The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 57
Jan pulled up to the back gate in his big white Lincoln Town Car, got out, went around to the back, popped the trunk. Wow. Eight 36 packs of cheap beer. He laughed: “Don’t get excited. They’re not all for you.”
“Jan, my friend, I’m just about to start entering all that video into the computer. I was worried about the tedium, but now…”
Jan: The what?
Me: Tedium. It means… doing something boring, time consuming.
“Ah, I see, I see. Good timing then, yah, yah…” his voice trailed off as he rushed around to the rear passenger door, scrambled around inside, stood up, turned, presented me with a carton of generic smokes. Right. I’d forgotten. Jan had a vested interest in my film. He wanted the Sunset Motel to become known as the place my famous movie was shot. Such a dreamer.
“Listen, if I DO get a distribution deal out of this thing we’ll celebrate with Dunhills and Coronas and $300 per hour call girls. On me.”
“Yah, yah, yah,” he laughed, slapping my shoulder. “Except, do you think we’d need them for that long?”
“Right. Maybe just one girl. For a half hour. Only I get to go first.”
I watched the Lincoln float at high speed down the long dirt driveway next to the trailer park. Four days later the beers were gone, the smokes half gone, the raw footage entered.
Four months after that, a few days after Christmas, Mike and Lee came out to see a rough cut. To take the film any further would require my acceptance of their suggestions as its producers.
They paid some guy in St. Louis to build a website. They bought me an M-Audio keyboard so I could complete the soundtrack. They agreed to pay the entrance fees for several film fests I’d already selected. Then something crazy happened. I never saw it coming: Mike—always the controlling force over his younger brother—flat out refused to pay or allow Lee to pay for DVD copies.
“You have a burner,” he said, “do it yourself.”
“But that’s insane. I’d need 500 blank DVDs, and cases, an endless supply of printer ink. Where’s the money going to come from? I need to get copies to people who’ll review it, create a buzz, reference the website.”
He knew that. He knew timing was crucial. He knew it would take me a month—minimum—working 12 hours per day. He knew that by contrast, a company set up to burn, print and package multiple DVDs at a time could finish the job in two days max—professionally AND for less money. He knew everything. It was senseless.
I called Lee hoping for some insight, some explanation. “It’s as if he’s deliberately set me up to fail. And not just me but everyone connected with this film.”
Lee replied: “Don’t know what to tell you except he did pretty much the same thing to me with that band we’d formed in the ’90’s. He dumped that concept the second he met Joe Frank and started collaborating with him, instead. He essentially wasted three years of my life. Join the club.”
In retrospect, Lee wasn’t his first victim. In the early ’80’s he abandoned all interest in his second wife after she’d introduced him to Bukowski, the famous author. To Mike, it seemed, she was no different than a taxi to the airport.
I hated going there, but you go where the evidence leads, and in this case it led all the way back to 1968. How could I have missed it, or ignored it for so long? A sick blackness overcame me. Certainly it was the cruelest, most calculatingly brilliant form of egomaniacal sabotage he’d perpetrated on another human.
And I, again, the victim.