by Martin Maenza
“Like, it’s so totally radical to have you guys down for a visit,” a woman with long, wavy blond hair said. Betty Kane drove her candy-apple-red, convertible sports car down the Sunset Strip. She wore a sleeveless pink top with a short white skirt.
“Well, it was, like, totally awesome of you to invite us down,” the young man with long blond hair replied. Charley Parker, wearing a loud floral shirt and shorts, sat in the passenger front seat of the car. “I was so stoked when you, like, called after returning from that tournament. We jumped at the chance to come down and, like, party with you, you know?”
“For sure,” Betty replied. “I’ve missed hanging out with you guys. We haven’t done this in, like, forever.”
In the back seat of the car sat a young blond woman in a light sun dress and a brown-haired male in a polo shirt and cutoffs. Dawn Granger leaned over to Hank Hall and said quietly in his ear, “Gag me with a spoon.” He chuckled at that.
Betty glanced sternly in the rearview mirror. “What was that, Donna?”
The woman in the back looked forward. “It’s Dawn, Betty,” she corrected her politely.
Betty Kane smirked. “Whatever. Did you, like, say something?”
Dawn had a feeling the other woman knew her name all along but decided to let it go. “You were over at Wimbledon?” she asked their hostess.
“Oh, yeah, it was, like, totally cool,” Betty said. “Hanging out with Steffi, Martina, Chris, Boris, Ivan, and the rest is always an awesome time! Did Hank tell you I was, like, a championship tennis player? I compete every now and again when time allows it. I took a break, you know, for a few years when I was, like, doing my gymnastics for the Olympics. But falling back into the tennis circuit isn’t all that hard.” She paused to catch a quick breath. “But enough about me. I hear you all are, like, back in school?”
“Dawn and I are both enrolled in USF,” Hank said.
“We all met on campus,” Dawn added. “It’s kind of a funny…”
Betty interrupted her. “Oooh, check out the billboard!”
There was a large billboard across the intersection from where the red convertible car stopped. It featured a young teen model with short blond hair and gold-flecked eyes. She posed with her head propped up on her right elbow, while her left arm rested on her hip. She was sporting an original Mad Mod creation.
Betty wrinkled her nose as if she caught wind of a foul odor. “Hmmph,” she said. “I bet she’s, like, had some work done. Like, I totally hate it when girls fix themselves up to look better. I knew girls when I was appearing in beauty pageants who were, like, always looking for an edge to compete.”
“I don’t see anything obvious in that shot,” Charley said as he stared at the forty-foot-wide advertisement.
Betty reached across with her right hand, caught his chin, and tugged gently. “Hey, Charley-boy, remember who is sitting next to you.” He turned back to his very close friend and, when she winked at him, smiled. “Say, Dawn, you ever have anything done? Maybe, like, your nose or ear tucks or something?”
“No!” Dawn said sharply, a slight irritation in her voice. She then noticed Hank had a puzzled look on his face. “Something wrong, Hank?”
Hank tapped his finger against the edge of the front seat. “Something about that designer’s name,” he said. “I know I should know it from somewhere, but I just can’t place it at the moment.”
The light turned green, and the convertible continued down the road. “Like, don’t task that brain of yours, Hankie,” Betty said. “You guys are, like, down visiting on a break, so we’re going to have us some fun fun fun! Like, what should we do first? Shopping on Rodeo? Lunch at some exclusive restaurant?”
“Betty, how about, like, a studio tour?” Charley suggested. “It’s Dawn’s first time in Hollywood, and I think it’d be totally cool to take her on one of those.”
“Oh, we don’t have to,” Dawn started to say. “I really don’t mind if we don’t.”
Betty smiled. “Oh, like, not a problem. It’ll be fun!” She made a left turn before anyone else could change her mind.
“Please, Aunt Marla, just one peek,” a red-haired boy asked as he tugged on a woman’s blue jacket. “I promise, you won’t even know that I’m in the room. I just have to be there for the filming. Please?”
The woman with dark hair and white highlights sighed. Marla Bloom knew how insistent her twelve-year-old nephew could be when he put his mind to something. He had demonstrated that trait to her many times over, the first time being when the boy persuaded her to let him move out to California to live with her. She turned around, grasped his hand gently but firmly, and removed it from the jacket material.
“OK, Gopher,” Marla said to him. “I’ll get you into the filming of the scene, but there are two conditions. One: you remain quiet, and two: you do exactly what I tell you. The last thing I need is for the show’s producer to think that I’m bringing in outsiders to the closed set. Understood?”
Edward Bloomberg, whom family and friends called Gopher, held up two crossed fingers. “I promise!” As they continued walking across the studio lot toward Sound Stage 11, he could barely contain his excitement.
The Verner Brothers Studios lot was always a busy place, with both film and television productions being done daily. Gopher had seen his share of celebrities in the short time he had been here. Whereas he found life at home in Syracuse with his parents boring, things out in Hollywood moved at a much quicker pace. So much to do, so much to see.
This is awesome! he thought to himself. Cindy Simpson is the hottest young model around, and her picture’s on billboards all over town. She’s got those exotic looks like Kory Anders, that model from a while back. He was beside himself when he found out that Cindy would be doing a scene in one of the Verner Brothers sitcoms; he just had to get in to see her in person.
Marla and Gopher entered Sound Stage 11 where the sitcom filmed.
The Marriage and Family sitcom was in its third season and had developed a large following, especially with males in the fourteen to thirty-six demographics. The main set consisted of the living room and kitchen with stairs leading up the offset bedrooms.
Off to the side of the set, a young female model sat on a high stool as an older woman finished applying her makeup. “I’m a bit nervous,” the blond Cindy said with her eyes closed, keeping the powder from getting into them. “This is the first time I’ve done television.” When the makeup woman completed her task, Cindy opened her eyes, which were golden in color. Most people thought them to be colored contacts, a trademark of the model’s, if you will; very few knew, in fact, that gold was her natural eye color, a common eye color on her homeworld of Graxos IV.
A brown-haired teen actor sat next to her. “You’ll do fine,” replied Darren Festino, who played the son on the show. “Your part is an easy one. You enter stage left on your cue, say your lines, and smile. Piece of cake.”
Cindy nodded, but thought to herself, I’d rather be facing down Doctor Polaris. Super-villains I can handle. Acting is something total alien to me. But the teenage girl wanted more from her life here on Earth than just being one of seven Green Lanterns, eight if you counted that loudmouthed Guy Gardner. She had some experience as a fashion designer on her homeworld, so when she established an identity on Earth, she decided to go into a similar field. But she had only really gotten into modeling itself two months ago, after being encouraged to follow the example of Koriand’r of the Titans, alias Starfire, who was modeled under the alias of Cory Anders. (*) Who knew her modeling career would take off so fast or that she would be asked to do a cameo on a hit television series?
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Comics Presents: Superman and Arisia: To Honor and Obey and Kill]
“We’re ready in five,” the director called over.
Darren leaned over to her. “Almost showtime.”
Dawn Granger snapped a picture of the famous Verner Brothers water tower with a disposable camera she bought. “This is kind of exciting after all,” she said.
Charley Parker nodded. “Totally exciting!” he replied. His eye began to wander the surrounding area. “Whoa, dudes! Check it out!” He pointed across the way to a dark-haired man making his way toward a trailer. “It’s him! I can’t believe it!”
“Who?” Betty Kane asked.
“That’s Wayne Tarrant,” Charley replied. His friends didn’t show any immediate signs of recognition. “Wayne Tarrant! You know, the guy from the ‘Frat Rats movie? You gotta know him, right?”
Dawn shook her head. “Sorry, not ringing any bells with me.” The others nodded similarly.
“Shu’! No way! That’s, like, one of my all-time favorite films! He was in Space Doctors and Blue Devil: The Movie, too. I just gotta, like, go get his autograph!” Charley bolted from the line they were standing in.
“Parker, get back here!” Hank called. “We’re up for the next tram! Parker!” But the young man didn’t turn around. “C’mon, we better go after him before he gets into trouble.” The three friends took off in the same direction.
However, before they could reach the celebrity’s trailer, a terrible crash came from behind one of the nearby sound stages. That was followed by screams and even more destructive sounds. “That doesn’t sound good,” Hank stated.
“Maybe we should investigate,” Dawn suggested. She, Hank, and Betty rounded the corner and nearly came face-to-face with the one who was causing all the destruction. “Uh-oh.”