UNITED STATES—Upon the purple divan under a pile of fleeces, the erstwhile ‘80s star, Rhett Thornton, sat propped up on front of the tryptich of three massive widescreen TVs. He was wound up. Sleep happens when there is no life. And having no life, he had taken three Corvalis trying vainly to woo sleep and all it did was turn his mouth on triple speed.
As the Dr. Silk (Dr. Lookgood) abused of Rhett’s ability to listen, Rhett now abused of his new audience. The rabbi, the priest and Eliza. First, he told them to take their shoes off in peremptory, belligerent voice, but quickly undercut by a chuckle. Rabbi Goldwyn was doing more exercise than usual and half bent to take his brogans off and leave them in the entry hallway. He sighed, it was an atavistic dirge that came out of his throat.
Rabbi Goldwyn was wise enough to “Let it go,” but all these things you let go and turn out, invariably take their toll. Someday, Rabbi Goldwyn told himself I am going to scream and cry and beat my chest. Who do people think they are. I try hard to be a good man, he tells himself, but I am so far down the path. Is there any hope for me?
Father Daniel had no such misgivings, perhaps he knew the world was flawed, innately so, and that we get along mostly on our vices. He needed a good cup of coffee and then after that his 420 cigarette.
“You know why I called you up here,” Rhett said. “You looked all Johnny come lately’s. Don’t you know what’s going on in the news. There’s this bomb that in the hands of a terrorist group, F.A.K.E. and the latest reports are that it will age people not just twenty years, but fifty years. And they’ve been targeting some of the more significant A-listers.”
“We came up here fast as we could,” Father Daniel burbled. Rhett cut him shorter:
“Listen to me when I’m speaking. Let me finish what I’m saying,” Rhett said, not giving the clergyman, who also had a little of Dr. Silk’s handy work, in giving a surgical youth. He was happy to let Rhett keep on blustering.
This was maybe the third time in the last few years they had been called to give last rites to the germ-phobic Rhett.”
“They’re trying to extort from me and other A-listers. You heard what happened to Jane Fonda? They targeted her and all that good figure and exercise went to waste. A bowl of mush looks better to me than Jane Fonda, besides she was a traitor.”
The clergymen said yes. They smiled and suppressed snickers. Both appreciated what Rhett had done for them over the years; he donated to their carnivals and Chabbad. He was hedging his bets, as he liked to say, having both a priest and rabbi on his side.
Eliza just sat there, smiling sincerely (insincerely), taking it. She had her own code. “What do you want?” Rhett glared at her and sucked on his spliff. It crackled and glowed.
“I got him back from the vet.”
“You’re stammering, Eliza. Don’t waste my time,” he snapped the spliff out of his bloodless mouth.
“Why didn’t you bring Goldilocks in with us, I’d like to see how she came back.
“I thought you might be fearful of germs. Goldilocks was better in the car.”
“Bring Her in. I want to see her blue eyes before I die.”
“Who said anything about dying?”
“I’m not bowing in to any of these terrorists. You know they’ve targeted me and Jane Fonda. I feel like a Lysol bath after being included in the same sentence with that woman. Well, what are you doing standing there, Liza? Get moving.”
She did and brought back Goldilocks plumply purring into the sunken living room, dominated by the large-screen TVs. Rhett smiled when Goldy joined him on the purple divan.
Good cat, good cat. It was one of the maddening incongruencies that, after the fear of germs and unhygienic pets, Rhett would pour out the love on this fluffy, plump Egyptian and berate Eliza for leaving the cat marooned on the hot car.
To be continued…
Humorist, Grady Miller is the author of “Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood” (on Amazon https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8.