TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER
It was 10:30 a.m. on the Hollywood freeway and unusually clear sailing for Josh and his beat-up old blue Mustang as he headed over Cahuenga Pass. He wished he could say as much for his perpetually stalled career. He hadn’t done a commercial for over six months and his bank account was dangerously low. His regular, part-time job offered more therapy than profit and he had to start thinking realistically about paying some bills. A lot hinged on this morning’s audition.
But even more important was the possibility of Joell, the most famous pop singer in the country, recording a song he had written for a feature about to go into production. If it became a hit, it could turn his whole life around. Maybe she would record more of his songs, maybe they all would be hits and advertising execs would beg for him to do their commercials. Ah well, he could dream. Meanwhile, he was late, and Jennie would be pissed.
Spending the night with a dental hygienist he had picked up in Donte’s had been a big mistake. First woman he had ever met who could match him drink for drink and stay conscious, and he didn’t even get laid. He vaguely remembered her dumping every problem she had ever had since age six on him till about 3:00 a.m., when he had mercifully passed out. He hated himself for sneaking out of her apartment this morning without even having the nerve to look at her and see her face in the cold, hard light of day. This wasn’t the morning to test his strong stomach and he was known to relax his standards in the wee hours of the morning when he was feeling lonely.
He wouldn’t bet on how he would sound trying to sing the commercial he had written. His mouth felt like all the smog in Los Angeles had found a permanent home there, and his head like every car on the Ventura freeway was crammed inside his brain, crashing against his skull trying to get out. What were the damn lyrics? He struggled to remember. No time to go home and dig through his notes. Raking through all that chaos could take days. Why couldn’t they just have hired him from the demo tape? But no, they didn’t think it was quite what they were looking for, wanted a different approach.
He was disgusted with himself. He needed this job and had worked for hours on his presentation. But more important, he didn’t want to let Jennie down. She was the one who had pushed for this audition and constantly praised his work to Ken and all the clients at the agency. Not that Ken needed any convincing, but the clients could be brutal in their criticism.
He turned right at the Cahuenga exit, and pressed down on the accelerator. If he hurried, he would only be forty-five minutes late.
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