In BURNT on January 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm


The Cinegrill is the place to be in Hollywood on a Friday night.  It’s splashy and it’s pricey.  Lotus is treating herself.  She’s even booked a suite in the adjacent Roosevelt Hotel.

She can afford it.  And she deserves it.  Over the last two years, she has distinguished herself.  She honored her promise to Lady and oversaw the final months of shooting Richard’s epic film “The Builders” then cut the film herself.  When no studio wanted it, she distributed the film on her own, working out deals with theater owners and opening the film in every major city in the country.

The other venture that Richard’s death left unfinished was the Golden State Hotel.  It’s completion was tricky, involving a near blizzard of paper and an ocean of greased palms.  She learned the names of the players in Los Angeles and just how much their cooperation cost.  The Golden opened on time and under budget.  This earned her the grudging respect of the all-male Board of Directors, and promotion to President of Lawrence Enterprises from Lady Richard herself.

She sips her martini, sinking into a padded leather chair at the best private table.  Her eyes dance over the cinema décor of the place, following the murals on the walls of Hollywood stars, Keystone Cops, cowboys and Indians and damsels in distress.  She’s part of that history now.

For the first time in a long time, her mind turns to Sister Aimee.  She wonders if Sister might not have had a second act, it she hadn’t passed so suddenly.  Sister had written a script for a film, “The Clay In The Potter’s Hands”.  Paramount shot some screen tests.

Lotus wonders where that script is.  She wonders if she should option it.  Second acts are important.

Pretty people surround her.  The women in their chiffon evening dresses with their shoulders bared.   The men with their wide lapels and top-pleat trousers.  Her own dress is a Christian Dior original.  She admires how the flared skirt spreads over her crossed legs.  She takes another sip of her martini.

The band is back from break.  The maestro, in his perfect tuxedo, conducts from the dance floor.  He is clearly a passionate and accomplished man.

Another well-dressed man steps to his side and, to Lotus’ horror, SLAPS the conductor.  And he continues to slap the man, his hands weaving through the maestro’s still-conducting arms.  The madness escalates!   A third man appears, slapping the second.  And then a fourth!  It’s a cacophony of swinging arms!  The band plays on!

She doesn’t know what to make of it.  Is it revolution?

A cigarette girl appears, handing the men matching megaphones.   They turn as one, revealing it was all a gag, that they are just a bunch of bouncers and heavies.  They belt out operatic lyrics with thick New York accents.

The crowd roars but soon forgets it.  It’s clearly a regular feature and they treat it as such.  Disposable entertainment.

Having spent a year cutting Richard’s film, she knows his philosophy well.  It’s mostly crap but he got one thing right.  People’s natures do not change.

She quietly finishes her martini, realizing it is her last.  Her last drink, her last nightclub, her last attempt at being a part of the crowd.

The Story So Far

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