The Goose and The Gander
Robert Redford Goes Home To Roost
A Short Story by Craig Willms
Robert Redford, the fine Hollywood actor, was well pleased. Watching CNN on his 90” plasma TV in the living room of his expansive
NASCAR was just latest. Nothing was sacred in the fight against global climate change.
Over the years he had watched with glee as one by one they fell. First GM, Ford and Chrysler were taken down. Saddled with the dual mandates of fuel efficiency standards and workers pension rights Chrysler quietly went under while Ford and GM had essentially become resellers of tiny Asian automobiles. Next it was the energy industry. Big coal, gas and oil endured stringent (some would say excessive) environmental regulation and taxation. People everywhere dutifully packed into buses and trains suffering long, uncomfortable commutes before coming home to the specter of not having power or lights – again. The initial blackouts were met with more legislation requiring the public to turn down their thermostats and curtail the usage of power hungry appliances.
This is good, thought
“Thanks, sweetie,” he said affectionately. “Don’t forget to turn off the lights in there before you leave – we all have to do our part.”
“Yeah, on your way out poke your head in the pool room and make sure I turned off the hot tub.” With his eyes again riveted on the giant TV he shouted over his shoulder, “See you tomorrow. Oh, wait, I’m going to LA tomorrow… See you next week.”
“OK, have a nice trip, sir.” Conteza disappeared down the long hall on her way to the pool room.
The conversation reminded him that he needed to call his pilot. The jet would need to be fueled up for a very early flight and the tanker bringing jet fuel out to his private airstrip would be arriving at the crack of dawn.
He looked forward to this trip more than most. He had finally found funding for his next movie. It amazed him that it took so long. Who wouldn’t want to be involved with this magnificent project? A chance to produce a biography of a living legend didn’t come along everyday. “An Inconvenient Man” would surely net him a best director nomination. He smiled and let his mind wander until he realized there would be no gala event to celebrate his achievement. Large, energy wasting public gatherings had been abandoned by the entertainment industry. Still, any honor for his treatment of the Albert Gore Jr. story would be reward enough.
The show biz industry had changed so much as he approached his 85th birthday that he hardly recognized it. Spectacular opening night premieres were a thing of the past. They were so wasteful with all those spotlights, limousines, TV crews and paparazzi. Still, the real-time Internet events never had the same appeal. It really didn’t matter now; most of his friends he shared those moments with were either dead or had moved to
Snapping out of his nostalgic trance he remembered why he should be grateful instead of melancholy. The strip mall culture that had spawned those grotesque multiplex theatres in the suburbs had ended when gas prices finally turned suburbia into a ghost town. The enormous amount of energy used by all those consumer palaces of wretched excess made him sick. Not to mention the inefficiency of all those gas guzzling cars dragging lazy Americans around one at a time.
His phone rang jarring him back to the here and now. “Hello.”
“They did it again!” It was his ranch manager, Pedro Santiago. “Eleven more trees down over by Fonda Creek.”
“I suppose because they need the wood…”
“Oh, shut the hell up.”
“Firewood, I guess. Fuel prices are so high…”
“Yeah, but what gives them the right to take my trees? This is private land.”
“Yes, sir. People who need to keep warm just don’t give a darn about private land.”
“Hard to find anyone with guns these days, sir – maybe some old hunting rifles that were spared confiscation under the Family Heirloom Protection Act…”
“Oh, for God’s sake Pedro, take a couple of mine if you have to! Just get them.”
He threw the phone across the room. He tried to imagine how anyone could cut down eleven giant trees in the middle of the night without anyone seeing anything. He remembered reading a story on the New York Times Online of how it had become a huge problem out east. Entire forests were disappearing in the Catskills and all up and down the
The phone at his bedside erupted with a cacophony of bell tones wrestling him from the depths of REM sleep. Outside the nascent dawn set his impressive floor to ceiling windows aglow with a soft pink light. His eyes only saw red.
“Sir, it’s me John, John Malloy. We’ve got a problem.”
“Sorry, John…” Malloy was his personal pilot and long time friend. “What’s going on?”
“The tanker truck that was supposed to deliver the jet fuel was hijacked early this morning.”
“Hijacked? For goodness sake, who the hell would steal jet fuel?”
“It’s essentially kerosene. Heating oil.”
His thoughts raced back to the conversation he had with Pedro just a few hours ago. First his trees and now this, was it really that bad? “How does someone hide a tanker truck? Shouldn’t be that hard for the authorities to find, you’d think.”
John chuckled. “There a hundred barns between here and
“So, now what? Can we get more fuel out here today?”
Again Malloy chuckled, “Not going to happen, my friend. We’d be lucky to see any by this time next week.”
“What the hell, John, I have to be in LA today!”
“Well, I guess we drive down to
“Damn it, I’m screwed… How close are you? We need to get going.”
“I’ll be there soon - if the battery in this rolling death trap holds out.” John Malloy hated the electric Honda he drove. He pined for the days when he could mash his foot down and hear the roar of a hearty V8. These plastic wind-up toys they called cars these days were so depressing. “Get your things off the plane and meet me at the garage in about ten minutes.”
“You’re joking, right? I am not driving all the way down to
Malloy steered the luxury car through the twisting hills as
“What is going on with this God damn thing?”
“These cell towers go down all the time, Bob, you know that. These extended blackouts last longer than the battery back-up does. The closer we get to the city the less chance of that happening.”
John Malloy silently shook his head. Maybe it was age, maybe it was intentional. Did Bob Redford actually not get the connection between the “battle against global climate change” and all the inconveniences he seemed to be suffering from lately? In the rarefied air men of his stature inhaled it was inconceivable that he, Robert Redford – the Sundance Kid - should be constrained by the same daily hassles as the peasants that worshiped him. Malloy stole a sideways glance at his old friend as he battled with the cell phone. No one could be that clueless, could they?
When they finally arrived at the airport they parked the car in a nearly empty parking garage and made their way to the terminal. John had called ahead only to find out there were no flights out until . A dreadful four hour wait.
Along the way they were besieged by beggars looking for handouts. Many of them dressed very nicely, all seemingly out of place in provincial
“Tell me this is
“I guess the recession has hit way out here by now.
“God damn conservatives, that what the problem is, you know.”
“The Republicans have been out of power for years… Don’t see how you can keep blaming them. Yeah, they’re all slimy, but pretty impotent these days.”
“Geez, it’s cold in here…”
The bartender took his gloves off and shook his head “All out of Chivas.”
Malloy raised his eye brow “You must have Southern Comfort? A Southern seven?”
“Got some Canadian Windsor and
“What is matter with this place?”
“Sorry, sir.” The bartender said with mock sincerity. “The trucks only run once a month out of
Flying commercial was something Robert Redford rarely did anymore. He was utterly frightened to climb aboard the 30 year old Boeing 757. Thankfully the plane was almost empty. The tickets for a round trip jaunt to LA with a 4 hour lay-over in
Once on the ground in Las Vegas John Malloy was busy trying to reschedule a limousine service to meet them at the airport in LA. Most celebrities didn’t use them anymore – too conspicuous in this era of energy awareness, but
“Bob, no luck.” Malloy said. “Had to rent an E-Car, a Hyundai.”
John Malloy accompanied his friend Bob Redford to the meeting with the assistant executive producer and the production manager. This was something he wouldn’t normally do as
In a cramped rented conference room the four men and two female staffers sat around the table ready to pencil in the production schedule for the new film “An Inconvenient Man”.
His words were met with blank stares all around the table. Samuel Fraber, the production manager was first to speak. “Bob, I’m afraid there’s been some misunderstanding…” Fraber looked at Simon Goldberg the assistant producer for GreenEarth Entertainment’s An Inconvenient Man project. “Didn’t Mr. Redford get the memo?”
“I was sure he did, at least I thought he did.” A slightly confused Goldberg said.
Goldberg nodded to Fraber as he leaned closer to aging director and said. “There aren’t going to be any locations, Bob.”
“What? What is that supposed to mean?”
“An Inconvenient Man is going to be a CG movie.” Fraber said quietly.
“F%$& the average family!”
“Settle down Bob.” Goldberg said. “You know as well as I that if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Do you have any idea how much energy is needed to make one conventional movie? It’s phenomenal, mind boggling really.”
“But, but, this is an important film, damn it!”
“Of course it is, Bob.” Fraber said as if consoling an upset child. “We all know that. And we are going to do it right.”
“You expect me to attract actors to work entirely in front of a green screen?”
“We’re not using actors, Bob. It will be state of the art CG actors with voice-overs.” Fraber said with the enthusiasm of a high school cheerleader.
Robert Redford looked sick. He hated CG with a passion. He grudgingly accepted it in place of dangerous, resource wasting stunts and explosions in past films, but he always drew the line at the actors. No damn CG actors in his films. Not ever!
“But, but…” In a moment of clarity he buckled. He knew they had him. Every other production house turned him down cold. People were tired of being reminded that their lives had been made miserable by the righteous act of saving the planet. The average person just wanted to be entertained. GreenEarth Entertainment was a godsend and if he wanted to get this film made he would have to let them dictate. The fight had left him, he was beaten. “Okay, we’ll make it work, whatever it takes. Which CG house are we going to use here in LA?”
Once again Goldberg and Fraber looked at each other and then over to one of the young women, the petite Asian with a wide, white smile. Goldberg said, “Bob, we are going to be working out of
Goldberg turned to Fraber. “I understand you brought some preliminary sketches for the Al Gore character. Do you prefer the fat Al Gore or the skinny Al Gore?”The End