Cookie narrated the fucking thing, and even he didn’t make the Price/ing/hoffer connection. Still, little messages in a hollow queen, twist of the wire, then heraus! heraus! Who knew? William Holden, that’s who. Not that Bill could say anything, face down as he was in Gloria Swanson’s pool.
Cookie wrote that bit.
It’s hard to stay angry at Cookie, though, partly because he was too stupid to live but mostly because we’re all, to some extent, wrapped in the feathery clouds of solipsism. In any case, the lives that ended in Cookie’s notebooks – as per his contractual obligations, mind – didn’t often take effect in the real world until years afterwards.
It was just a part of the Hollywood machine. Somewhere along the line they realised that they could Henry Ford the obituaries and even if they had to force the issue, well, that was still cheaper than waiting for their actors to drink, fuck and smoke themselves to death. For Cookie it was just a job, which was ironic given the preponderance of war flicks being made in which Nazis defended their actions by arguing that they were just doing their jobs. The Nuremburg Trials were stained from the get-go.
Strange, too, what snaps one out of it, be it the boot or a maraschino cherry falling from the heavens. The latter is a godsend if you’re smaller than a plenken and are guided by an unwavering biological drive to bring back sweetmeats for the entire family. The former, well, that’s the more common one, and we’re all in someone’s treads in one way or another. Cookie learned this just as he typed his own name kachunk kachunk kachunk into the latest obituary.
He was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was considered to be all part of the system, and of such measure that the system should concern itself with dispensing of him. Who knew? Of some concern, however, was the allotted timeframe – that very night, leaving just enough time for his body to be discovered and the story to appear in the following day’s evening edition.
His work ethic forbade him from going against the terms of his contract, so instead of tearing up the note as a less ethical man might do, he handed it in at the end of the day with the rest of other such notes he had written. Cookie clocked out that night, vanished.
Crossing Hollywood is one thing, but you don’t make a fool of the Randolph Hearsts, and once that obituary was printed it became a matter of pride for the newspapermen that the yarn be made true. Still, Cookie lasted longer than anyone could have imagined. The trick, he found, was to just keep moving, dodging boots and candied fruits alike.
We are all on the line, I suppose, just like Cookie is. Maybe you’ll walk it with a cane and a rich man’s glance or maybe you’ll walk it with a suit made of threads and some coins in a can, but walk it you will, and at the end you’ll drink a fifth of the mother of the world.
There is no succour, not even for the queen-right – living thirty years the average; ten times more than the rest of them.
Written on Friday, 28 March 2014