for his sexual satisfaction!”
“What a dumb fuckin’ thing to say,” Summer retorted. To my astonishment Tregor just laughed and let out a shrill scream that echoed across the pool below and bounced off the walls of the adjacent loftes.
“Hey, Treg,” Donny said suddenly, shooting me another quick wink. ” ‘member your last party? ‘member that guy who yelled for you to shut up?”
Tregor’s whole body went into spasm. “I’m still gonna kill that little bitch!” he spat. “I know who it is too; it’s that apartment, right there.”
He pointed directly at my old lofte. I thought of the new tenant whom I’d seen in the hallway; a quiet, skinny white guy who walked a little hairless dog. I didn’t say a word in his defense. I felt bad about it but not for too long; Tregor was once again fixing me with a dull, suspicious squint.
“Tom’s a movie director,” Donny grinned.
“Oh, yeah?” Tregor asked. “Hardcore or soft?”
“No,” I said. “I do mainly independent films.”
I named a few titles.
“I ain’t heard of one of ’em,” Tregor grunted.
“He did a movie called Living In Oblivion,” Donny informed him.
Now the crease spread out to ripple over Tregor’s entire bald head. “Living In Bolivia? Fuck, I’d move down there in a second; to be next to this shit.” And he held up a densely packed baggy with a pink straw sunk into the white lode. It went around the balcony three times before Tregor got stingy and put it away.
“You gotta do porno, Tommy,” he muttered between gritted teeth. “That’s where the money is. Patina, you and Summer are gonna make a porno with Tommy.”
Patina nodded. “Ok. I’m S.A.G. you know.” This time she shifted her short-shorts against me on her own.
“Me too,” added Summer. “When do you wanna make it, Tom? Tonight?”
I heard her voice but it sounded many miles away; somewhere over the rise of two luscious green hills sparkling in the golden glow of a late afternoon sun. The grass looked so smooth and soft I just wanted take off all my clothes and roll around in it. I don’t think I ever answered Summer. I just stood there, smiling.
Tregor cracked up. “I bet you’re Living in Bolivia right now, T! Am I right? You’re fucked up, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m alright,” I said, working hard to drag my brain back into the present reality. “Mainly I just need to get one of my films in the hands of a good distributor.”
“Who did your last film?” Tregor asked.
“A company called Gestation.”
Tregor spat a mouthful of beer over the railing. “Are you shittin’ me?”
“I used to work for those dickheads; doin’ security when they were still makin’ midget porn.”
“No, Treg,” I said. “These guys are real distributors.”
“Bullshit,” he snorted. “It’s Arnold and some faggy prick named George.”
I could not move or speak. And this time it had nothing to do with Bolivia or Patina’s languorous weight. “Gestation did midget porn?” I said finally.
“Yeah, that was after Trannie Grannies.” Tregor frowned at me in annoyance. “I thought you said you didn’t do porn.”
“I don’t. They just distributed my film.” All the waves of disappointment from Gestation’s wretched release crashed over me again. “No wonder they fucked it up,” I muttered bitterly.
Tregor leaned forward, both cauliflower ears tensed and twitching. “They screwed you over, T?”
I thought about it for a moment and then just let it all out with a heavy sigh. “Yeah. They did, Tregor. I put six years of my life into that film and they just dumped it.”
“Goddammit, Tom!” Tregor blurted. “Now you’re pissin’ me off!”
“Seein’ you all depressed like this! I don’t like depressed people! I had a child molester tell me once, depression is just a big bag of rage you’re tryin’ to choke the shit out of. You gotta get back at ’em. You gotta make ’em pay.”
Now I was annoyed. “What are you talking about?!” I snapped. “It’s over, man. It’s done. There’s nothing I can do.”
Tregor slapped my shoulder so hard I pulled a muscle in my neck. “Nothin’ you can do?! Look at me! Look who you’re lookin’ at! I’m the fuckin’ zenmaster of payback, bro!”
He darted into his apartment. When he reappeared an instant later a long, curved sword gleamed wickedly in his hands. “You just walked into Payback City, Tommy! All lanes are open and the kickass is on me!”
He swung the sword and sliced off a thick palm frond hanging innocently over the balcony. On the way the blade caught Doni’s baseball cap and flicked it right off her head.
“Goddammit, you whack job!” Summer screamed. “Put that fuckin’ thing away!!”
Tregor grinned, hanging his head like a naughty schoolboy. “I’m just kiddin’ around, sugarbuns. You know that. Sorry, Doni; I’ll go get your hat.” Then he leaned close to me and whispered with damp, beer–soaked breath; “We’re doin’ this, T. I got your back. I know exactly where those two dirtbags live.”