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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hollywood Darling pt. ix final chapter

Delta Again
Stepping out of Louis Armstrong airport, Ryan takes a moment to acknowledge the irony as his younger, over-eager assistant is trying to rent a car for the long drive to Delta, Mississippi. Worried that he would attempt to talk to Sammy, Ryan’s crew insisted he take someone along on the trip. The two men were supposed to meet with some county officials about using the site near Delta that Jackie daydreamed about using for the last scene of “Banshees.” Miffed by their refusal to let him go it alone, Ryan chose the newest, youngest member of the production company to accompany him, knowing the kid would not stand in the way of his main objective, which was of course to go see Sammy. Ryan intends to bring Sammy back to LA with him. He cannot imagine anyone else but Sammy playing the third banshee, which he plans to use as the leader of the killer trio.
Not that he was expecting it, but he is scarcely surprised to see Bobby Ray, Buck the mechanic’s brother-in-law among the county’s delegation. Ryan himself was on good terms with Bobby Ray, but he was unsure if the very large and obviously very influential man was aware of his former associate’s transgressions with his wife. If he was, he didn’t let on. Wrapping Ryan’s hand inside of his baseball glove-sized mitt and shaking vigorously, he welcomed the two men to take a seat. The meeting goes well, the only sticking points being the preservation of the swamplands area and the portrayal of the people of the areas in and around Delta. Ryan assures the group that he will hire a local ecologist to keep the crew on their toes as far as setting up equipment and such. Satisfied with this solution, they moved on to the other point. Bobby Ray especially is concerned about this. He starts by saying, look, we’re Southerners, we understand what our role was in this little skirmish. We just want to make sure that you all don’t make us out to be stupid hillbilly hicks or some such nonsense. Ryan responds by saying, what if we do a screening here in Delta, say a couple of months before the movie opens, giving me time to make any necessary changes to the script. We could do it at the Delta Motel and Hawley’s could cater the event, all paid for by our company, of course. We could even fly in some of the actors for a meet and greet. Would you be amenable to that? The men waste little time in discussion before agreeing, knowing this would bring a much needed infusion of cash to the still struggling community.
Leaving the county courthouse building where the meeting took place, the young assistant starts to turn the car back towards the airport. Ryan stops him and says, let’s swing by the site, take a look. Encouraged by the thought of being let in to the process a little bit, the assistant relents (knowing his main objective here is to keep Ryan away from Sammy) and turns the opposite way, heading towards the town of Delta. Ryan instructs him to stop about halfway between the county seat and Delta. As they pull over, he says, yep this is it. The director and his ward get out of the car and stare out across the lush, green swampland. Ryan, like Jackie before him can envision the ending scene of the movie where the banshees will be executed. Realizing the younger man is unable to grasp the scene, Ryan says, you have to see it at dusk…I guess. Getting back in the car, Ryan says, I’m hungry, you? I could eat, the kid says. Great, I know a place.

Ryan points him towards the town and too tired or hungry, now that he thought about it, the kid obliges silently forgetting his objective. They pass the sign with the 3D catfish welcoming them to Delta and Ryan, wanting to walk, has him pull the car over. They begin to walk towards Hawley’s (the kid unaware that this is where Ryan first met Sammy.) Passing Buck’s, Ryan is stopped by the call of, Hollywood? That you? Well, I’ll be…Buck says.
Wiping his oily hands on the towel strung through a loop of his overalls he reaches out his hand to Ryan. Whatchoo doin’ back here? He asks. I was in the neighborhood, Ryan says. Buck laughs and says, good to see you anyways, you going to Hawley’s? Yeah, we’re looking for some good grub, he says. Nodding towards his assistant, he says this is Jimmy, Jimmy, Buck. Buck shakes Jimmy’s hand and says, gotta get back to work. Ryan looks in the garage to see the same pickup truck sitting inside the shop the last time he was here. See ya ‘round Hollywood, Jimmy, Buck says. Bye Buck, Ryan says. The men enter the diner and Ryan shouts. Afternoon everyone,  much to Jimmy’s surprise. Everyone shouts back, afternoon Hollywood.
Miss Betty looks up and smiles at him, tipping her head towards the back of the diner. There stood Sammy taking an order, pretending not to notice the two men sliding into an empty booth. She finishes the order and glances over to their booth, where Ryan sits smiling and Jimmy is pouring over the menu, wide-eyed. Sammy walks to the counter to put in her order then comes to their table offering her best service with a smile attitude. Hey there, stranger, she says to Ryan. Who’d ya bring with you this time? This is Jimmy, Ryan says, turning his coffee cup over. Hi Jimmy, she says pouring Ryan’s coffee. Coffee? She asks Jimmy. No ma’am, thank you. Oh, he’s cute, Hollywood. Where’d ya get him? Ignoring the question, Ryan asks, how are you doing? You alright? Sure, I’m fine, how’s Hollywood? Fine. Ryan says as Jimmy buries his head in the menu once again. Ya’ll gonna order? Sammy asks. Yeah, Ryan says, gimme the special. Unable to decide, Jimmy says, I’ll have the same. Be back in a jiff, she says, walking away.
Watching her flitting around the diner and joking and trash talking with the diners, Ryan comes to the realization that she really is okay. He knows that she will make sure she is happy and gets the most out of whatever life she chooses for herself. She returns a few minutes later with their food and refills Ryan’s coffee. He says things around here really don’t change much do they? Nope, she says. But I kinda like it that way. What about your story? He wants to know. I’m still working on it, she says, smiling.

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