“Hamlet in Hollywood”–from Difficult People

Hamlet in Hollywood



          Lamar “Heineken” Hamlet, cursed by his surname into his destiny as actor, strode Sunset Boulevard looking for food, drugs, sex…jeez, and even a job! Sometimes catching a glimpse of his watery elfin figure in a shop on Rodeo Drive, he knew it was a future just simply delayed, a virtual parallel universe where one day, having “paid his dues” he would join the aristocracy of the stars. In his pocket he clutched a scrap of paper he tried to read several times a day for comfort in these “hard times…” He could hear himself saying these reflective lies about his days of struggle—

          “Oh, Hans, you know…it was bru-talll…”

          He could recite the passage, like so many others if only the drugs, the wear & tear, the price you paid being a street theater persona, ah yes, he stood in front of a fur shop, jewels, diamonds, and in a Stone Age cage, his shagginess mirrored in the glass, ignoring the passersby (what did they know of the Thespian Agony…) he recited: “Love the play, every page, every line. Don’t be afraid, even though you will be, Lamar Hamlet…this is your life’s task, your karma, now, live it to the full. Be the great human actor. Keep love and beauty and freedom alive…”

          He bowed to the ground, while inside the shop a woman trying a fur turned away so she wouldn’t be seen watching him. “That poor street urchin,” Lamar imagines her to be thinking. But there was applause issuing from the pale hands of another spectral character Lamar knew from the streets, leaning forward in torn jeans and tie-dye shirt, hippie blowzy red hair, emaciated like him.

          “Terrific,” he said, tucking a script under his scarred, scrawny arm. “That’s Saroyan, eh? Maybe Chekhov?”

          “No, Hamlet, Lamar Hamlet, actor,” he said returning the bony handshake. “An original.”

          “I’m sure you are… Kurt Columbus,” he said, his eyes aflame. “I saw Nathaniel West and William Faulkner at the Red Burrito half an hour ago. I went by to show them my script…”

          “It will be hard to get their attention.”

          “No shit. They had body guards, big guys, keeping us wannabes on the sidewalk…”

          “You’re even bigger after you’re dead,” Lamar said. “Bill Faulkner has been around all summer. He told a friend of mine that waits tables Mississippi is too damned hot…”

          “Nathaniel West looks like he’s accessible,” Kurt said.

          “Yeah, but he goes out to the accident scene near the Salton Sea. It was a head-on. He apparently can’t get over it. Really knocked him for a loop. Right out of his mortal career.”

          “Man, this show biz is tough karma,” Kurt said. “You wanna read my script?”

          Sure,” Lamar said, taking the ragged soiled thing. “But let’s mosey down to the Burrito and watch the stars…not eat!”

          They laughed and started off. Lamar glanced at the cover of Kurt’s script: “Dancing in Heaven.” He nodded approvingly and tapping the cover, said:

          “You know the old dead Hollywood stars might love this concept…”

          “Yeah, well the living don’t give it a moment’s notice.”

          “They’re hungry mortals.”

          “You think we could scoop Faulkner & West’s burritos?” Kurt wondered. “They never eat their food.”

          “Yeah, let’s slip’em the script for the food.”

          Kurt warned. “You’ll have to get past the body guards.”

          Lamar paused “Sir, do you imagine a player of my distinction and perseverance cannot improve an old switcheroo?”

          Kurt stared. “My doubts are now vanquished, sir!”




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