Adventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 57byhollywoodjim©
Author's Note-Thanks again for your patience, Hollywood Jim has had several adventures lately that will be on here soon. Fans of this series will notice this one cross references some other stories in the series as well as characters a spinoff series found elsewhere. Enjoy!
Artists Unlimited prided itself on being up on any newest technology that was out there. It went back to Chuck's software development days and it tied in to work we were doing with an electronics superstore called Odyssey Central.
All the top members of the company got a memo informing us of an upgrade to Apple IPhone's. Chuck wanted to "keep us on the cutting edge of technology" but we all knew he was just taking advantage of a perk from a client eager to keep us and our connections throughout the industry.
"Who's Marvin Garbonski?" I asked Jeff as I read the memo
Jeff didn't look up from his laptop screen, but I see a smile come over his face
"Oh, he's our tech support chief" he replied as he looked up "interesting guy"
"According to the memo I need to have him upgrade my phone. How come I can't go the Apple store and do that?"
"Because Chuck said so, that's why." He said without looking up
I went down to the subbasement of the building and found a door at the end of a long hallway with an imposing security panel on the side. My ID badge didn't open the door and I hit a buzzer which played a nautical whistle similar to what I used to hear on Star Trek.
"Report?" the voice inside said
"Uh, I'm here for the phone upgrade?"
"Proceed inside" and the door buzzed open
I entered a dimly lit room that was a maze of monitors, cables, humming hard drives and multi-colored lights. At a desk was hunched figure I could only see from the back who wore large headphones.
That must be Marvin, I thought
I walked up to the figure and tapped his shoulder. The figure slowly turned around and revealed itself to be a well-constructed mannequin, startling me.
"Yes?" said a figure that suddenly appeared out of the darkness
"Uh, the phone, phone upgrade" I stuttered
"Yes, excuse me Mr. Data" he said to the mannequin as he pushed it aside and sat down at a large computer terminal.
"What's with the mannequin?" I asked
"It's a security measure I use" he said idly as he began punching keys "keeps the software pirates at bay"
I now realized who he bore a strong, no, make that striking resemblance to.
"You know, I have to say you look so much like that guy on Big Bang Theory." I said with a smile, getting a stone faced look from Marvin in return "you know, Sheldon Cooper"
"On the contrary" he replied in the same tone as his TV alter ego "He looks and acts like me, he just won't admit it. His entire career is based on a lie, and he knows it."
"Humph" he grunted as he read the memo from Chuck "Apple IPhone, cannot believe they chose this for a phone instead of my choice. It would be the perfect answer to Steve Jobs' arrogance towards creative minds such as mine. Your phone, if you please."
I quickly handed him my AT&T issue phone
"Ancient technology...long outdated." he said as he examined it
"I just got it last year."
"You fell for it too?" he chuckled as his chair rolled over to his computer keyboard
"This company continually chooses to purchase technology that clearly shows no thought or imagination..." He said quickly as his fingers flew over the keyboard like he had 20 fingers instead of 10 "It's since become my job to know everything here, my burden as it were, to know all about how things work here, down to every animal, vegetable, mineral..."
"...you are the very model of a modern major general." I said in a singsong voice eliciting a stare of annoyance from him
"It's a joke." I said with a nervous chuckle
"Yes...you'll improve." he replied as his fingers went back to clicking a mile a minute
"Man, you should work for Microsoft."
Marvin stopped and started at me
"Oh, please...Bill Gates is beneath me, and he knows it."
This time, I said nothing
"You'll need to delete some materials on your phone, then come back and see me" he said in that same tone "Don't take too long, my time is limited here and I choose to use it wisely."
"Aye-aye sir." I said with a salute added
"I prefer the term 'acknowledged' or 'make it so" I feel that better clarifies my status within this organization. Good day."
With that he pushed backwards on his chair and disappeared into the dim light of the room, leaving me alone.
Needless to say, I got outta there, fast! I kept thinking some kind of super-computer beast he'd created was somewhere waiting to strike.
I made it to the elevators just as Jeff Murphy was getting on. He gave me the once over and chuckled.
"Spent some time with Marvin the Martian, huh?" he said without looking at me
"How could you tell?"
I took a cleansing breath
"I feel like I just left the Twilight Zone." I said
Jeff continued to snicker
"You should've seen his last assistant."
He looked at me and nodded
"He's living upstate now, really nice facility." he said as he looked down at some papers he held before turning to me "Last Christmas he sent me a potholder."
I went back to my office and started going through whatever could be deleted off the phone. I thought maybe I can get an edge on "the Martian" and just transfer everything to my laptop. I hooked up everything and watched as the photos began their slow transfer. It was a mix of candid shots on different photo jobs, me on planes with co-workers, looking jet-lagged. Surprisingly there were few shots of me with any of the ladies I'd been, shall we say, "friendly" with. The last photo was different.
It was a close up of me wearing my favorite NY Giants t-shirt.
And holding me close was Blake Lively.
I'd forgotten all about that photo, and then remembered she took it with her phone and emailed it to me.
What a day that was, what a weekend for that matter.
I had finally been discharged from the hospital after the shooting that occurred at the courthouse. I now had a nice little bit of hardware in my leg as a result. The events of that day were still confusing to me, I'd avoided any media coverage of the events and my boss at Artists Unlimited, Chuck Tyler, had wisely handled any press inquiries. But there was also the lady who'd been with me that day, Blake Lively. She'd accompanied me to the courthouse and we'd been happily making plans for dinner with the agency's lawyer, Michael Baldwin. She needed to make a couple of calls and went outside just as the gunfire erupted and everything changed.
She insisted on driving me home in her blue Shelby Mustang. I remembered how proud she was of the car when I first saw it, and amidst what I was going through at the time, told me how she'd been chosen by Ford to be the centerpiece of a new ad campaign for the Mustang cars. As she'd put it, she'd be "the Mustang girl". I was very happy for her. The car certainly matched the lady, that's for sure! Back when she was shooting her movie "Dreamer" in San Francisco she'd had the luxury of driving one around the city. How ironic it was that the one time I got to ride in this super machine was when I was basically an invalid. Also ironic was the first time I saw it was when I was dealing with another tragedy, the death of my business partner Chris.
Once we arrived at my condo, she insisted on helping me with anything I needed, no matter how small, despite my protestations. She'd already prepared a bunch of gourmet meals for me that I could reheat, made sure Smokie the cat was taken care of, so all I had to do was relax.
It felt good to be back in my own bed.
"Blake, I'm fine with everything." I said trying not to sound insistent
"I know, I know...I just figured you might, uh, need an extra pillow?"
"Let me get you a drink, what've you got?" she said quickly
"You know if you want something special, I can run out and get anything you want"
"I'm fine, Blake."
"Okay, um..." her voice trailed off, like she was trying to find the right words
"Hey" I said calmly "I'm fine" I said with a smile
Blake took a deep breath
"Okay" she said
"Come over here."
Blake lay down beside me on the bed and as she held me I somehow felt a wave of emotions overtake her. Just the way she was slowly breathing said it all.
"Jim...I was so scared that day." she sniffled "I didn't know what was going on, and...and" her voice trailed off "if you were..."
I knew what she was trying to say, if I was alive or dead. I turned and held her head. I could see the tears were there.
"Don't say it, I'm here." I said quietly before kissing her "I'm here."
She smiled slightly and dabbed her eyes
"You wanna do something for me?"
"Find the TV remote, maybe there's an old movie on somewhere."
Blake smiled and reached behind her
"Best kind of medicine, huh?" she said as she handed it to me
I could only shrug my shoulders and smile as I clicked on the TV and began scrolling through the channels.
"Well, the wonders of satellite TV." I said with a chuckle
We'd landed on of all things, an episode of Gossip Girl that must've been from the first season.
"Oh, my god..." Blake groaned "I look like a high school kid there."
"Weren't you supposed to be one?"
We both laughed and she held me close to her, I think she was quietly mortified to be watching herself.
"You were so naughty back then." I joked to her
"Hey, if you only knew how tough it is to do scenes like that!" she countered as she watched herself in a steamy clinch with a male co-star that looked like her Gossip Girl cast mate Ed Westwick "Ugh, that is so creepy to watch!"
"He had yet to discover hair gel." I said, seeing the disheveled look he had back then
Blake laughed loudly at that.
"Come on! Find something else." she giggled
Our channel surfing eventually landed us on the local news.
"OK, this'll do for now, I guess." I said
Blake lay next to me and we idly watched things until I could feel Blake sleeping next to me.
"Coming up on Eyewitness News, the last victim of the courthouse shooting goes home..."
My ears perked up when I heard that. It was true I'd avoided whatever coverage of the shooting there was, but in the back of my mind there was still a strange sense of curiosity that remained, that wondered just what happened that day. I lowered the volume on the TV, hoping that Blake wouldn't hear it.
"...L.A. Police and the FBI released their final report of the shooting that occurred at County Courthouse that left 3 dead and several others wounded. The report confirmed that Martin O'Brien, who was there for a hearing on a lawsuit filed against Artists Unlimited, was the lone gunman who shot the presiding judge as well as a bailiff and his attorney. O'Brien would seriously wound three others before being shot and killed by FBI agent Tony McCallum who was there on an unrelated case..."
My god, the agent that interviewed me in the hospital was the same one who killed Marty.
"...the last of those wounded in the shooting left County Medical Center today, accompanied by an unidentified woman who was believed to be actress Blake Lively. The star of the TV series "Gossip Girl" was in the courthouse that day but had narrowly avoided the shooting..."
There was video footage shot from a distance that seemed to show me getting into Blake's Shelby Mustang.
"Are you OK hearing that?" Blake said in a sleepy voice
"I don't know why, I just felt I needed to know."
"Maybe its like, I don't know, survivor's guilt." she said to me
I nodded again
Blake snuggled up close to me
"I'm so happy you're okay, Jim..." she said in a soft voice "...so happy."
I leaned down and kissed her forehead
Fast forward a few months.
Jeff Murphy returned from one of his excursions around the automobile scene, indulging in his love of auto racing and everything connected to it. When he breezed back into town, he cornered Chuck Tyler, our boss at Artists Unlimited and I got a call to come up to Jeff's office, telling me of a new assignment.
"Man, have I got a great gig for you!" he said excitedly
"Do tell!" I said as I sat down on the big leather couch in his office, Chuck was smiling as he sat in a nearby armchair. We both knew Jeff's excitement often bordered on the comical, he was like a hyperactive child with a spectacular new toy. So his smile seemed to say "OK, here it comes...again!"
"OK, I was at the Monterey Vintage Races, and I met up with some reps from Ford" he said excitedly "...and I got to talking with them about cars and all, and they tell me all about their new ad campaign for the Mustang, how they've got Blake Lively to be their spokesperson."
He continued breathlessly "...OK...the guy from Ford tells me how she's gonna be doing TV stuff for them and how they need someone to do photos at the New York auto show...so guess who got the gig?"
"Uh, you got it?" I said as a joke
Chuck began to snicker
"Very funny...no, YOU got it!"
"Like I said, very nice!"
"It gets better, they're gonna tie it in to a big car show in your home state"
"Uh-huh, the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance to be exact, I guess it's a big car show there?"
"It sure is, wow, it'll be nice to go out there."
"Exactly, you get a weekend with a nice lady, maybe see the family too."
"When do I leave?"
Now I was the one getting excited!
Ford had already filmed her TV spots when she was in Europe recently but they wanted photos of her at the launch party and then at the car show where there'd be a major display of new models. I flew into New York where the initial launch would be done. The plan was for me to do a bunch of photos of her with the Ford bigwigs and any other spontaneous photo opportunities that come along.
It was quite the affair to say the least! At the Javits Convention Center and amidst high tech lights, smoke machines, and a throbbing techno music score, Ford's latest models rose up from beneath the stage as the crowds "oooed" and "aahhed" like it was a 4th of July fireworks display, the last model to appear was their flagship "super car", the sleek Shelby Mustang GT-500KR. And from that car, emerged Blake looking so casually sexy in a sparkly white mini dress. It was hard to tell which model was better looking.
The only problem for me was that for the "spontaneous photo ops" I got lumped in the press pit with every other photographer, so I didn't have that luxury of being creative with my photos, especially when Blake took center stage.
"Didn't these people know who I am?" I jokingly thought as I got shoved every which way.
There was a more sedate reception later that night, but I felt out of my element and knew nobody there as I wandered around. Finally I spotted Scott Jackson from the New York branch of Artists Unlimited, I'd only met him once before but it was better than nothing. Scott was supposedly an ambitious guy, maybe a little too ambitious. I got that impression from hearing his name at a staff meeting a week or so back; it seemed to provoke a little tension from my boss, Jeff Murphy.
Like I said, maybe he was a little TOO ambitious.
Blake was immediately swarmed by company reps so a small wave from her across the room was the closest I got to her. It was for the better, being in New York with all the gossip hounds lurking where you'd least expect it.
The next day, limos delivered the Ford bigwigs to Greenwich for the Concours show. There'd be a large group of cars there, but Blake would be a surprise attraction they didn't publicize. For the lower level types like me, we rode in their SUV's up I-95. Well, at least they were comfortable.
I'd been going to the Greenwich Concours show for several years, even after I'd made the move out west. It was perhaps the premier car show on the east coast for classic cars from years past and attracted auto aficionados of all types. I always loved this show and the atmosphere made me feel like a big shot instead of a geek from the suburbs.
I couldn't have asked for better weather that day, the sunlight gave the cars an added shine and as we got closer to the site, on the shoreline of Long Island Sound, I could already see a few classics in the parking lots and on adjoining streets. Scott met us at the entrance and gave me a quick rundown on what I'd be doing.
"You get the easy job today, my friend." he said "Blake's gonna be at the main stage with the big shots and then if it doesn't get too crazy you can follow her around the show grounds."
"Perfect, thanks Scott."
"I always come through for my friends." he said with a hand on my shoulder
The way he said that, as simple as it was, made me wonder for some reason if there was something else going on I didn't know about?
Perhaps back in L.A.?
Nah! You're jumping to conclusions again, "Hollywood", it's the only exercise you ever get.
"Oh, wear this, a little gift from Ford." he said as he handed me a royal blue polo shirt with the Ford logo and silver rings, and a Ralph Lauren label on the inside.
This really was a first class outfit!
"I'll text you when it's showtime." he said
I walked around the show and the variety of cars was incredible, as always. Porsches next to Rolls-Royces, a classy Mercedes 500SL Gullwing was next to a 60's-era VW Microbus with colorful psychedelic stickers of the era. A large sticker on the rear window for something called "the Nugget" caught my eye. I zoomed in with my camera to get a shot. Sitting in a folding chair and reading a newspaper was a girl with thick brunette hair wearing a tight white t-shirt with a deeply scooped front. A brown haired girl in a tie-dye tank top was seated next to her. It seemed like the passage of time had completely passed them by, they seemed ageless. And they both filled out their shirts well, too!
"Gorgeous car." I said to the brunette girl
"Oh! Thank you!" she said with a big smile
"Are you the owner?"
"Well, I guess you could say that...it belonged to Richie, the guy who owned the house we all lived in."
"Oh, I see."
"I'm Jim, nice rhyme, huh?"
"Yes, you're right!" she said with a laugh "that's Elena"
Elena waved at me
"Do you mind my asking, what's the Nugget?"
"It was a theatre we used to work at long ago, it was like the Fillmore." Elena said "We'd have bands there all the time, lot of big names played there at one time."
"We still live there, too." Kim said making Elena laugh
"Wow, that's pretty fascinating, I'd love to hear about that."
Just then, my phone buzzed with a message from Scott
"Um, please give me a call, I'd love to hear more about you two." I said as I handed Kim my card "I gotta go to work, it was great meeting you."
I hustled over to the huge tent Ford had set up just as Blake made her way up to the stage where she'd be signing a poster made up especially for the show. She looked great in her own Ford polo shirt and khaki shorts that showed off her legs. Her hair was a beautiful blonde and the poster she was signing was very hot looking. On it she was posed very seductively against a Mustang. Man, if I was about 10 years younger I would've had that on my wall in a nanosecond!
Behind her on large high-def video screens ran a loop of her Ford ads showing her driving the Mustang around town, on the highway, and in some flashy nighttime scenes where she looked casually elegant as she stepped out of the car to the flash of cameras. There was even one part where a racing version of the car was flying around the track at Daytona Speedway. At the end, it pulled up next to a pair of vintage Ford race cars from the 60's, two Mustangs and a classic GT-40. Its driver got out and upon removing a mysterious black racing helmet revealed Ms. Lively as she shook her thick blonde hair loose. She looked gorgeous in her racing suit as she struck a pose next to the car and casually said the ad's tagline;