“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hollywood Darling pt. v

Back in LA, Ryan is hoping to settle back into his normal life of working, eating and sleeping with not much else in between. Sammy though, is always asking him to take her somewhere, the Hollywood sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, her favorite spot to hang out is
Rodeo Drive
. She loves to sit on a bench outside the stores and watch all the women in their fabulous clothes, carrying over-sized purses; Gucci, Dooney & Bourke and Coach. Every time they visit the posh shopping district, she tells Ryan that she is going to buy him something special when she finally makes it. After a few weeks of being her personal tour guide, he decides it’s time to get her some work.
                He starts by taking her to get her head shots done. Next is a vocal coach to soften (but not completely get rid of) her southern accent. He also signs her up for a six week acting workshop. The next few weeks consist of her coming home and reading lines to him every night, as he cooks for them. He has to admit to himself, he feels some pride in how she is doing. He thinks she is a natural. Ryan convinces her to try some commercials before jumping into the movies, naming many famous actresses that got their start in the same way. She pouts but relents. He accompanies her to a handful of auditions before she lands her first job- she is to play an accident victim for a local law firm. It’s a non- speaking role, but still a paying gig. All she has to do is wear a neck brace and look miserable. To celebrate, Ryan takes her to a boutique near Rodeo and buys her a dress, and has a limo driver he knows pick them up and take them to a swanky restaurant When they get back to Ryan’s place she tackles him on his sofa and they make love.
That ad is followed by a stint as a stressed airline passenger who ends up being won over by the friendly service of a small airline. Then she plays a crazed fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, who runs out onto the floor and dances a half- time routine with the Lakers Girls, bumping them out of her way one by one until she is the only one left dancing at center court. When the music stops she runs to the spot where the Lakers run back onto the court for the second half, slapping each one on the rear as they go by.
These commercials (especially the Lakers ad) lead to a large grocery chain, coincidentally a team sponsor, to contacting her to do a serial run of three spots for their stores. They think she is perfect for the role of a perky but smart-alecky checkout girl. The ads will play all throughout southern California, Arizona and Nevada, where the chain has stores. They are also planning on running them in markets where they are planning to expand, including San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and as far east as Dallas. Ooh… I have a cousin in Dallas. she says. I’ll tell him to watch for me.
The ads are a hit, so much so that the company wants her to do another series, this time they shoot six commercials. Ryan helps her negotiate a good contract that pays her very well. The chain even puts full sized cardboard cut outs of her likeness in their stores. Shoppers have taken to standing next her images in the grocery stores, striking funny or amorous poses and getting their picture taken. The store even has a link on their website dedicated to her fans where they can send their photos in and have them posted online. She gets stopped on the street constantly by people asking for her autograph and to take pictures with her. She laughs and hides her face every time she sees her ad on TV.
Ryan comes home one day to see an Armani suit bag draped over a chair and shopping bags from Rodeo strewn all over the living room. When Sammy hears the door she comes running from the bathroom, losing her towel. She leaps into his arms and kisses him deeply. I told you I was gonna buy you somethin’ nice, she says. She climbs down from his grasp and pulls the magnificent dark blue suit from the bag. I want you to wear this when you win your first Oscar, she tells him. Stunned, he says, I don’t know what to say.
 She takes his hand and leads him to the bedroom, where they stay until late that evening, prompted only by hunger. She sits at the kitchen table wearing his robe, one foot up on the chair, exposing her slender leg. Ryan meanwhile is searching the refrigerator for any sign of food. She tells him that she is thinking of moving out and getting her own place. He stands and turns to face her with (what he assumes) a hurt look on his face. She assures him it has nothing to do with him… it’s just that she wants to try things on her own for a while. He says he understands and tells her that he will help her any way he can. Not having any luck playing the hunter-gatherer he grabs her hand and throws her over his shoulder. She emits a whisper-scream and lightly pounds his back with both fists and kicks her legs. They disappear into the bedroom, not to emerge again until the next morning.
As exhausting as Sammy can be at times, Ryan knows he is going to miss having her around. Since she came to stay with him they have had a loose fling with occasional sex but mostly he will miss the companionship. They had become good friends over the last six months and he still feels responsible for her after taking her so far from her home. After she settles into her new apartment he gives her a list of agent names and numbers, telling her she should go with one of these. There are a dozen names, nine men and three women which were at the top. I have them listed in order of my level of trust, he tells her, adding they can help you more than I can now. She hugs him and thanks him for everything and she tells him, keep working on my story because that’s what I plan to do. OK, I will, he promises.

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