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Friday, January 28, 2011

The writing gig in Pennsyltucky…

Category: Issue 21

It was the weirdest day. You see it in the slasher movies. You think it’s bullshit, but the poor bastard on screen whose blood never quite splashes your popcorn doesn’t prepare you for the real deal. I mean, you stop and rubberneck when you see the accident on the side of the road but you don’t want to be in the twisted metal wreckage, do you?

But I digress. I went to see about this writing gig. It was some screenplay that needed editing for some low budget horror thing and potentially there was cash to be had, so I went for it. Three hours of going for it in fact. Three hours spent driving through godforsaken Pennsylvania Dutch country, dotted by farm animals who are common law wives to the farmers that live there.

Frankly, Pennsyltucky is the inbred playground of the universe. It’s the inbred Riviera. Amish have a select gene pool to marry from. Their own. If they used protection they’d have genetic mutation flavored condoms. And the Amish ways have sort of overtaken all of greater Pennsyltucky. You can buy pure Amish Walnut stuffing from the bedraggled hookers on the corners who are up and at work at 3 in the morning, ready to milk and be milked. They’re willing to barter for services too. And there are plenty of the bizarro pseudo-Amish Mennonite. The Mennonite uses electricity, goes to Eagles games and gives Redskins fans the bird along with 70,000 city bastards booing Santa Clause, but still says perrraisse GAWD, Jeezus, Amen, I’m pure and clean and free of the evils of this world so I can marry my cousin. I was afraid to stop for gas. But the radio on a 3 hour drive through Pennsyltucky offers no great solace.

There’s no good music unless you like hardcore rap or banjos or a combination of the two, an unsettling sound I don’t recommend. DJ Bubba is an experience you will not quickly soon forget, sadly. As for the AM, there’s nothing like some good old fashioned Eagles and Phillies talk for three straight miserable hours to get you through a suicide crisis. Allen Iverson sucks, though he was God the day before yesterday, and Andy Reid sucks, but he gets in the NFL playoffs with little league teams each and every year and the Phillies suck but—well, one out of three’s bound to hit. To say Pennsyltucky fans are wishy washy is akin to saying… Pennsyltucky fans are literate?

Thankfully I escaped Pennsyltucky alive and found the address that I was looking for. The place was a big broken down rowhouse in downtown Center City Philly. The area makes Compton look like Mr. Rodgers neighborhood high on Big Bird poo at Christmastime. Needless to say, I didn’t feel too safe.

I parked the car carelessly, figuring I’d never see the car or daylight again anyway. Fuck digging out change for the meter! The meter’s bound to get stolen along with the car. I took a deep breath and crossed the street. What a writer won’t do for a gig.

I read the numbers, 201 and an upside down 6, yep, this was the place, 2016 Fourth Street. No avoiding it. I knocked on the iron door, reaching between the steel bars that guard it, and seriously figured that this was it, this was the time I should fly if there’s flight to be had.

I expected a man wearing overalls and a hockey mask to open the door, but instead, she opened the door. She was clean cut, smart looking and young. College cute I guess you could say. She definitely did not belong here. She belonged in Yale or Princeton, or even the University of Afghanistan. Somewhere safe. I half wanted to ask her for her parents number so I could call them and tell them to come save their child.

“Come on in.” she said softly.

Life or death time was here, right? Was the chance to write a script, make a movie and get some cash worth it all?

I still had daylight. Sure, the cops were afraid to drive down the street, but with the remaining daylight I had marginal safety on my side. Or-r-r-r

Choose to enter the iron door. Maybe win a job. Here. Inside the decrepit old brick building. With the blck windows. In the heart of modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, behind the iron door.

But my kids need shoes and SpongeBob toys and I’m a writer, after all.

Ok. So I go in.

The big black door and the gate close behind me. –CLANG- she did it, no hokey sound effects or church organs, just a spooked silence.

“Pat’ll be out in a minute.” she says.

I wasted time playing with the change in my leather jacket. Goddamn this place had me totally paranoid and I wasn’t even hungover. This haphazard guy walks out of the next room and points the girl towards a door. This place is like a scene from SAW with its blinking neon lights and its dark drip—drip—drip… from somewhere off in the distance. These creepy looking guys in white frocks buzz by and the girl leads me into the next room. The door closes—C-R-E-A-K—behind us.

This room is worse than the SAW waiting room, its too small. There’s a tiny black refrigerator, an out of place girl, a high backed Gothic chair sitting at a long chiseled, desecrated, wooden table that’s infected with scattered papers, and there are these 3D pictures on the wall of dudes straight out smoking themselves. I mean, they’re metal holographic 3D completely realistic looking portraits of guys blowing their brains out, hanging themselves, injecting their own arms with toxic needles—

“Pat’s a genius!” she gushed. “He makes all of these himself. What are you here for? Are you an intern too?” Her eyes were asking me for a glass of “Pat” flavored Kool-Aid, fresh squeezed from Waco, Texas. Maybe she did belong here. “Would you like something to drink?” she asked.

And it hit me right there, I was the next victim/model for this psycho 3D art collection. They looked real because they were real. The guy with the bullet hanging out one side of his head and the .45 connected to the other side that moved if you walked from side to side probably came here to audition for the lead acting role. I wasn’t sitting down. I wasn’t drinking or eating anything. In fact, I was keeping my eyes peeled for green gas seeping from the vents.

“I’m a writer, here about the script.” I said, circling her. I wasn’t stopping for anyone. I could feel the sweat cropping up on my forehead. It was then, as I circled her, that this “Pat” finally entered, the genius that created this hideous artwork. He looked like Rod Stewart after a mean saccharine and Crystal Meth binge, right after Rachel Hunter left him and took all of his money. He started speaking at 500 miles an hour about film and art and this horror story about an artist that made holographs of his victims as their last breath left their body and then he asked my thoughts. I looked at them both for a second and they seemed to seriously want my opinions on the story. After a second of odd silence, as I relaxed and realized that these were just a bunch of weird artsy types that thought their small budget horror flick was the second coming of Blair Witch, I started to speak about my thoughts on the story flaws. But I couldn’t speak. I felt light headed and I couldn’t stop my own hand from picking this dirty, oily rag up off of the table and stuffing it my mouth as Pat and the girl watched, smiled and clapped. Then I felt gratitude and t-h—a—-t——dry——h—-u———-m———-i———-d———-t——a—-s—t—-e——-o——-f—————

And that’s when I woke up here, inside this holograph looking out at another dumb mutherfucker who had come about a writing gig. He was staring at me, his jaw hanging open and the fear apparent in his eyes, wondering if I was real or not, getting ready to join us whether he knew it or not, me and the rest of the stuffed animals that decorate the walls of this cage.

I should have been a doctor like my father wanted me to be.

 

 

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