I’m sitting in a Japanese fast food joint on Santa Monica, reading the L.A. Times and wondering if the option on my script will be renewed. I look up to see a street tramp at the door—the kind you only see in Hollywood. She’s in her 50s, a former beauty, dripping with costume jewelry and wearing a black slouch hat.
She heads straight toward me, asking, “Can you spare some money so I can get some soup?”
Closer I can see she has a huge shiner under her right eye.
I pull out my wallet. “Yeah, I can spare a few bucks.”
I dig out three dollars as she tells me I have gorgeous eyes—the prettiest she’s seen in a long time. She sits down at the table next to me. When I hand her the money I see how filthy her hands are, dirt worked into the creases of her skin and black grime under the broken nails. She wants to shake hands with me but I can’t bring myself to do it.
She notices me looking at her black eye. “You can see it?”
“Yeah, it looks like somebody hit you.”
“My boyfriend—my former boyfriend.”
She dips into her purse for a bottle of makeup and starts dabbing it over the shiner, saying. “This helps.”
I say, “Time will help.”
She tries to shake hands with me again. Jesus...
She starts talking about her former career, all the important people she knew, that she was a model and an actress—that she was in Basic Instinct.
Then she says the one thing guaranteed to get me lurching toward the door.
“And I sold a screenplay!”
From the memoir, Orpheus on the 101: A Screenwriter Breaks in at 50
MARK ROGERS is a writer and artist whose literary heroes include Charles Bukowski, Willy Vlautin, and Charles Portis. Rogers lives in Baja California, Mexico with his Sinaloa-born wife, Sofia. His award-winning travel journalism has brought him to 56 countries. His crime novels have been published in the U.S. and UK. Uppercut, his memoir of moving to Mexico, is published by Cowboy Jamboree Press. NeoText publishes his Tijuana Novels series and Gray Hunter series. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.