“Gin! You owe me six thousand dollars!” Fifty-seven-year-old, silver-haired Olga Mostad slapped her cards down on the coffee table and placed her plump white hand palm up in front of her boss, who was seated on the couch opposite her in the small reception office of Stan Levy’s bungalow at Universal. Glasses filled with ice cubes and Coke sat on the table. Olga picked up a glass and drank hers down.
Stan tried to weasel out. “You cheat,” he accused half-heartedly.
But his secretary couldn’t be dissuaded. “Six thousand dollars!” She waggled her fingers in front of his nose.
Stan decided to get devious. “How about a part in my new picture instead, baby?”
Olga looked like she was considering the offer. “Can we do the casting couch bit?”
Stan shook his head. “No way! You and your female activist friends would have me tarred and feathered and thrown off the lot. I’m on to you, lady.”
Olga sat back in her chair and folded her arms. It was clear she would show him no mercy. “Then forget it. That’ll be six thousand dollars.”
“All right, all right. You’ll get it all, with interest, as soon as my feature grosses its first five million.”
Olga was not excited by the offer. “Sure, boss. Bring it to me out at the motion picture home, if I’m still alive by then.”
Stan shook his head sadly. “Oh, ye of little faith. And I thought you believed in me.”
“Oh, I do, boss.” She was gathering the cards off the table. “But as they say, money talks and bullshit you-know-what.”
He picked up his drink and took a couple of short sips. “It’s broads like you who give grannies a bad name. You know that?”
The opening of the front door cut short their sparring and the man they had been expecting walked in, out of breath, and smiling diffidently. He was tall and blond and already going to seed in his thirties. His bloodshot eyes and the dark circles underneath them detracted from what had once been a very handsome face. Probably booze, possibly drugs. Stan was all too familiar with the signs of self-abuse.
He and Olga stood up and Stan offered his hand. “You must be Josh. I’ve heard a lot of nice things about you…really liked the demo Jennie sent me.” Josh nodded and thanked him. Stan’s handshake was firm and his manner confident despite his modest demeanor. He wrapped an arm around Olga’s waist. “And this is Olga, my secretary. Hang on to your wallet around her. She’s dangerous.”
Olga pooh-poohed and pushed him away affectionately. “I’ll go see if Howard is still on the phone.” She disappeared down the hallway.
Stan indicated a chair. “Sit down, relax. I’ve got to return a call. Won’t take a second.”
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