Los Angeles, California.
The actors finish the readthrough and everyone claps. That was fantastic, Arnold exclaims. Now I’m going to open it up to comments. I want complete candor here.
Who wrote this? Sam asks, looking around the table. A guy leaning against the wall raises his hand. You really sketched Lana well. How do you know her? I don’t. I just did the rewrite for a friend. Who? He shrugs noncommittally. Anonymous.
You’re okay with all the fight scenes and violence? Arnold asks Sam. Actually, I’d like to amp it up more, Sam says, and the others chuckle. How? Remember that scene in Platoon where Sgt. Elias and the gooks are running through the jungle toward each other, the camera cutting back and forth and the tension builds and builds. And then all the sudden they’re in the same frame and Elias points shoots them, and they drop, and he keeps on going. Do that with Lana. She’s quicker on the trigger and her aim is better. I love it, Arnold says. Work it in.
Gooks? The vocalist of ABR questions Sam. The chinaman don’t care, Sam says in a deep raspy voice. Some of the other actors laugh into their hands at Sam’s un-PC vocabulary. You cannot talk like that, the producer tells her, horrified because the majority of the financing is coming from Asia. Sure I can, Sam tells him. If you don’t like it, fire me. I can always go back to writing bond covenants. Tone it down, Samantha, Arnold tells her. Sam makes a bucktooth face as she pulls back the corners of her eyes. The others laugh, and the producer shakes his head. You’re supposed to be Lana Radley. Is this how she behaves? Sam puts her head down. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Please don’t repeat it. Everyone looks at each other. Sam’s head pops back up, and she grins wickedly as she spreads her arms and wiggles her fingers in self-adulation. I’m willing to act Lana when the camera is rolling, but I am Sam. Everyone laughs.
So what is Lana Radley like in person? Terry Crews asks Sam. Have you ever seen that 90s movie The Piano? The one with the mute woman in colonial New Zealand? The huge black man responds with an intelligence that belies his musculature. Yes. Now swap out that piano for a guitar, and you’ve got Lana. But the parallel breaks down because she has such an amazing voice. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard her and Bettina sing.
Is she coming on set? An actor asks. She’s handling the protective detail for Senator Johns Presidential campaign until he gets Secret Service protection. He’s a nobody, an A-list actor says. I bet you fifty bucks that they won’t even let him on the stage of the first debate. I’ll take that bet, Sam says. Anyone else want in on that action?
Any other thoughts about the script or the set? Arnold interrupts. Sam raises her hand. Yes, Sam. Is now the right time to talk wardrobe? Sure. I have a great bod, she admits, and my fiance is fine with me becoming an international sex symbol. Lana on the other hand, doesn’t want her character “dressing in the attire of a harlot” Sam says with finger quotes. Here’s what I suggest. Lana isn’t one to dress provocatively, but she does take care of her appearance. Have her take the field jacket from one of the decapitated guys, and stow it away. And this puzzles the Predators, and they monitor her. Then have her sneak off at night to bathe and wash her hair and the field jacket, which she’d put on after. Have the Predators watch her bathing on infrared. Make it hot, she tells the writer. Hell yeah! yells the bass player of ABR. Everyone chuckles at his enthusiasm.
Her phone rings. My fiance is calling, she tells everyone. Hola, mi amor, she says in Spanish. The drummer never leaves his house, Ramon complains. He puts three empty pails of asphalt sealant cross the mouth of his driveway to keep vehicles out. What outcome do you want? I want to try out for the band. I’ll take care of it, she says, and hangs up. Are we done here? She asks Arnold. Problems? Some one throws you a hot potato, what do you do? She replies. Juggle it? An actor says helpfully. No, you toss it to someone else. And with that, she leaves the room.
Raul sees Sam is calling. Hello, Samantha. I need you to stop over at Rolf’s house at dusk and talk to him. He’s expecting you around eight oclock. What are we to discuss? Ramon trying out for the new band. Raul sighs. I’ll take care of it. How are you doing, Samantha? I’ll be doing better when my fiance starts paying attention to me again, she tells him and hangs up.
Raul moves the asphalt sealant pails at the mouth of the driveway and drives his Ultima to the circle and parks there and gets out. He doesn’t see any lights on in the house. He goes up and is about to knock on the door when Rolf opens it. Raul Guitterez, Rolf says. To what do I owe the pleasure? Samantha didn’t call you? Rolf shakes his head no, and then chuckles at Raul’s expression. Come on in. Rolf goes into the kitchen and grabs two waters from the fridge, and hands one to Raul, and leans on the counter.
What’s on your mind? Rolf asks him. My brother wishes to try out for your new band. That’s invitation only, Rolf tells him. What will it take for him to get an invitation? There are pictures of Jax with the hireling in the evidence locker at the police station. Destroy them along with the originals. Raul raises his eyebrows. Jax has paid for what he did. I don’t want this hanging over him for the rest of his life.
Now what does your brother play? Bass guitar, Raul replies. It’s always a mistake to assume poverty, Rolf says grinning, and yet…
Raul chuckles and takes a sip of his water. He plays by ear; I don’t believe he knows how to read music. Rolf shrugs. Bass is just for grooves and filling pockets anyway. Have him practice an ABR three set: Composure, Martyr, and Crusades, all in drop C. And when he’s ready, have him show up at the college with his instrument. We jam onsite after class. What is a good phone number that he can contact you? Raul asks. Just have him stop by in person; I don’t do business over the phone.
Raul sees that Sam is calling him an hour later, and presses ignore. She immediately calls back again and he reluctantly picks up on the fifth ring. What is it, Samantha? Well, how did it go? You set me up, Raul tells her. Sam laughs. What happened? I told him what I wanted. He told me what he wanted in return. And then he said that Ramon could come down to the college with his instrument when he was ready. That they “jam” after class. And he gave me a list of three songs to have Ramon practice. Have you talked to Ramon yet? No. You can be the one to tell him, Samantha. Are you mad at me? Mad isn’t the right word, but it’ll suffice. You told him about Ramon wanting to be in the band. I did not, she protests. I called you right after Ramon called me up complaining that there weren’t any tryouts.
How did he know then, Samantha? He was ready for me. What did he want in return? The pictures of Jax and the hireling - his words, not mine - destroyed, including those in police custody. Oh, Samantha finally says. What did you tell him? I didn’t tell him anything. Then he added that Jax had suffered enough, and that he didn’t want them hanging over him for the rest of his life. Sam doesn’t say anything for awhile.
Did Lana ever tell you about her Rolf IQ test? She asks. No. It goes like this: the sooner you realize Rolf is smarter than you, the more intelligent you are. Raul ends the call abruptly.
Samantha calls up Ramon. Hello, my love. He says in Dutch. I like that a lot, she says. I bring glad tidings of great joy: you’re invited to join the band. Raul has the details on what ABR songs you’re supposed to have down and when to meet. There’s a long silence. You are an amazing woman, Samantha. Oh, one more thing. Raul is mad at me right now, so if you’d be willing to smooth things over between us. Should I call him now? Let him cool off and sleep on it. How is the movie? Actors are horribly underpaid for what we have to put up with; Ramon bursts out laughing. Are you being a diva? It comes with the territory, Ramon. It’s mostly stand around boredom, to tell the truth. Lana doesn’t do much talking in the movie. Remember RileyX? Yes. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who wrote the first draft of the script. And he did a really good job. This is going to be big.