I could write an entire book on the adventures that we had in California. In some respects, California seems like its own country within our country, there is so much diversity within the state in terms of lifestyle. I’ll keep today’s entry quick though, confining my comments to the time that we spent in Hollywood.
I’ve got to admit, that the trip to Hollywood was really more about satisfying my own curiosity. What would America be without Hollywood? I really didn’t expect to find a very big undead population there, and I was right. I mean, the Sunset Strip was loaded with zombies, but only at night, and most of them were doing their best to blend in with the rest of humanity. If, that is, you consider them to be a part of humanity.
We didn’t stay long. Not because we pelted with rocks or driven to the edge of town by angry villagers or anything like that, but I’m not sure that any of us felt less comfortable in a place than we did during our trip to Hollywood. I was talking about it with Christie in the van when we driving away, heading east. It wasn’t that the beautiful people there were hostile, or even curious. It was more like they were completely indifferent to us—like we didn’t even show up on their radar. Like they were so inside themselves and their own concerns that they didn’t even notice we were dead.
I’ve got to tell you, in some ways I found that even more terrifying than the guy who pulled a gun on us outside a gas station in Utah.
We didn’t stay very long. The police kept us moving along and didn’t really give us a chance to talk to anyone. They weren’t violent—actually they were probably the most polite of any of the cops we’ve dealt with thus far, but they kept us moving, like we were trash they would like to see swept out of town.
The only thing that even came close to a normal human interaction was when a bearded guy stopped Christie and I and told us really liked our “look”. We were too stunned to speak, at first. He went on to tell us that he was a filmmaker and that he’d really be interested in having us do a screen test. I don’t even think he was aware that we were dead, not at first. He was sort of a heavy-set guy, which set him apart slightly from most of the people we saw in that town, and when he looked at us he seemed to be staring right through us; I felt like he was staring at something that wasn’t even there.
I told him no, thanks. After I spoke he looked at me like he could see me, the real me, for the first time.
“Why not? Really? You really wouldn’t want to get some screen time? I’m shocked. I’m really shocked that you would say that.”
I started to reply, but he kept going. For such a large guy he moved around a lot, shifting from side to side and punctuating his words with his waving arms. Christie would tell me later that his sneakers cost upwards of $500 dollars.
“Look, you people need to get some screen time. Images. Image management. All that newsreel stuff, it doesn’t do you any good. I’m talking positive images, film, documentary. Images people can relate to. Beauty. You’re beautiful. That will translate.”
I remember turning towards Christie in the exact moment that she turned towards me. Whatever it was that would translate, it wasn’t anything the bearded man was saying.
“Look,” he said. “I know. You’re busy. I understand this. You have things to accomplish. But I think we’ve got something hear. Death as attractive. In the right light, makeup, some slice of life, I think we could really make a statement. Do you have a card?”
“A card?” I said.
“Here’s mine,” he said, and fished one out of his jeans, which Christie said were the least expensive thing the man was wearing.
I took his card, which was creased and torn at one corner. It had his name and a phone number, nothing else.
“Kid, call me,” he said. “When you are ready, call me. You can’t get anything done in this country without Hollywood.”
His Bluetooth lit up and he pressed a stubby finger to his ear.
“Yeah?” he said, and, turning, started walking away without another word to us, this hands fluttering and making forms in the air that would remain unseen to whoever he was speaking with.
Christie and I had a long talk about this encounter. Had he understood? Was he offering us something real? Some of the things he said made it sound as though he knew who we were, and what we needed. But most of what he said left of feeling like he had no clue at all.
I kept his card, though.
Actually, we had one other interesting encounter just before we left, again at a gas station. A girl and a boy about our age, beating hearts, walked over to Christie and I as we stood outside the van. They were so tanned and healthy looking; it was hard not to think of them as the our living reflections, the image of what we’d be if we were truly alive. The girl asked if she could add a slogan to the van, and Christie found her a can of blue paint.
“Death, to zombies…” the girl wrote, and a thin drip of blue paint slid down her bare leg, “…is an endless sunset.”
She drew a big blue smiley face, and then she stood up and gave Christie a big hug. Weirdly—or I thought it was weird anyhow—the boy hugged me as well.
“Good luck,” he said, and then he took the girl’s hand and off they went.
I left as confused as ever. Maybe some day I’ll come back to Hollywood, someday when I have the time to figure things out.