Childhood Chum
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Fifteen years old.

We could count our mustache hairs on one hand. This meant that in order to truly make our homemade movie as spectacular and real as possible, we’d have to employ some cinema magic to make one of us look like the old man we had written into our script.

Jim sat me down in a chair and, with a copy of Fangoria Magazine left open to the proper page on the table next to me, he began to apply gobs of silicone make-up to my face.

“Drunk Old Man,” I was to be called. My job was to wander into the path of “The Space Demon” who had invaded our futuristic underground city (which we planned to film in the Garage). I would then mistake the monster for an unfriendly teenager and berate him for having too easy of a life. Then I would be mauled to death. Our bucket of homemade chum sat outside the garage awaiting its chance to propel the scene forward. A few flies had begun to gather around it.

  
 
Jim, our makeup wizard, director, and the proud owner of the 60-pound Betamax camera, was ecstatic. “Those flies are gonna make this scene soooo realistic!” he muttered through his patented half-smile. He thought that smiling on one side of his face gave him the sociopathic look of a true genius. I have to admit that it did.

When I stood up, I looked in the mirror in amazement. Jim was damn good at makeup effects. I looked like I was about 200 years old.

“One last thing,” Jim said as he scrubbed gunk off his fingers with his mother’s best serving fork. “We need you to be drunk.”

Knowing that Jim’s house had long been emptied of all alcohol (when we were 14), I told him that I could act drunk. Jim sighed and shook his head.

“Where’s the realism in that?” he asked as he began to paint some red stars on the yellow football helmet that was slated to be the prop for “The Nebulos Galaxy” in the opening scene.

I knew Jim well enough to know where I stood. His script called for the old man to be drunk, and that’s exactly what he planned to film.

“Where are we gonna get booze?” I asked.

“We’re gonna go buy some,” he answered with his eyebrow raised.

“Are you joking? We’re 15, dude. You know we’ll never get served.” Without a word, Jim held the mirror up to my face. I looked. “Oh yeah,” I muttered. Jim handed me an old trench coat, a gray gangster-hat, and some thick-ass glasses. I remember not being able to see squat, so Jim hid in the bushes and hissed directions at me so I could cross the street and find the entrance to the liquor store.

Inside, I moved very slowly to avoid knocking over the shelves, and I felt around to find a mid-sized bottle that didn’t seem too expensive. The movie was already over budget. Our 14 dollars had already been spent on silicone makeup. The finances for the bottle had to come from Jim’s mother’s change jar, which fit perfectly into my left coat pocket. I stepped up to the cash register. My heart pounded in my chest. Adrenaline coursed through my veins.

“How much is this?” I shouted. I tried to whistle my S’s as much as possible.

“That will be $5.50, sir.”

I plunked the jar down onto the counter and rattled it. “I hope I have enough,” I screeched. “I can’t count anymore since I had my last stroke, you know. My doctor keeps telling me to quit drinking, but you know what I told him? I told him that I’ve outlived the last five doctors who told me to stop drinking! Young folks! Ptoooie!”

It was at this point that I felt the tingle of fresh air on my youthful lower lip. The make-up was starting to peel away. I knew I had to act fast or risk getting caught and possibly ruining the best ruse that we as kids had ever come up with.

The cashier had finished counting out the coins and he placed the bottle in a brown paper bag. “Toodles!” I bellowed, then made my way carefully toward the front door and back outside. I walked toward the sound of traffic and waited for Jim to tell me when the coast was clear.

“Go now!” he hissed from across the street.

I plodded quickly across and soon we were back in the safety of the futuristic underground city. I took off the glasses and rubbed my eyes. As things began to come back into focus, I saw Jim standing in front of me holding a bottle.

Grenadine. Cherry syrup. It was news to me. I had never laid eyes on that bottle before in my life.

Jim sighed and opened the bottle. He took a small taste. “It’s actually pretty good,” he said. We passed the bottle back and forth a few times, taking small sips. It didn’t take long for us to get sick of the wildly sweet liquid.

“We’re losing daylight,” Jim announced. “You ready to act?”

“Yup.”

Jim then paused in thought. He took the bottle outside the garage and poured it into the chum mixture.

“It needs more flies,” he said with a half-smile.

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