Sleaze Land – Chapter 2 (Fight Club 101) Part 1
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” Hunter S. Thompson
“Look, my indignation is all I’ve got. It’s not like I’m the sexy Spice, here. Now, is it? I mean, for Christ's sake, I still look like I’m a ten-year-old boy, even though it feels like I’m pushin’ a hundred.”
Ed sat alone in the Internet café that had been closed for months due to the severity of the second pandemic.
But Ed preferred it that way. It helped him concentrate, being outside the cacophony of life coming from the streets, were sirens of all kinds seemed to constantly disrupt everything.
“Look, I’m never gonna be the smartest, as Banner clearly has that covered. And I’m never gonna be the sexiest, cuz I think we can all agree Standen has taken that – by a wide lead. And Pitt, well… Pitt’s taken all the crazy for himself; though… that fight of his with Depp over the title was spectacular, wasn’t it?”
Ed sipped on his frappé-something-or-other (that it had taken him a full-week to learn how to order), and then he flipped open his laptop.
“I need something big enough I can go full-force disdain on – while at the same time keeping enough distance from it so nobody’ll actually expect me to do anything about it – 'cept complain.”
Ed chuckled softly then, as he scrolled the CNN website on his laptop.
And then, a moment later, he asked, “What? I wasn’t listening. Oh, yeah. Hemsworth does have the muscle title pretty-well cinched-up. Too bad most of it’s in his head, tho.”
Ed laughed again, but only because he had always been his biggest cheerleader.
“That’s right,” he agreed into his Bluetooth, “nothing that can be traced back to anything I’m actually involved in. That’s what I pay you for. So, I don’t accidently protest something online that can be traced back to me. Like that poor Evans fella. Man, talk about hero-to-zero, fast. And all because he didn’t do his homework first.”
“Well, Afghanistan it is. Surely, that’s sufficiently far enough away I can be as fucking indignant as I want. And thanks, man. Like I said before, I already put that check in the mail. No, really. I just forgot last time. It’ll get there this time. I swear.”
Ed looked down at his phone and then clicked off the call. And then he wondered where he’d left his checkbook – and if there would still be time to drop the man’s paycheck in the mail. Because the truth is, Edwin Norton always hated when life proved him a liar – and especially right after he’d so vehemently spoken in his own defense.
Outside, a young mother of two sat against the dirty wall of the café with her hand out.
She’d had three casting calls that week – but all of them had expected her to get naked (like they all had, after the raving success of Game of Thrones) or worse. And more often than not lately, the ‘or worse’ had been her lot, and she knew it was because she couldn’t even get into a public toilet to brush her teeth.
They had put a tax on toilet use in Hollywood and LA, and the surrounding areas – they said – to keep out the riff-raff. But most of the homeless people Marla knew had jobs, jobs right there in the area. And that’s why they were homeless – because the area that needed them – no longer had room for them.
Marla had been there since early morning, hoping to get enough money to feed her kids. But there was a man across the way who had an eye on her, an eye that made Marla feel even cheaper and dirtier than she already did.
You see, Marla had to stop her waitressing job after the second baby’s father had run out on her, because who would watch the babies? But then, homeless and living out of her car, she quickly realized she had no way to feed them. And so, she had started leaving her babies with another homeless woman – because together they could take it in shifts to panhandle for money.
But times were tight, and even though she had a mask on, people were less generous now, after a second pandemic and that horrible flood – than ever before.
Everyone was hurting you see… except for them who could ride out the storm in comfort. Those… like Edwin Norton.
Who, a moment later, stepped outside and right over the top of Marla, totally ignoring her pleas for help.
Because Norton (just like the rest of the men of his class) had been trained it’s okay for men like him to not care. Especially to not care about things they could actually help – but to instead – save all that indignation for things they couldn’t affect, things they really had no business dealing with in the first place.
Because that’s how you win in America.
You play for self and self alone, at all costs. And so long as you do that – you win – and by-proxy, America also wins.
Even Marla wins, Edwin thought, in his own sick and twisted way.
Because the films he made were poignant reminders of the plight of women, just like Marla – whom nobody ever saw.
And because of him… maybe someday someone would see Marla as more than a fuck-toy, or a predator posing as a house pet, or the goddamn forced progenitor of the next generation. Maybe someday – because of him – and his noble work – someone would eventually care enough to actually do something about it.
And not everyone could say that.
Indeed. Ed was a valued and celebrated member of our society for a reason. And some day… history would mark him out as such.
Because deep down he knew… it was he, who was King of the Dung Heap (Some Forty-Years-Strong!)
“You know, independent films have been institutionalized, practically. Every studio has got a boutique arthouse label.” Edward Norton (BrainyQuote.com)
© Raena Exe 2021
*Inspired by life.
*All characters, places, and events are completely fictional.
*All rights reserved.
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The year is 2024, and after two pandemics and a flood, the Moral Majority has decided to hold a trial. A trial to demonstrate to the world the corrosive nature of unregulated capitalism. Only this trial is being run by those who simply cannot see past the ways of their patriarchal