"Good evening, Mr. Schwartz.
Is your rice pudding okay today?"
Yeah, what the hell. Rice pudding. I never would have eaten the shit on the outside. Who would have served it to me? My mother? She died in a car accident when I was two years old with my fine self in the back seat. According to police records she had a bottle of vodka between her legs and two grams of cocaine in the ashtray. She had been a big star. Like me, she had fallen in love with the lifestyle. It was in our blood.
"Polly will be along with your meds in about fifteen minutes.
Do you need anything else?"
Tyrone was so annoying. If there was anything I wanted or needed, Tyrone would bring it to me. He was probably the last surviving member of my fan club. Once upon a time there had been millions. I was on top of my game, four platinum albums and three feature films, even if they were just bad vehicles for me, myself and I. King of the Wild Blue Yonder. That had been my first movie and the most successful by far. That got me my fifth major magazine cover story, but by far the sweetest. Anyone could get on the cover of People and Entertainment Weekly. They respected you when you made the cover of Time.
Just to set the record straight for those of you thinking about interviewing me for an E! True Hollywood Story or VH-1 Behind the Music feature, I put myself in this so-called rehabilitation hospital. The other day when I was watching some burned out pop star climbing out the window and running across the courtyard, I started really thinking. When I first came here there were all these stories that I was on heroin and I had a drinking problem. That couldn't be further from the truth. I had it all, fame, fortune, money, women, cars... hell, you name it, I had it. So, why am I here? Wouldn't all you slimy reporters from the tabloids like to know.
"Mr. Schwartz, Barbara Walters is here again.
Are you sure you don't want to talk to her?"
Oh yeah, Barbara Walters. She must be a buck fifty by now and she's relentless. Thinks I would make a really nifty story. I suppose I could talk to her, you know, being polite and all that. The thing is, I don't want any more exposure. I've already had far more than my fifteen minutes of fame. Someone like me really doesn't deserve any more. Let them think what they want, I'm not going to tell them the truth. I've come to rather enjoy the rumors and the innuendo. Rest and relaxation is what I want and what I need. I can afford to live in this place until I am two hundred years old, although I doubt I will live that long.
"I'll tell her to come back in a month.
I know how you enjoy running these folks around."
Tyrone has come to understand me rather well. When I first came here he used to put on my albums and play them over the loudspeakers. I cured him of that rather quickly, and all he plays for me now is old Jazz. Count Basie and Duke Ellington, that is what I want to hear. Modern day music, myself included, is like cartoon music. I walked out of the cartoon and I don't want to be a part of it anymore. My friends, and those who liked to say they were my friends, learned the hard way that dropping an anvil on your head like Wile E. Coyote has much more finality in our cartoon than it did in his.
Tyrone once asked me if I missed the parties and the award banquets and the adulation. I suppose for a while I did, but what he failed to realize at the time was that it was my addiction. My rehab here had nothing to do with drugs or booze or any of the usual celebrity pratfalls. I did my share, I won't deny that, but I was never one of those people who lost control. I never had trouble making a 6 AM shoot. We never had to scrap a recording session because my voice was too fucked up from partying. I was the consummate professional and I took pride in that.
Most of my peers followed in the path of "it's better to burn out than to fade away." It was a popular mantra in the business and I thought it was ridiculous. "I hope I die before I get old" was never anything I would have sung. It was all too much and there was never time to retreat into the quiet and rediscover who you really were. It was about being who they wanted you to be. When I looked in the mirror I was not there. The living was good, but the living was not easy. Did the fans really care? The first couple of years I was here the fan mail was delivered in sacks. These days I get maybe three or four letters a week. Everything is fleeting, and eventually everything ends, so I just decided when to hit the brakes instead of letting them lock up on me while going a hundred miles an hour down the L.A. freeway. My agent was rather pissed off and filed a lawsuit, but I had fulfilled all my contracts. I'm not a moron, I am just very tired.
"Mr. Garrett would like to know if you want to play poker with the boys tonight.
What do you want me to tell him?"
I may be enjoying my little fortress of solitude, but that doesn't mean that I am anti-social. I always played cards with the boys, as long as none of the "comeback superstars" were going to be sitting in. I couldn't stand listening to them talk about how they were going to pull themselves together and get back in the game. That game would go on without us and no one would really miss us. Someone else would step into the perceived void and become the next big thing. Poker was a much easier game, even if the chips were just as plastic as we were.
"What time are they playing, Tyrone?"