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Authors: Gloria Bello

Gazelle

BOOK: Gazelle
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1.

 

              Julian Russell rubs his blood shot eyes in small, slow motions with two, elongated fingers as his agent drones on over the speakerphone.  He blinks his eyes open, blinks away the spiraling colors and geometric kaleidoscope a proper eye rub will cause, focusing on the reality before him.  The vast living room spreads out before him like a hotel lobby, cold, detached,  decorated in steel and black on white Italian marble, surrounded by windows that look out over a dark hillside that spreads out into the city.   It floats like an blinking island trapped between the night and the vast, black sea.  He winces at the sudden vertigo and slouches against the glass desk top.  His feet feel no ground beneath them,his lungs fill with desperate, short breaths of synthetic air.  He feels the impending attack and groans.  Only three hours since he returned and already h
e’
s splitting.


Hey, Mike
,
” he interrupts.


Yeah, chief
?


Do we have to go over this now? 
I’
m a little tired
.


I know, I know, man,
I’
m sorry.  You just got in, yo
u’
re exhausted, youshould be relaxing.  I just want us to be ready.  Tomorro
w’
s the day.  Liste
n…
Jules,you already know what I think.  I
t’
s a solid deal. Nate's an amazing artist, and he wants you for the part, absolutely, won't even consider anybody else.  The figures are right, the exposure is perfect.  Even if it does
n’
t pull in the numbers, which it will, i
t’
s a major film with a cock the size of Texas behind it.  I
t’
s gonna get you out of the fucki
n
’ boondock Indy shit once and for all.  This type of situation is how you get gold, know what
I’
m saying
?

              Julian frowns, his thick brows scrunching over piercing blue eyes.  He studies his reflection in the desktop and switches to a dazzling smile, displaying his freshly veneered teeth beneath a thin, tight lip.  Tha
t’
s the winner, he thinks.


Yeah, yo
u’
re right.  I do
n’
t even know why I hesitated this long, honestly.  I
t’
s cool.  I like the script, you have my notes.  W
e’
re good
,
” he says, still smiling despite the dread in his eyes.


We are good.  Absolutely.  Julian, man, you know I love you.  I know what it took to get you here, I know it was hard coming back.  But I promise you,I swear to you on the fucking scalps of my children, i
t’
s not going to be in vain.  This is it. 
I’
ve been on the edge more than once with a no-name about to cross over and I know all the signs.  This is your time, understand?  This is it
.

              Julian nods, studying the hardness in his eyes at these words.  His agent was one of the craftiest of his kind, moving in and out of circles like a pilot fish, latching on, never wasting a second on anyone that could
n’
t b
e‘
someone
.

 
Julian knew Mike was the man he needed, Mik
e’
s on-going presence was a testament and often the only trust Julian had in the actuality of his current and future success. Still, he was a long ways from fully trusting Mike ever again.  A succession of Mik
e’s‘
no-nam
e
’ clients who had crossed over passed through Julia
n’
s memory, ending, inevitably on the face of Lindsey.

"I know.  This is it," he says softly, remembering the flash of her brilliant smile, transcending the screen, close enough to touch, to graze with the tips of his fingers. That sensation, that reality of knowing she was just a girl sitting beside him, touching her bottom lip with his thumb.  It was a memory he did not normally indulge, and enough time had passed that even if these little stingers did pop up, he usually swatted them away like an annoying fly.  But there was no question, the memory had caught him this time.  It stung like hell.  A sudden dread engulfed him as he wondered if his time in L.A. would be riddled with painful flashes such as these. 


Absolutely.  You have just catapulted yourself to a whole new level of the game
.

“I’
m not exactl
y‘
unknow
n’.


Yeah, well, ther
e’s‘
know
n
’ and then ther
e’s‘
infamous
.

 
I
t’
s absolute freedom w
e’
re talking about here to do whatever you want from now on.  No more bullshit chick flicks, okay
?


Yeah, yeah, w
e’
ll se
e
…” he sinks back into his massive leather throne, her face fading as he shakes if off.


No, no, no, hey!  I do
n’
t want to hear that fucki
n
’ tone
!
” Michael says, mistaking his melancholy for hesitation.
 “
That is the tone of losers and scaredy cats. This is a good thing, Julian, all around, okay?   You need to celebrate! Go out,get yourself done right, okay?  Have a party, for fuc
k’
s sake!!"

"A party...right..."

"Yes, a party.  With actual human beings.  Be young,get crazy, live while you can!  Just do
n’
t mess up the place. 
I’
ll call you tomorrow with the details. Yo
u’
ve made me a very happy boy, Jules
.


Well, tha
t’
s what I live for, Mike.  Making others happy
.

              He hits the 'end' button and shoves his phone across the desk, watching it spiral to the corner, stopping short of its plunge.  For a long time, he stares out the window, scrunching his long toes into balls against the cold, marble floor until he feels them again. They told him he was pretty enough to be a model, an actor, famous
,‘
infamous
,
’ and so he began to be those things, discovering a true love for acting as he trained.  But in the decade since he decided to really
try
, th
e‘
long roa
d
’ leading to this moment with the dark valley beneath him and his fate signed, he never really believed it would happen.  He never imagined the moment when he crossed from the audience to the screen forever, never allowed back.  It was always the end game for him, always the ultimate goal, of course.  And yet, he could never imagine it as a reality because there was
never
a reality on the other side unless he created one.  A sickening dread washes over him as he looks to the massive, flat screen television. 

              He hears the clicking of CeC
e’
sheels echoing against the hollow halls.  They come to a stop before him and she waits, studying the defeat in the curve of his spine and his hanging head.  He turns a weary eye to her pitying gaze and tight smile.  Her grey streaked hair is pulled back into a tight bun that elongates her aging neck and thin frame.  Her delicate hands clutch a laptop and files, along with a weathered planner packed full of his immediate future designations. She looks remarkably like his first grade teacher, and he wonders, not for the first time, if certain characters repeat themselves throughout on
e’
s life.


Ho
w’
d it go
?
” she asks.


Well.  It looks like yo
u’
re about to get a lot busier.  You ready for world dominationa
?

              She smiles again and glances at her watch.
 “
I
t’
s a little late for world domination.  Can it wait tilthe morning?  Glenn and I are going out for burgers
.


Burgers?  Jesus, I ca
n’
t remember the last time I had a burger
.


Neither can I.  I ca
n’
t remember the last time I had any sort of meal that came in a bag.  I
t’
ll be fun
.

              He smiles and turns his gaze to the window once more. 


This place is an ice box
,
” CeCefrowns.
 “
So typical of Michael.  I really could
n’
t imagine a more perfect home.  Are you sure yo
u’
ll be okay here
?


I
t’
s temporary.  W
e’
ll find a home tomorrow
.


You shoot Adore tomorrow
.


After
.


The Paula Dell Foundation meeting.  Yo
u’
re speaking at their gala in two months
.



After that, then
.


You meet with Warner
.

              Julian sighs, realizing he was possibly stuck in this moratorium indefinitely.
 “
Ho
w‘
bout you find me a place, then?  Jus
t…
get a house somewhere secluded and gated, but in an area with shops and shit around it.  Nothing like this.  Do it as quickly as possible, this place gives me the creeps.  It looks like
I’
ll be in L.A. for the next year, at least
.

“I’
ll get on it first thing tomorrow. Do you need anything else, Julian
?

              He smiles up at her.
 “
Apparently, I need to celebrate.  Can I borrow your car
?

 

              Julian drives down Glendale in a blue Prius, the radio playing a local station dedicated to oldies, his Yankees cap pulled down around his eyes.  He has been driving for several hours, losing himself in the city.  He drove past old haunts, old memories, realizing how little he had actually driven himself the last time he lived in Los Angeles, how little he had paid attention to his surroundings.  That panicked, fragmented feeling had overwhelmed him then.  The more successful he grew, the more distracted he became with what he was not doing or who he was not becoming, completely unaware of how powerful and known his face had grown.  He was a pretty pony, being pranced around by Mike, meeting the right people, partying in the right places, unable to focus on any one thing except what needed to be done next.  He would often return to that first rush of exposure, realizing his grasp began to slip then, making him vulnerable.  He remembered one of the last times he walked into a public place without being prepared.  It was a steakhouse he was meeting his agent at for lunch.  Photographers mobbed him with questions specifically for him, as if they knew he was going to be there.  He was use to the occasional picture or fan but this was almost organized.  They swooped on him, laughing and jeering.  He tried to appear unaffected, in control.  But he stumbled past them, confused, unsettled, not in control of his gaze or stance.  His heart pounded as he pushed past them, hearing only parts of their questions, which were about a girl he had been casually dating.  He moved through the restaurant, hardly hearing the hostess directing him.  He was aware suddenly of their gazes.  Women and men, the look of awe and wonder, stripping him, placing him in and out of context, struggling to reconcile the reality and illusion.  As he moved through the crowd, his eyes fell on Lindsey sitting next to Michael.  Her beautiful pearl skin, her pale hair wrapped in a loose, French braid over a gauzy, white summer dress.  Her eyes glittered playfully as she beamed at him in a compassionate, knowing manner and, before he recognized her from the illusion as well, before he was trapped between the two worlds like the people around them, he fell in love with her like a normal guy would a normal girl.   Afterwards, he knew Michael had set the whole thing up.  They would walk out together amongst the waiting photographers, a casual lunch date of two clients Michael met with to discuss a movie proposal for both of them that implied so much more.  It was
n’
t real from the start.

BOOK: Gazelle
8.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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