Glamorama

Page 196

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More static.

And then a black Citroen heads down Route Nationale through southern Normandy outside a farm village called Male.

The handheld camera shakes as it follows Bobby walking through what looks like a Ralph Lauren advertisement-an intensely green landscape, a gray overcast sky-and Bobby's so well-groomed it's astonishing; he's wearing a black wool blazer, a black cashmere turtleneck, Gucci boots, his hair's impeccable, he's holding a large bottle of Evian water. He's following a path.

Two golden retrievers bound into the frame, greeting Bobby as he nears what looks like a converted barn. He's passing under a proscenium. He's passing a catering truck. The barn is made of limestone and chicly shaped logs. As he approaches the front door Bobby turns his head toward the camera and grins, saying something the viewer can't hear while pointing at an antique bird feeder that hangs next to the front door of the converted barn.

Bobby knocks on that door. He leans down to pet the dogs. The dogs are photogenic, relaxed. Suddenly both their heads snap up and, bounding out of frame, they immediately run to whoever's behind the camera.

The door opens. A figure, mostly obscure in the shadowy doorway, shakes Bobby's hand. The figure notices the camera, gestures toward it, annoyed. The figure motions Bobby inside.

And then F. Fred Palakon, his face clearly visible, looks outside before closing the door.

The director leans over, letting go of my hand, and rewinds the tape to the moment F. Fred Palakon's face emerges from the shadows of the converted barn.

Once again F. Fred Palakon shakes Bobby's hand.

Once again F. Fred Palakon gestures toward the camera.

The director presses Pause on the VCR's console, freezing on Palakon's face the instant Palakon notices the camera, and right now Palakon's staring into the bedroom I'm occupying in the house in either the 8th or the 16th.

"I know this isn't exactly reassuring," the director says.

I'm cowering on the other side of the bed, delusional, backed up against the wall, floundering.


"Just consider what it means," he says. "Reflect."

I start crying. "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, they're gonna kill me-"

"Victor-"

"No, no, no," I'm groaning, thrashing around on the bed.

"At any rate," the director says, ejecting the tape from the VCR, "this is not a fantasy."

I lie on the bed, finally motionless, my hands over my face.

"What is it, then?" I groan mindlessly. "Punishment?"

"No." Before slipping out, the director says, "It's an instruction."

13

An hour later I'm vaguely aware of brushing my teeth in the shower. I barely dry myself off-the towel keeps dropping from my hands. I get dressed. Numb, giggling to myself in the darkness of my bedroom, I accidentally start forming a plan.

12

Walking slowly down the circular staircase into the living room, fear grafted onto my face, I can't stop shaking. A cameraman is gloomily sipping a cup of watery coffee while leaning against the big Panaflex camera that takes up so much space in the foyer and the director's sitting in the director's chair, staring at a video console, preparing a scene I will not be appearing in. The crew mills around. Someone actually says to someone else, "It scarcely matters." There's a lot of shrugging and slinking off.

I'm promising myself that this will be the last time I see any of these people.

Bentley has spent all morning being prepped for a segment on MTV's "House of Style-Dubai!" and right now he's facing a mirror in the corner of the living room as a stylist blow-dries his hair and Bentley, shouting over the noise, explains to an interviewer, "It's the classic bistro look in what's basically a modern kitchen." The interviewer wants to touch on eyeball fashion, what country has the sexiest soldiers, and then, "Ooh, can I have a pretzel?" I'm trying to block a tear with my finger. My heart feels sore, on the verge of bursting. I manage a wave, a small acknowledgment, to Bentley. The interviewer whispers something to Bentley while gawking at me and Bentley mutters "I already did" and they scream hysterically while giving each other high fives.

Jamie's lying on a couch, a pink face mask over her eyes, recovering from the abortion she had yesterday afternoon, hungover from the Planet Hollywood opening she had to attend last night, and she's talking sullenly into a cell phone. A book, an astrological forecast for Aquarians, lies on her chest and she looks like someone dropped her, picked her up, then laid her across the couch. She's pressing a flower into her face, fingers stained from newspaper ink. She holds up a hand warily as I pass and mouths Shhh-it's my manager and someone with a handheld camera crouches low, capturing Jamie's blank face on super-8.

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