I turned to look. A middle-aged guy dressed all in black, with a fedora, was fighting his way through the crowd. Obviously, another screenwriter.
But as he moved through the crowd… they broke into applause
. Even the hot chicks.
And then I realized I was looking at Frank Miller, the graphic-novelist turned, inexplicably, the toast of Hollywood just because his stupid movie about some dead Spartans has made $207 million to date and is still making more than a million dollars a week. Applause for a guy who crapped out on two RoboCop films!
Anyway, Miller and Voigt embraced, and then Jon turned to me and said, “Hey, Frank, tell what’s-his-face here, the writer, what you told the Los Angeles Times in today’s paper. You know, about radical Islam?”
The crowd in the Dume Room fell silent. Frank stared at me from under the brim of his hat for a moment…
“He writing a script about neo-Nazis!” shouted the bartender.
“And hillbilly militias!” chimed in the blonde. “Can you imagine!”
Frank’s eyes narrowed. “No wonder you don’t sell anything, cliché-boy,” he said. “Why don’t you write about what’s really happening? Get your head out of the sand” — O.K., he didn’t really say “the sand” — “and write like you got a pair.”
Everybody was laughing their heads off at my humiliation — in Malibu! — as Frank continued. “What people are not dealing with is the fact that we’re going up against a culture that finds it acceptable to do things that the rest of the world left behind with the barbarians in the 6th century. I’m a little tired of people worrying about being polite. We are fighting in the face of fascists.”
“But, but –”
The blonde bought Frank and Jon a round of drinks. She didn’t offer me anything as Frank continued:
“These terrorists are worse than any villain I can come up with, and I think it’s ridiculous that people in entertainment are not showing what we are up against here.”
I looked around the Dume Room, and every last person was nodding in agreement! Where was Danny DeVito when I needed him? Sean Penn? Rosie O’Donnell? My God, I was alone.
Suddenly, for one brief horrible moment, I realized what it must feel like to be a patriotic, conservative American in my own hometown.
My head spinning, I fumbled for my car keys and pushed my way toward the door. As I felt that first blast of pure Pacific air, I heard somebody ask Frank what he was working on. “A Batman vs. al Qaeda graphic novel called Holy Terror, Batman,” he replied. Everybody cheered.
I stumbled into the parking lot and revved up my Prius, with Frank’s final words still ringing in my ears: “Our hero’s key quote is, ‘These clowns don’t know what terror is.’ Then he sets out to get the guys.”
Then I woke up and, like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, I had a horrible realization: “This is no dream!” I shouted. “This is really happening!”