William Deverell — Novelist

The official website of William Deverell, Winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in North American Crime Writing

LSD-laced punch at a parent-teacher soiree.

Bry’s Blog / May 27, 2015

INT. BROWNING PUB—NIGHT.

[A country saloon. Six-stool bar, a dozen tables, divers locals, a folk singer no one is listening to. Pool balls clacking. One barstool remains unoccupied, next to Moose: tattooed biceps, rubber boots caked in the offal from his fish boat. Pomerantz enters, takes the empty seat, refrains from asking him how many dolphins died in his nets today.]

MOOSE: You the screenwriter who was coming on to Ingrid?

[Pomerantz orders a pint while he toys with the question. Given that his only outings have been to the store to buy groceries or smokes, he wonders if this heavyweight is the island clairvoyant. All comes clear as Ingrid emerges from the women’s and blows Moose a kiss.]

MOOSE: I’ll join you in a minute, baby. [To Pomerantz:] Bill Deverell’s brother? [The tone is distrustful, hostile, and Pomerantz wonders if he is Skyler in disguise, on a killing spree, aiming at him because he’s miffed he can’t find Arthur Beauchamp at home. (Oops. Where did that come from? Ah, yes, Sing a Worried Song.)]

POMERANTZ: Brother in the spiritual sense.

MOOSE: Yeah, what movies have you written?

[Closeup on Pomerantz’s sweaty face .]

POMERANTZ (Voice over): One must assume that this seabilly intends, at some point during the evening, to beat the shit out of me. He’ll overcome any inhibitions he has about violence by getting roaring drunk first, of course. Then he’ll follow me in the dark as I leave. Talking my way out of it seems futile. The chances he has seen any of my flicks are negligible. He would not have liked the neophyte scriptwriter’s first (and only) success, “Duck, Chuck,” featuring a fucked-up Moose-like macho who keeps getting dumped by women, an art film, a couple of awards, template for all the shitty TV shows about screwed-up macho males. Then “Deadhead,” even artier, but got play in Europe, a mention at the Venice Festival. Then “The Pope’s Concubine,” which was smothered by a crypto-fascist boycott designed in the darkest, dankest crypts of the Vatican. Major theatre chains rejected it. Then two more bombs. Too clever. Too arty. The studios stopped calling my agent. My agent stop calling me. To make ends meet, I started doing crap, writing and directing bargain-basement teeners. Nerd falls for beauty queen. Girl has crush on art teacher. To stay with the competition, I had to make them raunchier, druggier, flesh flicks, tits and ass. Out of desperation I mentioned to Moose the worst of them, “Uproar at Fillmore High.” LSD-laced punch at a parent-teacher soiree.

MOOSE: I saw that! That was cool, man. [beat] You looking for something?


EXT. BROWNING BEACH - LATER

[Pomeroy and Moose are sharing a joint on a driftwood log. Moose is displaying his wares.]

MOOSE: Fifty dollars a quarter.bags of pot

POMERANTZ: You okay with half now and the rest when my next royalty cheque comes in?

Which sounds like never. I didn’t tell Moose the rest of my story. How I crashed five years ago. The scandal, the trial, the stumbling toward madness. He can look it up for himself. (Keywords to Google: Pomerantz. Cannes. Stark. Naked.) I’ve never fully recovered. (Note to self: incorporate apt Will Rogers quote: “I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.”)

Anyway, all that was before Sue. That was with Mona; we had no idea a camera was on us. Before Mona, there were Gwen and her twin sister Julia (early 1980s, Laguna Beach). I am your prototypical fucked-up cool dude who keeps getting dumped by women. But only Gypsy broke my heart. You remember her, Bill, I was still with her in seventy-nine, in Vancouver, when you and I had our … what shall we call it … our little variance. Our discord. Our disunion.

Nor did I tell Moose (who was stoned, and melancholy, and wanted to share) that I’d fallen into a bitter depression, that I’m womanless and practically homeless, tapped out, living off credit cards. “It’s nothing in particular,” Sue said as she kissed me off at the bathroom door, loading up before dressing for work. “It’s just not happening.” She’s a lawyer, like you, but an honest lawyer. Painfully honest.

I sat around the Browning pub for an hour, hoping someone would offer a few cogent titbits about your breakdown, your dropping out, your late-life conversion to the counter-culture. No one seemed to know where you disappeared to. Puerto Rico got another speculative mention. So did the West Indies. “I heard he’s got a place on one of them islands down there.”

Maybe Robert Browning knows where you are. Some unsuspected isle in far-off seas.