"Van Halen." I loved ATOMIC PUNK. "Will they be playing?""They're rehearsed the summer concert. I'll ask if they can play that song for you." Michael wasn't promising this 100%, but something in the way he said it made me believe Van Halen owed him. Bands loved anyone who made them look better than good"Great." A small adrenalin surge charged through my veins. The buzz died within seconds. I suppressed a yawn. "I'm all yours."LA hadn't changed in my absence. The palm trees waved under a cloudless sky. Traffic off the freeway was tolerable. People on the sidewalk were exercising rather than walking. Michael drove to 10202 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City. The Sony guards waved in Michael like he was Steven Spielberg. They shared a likeness, however Sherri's beau had his own clout.
"You ever been here before?" He parked at a numbered slot."No." I got out of the car. My legs were wobbly from the trip. "These studios had belonged to MGM. This was the birthplace of GONE WITH THE WIND, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and SINGIN IN THE RAIN. Now it's better known for WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY.""My father likes both shows." He wouldn't miss WHEEL OF FORTUNE for all the tea in England."If he ever comes out here, I can get you tickets." It wasn't an idle offer. MIchael had pull. Two technicians waved to him, as if he paid their salary. "You ever have any business out here?""Never." I had been waiting for a call from Hollywood for decades. Only my cousin Sherri ever contacted me, although right now I didn't care if I was sitting with the head of a studio. My body was collapsing into a black hole of sleep deprivation. "I'm too well-unknown."
"Your cousin says you're a good writer."
"Nothing special." I had written a script about International Write Off Day, where everyone in the world blows off their debts. It was a comedy. No one had read the screenplay. I admired the size of the sound stages. They built them big back in the 20s.
"Nothing sometimes is a good story." Sherri had informed me that Michael knew agents. A phone call could get my script read. We walked through a door. Feedback blasted from gigantic amps. Van Halen was on stage. A few techies stood behind the sound board. No audience but me. I suppressed a yawn.
"Tired?" Michael waved to Eddie Van Halen. The guitar god returned the gesture with a scorching lick from a red and white guitar. A signature major 3rd ramped for distortion.
"It was a long flight." My limbs were as powerful as a zombie's outstretched arms. A long couch was behind the sound booth. I sat on it. Several seconds later I lay down. The decibel level rivaled the take-off of the space shuttle. My ears were blind. I heard Michael suggest ATOMIC PUNK to the sound engineer. I gave him 'thumbs up'.
Then I faded to black fast.
Michael woke me with a violent shake. There was smoke.At first I thought the sound stage was burning down.
"Pyrotechnics for the show." Michael explained, as I sat up ready to run for the exit.The stage was empty. No one stood the sound board. "Everyone has left."
"Was I asleep long?" I hoped so.
"Out cold. Eddie finished the set and looked at you. He couldn't believe you had slept through his set."
"Sorry." I wished that I was still in my jetlag coma.
"He was hurt a little."
"Why?" We had never met in this life.
"Because they put you to sleep."
"It was jetlag." I hoped Eddie didn't think it was drugs. I had stopped them years ago,unless they were available. Michael wasn't the type. Reefer maybe, but then reefer is a herb, not a drug. "Fuck. I missed Van Halen."
"Sherri's waiting." Michael looked at his cellphone.
They were a luxury in Thailand.
"Let's go meet her then." I noticed a stagehand talking on one. Everyone else seemed to have one. For a second I thought everyone was talking about the man who slept through Van Halen, but I was too big a nobody for anyone to care what I did.
And being a nobody was a luxury too, especially in LA when all you want to do is sleep.
To listen to El Ten Eleven's I LIKE VAN HALEN go to this url.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKnYtjUBT_4&feature=related