The Unknown: The Red Line.

Ihad supported the boys on their literary venture from day one, when they called me up in San Francisco one night when I had been fortunate enough to be having sex with an acquaintance whose name I can no longer recall. Certainly the whole business had seemed a trifle manic and disorganized, and I did have some very real apprehensions about being entangled in the affair, but on the whole it seemed to be a good thing. They were solid writers. I was proud of them for making good, and intended to help them as best I could.

It was at the opening of the film—its Hollywood premier—that I first began to notice that things were coming to a head, and, as a consequence, I was beginning to unravel. You see, I had never had occasion to meet Marla the publicist. And I had missed the wedding entirely. So when I entered the theater, attempting to feel as dignified as the tuxedo I wore, I saw for the first time Rettberg’s wife.

And I felt a piece of myself crumble.

She and Rettberg were standing talking with Spielberg and hadn’t noticed me yet, so I very coolly bought some popcorn and proceeded into the theater. At the very least, I intended to have myself an entertaining night at the movies. But, as it turned out, that is not what happened.

I must admit here that the film deal, despite being long-anticipated, had come as a surprise to me, but I took it in stride. I first found out about the Unknown film, in fact, the afternoon following the morning on which I had been interviewed by both Poets and Writers and Wired magazine. I had returned home from the two interviews, exhausted and overwhelmed by the adulation and the insincerity, and was seriously considering leaving the Unknown. It was then that I found the exuberant answering machine message from Rettberg, who had phoned from the new Unknown offices in Chicago, where the three of them were well into their third bottle of champagne celebrating the signing of the film deal.

I had been involved early in the process of planning the film. At first, I had been quite earnest. You see, I had never had the opportunity to write a screenplay before, and was eager to try my hand at it. However, the process of developing the screenplay, during the time William was in the coma, seemed to primarily involve going to parties and meeting intoxicated celebrities, which I was admittedly not very good at. We drifted our separate ways. I was never sure whether I had given up on the process, or whether Rettberg and Stratton had given up on me. At the time, it seemed insignificant. I have never cared for Los Angeles, and things were going very well for me then at my position in San Francisco.

However, when I saw what had happened to what could have been a great film, I had a great many second thoughts.



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