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02 November 2017 @ 08:47 am
_Nowhere Man_ part 4  
 

That got everyone's attention. "I'd like to know when any of you saw him last."

"This is the second rehearsal he's missed." The Director jutted his jaw out, and looked around for Eldon. "You, whatever your name is, I want you here bright and early tomorrow." He turned back to the cop. "We've been scouting locations for exteriors, while the choreographers thought out the moves a bit more. So the first rehearsal was eight days ago. The seventeenth. He should have been here by ten AM. I had someone call every contact number they could scrape up. No go."

"All right. Let's just turn the question around a bit. When was the last time you are certain you saw him?"

The Director scratched his cheek. "Two days before that. My office, and then Ferretti's for lunch. His agent was with us. He had some nit-picky things he should have brought up before Frankie signed the contract."

"So, he died sometime between the fifteenth around noon and the seventeenth around noon."

The Director frowned down – actually up, but he had major loom factor – at the cop. "It would have been about one when we parted ways, and his agent, Roland Ferney, was with him."

"Umm, did they take a car?"

"They turned in the direction of the car park by my office. I didn't stay to look where they went, I was a bit late for my next appointment."

The policeman swept his eyes around the group, all listening avidly. "Did any of you meet him after that time?"

Universal head shakes. "Thank you for your time. Sergeant Connor will take your names, addresses and telephone numbers before you leave." He straightened and looked over the crowd at Eldon. "Am I to understand you will be taking over the role Mr. Delong was to play in this movie?"

"Looks like I got a shot at it."

"When was the last time you saw Mr. Delong?"

"I've never met him. I met these folks at a party yesterday and got an invite to get kicked around by the Kung Foo master. Sounded like fun so I came along today."

"May I see your ID?"

Eldon sighed and dug his wallet out of his pocket. He'd changed the address on the license to the junk yard, had a card from a grocery store for discounts, the SS card and cash. But the wallet was still pretty skimpy. He handed over the driver's license.

"Harlem Brown?"

"I prefer Eldon. More upscale. Huh. Maybe I can get a whole new fancy screen name."

"Thank you, Mr. Brown. Are you living at this address?"

"Mostly. I also work there. Drat. The boss is going to be pissed over me making this movie. All the time it'll take. And I only went to that party to meet a girl again." He shook his head. "So . . . All these questions, and no information. How did he die?"

"I don't have the medical examiners report yet."

"So you don't even know someone offed him?"

"Oh, the circumstances make that quite likely."

The Director had been standing there impatiently. "I think we've been quite cooperative enough. Now, Mr. Brown and I have some business to take care of. Good day." He grabbed Eldon's elbow and hauled him off for a session with secretaries and contracts and union memberships. Eldon found the business card of the least predatory of the agents from Jack's party and sicced him on the contract. Gerald Morton made him read it too.

"You need to have some familiarity with contracts or you'll get eaten alive."

"Fascinating, how it all works." Eldon crawled under the two halves of the two Mercedes, and added or subtracted metal to smoothly join metal parts. Pat had already removed the seats, carpet and headliner from both vehicles. Between the two of them they'd have a whole M-class, ready to paint in about three days. "Unions for everything, and contracts big as a book. And I'm going to soak for hours in a hot tub of water. I haven't tried some of those gymnastic type martial arts for years."

"Yeah, but is it going to impress your girl, Magic Man, eh? That's the question. You can be as fancy as you like, but no matter how they do it where you come from, here white girls don't marry black men. And you may be a Yaller baby, but that don't make a difference."

Eldon touched his hair. "Yaller?"

"I'm talkin' about your skin. You're pretty light, but you're still a nigger same as me."

"Actually, my Dad's Cove Islander and Westerner, and my mom is Auralian and Scoone Wizard. My Auralian Gramma's pretty dark, the Cove Island people are kinda all colors with slanty eyes. The Scoone wizards, I heard some of them were fish belly white like those people." He stuck his arms out and shrugged. "I'm a darker than average for a Westerner. Haven't you people done any genetic engineering? No, never mind. It's only 2036. In another fifty years you'll get used to mixed up people like me."

"God forbid. And if it wasn't for your magic tunnel to your apartment I'd run you off for being a druggie."

Eldon inched back out from under the car, stopping to meld the wiring harness and brake hydraulic cables. "All right. She's all in one piece. Let's get the dents out of the roof first, then straighten out the doors. I dunno, Pat, I'm just not seeing this prejudice you keep saying is all over. Maybe it's the blonde hair, you think?"

"I think you've been here less than two weeks, and you've been lucky so far. Po' naïve child. Though it is better than when I was a kid."

Eldon ran his hands over the roof of the car, pushing and pulling and smoothing. Pat got up with a grunt and walked over to the seats he'd removed earlier, and rubbed leather cleaner into the abused leather. The back seat of one was a loss, the leather damaged by the heat of the fire. The silence was broken only by Pat's faint humming and the crinkling and popping of metal.

"Any how, I'm afraid I've got to go rehearse tomorrow." Eldon bounced up and down inside the car, nodding in satisfaction at the lack of bend or give in the hybrid frame.

"Hmph. Mooovie Stars don't work on cars, magically or otherwise. Let's put the doors on then, and see how badly they fit."

The passenger side door just needed to be de-torqued a bit. The two driver's side doors were both damaged. Eldon cut them gently apart and bonded the best front with the best rear, de-torqued, and stretched and shrunk and bent it until it surrendered and decided to fit.

"Never going to find a window to fit that mess." Pat poked at the interior of the door as Eldon connected wiring, removed the window motor and replaced it with an extra from a car they'd fixed last week.

"I'll make it fit."

"One of these things is going to fall apart and kill someone. I'll get sued and wind up in the poor house."

"They don't have poor houses any more. I checked. You'd simply have to sell this place and retire to live on social security, oogling pretty girls like a proper dirty old man."

"Huh. If you're so superior, Magic Man, how long you going to live?"

"You mean if the brutal police don't kill me in the next few days? Probably until I do some damn fool other thing. Yes, I've got an elixir of youth and health and all that. Most people, when they hear about it want it. Until they realize I can really deliver. Then they get spooked. You want to live forever?"

"Humph. Me? Live forever? Doing this? Christ, I thought you liked me, boy." Pat’s brows were drawn together. "You got something for Alzheimer's? Senior Dementia?"

"Roll it right back." Eldon pulled back and studied the old man. "Somebody you know?"

"Had to commit my wife, last year. I just couldn't take care of her properly any more." He jutted his jaw out, defensively.

Eldon walked across to the wall where he'd put the end of a corridor. He stepped through to his apartment, and started looking through all the bottles he had in his stash. The original Wine of the Gods, the cure-all he took everywhere, had a combination of powerful healing spells. Probably all Pat's wife needed to cure the dementia. Now, to not age. A spell, or if one wanted to be picky, a complex of proteins designed to add the artificial genes for longevity to the DNA of every cell in the body. Eight little artificial ribozymes, each seeking out a chromosome, and if not finding the right gene, altering the one in place to meet their specifications. Those could wait until she was feeling better, and knew her own mind. And the fountain of youth. A series of nanobots that bit by bit removed and repaired the physical signs of aging. He added a bit of that and a couple of extra healing potions to a split of red wine, and dripped in a spoonful of the joy juice.

Pat had followed him, refusing to be intimidated by magic corridors.

"Why don't you take this and go visit this wife of yours."

"Eh. If she recognizes me. She mostly don't."

"Then give her some, and see how she does. Repairs to the brain aren’t instant, but a few days should be enough time. Then when she's healthier, I've tons of goodies she can decide on herself."

"What if she can't swallow it?" Pat was frowning pessimistically at the bottle. Not touching it.

"Then you put a few drops in her mouth, wait a bit, try a few drops more."

Pat took the bottle with hands that shook. "This don't work I'll kick you outta here." He turned abruptly and hustled out.

Eldon cooked a late dinner, walked back to admire his handiwork on the Mercedes, and started on the window glass. The windshield of one car had just been cracked a bit. So it was easy enough to flow back together and shape the odd safety glass.

It was well past dark when Pat returned. He blinked damp eyes at Eldon. "She recognized me. There at the end, before she fell asleep. She was smiling. Maybe, maybe I'll go see her first thing in the morning."

Eldon smiled back, and slept well that night.

***

In the morning Eldon got two more windows in before he soaked and dressed for his meeting with the director.

The director, the barber, the makeup people, the voice coach . . . He watched all the scenes that had been shot so far, and practiced them, aping the movements, the gestures, the expressions and the voice. They shaved him, cut his hair, dyed it, crimped it. Brushed it back for his suave Paris scenes, then brushed it forward and braided beads into it for the other scenes. Apparently the script writer had been up all night. The King spoke little to the visiting Archeologists, just commanded his people to assist them. Then he ran off and braided his hair and joined in with the laborers shifting sand and uncovering the ruins. Oogling the spoiled daughter, played by Margo.

"The voice will do, the makeup will work." The director sighed. "You do not have Frankie's stage presence. But then, few do."

"You need to open up, to emote." One of the coaches dabbed at his makeup and retreated. Eldon thought it over. So his glow wouldn't record. But in holding it in, was he holding himself in? He relaxed and let his internal barriers down. On the bare stage, not a minion in sight he drew himself up and glared down at imaginary scientists. "These are our ancestors, their homes that the gods took from us. Their knowledge should be our knowledge. We are letting you dig here in order that we may discover our heritage. Do not conceal anything from us." He turned and frowned at his equally imaginary tribe. "You will work for the Western Scientists. Do exactly as they say."

The Director's female assistant asked if Eldon had enough muscles for a bare chested scene. He took off his shirt. Apparently he passed her test. She started scribbling in the script.

The Director nodded his approval at her notes. "Better. And we can try it as the sun sets, for some interesting lighting effects. And now I believe Mr. Foo wishes to work with you, Mr. Brown."

Eldon started stretching. He was going to need every bit of flexibility he could coax from his tendons. After the little Asian had beaten him up and chased him around the stage a couple of times, he had the choreography down solidly. It was five o'clock before he was turned loose, and the cop was waiting for him.

"I have some more questions for you."

"All right. Umm, how about we find a restaurant and you can grill me over dinner. When I whined about missing lunch they informed me that part of what I’d signed included losing twenty pounds, and lunches were a thing of the past."

"Twenty pounds? You don't look like you need it to me. But then you don't look much like your pictures or descriptions prior to your death year before last, either."

"Man, I had the worst time with social security over that. They thought I was dead too."

Eldon walked over to his SUV with its parking tag prominently displayed. "So, you know where there are any good restaurants?"

"Yeah. Follow me."

The cop led him to a diner in a part of the city he hadn't yet explored. It was full of cops.

At a table he laid out a sheet of paper. Drivers license, with a picture that looked nothing like Eldon, mug photos, ditto. Eldon noted the "no current wants or warrants" with relief. "Umm, well, I shut up about wanting to act, after all I got was teasing. This is all old stuff, see, I hadn't even had my growth spurt then. Not to mention the nose job. Man, plastic surgery is expensive, but worth every penny, don't you think?" He gave him a view of his profile.

"I think you're full of shit." Another cop slid into the booth, beside the first one.

Eldon looked down
 
 
 
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on November 3rd, 2017 07:51 pm (UTC)
I think the infodump about longevity and the fountain of youth here could be much shortened with advantage. Maybe a little trickled in later?
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on November 3rd, 2017 07:56 pm (UTC)
There is also a logical/legal problem later on
==The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency has added "Wine of the Gods" and "Fountain of Youth" to the list of dangerous drugs==

How can this be done without some way to characterise them?

A current problem with legal highs I understand.

"Wine of the Gods" could be tested on castrated lab mice I suppose.

matapampamuphoff on November 3rd, 2017 10:19 pm (UTC)
A legal definition and a test for the ribozymes? Shouldn't be difficult, but probably wouldn't happen until they're a widespread problem. At that point, due the the very easy "manufacturing" process, it'd be an empty gesture.

On the other hand, all the cured addicts and stunningly low disease of any sort among the people who've tried it is bound to come to the notice of the authorities.