Jack Continues to Recall Frankie Gun’s Birthday Party of Some Years Ago
I saw Mirabeau talking to an old millionaire who lives up the street, a very nice old millionaire. As far as millionaires go, he’s tops!
But they were complaining that it was too hot. Well, here’s what they did. The old millionaire said to me, “How close are you to Frankie and Cassandra?” And I said, “Oh, very close. Frankie and I practically grew up together, well, not really, blah blah blah.” I began to tiresomely explain the length and depth of our relationship. And the old man, the old millionaire and Mirabeau, uh… asked me to get Frankie to turn the air conditioner on because they were hot. It—you know, it gets crowded in there. I wasn’t—it wasn’t hot enough to complain about! Jesus Christ. But I did it. I—and then I felt like a traitor.
At one particular birthday party, the one I started to recall for you, the famed television magnate… uh… mogul? Felix Biltmore was holding forth about, uh, the movie His Kind of Woman, and I said, “Oh, that’s the movie where Robert Mitchum irons his money!”
And Felix Biltmore was like, “Yeah!”
Remember I was broke and melancholic at this time.
And he patted the seat… “Come closer!” And he patted the seat on the couch next to him and wanted me to sit next to him.
Sometime afterward, Michael, a former student of mine who had gone to work for Felix Biltmore, said, “Oh! Uh, there’s a guy with a ton of money who wants… Felix to do a remake of His Kind of Woman. The only stipulation is it has to take place in Macau. And, uh, you know it. You go ahead and write the script. You know the story. We’ve been trying to figure out how to update it. You, you write it and I’ll give it to Felix and he’ll give you…” And here’s what I—I think Michael said. “You know, I don’t know how much he’ll give you. I mean, I’m, I’m… I bet I… he’s gonna give you at least a hundred thousand dollars.”
And I was foolish enough to think, “Oh, this sounds… true.”
Apparently, at the time, Felix Biltmore was goin’ around literally just handing people money out of—I, I, I’m not being, uh… uh… metaphorical at all. He was literally reaching into his pocket and handing people wads and gobs of money. Uh… and, d-uh… but this was the tail end of that period. I caught him at the tail end of his unhinged generosity. I believe it was around the same time, it turned out, that his television show was, uh, the production was halted because so many storks [short laugh] kept dying.
I’m not laughing—uh! Why did I laugh when I said that? I just, uh… it was not… in any… uh… with any disrespect toward the pain of the dying storks. I guess it was the thought that if you’re making a stork show based on storks, you should keep the storks alive. It seems like the first… really, maybe your first order of business.
Anyway, so Felix Biltmore stopped having money, I guess, or whatever, or maybe it was never a real thing. Maybe n—maybe Michael didn’t tell Felix Biltmore. Maybe he was gonna surprise Felix Biltmore with my script, which I wrote in a n—in a matter of days. In a kind of a frenzy. I changed the Vincent Price character, who was an actor in the original, into a hip-hop star. And, uh, of course I set it in Macau. I know nothing about Macau.
What was the other st—was there another stipulation? Oh! What made me think about it last night as I watched Now… Now You See Me 2… was that… uh, I had a Julian Assange [laughter]… my villain was kinda like, uh, I made him into… I think he’s Raymond Burr in the original. I can’t remember. But in my version, he was basically Julian Assange. [Sigh. Stifled laugh.] And he was… you know what? I can’t remember, but I think he was finding… the lost men [short laugh] of Macau, such as my… hero, whom I imagined as Denzel Washington rather than Robert Mitchum, who are, are in Macau… on the fringes of Macau. The, the people who have wandered the world, and they’re not part of the glitzy high life of Macau. They’re… I forget. He’s stealing their identities for some reason. Why is he doing that? Who knows? It doesn’t matter.
But I, uh…
They sent me stuff! It seemed real. Uh, one of Felix Biltmore’s assistants sent me the original screenplay, which was called Smiler With a Knife. Or Smiler With a Gun? Uhh… the first version of His Kind of Woman. And I worked off of that.
But I never got a hundred thousand dollars, nor did I ever hear a word from Felix Biltmore again, except the next… except the day after the party, when he saw me in my cheap new hat and [laughter] recognized me and waved to me. That was exciting.
You know, these two old men kept appearing in my fiction as I was trying to get a book together. This is related! Bear with me.
Every time I tried to write a novel these two old men inserted themselves, and they were [stifled burp?] based on two old men I saw, I think in maybe 2007 [sniff]… at a bar called Murph’s, which has since been… uh… refurbished, and its name has been changed. [Lip smack.] But there were just old-timers then… and now it’s mostly, you know, college mugs… yeggs… you know, loud, loud guys in… tank tops? I don’t know why I think tank tops. You know, loud guys in… muscle shirts! At a… pounding on tables and eating chicken wings.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.