Shorty & Morty
An Extraordinary Homeless Couple
"E.T." meets "Schindlers List" was the perfect pitch for Josh's movie idea!
Hollywood Boulevard - Day...
Jared hopped off the train at Hollywood and Vine swinging the two dolls – he racked up from the little girls on the metro rides – with one hand and hit the boulevard within minutes. The twilight crowd was coming alive – this fed Jared’s thirst for discovering more puppet addicts – plus he had to find Peter to see if he had seen the midget with that legless fox he wanted to hunt. Yes-siree he wanted to kidnap the little guy – torture him for taking over Jared’s puppet addict meeting – then he would steal his girl.
Jared whistled and posed as he walked with thoughts of how delicious it would be to watch Celine scurry along on her colorful socked stumps – while he trailed behind with her prosthetic gams slung over his shoulders. Celine would be terrified but would quickly see Jared as the king of Krazytown’s homeless brigade. It wouldn’t be long before she cried and offered herself to him – as his group did with their puppets. He might even consider making her his queen – just for a day. Jared laughed and used the two dolls to cover his surprise woody when he heard applause. He bowed – then realized it was for someone else.
Curious - he moved closer to a small crowd that surrounded a man in clown make-up - manipulating marionettes. Excited - he rushed forward and read the sidewalk board: FREE Puppet Show by: Puppetman the Great! Jared stood amid the small crowd of locals and gonnabes as he watched the clown. Was this the puppet God statue he praised in his apartment come to life - the archfiend or just another rising wannabe?
Jared inched closer – then dropped to his knees in prayer – dolls held high as he began to speak in his own tongue. Onlookers gasped – then the clown griped, “Hey dude – you knocked my tip jar over. If you want your own show - move on down the block. I have a permit to perform.” Jared stopped – adjusted his long fake hair piece – and retorted, “I knew it! Folks – may I have your attention please? This is just another Hollywood demon stringing you along - not the true puppet God coming to heal us of our most dangerous addictions. Please…” he bent over and collected the spilled money and extended it, “…take your money back. This man is a fake – you can thank me later – really.” The Puppetman hollered, “Give me back my dough you long-haired freak! Take your headless doll and her twin to another corner!” Jared’s eyes rolled as he inhaled deeply to commit himself for full on assault when…
Krazy – but happy - Kate happened upon the scene and saw Jared. She yanked sock puppet out of her torn used purse and mimicked Jared’s deep voice, “Jared’s going to kill you! He’ll give you cancer…” Almost instantaneously – Kate continued in her best little girl voice, “No he’s not… no he’s not.” Her panic-stricken face turned towards Jared as their eyes locked.
Jared dropped the dough – his attention fully on Kate. “Are we out having a little fun time with someone else’s pup-pette? This isn’t meeting time. Where’s Peter?” Kate slowly inched backwards in her cowboy boots. “I gotta be careful of the dog poo and my cancer is coming…” Jared sniped, “Cut it Kate – where is he?” She spilled – trembling, “He went to a Dodger game with some camera kid. Jared’s not mad at me is he?” The Asian twin sisters swished through the crowd.
“Ditch your mascara fast!” Squealed Lacy - to her sister - Berta King. “I think I spotted some new revenue.” Berta laughed and while passing turned to Jared, “You’re never gonna make it in this town. The Muppet show died a long time ago – drummer boy.” Lacy and she locked arms as they stuck out their wet teasing tongues.
Jared winced – he hated when she called him drummer boy – he was a lead guitarist and knew he would’ve been bigger than Prince if his heroin habit hadn’t shaved off a few decades. In his mind – he was all brand new - he smiled through street teeth with insults, “Hey girls – hookin’ for your man – J.C. tonight? He got stolen at Christmas with all the other Jesus babies.” The girls over-exaggerated their strut – mocking him – which pissed Jared off. “He DOESN’T EXIST!” He did in Jared’s yule treasure trove room of dolls, puppets and other addictive toys!”
The sisters simply held up their crosses without looking back and said in unison, “Jesus loves his hookers – doll-man.” Jared lashed out – “Not in my fortune cookie!”
Outside the social worker’s office…
All 4’6” of Morty pushed Celine in her wheelchair. She was exhausted from the day’s traumatic events at the County ER and the interview with the census social worker left her cranky. The duo were nearing Hollywood Boulevard – as she lamented in her royal English accent – “I don’t understand the significance of the homeless census - the social man obviously hates his job. I think he’s a nosey arse.” Morty replied, “The Demerol is still in your system. Let’s get you back home to rest before it’s really dark.” With that – Morty spun her around and then propelled her chair forward – Celine shrieked a dizzy laugh.
A few locals grumbled and scooted out of the way. One toothless bag lady dished with annoyance, “You think you’re so special Celine? Just cause you got no legs don’t make you better than us.” Morty was about to come to his girl’s defense but as they turned the corner Krazy Kate banged into them. “Uh oh… Shorty and… uh… Morty. Jared’s… I just love you Shorty… you’re a dancer who got cancer! Morty’s face reddened – “Where’s Jared?” “Across the street?” Kate tattled as she rattled – “I had cancer but my husband ate the dog.”
Morty angrily hopped up onto the back of the wheelchair handles and yelled through cupped hands, “Hey tough guy – moron – over here! Leave the little people alone and try me out for size!” The traffic noise had picked up – Jared rotated to determine where the threat was coming from. Morty whipped out his slingshot – and beaned Jared with a large round steely – right between the eyes. The last view he had was of Morty poised to shoot as he fell to the ground rolling. Clutching his wig – Jared screamed in agony, “I’m going to kill you! You… f^^king midget!!” Morty was already a block away with Celine giggling before Jared rose back up. He stood with his two dolls – one headless – looking and rubbing his forehead – saying to passersby, “What are you looking at? Move along. Reality time! Who saw a midget with the woman with no legs?”
At Dodger Stadium…
After Mr. Weldon – the Hollywood census updater – tossed the young recent film graduate – Josh Jalil from his office – forbidding any more shooting of porn movies – home movies and most of all – the homeless with Shorty and Morty – Josh convinced young homeless teen – ‘Peter’– who he knew as ‘Dylan’ according to ‘Peter’– to attend a night ballgame for celebrity hunting. As part of his rocket fuel injected plan to claim his fame now – he needed practice celebs to hone his pitch on making a film all by himself that had never been done. A dark comedy reflecting America’s Dream gone loco – or missing – but ‘Dylan’ should know this from teaching an art class for the homeless – Josh insisted. ‘Peter’ gave his usual answer – “What I’m sayin’.”
This was the first sports event ever for Peter and his blow-up girlfriend – Babes. Josh navigated them through a secret passageway – free of security detectors – wealthy cams he called them. They soon nabbed seats in the VIP field box section. A fellow San Francisco film student had tipped off Josh that there were always a few empty seats in the richer sections of the stadium. Their lucky night was about to get luckier. A teenage girl holding a soda in the stands called Peter a pervert while some kids running up the aisle pointed to them but turned with Dodger blue gloves in the air as the wave hit their section. The trio settled in and that’s when the magic happened.
Steven Spielberg’s smiling face and wave of his hand were flashed on the big screen. The stadium went wild with cheers and catcalls. The next few minutes of Josh’s life happened like a car crash – in slow motion yet faster than the Saturn V missile – it made his mind question the validity of circumstances.
Josh hugged Peter so hard – he almost popped Babes, “Man – this is f^^king unbelievable! My hero is here and I can show him parts of the movie from filming today and introduce you as Peter. I won’t tell him you’re really Dylan – let’s go.” Peter’s face broke into a smile – he kissed Babes and adjusted his fake lip piercing as he stood up and pointed. Josh’s eyes followed his finger’s direction and a profile view of Spielberg’s face come into focus – his dream of hanging out on the set and going to ballgames with Steven Spielberg was less than four rows away! “Okay, k..k.. Okay – you stay here with Babes and I’ll set this up.” Josh stuttered. Peter nodded and sat down caressing Babe – oblivious to most of what surrounded him – as they joined the next wave. The crowd roared as Josh skip-jumped over seats and down the steps – within seconds he was by Spielberg’s side – staring at him like a drunken puppy waiting for his master to toss his ball.
Josh’s whole pitch about E.T. meets Schindler’s List with an extraordinary homeless couple living among Hollywood’s homeless – flew out of his head. His blood pulsated so loudly between his ears - he thought his brains would spurt out – but reminded himself he had been in Hollywood for two whole weeks and destiny was on time!
Then – Steven Spielberg turned his head and looked right at him. Josh’s face froze into a smile that read – I just found God. He asked the person sitting next to Spielberg if he would take a picture of them with Josh’s camera. The man rose unsteadily – put his beer down – stepped into the aisle and took the camera and snapped a shot.
The crowd noise scared Babes – so Peter hopped over the seats to get in on the pictures – that would brighten her up. This occurred so quickly that Josh didn’t notice they were there. He glanced at the image – his perfect smile and body language remained as he asked loudly – “Can you do it again – please Mr. Spielberg? I went to school one summer with your son – Sawyer.” Spielberg grimaced tactfully – hoping his image was not on the big screen and ready to scramble to a luxury suite before more fans came along. It wasn’t his idea to sit out in the open – or take photos for free – his buddy holding the camera chuckled. In a surly tone Spielberg said, “Snap off a few so he gets what he wants… Now!” An elated Josh nodded, “Solid.”
Spielberg kept the same stone-faced pose. Josh beamed ear-to-ear as Peter and Babes stepped in. Spielberg tuned out everything but the click of the camera. Peter noticed his duress and took a seat next to the icon. Looking at him with compassion – Peter wondered if his real dad resembled Spielberg or if he looked so unhappy because he might have a kid on the street too. Maybe Babes could help him out.
Spielberg’s pal was about to hand the camera back again - but Josh saw Peter in the photo. He needed just one perfect shot of him alone with his film God. Josh pleaded, “Sir – just one more? I want to frame this memory so we can look back on this together one day and remember how we met!” Spielberg’s agitation prevented him from noticing anything but the kid he wanted to get rid of – choking him out entered his mind. Another wave erupted – making it virtually impossible for Josh to hear exactly what Steven Spielberg said just as three burly bodyguards ran down the steps – whisked the trio away and shoved them up and out of the stadium walls into a waiting van. They were tossed inside – driven to the base of the hill and thrown to the parking lot fence line and told, “Don’t ever come back here again or we’ll have you arrested!” The van’s tires screeched back up the hill.
Josh rolled over clutching his camera and moaned – “Not my camera – I hope it’s not broken.” Peter was heartbroken – a part of Babes had burst as he kept trying to blow her back up. “Come on… you can do it. You have to be alright.” Josh realized his camera had a lot of scratches but still worked and then he noticed Peter. He walked over to him and offered, “Hey – I’m sorry they did that to her. I know a sex shop where we can get another doll.”
Peter stood up angrily – “She’s my girl! You can’t replace my girl!” Josh thought a moment and gently offered, “I’m sorry, Dylan… I mean Peter… let’s go to a bicycle shop and they can help patch her up and she’ll be good as new.” Peter wiped a snotty nose. “You think they can fix her?” “Yeah man – I know they can.” They left elated but partially deflated. Josh had shots of his hero and Peter kept his mouth on the hole in Babe’s shoulder – trying to keep his girl pumped up – until they got back to Hollywood.
In the Hollywood Hills…
Morty pulled Celine up onto Runyon Canyon’s High Bench – a seat that made you feel like a kid again – and hopped up alongside of her. The long day in the County ER circus had taken its toll on them both. Every night they came to sit and discuss their day and to make plans for tomorrow’s survival tactics for life on the streets. It was getting dark – a rare night in L.A. where a few stars poked through the haze as the city lights lit up the horizon. Darkness brought many things to Krazytown and few were good.
Celine rested her head against Morty’s shoulder – lightly swinging her crossed mannequin and crutch legs with a deep sigh. Morty felt her warm breath against his neck and he wondered how he got so lucky to have such a beautiful girl. With a Southern drawl she whispered, “I don’t ever want to be a Hollywood Ordinary.” “Me either… I’m gonna take good care of you – Celine… Celine?” He rested his head against hers and heard – in her best Jersey accent – “I love you Morty.” “Right back at ya’ Shorty.” The duo had survived another day – peace in the desert forest.
Then – the destructive sound of a bulldozer revving its ugly engine descended upon them.
To be continued…
I love these characters, the Krazytown neighorhoods they reside in with the other misfits, tourists and has been or wannabe - "bluebloods." This journey goes beyond the films or the in-character interviews. I hope they will bring you as much pleasure as I had creating them. And will keep going... yesirree she will...