106 Who is afraid of TV… me
My play dead weekend got interrupted by only one thing, I rented one of the last two units. It went to an EMT, but not EMT Eddie. He never had any intention of doing anything but leading Kate along the path of deception. The EMT who rented it was a young man fresh out of the community college and new to Aster.
His name was Roy Rogers, no relation, he was quick to point out. Roy was more than willing to play along though. He told me, when discussing how he would be moving in, that he and his friends from the base would be moving furniture in his Ford pickup named trigger. I just shook my head and took his check. Part of the appeal of my place for him was the need for only a few pieces of furniture.
I watched Roy and two of his friends as they moved in his full size, but still somehow small bed. then came a dresser which had been painted black and matched nothing. Followed by lots of cardboard boxes, which reminded me of my place. Then finally a truck arrived two hours after everything else had been moved in. The big ass box, which the two large black delivery men carried into the forth apartment read, ‘Flat Screen TV’. They also took in a sofa, chair, table and lamps. I decided that he had bought the Combo package, I saw advertised all the time on TV. You know “Buy the room, get the TV.” Roy had sprung for the entertainment unit with his new found credit. It was a bit of a mystery how he could rent the apartment in the morning and get it all delivered that same afternoon. Who knows how desperate they were to sell that crap.
I stayed in the game until it was apparent that Roy had finished with the strangers running in and out. When it seemed that things were back to more or less normal. I took a late afternoon nap. I knew that my security awareness had slipped some. I also knew that unless I bought into some really heavy duty crap, I didn’t need more security than I had built into the apartments. It was way more than the street thugs and gang bangers would expect. Even the Russians would most likely get swept up in it. The Swamp Thing’s black bag guys would laugh at it, but then why would they be coming for me.
All security systems are based on the level of threat. They guard nuclear secrets with more security than the president gets when he travels. It’s all about how sophisticated you think the threat will be, that determines the level of security. I didn’t think I needed as much protection as either a nuclear warhead or the president. Since that was the case, falling asleep late Saturday afternoon was easy.
Sunday my walk at the mall was pretty much alone. It appeared that most people had a family to spend the morning with. It didn’t matter. I walked for the exercise not the camaraderie. When I finished my two miles, I rode the bike back to the apartment. The bike went into the utility room, and I went inside my apartment.
You had to love computers. Even though it was Sunday morning, I was able to cancel my ads for the apartment rental.
By Monday I was not only fully rested, I was pacing the floors. My mind had switched gears yet again. Nothing but trouble could come from my new frame of mind. I knew it, so forewarned should be forearmed. I had breakfast still not sure what decision I would make, but knowing I was about to make yet another change in my life. I wanted to throw my hand up and yell “Why me God”. Since god had never answered me, I didn’t bother.
Instead I went to the Mall to walk. I was going to be late arriving at Jen’s office, but I didn’t really care. Let them all get together and have their guns locked and loaded. At least then it would be a fair fight. I was more than ready for them. During the walk I worked out what I wanted to say, even if I didn’t have a decision yet. I really did appreciate Irish Martin’s heads up.
When I left the mall, the bike ran out of gasoline. In the excitement I had forgotten to fill it up. Since the bike required oil and gasoline to be mixed, I couldn’t just push it to the service station. That explains why I had a high impact plastic, pancake style canteen filled with gas strapped into the handlebar basket. It would also make a nice fire if I needed one in a hurry.
The little delay made me a few minute later than I had expected to be. “So how late am I?” I asked the receptionist upon my arrival.
“Twenty minutes by the clock but only five minutes later than one of the others,” she said.
“If I knew who all was in the room, I could tell you which one it was.” I said smiling. I just walked on back to the conference room. “Sorry guys,” I said upon entering. “I had trouble with one of Marty’s piece of shit bikes.” No, I didn’t tell them that I let it run out of gas.
“Come on in we have been waiting,” Jen said smiling at me. She wasn’t a bit upset. That should have scared the hell out of me. “I think you know almost everyone. Marty of course,” he nodded. “Martin from Executive Security ,” he gave me a big smile. “Last but not least, Thurman Slope from Real TV Network.”
“Ah the cable network which is home to all the crap housewives love to hate,” I suggested.
“And damn proud of it,” Slope said smiling.
“You are much younger than I expected. Are you head of programing or even farther down?” I asked smiling.
“Head of new product development. I’m the one who decides what crap we put on for the horny housewives.”
“Tell me Mr. Slope, does your boss know what kind of snakes he is getting into bed with?” I turned to Marty the bike peddler and Irish Martin, the washed up Mercenary, as I spoke.
“Actually we do. This is one of those symbiotic relationships. We don’t come in with the cleanest of hands. As you said we program crap and we know it. They want to produce crap that we get really cheap. In exchange they get the product placement which amounts to an infomercial. Marty’s Internet infomercials were a big hit. We would just like to do the same thing on real TV. It would be revolutionary, if it works. Of course you will be a TV star in the process.”
“You can’t sell me, so save the grease for someone who needs it. This ain’t my first ass fuckin’ cowboy. I must be stupid as hell to even be here listening. Marty there has lied to me, set me up, and used me shamelessly, but here I am again.”
Martin started to speak. He should have sat quietly. “And then there is Swamp Thing, represented by Irish Martin. You knew they had to change their name a half dozen times. Once for each time a country kicked them out. Marty will use you, try to cheat you, and generally double cross you at every turn, but Swamp Thing, they just might kill your ass. Now, did you know all that Slope?”
“This isn’t our first dance either Ms. Stone,” he said. “We come in with our eyes wide open.”
“Then lets talk about this crap show,” I suggested.
Marty stood up, since he was the obvious pitchman. “I’m going to be the producer of the same kind of thing we did for the Internet only expand on it. We plan to make one hour TV shows from it.”
“Do you have any idea the size of the turd you are biting into?” I asked. “There is no way you can get that much film of me and my sad little life.”
“Your life is not all that sad,” Slope commented. “But you are right it is a lot of film. I’m interested in hearing the answer to that as well.”
“Obviously we need more characters. The beauty of Maxine’s life is that she surrounds herself with characters worthy of any romantic tragedy novel ever written.” Marty replied.
“And if I don’t, you interject them into the plot to spice it up.” I said bitterly.
“Okay, I tossed Mosby into the mix. I should not have done that, but I can’t undo it.” Marty said.
I interrupted by turning to Slope. “I’m gonna give you the advice my dad gave me. When he found out I was dating a married man, he said, ‘If that prick will cheat with you, he will cheat on you.’ My dad was usually right.” I turned to Marty and said, “I should kill you.”
“Can we move on please?” Marty said. I just nodded. “So just like before we film you with a lot of small hand held digital cameras. We either get releases, or fuzz the faces. With people who are likely to be major characters, we pay a fee. I’ll take care of all that.”
“So Jen will be trouble shooting it again,” I asked.
“And this time she is going to be a major character in the show. Her life isn’t as cool, but she will be a good counter balance for you.”
“Did you know about this,” I asked.
“I was made an offer this morning and I agreed, but only if you do.” Jen said.
“Well they found your price, fifteen minutes of fame,” I said it with a laugh. Jen just smiled she knew that it wasn’t malicious. “I understand that I am supposed to be an employee, part time at least, of Swamp Thing’s domestic army. They get mentioned every episode I suppose, but what are you getting out of it, Marty?” I asked.
“You ride my bike around town all the time. I get free advertising since my people will be producing it.” He caught my look at Slope. “They already knew that Maxine, you are not shocking anyone here.” Marty said.
“Now for the big question, what do I get.” I asked seriously.
“Well aside from the intangibles brought to the table by Executive Security Service, you get paid in several ways. First of all we rent the last apartment from you. We set it up as a TV Studio. If that upsets any of your present tenants, we will pay to move them, or otherwise buy them off. All your tenants will be regulars, so they will be offered contracts as casual actors.”
“Everyone gets a flat fee for the release, then a bonus for every minute of screen time we give them. The more interesting they are, the more money they will make. “ Marty explained.
“We are covering the actor’s fees,” Slope admitted. “The two Martin’s are paying the production costs.”
“You get paid our standard job fee for anything you do for Executive Security,” Irish Martin said.
“Plus you get paid for the apartment by me,” Marty the pedaler said.
“And we foot the bill for your on air time. The release fee is paid by Marty, so feel free to stick it to him.” Slope said.
“You aren’t going to make what Angelina Jolie makes, but you won’t do too badly,” Jen said.
“This is after all low budget, crap TV as you pointed out earlier,” Slope said. “That ends my part of the sales pitch. I just wanted to be here to be sure these two gentlemen didn’t commit my network to more than we bargained for. As your daddy said, ‘If they will do it for you, they will do it to you.”
Irish Martin said, “I have a job coming up in less than two weeks. Marty assures me that he can be ready by then.” Irish Martin said.
“You know the drill, your apartment gets wired. and hidden cameras everywhere. Hardwire for the apartment this time. We don’t want the images pirated onto the internet. It seems there was quite a cottage industry in that, when you were at the cabin.”
“My security system has a living room camera already. It stays, I need to know that the house is empty before I come home,” I demanded.
“That’s okay we can do an interference thing on that camera when you are in the house. Just screw the one camera up.” Marty said as if he knew what he was talking about. I did know that the wireless cameras could be jammed, so I figured Mike could work it out.
“What’s the signing fee and the on time fees?” I asked.
“Your blanket release fee is set at 25K for 120 days. After that we renegotiate. The on air time is set so you should make between 5 and 8k per show. We are planning a buy of ten shows the first season.” Slope commented.
At 50 to 100 k total for six months work it was by far my largest payday ever. The Swamp Thing money would be the bonus. “Okay promise me Mosby isn’t part of the mix and show me where I sign,” I demanded.
“She is part of the mix,” Marty said.
“Then the deal is off,” I said standing to leave. I knew they had a lot of time and therefore money in the project. If it came to Mosby or me, I expected it to be Mosby out the door.”
“Be reasonable Maxine. Mosby is a professional actress. She knows how to guide the amateurs to say and do the right thing.”
“She is still a ringer and not part of my life. So I won’t play with her sorry,” I said.
“Okay she won’t interact with you in anyway at any time. We will figure out something she can do without being part of your life circle.” Marty said it angrily. He was screwing her, I could tell.
“I’m going to have a lot more to say about who does what in this little soap opera, than I did before.” I said it as a warning.
“So now you are a diva?” Marty asked maliciously.
“I prefer to say I’m not letting you screw me over again. If you want to play this time you pay big boy.” I said smiling. Then the meeting was just over before it sank even lower.