today we have, for
the first time ever, a guest larry: the talented and lovely pamie,
part of this balanced breakfast...
how things fall
His name is Bill and hes 40.
Hes a victim of what? Hollywood? The cycle of abuse? Brain chemistry?
He is my former mentor. He helped me get accepted to every University acting program for which I auditioned. He ran a theatre school much better than my high schools department and I spent many of my days there. I did shows there. I learned to love acting there. I taught classes there. I had a key. I brought women into the theatre in the middle of the night. Shhhhhh.
He moved to LA and took on acting clients. As a coach. Then as a manager. A few of his kids worked a lot. One of his kids was cast in a sitcom that lasted. And lasted. And went into syndication. And is still on the air today. The money got better and better. He moved into a house in the hills with its own stream and deer and a fireplace. He let me stay there for months when I first moved to LA. It was there I learned my father was about to die. From the backroom with the view and the spider web...
One day a woman brought her daughter in for coaching. Bill and the mother hit it off and began talking. And dating. And falling in love. Bill moved out of his house in the hills into a house in the valley in the shadow of a 60 story building. He commissioned a play from me which I wrote on which he then dropped the ball. They got married and I didnt go to the wedding. Bill now had a wife and a 10 year-old step daughter and an SUV and we saw each other less and less which was fine. Friendships ebb and evolve as do lives. As does the shoreline.
A year ago the father of his very successful client decided he wanted to manage his sons blossoming career himself and fired Bill without warning. He had scaled back his client roster at his wifes request. To spend more time with her. To spend more time with the family. Suddenly his career was deteriorating. Other clients were lured away by bad faith and by bad people.
And he sat down and was enveloped by a sense of hopelessness and guilt that had in fact started years earlier when he decided it was time to pull the plug on his infirm mother. His wife now saw her husband feeling bad. Trying, but feeling bad. And she felt bad. She was reminded of her abusive ex-husband. A drinker. A nothing. Bill doesnt drink or hit. But the image stuck. The equation stuck. Bill was asked to move out. This was three months ago.
Now there is just this: His credit is gone. His money is gone. His wife and daughter are gone. His career is gone. His house is gone. His will is gone.
Today I brought him a double Big Mac and visited him for the first time in over a year. He was sitting on the floor in the dark in an apartment no bigger than my dining room, chain smoking. He had lost a lot of weight. Wheres the bed, I asked. He pointed to the wall. A Murphy bed. I didnt know they still existed. Ha.
I washed my hands and had to use my jeans to dry them off. He had no paper towels. We sat on the floor and ate and he told me his story. He was happy to see me. He hadnt seen anyone for a long time. He still teaches acting classes a few nights a week. He can do that fine. He puts on his happy face, he says. The kids have no idea.
What the kids do not know is that their teacher is a broken man. Their teacher is on Paxil and visits a shrink 3 times a week and keeps the TV on all day for company. What the kids do not know is that their teacher, their mentor as he was once mine, is now forced to get in his car on weeknights and deliver drugs to terminal patients in Watts for 9 bucks an hour in order to make his rent.
He hit bottom. His words. Hes on the mend. His words. Slowly. Slowly. Its good to see you.
I finished my fries and told him I had to get back to work. He smiled and thanked me. Maybe we can go to a movie next week, I said. Ill pay.
At work, I sat back down at my desk. He had emailed me:
Thanks Stee. It was great to see you again.
The Larry King Happy