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Fiction by Leslie Bohem

Change of Season

Change of Season

by Leslie Bohem

Lauren had a big head and a layered haircut that made it look even bigger.
She said, "Do you know Tony Washington?"

Alex said, no, he didn't think so.

"Black guy, has these like wings of hair that go out on either side and a
ponytail. He's a drummer."

"Oh, yeah," Alex answered, remembering seeing the hair cut, wondering
what band does this guy play with.

"He lives in the Music Building. We were going to get together, work on
some tunes."

"Where's the Music Building?"

"You're a bass player, you don't know where the Music Building is?"

"I haven't played much in a while."

"I thought maybe you'd want to come down. Jam a little. Where's your
bass?"

"In Los Angeles."

"I'll call Tony, we can see if he has one."

"I'm really pretty tired. I wasn't even going to come out."
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Published November 22,  2015
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"I know. My friends were all going to the MTV awards, but there was just no way I was going to
go to that.” She smiled and that made her sad face sadder. It was the smile of a girl who'd never
once thought that she looked pretty. “So I just came here instead, see what was going on. I’ll
text Tony about you. Would you like to do that, get together and play?"

"I'm kind of tired, and I haven't really played in a while."

"It doesn't matter. Tony's a really good drummer. He's done sessions with Shakira and all sorts
of people. It'll be fun."

Lauren started to get up. A big man with a sharp beard sat down across from them in the empty
seat. He said, "Don't run away, I want to talk to you about your dress."

Lauren said, "Max, honey," her voice rasping on it. "I was hot, wasn't I? Do you know Alex?”

Max nodded at Alex, not looking at him, and Lauren smiled another of her defeated smiles.

Alex had seen Max a couple of times in this bar. Someone had introduced them once before.
Everything about Max’s face was sharp. The beard, the chin under it. A hawk nose and a widow’s
peak. All sharp.

Lauren said, "You liked this dress?"

"Yeah, the dress was great. You looked like shit in it."

"Thanks, Max." She turned to Alex. "I wore this dress, Tory Burch. It's really hot. Yellow, you can
see right through it. Came in here last Saturday. Smiley was walking me around to all the Mafia
guys, saying he was my manager."

Alex had some of his drink, and then he said, "What was the occasion?"

"I don't need an occasion, honey."

"Tell you what," Max said, "You've got really fat thighs. You shouldn't wear that kind of crap."

"That's really nice, Max."

"I'm just telling you 'cause I like you." He turned to look around the room. "So who's here
anyway?"

The room was crowded. A theater producer at a big table with some men who looked like
investors and some women who looked like wives. A few famous twenty-somethings from
California, wearing the leather jackets they'd worn in their last movie, like they thought if they
wished hard enough this Upper West Side hang-out would be the kind of bar where tough guys
came, spoiling for a fight. Their bodyguards. One of those middle-aged character actors with
a familiar face. Alex couldn't remember his name.

"He's great, isn't he?" Max said.

The actor had just caught Alex staring at him. Alex turned back to Max and said, "Yeah, great."

"Great big fucking ham is what. Guy ought to take a shit and fall in it. You don't even remember
his name, do you?"

Alex shrugged, looked around for the waiter.

"I got in an elevator once with Bea Arthur," Max said. "True story. There's this guy in the elevator,
staring at her, it's in a hotel right? We're going down. Finally the guy says, 'excuse me, aren't you
somebody?' And Bea Arthur looks at him, real deadpan, and she says 'Yes, and you're nobody'. I
loved that."

"How's your play coming?" Lauren asked.

"You don't care."

"Max is writing a play," Lauren told Alex. Then she turned back to Max. "I finished my demo. My
managers are going to start shopping it."

Max turned to Alex. "You shouldn't be seen with her. This is the kind of place where people notice
who you're with, talk about it. Just a little friendly advice." He smiled without showing his teeth,
and then he got up and walked over to the bar.

"I love Max," Lauren said. "I hope he's not having too much trouble with his play."

"Tony really hates it here,” she said, reading an incoming text. “Here’s what he says. ‘Have a
good time, rubber-necking'."

"That's the only reason God made celebrities. So you and I could look at them."

She didn't smile at that. They sat in awkward silence for a long moment. Alex watched Max
talking to a couple of the famous twenty-somethings at the bar. Then he turned back to Lauren.
“Do you play out, or just write songs.”

She got another text before she could answer that. She looked back down at her phone.

"I guess what I'll do, Tony's coming up here in a cab. He's being kind of weird, he says he really
wants to work on these five songs tonight. I'm a lyricist mostly. Why I don’t have a boyfriend.
I mean it has its advantages, but I'm there in my bed with my thesaurus and my rhyming
dictionary and my little pad of paper, I don't know anybody who'd want to get in there with me.
Anyway, Tony wants to work on the songs tonight so that's what we were going to do."

"I'm kind of tired anyway," Alex said.

"It would have been fun. How long did you play with Point of Entry anyway?"

"About six years. I did the last four albums."

"I used to love them when I was a kid. Them and Radiohead. Are they still together?"

"They've got a new album out. They're playing around L.A. I'm writing this script now and I just
couldn't do both."

"The one for Al Pacino?"

"Yeah."

"Is it about cops?"

He didn't answer and she didn't care. She asked, "When you write a screenplay, do you put down
what everybody says or what?"

"Yeah, all of that."

"That must be really hard work."

"Sometimes."

"You must like it a lot then."

It would have been too hard to explain to her how he'd gotten to where he was now. It wasn't a
story he liked to tell, so what he said was, "It's not like playing in a band."

Lauren wasn't listening. She'd seen someone come in.

"Tony,” she shouted, waving. “Over here.”

Tony Washington came in. He was six foot four and rail thin and his hair took his height up another
few inches. He was with a short guy with a dark complexion, expensive clothes and sunglasses.
The guy sat down in the chair where Max had been sitting. Tony took a chair from another table
and brought it over. He shook hands, introduced his friend, whose name was Norman, and put the
chair down between Alex and Lauren.

"We just got up," Norman said. "We slept right through the MTV awards."

"Maybe we'll stop by the party," Tony said, looking at Lauren, "then go see what you can do on
these tunes."

"You can leave me at the party," Norman said. He smiled like he knew something, taking a pack
of cigarettes from his pocket, offered them around. "Israeli cigarettes?" he said.

Tony said to Lauren, "Norman is from Israel."

"Right,” Lauren said, taking a cigarette. “Do you know Uri?"

Norman lit a cigarette for himself and one for Lauren. "Sure. We used to hang out together.
Uri owned restaurants in Israel. I had some nightclubs. Small pieces of them, you know? He'd
feed me and I'd let him in for free."

Lauren picked up the pack. "If they're from Israel," she said, "then why do they say 'American
Blend'?"

"In Israel, if you buy cigarettes that aren't American blend, you get really high. It's pure tobacco."

"We could use some of those."

She took a pull on her cigarette. Tony looked around and said, "This place is like L.A., New
York, you know what I mean?"

"I'm from L.A." Alex said. "It's not like this at all." That sounded nasty to him so he added, "You
don't have overlapping scenes there. The rock bar's not the actor bar, neither one of them's the
mob bar."

"I like that overlapping," Norman said.

Tony said, "I grew up in L.A. My brother's an actor. Lives out in Malibu, in Trancas Canyon. I go
out to visit him, you don't do anything. You go to that place, you know, on the Coast Highway, it's
a bar at night, but you go there for breakfast. Go back to the house, lie around, listen to music.
You have a glass of wine, go out to dinner. That's all you do."

Alex nodded. He had grown up in L.A., lived there most of his life. He'd never been to Trancas
Canyon.

Tony said, "There's so much work here, so much music. You playing with anybody right now?”

"Alex is writing a screenplay," Lauren said. "It's for Al Pacino."

Tony said, "You played guitar, right?"

"Bass," Alex said.

Tony look bored. "Right," he said.

Norman said, "Al Pacino. Is it about cops?"

Tony looked impatiently at Lauren and she stood up. She turned to Alex.

"You're staying at the Mayflower?"

Alex nodded.

"I'll call you later, if we don't get really into this song-writing thing." She leaned over and kissed
him on the lips. Her mouth tasted of the Israeli cigarette.

He said, "Enjoy the party."

He watched them leave, Tony putting his arm around Lauren as they walked out the door. He
didn't want to sit at a table by himself. He left some money in the tray with the check and walked
towards the bar. Someone at another table called his name. He went over to the table. It was a
young development executive he knew from Los Angeles, a guy who worked for Paramount. He
asked what Alex was doing in New York and Alex told him about the screenplay he was writing
and who it was for. The executive did not seem as impressed as Alex had expected him to be. It
was a better job than either of the ones he'd done for Paramount. It was more likely to get made.
It had Al Pacino attached to it. The executive introduced Alex to the other people at the table and
said, "Alex plays in the band, Point of Entry. You know that band?"

A young woman at the table said, "I used to work for Warner Brothers Records when they were
on the label. I always thought they should have been much bigger." She said, "Is Tony Washington
playing with you guys now?"

Alex said no, he'd just met Tony right then, at the table.

"He's a fabulous drummer," the woman who'd worked for Warner Brothers Records said. "I heard
he was going to do the Duran Duran reunion tour."

The executive asked, "Are you guys still playing? I haven't heard anything in a while."

"The band is. I had to quit."

"You did?"

"They're playing around L.A. I couldn't really do that and write this Pacino thing."

"What was that other band I used to come see you play with in L.A.?"

"The Shine. That was my own band. I used to write the songs and sing."

"Right. What about them?"

"Nothing was really happening for us. You know. I kind of stopped doing that too."

"No music?"

"I don't get much chance."

"You miss it?"

Alex looked right at him. "I miss it more than anything else in the world," he said.

His honesty seemed to embarrass the executive. That lasted a moment, and then he said, "Call
me when you get back to L.A. We should do some sort of rock-and-roll project. Did I ever tell
you about the paternity suit thing?" He looked around the table at the others, including them in
the conversation. "A David Lee Roth, character, right? But contemporary. His manager insures
him for millions of dollars with a Boston version of Lloyd's. Paternity suit insurance. This guy fucks
anything that quivers, right? He'll fuck Jell-O. But it's some girl, Tina Fey type, listens to classical
music, she wrote the policy. When Paul Rudd, her yuppie fiancé, hyphen, boss, realizes what
she's done, he buys a one-way ticket to Paxil City. Tina has to save the company. Only way to
do it? Go on the road with David and make sure he doesn't get his oil changed. Great, huh? Kind
of a Hepburn and Tracy thing." He smiled around at the others, looked up at Alex. He said, "Call
me as soon as the Pacino thing falls through."

Alex walked over to the bar, ordered a vodka and grapefruit juice, and turned to look back at the
room. The character actor had pushed his chair back from the table and he had started to sing.
His voice was big and operatic. He threw his hands out away from his sides, and held onto the
notes for long, loud moments.

People at other tables started applauding. The character actor kept one note going for an
incredibly long time. His eyes were open and his mouth formed in a perfect circle. The guy who
ran the place came over to his table, smiling, and held a glass up in front of him, telling him to
go ahead and see if he could break it.

Max came over to the bar and stood by Alex. "If that guy wasn't somebody," he said, "they'd have
thrown his ass out in the street by now."


Biography of Leslie Bohem
I was part of the great Los Angeles music scare of the early 1980s.  My band, Gleaming Spires,
had a cultish hit with their single, “Are You Ready For the Sex Girls”. I wrote
A Nightmare on Elm
Street Part 5
, The Horror Show and bits and pieces of several other memorable epics.  Eventually
Twenty Bucks, which I wrote based on a 1935 script by my dad, Endre, was made.  The movie
earned an Independent Spirit Award.  My other screenwriting credits include
Daylight, Dante’s
Peak
, The Alamo, Kid, Nowhere To Run, The Darkest Hour and the mini-series, Taken which I
wrote and executive produced (with Steven Spielberg) and for which I won an Emmy award.   I’ve
had songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Freddy Fender, Steve Gillette, Johnette
Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde), Alvin (of the Chipmunks), and the awesome Misty Martinez.  My
short stories have appeared in some rather embarrassing men’s magazines, in several horror
magazines including
Sanitarium, Lost Coast Quarterly, and on Derek Haas’ site, Popcorn Fiction,
where two of them, “
DMT” and “Honeymoon” have been optioned and will hopefully be coming to
a theater near you soon. Right now. I’m developing my series,
Shut Eye, for Hulu.   My short
novel,
Flight 505, will be published by UpperRubberBoot next year and my latest story, Geister,
is included in Blumhouse books inaugural offering,
Book of Horrors.
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