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     “We’ll make a million bucks!” Lance says, holding up a piece of costume jewelry. mid-level laughter

     “Two million. It’s easier to divide by two!” Dack says. cheers and giggles

     The two big-haired teens in their shiny, oh-so-baggy clothes do their happy dance, joining arms and cavorting about the candy-colored set until a buxom blonde walks in on them, wearing an obvious old lady wig, cat glasses, and floral dress. “Have you got my thingie? My Big Vince wants to see how you spent all his money,” the woman says in a nasal voice that twangs up memories of 1930s motion picture clichés.

     “Your own personal laser-cosmetics kit is ready. We’re… uh… just working out the bugs, Miss Trixie,” says Lance to her.

     “Bugs!? I hate bugs!” huge laugh

     Bibi clicked pause, her charm bracelet rattling on her wrist: a horse and a choo-choo train for the kids, a dolphin for Bibi, and of course a jester for me.

     “Who’s Chesty McBigguns?” she asked, nodding at the blonde on the computer screen.

     “You know. Shyla Hastings. She married that producer, spent all his money in France.”

     “Get the cash before gravity gets you. Lucky the air conditioner wasn’t on or she’da blinded people.”

     “We had to use a ton of Band-Aids.”

     “You had to? Oh, doctor doctor!” I squirmed and she loved it. Seventeen years of marriage meant she knew exactly where to aim her shots.

     “Just watch the damn show!” I hadn’t seen this stuff in decades. I’d moved through time, but my show hadn’t. I clicked play.

     Lance holds up the very fake diamond ring that would be two hundred carats, if real. “The ring takes a ho-lo-grammic picture of you.”

     “Holographic. I have an app that’ll do that.”


     “Then the computer over here,” Dack explains, walking over to a gigantic box festooned in Christmas lights, “creates the perfect image of you, complete with clothes, make-up, and hair style. Then, it zaps it onto you like a new skin. It’s like a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive, only it’s made out of electricity."

     “She’d be extra crispy.”

     “Suspend your disbelief!”

     “Ready?” Dack asks.

     “Turn me on!” Trixie says. whoop whoop!

     Dack pretend-hits a bunch of buttons, while stock sound effects bring back memories of Lost In Space. The camera cuts to a close-up of Trixie. With a star wipe, she’s transformed: the glasses vanish, her hair becomes a youthful blonde and two feet taller, and she’s suddenly spilling out of a low-cut red sequined dress. canned gasps, as if we’d spent two-hundred million on cgi

     Trixie’s dark-suited boyfriend with slicked-back hair, Big Vince, walks in, looks at Trixie, and gestures an ‘okay’ with his thumb and fingers. “Dolce bellezza! At’sa one hota number!” the crowd goes wild

     “You think he’s Italian enough?” Bibi snickered, her green eyes crinkling at the edges in that way she had. “Oh wait, I know him. He did those commercials for years and years.”

     “We were going to make him a regular, but… Yeah, he decided to pitch laxatives.”

     “Well, shit.” She was so damned fast. If only we’d had writers like her…

     The kids tromped into the room. Never looking up from his phone, Tyler plopped himself on our ugly worn couch. Becca checked out the computer.

     “Recognize the skinny hunk?” Bibi asked.

     “OHMYGOD, your hair! Daddy!” Becca burst out. “Do you still have that earring? I want it!”

     I paused it again. I was going to make a big speech about how Daddy’s show was coming back, but Becca was instantly off somewhere and Tyler was in phone-zombie mode.

     Bibi had pulled some strings at the studio; she was in Licensing, but knew everyone in Distribution. She made twice what I earned these days with my sporadic commercial voiceover work. It was some kind of deal where they took old failed shows (lost classics!) and bundled them for streaming, super cheap. My show, The Adventures of Lance and Dack, would live again, if only on tiny phone screens.

     “Oh, I didn’t tell you,” Bibi said. “Gerry’s family signed off on the project. That should be the last hurdle.”

     Gerry. If he hadn’t demanded more money, we could have run for ten seasons instead of two.

     I didn’t want to think about that. I turned back to the computer. “Hey, I haven’t seen these episodes since we taped them. These are the unaired ones from the end of season two.”


     “Lance! We got a problem!” Dack says, jumping around like a maniac.

     “What?” Lance says/I say.

     “My machine works too well!”

     “Dack, what are you talking about?” I was overacting, so was Gerry/Dack. We were both pretty wasted that day. We’d gotten word of the cancelation.

     “Check it out!” Dack puts one of those big rings on my/Lance’s finger and hits a button on the fake computer thing. A star wipe later, and I look like Trixie. That is, my body is hers and she‘s/I’m/we’re wearing a black bra, slip, and stockings, but it’s my face under a ridiculous blonde wig.

     “Dude!” I yell. giant laugh

     “My machine recorded Trixie in… intimate detail. I can even remove the underwear.”

     “DON’T YOU DARE!!” huge laugh

     “Big Vince is gonna kill us!” as the laughter and applause drone on, the screen fades to break


     Gerry was right. We deserved more money, but to ask for it in those days was suicide. The brass paid out our contracts, but didn’t even air the last four episodes. For good measure, they made some phone calls.

     Suddenly, we were poison. Gerry took it hard. I watched from the check-out line as his descent played out on tabloid covers: parties, cocaine, arrests, hookers, porn tapes, more arrests, and finally a bloated body under a blanket.

     And what did I do? I’d only ever known acting since I was eight. I was the cute kid selling cereal, the wise-cracking adolescent guesting on cop shows, the teen being saved by Bruce Willis (look it up on IMDb, mother-f***ers!). Then, Lance and Dack. Then cancelation. Then self-pity and Courvoisier. I hit rock bottom in my twenties, and stayed there for years, doing things on the street I don’t like to remember while my loving parents sued me for control of my residual checks.

     Eventually, I got it together, met Bill W., and found a new way to live life as a wonderfully ordinary non-famous guy. Then, I met Bibi and I told her everything.

     “Don’t get dollar signs in your eyes.” Snapping me back to reality, she said, “It’s just enough to pay some bills, and for one special project.” Bibi was all about helping me tether my grandiose dreams.

     “What’s that?” I asked her.

     She bent down, opened the lower drawer of the desk, and pulled out an eight-and-a-half-by-eleven inch box. Removing 377 pages, she said, “This.”

     “Babe, no. I’ve already offered it to thirty publishers. I got twelve rejections plus eerie silence from the rest.”

     “Which is why we’re using some of this money to self-publish your book.”

     “It’ll never sell.” I’d checked into self-publishing. It took years and lots and lots of books to build a name. The money would never be much.

     “What matters is that you do it,” she said. I was staring at her. Maybe she thought I was giving her bedroom eyes. Maybe I was. “What happens at the end of the episode?” she quickly changed the subject. “Does Big Vince choke you both to death with linguine Alfredo? That’s the real reason the show ended, isn’t it?”

     She hit play.

     Big Vince holds a comically large gun on Gerry and me. We’re so damned young. Trixie stands behind Big Vince, cowering, but gorgeous.

     “Idiotas! Everywheres I go, low lifes got deir eyesa all over my Trixie! Dis gadget is gonna costa me a fortune… ina bullets!” laughter Gesturing with the gun, he adds, “Startin wit youze two!” uh oh!

     “Wait, I got… a biiig… brain!” It was Gerry’s catchphrase. He never really nailed it. laughter anyway

     Gerry puts a big ring on Big Vince’s fat finger and hits some buttons on the computer. A star wipe later, Big Vince’s fat face is riding atop a bronzed mass of muscles in tight trunks.

     Trixie and Big Vince both look down at his new young body. He smiles, and says, “Aaay! I’ma one hota number!” huge laugh, cheesy theme song, credit roll

all life’s problems solved in twenty-two minutes


     A middle-aged man looked back from the shiny black screen that flashed my exciting youth seconds earlier. Not bad; greyer, a little heavier--OK, a lot heavier--a little sad around the eyes maybe.

     Bibi walked off to start dinner. OK, I got it, my little show from umpty years ago wasn’t as big a deal as I wished. Still…

     I was here. We were us. It was real. 

     I followed her into the kitchen and, walking up from behind, said, “She’sa one hota number!” I moved in for the smooch. Bibi spun around to face me and intercepted my eager lips with a raw tilapia.

     She giggled and snorted and shot me her guilty little girl face in that way she had. Fish juice dripping down my chin, I stood there, applauding my partner in comedy.


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