The Unknown: The Red Line.
  I pull up in David Geffen’s borrowed Jeep to find William sitting on the ledge with Putzy and Rolpho, whom he introduces as “Bungie Jumping Professionals.” They’ve all got their shirts off. Putzy and Rolpho are two well-built guys with tattoos of grinning skeletons and snakes, black and white and red and green all over, “tribal,” they call it. William has a tattoo, too, I note, of Gertrude Stein’s head, freshly cut into the flesh over his left shoulder blade.

“That’s new,” says I.

“I got drunk in Tiajuana,” says William, “with some lesbian bikers. You like?”

I nod my head, though I’m not crazy about the tattoo. Stein’s cool and all, but her head on your shoulder? It says, “Yes we have no bananas today,” underneath the head. Which wasn't an original Stein line, anyway. But I wasn't going to bring that up. Not now.

“You wanna jump?” asks William.

“No,” says I.

“You want a hit?” asks Putzy.

“Humboldt County Kind Bud,” says William, “the real stuff.”

I nod my head. Putzy passes the joint. I inhale like Clinton in his younger days. It’s great shit. Near-hallucinogenic strength. I waver, and nearly fall off the cliff. Rolpho laughs.

“Looks like youse goin bungie without a cord,” Rolpho says. “Splat,” he says, “huh-huh-huh. Splat.”

“Man, that’d be something,” Putzy says, “no brangg, brangg, brangg. Just splat! Man, that’d be a mess.”

“That’s all just macho bungie talk,” William says, “don’t you worry, bub. These guys are highly trained professionals, right?”

“Three hunert fifty jumps,” Rolpho says, “no casualties.”

“Uh . . .” says Putzy.

“A casualty is when someone dies,” Rolpho says.

“Uh . . .” says Putzy.

“As a direct result of the jump,” Rolpho says.

“Uh, yeah,” says Putzy.

“You guys got your own insurance, right?” asks Rolpho.

William nods.

“I’m not jumping,” says I. I can barely speak. Two hits of this shit and I’m off in Katmandu. “I don’t think you should either, William,” says I. “It’s dangerous, and we need you back in L.A. Spielberg wants to have a sit-down.”

“Oh yeah?” asks William, barely interested.

“Sign this,” says Rolpho. William signs it.

“Didn’t he make Schindler’s List?” asks William.

“Yeah, William,” says I. “Spielberg! William, Steven Spielberg! He might cut us some major funding. We can’t be late for this. Come on.”

“Oh, and that’s more important than my jump?” William asks sardonically.

“Yes! Yes, William, this very well may be the most important meeting of all of our careers,” says I, indignantly.

“Careerist,” says William.

“William,” says I.

“Yuppie,” says William.

“William,” says I.

“Jump with me,” says William.

“No, William. We need to go,” says I.

“Brawk, brawk, brawk, chicken man,” says Putzy, “I seen old men twice yer age go over this edge and live to tell the tale.”

“Look fucko,” says I, “I don’t give a rat’s ass about your bungie. I’m talking about a meeting with Spielberg. Spielberg!”

“Oh,” says Rolpho, “Look, Will, if you don’t have time—”

“William!” says William, “My name is not Will or Bill or Billy or Willy. It is William, and I do have time to do this bungie jump.”

Sorry William, I mean, look, if you’re not up for it, it’s just that it’s nonrefundable, you know, so . . .” interjects Rolpho.

“Let’s do it,” says William.



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