Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hollyballoo

“‘Let me be frank with you’… that might offend people named Frank.”

*Tap tap tap*

I scratched the word off the draft very slowly; my fingers were half locked in place by the cold. Taking a break from my labors, I tucked my left hand under my right armpit. My right hand and left armpit reluctantly reciprocated.

Sitting upright, I was quite a sight to behold. To blend in with the movie folk we would be “replacing” (as per our latest mission briefing), my crack team of hypno-cryptographers had hit the costume shop pretty hard.

Travis was at the hovercraft’s wheel, wearing an all-purpose security uniform. He was “officially” a new hire, who would escort Codex and myself through the crowded set to deliver a prop to the new Nick Fury film set. We would then sabotage the set. This would be exceedingly difficult, as Codex had passed away earlier in the week.

Alas! Following our last mission, Codex succumbed to Yellow Fever!

“Oh, woe!” I sobbed, “Oh, to be able to commune again with our dear Codex! Yet I do not weep. No, sir! For he’s in a much better place. You’ve got the whole back seat to yourself, don’t you?”

I reached back and adjusted the tie on Codex’s body. We hadn’t had time to bury it, what with Travis having purchased a DVD box set for each season of Babylon 5.

However, we did manage to spray him with disinfectant and get him into a fancy-pants suit.

“Don’t bother trying to get civility from him,” Travis chuckled, “he stiffed me on the tip!”

“Ha ha! Codex, he’s got you dead to rights on that one!”

“We’re here,” Travis grinned as the hovercraft came to a steady halt.

Still grinning, albeit forcefully, Travis came around to the backseat and whistled away at the passersby as I hauled Codex’s carcass out of that clown car and toward the studio. To the average schmo, a security guard was escorting an unshaven man with a heavy overcoat on a hot spring day toting a dead body face-down on a homemade, ramshackle sled.

Human chameleons.

“We’re being followed,” Travis whispered as we passed four little people dressed as babies with cigars in their mouths.

Sure enough, a cadre of cadets kept close behind us, watching our every move. The studio’s biometric database (merged into my main doohickey) scanned their faces into lines — then scanned the lines into points, then scanned the points into grids, and then — and only then — did I remember I saw those same guards on the studio’s web site. What a colossal waste of time!

One of the guards waved us over. “Freeze, hotshots! Lemme see yer studio passes.”

It would take more than my silver tongue to get us out of this kerfuffle!

“It’s all right, Frank,” Travis smiled, reading the fellow’s name tag. “I can see you’re new here. This is legendary propmaster Fabián Bullflux.”

I gave them a half-hearted salute and winked at them repeatedly. “Surely you’ve heard of my work. I turn uninspired lumps of clay into actors. Have your ever heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger? Taught him to whistle. But that was twenty years ago.” I slapped Codex’s limp arm. “Now I’m all about making dead bodies out of recyclable materials.”

Those simpletons — unqualified to do their own jobs, let alone mine — examined the body before bowing to my professional competence.

“Which studio is this…” he paused for a moment, choked up in tears over how life-like the corpse was. “What movie is this for?”

“Aye, that’s what we were wondering,” Travis fumbled, “could you point us to the new Nick Fury set?” He said all this with his eyes wide open and unblinking, a surefire means of gaining these bumpkins’ trust.

“What are you trying to pull?”

My hands shook! They were onto us somehow!

“You think we’re idiots?” Frank pulled out a metallic nightstick. The others did likewise. “You don’t work here; all new hires go through introductory training where they meet every single other guard.” He tapped Codex with the baton. “And that’s no prop. I was in the army for fifteen years, I know the difference between a prop and a real body.”

This was certainly a stunning reversal of fortune. Sweet Bat-man of Goth-am! This was harder than breaking into the Death Star!

“He said he’d kill me if I told anyone!” I shouted, jumping behind Frank, shaking my fist at a bewildered Travis. “I was abducted from my home — he’s a madman! Step on him!”

The guards descended on Travis like locusts on dust-bowl wheat.

It was a rotten thing to do to a friend and coworker. But as henchmen, there’s one rule we all live by: we’re all expendable. The minute we pledged ourselves to the cause of evil and donned our matching jumpsuits and ate the free cookies we were marked men. I thought gleefully of the media frenzy that might — would — complete our mission by burying this accursed movie-picture under bad publicity as I prepared to unpin the stink-grenades!!!

No actor, grip, key grip, gaffer or guppy would work on a set that smelled like a gym locker!

“What the #@$&! do you think you’re doing?!”

Clenching the still-pinned grenades betwixt my startled digits, Christian Bale (once again) swooped in to save my life and improve its quality.

“Mister Bale, these—”

“What are you doing, man?! What are you, an amateur?! I’m #@$&! rehearsing my Nick Fury lines all day, waiting for Fabián #@$&! Bullflux to build a #@$&! set worthy of Christian Bale…”

This is why you’ve gotta call ahead.

“You’re right to be upset,” I egged him on. “They’re wailin’ on m’roadie, and now the corpse is dusty. Dagnabbit.”

The veins in his neck danced like worms on a fish hook. “You’re done professionally! I want you off the set!”

In a fight between Christian Bale and Chuck Norris, Mr. T would be the only qualified referee. The appropriate attire for such an occasion would be tuxedos.

*Chortle!* As Bale blithely berated the bewildered guards with his bellicose ballyhoo, Travis and I tag-teamed to tug our teammate’s tepid torso toward the tiled Tuscan toilet. There, we washed Codex’s wilted whiskers, wisecracking wittily as we whipped his weathered wisps into worldly whorls.

Travis tended to his bloodied eyebrow, inured during the melee. A hypnotist with bruised eyebrows is like an airplane pilot with narcolepsy. Incidentally, Colonel Chickenpox, a diagnosed narcoleptic, would frequently commandeer aircraft for personal use, God rest his salty soul.

“Get ready for phase ‘Dine & Dash.’” I cheerily checked the timer on Codex’s stomach.

When the counter reached zero, the Yellow Fever spores ripening within his carapace would reach maturity and emerge from his gills. I had been planning something similar with a bee hive, but Codex’s untimely death had been an all-around boon.

“Do you think this is respectful?” Travis asked as we locked the body in the handicapped stall.

“What else could we do? He’s too big to flush. TELEPORT NOW!”

It takes two weeks to charge my teleporter enough for two people (especially since I use an iPod charger), but getting out of Hollywood alive was a worthwhile use of the coveted technology.

My only regret of the whole hullabaloo was that the ripening process prevented Codex from being zombified or vampirated. A loss for doomsday fanatics everywhere.
***

IN the immediate aftermath of what became known as “Bale Plague”, Hollywood was placed under quarantine by the CDC. All items from the set, including clothes, were burned. The cast and crew from the Nick Fury movie were forced to live nude in a subterranean dome for six months.

And legendary prop designer Fabián Bullflux was declared dead and commemorated on a set of coins available for purchase for $29.99. They say his restless spirit wanders the streets at night, looking for innocent victims to apply prosthetic alien ears to.

But we modern folk know better.

4 comments:

Match said...

So me buring LA stopped the Bale Plauge? Sweet!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I bought a set of those coins. As I understand it, they may go up in value.

captain koma said...

'stunned silence'

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