Chapter 44: Lifescript

Petersen barged into the office, simultaneously musing: How the hell did Kodek get an office?

Long gone were the days of the MetRag, the print division of the Morimoto Propaganda Department. Thankfully the department itself was still in full-force. And damn it, they needed some scripts!

Of course, Petersen would be duly horrified if he had access to a future time-continuum jump where he might find that every newspaper in the entire world would be suffering the same end as his beloved MetRag – basically, ceasing to exist.

Kodek didn’t even flinch when Petersen entered, despite the fact he wasn’t even trying to pretend like he’d been busy… with anything. The word processor in front of Kodek was starting to grow moss.

Since when was he a scriptwriter, anyway? But the Corporation had simply told Petersen that Kodek was back on his staff, this time his writing staff, and Petersen had no choice but to go along with it. The Corporation was certainly no democracy. Not that democracies actually worked beyond theory, in Petersen’s opinion, much like the practice of communism or any other governmental hierarchy, everything was of course logical when it was an idea put to paper – and he didn’t really have any major bones to pick with Kodek, anyway. The guy acted like a space cadet half the time, but when it came to deadlines, when Petersen needed a script, Kodek delivered, and it was consistently decent quality.

What’s it this time?” Kodek asked.

Petersen was about to open his mouth to tell Kodek what it was this time, when he moved closer and saw that Kodek wasn’t speaking to him at all – the telephone receiver had been cradled between Kodek’s shoulder and his ear and invisible until Petersen had stepped closer. To put the cherry on the top, Kodek gave Petersen the “one second” finger, making him wait.

I told you about that already,” Kodek barked into the phone. “Look, it’s like this, my agent was his agent. Is his agent. He obviously showed that hack my script, for fuck’s sake, even Sharon Stone is with the same agency and she’s starring in the fucking thing!”

After a pause: “Good, that’s exactly what I want you to do!” and then Kodek slammed the phone down. “Fucking lawyers,” he finally spun around to Petersen to give him his undivided – sort of.

Script trouble?” Petersen asked, trying for the friendly chit-chat approach before the inevitable task of telling Kodek there was another deadline looming.

Hollywood trouble,” Kodek grumbled. “Some hack director stole my script and they made the fucking thing into a film.”

Jarmush?” Petersen asked, causing one of Kodek’s eyebrows to pop up.

Why would you say that?”

Petersen shrugged. “Just making chit-chat.”

Kodek spun around in his chair again, half-blocking Petersen out. Damn.

No,” Kodek said, “Some other hack fuck. Simmons or Simons or Simpson or something…”

You don’t know?”

Kodek shrugged, “Don’t need to know. The lawyer knows.”

Ah,” Petersen said, indicating he got when he was mentally still scratching his head.

So, what can I do for you?” Kodek asked.

At least he turned around again, Petersen noted, looking with effort at Kodek’s concentrative eyes. No space cadet today.

Script,” Petersen said.

Yeah, I figured that. On what?”

When I know, you’ll know.”

Now both of Kodek’s eyebrows popped. “Say what?”

I only got work that we had to have something pro-corporation out by Friday. And they weren’t very specific.”

They. Kodek didn’t need to take an educated guess at that one. “Friday, huh?”

Yeah.”

Well, I’ve got this plagiarism case I’m dealing with, so…” He rolled his chair across the floor and came to a dead stop in front of a four-drawer filing cabinet. Kodek opened the bottom draw and pulled out the lone one-hundred-and-thirteen page screenplay that was sitting at the bottom.

You know,” Petersen warned, “You’re supposed to load filing cabinets bottom-drawer first.”

Kodek flashed him a questioning expression. “I did,” and he tossed Petersen the script. “There, I was saving that one. Special occasion.”

This isn’t a special occasion,” Petersen clarified, turning the script over in his hands. “What’s it about?

The Jack of Hearts killer.”

If Petersen had been drinking coffee, he might have choked on it. “What?!”

The Jack of Hearts killer,” Kodek reiterated.

Yeah, I heard you, but I mean, what the fuck are we going to do with a script about the Jack of Hearts serial killer? I mean… did they even find that guy?”

Well, they do on the script. In fact, in that script, it’s a blue-collar dude who works for The Corporation who tracks the killer down and saves the entire city. I was thinking Harvey Keitel for the lead role-”

I think The Corporation might have a problem with this.”

What? Why would they have a problem with it? Keitel was with the same agency as I was back in Hollywood-”

I mean the connotations. The Morimoto Corporation involved with brutal serial killings”

We end up looking like the good guys. And besides, Morimoto owns the script, technically. There’s no conflict of interest there. I wrote it while I was working here in the propaganda division-”

-Department,” Petersen corrected.

Whatever. You want the script or not? It’s ready by Friday. And it’s the only one that’s going to be ready by Friday, if you catch my drift. I’ve got bigger fish to fry this week. Besides, have Derrikson double-check it of you’re nervous about it.”

Yeah…” Petersen was starting to get convinced. “…alright. I’ll read it and let you know.”

Sure thing, Kodek grinned and turned around again, apparently indicating that Petersen was free to leave now. As he ducked out of the office, he heard Kodek’s phone ringing again. He quietly shut the door.

Hello?” Kodek picked up the phone.

Hi, Mr. Kodek?”

Yes?”

My name is Montgomery, I’m the agent representing David Chase.”

Is that name made up?” Kodek bluntly asked.

No, I assure you-”

It sounds pretty cool. Too cool, of you know what I mean. Very Hollywood.”

Mr. Kodek, my client is a highly respected television writer. Have you ever heard of Kolchak the Night Stalker?”

No.”

Well, I can assure you it was a very popular program in its time-

-Is that so?”

-And I’m afraid that Mr. Chase, well, frankly, he has a problem with one of your scripts.”

A problem?”

Yes, Mr. Kodek.”

What sort of a problem? You agents can be pretty vague sometimes-”

It’s starting to look like a legal problem, Mr. Kodek. It appears that your screenplay, the one entitled ‘The Jack of Hearts’?”

Oh, you read that? What did you think?”

It was fine, Mr. Kodek. At any rate, it appears that Mr. Chase feels it’s awfully close to one of his Night Stalker episodes and he’s advised me to contact our lawyer to put a cease and desist order on your screenplay and, as of this moment, any other screenplays of yours that might have come through this agency.”

So in effect, the cease and desist order is on me, then, in that a little more accurate?”

Bang on, Mr. Kodek. We’ll be in touch.”

The phone went dead and was left hanging in Kodek’s hand.

Huh,” he mused to himself, “that’s interesting.”

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