EDITOR’S NOTE — This is a chapter from the Fungasm Press title, LONG-FORM RELIGIOUS PORN. Reprinted here as part of the Indiegogo campaign, now coming up on its final 24 hours! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fungasm-press-official-pre-sale-launch-party]
A Sick Friend
“—and that is why it must be George Clooney.”
Madeline Hunter is talking to be overheard, mouth full of guacamole. Her mother often told her talking with her mouth full was rude, but Madeline Hunter never shut up long enough to hear it. She swallows and drains her margarita, her eyes toward the door.
She continues talking in a litany that involves the following themes:
And why wouldn’t he be in? The movie is POLITICAL. The movie is SEXUAL. The movie has MYSTERY and blood and gore. And it is extremely well written. And it isn’t just Madeline that thinks so. The person who did coverage on it at ICM, he thought so, too; in fact, ICM (that’s one of the twin towers of representation in Hollywood, folks) said they would come on and represent the script—but not with Madeline as a director. They would want to attach a name director.
Madeline practically spits the last sentence, and then waves a hand through her black bob and strikes a pose like she is all Louise Brooks in the “Pandora’s Box.”
“Fuck them! It is so fucking hard for women directors in this town. This town is filled with misogynists. That’s what drove someone like Dominique Colt to commit bloody murder the way she did. Don’t any of them get that? Right?”
Dieter Künstwerk, her companion across the booth, is not his usual responsive self. Normally, he’d already have fired back twelve witty rejoinders and a partridge in a pear tree. But he barely manages a head nod, after a pause so pregnant she is about to induce it with another “right?!” She notices for the first time that Dieter is not his usual dapper self, either. He looks like shit, frankly.
They are meeting at Casa Vega, where George Clooney is rumored to show up from time to time, which is as dark as a tomb even in the daytime.
Dieter has his sunglasses on. And he is not eating anything, meaning Madeline is eating the guacamole, the chips and salsa, and was the only one who ordered a margarita and a veggie burrito. She certainly doesn’t need to eat all this food by herself, even if she is only behind the camera.
“Hey, you feeling okay, Deets?”
Dieter shakes his head. He had some eye surgery thing done—that’s why the sunglasses—and he has been having other medical issues lately.
Madeline gets a twinge of worry. Here she has been prattling on about George Clooney and Dieter might be dying. Fuck. What kind of friend is she, anyway? A shitty one, she knows it, but Dieter’s the best friend she’s got. She hopes to fuck he’s okay. Who else will listen to her bullshit?
“So what’s the diagnosis? What do you got? Is it some weird illness or something?”
Dieter shakes his head. “No, it’s not an illness per se,” he says with a bit of a theatrical flip of his wrist. “It’s a condition.”
“Well, what kind of condition?”
“It’s a sensitivity to sunlight.”
“Jesus, you are in the wrong town for that,” Madeline says. “All we got is sunlight.”
Dieter manages a weak smile. He has started to notice that.
She asks if doctors are making progress. How does this condition improve? Dieter says it is a chronic condition. In fact it is only going to get worse.
“Shit! No more beach days?” Madeline says.
And Dieter starts to cry.
Madeline is appalled at her own insensitivity. Why, George Clooney could walk in at any moment and see her with this friend who clearly looks like he has something fatal and she is making him cry and she would look even worse when she left her sick crying friend and approached Clooney to hand him a script. But Dieter would understand. He is as shallow and opportunist as anyone. He would leave her drunk and puking at a bar to go home with a random hot bear in leather any day of the week… and had.
Madeline moves over to sit next to Dieter. Who cares if now she no longer has a view of the door. Fuck George Clooney. In one hundred years they would all be dead and who would care anyway whether she made this movie or if she ever met George Clooney or directed his next big thing. She is smart enough to be philosophical about everything, when it comes right down to it. Her heart: Ice cold.
Speaking of which, that is Dieter to the touch. She puts her arm around him and is even more alarmed. He is really thin and pasty and cold. She holds his little shoulders as they rock.
“Hey, hey!” she says. “It’ll be all right. I think. Won’t it?”
Dieter shakes his head.
So he is dying then, that is it. Shit! She should write a movie about this. This would be a totally guerilla style indie. Fuck Hollywood. She doesn’t need their shit. She’ll just get a camera and chronicle the death of Dieter.
The Death of Dieter: It would be so moving— so sad— the story of a twenty-eight year old destined to die of some strange disease…. and, of course, the story of their eight year friendship, begun as sophomores at University of Southern California (USC), when she convinced him to skip class and go watch the Dominique Colt court case instead—
“I wanna stop, Mads.”
Now that is interesting. Stop? She adjusts her thinking. Okay, so he’s lied to her. He is on drugs. Shit! Another stupid friend on drugs. She has no time in her life for stupid fucking addicts. Goddamn it Dieter, what a shit-head!
“How can I help?” Madeline asks, in her most helpful voice, realizing immediately how much she has no desire to help.
Dieter takes off his sunglasses.
Madeline almost screams and jumps out of the booth. His eyes are fucking RED. Not red like he’s been crying. Red like his pupils are totally Amityville Horror Pig “GET OUT” fucking Red.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asks.
She could not, never had, but she nods.