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The Adventures of Crane
by Richard Alan Krieger

Contents

1. ​The Babysitter
2. I Almost Climbed Mt. Everest 

3. (Coming Soon)

The Babysitter

 

I looked out the window with mixed feelings as I rolled into Hollywood chauffeured by a city bus. This time my assignment of all things was to play the role of a quote unquote “Babysitter.” The official title for the job that Big Wig Studio types liked to use is… "Sober Buddy.” But a more appropriate title would be… “Babysitter for Famous Derelict Drug Addict Stars.” 

 

Paramount Studios called my agent and picked me from her list of actors she represents to play the role as a "Sober Buddy" for none other than the one and only “Jake Forte” who they admitted was a “slightly tarnished superstar.” Well, the tabloids were quite a bit harsher than that with the label of who Jake had become. They described him as a “Mere Shadow of his Former Himself.” 

 

All I had to do was keep him clean and sober long enough to finish his latest project as well as getting him to somehow cold turkey his entourage. Somewhat of a tall order, but I was up for the task.

 

Mr. Forte had built his reputation on being Hollywood’s latest incarnation of John Wayne. I was never that into westerns, but I do like to toss me some horse shoes in the backyard now and then. 

 

It was kind of weird to think that an unknown “Extra” like me who’s biggest role to date was in the football crowd scene in “Forest Gump” would be picked. But my agent said the Studio wanted someone who was off the radar of the Paparazzis. A total underground starving artist that Jake could relate to since he was once an “Unemployed Extra Nobody” too.

 

Yet I did have my doubts that I’d have any influence over a celebrity who was “under the influence.” But if I was successful, I’d walk away with a big bounty. Or at least, that was the “promise” that was made to me. 

The studios had been gambling for too long betting their proverbial “stagecoach full of gold” to what amounted to a cowpoke with a frayed rope and their patience was wearing thin. 

 

The bus then dropped me off on the borderline of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. But the directions weren’t very good, so I got lost. Luckily I found one of those vendors who sells maps of the movie star's homes. He showed me Jake’s house on the map. After buying a map, I commented to the guy that it was no wonder that the stars were having such a problem with fanatic stalkers with all these star map stands around. He smiled back at me and said the stalkers were his best customers.

 

I arrived at Jake’s place and yanked the chain to the door chime. Soon I heard a voice come over the intercom… 

 

Jake - Yeah?!

 

Crane - Mr. Forte my name is Crane and Paramount sent me.

 

Jake - What for? You got my check?

 

Crane - No Mr. Forte, I’m your new “Sober Buddy."

 

Jake - You got the wrong address. Go away!

 

Crane - Sorry Jake, that’s not an option.

 

Jake - I’m warning you, my dogs aren’t taking this well. You better leave now!

 

Crane - Mr. Forte, come on… even the cheap app on my phone sounds more real than those fake dogs you’ve got barking in the background… Hello!? Is that the “Sound of Crickets” I’m now hearing? Mr. Forte if you don't start acting a little better... no offense to your work. But if you don't start treating me with a little more respect and open this door right now you're going to be finding yourself in a whole lot of trouble… Alright… I’m leaving… But don’t be surprised if they pull the plug on your film.

 

Jake - Hold on! I’ll be right there!

 

Soon the door opened and there was a bare chested Jake wearing a rhinestone encrusted Stetson. The massive Oxford shirt tied around his waist in no way complimented the claps, boots and fancy silver spurs that he sported.

 

Jake - So I didn't catch your name.

 

Crane - My name's Crane.

 

Jake - Well alright. Nice to meet ya Crane. So, the studio thinks I have a substance abuse problem? Man! I can't believe it.

 

Crane - That's the rumor.

 

Jake - Yeah, well that's all it is. Don’t believe everything you read in those trashy tabloids. Those damn critics don’t like the fact that I’m a “Natural Actor.” Yep, I didn't need any of those stupid acting classes. You know, the ones where they tell you to "pretend you're a tree." Ha! Now that’s “real acting" for ya. So what's your favorite movie of mine?

 

Crane - Let’s see… it’s a toss up between, “The Gun Shy Cowboy” and “Barn Dance Casanova.”

 

Jake - What?! I didn’t even get screen credits for either of those.

 

Crane - Oh… well those are the movies my agent told me to say if you asked me that question.

 

Jake - Jeez! So the studio brass sent over a "Sober Buddy" who doesn't even know my work. What's up with that?

 

Crane - Look Jake! It really doesn't matter if I like your work or not. They sent me to make damn sure that “Setting Sun for Son of a Gun” gets done without any more delays and that you’re sober until it’s in the can. And if not… your ass is grass. And that’s what the Studio told me to tell ya. 

 

Jake - Well then, what are you standing out there for? Come on in and make yourself at home. Can I get you something? A soda, juice, water…?

 

Lance - So Jake, I've been waiting for you in the back man. I've got those lines set up that you asked for.

 

Jake - Haha… oh, you mean my cue cards for the movie? Yeah, yeah, just hold your horses there Lance.

 

Crane - I guess that substance abuse rumor was just some people talking.

 

Jake - Ah, Crane… I'd like you to meet my acting coach Lance.

 

Lance - Huh?

 

Jake - Yeah. And Lance, I'd like you to meet my new "Sober Buddy” that the studio sent over to make sure all those rumors about my “drug addiction” aren't true.

 

Lance - Ooohh! Yeah… right. Nice to meet you Mr. Crane.

 

Crane - You guys are pathetic.

 

Jake - Now Crane, keep cool. Everything's going to be just fine. We'll work this out somehow.

 

Nancy - Hey!… Anyone want to take a hit of this joint! This weed is totally stoney man.

 

Jake - Nancy! What are you doing? If I told you once, I told you twice, no smoking in the house!

 

Nancy - What?

 

Crane - Looks like my job's just begun.

 

Nancy - Hey! Who's this freakin' guy… a Narc?

 

Suddenly an Undercover Narc pops his head through the window and is pointing a gun at everyone.

 

Narc - No… that would be me! Freeze! Police! Drop that joint!

 

Crane - It's not what you think, Officer. I’m not part of this “scene.” I’m the "Sober Buddy."

 

Narc - I said drop it girl! Huh? What the hell is a "Sober Buddy?” Never mind! You're all under arrest!

 

Jake - There must be some mistake. You know who I am?

 

Narc - Yeah I do, you’re just another drug addicted movie star with an attitude problem.

 

Jake - That's a ridiculous accusation!

 

Narc - No! Your cowboy attire mixed with an Oxford shirt is a total fashion disaster. Now that’s ridiculous.

 

Lance - Don't listen to him Jake… he's just jealous of your eclecticism.

 

Nancy - Wait a second… aren't you supposed to have a search warrant? 

 

Narc - Don't try and get all legal with me Baby. We’ve had you under surveillance for a long time. You there! Get a large bag and fill it up with all your drugs… now!

 

Lance - Yes sir!

 

Crane - You know she's right. This case would be thrown out of court without a search warrant.

 

Narc - Alright, now I'm busted! I'm really a bad cop who likes the cash benefits of raiding drug pads on his off hours. Now are you satisfied?

 

Lance - Thank you Officer. I'm so sick and tired of being lied to by the authorities.

 

Narc - Whatever… just keep filling up that bag… I’m on a tight schedule here.

 

Lance - Alright! Alright!

 

Jake - So Officer, while we're waiting… What's your favorite movie of mine?

 

Narc - Humm… I think they're all pretty funny. But “Barn Dance Casanova” was totally hilarious!

 

Jake - But that's not a comedy!

 

Narc - Oh really?

 

Nancy - Now wait a minute… What are you saying? Jake's films totally rock! Dude! You don't know anything about art man.

 

Jake - Thank you Nancy, you're my best fan.

 

Lance - Well, I think that's all the drugs we have lying around. But then again, the place is so messy… you want me to look upstairs too?

 

Narc - Do I look like I have all day?

 

Lance - Okay! Okay! Here’s the bag… 

 

Narc - Now don't anyone tell what happened here… or else… you hear me?

 

Jake's friend Mick rolls down the stairs and lands at the bottom pointing his gun at the Narc.

 

Mick - They don't call me the best stuntman in town for nothing! And just think, a few minutes ago I was all like "Alice in Wonderland" freaking out staring at the bathroom mirror. 

 

Narc - Who’s this clown?

 

Mick - Now listen up Mister!… whoever you are pointing your gun in the direction of my friends… I kindly suggest you drop it before I have no other choice than to have you receive some unhealthy projectiles soon to come from my large cannon device that I'm holding in my hand. Can you dig it?… Comrade?

 

Narc - And if you so happen to decide to be so foolish with your elaborate plan, consider this scenario Sir Brainiac… If you were to hit me with your little exploding pop gun, my hand would react involuntarily by pulling this trigger thus most likely killing your favorite sugar daddy movie star. Comprende Amigo?

From the window across the room Randy the Drug Dealer is now pointing his gun at every one.

 

Randy - Well Hellooo everybody! Looks like you forgot to invite me to the party?

 

Jake - Now Y'all… don't panic now! I've been in plenty of situations like this.

Crane - You're not in a movie Jake! This is reality!!!

 

Lance - Hey! Isn't this scene like out of... "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?"

Mck- Yeah, it is! And Jake's "The Good."

 

Randy - Like the man said Jake, this is reality. And the “reality check” has just come in. You dudes have ripped me off for the last freaking time.

 

Lance - What are you talking about?

 

Randy - What am I talking about? You seem to keep forgetting to pay me for all the stash I keep fronting you. Well, the party's over man… time to pay the piper.

 

Lance - Sorry Randy, we didn't mean to. 

Nancy - Yeah! We spaced man.

 

Randy - Well, you Space Cadets all be coming down to earth today.

 

Narc - Alright, you all better just drop your weapons. You don't seem to realize how much trouble you're all in!

 

Nancy - Excuse me Mr. Bad Cop, what about you? They're starting to crack down on cops like you… haven't you read the papers lately?

 

Crane - Oh for Christ’s sake! That’s it! I'm out of here. 

 

Jake - What are you talking about?

 

Crane - You heard me. My scene ends here, right now! This is not the kind of job I requested from the agency! It’s back to being an Unemployed Extra. It’s a role I play exceptionally well considering that my part in “Forest Gump” got that movie to be the “Best Picture of the Year!”

 

Jake - Really, I don’t remember seeing you in that movie. 

 

Crane - Then watch the "Football Crowd Scene" on a bigger screen next time!

 

Jake  - You can't just walk off the set.

 

Crane - Oh really? Because it’s not written in the script? Right. Ciao!

 

Jake - But I thought you were my buddy?

 

Crane - Yeah? And I thought you were the hero you portrayed in the movies. All you "Bad Actors" need to grow up and get a life.

 

Lance - What are you trying to say?

 

Crane - Ah, that you’re all a bunch of losers in a movie you don’t even realize you’re in called, “The Den of Iniquity.”

 

Lance - Wow! That’s a cool title.

 

Nancy - I’m so sorry you feel that way Crane. I was just starting to like you too.

 

Crane - Yeah. Well, it’s not your fault that the glamor that this town once projected from years ago has long since vanished to where now… all that’s left are the closing credits…

 

(Crane then walks out the door and heads down the driveway. Just when he gets to the gate, a bunch of gunfire is heard going off behind him. He stops for a moment in deep reflection of what just went down. He then just shakes head in disbelief as he keeps on walking to the bus stop that will take him home.) 

 

The End

I Almost Climbed Mt. Everest

 

Dear Global Villager,

Whoever finds my letter under this “Do-It-Yourself Tombstone,” I want to personally thank you for taking some time out from your busy survival routine up here on the mountain to read my last message to the world.

 

As you can see, I almost climbed Mt. Everest. And that’s really a big deal for a former “King of the Couch Potatoes” whose only prior experience with mountain climbing was vicariously watching others climb them on TV.

 

And although I didn’t make it to the very top of the mountain due to poor weather conditions, in so doing my adventure transformed itself into the importance of experiencing the “journey,” and not the “goal.” And that should count for something... even in a world that mostly likes to keep score.

 

Please tell all the folks back home that I’m happy to share with them that through the many “Trials & Tribulations” I’ve experienced on my “Exciting Adventure”… I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Well… that is, other than the very ending of course. 

 

Like a material witness, the “Ghost of Bad Luck” sure has been following me around lately, for I'm saddened to say that my horn has finally succumbed to "Frozen Valve Syndrome" and is no longer playable. That sure would be good news to my former sherpa guides who blamed my horn playing for causing the avalanche that almost buried our hiking party.

 

Then again, those guides sure didn’t complain when my serenading horn tamed the wild “Abominable Snowman” who had been stalking us. So due to my musical intervention, that “Abominable Snowman” is now a “Friendly Snowman” who we affectionately have nicknamed, “Big Dude.”

 

Hailing ice balls are very much in style right now up here and are hitting my hat so hard that I can hardly hear my own thoughts. And the freeze-dried porridge that I’ve survived on, or should I say gruel, is a slimy concoction that would make all those greasy spoon restaurants that I’ve encountered in my lifetime seem like fine “French Cuisine.”

 

On a lighter note, I did get a chance to do a few improv jams with some traveling “Snake Charmers.” They were very happy to learn some new blues riffs I shared with them. And in return, they gave me an unusual gift called, "The Magical Rope." It works something like this, one throws the rope up into the air and then it magically holds there in space. At that point, I guess you're supposed to climb it to the top? But I don't know what I'm going to do with it though. Heck! I used to have to climb that same sort of torturous rope back in gym class.

 

I also got an auspicious chance to meet a very old “Yogi Master” who was supposedly a few centuries old if you can believe that. I was so inspired upon meeting him that I wrote a song on my horn that I dedicated to him called, "I'm so Blue, Because I Got the Freezing Man Blues."

 

The Guru’s attendants informed me that the Master would happily accept any questions I might have, for he was known as the “Know It All Guru,” who was never wrong in his sagely advice.

 

So I then asked him… “Is nothing really so boring… when doing nothing boring?

 

He seemed totally perplexed by my question and started to nervously tug at his long beard. He then quickly got up without saying a word and retreated into his tent. This totally surprised me, for it was as if I had just asked him to defuse a nuclear bomb before lunch or something.

 

After about three hours of patiently waiting with a few yawns to keep myself amused for him to give a response to my question, he then slowly walked out of his tent looking like someone had just run over his favorite pet. He then seriously leaned towards me and whispered into my ear ever so softly, “I must say my friend… you got my goat with that one.”

 

So I tried to make him feel better and said to not worry about it. And to just let it go with the flow like the stream naturally does when it returns to its source… the sea... eventually…

 

I then shared with him that my question was my Western version of those unanswerable mystical Zen Koan questions that come from the Far East designed to make one's head spin like a top off into oblivion. Like this fun one... “If a tree falls in the forest when no one is listening, does it make a sound?”

 

He chuckled at that koan and said, "Kudos! You know, although people have labeled me the “Know It All Guru,” they just don’t get it. And the reason being… I don’t think we’re meant to “Know It All.” Socrates supposedly the “Smartest Man in Greece” summed it up best when he said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” Just think about how boring our lives would become if we thought we had an answer to everything. For if we ever did come to such an absurd assumption… our sense of ‘wonder’ would die on the vine.” 

 

“Wow!” I humbly replied. “Well said Master. That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard to my “Boring Question”… Thank you.”

 

“No problem. If it didn’t put me to sleep,” he quipped, “than it wasn’t so boring after all was it?” 

 

He then smiled from ear to ear and quickly jumped up and exclaimed to everyone… “To Life! ‘Oh Great Mystery’ that it is. May it continue to astonish us with its bewildering profanity!” My jaw then dropped onto the ground as the people cheered and broke into a spontaneous joyful dance.

 

As the dusk began to transform the sky into an amazing “Kaleidoscopic Light Show,” the Master Guru then instructed his attendants to break out a few old bottles of champagne from a nearby cave. As it turned out, the bottles had been personally given to the Master by Napoleon when they met in Egypt back in the day. He then enthusiastically popped open one of the bottles and blessed everyone with this toast, "May we never forget the ‘Here and Now’… for that is all there really is forevermore!" The crowd responded accordingly with a “Rockus Roar!”

The party really got cookin' when a tribe of gypsy yogi dancers, jugglers and musicians dropped by who added extra enthusiasm to the good vibes of the party. 

 

And then to our surprise, a group of stark naked yogis appeared out of the darkness. They then proceeded to outdo the Western “Ice Bucket Challenge,” with a contest amongst themselves to see who could dry the most wet towels on their backs that were dipped into the nearby frozen lake. And they were able to do this incredible feat with their minds alone mind you. They actually dry cleaned many towels that night which sure came in handy as to help keep everyone warm on “The Night of the Icicles.”

 

Speaking of “freezing weather,” since I’ve been writing to you, another one of my toes has just fallen off due to frostbite. Thankfully that ordeal wasn’t painful since I can’t feel anything at this point anyway. And if this blizzard doesn't mellow out soon, I'm afraid that even greater and more crucial body parts of mine might just start falling off as well. Yikes!

 

Under these extreme weather conditions… the last thing I can try to do to keep warm is to meditate on my former “Hot Dates” I once had in my distant past in an effort to at least survive another hour or so.

 

Thanks again for reading my last parting words for I know now that they were not written in vain. That is, if indeed you are still reading this note. Hopefully you brought enough fuel along with you so my heartfelt message isn’t burnt to ashes in the process of you trying to keep warm.

 

Then again, I would totally understand where you’d be coming from if my message is needed to help kindle the fire in an effort for you to avoid turning into a “Popsicle Man.”

 

I encourage you to keep on going onward and upward for you're almost there to the “Rooftop of the World” which is the highest you will ever get to touching the stars.

 

Take care... till the next lifetime where we might meet again under better circumstances.

"Hope Eternal"

 

from “The Frozen Popsicle Man Who Made Many SOS Snow Angels To The Very End"

 

P.S. By the way… isn't the view awesome?

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