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The Driver: He's Got Escorts in His Caddy. And That Ain't Good.

The Driver: He's Got Escorts in His Caddy. And That Ain't Good.

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The Driver: He's Got Escorts in His Caddy. And That Ain't Good.

Length:
331 pages
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 28, 2013
ISBN:
9781626757059
Format:
Book

Description

A comic thriller set in Hollywood and centered on the world of escorts and... their Driver.
Publisher:
Released:
May 28, 2013
ISBN:
9781626757059
Format:
Book

About the author


Book Preview

The Driver - Greg D'Alessandro

die.

1. HELP WANTED

Dead. Stop.

I was in The Caddy on the 405 boxed in by Happy Convertible People, my engine, left arm, and brain overheating. I just wanted to get off the freeway and back to The Bungalow so I could eat my Peanut-Butter-on-Spoon dinner. Gridlock doesn’t help The Unemployed Mind.

Stuck.

The only thing to do was turn up my radio, ignore the steam billowing out from under my hood and think about the bills I’d accumulated since moving to Los Angeles — bills that had about as much chance of being paid as the student loans I racked up getting my MFA years earlier.

Things were going so well in the City of Dreams that I’d been signing up for psychological experiments to make ends meet and donating too much blood, confirmed by a glimpse in my rearview mirror. My pallor was most definitely blue.

I did manage to scrape together enough money for dire necessities, such as haircuts. It was a no-no in Hollywood to have hair grow too long around your bald spot. At Supercuts my stylist was a twenty-five-year-old, BeBe, who liked to talk about books she’d like to read, but probably never would. I liked to talk about the tattoos that wrapped clear around her arms, legs and neck. I was particularly fond of the roses-and-skulls on her forearm and was becoming more and more attracted to her, and more and more broke as I returned weekly for a Baldspot Rim Trim.

One day I recommended BeBe put on her list of books-she-would-put-on-her-bookshelf-and-never-read, one of my favorites, Love In the Time of Cholera – a beautiful story that equates love to a diarrheal disease. She bought the book and skimmed the first chapter. I told her I was impressed. I would have been impressed if she’d skimmed a napkin, so desperate for female companionship was I.

I regaled her with stories of my past: jumping out the second-floor window of my ninth-grade class to amuse my classmates (and breaking my leg), getting savagely beaten with a Wiffle ball bat by my ex-girlfriend’s father because I accidentally knocked him into a frog-infested pond, and streaking across the East Village with a not-so-avant-garde Theatre Troupe that mounted a play so brilliant that only one person on the planet was capable of understanding its genius, and that person was somewhere in Nepal staring at his foot.

Maybe my bald spot gave off an amorous glow, maybe she liked the fact that I made her chuckle or maybe she was just desperate for male companionship. No matter. My stars aligned, my ducks rowed, my it somehow got together. We started dating.

It was two blissful two months of getting-to-know-you-and-being-grateful-to-once-again-be-having-sex sex, followed by moving in together so we could combine our meager bank accounts to pay the rent on my meager bungalow. After months of passive-aggressive-bottle-the-angry-up-inside-then-explode-on-each-other-like-a-pair-of-hairless-winos, she left me for a Supermarket Checker, Todd the Jaw.

I couldn’t blame her.

He had a job.

Steam gushed out of my radiator – something was about to blow. I ignored the inevitable, turned the radio up and thought about how I was still waiting for a big-break-in-screenwriting-that-would-change-my-life-forever. I came to the realization that it might never happen. And this meant my life would most likely end in Poverty and Loneliness. I’d wind up in a Public Nursing Home stuck in a dark corner, staring at someone else’s deflating balloon.

But I had plenty of living to do until then — nights spent wrapped in a paranoia blanket and days spent bathed in self-loathing. My overdue bills totaled fifteen thousand dollars and I had no way to pay them, let alone my overdue rent or the maxed credit cards I still couldn’t bring myself to cut up.

I needed a job.

Fast.

Conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that while you wait for the Movie Gods to open the doors to the Magic Filmdom, you either work in the industry for nearly zero pay (to make connections), living on Ramen noodles and Rotten Fruit, or you get a Low Brainpower Job, like slinging coffee, so you can write your Oscar-Winning Screenplay at night. And it was impossible to get a job as a waiter – model-looking actors had that market cornered.

Unless you’re an Insider Looking Down On The Rest Of Us, there aren’t many opportunities in the industry for a thirty-nine year old. Hollywood Retirement Homes start admitting people when they turn forty. This means that most executives are in their early thirties and mid-level jobs are filled by People Who Weren’t Born Until After Disco Died.

Prior to jumping into the Hollywood bonfire, I lived in Manhattan. A small sublet down by The Bowery. I’d been battling addictions to red wine and unrequited love and concluded that my main problem was... Manhattan. It was easier to blame a city than examine my own behavior. The City was using its soaring skyscrapers, noisy subways, and crowded streets to keep me down.

I was a staff reporter for fifteen years. I started out covering the crime beat for a neighborhood paper, then switched to writing theatre reviews for free newspapers. I was always the guy-that-was-gonna-get-his-big-break-next, but for some reason, or every reason, never did. There was always someone else who knew somebody in a position of power, or who’d written for the Harvard Crimson, or was taller, or smarter, or thinner, or liked to play handball, or didn’t like to play handball, or who’d read Finnegans Wake, or could quote Arthur Sulzberger, or was more aggressive, or more gregarious, or had more hair, or had more of whatever they wanted more of.

I often took my frustrations out on the bad one-man shows I was paid to review. If you’ve ever dreamt of getting your head stuck in a rusty drainpipe, then this brain-crushing theatrical debacle is for you.

I achieved the same mediocre success in my personal life, divorcing twice. I walked away with nothing except the knowledge that I was the only one in two thousand years of Donato family history to end a marriage before death. Twice.

When I got back into The Dating Game and fixated on women who enjoyed having me move their furniture, buy them dinners, and take them on trips (domestic and international), but who didn’t have the slightest interest in me as a partner or even a ManToy. I specialized in Wounded Birds because I thought that once they were with me they would be magically healed. So incredible were my powers. I soon learned you can’t heal a Wounded Bird, certainly not one that doesn’t realize it’s wounded. I further discovered that I was the Wounded Bird. Flapping here, flapping there — trying to earn my Wings of Love.

So I gave up the pursuit of love for Crushing Boredom. And it was during this phase of wall staring that I decided to write a spec episode of a British television show, The Office. The story focused on an employee who decided to bathe only once a month to conserve water and how this affected his water-wasting co-workers, who were busy planning a Bring Your Bed To Work Day. Just add comedy. A friend of an acquaintance of mine showed my spec to an acquaintance of a friend of his in Los Angeles. It was the worst thing I had ever written, but to my utter amazement she liked it. Even more shocking, I was offered a job as a Staff Writer on a new USA Network show Hermit – a sitcom about a claustrophobic Freak of Nature who was able to solve crimes in his apartment that the FBI, CIA and CSI:NY inexplicably couldn’t.

And so, my world turned.

I envisioned myself writing for Hermit, then getting hired on a hit network sitcom, which would lead to me creating the Greatest Sitcom Ever Made, which would lead to movie deals, incredible wealth, an amazing wife and perfect children who would love me for who I am.

But first.

I needed a car.

I had enough money to drive across country, get an apartment in a cheap part of LA and maybe buy a used mattress. That was it. The starting salary for a staff writer on Hermit was Below Modest.

My widowed mother still lived in our family house in Teaneck, New Jersey on the beautiful shores of the Hackensack River. She was The Kindest Woman in The World and my brothers, sisters and I nicknamed her Dolce Mama.

That doesn’t mean she didn’t know how to heap on the guilt, going into highly audible mourning when I told her I was leaving for The West Coast — weeping for weeks and praying nightly to Saint Rita, Patron Saint of Desperation (and sterility). St. Rita, so mortified, pray for us. Eventually she came around because she sensed a rare moment of optimism for A Life and wanted her son to be happy. I asked her if I could borrow her car for an indefinite period of time — until I became solvent financially, if not Filthy Rich. She was concerned about lending me The Best Car She Ever Had, especially since my driving record was often used as Exhibit A in NJ High School Driving Classes – do not do this!

I pleaded and groveled, mixed in some shameful begging, and finally convinced her to gift me her 1989 Cadillac — four doors, leather seats.

Lemon Yellow.

What did I care. It ran.

The 405. Steam gushed, helicopters hovered, thousands of Vein-Popping Angelenos cursed me and The Caddy as they crawled past – giving me finger after finger.

It had no affect on me. I was already frustrated, depressed and giving myself The Finger every day – all day. Hermit was canceled after three episodes and never aired. Over the previous three years, I’d spent the majority of my time in L.A. trying to prove to myself, and everyone who knew me, that my move to the Far West wasn’t a Colossal Mistake, that I’d find post-Hermit work. I had to prove I made the right decision.

Being right was all that mattered.

I pulled the latch, got out of The Caddy, lifted the hood – because that’s what men do. I was a Human With A Penis, so I had to look like I could handle my own Hunk of Metal. I eyed the radiator for a few minutes – hoping that it would fix itself while I watched. No luck. I thought I should let the steam out and made a misguided move toward the radiator cap. I rightfully concluded that it would be hot, so I ran to the backseat and grabbed an old jacket. I held it over the radiator cap and —

Whoooooooosh!

I landed on the back of a VW Bug, which was the most popular car for Aspiring Single Women in L.A. I blacked out for what I thought was five years.

I made the four-mile trip home from the congested 405 to The Bungalow in just under three hours with the help of AAA. I’d already used AAA four times in the last few months, so they informed me this latest tow was going to cost me one-hundred-and-twenty dollars. A new radiator would be a consolation prize, tossed into my growing Debt Pot.

I needed to Get Real and become a Credible Human Being.

I mulled my options. Not many.

I had no skills.

After poring over the papers and job boards, I decided the only viable options were 1) drive a cab or 2) prepare high school students to take the SAT test. I’d done well on the SATs, but after mulling it over, I decided I wouldn’t be much of a role model for People With A Future. If you do well on the SATs, one day you’ll be able to teach people how to take the SATs! And I didn’t want to spend time with Teenagers Judging Me — it would only add to my overflowing Depression Bucket.

One option eliminated.

Driving a cab was a normal, cash-generating job that required little brainpower and was a semi-respectable profession for a Hard Working Man, which I deluded myself into thinking I was. I went down to United Taxi to apply. The grimy, spider-infested office was a veritable Tower of Babel and I was the sole representative of an English speaking country. I met a kind-looking man, Sanjit, and asked him how much I could hope to make hacking around L.A. He said if I worked six twelve-hour days, I might bring in six hundred dollars. Seventy-two hours a week for six hundred dollars?

I don’t think so. I was raised in the suburbs.

After I explained to Sanjit that I was supposed to be a huge success long before the age of thirty-nine, and after he told me I needed to get a Taxi License first, he leaned forward and, in hushed tones said, I know a way to make much more money-money.

Good, because much more money-money is exactly what I’m looking for.

You can buy a big, big house in the Valley and be super big shot.

Sounds perfect. What is it?

He double-hushed his tones. Breeding alpacas.

I’d never bred anything in my life, but I was certain that if I tried to get involved in the reproduction cycles of warm-blooded mammals and then tried to care for their offspring – the outcome would be disastrous. I pictured a green pasture littered with dead alpacas and wolves feasting on my livelihood. I barely could take care of myself, much less a herd of Misfit Animals that couldn’t decide if they were llamas or sheep.

That’s not for me.

You make super big money-money.

Sorry. I don’t breed. I’m not even breeding with humans at the moment. Thanks anyway.

He was offended that I didn’t jump-up-and down with Joy and Glee at his Great Alpaca Idea. I think he was looking for a partner. He was barking up the wrong Taxi Stand. If he wanted to find a Breeding Partner, he should have been hanging out at Fleece Conventions or Donald Trump’s Get-Rich-Quick Seminars.

Sanjit switched seats, picked up a magazine and cursed me in his head — dirty alpaca hater.

While I waited to talk to Mr. United Taxi, I flipped through an LA Weekly, the free newspaper that printed overwrought articles on hip, cool subjects written by hip, cool writers, surrounded by hundreds of ads for electrolysis and hair replacements. Hair today, gone tomorrow, back the next day. I skimmed the articles then flipped to the back — the adult entertainment section.

There were twenty pages of advertisements for escorts and massage specialists. I saw a section labeled Adult Employment. Hey, maybe there’s something here for me. I saw a help wanted ad for porn actors. Hmmm. I had enough performance anxiety when I was with one woman in a dark room, there was no way I could Fornicate On Demand with a belching film crew on hand. Not that anybody would want me to fornicate in front of cameras, but if they did, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Sure, I have an Amazing Penis, one that would impress even The Most Seasoned Porn Star, but my brain was too cluttered with Self Rejecting Thoughts that it would make it difficult to perform at a level required by the strict Porn Standards.

Most of the ads were for companies and/or individuals looking to hire escorts. A few ads were for male escorts, but I didn’t qualify on a number of counts, including but not limited to: 1) I wasn’t gay, 2) gay men were happy to learn item #1, 3) I was covered with hair, except for the part of my head that had been attacked by a Testosterone Cluster Bomb and, 4) my abs were more like a keg than a six-pack.

One ad caught my eye:

DRIVERS NEEDED for EXOTIC DANCERS

Cash daily. Exp. A +. Good Car. Thomas -Guide

and cell phone. Current driver’s lic. Car reg,

and insurance. 310-281-6166. Luscious Entertainment.

I had my mother’s Caddy, cheap insurance from a company that would soon be going out of business and a cellphone with an overdue bill.

I qualified.

I scooted over, showed Sanjit the ad. I found something. He looked at the ad. Oh, no, no, no... Very, very, very dangerous. You will become arrested.

Arrested? That didn’t sound good. What would Dolce Mamma tell everyone back in Teaneck?

George is doing great. He just got arrested for driving prostitutes, but he’s making friends in jail and he’s learning how to make soap.

I mulled. What’s the worst that could happen? I’d go to jail for a couple of years, get three meals a day, play handball and have plenty of time to write and do pushups. It would be like a vacation. I’d already locked myself in The Hollywood Dysfunctional Facility to write screenplays, so I figured I could handle another three years in a place that at least fed me. Why not? Maybe I could get on Oprah when I got out. She’d love my story of hardship, jail and rebirth. I’d have no problem crying on her show. Sobbing.

I made an Executive Decision.

I wished Sanjit good Alpaca Luck and told him that if he ever did breed an alpaca, I’d come over and buy one.

I headed for home, thinking about my potential driving job for my potential Adult Entertainment Industry employer. I hoped they wouldn’t check my driving record because in the three years I’d been in L.A., I was forced to go to Traffic School five times, which I was told was some kind of record. After spending twelve years in Manhattan it took me a while to adjust to driving an automobile.

It wasn’t like a bike.

None of the Industry Types or Aspirers liked my Cadillac. Even some of the local Methadone Addicts looked at it with disdain. A Barrel-Chested Female Cop pulled me over once, looked at my license, gave The Caddy the once over and said, What a surprise, a goombah driving a Cadillac. She tossed my license at me, handed me a ticket.

I set up an interview.

I drove every day in Los Angeles, why not get paid to drive a little bit more? I needed to keep The Dream — and My Body — alive. I had to prove I was right.

Driving was The Answer.

I arrived promptly at the offices of Luscious Entertainment. It was in a run-down apartment building in a small business district off La Cienega just north of Olympic. The place was called Waterview Apartments, even though the nearest, and only, body of water was ten miles away, unless you counted the Bum Puddle next to the dented double-dumpster in the parking lot.

I walked into the small reception area where I saw a Beautiful Blonde Behind The Bulletproof Glass. I told her I had an interview at three p.m. and she told me to have a seat and fill out a form. I smiled, grabbed it and sat down. The form consisted of two lines:

1) Name.

2) Do you have a driver’s license?

Why would someone apply for a Driver position without having a driver’s license? I understood why Luscious had to be strict with their hiring practices. Better to weed out the non-drivers right away.

So far, so easy.

I handed the form back to the Beautiful-Blonde-Behind-the-Bulletproof-Glass, figuring she’d be impressed with the speed with which I completed it. She looked at my form and told me she loved my last name, but felt I should pick a new first name.

I was never told my first name wasn’t good enough. She held up her pen, clicked it several hundred times, and waited for me to tell her my new first name. I felt pressured. In eighth grade I was forced to pick a Confirmation Name under similar pressure from a Nun With A Boil. She frightened me into choosing a bad, asexual name – Francis. My Confirmation-mates delighted in harassing me about it throughout high school and high school reunions.

I couldn’t pick Francis because if Luscious Entertainment cross-referenced my escort-driving application with the Roman Catholic Church, they might reject me. No holy alliances! And it was best not to have an androgynous name in the sex industry. It had to be crystal clear I was packing a Vagina Loving Penis.

I paced and mulled. I couldn’t make up my mind. I liked Ishmael but it sounded too seafaring for the landlubbing escorts. I liked Dante, but it brought to mind The Inferno, which wasn’t a good omen. I also liked Sal because it reminded me of my old barber. Sal smoked a cigar and blew smoke in my ear as he told me about his glory days back in Bensonhurst when he and his Anarchist Friends got together to plot the overthrow of Brooklyn. They were Passionate Revolutionaries who would give their lives for the cause as long as it didn’t interfere with their jobs, their family or their bocce tournaments.

Why not pay homage to him?

Sal didn’t really fit my disposition and I felt it would be wiser to pick a non-threatening, non-anarchist, non-goombah name if I was going to be participating in an illegal activity. Maybe I can be a Stuart or a Jeffrey or a Tyler or a

Come on. What is it?

The Beautiful-Blonde-Behind-The-Bulletproof-Glass was growing impatient. She snapped and clicked some more. I panicked, blurted out —

Francis.

That sounds like a girl’s name.

I know, just give me a little more time and I’ll come —

Okay Francis, have a seat. She wrote my new name on the form. It felt official.

Francis.

Once again doomed to asexuality. I slumped in the ripped chair next to the broken window.

There were two magazines in the waiting room: Car & Driver and Motor Trend. They obviously took their driving seriously at Luscious. I was hoping I didn’t have to take a driving test, because I barely passed the California State test. I didn’t feel it necessary to study and had humiliated myself at the DMV – the only one in my diverse test-taking group who failed. I didn’t know why it was necessary to know where trucks could do a U-Turn or what a stopping distance was. I wasn’t ever planning on driving a truck and stopping, well – when I see something in front of me, I hit the brakes.

Simple.

On the third try, I finally passed. Yippie! I can drive in California! I felt like the Champion of Something. In my excitement I inadvertently hugged the Obese Nanny standing next to me. She seemed frightened and grateful at the same time.

The metal door creaked open. The Beautiful-Blonde-Behind-the-Bulletproof-Glass told me to go in. I gave her my newly patented Francis Smile and headed into the moldy, stuffy room.

There he was. A ginormous Slab of Boss.

He was about thirty-five-years-old, black, six-foot-a-hundred and weighed twice as much as The Caddy.

I stuck out my hand.

Nice to meet you, ah, um Mr., um —

He didn’t extend his hand, left mine dangling. I went for the scratch-the-elbow maneuver to make

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