Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wm. Floggin' Buckley - Part 9

[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.]

The next morning in the men's room, someone was weeping in one of the stalls, under whose door I recognized a pair of plaid hightop sneakers. Harold? Harold, is that you?
Do you know what that Astor Prescott said to me? He said my letters for October really sucked, and if I don't do a better job, he's going to fire me. Well, where would I go? What would I do? Cuntry-without-an-o has been my whole life!

He burst into tears. I couldn't just leave him. I put my arms around him. At first, it only made matters worse. He was clearly more at home with petty sadism than kindness. But then he suddenly threw his arms around my waist and sobbed so hard I thought we'd wind up in the next stall.

Naturally it was at exactly that moment that Rupert walked in, saw Harold sobbing in my arms, and stormed back out in embarrassment, only to storm back in again and demand to know what was going on. Harold told him what Astor had said about his letters to the editor. Nonsense. Your letters are fine. You're a genius. He looked outraged that his decree only made Harold sob harder. For one horrible moment, I was afraid Harold might throw his arms around Rupert.

Who had a new secretary, his fifth in the three weeks I'd been at HPP. Before her hiring, there'd been half as many dimples on the 39th floor. You could picture her in commercials for apple pie, or motherhood. And here she came taking up a collection for Rupert's forthcoming 41st birthday. I'd sooner have chipped in for a cake and card for Charles Manson. I told her I needed to go to the cash machine at lunch. "I just can't believe how few people here carry cash! Well, at least you can sign his card. Well, I'm glad I was here to see you. If I tried to read that, I'd never in a million years figure out what it says."

At our afternoon editorial conference, there was no sign of Astor in his traditional seat just to the right of Rupert's. When he did come in, Rupert didn't stare daggers at his throat. He stared hacksaws. But he stared nothing less than chainsaws when Lu-Ella staggered in arm in arm with a skeletal pink-haired punk in a shredded T-shirt and a leer of the most remarkable cretinousness. "Everybody, say howdy to Trevor Vermin of Crotchrot. They're really fantastic, and you should check 'em out this weekend at the Loose Stool. In fact, if you don't, you're fired. So what are we going to blab about today?"

Our new editorial direction? Making the magazines more exciting and emotional?
"Boring. We're out of here."

As Lu-Ella and her dreamboat staggered back whence they'd come, Astor hurried to open the door, and then left with them. The veins in Rupert's neck looked as though they might explode.

"If you think this is going to make me cry, you're dead wrong. It's not going to make Rupert cry. No bloody way." At which moment, his dimply new secretary came in carrying a candle-bedecked cake, singing, "Happy Birthday. Happy birthday, dear Rupert…Well, come on, everybody. Join in!" All she got was a couple of nervous coughs. "Rupert, this is from all your friends here at Hammond Palmer." We'd have been wrong to think that Astor's little display was going to make Rupert cry, but the cake did. A couple of tears. So what could he possibly do but swat it off the table like a furious grizzly and storm out?

No comments:

Post a Comment