From my office I can see downtown with its chewy cloud of smog. My boss's office has the better view – the Hollywood sign. The sign is much closer than downtown, which tricks the eye into believing the air here is better. Its not.
The fucking a/c is out AGAIN. I called operations but HVAC won't be out here for another day or two or three. Executives get priority so while my boss has “brainstorming sessions” in refrigerated comfort with the writers, (Riddle: how MANY hookers does it take to write an episode of Our Show? Answer: three) I get to wipe drips of sweat off of my keyboard and wring out the latest script revision.
My boss's new game is to call everyone “Sexy.”
“Hey Sexy, could you go on a Tea Latte run in Larchmont? You can take the Hummer – it needs a wash. The dry cleaning ticket is in the glove box. Thanks, Sexy!”
Gag. But not as gagtastic as playing the “D or B Game” where he breaks out his alarmingly complete collection of sex toys and has a good laugh making me guess if he’s holding up a dildo or a buttplug.
The best day of the week is Wednesday. It’s pitch day. This is one of the very few productions in Hollywood where anyone off the street can come in and pitch their idea. No agent necessary. So every Wednesday my office fills up with our fans. Most of them are just nice people who want to be a part of their favorite show. Others are real writers dreaming of their big break. Then there are the very scary few who come dressed as characters from the show. They proudly share with their co-pitchers and me how much time and detail they have put into their costumes.
Then there is Terrence. Terrence comes every single Wednesday. He is small and quiet and has kind of a big nose which makes his eyes look small. He wears a white button-down shirt, tie and black dress pants every week, and hits the Old Spice pretty hard. He sits by the spent Arrowhead water jugs and folds his hands over his script – the same script he has pitched every week for longer than I've worked here.
Today Terrence is waiting. As usual he will either be last to be called in, or the writers will ignore him altogether and go to lunch. My boss’ door opens and the previous pitch comes out. The expression on his face says his ideas “are not in line with where we want to take the show this season.” Terrence sits up like a third grader who has the answer the teacher is looking for.
“Hey Sexy, we are going to lunch. Want us to bring you back any Thai?”
Terrence is deflated. He stands and starts for the door.
“No Thai for me, thanks – Terrence and I are ordering from the commissary.”
There is a pause and then I hear laughter through the 75 year old door (does that asshole KNOW how thin they made doors back then?)
“Suit yourself , Sexy! You know where the keys to the D and B drawer is.” More laughter and they are gone.
Terrence is standing by the door, frozen. A Terrencecicle.
“So what shall we order?” I offer. “The special is Tuna Melt and French Fries.”
Twenty minutes later we have Styrofoam to-go boxes and giant Cokes delivered – all charged to the show. I crack the boss' door open to steal some of his a/c, and we eat as close as we can to the weak puff of chilled office air.
“Can I see it?” I ask. Terrence looks alarmed.
“Can I see your script?” I hold out my hand.
“I read scripts all the time, maybe I can give you some notes or something.”
“Well its not quite there yet....”
“What are you talking about? It must be ok if you're pitching it.”
He stares blankly at me for a moment, then reaches over and slides the script across the floor to me.
TERRENCE AT THE HELMI am suddenly feeling a little nauseous.
by Terrence Patterson III
“Go ahead, read it.” Terrence sounds defeated somehow, and I understand why when I open his script. It's blank. Every page.
“You've been pitching a cover page?”
“They never want to see the actual script, so I usually just make up the story as I go.”
“Tell me one.”
“Well, I thought today I would have the captain getting sick from a virus and I could come in and save the ship from some aliens or something.”
“What was last week's pitch?”
“The captain got tied up by aliens so I had to pilot the ship though an asteroid shower.”
“Terrence, do all the episodes have you taking command of the ship?”
He looks like I've kicked him. “Pretty much. Yeah.”
“Ok. Come with me.”
We head out to the golf cart with our Cokes. Soon the cart is whining past the Staff Shop, the Sign Shop and the backlot until we arrive at Stage 12.
We tiptoe through the side door and behind the set. Black velvet hangs ceiling to floor with little mirrors glued to it to look like outer space. We sneak behind the sets, past lewd graffiti left by stagehands. I grab Terrence's sweaty hand and pull him on the set of the bridge.
He halts. Breathes in.
His face is a sweet rapture. He takes a step. Another. I go pick up the “Hot Set” sign off of the Captain's Chair, and he follows, running his hand over the leather.
“Go ahead.” I nod.
He sits. His face is bliss. After a few minutes I put the Hot Set sign back and lead him out of the maze of the starship. We board the golf cart and I drop him at the parking lot by a BMW. He puts his hand on my shoulder and squeezes.
“Thanks, Sexy” he mutters.
“That’s not my...” I start. Never mind. “You are so welcome.”
I make it back to my office just in time to meet the a/c guy. As I show him the unit I glance out the window. Terrence is waiting for the bus by the main gate. I hide his script in my file cabinet and wonder if he'll ever be back.
factgirl is America's favorite psychic soccer mom. She writes from the suburbs of Los Angeles and hates Dr Pepper.