Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wm. Floggin' Buckley - Part 7

[The script of the one-man show about my brief, very unpleasant tenure at Larry Flynt Publications, which I have performed in San Francisco, London, and Madison, Wisconsin.]

What the immediate future held in store for me was yet another editorial conference. Everybody was crazed with fast-approaching deadlines for the October issue, but we were going to have another editorial conference. Elvin from Missouri had a theory. "Back in Savannah, ol' Ham himself used to threaten his dancers with a bullwhip to get them to strut their stuff more lasciviously. Ol' Darth Vader feels compelled to humiliate people even more than usual when Lu-Ella's around to show that he's crackin' the old whip himself. Back in She'd do her own whip-crackin', but that would mean having to stay conscious."

Yet again Astor had managed to seat himself just to the right of the head of the table, where he and Sylvie were chatting like best girlfriends in high school the first day after Christmas vacation. To watch Astor, you'd have imagined that Sylvie was Oscar Wilde reincarnate, or at least Dorothy Parker. He giggled delightedly at every third syllable out of her mouth.

Rupert came in fuming, as usual, and turned his back on us, staring out at the smog while everybody listened to their own heartbeat. But when her prim British secretary led the woozy Lu-Ella in, Rupert was transformed. He was the lioness and poor Harold Rosenberg, the little hamster who wrote Cuntry's letters to the editors, his prey. Every time it appeared that poor Harold might finally whimper a syllable in his own defense, Rupert took another bite out of his trachea. A dark spot appeared between the trembling Harold's legs. As he ran sobbing from the room, Rupert reminded us of HPP's drug policy. Rupert, who never stopped sniffling, reminded us that HPP would tolerate the use of no drugs whatsoever by any employee at any time.

Another precinct was heard from. "I can't imagine how anyone thinks they can do their job right if they're high on drugs. That really outrages me." Astor looked around, incredulous that he'd been allowed to go on so long. "I can't imagine how anyone thinks they can do their job right if they're high on drugs. That really outrages me."

"Astor, shut up!"

Well, you're absolutely right, Rupert. Maybe I should allow one of the people who does this sort of thing to speak, and we could get some sort of understanding of…"

As Rupert informed Astor at the top of his lungs that he was in no position to allow or disallow anything, he seemed to breathe flames, and you half expected the bronzer to start running in rivulets down Astor's cheeks. But then the only person on the 39th floor who could have spoken at that moment without fear of being ripped limb from limb did speak.

"I don't know, Rupie. I think he makes some compelling points."

You could have heard a pin drop on a pile of feathers with your fingers jammed in your ears.

I reported to Elvin from Missouri's apartment at 8:40 on Monday morning, just as I did every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He had a sticker for the big car park across Olympic Boulevard, so riding in with him saved me money. I'd endure five minutes in his nightmarish living room while he tried unsuccessfully to brush the kink out of his hair and to find his glasses, with their inch-thick lenses, which he couldn't because he didn't have them, and then ride into Century City with him in the embarrassing Chevrolet coupe on which his father-in-law had given him a good price. This morning, though, there was a note taped to his window.

Enough's enough. Me and Sharon have moved back to Missouri. I'd have given notice, but editors who try to resign before Rupert can fire 'em tend to get their kneecaps dislocated, so I just went.

Having stopped at Elvin's, I arrived at work six minutes late. Astor was waiting for me. You know, we do start here at nine sharp, at least those of us who don't get in at 7:30. I suggested he go run back and forth across the Santa Monica Freeway at rush hour. But then I got to my office and read a memo from Lu-Ella. She'd named Astor Cuntry's editorial director, whatever that was. He was now more powerful than anyone except Rupert and Lu-Ella herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment