V-Wars Page 2

But … nope.

The movie made about eight bucks in general release. Didn’t even cruise high enough above the radar to qualify for a Razzie.

Thirty million dollar budget straight down the pooper. Made back about a mil, mostly from inbred mouth-breathers who rented the video because the cover art showed the Disney chick in a push-up bra. A last desperate attempt by the marketing department.

Fayne sipped his coffee and punched his phone to see the time. Three minutes and then he had to hoist his fake smile in place and fight the urge to serve spitters when no one was looking.

The blond with the rack was trying to get the Goth chick to say something to him. Fayne gave them half a second of the half-a-smile. They both flushed bright crimson. Oh yeah, they might as well have bull’s eye painted on them. Fayne would have bet his next paycheck that they both had tramp stamps on their lower backs. They were the type. Some Celtic knots or dolphin shit. Something like that.

He took a sip of coffee but hastily replaced the cup over the title. Slothtopus did not send a bang-me-blind vibe. Not even in Starbucks.

He thought about his second film. The one that was supposed to rescue his career from where it floated in the toilet next to anyone else who’d worked on Frightbook. That one was a science fiction thing by the guy who made one of the Aliens pictures. Pretty good director. Nice title, Deep Ice. Okay script, but it was FX driven, so no one was expecting Academy nods for acting. Fayne was second lead, the lantern-jawed good guy who turns out to be a villain in the third act and gets his ass handed to him by the plucky heroine. When Fayne agreed to it the producers were hinting at lead actresses like Mila Kunis or Emma Stone. When the cameras rolled they had the chick who did three guest spots on Friends, which was half a million years ago.

Deep Ice went direct to video. Didn’t even nod at the multiplexes.

The thing that really torqued Fayne’s ass was that he spent three months in some piss-hole place called Point Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point of all the territory of the United States. Only twelve hundred miles from the actual North Pole. The producers wanted to use real footage of some archaeological site, something to do with the Thule people, ancestors of the Inuits, who pretty much no one cared about except on the Discovery Channel. Fayne froze his nads off for that flick. And, despite the expectations of the producers, he turned in a good performance. Layered and conflicted, a villain who was at odds with his own villainy. A performance that deserved to be seen.

He got sick as a dog, too; and even with a raging fever he managed to nail his lines, get his blocking right on every shot, and give them a death scene that would have had the audiences weeping in the aisles. But it never saw the inside of a movie house.

The virus he got up there — now that made a big debut. I1V1. The “ice virus.” Some crap that was trapped in arctic ice a bazillion years ago and released by global warming, blah, blah, blah. Big deal. It nearly frigging killed him. By the time he got back to L.A. he had a fever of 104.7 and a stunning case of the shivering shits. Had to go to the hospital even though his medical coverage was long gone. He figured he’d still be paying that off when his grandkids were in college. And getting the studio to cover the flu when he couldn’t prove he got it on their set was a complete waste of time, even with I1V1 making all the papers and scaring people worse than Swine Flu.

The flu didn’t kill him, though, so put that in the win column. Actually, it didn’t kill anyone, though there was all of the cliché panic, driven by hysterical news reports that were long on hype and short on facts. When Fayne got out of the hospital he went home and got sick again and again for the next month while his bills mounted and his bank account shrank smaller than his nutsack had up in Alaska.

That was almost two years ago now. The ice flu was as persistent as one of those CSRs from a credit card company. It kept coming back and never actually went away, and each time he went a little deeper into the hole because he lost work days. Twice it happened during film shoots. The producers were tolerant the first time; the second time he got replaced. Since then, all he got was voice-over crap for commercials and some background walk-by stuff on TV shows that he never watched.

If he took this new piece of crapola, then it meant two things. A paycheck that might at least get his nose above water, which was good, and it meant going back to the cold, which sucked. Giant Ice Centipede vs. Slothtopus III was scheduled to shoot in northern Canada. Not as far north as Deep Ice, but far enough. It was already October and those nutjobs wanted to begin shooting in early January. Ice flu be damned. Elk wouldn’t go to northern Canada in the middle of winter, what the hell were they thinking? Did they actual believe that the boneheads who were going to watch the flick on SyFy were sober enough to care whether it was real snow or fake snow swirling around the set? After all, it was all about monsters, and they were CGI. So, what the hell did it —

“Yo, Mikey!”

Fayne looked up and saw the assistant shift manager waving at him. His break was up and although he longed to do it, Fayne had not held his lighter to the corners of the script. He hadn’t thrown it out, either.

He cut another look at the girls. They were still staring at him.

“What the hell,” he said and took a business card out of his wallet. It had his head shot—with the half smile — his email address, Facebook and Twitter links, and cell phone number. He turned it over, took a ballpoint pen from his pocket and made sure that they were looking at him when he wrote ‘call me’ on the back.

He stood up, pretending to ignore the manager, looking as cool as it was possible to look in a polyester three-button shirt and a green apron. He folded the script in half, tucked it under his arm, walked past the girls, bent and placed the card on the table exactly between them, giving them a last look at the half smile, and sauntered to the counter.

As it turned out, it was the blonde who texted him.

That was fine with him. When it came all the way down to the bottom line, he didn’t give a shit who he nailed, as long as he nailed someone.

— 3 —

NYPD 6th Precinct

October 12, 5:06 p.m.

One Day before the V-Event

“They’re going to fry me, aren’t they?” asked the prisoner. “The cops, the D.A. … they’re going to want me dead.”

“They want to understand you,” said the interviewer.

“Bullshit. You want to understand me. They’re going to ask for the death penalty. The electric chair. Or — what’s that other thing? Lethal injection? Isn’t that what they use in this state?”

“We don’t know what they are planning to do. Or want to do. Besides,” said the interviewer, “there’s no death penalty in New York. I don’t think they even have a death row anymore.”

“They want me dead,” insisted the prisoner. He looked down at the floor for a moment, and then asked, “I bet they told you that they want to fry me.”

“I’m a consultant. They don’t discuss those kinds of things with people like me.”

“What if they ask you?”

“They wouldn’t.”

“What if they did? Off the record. At the water cooler or over a beer. Do you think they should give me the death penalty?”

The prisoner was using the word ‘death’ now. It was an encouraging sign. It showed that they were making a little progress.

“Even if there was a death penalty in this state,” said the interviewer, “I wouldn’t be in favor of it.”

“That’s a pussy answer. If you did believe in the death penalty, do you think they should do it? To me?”

“No,” said the interviewer. “I don’t think they should execute you, even if they had a legal right to do so.”

The prisoner was silent for almost fifteen seconds.

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay,” said the interviewer.



Another pause. Ten seconds.

The prisoner said, “I wasn’t lying when I said I really don’t remember everything.”

The interviewer waited.

“There are chunks missing. Chunks of time, I mean. They’re just … gone.”

“Completely gone?”

“No … and that’s what started to freak me out. I don’t know if you’d call them blackouts or what.”

“Have you ever had a blackout before?”


“ ‘Sure’?”

“Everyone loses some nights. You drink, you do a few lines … um, I mean, you …”

“You can say that you did some lines,” said the interviewer. “I doubt the police are interested in filing drug charges against you.”

The prisoner grunted again, and once more the interviewer could not tell if it was a laugh or a sob.

“Yeah,” said the prisoner, “I guess so.”

“The blackouts …,” prompted the interviewer.

“I drink a bit. I’m not an alcoholic,” the prisoner said quickly, “but I … yeah, I know how to knock ’em back. Later, when I moved to L.A., I started partying with the right crowd, and the right crowd always has some blow. Everybody does it.”

“I’ve heard.”

“Well, after some of those parties I’d wake up in some chick’s pad, or in a chaise lounge by a pool at some rich fuck’s house up in the hills. Woke up in my car a few times, too. Once all the way down in South Central and don’t ask me how the fuck I wound up down there. I’m Whitey McWhiteboy. I don’t even have many black friends.”


“But this wasn’t the same thing. These new blackouts, I mean. They were totally different.”

“Different in what way?”

“They were … I don’t know. You blackout after a party and you wake up feeling like a sick iguana pissed in your mouth. You feel really fucking bad. You want to die, that’s how bad you feel.”

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