Means Of Production

oXo was on a pedestal. Literally. And not the first time in his experience, either. In fact, this hand-carved hardwood planter holder from India, supporting him on a brass disk held by the trunks of rampant elephants, was fairly cheesy compared to various niches and alcoves from which his blank quartz eyes had stared. But it was a nice gesture. For a tract house in Van Nuys. Which might have summed up Kenny and Gareth’s whole film career: decent props from Pier One housed in an off-the-rack structure built right on a fault line.

Kenny was currently meeting the leveled gaze of those transparent eyeballs without seeing much except the color of the wall behind them. (“Melba Toast”, a rather insipid shade of beige.) “I just don’t get it. This thing is supposed to be such a great communicator.”

“No, that was Reagan. And you actually produced that spot for his campaign, for the fat lot of good it did you.”

“But he’s our director!” Kenny was edging over into what Gareth thought of as his “turbo-whine”, the way a airliner engine can suddenly jump up from mere noise to something truly deleterious. “How’s he going to direct if he can’t talk to us?”

“Well you have to admit that a director who doesn’t shoot off his mouth is refreshing.”

Kenny smoldered awhile longer, staring into the twin crystal balls and trying to make his own eyes go out of focus, like when you try to see the design hidden in those tacky posters. “I try making my mind blank…”

“Not exactly a stretch.”

“Bitch. How do you find his wave length?”

“You mean, What’s his frequency, Kenneth?” Gareth chuckled like a jealous deb. “No messages from the ether? He wants points on the back end? He wants you to meet this girl?”

“Are you doing any better, SuperHag? I’m more receptive than you are and you you know it.”

“Yeah, receptive at both ends.”

“Two apertures, no waiting. But, you know…”

“If I knew, would I be asking you, for the luvva gawd?”

“Well there is one thing I’ve noticed… I don’t know… Probably nothing.”

“What?” Gareth glanced around in a frenzy. Maybe a crowbar? “What?”

I just keep thinking about this place, sort of seeing this… you know, place. I think I might have dreamed about it last week.”

“Glad you came forward with that bit of data. So, what kind of place? A leather bar?”

“Oh, please. No, it’s like it’s in the jungle. But there’s this building.”

“A pyramid? Some kind of ruins?”

“Oh, nothing like that. It’s beautiful. Like… Robinson Crusoe. Or Rivendell. Or you know that plantation Clark Gable had in ‘Naked Jungle’?”

“No. Because Gable wasn’t in ‘Naked Jungle’. That was Charlton Heston. You’re thinking of “Mogambo”.”

“Oh, riiiiight. Ava Gardner. But I think I mean Heston’s place.”

“Good, so we can rule out the House of The Seven Gable. Can you tune it in a little more? Any details?”

“Like the date on the cornerstone? What can I tell you?”

“Nothing, apparently.”

“It’s like a daydream, stupid. A vision. Not big on production values or rolling credits.” Kenny stood up and flounced off. Or as much as one can “flounce” wearing a 1890’s bathing costume with wifebeater straps at top and mini-shorts at the bottom. Canary yellow with baby blue accents. “I was just trying to help. I’m going to go tinkle.”

“Try it standing up. It’s very butch.”

“Oh, make a big splash. Which guess who’s the only one who would clean it up?”

Gareth stared at oXo some more, fuming. Not getting even a jungle daydream or Kung Fu flashback. Then Kenny was back.

“I just can’t get that place off my mind. Like some stupid song you just can’t… oh, snap!”

“Do tell.”

“Well, this might not be…”

“TRY ME!”

“There was this sort of theme song. Well not song, really. I just remember this little background vocal thing, maybe like you used to hear these harmony chicks doing stings for radio stations? Like, ‘The highly successful sound of Radio Looooooondon’. Or ‘Rollin’ with the rockin’est…’”

“Would you spill it!”

“If you’ll quit shouting, maybe. It was like ‘Something, something bids you go… to Falcon Oh…”

“Is that like the letter ‘o’ or a zero or what?”

“How could I tell, you simp? I just heard it. And what does it matter?”

“Because,” Gareth snapped, heading for the Mac terminal, “I have to type it in to Google.”

“Good idea. Look in ‘Images’. I don’t suppose Google has “Visions”.

“Not according to Bill Gates, they don’t.” Gareth was madly typing, zipping through pages of images. “Was it ‘Falconhurst’?”

“Of course not. I’d have recognized that one. It was on a river, by the way.”

“No help.”

“Oh, and you know…”

Gareth looked up at him as if ready to throw his smart terminal at his dumb partner.

“It might be more of a ‘b’ word. Like ‘balconies’ or something.”

Gareth moaned and typed more. Then stopped with his fingers poised, staring at the screen. “Kenny, come here,”

“Oh, yes, master. The way you’re acting I’m better off over here talking to this piece of rock.”

“Get your well-reamed butt over here, goddamit. Look at this thing.”

He spun the monitor sideways as Kenny dawdled sulkily across the worn shag carpet and was rewarded by a piercing shiek: “That’s it! That’s It! Oh my God!”

“Blancaneaux Lodge, apparently.”

“So it’s real? Where is it?” Kenny was practically jumping up and down.

“Give me a minute. Oh, Christ! Guess who it belongs to?”

“If I could guess would I be pleading with you to tell me?”

“Whoa! This is pretty spooky.”

“Oh, you noticed that. My fantasies are on the internet. I wonder if some of the sexier ones made it. Google…”

“It belongs to a film producer.”

“Oooo, that is spooky. Does it say who?”

“No it just says, ‘Belongs to a famous director, seen one, you’ve seen ’em all’. What do you think?”

“So tell me you… felchmonster!”

“See how it feels?”

“One phone call. That’s what it would take to have you killed.”

“Did that Brando thing awhile back.”

“Oh, that’s really… Wait, you mean Coppola?”

“You got it.”

“Wow, that is spooky.

“Reading on down it gets even spookier.”

“He didn’t die, did he? The third one after…”

“No, listen. He has seminars at the lodge. Bigshot writers and producers, like a dude ranch for film wannabes.”

“You mean like people pay to go?”

“Duh… would you pay to go hang out with Coppola and, hmmm, lemme see, Buck Henry?”

“Buck fucking Henry? Jesus, how much?”

“Or lessee, Shane Black, Michael Klawitter.”

“Who’s Michael Klawitter?”

“Producer for just about every Pacino film except the Godfather ones.”

“Holy shit, Pacino? Would we get to meet Coppola? Where is this place?”

“That’s what I meant about it getting spookier. Belize.”

“Belize, Belize… Africa, right. By the Ivory Coast?”

“You bet, Miss South Carolina. It’s like a hundred miles from a little place in Mexico you might have heard of.”

“Acapulco? Cancun?”

“Close. Playa del Carmen.”

“Oh, God that is spooky! When is it?”

“That’s the spookiest part yet.”

“Oh, Lord, don’t tell me.”

“Okay.”

“Fuck you, Suzy! It’s during the festival, right?”

“Nope, three days later.”

“Well, we just have to be there, is all. How much?”

“Seminar plus a week room and board, $3,275 per each.”

“Ouch. But it’s doable, right?”

There was a pause while Gareth squinted at the monitor and fidgeted his fingers across the keys.

“Excuse me, I said, that’s doable. RIGHT?”

“Well, look, we’ve been socking those credit cards pretty hard…”

“Cards? What happened to… call me old fashioned but… cash flow?”

“Good question, now that you bring it up instead of running into the night at the mention of paying those two…”

“Okay, okay. Don’t bring that up and snivel about it another three months. Basically, we gotta go and that’s that.”

‘So that card we got from PayPal should be good for the sixty-five hundred. And how much to get there?’

‘That’s the point, idiot. We’ll already be there. We’ll grab a bus down from the Playa for like twenty pesos and a tortilla with a picture of the virgin on it.”

“And take oXo. Absolutely. Bring him into the circle of stardom.”

Hmmmph.” Kenny turned to regard oXo, luminous with faint afternoon light. “I think he’s already there, don’t you? And did you ever get the idea that maybe he is bringing us?”

“Sorry, I just used up my spooky quota for the whole week.”

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