He clutched the small box in his sweaty hands, careful not to cover the air holes. This was his first time at a Bat Segundo and he had no idea what a twelve year-old Jewish girl would be expecting as a gift. He hoped the terrapin would be appropriate, he always liked getting them himself, and it hadn't cost an arm and a leg either.
The surprise invitation had been a godsend, a chance to mingle with members of the exclusive cult, an amazing list of Hollywood A-listers attracted to the fold by the teachings of its obscure Mexican mystic.
A week ago it seemed his Hollywood dream was dead - the proceeds from the sale of his last dog-eared Will of the Wisp comic book gone to buy a ticket home. If he didn't
get a break tonight he would be on the bus for Boise in the morning, or maybe he would just throw himself under it.
It had taken him a while to find the turtle, elbowing through the muddle of Rodeo Drive boutiques, gawking at the packs of promenading poodles and their stylish owners as they cruised the crowded sidewalks. If he could option his book he might have a chance with women like that - a slightly older one who knew what she was doing maybe, or
one with a slight drinking problem who might not notice his lack of prowess or a premature ejaculation now and then.
He had burned some bridges at the Portable Malasada Company today. Three years of frustration as the swing-shift galleycat, going from cart to cart emptying out the grease traps, had exploded into rage when they refused to pay his accrued vacation. Well, they definitely had a slippery mess on their hands now.
He usually reveled in the throbbing of his enormous bunion, it reminded him he was alive, but tonight it was forgotten, replaced by the excruciating pain of the social gathering. There was no use being here unless he started to mingle.
He recognized an aging actress, she had been the staff snark at the nursing-home in "Whence They Came", cancelled for over a decade now.
"Do you ever miss the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd?", he said as he sidled up to her, grinning like a lunatic.
"What planet are you from?"
"We moved around a lot. My mom's in the JAG Corps."
"Your mother wears Army boots?"
Well he was certainly tired of hearing that. He stood there in silence, defeated, having no idea how to approach the high-rollers that filled the room.
"Drop everything and give me ten...books, screenplays ...I don't care", came the distinctive voice of Hollywood's hottest actor, cutting through the ring of producers pressing three-deep around him. "Send me something, anything, that will stay with me for awhile, something hard and tough with some meat on it!"
"Anyone here have a turtle?" yelled the bald producer to the room, his abrasive voice rising over the raucous laughter of his peers.
Disqualified for word count: 502. It's under the bus for Boise for sure now, sorry.