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Beauti-ful (Wormwood Review) - 1988 - Manuscript

bright boy

we were in one of those after-hour places.
I don't know how long we had been there.
I noticed a dead cigar in my hand, attempted
to light it, burned my nose...

"you never meet Randy Newhall?" the guy
next to me asked.

"naw..."

"he got through college in 2 years instead
of 4..."

I got the barkeep to bring us a couple more
drinks.

"...he walked into the largest employment agency in the
world, they had 3,000 applications for this
one open position but he didn't fill one
out, he just talked to the management for 15
minutes and was hired..."

"...uh..."

"he began in the mailroom and in 6 months he
was arranging package deals for tv programs
and the movies...
nobody ever got out of the mailroom that
fast, and next he married an intelligent girl
just out of law school..."

"yeah?"

"in his office he seemed to spent most of his
time putting his golf balls across the room.
he made work look easy..."

"listen," I asked, "what time is it? the
battery in my watch went dead..."

"never mind...
...he was promoted to upper management and
stopped putting...
he was
the youngest man in America in such a
position..."

"you buy the next round," I told him.

"sure, well, he doubled his work hours and
after a while his wife left him--women don't
understand..."

"what?"

"guys like him."

"oh..."

"he didn't contest the divorce..."

"I didn't either..."

"he just went ahead, that didn't stop him, he
kept up his contacts, it was amazing, you'd
see him having dinner with congressmen, with
mayors..."

"are you going to get the next round?"

he got the barkeep to bring two more.

"he got into it, he got into the 15 and 16
hour day, and after work he began frequenting
an after-hour place above the strip, to relax,
to let go..."

"a place like this, huh?"

"this was the place...he didn't close any
deals here but he relaxed with the great, the
actors, the artists, the screenwriters, the
directors, the producers, the industrialists
and so forth... and, of course, the many
beautiful girls..."

"here?"

"yes, look around..."

I did.

"You're really funny sometimes..."

"well, then, to get on... he first tumbled onto
coke, then more coke, mostly in sundry condos and
homes after the after-hour places..."

"flying, what?"

"yes, but in his upper management position he
continued to function well... then
he got into H..."

"kicks like a horse, huh? my
round..."

I ordered two more.

"...and after some months he felt more and more
depressed, he took 6 weeks off and went to
Hawaii, surfing, laying in the sun..."

"did he screw?"

"he told me that he tried... anyhow, he came back
and he used to talk to me here just like you're
doing now..."

"oh, great..."

"he became obsessed with this Mexican Real Estate
Dream
which
he would front
with a Mexican friend who was well adored as a
great Mexican comedian, and the way
he layed out the master plan of the M.R.E. Dream--
within 8 years he would control and indirectly
own one-third of the Mexican nation, and from
there on in it would only be a matter of going on
to controlling one-third of this nation and that
nation... after that, it could be progressively
upped until..."

"drink up," I suggested, "then what happened?"

"well, he didn't quite get it rolling... instead,
at the office he became snappish and cantankerous,
throwing ashtrays, yanking the phone from the plug,
once pouring a bottle of TAB down a secretary's
blouse... yet he retained a rather stylish, though
obnoxious brilliance... and he remained semi-function-
al which was better than most of those about..."

"most don't have much..."

"that's true. anyhow, he began arriving at work
dressed in a house painter's outfit, you know, these
white overalls, including cap, and management gave
him a 3 month furlough..."

"BARKEEP!" I yelled, "COUPLE MORE!"

"...he sold his house and moved into a small apart-
ment on Fountain Avenue, and friends came by for
a while, then they stopped coming around..."

"suckerfish like winners..."

"...yes, and then there was a period when he tried to
get back with his x-wife but she didn't want any more
of that, she was with a young sculptor from Boston
who was said to be immensely talented and who taught
at one of the leading universities..."

"horse dung..."

"of course...
anyhow, our friend has this second floor apartment,
as I told you, on Fountain Avenue. so...
one day the manager who lived in the apartment
below noticed this water leaking down through his
ceiling..."

"oh?"

"the manager went upstairs and knocked on the door,
no answer, he took out his key and opened it, walked
in and there was this guy, he was standing there with
his head in the bathroom sink and the water was still
running out of the tap and overflowing the sink and
running to the floor, and the manager wasn't sure, you
know, such things are strange, and he walked up and
noticed that the head just stayed there in the sink,
and the manager touched his legs, his back, and every-
thing was stiff, r.m. had long ago set in, there he
was standing with his head in the bathroom sink with
the water running and the overhead light on..."

"listen, Monty," I said, "your name is 'Monty' isn't
it?"

"yes, you've got it right..."

"I drove here and I've got to go and I want to know
if the parking lot to this place is in the front or
out back or to one side..."

"it's straight out the back..."

"goodnight, Monty..."

"goodnight..."

I knew which way was back. I
got off the stool and started
moving toward there.

    
Come On In! - 2006

a bright boy

I was in one of those after-hour places.
I don't know how long I had been there when
I noticed a dead cigar in my hand. I attempted
to light it and burned my nose.

"you ever meet Randy Newhall?" the guy
next to me asked.

"no..."

"he went through college in 2 years instead
of 4."

I asked the barkeep to bring us a couple more
drinks.

"then he walked into the largest employment agency
in town, they had 50 applications for this
one job at a talent agency but
he just talked to the manager for 15
minutes and was hired."

"uh..."

"he began in the mailroom and in 12 months he
was making package deals for tv programs
and movies.
nobody ever got out of the mailroom that
fast, and next he married a rich girl
just out of law school."

"yeah?"

"after that he spent most of his
time putting golf balls into a water glass
in his office.
he made the work look easy..."

"listen," I asked, "what time is it? the
battery in my watch went dead."

"...and in another year
he was promoted to upper management and
a year later he took over the whole place.
he was
the youngest CEO in America."

"you buy the next round," I told him.

"sure, well, he doubled his work hours and
after a while his wife left him–women don't
understand."

"what?"

"guys like him."

"oh..."

"he didn't contest the divorce.
he just moved on. it didn't faze him one bit.
it was amazing, you'd
see him having dinner with congressmen, with
the mayor."

"are you going to get the next round?"

he told the barkeep, who brought two more.

"then he began working 16- and 18-
hour days and after work he'd frequent
after-hour places above the Sunset Strip, to relax,
to try to unwind."

"a place like this, huh?"

"this was the place. he didn't try to close
deals, he just wanted to relax with the
actors, the artists, the screenwriters, the
directors, the producers, the investors
and so forth. and, of course, there were also the
beautiful girls."

"here?"

"yes, look around..."

I did.

"well, it was just a matter of time until he discovered
coke, then more coke, mostly with his new friends
after the after-hour places closed."

"flying, what?"

"yes, but professionally he
continued to function well until
he began doing crank."

"it really keeps you awake, huh? my
round to buy ..."

I ordered two more.

"after some months he felt more and more
depressed, he took 6 weeks off and went to
Hawaii, resting, laying in the sun."

"did he screw?"

"he told me that he tried. anyhow, he came back
and he used to talk to me here just like you're
doing now."

"oh."

"then he became obsessed with some Mexican Real
Estate Dream
which
he would bankroll
with a Mexican friend
who was powerful in politics there.
the master plan was that
within 8 years they would control
a real estate empire and
several banks before the
government could stop them.

"drink up," I suggested.

"well, they didn't quite get it rolling.
he lost everything.
at the office he became difficult and unreasonable,
smashing ashtrays, throwing the phone out the window,
once pouring a can of Tab down his secretary's
blouse. yet somehow he managed to retain an
obnoxious brilliance and he remained almost function-
al which was better than most of the others there."

"most others don't have much."

"that's true. anyhow, one day he arrived at work
dressed in a house painter's outfit, you know, the
white overalls, the little white cap, carrying a brush and a
bucket of paint. that's when the Board of Directors
insisted on a 3-month leave of absence."

"BARKEEP!" I yelled. "COUPLE MORE!"

"he sold his house and moved into an apart-
ment on Fountain Avenue. his friends came by for
a while, then they stopped."

"suckerfish like winners."

"yes, and then there was a period when he tried to
get back with his x-wife but she didn't want any more
of that. she was with a young sculptor from Boston
who was immensely talented and who taught
at an Ivy League university."

"a rough turn of events," I said.

"anyhow, our friend had this apartment
on Fountain Avenue and
one day the manager who lived in the apartment
below noticed water coming down through the
ceiling..."

"oh?"

"he ran upstairs and knocked on the door, there
was no answer, he took out his key and opened it, went
in and there was Randy standing there like a statue,
his head down in the bathroom sink, the water
running and overflowing,
running over the floor, and the manager wasn't sure what
to think, it looked so strange, and he went over and
saw that the head was wedged there in the sink,
and the manager felt his legs, his back, and everything
was stiff, rigor mortis had long ago set in, there he
was standing with his head down under the water
and the overhead light on..."

"listen, Monty," I said, "your name is 'Monty,' isn't
it?"

"yes, you've got it right."

"I drove over here earlier but that was such a long time ago.
do you remember if the parking lot is out front
or in the back?"

"it's straight out back."

"goodnight, Monty."

"goodnight."

fortunately after all that
I still knew front from back. I climbed down off
that bar stool and made my way as best I could to the
exit.