Finding Extra Writing Jobs

I was on location in Canoga Park when the star of the movie sent her assistant over to fetch me to her trailer. I can’t name the star but think Helen Hunt or Laura Linney and you’ll get an idea of the type.

I stepped into the trailer and closed the door behind me. The star sat in a chair with a drink in her hand.

“Don’t say a word,” she said.

I sat down on the couch across from her.

“Stand up,” she said. “Do not open your mouth. You’re the writer they brought in, right? Just nod.”

I nodded.

“I’m going to give you a job,” she said. “Extra work. You look like you could use it. Stand there with your mouth shut and listen.”

I stood there.

“I want you to write a scene for me. A love scene. Not for this shitbird of a movie. Just for me. Do it tonight.”

She saw the look on my face.

“You’re not too busy,” she said. “You’re too lazy. You’re a lush but you’ll write this goddamned scene or like they say, you’ll never work in this valley again.”

I nodded.

“Give it to Bruce first thing in the morning so he can bring it to me and I can learn the lines by lunchtime.”

I waited.

“In this scene,” she said, “the woman is lonely. She’s trapped in a loveless marriage. She’s trapped in a rotten, boring, stupid profession. She’s a passionate woman with no outlet for her desires, no source to fulfill her needs. The man in the scene is strong, silent. That’s why I want you to keep your mouth shut. Don’t ruin the illusion. The man has suffered but doesn’t show it, except in his deep burning anger. His name is Clint.  The action will take place here, in the trailer. At noon.”

I guess I opened my mouth because she held up a finger and said, “Zip it.”

She emptied her glass and held it out. I took it over to the bar nook and refilled it.

“It’s just a scene for God’s sake. It’s not real. Get that expression off your face. Don’t start showing me pictures of the wife and kids. Look strong and silent or by God you’ll be off this set so fast you won’t know you were ever here.”

She took a big hit from the glass and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

“You’ll be screwing a movie star. Isn’t that what every man wants? Now listen. She tells you of her needs, her frustrations, her appetites, her disappointments. Then you take her. You’re an incredible lover, strong, pounding, relentless, making her complete over and over again, until she’s ready to scream with exhaustion but unflagged passion. She can’t believe that these feelings are possible. You’re a freaking stallion, a love machine. So get plenty of sleep tonight.”

She made a dismissive gesture and I got out the door before she said anything more.

Traffic on the 210 was gridlocked. I was late for my kid’s ball game and my wife wouldn’t speak to me all evening, and then I had to stay up all night writing the scene.

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