When writing comedy, the same rules apply to that of writing drama – keep the tension going, keep up the mystery, keep your hero in jeopardy and uncomfortable. Think about these tools when reading this segment.
WHEN A PARTY ISN’T A PARTY – It’s scary. [Part 3 of 12]
It’s 10:00 p.m. Roque has settled in, clad with boxer shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt stretched around padded ribs and a beach ball tummy. He could easily fall asleep on the sofa he’s stretched across, which he will tonight, as he does most nights, along with watching reality TV and a chaser of porn.
Mark walks behind him heading for the front door. He’s wearing a white shirt open at the neck, dark slacks, dark shoes. Nothing you’d remember, but it’s a clue to Roque that something important is happening tonight.
“Whoa! Were ya goin’?” Roque asks, looking over his shoulder.
“I thought Bachelorette comes on at eight.” Mark replies, avoiding that where-you-going question.
“Taped it. How ‘bout an answer, Buddy.”
“To a party somewhere.”
“A party? Dude!” Roque jolts, flab rippling down his thighs. “And I’m not part of it? WTF?”
“She said it was private.”
“Who said it was private?”
“This lady I met a few days ago.” A horn blasts from outside. “That’s her. Gotta run.”
“She’s pickin’ you up?!”
Mark opens the front door. “Yeah.”
“Like a freakin’ date?!”
Wrong question. Door closes. Mark has vanished, his usual mode of avoidance.
Sliding onto the passenger seat of Bridget’s Town Car, Mark eyes the lady behind the wheel. “Wow…” That’s his comment. She’s fully made up, with green eyes lined in black, red lipstick, and glittered skin. Below the neck she presents a slinky, short black cocktail dress with four inch fringes hanging from the skirt hem. Her legs are long, perfectly shaped, and naked. No hose, red toes, all inviting. Which ups her rating from Jennifer Aniston awesome to Nicole Kidman awesome. (Jennifer, I hope you’re not reading this.)
“You look nice,” she says with a tender poise.
Mark shrugs. She’s a knock-out. He’s ho-hum. “Where’s the party?” he asks.
“Oh… Cool. Am I okay looking?”
“You’re perfectly fine, Mark.” She reaches across the seat and musses his hair, giving him a hip care-free look. He resets it, and pulls from his pocket the check she gave him. “I am not taking it back,” she insists. “I would have spent it on tire changing and cab fare. Put that way.”
“You sure?” he confirms, still trying to get his hair back in place.
“Mark, relax. It’s fun night!” She smiles, and puts the car in gear.
The house in Hancock Park is more than a house. It’s a mansion, built in 1920 when this neighborhood was the place to live in Los Angeles. Beverly Hills was just a hamlet at that time. Bel Air didn’t exist.
A valet service parks Bridget’s car. Mark gets out, and with hands hiding safely in pockets, he follows his date to the house. They are greeted there by a very large, muscles-everywhere Black security guard. Smartly dressed in a polished tuxedo, and as boxy as a linebacker, he looks like a padded parlor sofa with arms and legs. Bridget gives her name, shows her license, and explains that Mark is her partner. Big Man checks their I.D.’s off a printed list, and very politely allows them to approach the oak paneled front door. As it slowly swings open to reveal an ornate massive foyer, Mark hears the muffled lyrics of a song emanating from another room. It sounds like Frank Sinatra. It is Frank Sinatra! Singing what? Oh boy… It’s “The Girl from Ipanema,” which means this is an old-people party; probably with parents, or grandparents, like a boring wedding reception where you don’t remember your relatives, and they let you know you don’t know them. Coming here was a bad idea.
As they step inside, Mark’s attention shifts to the center of this hall where he sees a large antique oval table adorned with a huge bouquet of flowers, like in some downtown five star hotel. And standing next to that eye-popping piece, waits an eye-popping lady about Bridget’s age, looking vampy as hell in a strapless metallic mini-skirted outfit, dangling bling, and long purple fingernails with white tips.
“So glad you could make it!” beams Bling Gal. “I saw your name on the list.” The women air kiss. “This must be Mark!”
Bridget makes the introduction. “Mark, this is Athena, our hostess.” Mark extends his hand.
She’s looks bemused, as if she didn’t expect gentlemanly manners. A moment later she accepts his shake, followed with, “Are you new to these parties, Mark?”
“First time,” Bridget answers. “So don’t bite him. He’s a nice guy.”
“He’s a cute guy,” she flirts, then turns to address Mark. “Any special girl in your life, young man?”
‘No.” Mark flushes, as hands find their way back to pockets.
“Man of few words, Athena.” The nurse extends a folded check. Hostess “A” scans the amount and inserts the check into the slit of a small jeweled box sitting on the oval table.
“Have you told Mark how this works?
“No. I thought you’d do that.”
“My pleasure.” To Mark, “This is a very private and exclusive gathering. Once you enter that room, you are someone else with another name, in another world, doing what you’ve always dreamed about. Let your fantasies fly, Mark. This is Bridget’s gift to you.”
“Uh… Okay…” he warbles. Bridget gets a question. “I have to have another name?”
“We all do,” she tells him. Back to Athena, while pointing to huge pocket doors at the rear of the room. “This way?”
“That way. Once you’re inside, bar’s to your left. Follow signs to the bathrooms. The bedrooms are upstairs.”
Bedrooms? Mark gulps, blood draining into his knees. Bridget grabs his left wrist and pulls it out of his pocket. “I don’t think I should go in there,” he dribbles.
“Yes you do!” She slides open the right mahogany door .
Sinatra’s song raises in volume. “When she passes, each one she passes, goes Ouuuu…”
Inside a smaller chamber, Mark and Bridget face a red velvet curtain five feet ahead. Mark’s hands go clammy. “No need for worries,” she assures him, closing the pocket door. “You’ll be fine.”
“Fine about what?” He’s white as snow. Bridget kisses him, sensuously, on the lips! Fine about that? Is this a kissing party? Oh God! She’s coming back for more. This time with tongue! Jesus!
She pulls away, moving her lips to his ear. “Just let go. You are now the man you’ve always wanted to be. I name you, Adam. And I am Eve.”
“Sshhhh!” She pulls the red curtain aside.
To be continued…09/30/2011
This segment is pure tease. I once read, can’t remember where, that the art of writing fiction is all about the skill of withholding and revealing information. That’s what makes humor by the way, and a good joke; revealing information that is counter to what is expected. So in a sense, this segment is an extended literary joke, and the idea, is to play it from Mark’s point of view. We discover the punchline(s) as he does, one clue at a time.
First set up: contrasting Rogue’s benign night at home with Mark’s dress-up date. Second set up: Bridget is dressed to kill…for what kind of party? Third set up: the security bouncer and the huge mansion. Forth set up: Athena the hostess, dressed even more alluring than Bridget. Fifth set up: Bridget pays for the evening with a check. Sixth set up: Mark learns “the bedrooms are upstairs,” everyone takes on pseudonyms, and that tonight he will become the man he has always wanted to be. These set ups are clues about what is to come and I’m sure many of you have already figured it out. With a buildup like this, the next scene better deliver.
So what do you think? What’s coming next?