The room was bare save for a table and some recliner chairs, where the two elderly men sat and ruminated. There was a telephone on the table. A lone window, with canary yellow chintz curtains, looked out on rolling hills baked brown by the Southern California sun, and there were cracks in the linoleum floor.
Interior decoration was not the strong suit
of the Sunny Hills Retirement Home. None of this fazed the two roommates, Rob Levin and Joe Dailey, who were in unusually good humour.
“The funniest Paladin story is the shoes -- six in the morning, Tower of London, and he sends out two of my crew looking for replicas of Sir Walter Raleigh’s shoes. ”
“Paladin had a foot fetish,” Dailey asked?
“He had a bug up his ass - camera point of view, the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh comes back to haunt the Tower, where he was executed. And you see Paladin’s feet in these purple Elizabethan slippers, creeping stealthily along the battlements. ”
“You shouldn’t have let him direct.”
“You should have been there to help control him, Joe.”
“I had a movie to finish.”
“You had an obligation to write and co-direct the pilot - the studio paid you money.”
“Are we going to rehash this shit, Rob?”
Levin grew reflective. He loved retelling stories of “Believe It Or Don’t,” now that the bad memories of the show had receded with time. Funny now, on a par with root canal then.
“The time we almost killed Paladin with the arrow, in Sherwood Forest - now that was funny. We’re set to roll, John is hiding in a hollowed out trunk of this facockta oak tree ... ”
“Where Robin Hood used to hide with the Merrie Men -- why do you suppose they were called the Merrie Men?”
“Who’s telling this story, Joe?”
“On ‘Action’ he’s supposed to wait a beat, then step out of Robin Hood’s tree after this arrow goes whistling by. Well John steps out early. Zap! -- the English archer I hired sends a steel-tipped arrow whooshing by Paladin’s nose at warp speed. It misses him by an inch, and buries itself in a post right next to his head. The guy split the post, the shaft is quivering from the impact, and so is Paladin. The look on his face ... ”
“That was the best acting he did on the show."
“We almost lost him that day."
“It would have saved us all some grief.”
“He was a better choice for star than your boy, Tony Franciosa,” Levin snorted derisively. “Mr. Las Vegas."
“Franciosa had an edge,” Dailey replied.
“And a zilch TVQ.”
“Stop with the network jargon.”
“Blow it out your ass.”
Dailey looked out the window at the scorching day as Levin reached for the phone, then thought better about it.
“This is ridiculous. No one’s ever in."
“You finally figured that out?”
“They wouldn’t return the call anyway. They’re like agents here.”
“Read your book. You’re driving me bat shit.”
Levin resettled himself in the recliner, and picked up his dog-eared copy of Dante’s Inferno. He thumbed through several pages, grew restless and turned to Dailey.
“Why’d you take my show away from me, schmuck?”