The taller fellow shook his head. "You guys let bret easton ellis ramble on for 30 pages about how his narrator poured acid in a woman's vagina and you have a problem with my scene?"

"Well, not the whole scene, just some of its stylistic elements." The apparent agent struggled for appropriate replies, sipping his bomba de coca to buy time.

"What elements? It's a simple scene, bordering on trite. I had to keep it that way for the australopithecine palate of my readers. Movies and books are made every day with priest scenes. Religion is very important to people these days. I think it reflects a turning back to our spiritual roots, as a race, I mean."

"That's what we need to sort out. What part of the scene reflects this awakening in humans, as a race, exactly."

The apparent writer spread his hands out like a 14 year old imaging the pendulous breasts of his friends mother descending from their lacey perch, only inches beyond his sweating grasp. "It's so obvious. The people are praying, repenting, preparing to receive the communion, right. They are waiting for what?"

"The priest?" He did not seem to be getting it. The writer nodded with grand enthusiasm, eyes widening.

"Now you're getting it. The priest shows up, but something is different about him. What is it?”

“Well, for starters…” Semi-agent says.

The writer shakes his head for a second and waves off the answer. “It was a rhetorical question.”

Writer closes his eyes and bathes for a moment in the genius of his scene before continuing.

“ Is he not convinced fully of the veracity of his beliefs? Is he as riddled with doubt as the folks kneeling below him?"

"Below him, like on the floor, kneeling?" asked agent-amateur, a bit perplexed. He wondered if the scene he’d read was the same on being described with such passion.

"No, like far below him. He's on stilts. And that's the point, the priest is on stilts. What's unclear or inappropriate about that?"

"Oh yeah, the priest is on stilts, I forgot. The focus groups had no problem with that—a symbol of the clergy’s elevation above the lay practitioner, but the priest is performing communion by, and these are your words, "squatting like a Wichita lineman and shitting the wafers from beneath his vestments, leaking piles of christflesh from a velvet, drawstring colon he had constructed in the lining of his sweat-soaked padre pants."

The writer looked as if someone had told him the sun was made of light bulbs. He surveyed the agent with a mixture of confusion and pity.

"What, is it too cerebral. I can tone the language down if you like--how about shitting the wafers from his ‘robe’, rather than ‘vestments’? I don't want to dumb it up too much. It’s a classic religious metaphor, stilts as elevation device."

"How about dropping the scene altogether?"

"Drop it?! It's integral to the piece. How can I accurately portray a preschool music class learning the secondary verses of farmer in the dell during recess without a montage style jumpcut to a priest crapping communion wafers on unsuspecting pew jumpers?"

"Ok, do you have to have the priest groaning and sticking his tongue out as he shouts "body of christ, blood of christ? He seems to be actually pretending to defecate."

"Exactly..." The writer smiled and raised his glass to congratulate the agent, now his agent, for locating the core of his piece.

Thankfully, by this point I was almost out of audible range of this conversation and was rescued by a cocktail server, who happened to be carrying a porcelain gravy boat of a briny, thick-skinned beverage.

“Is that an Ovaltine Belvedere?”

“Of course,” he said, turning slowly. “How did you know?”

“The skin. No breakfast drink makes so solid a sheath for the vodka.”

“That’s a good eye, son. You should consider changing your line of work. So many of the classics have been forgotten. It’s all midori sours these days. He winked and whispered “dreams are the first art.”

Before I could respond with my characteristic looks of confusion and misunderstanding, he had strolled to the nearest table of diners and was topping of a couple of OB’s on the far side. Two powdered matrons sat smiling at each other and gnawing the chocolate film that pebbled the rims of their glasses.

I had seen that guy earlier, and wanted to talk to him, more for the colors of his coat than the cut of his jib. 1

The actual reason I was able to recognize the drink, however, was the smell. I was somewhat of an expert on bizarre and heinous old world beverages and the equally bizarre and heinous preferences of the old world folks that drank them. Something in the ovaltine metastasized in the vodka and draped the entire drink in a baker-sweet haze. It sometimes forced the drink out of visual focus. The unsuspecting viewer would invariably shake his head and rub his eyes in an attempt to repair the image.


1 My favorite drink is the Ovaltine Belvedere, a concoction I developed a taste for while working as a bartender in a yacht club on the mississippi coast. The elderly gentlemen at the club were constantly asking for some despicable brew or another--Chicago Typewriter (gin, tomato aspic, braunsweiger sausage, and a tablespoon of mayonnaise, served warm), Here We Go Again (vodka, bitters, and syrup of ipecac), Lucky Lindy (raw egg, goldschlager, and strips of felt, served in a split hoof) and the most decieving of the bunch, a Dark Elsie (whole milk, chocolate powder, and sugar, chilled in a tall mug with a generous coating of black tar heroine.