BAD MOVIES is my new novel
The third novel of my Tinseltown Trilogy, Bad Moves, is now out. Here is the first scene:
By Peter Joseph Swanson
I was packed into the most expensive beaded gown that I'd ever been packed into. With my knees bound together, I hop-skipped up the wide steps to the vast glossy stage. I was accepting my 1976 Celluloid Intelligentsia award for best supporting actress in a comedy. The comedian host made a face at me like it was too amazing an upset to be true. I was now the world's biggest sex change star. I wanted to bolt the other way. I wanted to run to the bathroom. I kept saying to myself, "I really am worthy," though I didn't quite believe it.
Smiling graciously, I seized my award. It was far heavier than I’d expected. I felt the big block of metal slip through my greasy fingers. It caught against a press-on nail, which for a sickening moment I feared might pop off and fly across the stage. I turned to the crowd that was so big I couldn't see anybody. In my distinctive voice that could be a bit like a frog I went into a gushing litany of heartfelt thank-yous to those craftsmen who'd made me clever, beautiful, and almost always in focus.
The instant I was backstage, an incredibly beautiful young woman with the most ludicrous cotton candy hair skedaddled up to me. She grabbed my award and said, "We need this back. It's not your real award."
I questioned her. "What?"
"You have to return this. It's just a prop. We'll send you your permanent one. Let go! See? We'll get you one with your name stuck right there!"
“Huh?” I didn't hear her. I was so out of it. I was high on myself. I thought she was trying to steal it. Of course I held on for dear life. My nails popped all over the backstage floor as we both jerked this way and that with it. Then a heavy cinderblock fell from high above and struck the beautiful woman on the head.
I'd been a fool to think she'd been brainless.
Lights started falling onto the floor with explosions of glass. Sparks showered down, igniting the dust on a curtain. A man in a tux ran by. He was screaming and holding his bloody forehead. If he was a big movie star I couldn't tell. One end of a long metal catwalk dropped down and swung out and hit the backside of the set. It ripped a swath out of it. As it swung back in, the comedian host of the show was stuck to it. He dragged across the backstage floor. There was blithe applause from out front. The comedian host pulled himself off the catwalk and scrambled to get back on stage, but the fire curtain that sealed the stage away from the audience dropped like a guillotine. He was knocked on his belly. The audience screamed in alarm. All was dark backstage until rows of ceiling work lights finally clicked on. I looked up and spotted a man in a yellow leisure suit in the ropes. He was dropping, slowing his descent by keeping himself tangled in them. When his feet finally touched the stage floor, I saw that he was very ugly.
He pulled out a pistol and shot at a charging security officer, stopping him dead in his tracks, if not killing him. Then the ugly man quickly turned and looked straight at me. His eyes were cold. I was mortified. I watched his finger squeeze as he fired his gun deliberately at me. The bullet was stopped by the award that I wouldn't let go of. He aimed and fired again. I was hit in the shoulder but I didn't feel it yet. I just stood like a dummy. I must have been hoping someone would yell, "Cut!" They didn't. He aimed again – he fired again. I dropped the award. I gasped in indescribable pain as the award crashed down on my pedicure. When I looked at the gleaming block of metal on the floor, I could see two bullet dents in it. The man aimed at me again and all I saw were his tiny mean eyes.
Then, like one of those science fiction movies that have a budget, several men stormed in and shot the ugly man with strange long guns that set off electrical bolts. The man convulsed and fell. As people still ran around screaming, more curtain dust flashed briefly into flames. The men in black grabbed the electrocuted man and dragged him away, while the colorful "Singing While You're Swinging" backdrop fell over all of us like a long parachute. I somehow just stood there under the crinkled blue sky.
When I woke up, I was being wheeled through a white tiled hospital shower room. I was still dripping with water as I was being shoved off to somewhere else in a wheelchair. A grinning doctor stepped up to me. He handed me a glass of champagne. “Congratulations.”
"Bless you," I said, grabbing the glass. Then I grabbed the bottle. The bullet was dug out of my shoulder on local anesthesia. I was awake so the cops could ask me impossible questions. I meant to ask, "How did I get shot?" but it came out, "How did I get the award?" A frowning lady cop shook her head like I wasn't anybody and hadn't deserved either.
And then there's another scene, and then the story starts over (almost) at Chapter One, to find out how she got there !!!
You can check out the blurb and order it from the publisher, Stone Garden Publishing: