Glen and I had met my third year out of school. He was already working in the movies a low level producer type position, or at least that was the official title. He was in essence still a PA, set bitch for those of you unversed in the comings and goings of the industry, though with a slightly higher pay grade. When I say it was my third year out of school that means it was my third year since dropping out in my second year of university where I was attempting, with little zeal, to obtain a English degree. I had reached the painstakingly obvious conclusion that i did not need a university degree, let alone a degree from a highly accredited university, to become a writer. So I wrote. And I wrote a lot. This was back in the early nineties when the resurgence of underground film had gained some credibility, and independent movies stopped sucking. This being said I met Glen at the premier of a piece of shit independent movie written by a guy we knew at the time, Dave Gollman. Dave gets the credit for putting us together in the first place, as he introduced us at the party. When I say party I mean that it was Dave having seventy five people ass crammed into his medium sized apartment after we went to see the movie opening night at the ashcan theatre in the neighbourhood where we lived. Shittloads of people smoking pot and pretending that they were interested in what each other had to say. We ended up both puffing our chests and talking shop as men under thirty and over twenty four tend to do when confronted with someone who just might be your superior. We ended up exchanging numbers having liked each other's concepts on film and the future thereof , and a week later he gave me a call and invited him over to his house for dinner. Lois cooked some stupidly delicious pasta meal , while the then five year old Rachel puttered around the house repeatedly throwing her toys at me. The rest is fairly much history, we ended up getting together on a partnership basis and writing a short comedy script which was an easy pitch thanks to the fact that Glen already had his foot in the door. The film grossed a little under one hundred million, and we an overnight success. We had been working together ever since, Glen taking on more and more production oriented duties and me sneaking ever closer to the director's chair. In the time since we'd met each other Glen had successfully managed his marriage and family life, which always impressed me, while producing what i feel is some of the finest work to come out of Hollywood in the past decade. Personally I haven't been able to hold onto a girlfriend for longer than a year and entrench myself in liquor and my own personal work ,when I'm not working with Glen, just to stay focused. For the film industry we were still considered young. Five large success, one unnoticed ghost, and a tank under our belts in the past ten years and we were still going strong.
My phone started vibrating back and forth on the table where I had set it and I reached out checking the call display before flipping it open.
It's me, Carol”
Oh...well...I wanted to talk to you about the other night.”
I was thinking alot...ok, no that's a lie, I actually really didn't have to think about this very long”
Carol, i don't really...where are you going with this?”
Iisiac you're...well it's kinda obvious that you're your own man...I wake up at your house and it's three in the morning and you're sitting at your desk smoking and drinking and muttering to yourself while you just...sit there at your computer”, her voice was becoming increasingly terse and unexpectedly wavering for her.
I'm writing...when i do that I'm writing”
I know that, and..fuck...Iisiac. But even when you're with me, and you're sitting with me and you're talking to me...you're still writing. I know that you're interested in what I have to say and the things we share together but at the same time i know you're just recording all of it so you can write it down later, and....god dammit... i just feel..I feel fucking used when you do that. I wake up and you're sitting there. You don't know it but sometimes I wake up, and I'm just awake and I'll watch you for a while and then I roll over and I feel empty, ok?”
And...This, fuck this makes you sound like such an asshole, which is not what I want to do but...it's how...it's how I feel. Like you've sucked all the life out of me, and you're just so eager to pour it all back out, writing as fast as you can...like some emotional vampire”
Carol, what are you saying...is this going somewhere? I'm sorry but I don't see a point in this yet”
it means that i don't think you care for me, that...I know that there have been lots of women before me, and that your relationships don't, they never last...and I think it's because you need someone there...you just need someone, otherwise you can't write...but you just use people...you use the women you...you just fuck women and then cast them aside once you've taken all their love and energy and you leave us at the wayside ”.
There was an increasing tremble in her voice which would periodically crack, causing her to stop. I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable on the opposite end of the phone. A tightrope waker. My jaw tightened.
Carol. I. I don't know what to say to you, but I think you're getting near to having something to really say to me, so maybe you should just say it”
I'm breaking up with you Iisiac. I would say you can come and get your stuff from my house, but I know you didn't leave any. You never leave anything. Except me. ”, The faltering in the voice had finally shattered completely and was now a shaking wire as if twanged by a fallen tightrope walker.
Carol. I'm really sorry, first off, it was never my intention to hurt you or do anything that would any way...make you feel-”
I stopped midway through my sentence to look up and see a much more jovial looking Glen approach the table. His broad smile faded away as he noticed the serious tone on my face.
Carol...I'm really sorry, and...you deserve better than someone like me...I'm...I'm just really sorry I can't be better...for you. I'm an asshole, whether or not you want to say it. It's true”
She was fully crying now.
I have to go Iisiac”
She hung up without me saying goodbye.
I exhaled strongly out of my nose and took my hand to my face rubbing my left eye and then picking at the inside of my nose with my thumb. I lit another smoke and pounded back the shot of whiskey that sat next to my coffee before turning towards Glen. His morose facial expression seemed to be induced by me, which I felt horrible about seeing as how he'd been so gleeful about finally releasing a quart of piss.
Sorry 'bout that”, I said.
That was Carol?”
Yea. She just broke up with me”
That lasted long”
I would say sorry, but I'm pretty sure that everything she said about and to you was true”
You'd be right”, I took another huge drag on my smoke and looked towards our notes. Suddenly I didn't feel so ambitious.
We sat in awkward silence for a few minutes before Glen finally spoke.
So, where are we going with this thing?”
Glen managed to push me along through a few minor discussions about plots and character points avoiding anything that would take discernible concentration. I'm like this after every break up, and he knows that. He left it alone. Not bothering, knowing sooner or later I'd bring it up, and when I did he'd be ready to talk about it. I am an asshole when it comes to women, I know that. It doesn't mean I care any less.
The morning wore on and before we knew it we were ordering burgers and I had cheered up somewhat, upgrading from liquor addled coffee to giant Caesars.
Caesars are the most disgusting drink there is”, Glen's vocal disdain for the clam and tomato cocktail was a constant annoyance of mine.
You don't have to drink them, so you don't have to bitch every time i have one”
He was cut off by the jejune chirping of his cell phone which he quickly withdrew from his jacket pocket and opened after a few moments of tentative examination.
Hello?.....Yes this is Glen Reuben....oh hello Mrs. Deitriecht. Yes, yes my son is Demitri...what is this concerning?.........I'm sorry you're going to have to repeat that?....ok....ok, no you don't need to call his mother. I'm on my way over right now.”
A slow trickle of terse emotion had ran down Glen's face. Starting in anger and then changing to a crestfallen desperation.
Who was that?”, I asked licking the salted rim of my glass before downing the last of the red peppery liquid.
The school, Demetri's in some kind of trouble but they wouldn't say what over the phone. I have to go down there, can you give me a ride?”
Anything to get off my ass, we're not making any progress right now anyway, wait in the car I've got the tab”, I said plunking my sunglasses on, tossing him the keys and going inside to cover our bills.
The leather interior's heat had only amplified in the time since we'd been seated at the restaurant, the inner city's temperature rising degree after sack sweating degree as the sun rose higher in the sky. I rolled up my sleeves and the windows down lighting another smoke.
So, seriously what kind of trouble could he be in?”, I asked.
He's a skateboarder?”, Glen balked.
Yea, great job there Sherlock, you're gonna need a bit more to convince me that your little thrasher is out terrorizing the neighbourhood”, I snorted choking on my spit and taking a glug out of the waterbottle i had hidden in the car's console.
I don't know, he...he's fifteen? You're right, what kind of trouble can he get into at fifteen?”
Glen's tone suggested he was grasping at straws that would prove the innocence of young adults newly inoculated with teenhood, as if they weren't eager to get to some shit disturbing.
Glen, i don't mean to alarm you, but there's plenty trouble a kid can get into at the age of fifteen, trust me. You might have been a plesant little jewish boy that was good at making funny voices and staying away from pork, but i was a not so nice suburban slum youth who had my fair share of run ins”, I attempted to build the legend of my youth, while flip flopping on my opinion of his child's predicament.
What part of that is not supposed to alarm me? I don't want my kid smoking crack or getting loaded on meth before i at least catch him smoking pot or drinking. Besides he's a good kid, he does his homework most of the time, he goes skateboarding on the weekends, and likes fast cars and big titted women! Does that not sound like a good red blooded American boy to you?”
Glen I've got news for you, the good red blooded American boys of old turned out to be date rapists and the people we've currently got running our country”, my monotone charm was thus that I felt secure that it had egged on Glen's paranoia.
He slumped down in the seat making the leather squawk, and dragging his hands down his face for what, in the duration of our friendship, must have been the millionth time. He took a large chug out of the now revealed water bottle and then snagged the smokes out of my shirt pocket lighting up and rolling down his window.
I'm a horrible father”, he said in that pathetic voice that carried inherit tones of defeat that i knew so well.
No you're not Glen. All that shit I just said? I'm fucking with you, you're kids are fine. Demitri's a good kid, he smartasses me like i'm his real uncle, he skateboards and probably gets into a little trouble on the weekends, but who gives a shit? nothing we didn't do when we were his age, or at least nothing i didn't do, i'm sure your yamaka stifled you a little, but that's not the point. The point is he's a good kid and, you've got nothing to worry about.”, My tone of security and comforting being what it was he didn't look any happier, and i left my smoking in my mouth reaching over and rubbing him on the back.
No, that's not it.....it's....fuck. In the past year, It's just been work work work work, and that's not a jab at you, I'm lucky i have you to keep me busy but, shit. It's just I'm never around, we're always flying up to New York, and having to stay for all those meetings and shit. Lois is just...entirely discontented all the time, she keeps on bringing up, “If you're going to be in New York so much why did we buy a house in LA?”, and the thing is she's right, i'm here for like a week and then....and shit it's not like I like being in New York all the time...I miss my family I do. But I'm gone so long, and all of my kids with the exception of Kate are getting near that age where they don't want to have shit to do with me, and....and I can't help but think maybe If I'd been around more in the past couple years they wouldn't feel so much like....they wouldn't be as divided? Divided from me as they feel now? I can barley have a conversation with either of them. I just want them to know that I can be there for them, but I'm not sure i even believe that when I say it.”
His diatribe aside, he was now gloomily looking out the window still smoking. I reached over and grabbed the smoke and tossing my own but out the window planted the cig firmly in my lips. He looked over at me slightly shocked and indignant, but i spoke before he could.
Listen, don't be such an asshole. You don't need to smoke, you don't like to smoke. I'm the asshole. I like to smoke, so i smoke. Glen, you're at a point in your life where I'm not sure I'll ever be. You have a gorgeous family, you want to be there for them more, you can always tell me to shove it. Not really, but you get what I mean ok? I can handle the deals in New York, and if I need to I can phone you. But right now? Seriously? The best thing you can be is there for them, so you're gonna go to this school you're gonna march in there, and you're gonna be there for your kid....I mean, what i mean by being there for him is doing your duty as a parent, maybe he fucked up, but who doesn't? He's still a kid, kid's fuck up...but what if he hasn't fucked up?”
pffft, like they'd call me in fo-”
I cut him off
Yea ok, but on the off chance, that he's not actually really in some reasonable shit, you're there. Remember our dad's? I remember mine? My dad got a call from the office, and I'd go home...forget a beating my life was dust. He'd just write me off, and even now he's not even fully there for me, fuck I think even if my dad had smacked the shit out of me at least I'd feel like he noticed...but that's not what I'm talking about here, you just be here for your kid. Even if he fucking hates your guts when you're done being there for him, you're still gonna be there. And I don't want to hear you bitch about you being a bad father, you're not a bad father...you might not think you're there for your family, but the fact that you even doubt yourself is a pretty good indicator that you're doing something...which is better than nothing.”
There was silence in the car for a few seconds and i tossed the second butt out the window, the hot dry air and the smoke chemicals tightening in my sinuses as i struggled for nostril air. I was all worked up now, the booze in my gut frothing leaving my mouth dry, and my upper lip curling. Glen looked over at me a sternness on his face that I had not seen in some time.
Iisiac. You need to call Carol back.”
What the fu-”
You need to apologize”
Where the fuck is this coming from?! Just because we just had a little exploding heart to heart concerning your shit doesn't mean-”
He cut me off again.
I don't give a shit man, I don't know what Carol said, but it had to be pretty fuckin' close to the true to get you this worked up. And I don't mean the typical “you're and asshole” true. It was probably something basic, something you've heard before...you're selfish? You don't care about anyone but yourself? ”
Yea that about covers it!”, I yelled turning to him, my knuckles now gripping the wheel hard.
Yea, that's what I thought, but y'now she's right! And they've said that before, but I think that ....you're pissed off because it actually means something this time.”
If you're implying that she was the one to melt my cold cold heart, you're taking a fucking walk!”
We were now both yelling back and forth at each other a fire in our eyes that I hadn't seen since we'd first duelled over creative control on our very first script. But this was different. This was personal. You come to know someone long enough, and it's obvious that you get to know what makes them tick, you also get to know what makes that tick a little bit broken.
I didn't say it you did. You finally found someone that might mean a little bit more to you than a quick fuck and a muse, but you....I don't know, why? why the fuck would you fuck that up?”, He carried a crippling look of confusion and pity that i couldn't bear to see.
There was silence in the car save for the thrum of the tires and the wheeze my dusty sinuses.
....because I didn't know where to go from there.”, I was very quiet now.
Because...I didn't know where to go from there. Two months? Glen, for fucksakes that's the longest relationship i've had in years, i didn't even know what to do anymore...moving forward...the shit scared me ok? and instead of-”
Instead of talking to her about it, you just acted like an asshole? Iisaic, you're one of the smartest guys i know, but that's possibly the stupidest thing i've ever heard from you”, He had a surprised smile of raw admiration on his face, “And Iisaic? You've had a relationship longer than two months....me and my family...you're not leaving us”
There was a pause and, after glancing from side to side, i couldn't hold back a peel of laughter and then turned to him, shock and betrayal lighting up his features.
Glen i'm sorry, but that's like the most stock corny bullshit I've ever heard”
Should that be in the movie?”
We laughed it off. And left the topics of our own personal crisis in the dust in favour of our renewed interest in our script. By the time we got the the school Glen had jotted down a full page worth of notes, half of which i felt were going to be useable.