Stale air and oppressive heat saturated the room. Fragments of the midday sun shone through the worn curtains and reflected off the countless empty bottles that lay scattered around the room. It was too hot to bother moving and too early to necessitate getting out of bed, so I just lay there instead, because it was the easiest thing to do. When the phone rang I let out a frustrated sigh and then after a few more rings I reached under the bed to answer it.
“Hey man, get your sorry ass out of bed its already past noon.”
“Is it? Hold on.” I put the phone down and rummaged through the debris on the side table until I managed to find a pack of cigarettes that still had a few left. Then taking a long slow drag I picked the phone back up.
“Man you’re so predictable. Feel better now that you’ve had a smoke?”
“Well that’s good, because I had a brain wave last night for the script. So meet me downtown in half an hour so we can hash it out in detail.”
“I can’t I have to work today.”
“Fuck it. Who are you trying to kid. You aren’t planning on going to work today. See you in thirty.”
“Alright, whatever.” I continued lying there, trying to ignore the heat and humidity that was weighing me down. Jamming the cigarette butt into the nearest beer bottle, I made my way through the discarded debris to the kitchen. The kitchen was pretty clean, well there was some dirty dished still soaking in the sink and a few more on the counter, but at least it was free of empty bottles. It also appeared to be free of food as well. I was sure I had bought food recently, I just couldn’t remember when. There was also a note stuck to the fridge that said “Last night was fun. Call me, Jenny.” It wasn’t important so I crumbled it up and threw it away.
I figured I’d just get some lunch later, so I threw on some old jeans and a white tank top, and headed out. Maybe it was the heat, or the haze from the smog but the city seemed to be bathed in a heavy orange light and sweat. Everywhere you looked people where sweating some people where calling it the heat wave of the century which was a bit presumptuous considering that the century had barely started, but whatever. About the only good thing about the weather at the moment were the women. There is just something about seeing beads of sweat rolling down the tanned skin of a girl out roller blading in her tight pants and loose shirt that really gets the blood pumping.
In fact the whole city had a pulse. There was something in the air that fused with the constant beat of activity that seeped into the skin and infected you to the bone. The music of life here echoes through your very soul, leaving every nerve alive with sensation and tingling with anticipation. It attracted people to this place they all had their reasons for coming but once here they never left because everywhere else felt stagnant and awash in shades of grey by comparison. But that’s not why I’m still here, I could leave any time I wanted too, I just choose not to. Fuck, what kind of crap am I thinking about? I have been spent so much time hanging out with Mike that I’ve even started to think like him.
I didn’t even have time to light up a cigarette before the bus came, it was crowded as always but it was the easiest way to get around. There was no room to sit and barely enough to stand but I managed to find a place near a window. So, I had at least some relief from the heat, and it was better than fanning myself like everyone else was doing. A blonde with pig tails standing nearby was looking rather tasty and I even thought I saw her give me a smile. She looked like she would be up for some fun, but this was my stop. Not to worry though after all there are plenty like her.
Downtown consisted of endless lines of glass and steel buildings, chain coffee shops, and suits. I knew where to go it was the same place I ended up going most days. I took one look at the coffee shop in the small plaza with a couple trees in it that I had been meeting Mike at for the last couple of years to work on the script. And sure enough there he was drinking a double shot, extra foam, Grande cappuccino and dressed all in black.
“You’re late man, and I’ve been itching to get started.”
“I’m early and you know it. Besides aren’t you hot in that get up?”
“What are you talking about this is what writers wear, how can I be expected to be accepted by my peers if I don’t fit into the style of my contemporaries and predecessors?”
“Whatever, all I know is that it is hotter than hell out and most people are dressed for the weather and not to impress.”
“That is where you’re wrong, unlike you, most people are deeply concerned with others perceptions of them, and the opinions of strangers. And so, they are dressed to impress because they don’t want people they have never met and will never meet again to have a low opinion of them. While I acknowledge this fact and only concern myself with the impression of those few people I could consider my equal. That is why I am dressed like this. Because any writer worth the pen they write with will see me and instantly acknowledge me as fellow writer. They may even wonder if they have seen or read any of my work and thus I separate myself from the anonymous masses around me.”
“Been hitting the pot early today?”
“So what? A joint in the morning helps get the creative juices flowing. And I need my creativity to be at its peak for these writing sessions of ours. It also gives me a unique perspective on things, compared to those too afraid to embrace the possibilities.”
“Who am I to judge? So, are we working here today? Cause the traffic is giving me a headache.”
“We were, but now that I’m here, I can’t concentrate properly. There are just too many distractions around and I can’t properly focus my creative energies, so we’re going to the beach instead.”
.“Fine by me, it will be cooler down there anyway. We’ll go via the liquor store so I can pick up a six pack, alright.”
“Then let’s get going we’re burning day light here and I feel like my head is going to explode if I don’t get this idea down on paper soon.”
The beach wasn’t far, that’s one of the advantages of living in a city by the beach, the ocean is never more than a bus ride away and liquor stores are even closer than that. It was about twenty minutes before we arrived at the beach, not the crowded touristy part, but the end of the beach which was as much sand as it was concrete. Some might say it wasn’t the nicest part but then they couldn’t appreciate the simple freedom it allowed to go about your business unmolested.
I pulled up a seat on a curb facing the water while Mike lit up and took a few totes before passing it over.
“Okay man, so as I was saying earlier I had a brain wave that I think is perfect for the script, and that will separate it from all those mediocre Hollywood rehashes that everyone else seems to be turning out these days.”
“Alright, what is it?”
“It’s a bold statement on society made by taking the stereo typical idea that all men want a whore in the bedroom and virgin in public, and inverting it, so that we have a whore in public and a virgin in the bedroom. We introduce a girl into the story who acts like the biggest slut around she’s always flirting with guys and talking about the cocks she’s fucked. She’s like dick, dick, dick. When the main character meets her he is taken back, here is the kind of wild girl he’s always wanted to party with. So he goes back to her place, and once there he discovers that the wild outgoing behavior she presented was all a façade. In reality she is an introverted virgin. This shatters the very mystique that attracted him to her. The desire he felt for her was merely an illusion. Created by the personality she assumed and projected to the world and not the reality of her true identity. And with that illusion gone he no longer wants her and so he leaves.”
“Wasn’t that in American Beauty?”
“You know American Beauty with Kevin Spacey. There was some high school girl who acted as a slut but turned out to be a virgin and so Kevin Spacey couldn’t fuck her.”
“Fuck. Pass me over a beer. Are you sure”
“God, fucking damn it. This is what’s wrong with the world. Here I am trying to come up with some wholly original idea and concept to express. And some dumb prick has to go and say wasn’t that in such and such a movie. Those people have no concept of the creative energies that go into creating any meaningful piece of writing; all they can do is compare it to something else they have seen before. It takes no effort to criticize, but to actually create something from nothing is the greatest challenge man has ever faced. There is no obstacle more formidable then the blank page. That’s why nothing new gets introduce in films anymore. It is because all the good ideas have been used up and the blank page is too freighting for those Hollywood hacks to face. So they borrow bits of other ideas and present them as something new. So that even if someone comes up with an idea they believe to be original, it always turns out to be an idea seen in a hundred different movies that the writer has unwittingly trying to pass off as their own.
“How can there be no new ideas? Are you trying telling me that entire wealth of human creative and originality has already been spent?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. The well has run dry; there is no more originality for us to drink. That’s the exact same reason this script hasn’t been finished yet. Here we are trying to produce something with immediate appeal and a timeless quality that will still make people think decades from now. But every good idea that we come up with has been used before and thus diminishes the whole. They may not be tired clichés but the effect is the same, unless it is the first time the audience sees something it will be quickly forgotten just like the rest of the hack jobs that get produced each year by the Hollywood money machine.”
Taking a last long drink of beer before opening a fresh one, I admired the curling tendrils of heat rising from the pavement, and looked around at the people going about their lives. Some sitting and drinking, others on their way somewhere else and even a rather attractive girl in roller blades and thought how pointless their lives must be. There they were, going about the same routine day after day, without even realizing that time was passing them by.
“I have to work tomorrow. I’m running low on cash again.”
“Forget it man, well meet downtown tomorrow and work and script some more. After all when it’s done it’s our ticket out of here. Look at these people; they don’t even realize that they are dying by degrees. Take those two drinking beer over there. They are wasting their lives in a perpetual repetition of the same day. Going about the same tasks over and over again until one morning they’ll wake up to discover that they are fifty and have wasted their entire life. They have accomplished nothing, and have never done anything other than talk big about what they were going to do. They were committing urban suicide and they didn’t even know it.