Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Jessica's Choice (Blogophila 31.5)
Monday morning and it was a good day for living in L.A. The smog was only a minor irritant. Why people had a need for oxygen, I’ll never know. I’ve always found that a slight buzz, especially fueled by Scotch, was the better way to go. It certainly made dealing with my clientele easier.
Cahuenga Boulevard never seems to change. The long climb up towards the pass always unnerved me. Passing the Hollywood Bowl always brought back memories of my brother. The top is down with the wind blowing through what passes for my hair. I guess it was alright, though. It was only my second time out with the Packard Caribbean since Mr. O’Malley gave it to me as a thank you gift. Such a smooth ride, unlike the ride I was getting ready to go on.
The name is Valiant. Eddie Valiant. I work private investigations, mostly for the outcasts in Hollywood. There is a rumor I’m a Toon. I can see that. I’ve had a lot of dealings with Toons over the years. One killed my brother about fifteen years ago. Then, I was involved in the George Acme murder case. I was able to get my client, Roger Rabbit off and I got a reputation as a “fixer”. Go to Valiant and he’ll take care of it.
O’Malley’s cockamamie stadium project was really no different than Acme’s game. He presented me a problem and I came up with the solution. The problem was a few holdouts on some property needed for a parking lot. The solution was the Donkey Show. After the cops showed up, they all thought they were going to be brought up on Morals charges. In 48 hours, there was a line of cars heading for the Coast Highway. It was just another con game.
Earlier today, I was at my desk dealing with O’Malley’s unnecessary reports. He always like everything documented to confuse the press. Why? Everyone we kicked out were squatters anyway. But, he’s paying me. The intercom buzzed. An urgent phone call and they only wanted to speak to me. I sighed and took a slug off the bottle in the drawer. I wasn’t against being distracted from drudgery. So, I picked up the phone.
The voice was soft and familiar. Jessica Rabbit. The one involved the Acme murder. I hadn’t seen her since I packed her up in Benny the Cab. But she had been a staple of the gossip rags. She signed a contract with MGM to produce a series of musicals shorts. But it didn’t work out. There was a fight on the set of “Home of Tomorrow”, where she ended up in and automatic toaster. Singed beyond repair, the Studio let her go.
Then, her boy Roger was found running in a pool of yellow and red ink on the side of Mulholland Drive near Lovers Leap. Rumor had it he started using Dip it as a way to get high and he just faded away. Faced with the stress, Jessica became distracted and unreliable, ending up unemployed and homeless on the streets of Toon Town. And now I was heading towards the craziness to see her and dig up some nasty memories.
I made the left onto Toon Town road. The tunnel was still the same. I see the curtains come up and the sun is dazzling. I pass a sign saying “Beware of Mosquitoes. Driving by, I see him hustling tourist for some blood. I guess it takes all kinds.
I travel down the street a bit and I see Jessica at the corner. It was a bit shocking to see her. Her dress is tattered and dirty and she looked a bit smudged around the edges. I nod towards her and then hear a tap on my fender. Looking up, a cat looking cop is eying me like a trophy fish. He probably is thinking I am there for a brush job. I smile at him and Jessica tells him to shove off. He does.
We went to a little dive on the corner and got a booth. I noticed that the smudges around her face were from tears and a lot of them. She started to tell me her story when a bird brained waitress came for our order. I asked for fire water. Jessica chose carrot wine. Her voice twittered and she flew off. When she came back, I had to take out my portable extinguisher to put out my drink. Jessica raised the wine glass up to her hazy lips and took a drink. “I started drinking this Carrot Wine when I lost my dear Roger. Mr. Valiant. It keeps his memory alive.” She put down the glass and took a deep breath. “I don’t know where I should start. A lot has happened since we last met.”
After we left you, Roger and I went home for some carrots and peaches. It was the most wonderful night with my honey bunny. The next morning I get the call from MGM wanting to talk to me about working with Tex Avery. I had heard this man was the craziest human in the industry and really didn’t want to deal with it. I can play sexy vamps as good as anyone, but I wasn’t sure if I wasn’t going to like what he would propose. I still had to pay your bill and the various damages to city hall over Roger’s little car trip. So, I signed up. Two years. $500,000. Enough to buy us a new place and keep us in groceries.”
“I started the next Monday. I met Tex, Wolfie, Droopy and Daws Butler in a trailer on the MGM lot in West Hollywood. The meeting went very well. They were looking to do a version of “Swing Shift Cinderella” updated for the cold war . The original girl was married now with a bunch of little ones. And they had tried a couple of other Torch Toons, but they liked the fact that I had a history behind me. They had a draft script ready and we did a quick cold read. I noticed that the Girl was going to be hung from a cable with Droopy, while Wolfie watched. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to repeat that part of my life. I asked if they would audition Roger, but they had already cast everything else. I shrugged and said ‘Let’s go.’ We shot that piece. Production went pretty well and the short was well received in theaters.
She paused to sip her drink. “Then a few months later, Tex called me back in. This time, only Tex was there. It was kind of like when I used to go to Mr. Acme’s office to play patty cake with him. Only Tex had some other ideas. He had the camera set up to film what every thing that was going to happen. When he took my hand, he grabbed it and slapped on some handcuffs he had hidden. He then hooked me to the side of his desk. He was pretty strong for a human and all of sudden; I feel his hand slide up my dress. There were straps and leather bridles”. She brought her hankie up to her nose and blew. “It was horrible, Mr. Valiant. And I could hear the camera going all this time, even when he ran me through the toaster. After he had his fun I went home. Roger knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t say anything. I knew what his reaction would be and I really didn’t want to go through that again.”
“Meanwhile, Roger had found that you could get high off of Dip. He would take just enough to be transparent and then chase it with Bourbon. I had to pay more than one gossip columnist off to keep it out of the papers. Over time, his behavior became completely erratic. I caught him with Sylvester the Cat and Foghorn Leghorn and some Kiddy Toons. I made him leave after that. He wasn’t going to get me caught up in any Morals charges that weren’t of my own making.”
“I did complete the contract with Universal, but chose not to renew for obvious reasons. And that was three years ago. A lot of the Studios had shut down their Toon projects and were working on that newfangled Television stuff. I went to a few auditions, but I had a hard time shrinking myself to the screen. I’m the kind of girl that needs to be big to be beautiful. Eventually the money ran out. I moved to a small flat here on Yakima St. It wasn’t too long after that they found Roger out on Mulholland. It wasn’t in the papers, but he got a hot shot because he was going to turn State’s Evidence on the Dip trafficking here.
“Which brings me to the reason I called, Mr. Valiant. Last night, I received a strange phone call. Someone said they had a copy of the film that Tex had done of me and was threatening to show it to the police if I didn’t cooperate. I am supposed to go to a phone booth at Hollywood and Vine tomorrow and wait on instructions. Tex is part of the Dip trade. He uses it to keep his rowdy crew in line. And whoever is calling may think I know something that would be valuable to the Authorities. What I need is some advice and you were so very helpful the last time we were together. Could you help?”
I sat back and watched the smoke rise out of my highball glass. This woman was trouble. She was back then and she had not changed. A lot of time and success had gone under the bridge since we had last met. Delores now had a job at Broadway modeling dresses. We were sort of still together, but I seem to be working a lot more and seeing her a lot less. I will give Jessica her case totally turned my financial situation around. Now I was turning down jobs because I just didn’t have time. A took the smoking glass and drained it. I knew I wasn’t going to turn down this one.