Thursday, July 7, 2011

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 83: Samba

Our author Larry Winchester now cuts away from Hope and Enid and the vile Motorpsychos and returns us to Dick, Daphne and Harvey, and to a place that seems somehow close and yet so very far away...

(Click here to read our previous episode; go here to return to the beginning of this long-lost masterpiece, which Horace P. Sternwall has called "our great patriotic epic".)

The interior of the Samba Room was all soft blurry greens, blues, and oranges, and at the tables and along the two bars that curved away from the stage sat prosperous-looking middle-aged couples as well as fat middle-aged men with young women and sullen thin sharply-dressed young men with just slightly less glamorous young women than were with the older men. Every one of these customers had a rich and impossibly smooth suntan. Down front over by stage left was a big round table of very drunk Japanese businessmen and almost equally drunk call-girls. Cocktail waitresses in black polyester French maid outfits and cigarette girls in shiny red French maid outfits glided in and out of the swirling clouds of tobacco smoke like tawdry angels.

Painted lips sipped martinis, hairy Rolex-wristed hands clicked jeweled gold cigarette lighters, and jewels and gold glittered and shone on tanned plump décolletages.

Mouths chewed red dripping hunks of filet mignon and butter-drenched gobbets of lobster, washed down with Dom Perignon, Canadian Club and Four Roses.

Up in the spotlight a middle-aged comic named Tony Anthony performed into a microphone, a cigar in one hand. He sported a burnt-umber toupée and a red velvet bell-bottomed tuxedo, an untied purple satin bowtie and a ruffled pink shirt opened at the neck to reveal a glistening suntan and several gold chains and religious medals.

“So I says to the guy, I says to him, I says I says -- listen I says -- I mean I says to him -- hey --”

“Shaddap and bring on the broads!” yelled Joey, standing halfway up with his hand saluted to the side of his mouth. Joe wore a white Krass Brothers sportcoat over a fresh yellow Banlon shirt (no tie, but with the shirt buttoned up to the collar).

“What’re you gripin’ about, pal?” replied Tony Anthony. “You ever saw a cunt you’d probly but a Band-Aid on it.”

“I don’t even know what that means,” said Joey, now standing straight, and turning back and forth to the others at the table. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” he yelled up at Tony. “What are ya, meshugginah?”

“It means you know as much about the female anatomy as you do about fuckin' ontology,” quipped Tony.

“Oh yeah?”

Joey stuck his right hand into his jacket under his left arm, but right then Frank pointed at him and said:

“Joey, sit down and shut the fuck up. And I ever see you pull a gat in this room I’m gonna personally shove it up your ass and pull the trigger."

“But this ham-and-egger’s tellin’ jokes that were old when my old man was in the first grade!”

“Your old man never went to first grade,” said Frank. “Now let the fucker finish his act.”

“Which reminds me,” Tony Anthony reverberated through the microphone, “What’d the Jewish fella say to the spacemen after they abducted him?”

“Somebody mention my tribe?” said Sammy Davis Jr, striding up to the table. Sammy wore an unbuttoned silk print D’Avenza Roma jacket with a Mao collar, and a ruffled blue shirt open to the waist. Nine gold chains lay over his thin but muscular mahogany chest.

“Sammy, come sta?” said Frank, talking over Tony’s monologue, and rising from his chair as Sammy came right over and then gave him a big hug. Frank was wearing a navy blazer, also by D’Avenza Roma, and a gold chain with a gold Sagittarian pendant over a cream acetate turtleneck from Oleg Cassini.

Molto bene, daddy-o,” said Sammy, and then, still holding Frank's shoulders, he turned his thousand-watt smile on Daphne, who was sitting to Frank’s right at the big round table:

“Mrs. Ridpath, looking lovelier than ever!”

Frank sat down and Sammy went over and took Daphne’s hand, even though she hadn’t quite offered it to him.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Sammy, kissing Daphne’s knuckles.

“Good to see you, Sammy,” said Daphne, with all due politeness. She had changed into a long lowcut purple satin dress from Dior, with spaghetti straps and slit to the upper left thigh. A small gold lamé purse with a thin spun-gold strap lay on the table in front of her.

“And Mr. Ridpath,” said Sammy to Dick, who sat to Frank’s left. “How are you, sir?”

“Not bad, Sammy,” said Dick, standing up with his incurable politeness. Sammy came over and clasped his hand, putting his left over the handshake for good measure. Dick wore a burnt-orange double-breasted sailcloth Bill Blass suit over a pale blue shirt and an Indian silk tie.

Frank lifted his highball and gestured toward Harvey.

“Sammy -- Harvey,” he said. He sipped his drink, Jack Daniel’s, lots of ice, just a splash of Schweppes club soda. “Harvey -- Sammy.”

Sammy came around to Harvey, who sat next to Daphne. To Harvey’s right sat Peter, then, closest to the stage came Joey, then Richard Conte, and then to the left of Dick sat Dean.

Harvey rose awkwardly, and Sammy gave him the power handshake.

“What’s happenin’, my man?” said Sammy.

“Hanging cool, brother,” said Harvey, who’d served with a lot of black dudes in the military.

“Keep it light, brother man,” said Sammy.

“Light as I can, brother,” said Harvey, who wore a tasteful light brown suit from Botany 500, with a more dubious shiny dark brown shirt, and a wide green-and-white diagonal-striped tie, both from the Johnny Carson Collection.

“As soon as you boys finish your love fest-perhaps you will sit your narrow butts down,” said Frank. “We got business to discuss.”

“Right on, bwana,” said Sammy. He patted Harvey’s shoulder, Harvey sat down, and Sammy went round the rest of the table, slapping skin with everyone and finally taking an empty chair between Joey and Richard Conte.

Across the room by the entrance a white telephone rang.

The maitre d’, Brad Dexter, a big beefy man in a black and pink tuxedo, stood at a white plastic podium. He picked up the telephone receiver. In the background Tony Anthony cracked a joke and the audience guffawed.

“Yeah,” said Brad. “Yeah. They’re all here. Yeah. Sammy was gettin’ laid -- this high yella gal from the Sands show -- what?” He paused. “Shit,” he said, then paused again. Sweat broke out on his broad forehead. “No shit. Fuck. Inneresting fucking plot development. Huh? Oh. Well, I wouldn’t know nothin’ about that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I know it ain’t your responsibility, but Frank says he don’t want to be disturbed.”

Brad looked around, saw Henry Silva, the purple-tuxedoed head waiter, and waved him over.

“No,” said Brad into the phone,”I am not fucking saying that. Hey, look, just calm the fuck down. I will be there in two minutes. If I think Frank should be disturbed then I will fucking disturb him, all right? But look, while you’re yappin’ I could be on my way, am I right? Goodbye; two minutes. Yeah, and fuck you too.”

Brad hung up the phone. Henry Silva now stood silently by the podium, his hands joined loosely below the waist in the traditional bouncer’s attitude.

“Fuckin’ douchebag,” said Brad to Henry, but not referring to Henry.

Brad took his pink silk display handkerchief out and mopped his great forehead.

“Take over, Henry. And try not to let all fucking hell loose.”

Shoving the handkerchief back into his breast pocket Brad strode out through the large swinging quilted-leather orange doors.

He came out into a pale blue corridor not unlike the one Dick and Daphne and Harvey had entered outside of Frank’s suite. He took out his hard leather cigar case and walked down the corridor. He picked out a fat long cigar and stopped at a round porthole. He put the case away, brought out a stainless steel cutter, and snipped off the end of the cigar, letting the plug fall to the wall-to-wall carpeting, which was of a darker blue than the walls and ceiling.

“Fuckin’ candyasses,” he said. “Supposed to be runnin’ a fuckin’ club, instead I wind up babysittin’ every prima donna in the galaxy.”

Outside the porthole the vast dark reaches of space and its millions of stars streamed slowly past. Then the bright little multicolored ball of the earth passed slowly into view.

Brad lit his cigar with a gold Ronson and let out a cloud of smoke.

“Same fuckin’ shit everywhere in the fuckin’ universe. Cover your own ass. Don’t take no fuckin’ responsibility.”

Outside we can see Brad looking through the glass of the porthole, puffing on his cigar. The reflection of the earth shimmers in the glass of the porthole.

Pulling back we see that the porthole is but one of many running around the rim of a huge flying saucer of perhaps a mile in diameter.

Smoke from the Samba Room rises up from a chimney, and off to the right the enormous bright Moon hangs silently in the darkness.

Turning away from the saucer and the Moon we see way down below that colorful teeming basketball called the Earth. Let us fly down there, faster, faster -- look at it, growing larger and larger...

(Continued here. A Sheldon Leonard Production.)


Unknown said...

I hope their style in clothing hasn't changed: fun to imagine them in their space suits, using their fancy lighters to smoke cigarettes that do no harm.

Letitia Coyne said...

Cigarettes will do them harm when a spark hits their dangerously flammable fashion.

I will sleep with a damask eye mask in the hope I can avoid nightmares. Vivid. Oh dear.


Dan Leo said...

Kathleen, no real cigarettes were smoked in the production of this episode. The smoke was put in with CGI.

Letitia, the nightmare's only getting started...