Friday, 17 September 2010

The Case of the Sunken Sequel

I had just returned to my office on the corner on the corner of Melrose and the Boulevard of Broken after a very long day. I had just cracked the case of the Creepy Croaked Critic when a figure appeared at my door.

"You Furious D, the Private Dick?" asked the figure.

"I am," I said, my world weary cynicism flowing as freely as the rotgut whiskey flowed into my glass. "What do you want?" I asked as I downed the whiskey in one macho manly gulp.

When I regained consciousness I realized that I really can't hold my liquor.

"You're awake," said my visitor, who I realized was Rupert Murdoch. "Good, I got a job for you."

"What kind of a job?" I asked as I picked myself up from my puddle of vomit.

"It's trouble," said Murdoch, "a lot of bloody blimey trouble."

"Trouble is my business," I said.

"I thought you were a bloody private dick?"

"Let's not go in circles," I said as I splashed off my face in the sink, "and let's not use the words 'bloody' and 'dick' in the same sentence, this blog disappoints enough weirdos doing Google searches."

"It's a bloody crikey bastard of a bloody case," said Murdoch.

"Just give me the details," I said, "and some cash."

Rupert Murdoch dropped a fat envelope on my desk, then he spilled the beans.

"Crikey," said Murdoch, "sorry about that, who leaves an open can of beans on their desk?"

"Just tell me about the case!"

"It's James Cameron," said Murdoch. "His movies have made my studio a bloody shitload of money. But his movies cost a bloody shitload of money too."


"He's just announced that he wants to shoot part of Avatar 2 in the bloody goddamn Marianas Trench!"

"Isn't that like seven miles underwater?"

"Yes!" barked Murdoch. "I'm just scared that his luck at making blockbusters might run out on the film that leaves my proverbial didgeridoo hanging out to the tune of half a billion dollars. And what if there's an accident and someone drowns, or gets eaten by something? I could be on the hook even more!"

"What do you want me to do?"

"Find him and find out why he's gone off his nut!"

"Drop another envelope on my desk," I said, "and do it without spilling any more of my precious beans, and I'll take your case."

Murdoch reached into his jacket for another envelope when his eyes caught something through my office window.

"Crikey," barked Murdoch, "a dingo's got my baby! Not bloody again!"


I thought that if I was going to find James Cameron I was going to have to burn some shoe leather. I soon realized that all burning shoe leather did was fill my office with smelly smoke, so I thought I'd try beating the bushes. All that did was disturb some homeless people, and awake a very cranky badger.

Hitting the streets hurt my knuckles, and I realized that I was running out of meta-fiction type jokes using old cliches. There was a way to find James Cameron, and it was the quickest, just follow the trail of ex-wives.

The trail led me deep into the depths of the Hollywood Hills. The underbrush hadn't been burnt out in a wildfire in a while and had threatened to totally consume the road and my purple 1975 AMC Gremlin. Through twists and turns I drove, expecting any minute to run into the ghost of Dennis Hopper festooned with cameras talking like he was in Apocalypse Now.

Then I did.

"Sorry Dennis," I said to his ghost.

"That's all right," answered Dennis Hopper's ghost, "I'm incorporeal, no harm, no foul."

"I'm looking for James Cameron's place," I asked him, "do you know where it is?"

"It's at the end of the road," said the ghost as he faded away. "I'd show you, but I'm booked to haunt a house in Silver Lake."

"Have fun," I said, then I put my Gremlin into gear and plunged deeper into the interior of a world that probably mirrored the subconscious of someone if this story had been done by a better writer.


"Who are you?" asked a voice from the other side of the massive solid steel gate with a solid gold 'JC' emblazoned on it.

"I'm Furious D, I'm a private dick sent by the studio to talk to Mr. Cameron."

"You were really sent by the studio?" asked the voice.

"Yes," I said, "Rupert Murdoch himself sent me."

"Did a dingo tried to get his baby while he was there?"

"You know I never pass up a good Australian stereotype gag."

"You may enter," said the voice. An engine roared to life, and a great pillar of exhaust spewed from a smokestack next to the gate. The gate creaked and moaned and slowly opened.

A small officious looking fellow in a neatly tailored gray suit emerged from behind the gate. "My name is R. Daniel Oliver," said the man, "I am Mr. Cameron's personal assistant. You will have to leave your car here. Mr. Cameron does not allow such crimes against Mother Earth into his private environmentally perfect compound. We'll get to the house golf cart."

Mr. Oliver clicked a remote control and a gold plated golf cart, complete with Academy Award hood ornament appeared, as if someone just wrote that it was there.

I got in and we began the five mile trek to the house. Which took about three hours, the cart's engine straining to bear the weight of the gold plating. At least, I think it was the gold weighing it down.

"This is a perfectly self-sustaining community," said Mr. Oliver as we drove past fields of Jentucky Bluegrass, maintained in the harsh southern California desert by legions of sprinklers spraying water in all directions. Then we past a field of SUV's parked in a lot marked 'Extra Vehicles." "Everything here is in perfect harmony with Mother Earth."

"I guess it's all solar powered," I said.


"How much is solar powered?"

"There's a light in the garden shed that's solar powered," answered Mr. Oliver. "At least we think it is, it doesn't seem to want to work at night."

We arrived at a house that about as wide as two football fields. Oliver didn't stop the cart, instead he just drove it up the imported marble staircase, severely jostling my sacroiliac.

"Mr. Cameron designed this place himself," said Oliver as we left the stairs and started driving down a hallway that I soon realized was once MC Hammer's house. In fact, he was still in it, rocking a pair of glittery harem pants.

We drove another hour down this long hall until we reached a solid gold door, encrusted in diamonds in the shape of the letters JC in the center. Oliver spoke into a walkie talkie.

"The man from the studio is here," said Oliver.

Another engine roared to life somewhere as the door slowly opened. I didn't wait for it to open completely and slipped in.

"Mr. Cameron?" I asked realizing that I had just stepped into a dark room, lit only by banks of TV monitors tuned into dead channels.

"It's wonderful that you're in darkness Mr. Cameron," declared Oliver as he followed me in.

"Where are you?" I asked, turning on a light, revealing what could only be called an emperor sized bed, solid gold, in the center, the mattress made of stacks of compressed $100 bills.

"What do you want?" asked a voice that came from under the bed.

"Oh," said Oliver, "you're under the bed, that's a wonderful idea Mr. Cameron. Truly a work of epic genius."

"Murdoch sent me to talk to you about filming the Avatar sequel underwater," I said. "Especially seven miles underwater."

"NO ONE QUESTIONS JAMES CAMERON'S DECISIONS!" barked Cameron from under the bed. "Oliver, get rid of this plebeian interloper."

"That's a brilliant decision Mr. Cameron," said Oliver as he clamped a hand on my shoulder. This was the trouble Murdoch warned me about, thankfully trouble is my business, and I brought my Colt .45.

The bottle of malt liquor shattered as it came in contact with Oliver's skull. Sparks suddenly flew out of his head, then his head popped off, revealing a mass of circuits and gears. Oliver was a robot, and not a very well built on either.

"Damn," said Cameron. "That robot cost me seven millions dollars!"

"I came here for some answers," I said, "and I'm not leaving until I get them."

"All right," said Cameron, "what do you want to know?"

"Why do you want to shoot Avatar 2 seven miles underwater?"

"Because of the Avatar re-release," croaked Cameron.

"Say what?"

Cameron slid out from under his bed. His hair was long and disheveled, and it looked like he hadn't shaved, and smelled like he hadn't bathed in days.

"I re-released Avatar," said Cameron, "expecting it to be #1 again, but it stank worse than a Nicole Kidman film."

"So what?"

"I then realized what had happened," said Cameron. "The people who paid extra to see the movie in 3D in theaters then went out and bought the DVDs. Watching it at home, without the distraction of 3D, and the novelty of the effects gone, all they had left was the story, the characters, and the dialogue."

"Now I see where you're going," I said. "When they saw the re-release advertising more of that story, characters, and dialogue, and without the novelty of seeing those effects for the first time, they chose to stay at home."

"If I'm going to make a sequel," said Cameron, "I need to do something really crazy to make people want to see it. So I'm going to film it seven miles underwater!"

"Couldn't you just put more work on the story?" I asked. "Maybe collaborate with someone you can't bully into agreeing with your every brain-fart."

"I think I'd rather just spend a few extra hundred million dollars," said Cameron. "It's worked for me before, and it's better for my ego than honest feedback."

I shrugged and nodded. I had my answer, it was time to declare...


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