Eddie’s girlfriend, Angela, wanted to look like Lena Home in the makeover. She was psychic, and she told Eddie she’d experienced this overwhelming vision that it was time to change her image. She asked him to go with her to the photography studio. It was located in a highrise on Los Feliz Boulevard in Hollywood,
“Hi, I’m Eddie Little Sky,” he said when Angela introduced him to Carlo Jamison, the photographer.
Carlo gave Eddie a narrow stare. “You remind me of some character actor who looks like an Indian.” Angela had warned him that Carlo didn’t like men.
“I am a character actor, and I am an Indian.” Eddie wanted to get this out of the way, as he usually did when he met someone who recognized him.
“Now I remember you,” said Carlo. He talked with a strange accent. “I used to watch a lot of television back in the Philippines when I was growing up. You were in some of those TV Westerns. But you look a little different now. Your hair’s gray, and it’s much shorter.”
“Whenever they needed a bit part for an Indian, they called me.”
Carlo squinted, giving it some more thought. Except for his white skin, he fit the part of a Filipino, short but solid and small-boned, with a smooth bald head. He wore white pleated pants and a white T shirt, his arms roped with muscles. “Yes, you have the sound of an Indian.”
“How does an Indian sound?”
“Like a tuba, a big proud tuba.” He turned his attention to Angela. “Is that dress new, my dear?”
“This?” Angela pinched the front of her beige mini-dress that barely covered her broad workout thighs. “Nope, this rag’s an old veteran.”
“Well, you toddle on into the bathroom, get rid of that rag and slip on the dress I laid out for you.”
Carlo’s space was more like an apartment than a studio. But there were only three pieces of furniture: a white drafting table, a high-back stool, and a chrome-armed lounge chair with a red plastic cushion. A photo lamp on a stand took up one corner. Two large cats appeared now and then, creeping slyly over the hardwood floors.
Carlo directed Eddie to the chair, and stood before the table staring down at him, his arms folded as if expecting something. The walls were postered with his photographs, what looked like glamorous black and white publicity shots of 1930’s and 1940’s Hollywood stars in silver frames. They featured women in heavy eyeliner and hypnotic stares under soft white lighting. Some wore jeweled turbans, others lace gowns or furs.
“What I do,” he explained, “is take an ordinary woman, a secretary, a factory worker, a housewife, and I make her look like Lana Turner or Ava Gardner. For this, I charge a thousand dollars, plus the cost of the prints.”
“But these women aren’t ordinary,” Eddie said, gazing at the walls.
“Those are the “after” photos,” said Carlo. He tossed him a few of what he called “before” photos. Examining them, Eddie realized that Carlo had taken “Plain Janes” and made them look like they belonged on the arm of Humphrey Bogart.
“So how do you get them to look so different?”
“Lighting helps. So does makeup. But I also print my own pictures and do lots of retouching.” He turned to Angela, who was walking around the room looking at the photos. She had changed into a tight, white silk dress with spaghetti straps.
Eddie shifted in his chair. He was imagining her standing close to him, then lifting the dress up over her thighs, fun in her eyes. The thought sent a thrill through his stomach.
She said, “Carlo, honey, you’re so damn fine, it makes me tingle.”
“Cut the flattery, my dear,” he said. “You’ve seen these all before. Now, come on over here and sit your tush down.”
She immediately obeyed, taking the stool in front of the studio table.
He patted her head. “There, that’s a good girl. You sure do look cute today.” Eddie winced. Carlo was talking to Angela like she was his purse dog.
Carlo showed her a portrait of Lena Home when she was young and dropdead beautiful, the first black female movie star. “Plush as a penthouse,” said Carlo. Eddie once had a bit part in a musical Western where Lena Home played a saloon keeper. Eddie found her to be a seasoned professional. Carlo explained to Angela how he would alter her face to copy Lena Home’s look. He got out his makeup kit and set to work.
“I don’t look that good today,” said Angela, sounding strangely shy.
Eddie said, “She told me in the car she wants to get a facelift.”
“Oh, that’s cool,” she said. “You would have to go and tell him that.”
“Nonsense,” said Carlo, cupping her chin. “Darling, you look like an absolute angel. But we have to do something about all that jewelry. You’re overaccessorized. Lena Home would never have worn that much jewelry.”
Angela’s face had white woman features, green eyes, a small Roman nose and narrow lips, but her skin was the color of polished pine. Her dad, who was half-black and half-Irish, was in his seventh year of a 12-year sentence in San Quentin for the second degree murder of her mother, who had been a full-blooded Sonoran Mexican. Eddie’s own dad had been French-Canadian, his mom a full-fledged Cheyenne.
On weekends, Angela worked the boardwalk in Venice as a psychic. Weekdays, she made the rounds of casting agents, doing auditions. She was 20 years younger than Eddie. He had met her four years ago on the set of the HBO movie Frontier Sorrow. She was an extra, playing a washerwoman slave; he had the role of a jailed Indian. He performed in one long scene and had two lines of dialogue: “The blue dressed soldiers have put us in these iron cages. Our power is not in us anymore, and we are dying.” Then, the script called for him to cry. He needed eye drops to make that happen.
Angela was telling Carlo, “Know how I’m payin’ for this gig? I won twelve hundred dollars playin’ the slots in Las Vegas. Eddie was with me. We had so much fun, didn’t we, honey.”
Eddie nodded, grinning. “She screamed so loud, I was truly embarrassed.”
Carlo didn’t say anything.
“Tell me somethin’,” said Eddie. “How come you don’t take pictures of men?”
Ignoring Eddie, Carlo kept applying the makeup to Angela’s face.
“Hey, Carlo, I said I don’t see any men in these photos.”
Carlo whispered something to Angela. She let out a small laugh. Eddie felt uncomfortable. He wished he had a magazine to read. Instead, he watched Carlo’s fingers delicately stroking Angela’s skin with creams and powders. A concentration of sweat covered Carlo’s forehead. It kicked in a childhood memory, Eddie was lying on a cot in the family trailer. He had a bad fever, and he was crying. Joe High Hawk, the medicine man, was leaning over him chanting in the native tongue. Sweat drops dangled off the old man’s forehead between his long black braids. Eddie took his hand and held on for dear life. Joe High Hawk smiled.
It wasn’t long and Angela’s face took shape, her eyes darkening, her cheekbones widening. Carlo removed the towel from her neck and she stood up. “How do I look?” Angela had great legs but a big fanny that stuck out, not like Eddie remembered Lena Home’s body.
“Airbrushing will help,” said Eddie, teasing.
Angela frowned at him. “He says all the right things, doesn’t he.”
Carlo held up a mirror to her face, and the face smiled. “Carlo,” she said, “you’re a genius.” He put his arm around her, and she hugged him.
Eddie felt left out. He got out of his chair and took Angela’s SureShot camera out of her purse. He asked Carlo if he could take his picture. That threw the guy. He said he never let anyone take his picture.
Eddie pressed the issue, but Carlo stood his ground. Angela chimed in defending him, but Eddie told her he was making the sales pitch to Carlo, not to her. He said to him, “I like to show my photos to my family back home in Montana. Kind of a collection of memories from my life in L.A. My mother has a picture of me and Lorne Greene together on the set of Bonanza. When I tell her about you, what a great photographer you are, I want her to see what you look like.”
Carlo thought about it and said, “If you put it that way, I suppose it would be selfish of me to not let you take my photo,” then said, “Oh, all right, go ahead.”
While Eddie was shooting the photographs, he asked, “Carlo, how’d you end up in Hollywood?”
Carlo’s face changed expressions. Suddenly, he looked like an unpeaceful Buddha. “I’m a product of exploitation,” he said. “My mother was a bar girl in Manila. She exploited the American servicemen who were stationed there in the 1960’s. My father was an American serviceman. He was a part of the American military that was exploiting the Philippines by supporting a corrupt dictatorship.”
Eddie snapped off a dozen flash shots of Carlo standing in his spare, emotionless space surrounded by the glamorous black and white faces staring down at him out of their spare frames.
He kept talking. Eddie kept shooting. “My father soon disappeared from my life when the Army reassigned him. I don’t remember him. As a kid, I watched a lot of the old American movies. I loved the movie stars from the golden age—Lauren Bacall, Bogart, Gary Grant, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner. I left the Philippines for Hollywood when I was 17. I wanted to be a publicity photographer, but when I got here I found out the days of the glamor girls were over with. Eddie, what Indian tribe are you?”
“I don’t know anything about the Cheyenne.”
“I don’t know anything about the Filipinos.”
Carlo shrugged and stood up. “I think that’s enough,” he said, giving Eddie a cool look. “Angela, are you ready?”
“Ready? I guess so. I’m feelin’ a little jumpy.”
Eddie put the camera in his pocket and headed for the door. “I’ll be back in an hour,” he said to no one. He drove to a coffee shop on Sunset where he ate a bagel and read the paper, but mostly he thought about Carlo Jamison, the Filipino. Being with Carlo was like landing in some Asian city and finding it layered in fog.
When he returned an hour later, he waited at the curb until Angela came outside. Getting in the car, she said, “Carlo was so great. Don’t you just love the way he talks?”
“Because of all those compliments he threw your way?” Eddie said, jealous.
She smiled. “Women feel with their ears. Men feel with their eyes.”
“Well, I’m feelin’ like I don’t like that prick.”
“Then, why did you pull that picture-taking bullshit on him?”
“Just to piss him off. He say anything about me?”
“Said you weren’t a very good actor.”
Eddie sighed. The guy was probably right. He never had any acting lessons. He broke into the movies on the reservation in Montana when he was 16. They needed a bunch of Indians who could ride bareback for the movie, Savage Wilderness starring Victor Mature. The assistant director told him he had a face like the chief on the buffalo head nickel. He followed the crew back to Hollywood, hung out at casting agencies, and spent most of his career as a bit part actor in TV dramas, always playing some Indian who takes advantage of the whites, then in later years, gets taken advantage of by the whites.
He hadn’t worked much recently. Middle-aged Indians were not in demand. But he was still able to make a living off his residuals.
Angela slid across the seat and put her arms around his neck, “Oh, it’s all right, honey. Carlo doesn’t know shit about acting.”
He dropped his sunglasses over his eyes and pulled out into a swirl of dust going around the corner off a city bus. “So what’re you gonna use those photos for?”
“They’ll tour the casting agencies. Carlo has some connections, I think. Anyway, I got a sense about this.”
“You and your senses.” Angela scratched out a living as a psychic. Her friends took her seriously. Eddie wasn’t so sure.
“I didn’t wanna tell you in there, but a sudden sense came over me when you were shootin’ pictures of Carlo, I had this vision of Carlo takin’ your hand and walkin’ you out onto this giant cloud.”
“Did we sprout wings?” But Eddie knew something about visions. His mother still believed in visions.
“No, wait, this is big. It means Carlo will be doin’ something to elevate you. I think it has to do with your career.”
She looked at her hands in her lap. “Goddammit, Eddie, why does everything have to be so logical with you? You’re an Indian, aren’t you? What about trusting in your spirit? I’m tellin’ you I have a psychic sense Carlo could be important to your career.”
He honked at a beer truck switching lanes. “Hell, let’s just not talk about it, okay?”
Late afternoon, cool and grainy outside, three days since the Lena Home shoot, Eddie was in his cottage in the Hollywood hills reading a letter from his mother in Montana. They were thinking of building a casino on the res, she wrote. She didn’t like the idea. She wrote. “The natural rocks would be ground into powder and made into artificial blocks to build the walls. I wonder what Joe High Hawk would think of all this.” He could picture her inside a cloud of smoking sage in her mobile home. In her old age his mother had turned into a traditionalist.
Joe High Hawk, the medicine man, was the only man she’d ever loved although he was 30 years older. Eddie’s dad, the French Canadian salesman, never even showed up for his birth. When Joe High Hawk died at the age of 93, Eddie’s mother kept his medicine bundle, his bone-necked choker and embroidered vest, but she sent Eddie the quiver and the bow and arrows that had belonged to Joe High Hawk’s grandfather when the Cheyenne were at war with the United States cavalry. Eddie kept the bow and arrows in a box in the storage closet.
He heard somebody yell, “Hi, Eddie!” and he saw Angela coming down the long flight of redwood steps that led to his small rented cottage. It was built downwards, adhered to the hill, the front door below street level, the bedroom in the basement. When she came in the door, he could see that her face had been made up like the Lena Home shoot. She was holding up a large envelope as she crossed the floor. The main room ran the length of the house ending at an archway with two small windows showing a smoggy view of the Los Angeles skyline. Eddie was sitting on the couch by the windows.
She sat down next to him and tossed him the envelope. “Feast your eyes on those muthas.”
Inside the envelope he found Carlo’s photos of Angela, 8 by 10 black and white glossies. His stomach jumped. She looked spectacular, different, not exactly like Lena Home, but younger and almost as beautiful. “These are amazing.”
“I told you, didn’t I?” she said through a slow smile of pleasure. “And here’s the real kick. I just landed a small part in that film they’re casting at Universal about the segregation of black soldiers in World War II. They needed someone who looked like Lena Home to appear in front of the troops.”
“Great.” Eddie interlocked his fingers with hers. “Congratulations, baby.”
Nodding her head, she was staring at a picture of herself. “Carlo, what a genius.”
Eddie sighed. “Genius? Cmon.” The phone rang. “This is Eddie Little Sky.”
“Carlo Jamison here,” came the voice.
“It’s the genius,” Eddie whispered to Angela.
“Carlo? Wow! Tell him I got the part.”
“I’ve been thinking about you,” said Carlo. “I heard what you said about me not taking pictures of men. Well, I’d like to take your picture. There’s this casting agent who might be interested if I can get the right look. It’s a pretty big role.”
Eddie cupped his hand over the phone.
“What’d he say?” said Angela.
“Darlin’, I think you may be psychic afterall.”
Eddie showed up at Carlo’s apartment the next afternoon at three o’clock.
Carlo dressed him in a gray pinstriped suit with wide lapels. Then, he put him on the stool in front of the drafting table and began to work on his face. Eddie had had a thousand makeup jobs in his acting life but none this thorough. Carlo was trying to make him resemble Jeff Chandler, the 1950’s movie star.
“NBC is doing a made-for-TV movie of Jeff Chandler’s life,” he explained. “And they want an unknown for the role. I told Nina Bronstein, the casting agent from the Camino Agency, I had the perfect fit. The salt and pepper hair, dark complexion, wide cheekbones, the hawk nose. Nina said, “But can Eddie act?” I said, “Could Jeff Chandler act?” Anyway, you’ll get an audition after I get your head shots over to her.” A fat black cat leaped up on the table and curled up, purring. Carlo said, “Hi, honey. Is it time for your nap?”
Eddie adjusted the towel around his neck. “Jeff Chandler was popular on the res when I was growing up. He played Cochise in Broken Arrow. That was the first movie to side with the Indians. But Jeff Chandler was actually white, a Jewish guy, I think.”
“Who cares?” said Carlo, penciling Eddie’s eyebrows.
“They should have given the role of Cochise to an Indian is what I’m sayin’.”
“Just like they gave the role of Charlie Chan to an Oriental?”
“Hell,” said Eddie, “the Orientals got lots of roles back then.”
“Oh, sure, as bad guys in World War II movies. Those old movies about the Philippines were ridiculous, the Americans saving us from the Japanese. A hundred years ago, the Americans invaded our country. And that was right after we defeated the Spanish—who didn’t bother to tell us they’d sold the Philippines to the United States.”
“You think you got a raw deal?” said Eddie, feeling agitated. “The Cheyenne got massacred by the U.S. cavalry at Sand Creek in 1864. Then, after we whipped Custer’s ass at Little Big Horn, they came after us. They killed off our buffalo and most of our warriors.”
“Oh, really?” said Carlo. “In World War II, the Japanese invaded my country and threw out the Americans. For most of the war we were tortured and starved, our women made into sex slaves. Then, the Americans invaded us again. They never left.” He stepped back to examine his work. “A little more accent on the eyebrows, I think.”
Eddie was feeling numb, like an old anger was brewing. “You think that’s bad. My people got transplanted—stuck out on a godforsaken piece of reservation land in Oklahoma. And most of them died of disease and starvation.”
“Let me tell you something,” said Carlo. “You heard of Magellan?”
“First guy to sail around the world. Not too long after Columbus.”
“And the first European to land in the Philippines. Magellan and his priests tried to teach Christianity to the natives. Surprise! The natives didn’t like the idea, so Magellan staged a war. Big mistake. He was killed by a poison arrow. Wasn’t long and the Spaniards dropped by. They stayed for 400 years. They forced Christianity and colonialism down my people’s throats.”
Eddie threw off his towel and stood up. “My people got so fed up on the Oklahoma reservation, they walked all the way north across Kansas and Nebraska and South Dakota and back into Montana. They called it the the Trail of Tears. Along the way, they got shot at by those idiotic white settlers—and all just because they wanted to go home!”
Carlo glared at him. “Do you know how many Filipinos got wiped out in the —?”
“Hold it! The Cheyenne suffered more death and betrayal by the whites than any other tribe on the Great Plains. The government gave the Trail of Tears survivors a reservation in Montana, a sad plot of ground with government housing and subsidies. The proud Cheyenne who used to dress in paint and eagle feathers turned into a pack of ragged halfbreeds eating government food out of tin cans.” He was thinking about growing up on the reservation, the terrible apathy and hopelessness that the white man termed laziness and stupidity. He saw Sister Rosemary whacking him in the buttocks with a yardstick whenever she found dirt under his fingernails. He saw the mud-caked yards of the tarpaper houses scattered with dead cars scavenged for their parts so that one could keep running. “The Indians didn’t need any help until the white men came along. As for your people, they ended up with that moneygrubbing Marcos for a dictator. His wife owned a thousand pair of shoes.”
“I like shoes,” said Carlo.
Eddie threw his hands up. “Jesus Christ, get me out of here. I don’t want to look like Jeff Chandler anyway.”
“You want the part, don’t you, chief? Now sit your buns down and we’ll see what we can do to make you look like a movie star.”
The cat on the table stood up, arching his back. Eddie swept it off the table, and it skittered away over a loud meow.
Carlo said, “What’d you do that for?”
Eddie sat back down. “I felt like it.”
Two days later, Eddie went back to Carlo’s apartment to pick up his photos. Carlo was busy with a shoot, and Eddie went into the kitchen to examine the work. It was terrific. Eddie didn’t look too much like Jeff Chandler, but he looked better than he had in years. He left Carlo a check for eleven hundred and fifty dollars. Carlo said he had sent a set of the photos off to the Camino Agency, that the agent Nina Bronstein would be calling Eddie to set up an audition for the Jeff Chandler movie.
A week went by and Eddie still hadn’t heard from Nina Bronstein, so he called Angela in Venice. “Still no word,” he told her. “It’s killin’ me. So what about that psychic feeling of yours?”
“It will happen for you, Eddie. Just be patient. Sometimes, my timing is off.”
That night, his patience running out, he called Carlo, asking if he’d heard anything.
“I was going to call you. I’m sorry, Eddie, but you didn’t get the part.”
“The Jeff Chandler part? I haven’t even had an audition.”
“The agency called me today. They were impressed with your photos, but said they found somebody else who really knocked them out. I’m very sorry.”
“Hell, it’s not your fault.”
Eddie spent the night in and out of bed. The next morning, he called the Camino Agency and asked for Nina Bronstein. The receptionist told him there was no Nina Bronstein, but there was a Nancy Bernstein. “Put her on,” said Eddie.
He waited five minutes on hold, then Nancy came on. She had a low bold voice. Eddie introduced himself, then asked about the TV movie based on Jeff Chandler’s life.
“Jeff Chandler, the movie star? Who’s got that project?”
“NBC,” said Eddie, scratching his head.
“That’s impossible. We cast all the NBC movies. I never heard of that project. Jeff Chandler? Why would anyone want to make a picture about Jeff Chandler? Who did you say you were?”
“But what about the photographer? What about Carlo Jamison?”
Something cold crept down Eddie’s spine.
Eddie left a message for Angela on her beeper. She was working the boardwalk today, probably telling some young babe how the next acting part was just around the corner, but for now stick to waiting tables. An hour went by, Eddie pacing. His armpits felt damp. His shirt felt damp on his back. Finally, Angela called. He blurted out what had happened.
“Sounds pretty weird,” she said. “Did you call Carlo?”
“There must be some screwup.”
“That’s why I called you. You’re the psychic. What do you sense?” He felt pretty stupid asking.
“I told you,” she said. “Carlo is going to elevate you. He’s important to the next phase of your transition. Why don’t you call him. Get it cleared up.”
An hour later, Eddie, fuming, was knocking on Carlo’s door.
When it came open, Carlo looked surprised. He wore jeans and a T shirt that said “Fujifilm” on the chest.
“I want my money back!” said Eddie, stepping inside.
“What do you mean?”
“That Jeff Chandler part. It never existed. The Camino Agency never heard of you or the movie. You scammed me.”
“Now wait a second!”
“What’s goin’ on? You tryin’ to make me look bad in front of Angela?”
Carlo’s face turned red. “You didn’t get the part, and your pride is wounded. Let’s all cry for Eddie.”
Eddie popped him in the chest with the heel of his hand.
Carlo held up his palms. “Hey, Cochise, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“Cochise! Why, you slant-eyed prick,” Eddie popped him again, backing him up.
Carlo knifed him with a look, and he lunged at Eddie, who quickly sidestepped and shoved Carlo in the shoulders, sending him crashing into the door, which banged open.
Just as Eddie turned around, he felt a fist slam into his stomach, sending him down on one knee. As he struggled to his feet, an arm took hold of his head, levering him under the chin, causing him to choke. Carlo’s other arm had Eddie’s arms pinned to his side. The guy was strong. Eddie tried to jerk his head loose, but it only caused Carlo to tighten his grip. Eddie felt a surge of anger shoot adrenalin through his body. “You little gook,” he said. This was a street fight, and Eddie had been here many times growing up on the res. He was all instinct now. He lifted his foot and stomped hard on Carlo’s loafer. Eddie broke free, and backed into the room, crouching, his fists raised.
Carlo shook his head once. “You are one crazy redskin.”
Eddie kicked him in the shins, and Carlo grunted. He caught Carlo in the jaw with a hooking left, but Carlo barely moved. Carlo put all his weight into a left, and Eddie feinted to one side, Carlo lurching across the drafting table. Photographs went flying. Eddie grabbed his foot, jerked him to a halt, and drove his right fist into his kidneys. But he didn’t see Carlo’s foot snap into his ribs, a blow that sent the breath gasping out of him, making his eyes burn, and he staggered backward. Carlo slid off the table and threw a forearm into his chest, causing him to stumble back out through the front door and onto the outside stoop. He felt an arrow of pain searing through his chest.
Advancing on him, his fists at his sides, Carlo said, “Okay, you had enough?”
Eddie leaped at Carlo, and the fighters slammed off the brick wall and landed at the top of the stairs with a thud. Eddie’s head felt like a struck crazy bone. He rolled onto his back and realized that Carlo had mounted him. He grabbed hold of Carlo’s neck and squeezed. He could see the cold dark eyes swollen with confusion, the round face as red as blood. Carlo was cursing in a foreign language, and he smelled of raw sweat.
A knee slammed into Eddie’s groin, blasting pain up through his stomach, burning up his ribs, then the rise of nausea, dizziness. He dug his nails into Carlo’s neck, scratching, clawing, drawing blood. He managed to fulcrum his foot into the wall, at the same time shifting his hands to get Carlo in a headlock. Then, he kicked off the wall, and the two men went sliding down the stairs as a pair, Eddie now on top, holding onto Carlo’s head. They toppled hard onto the first floor landing. Eddie struggled to his feet. Carlo was on his hands and knees, moaning. He kicked Carlo in the hip, and the force lifted one side of him up and crumpled an elbow. Carlo rolled on his back, looking through the hands he held in front of his face.
“All right, you prick, you give up?” Eddie couldn’t believe he still had a voice to speak with. He was chugging out the breath, his energy drained.
The door to the New Mood Wellness Clinic opened, and a middle-aged Hispanic woman in a chalkstriped business suit came out. Stopping in shock, she blocked the stairs. Carlo got to his feet and took a wild punch at Eddie, who ducked, Carlo’s elbow glancing off Eddie’s chin. The woman screamed.
Carlo went right past him into the waiting room, and Eddie pursued. Eddie tackled him as he reached another door, which opened when the weight of their bodies crashed against it. They were inside a small office with light wood paneling. A red-haired woman was slouched on the couch, her skirt hiked up to her waist. A small man in a silk black robe bent over her. He rotated his face and looked at Eddie. He was a grayheaded Oriental, and he held a pile of accupuncture needles in his left hand.
“What’s going on here!” the woman shouted, tugging her skirt down.
Eddie let go of Carlo and got to his knees.
Carlo quickly scrambled to his feet, hurried past Eddie and out the door. By the time Eddie got outside, Carlo was taking the stairs two at a time. When he got to the top landing, he looked down and saluted Eddie, giving out a nasty grin.
When Eddie got home, he felt like he’d been in a car wreck. He skipped lunch, climbed into the bathtub and soaked. There was no damage to his face, but his body was pocked with bruises. But the fight had felt good. As a teenager on the reservation, Eddie used to get in barfights. When he moved to Hollywood, he kept it up, fighting mostly with Negroes and Hispanics who insulted him. He stopped drinking when a Mexican lad broke a beer bottle over his face and busted his jaw. It was wired shut for six weeks and he had to drink his meals through a straw.
The phone rang twice, but he let the message machine take it. Probably Angela wondering about Carlo. He didn’t want to tell her that her psychic sense had betrayed her. He put on shorts and a polo shirt, then checked his messages. The first was from Angela: “You talk to Carlo yet? Let me know. I’ll be done with work at seven. Maybe we could have dinner. Leave me a message.” The second message was from the Camino Agency, a man’s voice. “Eddie, this is Marc Wagman. I didn’t know what talent agency you’re working with, so I called you directly. If you can be over here by three o’clock, I’d like to talk to you about a part in a new TV series.”
“It’s a new series on the FBI for CBS,” said Marc Wagman, leaning back in his chair. He was tan, and he wore his blonde hair in a flip. Eddie put his age at the mid-20’s. “Derek Raven’s production company developed the series. It’s called FBI Confidential. You’d be playing the part of an FBI agent, a sort of wise old sidekick to Derek Raven, the star.”
“Derek Raven’s a hell of an actor,” said Eddie, his stomach doing flips. He was sitting in a leather wingback across from Marc’s desk. He was dressed in a navy business suit, his hair gelled and slicked back. Behind Marc’s chair a wide expanse of windows showed a boulevard of palm trees. A constant stream of traffic flowed between them.
“Mr. Raven’s the one who requested you, Eddie. After I showed him your pictures, he said —”
Marc opened his desk drawer and tossed Eddie a large white envelope. Inside were Carlo’s photos of him.
“Where’d you get these?”
“From that glamor photographer, Carlo Jamision. I didn’t know Carlo did men.”
“Carlo gave my pictures to you?”
“He sent them to somebody here. They landed on my desk, fortunately.”
Eddie rubbed his forehead. “Do you think I look like Jeff Chandler?”
“The movie star.”
“Oh, that Jeff Chandler. Uh, no, I think you look like yourself. Anyway, Mr. Raven remembered you from the parts you played in Bonanza and Gunsmoke. I guess you could say he was a fan. He didn’t even know you were still alive.”
“I played an Indian back then. Do I play an Indian in FBI Confidential?”
A wedge of sunlight slipped across Marc’s face. He tilted forward and set his elbows on the desk. “That’s up to Mr. Raven. But I don’t think he had an ethnic type in mind, although there is a smaller part for a black woman agent. And the head of the FBI lab is Vietnamese, at least in the script.”
“Let me get this straight. I don’t play an Indian?”
Marc let out a small laugh. “With a headdress and feathers? No, you play a straight-ahead FBI agent.”
Eddie glanced at the ceiling. “You know, at one time the FBI was at war with the American Indian Movement?”
“I wouldn’t know about that.”
“Okay, when can you set up up the audition?”
“There is no audition. Mr. Raven has got the financial backing to do the pilot. He wants you for the part.”
“No audition. Jesus!”
“Like I said, he’s seen you act. What do you think?”
Eddie felt his face widen into a smile. “I’m in.”
“Good. Then, I’ll set up a meeting with Mr. Raven and his people for lunch tomorrow. That work for you?”
“My secretary will call you with the details.”
Eddie drove over to Carlo’s apartment where he saw Angela’s Toyota parked in front. But Carlo wouldn’t let him in the door. He opened it only a crack, keeping the chain latched.
“Look,” said Eddie, “I just stopped by to thank you for gettin’ my pictures to the Camino Agency. I landed a part in that new TV series about the FBI. Derek Raven is starring.”
“I’m very sorry,” said Carlo, sounding stuffed up. His pale face was swatched with blue bruises and there were dark red streaks across his neck. “Sorry that they’d give the part to an asshole.” He sneezed twice. “I think you ruined my nose. Next time you come over here, I’m calling the cops.”
“Hold on. I saw Angela’s car on the street. Is she in there?”
“She’s here. She saw you pull up.”
“Let me talk to her.”
His mouth set in a hard twist, he fixed Eddie with a rigid gaze that bored into his forehead. “You’ll have to go,” he said. “She said she doesn’t want to talk to you for a while. She said she had this vision where she sees you under a rain cloud.”
Eddie slammed his palm against the door, and the door quickly closed in his face, the lock clicking twice. He stood there a while, listening, but could only hear tires on pavement, a siren, the rumble of a helicopter. He felt numb, sad and lost.
On the way home, Eddie stopped at One-Hour Photo and picked up his pictures. When he got back to the house, he spread the color prints out on the floor. Twenty-four Carlos stared back up at him. The best one featured Carlo in a relaxed grin sitting at his studio table, his arms folded across his chest. Eddie had shot it wide so that the glamorous women in their silver frames looked down on Carlo from the walls like they were protecting him.
Eddie went into his closet, dug around in some boxes until he found the rawhide quiver with the bow and arrows that had belonged to Joe High Hawk’s grandfather. The arrowheads were made of flint and had been secured to the wooden arrows with thin leather strips. In the center of the living room wall was a large framed print of a buffalo herd beneath the Grand Tetons. Eddie slipped the 4×6 photo of Carlo inside a black 5×7 mat, then tacked the mat to the wall below the buffalo print. From the quiver he selected an arrow with white feathers. He hammered the arrow through Carlo’s chest and into the drywall. He stood back to appraise his work. It looked kind of like a modern sculpture.
He made himself a pot of tea, sat on the couch and stared at the sculpture until the light from the window turned from white to yellow and fell away to gray.