Ancient History

“Abe Vigoda Is Still Alive”

by Douglas Sovern

People think I died ten years ago. Hell, even my own agent thinks that. I called there the other day.

“Abe Vigoda for Mort Bloomstein,” I say.

The gal on the phone goes, “Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Vigoda is no longer with us.” And by “us,” she didn’t mean the agency. No wonder Mort never returns my calls.

Then I’m at the airport going to a friend’s funeral and I catch these two gals staring at me. One of them whispers to the other and says, “Hey, isn’t that…”

And the other one says, “No, he died a long time ago.”

“You sure?” asks the first one.

“On a stack of Bibles,” says the second. “He doesn’t even really look like him.”

“Yeah, you’re right, he doesn’t even,” the first one finally agrees.

You know you’re getting old when there’s sworn testimony that you don’t even look like you.

I happen to keep very good track of who’s alive and who isn’t. I’ve got a big chart on my wall. Eli Wallach, check. Dick Van Dyke, check. Zsa Zsa, still with us. Klugman and Hagman, had to take them down last year. Ernie Borgnine, now that was a huge blow. I didn’t see that coming at all and it cost me big time.

I’ve won my dead pool six years running. You think Barney Miller residuals pay the mah-jongg tab at the club? Not anymore. And no one invites you to those nostalgia conventions when they think you’re already dead. It got so bad, my grandson, sharp little kid, set me up one of those websites. All it says on there is “Abe Vigoda Is Alive.” You click on it and that’s all there is. He says he’ll change it the day I die, but I’m trying to bribe him not to.

I got a hot young girlfriend. She just turned 75. I know, I know, robbing the cradle. It’s tough to keep up. And she ain’t cheap, let me tell you. I’ve been making side bets with Ed Asner to keep the cash flowing.

We’ve got scruples, mind you. We never bet against anyone we worked with. That’s the first rule. That makes it tough on Asner and some of the others because they did a lot of summer stock, and by the time you’re done with that you’ve worked with pretty much everyone. I did lose out on Brando because I was in that damn Godfather with him. And you could see that coming from a mile away. What a self-destructive son of a bitch.

This year my money is on Kirk Douglas and Carl Reiner. I actually have a daily double with those two. How the hell are they still alive, anyway? Carl must be like a thousand. He’s still going strong, God bless him, but the girlfriend really wants a new Ferrari.

I learned the hard way a few years ago not to bet on Betty White. That woman is an unstoppable force. I did a TV spot with her a while back and she drank me under the craft service table.

I think I’ll know when it’s my time. I may try to put some money down on myself, if I can find someone willing to take the action. I’ll put my grandson as the beneficiary. If the payout’s big enough, maybe the kid’ll keep me alive forever.

“A Legend (In My Own Mind)”

By L. Soviero

I’m in the middle of one I call “El Libertador”. It’s inspired by Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco. Or Simon Bolivar if you prefer. I’m at the part where I’m being interviewed for my selfless devotion to the people’s cause. The reporter is enamored with my undying devotion to the totalitarian state’s freedom from its evil despot. An M-16 tucked behind me in the chair. Beautiful children with never-ending smiles surrounding me. A little girl in a dirty white dress sits on my lap and plays with the buttons on my fatigues, opening and closing them again and again. A boy in the middle of his own “now you see me, now you don’t” peeks his head out from behind me and chuckles each time he sees the sweaty reporter with the recorder in his hand asking me questions like, “What sacrifices have you made in order to see this through?”

Someone farts and I wake from the daydream to find I’m waiting in line. I don’t remember joining this line or what’s at the end of it. Maybe a concert? The DMV? Has my passport expired? No. A woman with shiny black hair stands in front of me. I tap her shoulder.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“What are we waiting in line for?”

“What?”

“WHAT ARE WE WAITING IN LINE FOR?”

“I heard what you said, I just don’t know what you mean.”

“Never mind.” I pretend to look at a message on my phone that doesn’t exist until she loses interest in ridiculing me with her eyes. My mind wanders.

I’m running into Brooke Fredericks. She was cool and aloof. One time she called someone a Fraggle and people joked about it for years. They’d say, “Remember that time when Brooke said, Oh…my…god! He’s such a Fraggle.” And then they’d laugh like they were institutionalized. Brooke was especially standoffish with me. I always felt I was doing a little dance for her, a little ditty. “Hit it Johnny! I said to the band conducting my brain. “It’s time to razzle-dazzle.” But it’s been ten years. I’m now a ridiculously successful musical virtuoso, a renowned writer and the curer of acne (I’m too modest to be the curer of AIDS). We’re at dinner in a Japanese restaurant. She’s thoroughly impressed when I order everything using the Osaka dialect.

“I should really know more after living there so long,” I say.

There are two lines now. The line next to ours is equally as long. In front of me, the woman with shiny hair is gone. Maybe she got tired of waiting. Maybe she realized her calling as a model for shampoo commercials. I recognize the bald spot glistening through the Plexiglas up ahead.  The unemployment office. The bald spot is attached to a man who ticks the boxes. When he does, my checks come in the mail. I can see his arm fat jiggling as he ticks. There’s a calming elegance to his undulating arm flap.

Someone passes me a Sex On The Beach. I’m in a nightclub circa 1983. Everything is made of red patent leather, cheetah print and sequins. People are dancing. It’s sweaty. Strobe lights blind. A dance circle forms. I get pushed in. I start with a basic side step toprock. I waste no time and go into a windmill. The circle ooooooooohs! I elbow freeze and flip into a head spin. Ahhhhhhhhhh! I get to my feet and deliver a perfectly horizontal flip. Someone pats me on the back.  Then there’s a high five. I’m pleasantly surprised to find I have an entourage, whose members are all slightly less captivating than me. And although I’m female, I have the biggest dick in my crew. A woman in a black silk dress wipes the sweat from my forehead with a feather boa. She kisses my cheek leaving her red mark behind. Tickles the hairs on my ear lobe as she whispers, “Your name must be Magic.”

“Next! Next! Next!”

Looks like it’s my turn.

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