UNITED STATES—Meet Eliza’s accomplice: Roger worked for a production house in Hollywood and had slickly edited together breaking news flashes about a terrorist group that was going to release a geriatric bomb in different parts of the globe. From the Hollywood Hills to Lake Cuomo, in Italy. Flashes appeared of people in black ski-masks that revealed only their eye-holes and finely capped teeth. Roger had skillfully woven picturesque backgrounds in green screen images shot in the bedroom of his apartment on Cahuenga Blvd., around the corner from the production house.

He got a blustery corporate looking white-haired pal, to play an anchorman and one of Eliza’s sorority sisters from USC played the blond bombshell co-anchor. Roger had a whiz kid, still in last year of high school with a D+ average, who didn’t give a hoot because he was already making a killing farming out his electronic surveillance skills to the Feds and the Mob—he played a DWP meter reader and one morning, while Rhett was out on the meds, totally rewired his three sunken living-room big screens to receive Roger’s custom video feed.

Roger recycled archival footage of one of the rawly gorgeous new actresses on the red carpet, one of those Brits, who could play damn near anything from a hillbilly to the Editor of Vogue. A skilled voice actress lip-synched the dialog:

“We used to have a nukular bomb, but the cudgel this group wields over elite Hollywood—the Geriatric Bomb—is ten times more insidious. This threat especially singles out young actresses in Hollywood. It is clearly sexist in intent,” said the perky British actress. “We have a much shorter shelf life, forgive me for stooping to commercial metaphors. Very few actresses have the opportunity to advance beyond their first twenty years of career. Jane Fonda is one of the few exceptions.”

In the reclusion of his Mount Olympus townhouse on steroids, Rhett Thorton snorted, “Hanoi Jane!!!” In his prime days, he would have thrown a brick at the TV set.
Then a news flash came. Roger got an out of work voice actor/ substitute teacher to supply the distressed overdramatic reporters’ voice. “We have late-breaking news that the Academy-Award winning political prophetess balked at the terrorist demands to pay off an undisclosed multi-millionaire sum to refrain from using the geriatric bomb.”

And Rhett saw horrifying pictures of a once-svelte Fonda, transmogrified on a stretched, her face like melted wax. Dorian Gray never had it so bad.

Rhett Thornton was seized in the pit of his gut, which had recently undergone a tummy tuck. Oh mighty Kadoodle, if they did that to Hanoi Jane, think what will happen to me? I’ll never get my chance at a Netflix series. The texts and phone calls started coming non-stop to Eliza. That way she knew that Roger’s videos depicting the actions of the fictional terrorist group F.A.K.E. had hit home with Rhett Thornton.

This is what you get when you spend all day in a royal-blue velour robe, with gold embroidered initials, RT the travertine sunken living room with three channels on big screens going 24 hours a day. You fell for it hook, line and sinker.

To be continued…

Graydon Miller, the Wizard of Fiction, is the author of the zany, “Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood.” https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8.