death of a larry
(at a table in a restaurant sits LAWRENCE LEVINE, a well-dressed snobbish man. at a nearby table sits a GYPSY who has not yet received her food. a WAITER is taking her order. LEVINE sips from a glass and becomes suddenly irate)
LEVINE: Waiter! WAITER!
WAITER: (rushes over, out of breath) Yes, yes Mr. Levine, sir?
LEVINE: Now do feel free to correct me if I am in error, won't you my tiny-brained friend?
WAITER: (nervous) Is something wrong, sir?
LEVINE: As I remember it, I asked for a bottle of Chateau 1962.
WAITER: Um, yes, yes sir you did.
LEVINE: So we're in agreement there.
WAITER: (confused) Yes.
LEVINE: Then we can also agree that I did not ask for a bottle of orangutan piss with bits of floating pigeon shit for flavor?
WAITER: Um, yes, sir...
LEVINE: Well, you dim-witted little bastard, take this (motioning towards his glass) crap out of my face and get me some decent wine, and do it now!
WAITER: (extremely flustered) Yes, sir! (grabs the glass, rushes off)
LEVINE: Christ. Fucking imbeciles.
(MARTY, his agent, approaches)
MARTY: Lawrence, great to find you here, got a lot of news for ya. (he starts to pull out the other chair to sit. LEVINE stops him)
LEVINE: Marty, please. Someone might want to use that chair. There's all this perfectly good floor space for you.
MARTY: (stays standing) Sorry, Lawrence. Didn't mean to be a problem. Here's what's up. The takeover attempt is over. Roth is begging for you to buy his shares. Fortune wants to do a cover story on you. We've got thirteen different fashion houses in Europe looking to pay nine figures just to get you in one of their suits with a photographer around. The President called, they want to name a library after you but they want to know where you want it to be and what books you want in it. Oh, and the charts are in, your autobiography's in its sixteenth week on top of all the major lists.
LEVINE: Of course it is. Until they do a fuckin' sequel to the Bible, no one's going to unseat me. (laughs)
MARTY: (laughing nervously along) You bet, Larry! (LEVINE suddenly stops)
LEVINE: What did you just call me?
MARTY: (laughing very nervously now) What? What did I just call you?
LEVINE: Look, you subhuman little prick. Reach deep into your semi-evolved brain. What does it say on the cover of my book?
MARTY: What, the title?
LEVINE: No, below that, you idiot.
MARTY: Your name?
LEVINE: Yeah, my name. You know it?
MARTY: Well, of course. It's Lawrence. Lawrence Levine.
LEVINE: Oh. Well, see that's odd. Because I thought a moment ago that you called me Larry. But you couldn't have done that, because obviously you know better, right?
MARTY: Uh, right.
LEVINE: Because you don't want me to have your entire family sold into prostitution in Antarctica, do you?
MARTY: Um. No.
LEVINE: Good. We're on the same page, then. My name. Is. Lawrence.
MARTY: You bet, of course it is, yes sir.
(the WAITER comes rushing back with a bottle in hand)
WAITER: Here you are, sir, compliments of the house of course.
LEVINE: Great, kid. Could you do me a favor, now?
WAITER: Sure, anything Mr. Levine.
LEVINE: Would you be so kind as to go get your manager and fire yourself? I'd do it myself, but I'm still eating.
WAITER: (miserable) Yes sir. (slinks away)
LEVINE: (looks at MARTY) Oh, Marty. You're still here? Don't you have things to do?
MARTY: You bet, sir. Going to go finalize the negotiations on the movie rights to your book.
LEVINE: Splendid. Don't come back until you've got at least a hundred million new green friends for me, eh?
(MARTY leaves. the old GYPSY woman rises and walks over to LEVINE)
GYPSY: Excuse me.
LEVINE: No autographs.
GYPSY: Excuse me.
LEVINE: One more time and I have your knees broken. Now beat it. No autographs.
GYPSY: I didn't ask for an autograph. I asked for your attention.
LEVINE: Fine. You've got it, old lady. What do you want?
GYPSY: I wish you hadn't fired that poor waiter. Now I'm not likely to get my food.
LEVINE: Yeah, well, that's the way it goes. You got anything else to say?
GYPSY: Men should not become so assured of their position that they begin to hold illusions about the space beneath them.
LEVINE: Will you please get lost? You stink of Geritol and it's ruining my appetite.
GYPSY: There are many varieties of power, Mr. Levine. You hold but one. (she waves her hands around in a rhythmic pattern) But your hands are frail, and things may slip through them. (she reaches towards him and snaps her fingers) WB!
GYPSY: Goodbye, Mr. Levine. (she exits. he is left alone)
LEVINE: That's...weird. "WB"? What the hell does that mean? "WB"? Some curse!
(MARTY re-enters with a piece of paper in his hand)
MARTY: The deal's done!
LEVINE: (distracted) Oh, good. Who's it with?
MARTY: Well, it's going to be a TV film, as it turns out...
LEVINE: Hey, whoever's willing to fork over the cash, you know...so who is it? NBC?
LEVINE: CBS, then, huh? Well, that's OK. We'll just have to keep an "eye" on them, eh?
MARTY: No, not CBS.
LEVINE: Not CBS? Who, then? Fox?
MARTY: No...weirdly enough, it was the WB that bid highest. They're going into production on it immediately.
LEVINE: The old lady...(he gets up. the tables are moved, and a desk brought on. LEVINE continues to stare) Is that...(people begin to come and go in rapid fashion)
SUIT#1: The takeover hit a snag, sir, we're looking into exactly what caused it and we'll deal with it right away.
SUIT#2: Your autobiography's on TV tonight, wouldn't miss it for the world.
SUIT#1: Wow, sir, saw the movie. Really touching stuff. I laughed like crazy. And you know...you do look a bit like Tom Arnold.
SUIT#2: Sir, the investors say they're not so confident anymore. I'll try to get more info.
LEVINE: They cast Tom Arnold as me?
SUIT#1: Sir, Fortune doesn't want to do the story on you anymore, but we made some phone calls and Guns 'n Ammo hasn't said no yet.
SUIT#2: Sir, your wife is on line 2. She says she wants a divorce.
LEVINE: She does?
SUIT#2: Yeah, something about how it's driving her mad because she keeps seeing Tom Arnold every time the two of you make love.
SUIT#1: Sir, the investors pulled out. They all rented "McHale's Navy" and they all thought it sucked and they all hold it against you.
LEVINE: That was...that wasn't me! That was Tom Arnold!
SUIT#2: Sorry, sir, it's a done deal. But geez, sir, if I can be frank...Roseanne?!?
LEVINE: Hey...you're fired!
SUIT#1: Sir, your lawyer just called. Your wife was awarded custody and the majority of your assets.
LEVINE: (bewildered) Why?
SUIT#1: The judge declared you mentally unfit after watching "The Stupids".
LEVINE: That wasn't me! That was...
SUIT#1: By the way, Larry, I quit.
LEVINE: Marty! You've got to do something!
MARTY: My new client's taking up all my time. I regret to inform you that I'm going to have to resign.
LEVINE: (dazed) Who's your new client?
MARTY: Oh, didn't you hear? Jesus came back, she's working on a sequel. (leaves)
LEVINE: (falls to his knees, weakly) You...you're all fired...oh...oh, fuck. The WB...hath killed me true, cruel as any blade and twice as deep...
VOICE: ...that's all, folks! Now stay tuned for a very special "Sister, Sister", followed by "Smart Guy"! It's all here on...the WB! (lights down)
death of a larry by marc heiden april 1998