Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blacklisted Boyo

image borrowed from

Blacklisted Boyo
Trumbo sat on his patio in Eagle Rock puffing on a fat cigar,
staring for a long time at the Angeles Crest, that jagged swath
of the Sierras that snaked its way south to Mexico, skirting the
east side of LA.
Jesus, he thought, just how many damned times had he suffered
with dysentery while living in Mexico? It was like adding layers of
hubris while struggling through the unlit labyrinth of blacklisting,
but actually his guts had never been normal after that 11 months in
1950 when he vacationed at the charming prison in Ashland, 
Kentucky--certainly no blue grass in that shit hole.
Raised in the Rockies as a kid, it seemed that mountains always
centered him, which helped a lot while acclimatizing to living at 7,000
feet elevation in Mexico City. He had enjoyed staring at those mountains
surrounding that hispanic bowl of crap that 20 million people lived in--
some exile he often reflected while his butt burned and soul simmered. 
What a joy in 1951 when Jake Garfield surprised him with a visit, staying
with them for two weeks. He didn’t look good at the time; history of heart 
trouble. It really hurt when John died so young the next year. He had 
always been a true friend, from the gravy days at Warners during the late 
30’s up through the war. 
Last year in August, Trumbo had snuck into that park on the outskirts of 
town at Teotihuacan, and using his lighter he climbed to the top of the Temple
of the Sun, and watched the meteor shower, really feeling that things
might change for the better. He had been paid well for his script ROMAN 
HOLIDAY, and hell, he still had some friends in Hollywood that might help 
him sneak back into California.
Back just three months, he and Cleo were watching the 1954 Academy
Awards when the original script for ROMAN HOLIDAY won an Oscar. It
was credited, of course, to Ian Hunter, becoming yet another silent victory. 
Puffing pale blue smoke rings, he glanced at a small ornate gift card that
read, “Give ‘em hell, Jimmy.”  It was signed with regards, DeForest, which
was Bogart’s middle name. He was in the middle of filming The Caine
Mutiny, and had sent the note by studio courier. One thing was for sure,
Bogie had big balls. 
Cleo was loving those roses that came weekly from Mannie, who had
helped them with the physical move during the holidays. Old Edward G.
was doing some television roles this spring. He, too, had visited them
in Mexico, coming down to look for art, and to plot their return. 
He could hear Danny the parrot raising hell in the house, that
bird that Kirk had given them--after teaching it several curse 
words. It liked to perch on his shoulder as Trumbo sat in the bath 
tub in the hot afternoons cranking out scripts. Kirk was doing 
some silly Jules Verne picture over at Disney. He kept telling
Trumbo that one of these days they would “make those bastards
pay.”  Sure, sure, we will do that soon.
Jesus, to have had to accept being in “contempt of Congress”,
to have sweated it out for years while those federal idiots finally
decided to incarcerate him, to have spent that terrifying year in 
prison, to have fled to Mexico with Ring and Al, their families
in tow, and to have just heard that fag asshole McCarthy
got away with kneeing Drew Pearson in the nuts in a Washington
club cloakroom--yeah, those sumbitches had a lot to answer for.
His father never liked the idea that Trumbo wanted to be a writer,
and those early 88 short stories and 6 novels that were all rejected
for publication seemed to substantiate his displeasure. But somehow
he ended up being a reader in the story department at Warner 
Brothers and the good times did roll there for a while--until his radical
and liberal views came under scrutiny and the scapegoat badge
was pinned on his collar. 
Now that he was back, he was sad though about his good friend Will 
being pissed off at him after he turned down the offer to join that 
progressive group of blacklisted artists who were working on THE 
SALT OF THE EARTH. He told Geer that he felt SALT would be a 
movie no one would ever get to see in an American theater. 
“Well, fuck it,” Trumbo said, “It’s tub time.”
He needed to write a full scene for THEY WERE SO YOUNG.
He had heard yesterday that they had signed Raymond Burr
for the picture. It was just what the Eisenhower Era needed,
a lusty and epic tale of the sex trade in South America. He had
already decided to use Felix Lutzkendorf as his pen name. 
Glenn Buttkus
June 2012

Posted over on "href=""> dVerse Poets--Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this short story to you? there is a funny glitch at the end.


manicddaily said...

Such an interesting story and post, Glenn. Thanks so much. It is a story, and yet reads quickly because it is so vivid and alive. Terrible times for some. Thanks a lot. k.

Brian Miller said...

you know, its pretty cool when someone finds a way to hang on until it does happen...and all those rejections paved the way....and a cool story man...blacklisting may be the way to go...smiles....haha..

ordinarylifelessordinary said...

I think we can all relate to this as poets can't we? A very cool exploration much enjoyed.... and intrigued.

Charles Miller said...

Nicely done.