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The Big BambooA Novel
By Tim Dorsey
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Tim Dorsey
All right reserved.
Nine Months Earlier
Serge sat in a grimy motel room along Tampa's Nebraska Avenue, banging away on a manual Underwood typewriter.
Coleman chugged a Budweiser and stared out the window at prostitutes and a bearded man pushing a rusty shopping cart full of curled phone books. There was no middle ground -- the section of town where motels rent by the hour or the month. Disagreements and unidentifiable thumps through thin walls.
Coleman tossed his empty aluminum can in the wastebasket, but it bounced out because the basket was already full of crumpled pages with "Scene One" at the top.
Serge ripped another sheet from the typewriter's spool, wadded it up and threw it in the corner.
Coleman popped another beer. "How's your screenplay coming?"
Serge inserted a fresh page. "Great. Almost finished. Guaranteed to make my movie career. All I need is the opening hook." He began typing again.
Coleman stopped chugging and lowered his beer. "How do you write a movie, anyway?"
Serge sighed and stopped typing. "Well, you begin by just letting your mind float. After a while, if you don't have any distractions, you enter an astral-plane dream state, where the scene you're writing becomes asreal as this desk." He slapped the top of the table.
Coleman killed the rest of the beer and tossed it in the corner. "Can I come with you?"
"Sure." Serge resumed typing. "But first you'll have to loosen all the bolts on your imagination."
"No problem." Coleman snatched a fat spliff from over his ear and fired it up. He blew a large cloud toward the ceiling. "Okay, I'm ready." He leaned over Serge's shoulder for a peek at the typewriter. "Where are we going? . . ."
Nine Months Earlier
Klieg lights sweep the night sky. A bustling city street in black-and-white. Vintage automobiles from the '40s drive past the exterior of a popular bar in Morocco. A neon sign: serge's. The perspective segues inside. People drinking, gambling, singing along with the piano player. The camera zooms. A tall, debonair man in an immaculate white tuxedo appears from a back room. He moves through the crowd with panache and approaches the source of the music.
Coleman glances up from his stool: "Hey, Serge, look at me, I can play the piano!"
Serge fits an unlit cigarette between his lips and lets it droop.
Coleman, noticing his hands on the keyboard: "And I'm black!"
Suddenly, a commotion toward the front of the club. SS uniforms fill the entrance. Serge turns toward them with a penetrating gaze.
Coleman: "What is it, boss?"
Serge: "I don't like Nazis."
"Why's that, boss?"
"Goose-stepping never preceded any big laughs."
"What are you going to do, boss?"
Serge faces the door and grabs his crotch. "Master race this!"
The platoon draws its sidearms and charges. Serge and Coleman begin running but are quickly pinned down in the back of the club.
German captain: "Shoot them."
Soldiers raise their Lugers.
Coleman: "What do we do now, boss?"
Serge: "Damn. I wrote us into a corner."
A crumpled ball of paper bounced off the top of the wastebasket. Serge inserted a new sheet.
"That was a rush," said Coleman, looking at the joint in his hand. "I thought we were dead for sure."
Serge ignored him. Internal dialogue chattering in his head. He tapped furiously on his trusty Underwood, the kind Mickey Spillane would have used. Warm memories of the Old Florida washed over him like something that is warm and also washes over you.
Coleman popped another beer. "You mentioned something about a movie career?"
Serge was on a roll, typing like a machine. "I'm following the Sly Stallone formula -- write myself into a killer script, star in the movie, then get overpaid for hack work the rest of my life . . . I'm almost done."
Coleman walked up and looked over Serge's shoulder again. "But you're back on page one."
"It's all about the opening hook. After that, the rest writes itself."
"You got an opening hook?"
Serge ripped out the page and crumpled it.
Coleman fit the end of his joint into a roach clip. "Maybe you're hung up on location."
"Maybe you're right." Serge inserted another sheet.
"Wait for me," said Coleman. He began hitting the roach . . .
Nine Months Earlier, the Lunar Surface
A rocket ship lands. The horn section of a Stanley Kubrick soundtrack builds in the background as the spacecraft's hatch opens dramatically.
Serge steps out, hands on hips. Coleman stands next to him with a Budweiser in the new ZX9 micro-atmospheric delivery system.
Serge surveys the horizon with thermogoggles. The orchestral music swells; kettle drums signal an epiphany.
Coleman stops sucking on the beer tube extending through the self-sealing port in the side of his space helmet: "See an opening hook out there?"
"Just an old black monolith." A crumpled ball of paper falls slow-motion into a crater.
Coleman clutches the tube in his mouth again: "What about a different time frame?"
A Hundred and Nineteen Years Earlier
Horses' hooves thunder across the Wild West. A large posse seals off all escape.
Two outlaws squirm along the edge of a cliff.
Serge: "Who are those guys?"
Coleman peeks over the cliff at the water hundreds of feet below: "I can't swim."
Serge: "I have to go to the bathroom." He steps off the cliff
and into a seedy motel room.
Coleman sat down at the foot of a bed. "Why are we staying at this crappy place, anyway?"
"Inspiration," Serge yelled from around the corner. A toilet flushed. He came back out. "I thought some stuff might happen that would give me ideas . . ." He wandered to the window and stared outside at Nebraska Avenue. A car crashed. Gunshots echoed from an alley. A streetwalker in a cheerleading uniform pulled a switchblade on a pimp. Serge went back to his typewriter and sat down in front of an empty page. "Why can't I think of anything?"
Excerpted from The Big Bamboo by Tim Dorsey Copyright © 2006 by Tim Dorsey. Excerpted by permission.
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