Monik and myself have declared Freelance Fridays, starting today, which means a new short story EVERY FRIDAY. This week I’ll be submitting “Jeffrey”, a classic tale of identity crisis and catch 22. In some circles* it has been described as the next “Great American Novel”.
*Only 5 people have read this thus far
After a while, Jeffrey got used to rolling with the punches. As a kid, he was a pudgy, red-haired nobody that everyone called “gingerbread”. He wanted so bad to be a hero, a guy everyone looked up to; he tried out for the soccer team to no avail. He traded down, and auditioned for the school play; he accepted the position of stage manager, but it wasn’t long before he realized this position was more of a concession than an achievement. At the end of high school, all he had to show for himself was an awful imitation of a euro-faux-hawk and varsity letter in show choir. One day he would have his glory, in this life or the next.
Then Jeffrey hit puberty; he had to wait till freshman year of college, but he finally caught the break he really needed. Adolescence, like a Microsoft Paint tool, chiseled the fat off his cheeks, transformed his red locks with dark brown paint, stretched him to a hunky six foot frame, and did away with his acne with the nifty eraser tool. The world was Jeffrey’s oyster! At NYU, he changed his major from financial engineering to performing arts (now, he thought, his winning smile and captivating charm could cash checks). He graduated, spent three years in Alphabet City living amongst budding writers, actors, and comedians trying to hone their craft. He featured in some short independent films, most relegated to small internet fame in Finland (the Finns enjoyed his uncanny resemblance to their beloved children’s actor, “Paavo the Plumber”). He had enough of that marginal existence; if he was going to make it big, he would have to move to Hollywood.
Jeffrey hired an agent once he got to L.A. Henry (Hank) Weinbaum was the guy he went with, and the two hit it off quickly. He was one of a handful of people who appreciated Jeffrey’s prior work, including his grotesquely poor indie film “Put Me In, Coach” in which he played a paraplegic, mentally retarded towelboy for a minor league baseball team. Jeffrey and Hank were at a bar, shooting ideas back and forth on ways to jumpstart his career. Jeffrey saw himself as the next Kevin Costner, a handsome small town guy with a smile worth a million bucks. Hank promised to make some calls.
To pay the bills and feed his plastic addiction (he only could afford to implant one calf at a time), Jeffrey got a job as a stunt double for none other than Brad Pitt. Brad was playing the bad cop in a major box office thriller. Jeffrey had Brad’s figure, hair, and strong face. Now, Jeffrey would also have Brad’s bruises and cuts. Jeffrey figured this job would get him close to the stars, and maybe, just maybe, someone would give him a chance.
They were three weeks into production when Jeffrey finally mustered up the courage to talk to Brad. “Hey Brad, want to grab a drink after today’s set? There’s this awesome place on muscle beach that…” but those words must have sailed right into a vortex vacuum because Brad just looked at him, smiled, and said “Next time buddy. I’ve got a photo shoot with GQ and afterwards, a date with Tomb Raider.” Clearly distraught, Jeffrey went to the bar to have a drink.
“So, every time Brad takes an uppercut in the mouth, that’s you?” chuckled the bartender. He tried not to let this bother him, but the same conversation pieces get old very quickly. “One day, you’ll have to introduce me to him,” she said, dreamy-eyed. Jeffrey has been using this card to get laid ever since he got the job. Girls found him interesting, but that’s just what LA girls were; stargazers. The bartender wrote her number on his check, smiled, and folded it neatly into a drinking glass.
The next morning, Jeffrey awoke next to the panty-less bartender feeling somewhat satisfied, but overall disappointed. He couldn’t remember the entire night, but the props surrounding the bed retold the story; furry handcuffs, a top hat, a giant cucumber, the special edition DVD box of Ocean’s Eleven, and a bottle of chocolate syrup. Clearly the lackluster success in his acting career hadn’t transcended to his love life. He stepped out to field a call from Hank, a habitually bringer of bad news. “Hey Jeff, listen I just got off the phone with Tom Lang from Extreme Pictures. Says he has a great role for you in a Summer blockbuster. He wants you in his office tomorrow at 10. Am I a miracle worker or what?” Jeffrey screamed out a resounding “F*ck Yes!” and went back to the room to get his clothes on and kick out Jessica. Or was her name Amanda? Who cares, he thought, she could be Lindsay F**cking Lohan and it wouldn’t matter, because today Jeffrey was a Hollywood actor.
Jeffrey arrived at the studio parking lot in his 1993 Honda Civic twenty minutes early. “Always thought this place would be bigger” he said to himself. He also noticed the lack of expensive cars in the lot. Nevertheless, Jeffrey headed inside, chin held high and confident as could be. He met Hank inside, and soon enough the receptionist led them to Tom’s office.
“There’s my million dollar star!” Tom exclaimed, shaking Jeffrey’s hand and grinning ear-to-ear. “When I found out you were available for this role, I just couldn’t be happier. Johnny Atwater, the director, saw your headshot and specs and just knew you were the guy he wanted. Let’s get this ship sailing, shall we?” Jeffrey couldn’t help but smile too, as Tom’s energy was wildly contagious. “I’m incredibly excited for this too, Tom. But I have no idea what this movie is actually going to be about!” Tom chuckled, pulled out what appeared to be a script, and placed it in front of him. “This movie is a parody; you’re going to play a mock-Brad Pitt, and we’re in the process of finding your supporting actress to play Julia Roberts.” Jeffrey was incredibly confused, and for the first time started to doubt the legitimacy of this script. “But how…” and before he could finish his question, he read the title on the front page of the script.
“Ocean’s 11 Inch ****: A Porn Parody”