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Hidden Bodies

Hidden Bodies

Hidden Bodies 21


  But we had to shoot here because Milo is desperate to get footage of some something he calls “Indoor Coachella.” Coachella is a festival fashion show where people dress up like hippies and pretend that Passion Pit is as good as the Rolling Stones. So the idea of taking that mess and shoving it inside a casino is loathsome to me.

  Barry Stein nixes it right away. He says Coachella is too big of an insurance risk and Milo pleads with him. “I just need a night there,” he says. “I’ll go in guerilla style, Barry. I just want those jagged lights, the feel of it. We need that flashback. And it’s not Coachella for real.”

  “Yeah,” Barry says. “It’s more of a shit show. No is no.”

  Milo sulkily moves on, and we “shoot” all day, every day. Milo karate chops the air at the end of every take, as if he never saw a Ben Stiller movie, as if he doesn’t know that chopping the air is an asshole thing to do. I wish Ben Stiller were here. I wish anyone with a brain would come and take over.

  While we shoot, I have to sit in video village, another misnomer; video village is not a village. It’s just a bunch of folding chairs shoved together in front of the monitors. I have no purpose. When we move locations and relocate the village, I’m not even allowed to move my chair because I’m not union.

  It’s day four and “Harmony” and “Oren” are fighting because Harmony’s puppy ate Oren’s boots and then making up because they hate fighting and Love kisses Milo again and again. I hate set. There’s too much clapping, and bullshit with nicknames. They call the second to last shot “The Abby” and the last shot “The Martini” and the level of self-importance is unbearable. When my scripts get the green light, I won’t spend all my days on set. And when Milo begs to visit, I’ll say yes and then I’ll “forget” to give his name to security.

  “Cut!” Milo yells after they finish kissing for the thirtieth time. He grabs Love’s hands. “That felt good. Did that feel good?”

  “That felt great!” she says. She bounces and I die.

  It’s the little things that make you want to kill someone, the way Milo drinks Diet Dr Pepper and ties his Jewfro in a bun and lifts his shirt to show off his stomach and wipes his glasses down even though they’re not dirty. Yes, Milo got glasses, and seafoam green Topsiders, and a navy blue Polo-style shirt with a popped collar, and didn’t I already kill this guy when he was schilling Home Soda and fucking Guinevere Beck?

  Milo calls action again and kisses Love. My muscles tighten. All I can do is eat and wait, eat and watch—and this is day four of twenty-eight days—and they’re improvising the dialogue—bite me—because he just wants to mount her.

  I want to be anywhere but here and I ask Forty about nearby restaurants. He slaps my back. “This is a shoot, Old Sport. We don’t go anywhere until we get this baby in the can.”

  I lower my voice. “Well, what about those other movies?”

  He whispers, “Bad news is fast. Good news takes a while. Hurry up and wait. It’s your job, you’re the boyfriend.”

  And that’s what people call me. Can Love’s boyfriend bring her a Diet Coke? Can Love’s boyfriend find Love’s charger?

  It’s bad and it gets worse on day seven when the hairstylist asks if Love’s boyfriend can grab the pickles. Milo laughs. “‘Love’s boyfriend’ is kind of awkward,” he says. “Let’s just call him Loverboy!”

  The director gets what the director wants so now my name is Loverboy. Forty says I have to lighten up. Love thinks it’s cute. Milo shows us a picture of the Restoration Hardware table, home of The Big Sex Scene on page twenty-seven. “The table represents real love,” he says. “What Oren and Harmony have, the way they forget it around new people, plastic people, but then they get on this table and man, there’s nothing like it.”

  “I love it,” Love says.

  He avoids my eyes and licks his lips as he leafs through his script. Milo is definitely trying to take her away and I will kill that table. Instead, I go to craft service—why can’t they just call it the food?—for the fourth time in two hours. I dunk a slice of cornbread into the chili and I hear someone: Is Loverboy at crafty again?

  And that’s when I decide. I am going to get ripped here. Hot. Jacked.

  I toss my cornbread in the trash and tell Love that I’m going for a run. She reacts. “A run? That’s new.”

  “Yep,” I say. “I gotta start taking better care of myself.”

  IT’S day seventeen and the title of the movie should have been That Time When Milo Tried to Win Back Love. Our sex life dwindles because of the long shooting days, and because we don’t have a lock on our bedroom door. Love spends more time with Milo running lines in his room, which does lock. Every time she goes in there, I go for a run, and every time Milo speaks to me, he says things like, “How are you surviving?” and “You know, if you’re bored, we’re good. You can go back to LA.”

  He doesn’t say this shit in front of Love and I want to kill him but I can’t. He’s the director and Love’s third twin and people will notice if he just disappears. So I try not to dwell. Nobody will download this movie except friends and families. And anyway, they may be making a movie but I’m making a body. I downloaded an app that tracks every morsel that enters my body and every step I take. I do sit-ups and pull-ups and I sprint and I am becoming the hottest man alive while most of the people around me are getting bloated, soft.

  I arrive in Video Village after my second workout on day twenty-three and Love notices my arm. “Hello, biceps,” she says. “Wow.”

  Milo says one of these days he wants to hit the gym with me.

  I tell him anytime. “You’ll get rid of that paunch in no time,” I assure him. “Or you can go on a run with me.”

  Love walks away to makeup and Milo smiles. “Loverboy,” he says. “I wanted to thank you. I didn’t want to make a big deal in front of Love, but guy to guy, if I were in your shoes, with the new scene, the rewrite, I would have gotten it if you said no. So thanks.”

  I don’t know about this new scene and he knows it and he winks. He ambles away to check on that Restoration Hardware table and I ask a production assistant for the addition. She avoids eye contact and gives it to me. I read.

  INT. KITCHEN – MID-AFTERNOON, LAZY, LOVELY TIME

  We are TIGHT on HARMONY eating strawberries. Watching Oren. Her nipples pop. She says she’s hungry. She licks her fingers. OREN says to eat a berry. Harmony says she doesn’t want a berry. 3, 2, 1. Boom. Harmony gets onto her knees. We go TIGHT on her mouth as she takes him.

  Milo knew better than to be around while I read. And all I can think is:

  INT. MY BRAIN – RIGHT NOW – FUCK YOU FUCKING MOVIE FUCKING MILO

  There are two days until Love blows Milo. But that’s not true. Because Love is not blowing Milo. Because I am gonna do whatever it takes to get that motherfucking mouse out of my motherfucking house.

  33

  I lay the groundwork for my extermination. It is the most painful, derivative thing I’ve ever said, for so many reasons, because of my ex, because I’m not a follower, because I fucking hate concerts and Urban Outfitters and Porta-Potties. But it has to be said. If I want to kill the mouse, I have to lure him away from the house. We are on set. It’s the day before the blowjob. This is it. “So, Milo,” I begin. And here it comes. My anti-truth. “How cool would it be to get outta here and go to Indoor Coachella and see Beck tonight?”

  “Yeah,” he says. “But we have a big day tomorrow.”

  “But still.” I lean in. “If you could intercut some of that pop and the color and the sound with the oral element, I mean, I’m just saying, that would be dope.”

  Milo nods. “Mm hmm,” he says. “Yeah.”

  “I go jogging every night,” I remind him. “You’ve been saying you want to go with me . . .”

  Milo tugs on his bun. “Not a word to Love,” he says.

  So it’s on. A plan is made. I’m relaxed just knowing that he’s going to be dead soon. Granted, it sucks that I have to go to Indoor Coachel
la. But at least that festival of fanny packs and MDMA will be good for something. People die at festivals all the time. And Milo’s been wanting to go to this fucking festival since day one. I’m the innocent one who just tagged along to make sure he’d be okay.

  And I’m not heartless. I spend the day trying to save the poor kid’s life. I try to kill the blowjob scene. At lunch, Love and I go upstairs to our bedroom and I try to make her see things my way. I hold her hands. I tell her that this is turning into a cult. “Milo even looks like Charles Manson, with those stupid beads he’s wearing now.”

  “Joe,” she says. “You need to process your own emotions. I can’t do that for you.”

  “I’m not processing my emotions,” I say. “I’m trying to stop you from doing something stupid.”

  She cups my face in her hands. “My job is to make things work,” she says. “My job is not to tear them down.”

  “We’re talking about a blowjob,” I remind her. “Not world peace.”

  She smiles. “You’re jealous because we don’t do that. Harmony and Oren are different. I’m not Harmony, Joe. And it’s not my vision. It’s Milo’s vision.”

  Everyone has been brainwashed by this fucker. Still, I try nonviolent measures of extermination. I continue my anti-blowjob mission after lunch, but everyone wants the blowjob. Forty says it’s bold. Forty says people are still talking about Brown Bunny because of the blowjob scene but Forty is wrong. Nobody is talking about Brown Bunny. Milo says we need it. He says it elevates the material and ensures that the movie won’t get lost.

  Barry Stein shows up on the set—it’s amazing, the way fellatio changes everything—and that’s when I know there is no getting out of it. Barry Stein says the blowjob will get them into festivals. It will make Milo an auteur. The only people on my side are Love’s parents on Skype.

  “I don’t understand the movies anymore,” Dottie says. “Doesn’t this make it a porno?”

  Ray sighs. “You don’t see anything like this in Fast and Furious.”

  Love pleads. “That’s because those movies aren’t about anything real, Dad.”

  In the end, Ray and Dottie send their love to Love and they’re not going to stop her and they trust her and Milo and they think she looks beautiful. We have sex, missionary, it stinks of obligation. Then Love is sleeping and I text Milo:

  You ready?

  He says he needs twenty minutes, so I go downstairs and pour a bowl of Frosted Flakes. I go outside and look at the stars as I eat my cereal. I can’t bear the thought of the car ride with Milo, all smug, so I fantasize about what happens when he’s dead. Someone will step up to the plate and save the movie and that someone will be me. In my version of Boots and Puppies, Love will wake up and look for Milo. (I refuse to buy into this Harmony and Oren bullshit.) She will realize he left her. Some Peter Gabriel song will play and she’ll walk into the kitchen and grab her phone.

  “Yeah,” she’ll say. “I have this big old table I have to get rid of. Can you guys help me out?”

  I hear someone open the door and come outside and I turn around but it’s not Milo.

  “Love?” I say.

  She motions for me to be quiet. She’s wearing a transparent nightie I’ve never seen. She isn’t wearing any shoes, any panties. She grabs my hand. “This way.”

  She leads me onto the set, into the kitchen.

  “Love, what the hell is this?” I hiss.

  She whips her head around. “I’m Harmony,” she says. “You’re Oren, right?”

  Ah. Ah. “Yes,” I say. Love gestures for me to sit on the table. I do. “I’m Oren.”

  “What do you think?” And she planned for me. She left a bowl of strawberries on the table. She holds my eyes. She picks up a berry. She bites. “I’m still hungry.”

  I warn her. “This is a hot set.”

  “I know,” she says.

  “We’re not supposed to touch anything.”

  “I know,” she says. “But I can’t help it anymore.”

  My phone is buzzing and this isn’t supposed to happen. I’m supposed to kill Milo and he’s texting and he probably woke Love up accidentally, banging shit around. And I don’t like this. Love’s barely spoken to me all month and she knows how I feel about the blowjob scene and she thinks she can just fuck her way out of anything. And no.

  “Love,” I say. “What is this?”

  “I’m just having fun.”

  “No,” I say. “What is going on with you and Milo? And don’t say nothing.”

  Love puts her hands on mine. “Well,” she says. She bites her lip. Her hands are shaking. “The truth is . . .” My hands are shaking. She presses. “Milo and I hooked up at Chateau that morning, that day that you and I met.”

  It is worse than I thought and better than I thought. It is a lesson in instincts. I knew he was my enemy from day one. I knew it. He showed up at Chateau that night and he wanted me gone and he must have felt blindsided. One minute he’s fucking Love, the next everyone is gushing over The Professor.

  “Did you shower after?”

  “Did I shower?”

  “That first day,” I say. “When we met. At Soho House.”

  “Of course,” she says.

  “Did you bring me to Chateau to get rid of him?”

  “No,” she says. Then: “Yes.” She looks down. “Is that terrible? But I also really liked you. I mean that was early.”

  Love says I’m right about everything. Milo is trying to get her back and she has been uncomfortable but she isn’t mad at him. “He’s one of my best friends,” she says. “I mean, we always go back to each other and I beat myself up, why don’t I love him like that? He is not a bad guy, Joe. I have led him on. I feel awful.”

  Love hugs me and she is naked underneath her nightie. She puts her hands on my shoulders and moves me to the Restoration Hardware table. She unbuttons my pants. She pulls them down. She kneels like she’s supposed to in Boots and Puppies and I am harder than I’ve ever been. When she takes me in her mouth for the first time, it’s like being inside her vagina, her pink brain, her bloodstream. I think of God again, that section up in heaven where they build bodies to match and I knew that her vagina was for me and now I know her mouth was made for me too.

  As I get close, I open my eyes for just one second and Milo is there at the edge of the set, staring. I wonder how much he overheard. Everything, I hope.

  I close my eyes again, and I hear a car start. Milo is going to Indoor Coachella alone and maybe I don’t have to kill him. Everything is different now. I’m not jealous. I’m logical. The mouse left the house on his own and we won’t have any problems again.

  I come.

  34

  THE next day, we wake up in a new world. We kiss and Love e-mails Milo to say she won’t do the blowjob. She admits that she’s relieved. I win. Milo does too. He’s alive and he says Beck was great and that he respects Love’s decision as an actress.

  Love goes down to set and when I get out of the shower, I have a new text from Forty: Old Sport! Tell Love u gotta go to town, books or something. Big news. Ask for the Deuce suite at the desk. Ritz. Pronto.

  I drive over there and I’ve never seen so much cocaine in my life. There are mountains of it on every surface of this ornate suite and I worry about the police invading but Forty says to relax.

  The suite is enormous and it seems that rich people go to Palm Springs to be in big, empty rooms with shiny lamps. Everything is black and white and electric green. Green pillows abound, like the one RIP Beck used to hump in her shoebox apartment, window open. It’s that kind of layout where you’re inside and outside at once. We have our own private patio.

  “What am I doing here?” I ask. “What’s up?”

  “Having a drink!” Forty says, and he hands me a flute of champagne and he’s wearing pink and yellow jams and an open hooded bathrobe.

  “Did you want to talk about the scripts?” I ask. His agent was supposed to be sending them out, but there hasn’t b
een any news, any action.

  Forty motions for me to sit by two half-naked hookers. “Go on,” he says. “Nobody’s telling on anybody.”

  Instead I sit in a wicker chair with electric green pillows. “I’m fine, thanks.”

  Forty laughs. He wants to shoot the shit about Boots and Puppies. He thinks it could get into Sundance but he doesn’t see it getting a theatrical release. He thinks Barry Stein isn’t what he used to be and he thinks Milo should have hired an actor instead of taking the part.

  “Was Jake Gyllenhaal really interested?” I ask, because it feels like this is an honest zone, a sacred space, the opposite of a set where the movie is God.

  “Fuck, no!” he says. “That’s just Milo stroking his dick and calling it a hand job. Jake isn’t into that kind of shit. I don’t even think he read it.”

  “Wow,” I say. “Does Love know?”

  Forty shakes his head. “It’s a boatload of hell, getting a movie made, especially one like B and P. You gotta believe your own bullshit, ya know? It’s like when you go to Promises and it’s the last day and you’ve been there for three weeks and they’re like ‘Do you feel ready to go?’ And you say yes because you were there! You fucking did it. You tried. What the hell are you gonna say? ‘No, gimme an eight ball’?”

  He laughs and watches a hooker dance to no music. “When did you go to Promises?” I ask.

  But Forty doesn’t answer. He puts out his cigarette. “Earlier today, I had Ariana eat out Shelly while I fucked Shelly in the ass.”

  These are things I don’t want to know. “Hey,” I say. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

  He hoovers more cocaine. “What did I want to what?”

  “Why am I here?”

  “The million-dollar question,” he effuses. “Why are we here? Why? Personally, I think Satan sent me here to fucking fuck shit up. The way God sent Love to love shit up.”

  “Forty,” I say. “Maybe you want some weed?”