I picked up the key from the desk clerk, a rat-faced little jerk who you wouldn't trust with your wallet - let alone the bag I was carrying - and made my way out of the lobby... Rat-boy called after me, "Hey, be careful up there bud" He shouted with a seedy, tooth filled grin "There was a fire up there a while back, charred walls, you don't wanna' touch."
Man, I didn't want to touch anything in this place let alone the walls...
I got to my floor, he wasn't wrong, the walls were burnt to a crisp, Jeeze, they looked like someone had taken a blowtorch to them... What the hell happened here? The musky smell lingered on my tastebuds... I found myself hankering for one of Smoky Joes famous smoked b-b-q rack of ribs... Maybe I'd pop down there after I'd finished here... I always loved a big plate of meat after I'd finished a job, weird I know... But in my line of work you had to have a release... It's not exactly a picnic doing what I do, you know...
A strange looking guy passed me in the hall, tall fella', glasses, a haircut that wouldn't look out of place in an ornamental garden... but he paid me no attention and looked harmless enough, so I let him pass without another thought... But the big lug at the end though, standing against the back window of the corridor? Now he did look like he could do some damage, cop? I thought, maybe? Best not get in his way then, I didn't need the attention. I felt my pocket, my piece was in there safe until it was needed.
603...604...605... I reached the room, mentally preparing myself for the task ahead I put the key in the lock... Should I knock? I thought, he was expecting me... I had a key... But was it rude to just walk in? I decided to do both, I gave a small rap with my knuckles to the door, took a deep breath and pushed... The room was a decent size, had a bed, a desk and a door to what I hoped was a bathroom - I was going to need that to clean up later - but the decor was old and way past it's best, the bed linen was there... but greying, with obvious stains and small holes burnt by cigarettes, dust filled the air like a smoggy day in Chicago.
And there, sitting by the desk, confidently speaking into a microphone attached to a reel to reel recorder was the guy I was here to meet...
This man was Christopher Murney.
He turned to face me, smiling he reached out his hand for me to shake... A gentleman, I thought... This man was real smooth... He knew why I was here, he knew that it would not be pretty, But he still shook my hand...
'So you wanna' do this now, in here?' I asked, hoping he might suggest hitting somewhere public first, a bar or maybe even Smoky Joes?... But no here was fine he said and produced a bottle and two shot glasses from the drawer... Brave guy...
What's with the recorder? I asked, he told me he wanted to do an interview before, I was up for that, had a million questions to ask him, but also assured him that it was only putting off the inevitable... He understood, but I was suspicious, why was he was trying to make friends with me? Maybe he thought I would change my mind? But that was never going to happen, I had already been paid for this job, it was pennies from heaven and I had an other half with very expensive tastes to look after...
I took a seat on the bed, placed my case on the floor beside me and lit a cigarette, hell it's was probably the best place to sit, if I dropped some hot ash, it would just be another hole and hell I was going to be making a hell of a hole in Murney's head in the not to distant future anyway, I didn't really need to worry about the laundry... I took a long draw, gladly accepted the glass he was offering me and to make him, and me, more comfortable I started by asking him about his family... I mean, I couldn't just go in and do the job on the guy without getting the skinny on him first...
" Julia performed as Elphaba [Wicked] on Broadway very early on in the run. Since then she's done other Broadway shows and currently has her own album out "I'm Not Waiting". My son has a series that Steven Spielberg is the exec on…
And my youngest daughter is a producer …
OK, so now to bring out the big guns... Metaphorically speaking of course...
So tell me then...How did it all start for Christopher Murney?
"It’s a send up... you have characters like ‘Sho Nuff’ and ‘One Dum Goy’ … But it’s now been 35 years I think, … 30 years? I think it’s 30 years ago we did it... 85' maybe? But it became an urban hero film because it was fun... it was very funny... but it was gaudy... it was Motown... That was the genesis of it… So it’s a silly film."
I took out my note pad and noted it down, I spent a long time alone in my job, so movies were a lot of the company I kept and a good recommendation was always worth checking out... Talking of movies I couldn't go on without talking about Barton Fink and the Coen Brothers...
"I really liked working with them..."
I'd heard that they both directed, but only Joel was credited, I wondered if this was really the case?
they’ll say 'So do you wanna’ try for something?' and you go, 'Ok, sure I’m
happy if you’re happy'
And you'd work with them again?
... And yes, I’d like to work with them again."
And what do you do for the audition for a Coen brothers film? Do you remember?
This sounded similar to my line of work, I rarely met who guy actually needed the job doing, only the poor mook who I was doing the job on... If you catch my drift?
I had a great time doing it and I enjoyed it… I had a lot of fun."
And John Tutorro?
Yes, what a fresh faced boy!
"Yes.. Yes, we all were!"
And did you go out and socialise with the guys?
Yeah, I'd heard that...
So I asked - aware of what I was about to do myself - Was it fun dying on film then?!
Yes, they certainly did... But thank god for that, or we wouldn't have the genius movies like Barton Fink to enjoy.
I got up to stretch my legs, grabbing the bottle and pouring myself a shot, I walked around the room... Leading me to my next question.
So the sets? Tell me about the sets? Were they all fake?
Well I suppose it had to be… I thought.
I quickly downed that last glass and, with a nod from Christopher poured another, hell I didn't know how generous he was going to be and I wasn't gonna' say no, I'm no mug you understand... I'm a professional. I took my drink and walked over to the window, the dirt made it hard to see, but you still just make out the punks and the lowlife on the street... Not a part of town I usually frequent, not the part of town I really wanted to stay too long in... The quicker I got this over and done with and was sitting in Joes eating ribs the better, but the guy was so damn interesting... I continued with my questions.
‘Slapshot’ is one that I do four or five golf conventions a year because it’s such an iconic film among sports fans, those are the ones I’m reminded of... The others I don’t think about until someone, like yourself, thank you very much, that mentions it and I go ‘oh yeah, that is right, that’s a great film’, so I don’t think about those, but I’m reminded about the others."
So Ok, If I was going to remind him of that what about reminding him of 'The Secret of my succe$s' and Michael.J.Fox?
"Michael Fox, yes. Wonderful man... Wonderful guy! People always ask me how was Michael fox and I say you know I haven’t worked with a pecker head yet! Pardon the expression! I’ve been very fortunate to work with some wonderful people who have been just… "
"Michael was terrific to work with… we had a good time…
And Paul Newman! He was a joy – to beat up! He was a joy!"
Paul Newman... I forgot about Paul Newman...
Good Looking as well..?
He stopped for a second, mid sentence... I thought for a minute that he might have had a heart attack and I could avoid doing the job... But then as if nothing had happened he started talking again...
"Oh no! She did meet him once, at a party, a birthday party for a mutual friend, and he was ever the gentleman. He like his beer and had a good time, always the gentleman."
And you are too, I said helping myself to another drink...
You did so much cool TV too... There was M*A*S*H, Miami Vice, the Equalizer!
what a bitch, I thought... So how did you find out?
Kojak came to NY for short period of time and the Kojak I did was all shot in Manhattan.
So what was Telly Salavas like?
I lit another cigarette, with the smoke and all the dust the room was feeling more and more like London all the
time... I wondered had he spent much time in England?
what did you think of England?
"I loved it, we filmed in London and we filmed and a lot of it in Blackpool because most of it was during the winter and instead of going to Hull or Somerset or different theatres that we normally would have done - they travelled all over England and in Europe - they went to Blackpool and filmed in the different theatres and little music halls in there. I loved it, I had a grand time, it was in the late 70s."
Time to get back to the real Christopher, I thought... I was beginning to like this guy and with what I had in store for him that's one thing I didn't want to do... I tried so hard not to get close to my clients, as I said I'm a professional. Maybe there was something in his past that would change my mind?
Will you always live on East coast now?
with theatre is a week can get wearing on you and I don’t miss that as much, I haven’t done any stage in 10 years. I don’t miss it yet, although I’ve never say never, but right now I like the freedom of doing what I'm doing... I'm doing an independent film in June and it's easy to do, independent films are great... First of all everyone has their act together, they know exactly what they need because their money is an issue, don’t waste time on messing around, work's very intense and I enjoy doing that. They’re young directors and writers and that’s fun... that is fun for me.
So far, and to my utter frustration, there was nuttin'... He was still as charming, and as likeable as ever and a real gas to boot... I finished my drink and checked my pocket, it was still there, ready to use...
So what would you have done if you had never met that girl and joined the theatre?
Right, what about his wife and family? I'd been digging and digging, but this guy was clean as a whistle... There must be something... There must be..?
Damn, even his wife loved him....
So even his wife was great... Damnit to hell... What about the kids? I wondered what they thought of their father and his job?
And are you encouraging?
A good dad too... was this guy for real?!
Right that was it, I couldn't take it anymore... I checked my watch, my glass had been empty for the last few minutes and that was too long, I was starting to get tense... Plus I was starting to like and respect this guy... But I had already spent the dough, so I had to do it ... I instructed him to turn off the tape recorder... If I was going to do this at all, I was going to do it now and not on tape, what I was about to do was not exactly on the level... Hell it was darn right off the scale illegal and I didn't need the Feds catching a whiff of my activities... I scanned the room for a good place, on the bed, yeah, that would be best... Christopher looked calm and collected, he didn't even look scared... I opened my bag and
took out a sheet of plastic and spread it on the bed... Christopher asked if it was all really necessary, but I didn't want to get blood everywhere I said... That's why I chose this place... It was dirty enough in the first place... No, a clean job, quick tidy up and I was gone... Ready for ribs...
I instructed Christopher to lie on the bed and get prepared... I changed into a long coat... Hell I didn't want to get bloody on me either... That would look suspicious... Mind you I could always blame it on BBQ sauce...
But before I started I thought I'd better get in one more question
So, did you have a back up plan, you know, if acting hadn't panned out?
Right... Enough chat, I got my equipment out of my bag and set it out on the side... Time to get to work... I looked in the mirror, tied back my hair and checked my make up... I looked good, my dress was a little crumpled from sitting, but the creases would fall out easy, I slipped on my protective goggles and mask... I turned back to Christopher...
'If I make it swift and quick it shouldn't hurt' I assured him 'Now put your head back and open your mouth'...
He screamed in pain, tears filling his eyes... I gave him an icepack for his jaw... Ha, I thought, that would teach him, I'm betting he would't forget to pay his health insurance again...........
R. LadyLand, DDS. Dentist to the Stars.
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His imdb, Website, Wikipedia page... or just Google!