There was a bold, confident knock on Hollywood executive Geoff Chaser's rare Brazilian Weeping Tree door. The recently extinct wood slightly muted the harshness of initial knuckle contact, but delivered an authoritative resonance on the deeper notes. Or at least, that's what the salesmen had told him when he bought it.
"Come on in, Chaz!" Geoff yelled, splitting a thin line of cocaine out from a pile on his desk.
"Geoff! Baby! How it do?" Chaz Blazer was decked out in a severe black three-piece suit, yet his dress shirt was completely unbuttoned down to the crotch. It was, inexplicably, still tucked in.
"Take a seat, Chaz. I'm afraid I have some bad news. The studio's been going through some tough times, and it breaks my heart to say it, but I'm afraid we might have to let you go..."
"Oh, god..." Visions of unemployment ran through Chaz's head; he wouldn't go back to the Tanning Salon. He'd burned that bridge a long time ago. And the warehouse next door, too.
"Wow. This really got out of hand. That spray-tan stuff is pretty hardcore."
"...unless you love this pitch!"
"Ha ha! Yes!" Relief poured over Chaz like kerosene on a hooker. "You fucking nailed me with that one, Geoff! I wouldn't even blame you if you didn't call me the next day."
"I totally wouldn't! I'd leave you a business card with a fake phone number that connects up to a venereal disease treatment clinic."
Geoff quickly ran through a series of meditative stretches, then snorted three lines in rapid succession.
"I am burnt today, Chaz. Absolutely burnt out. You want a cappuccino?" Geoff asked, his finger above the buzzer to his non-gender specific assistant, Janice.
"I will fucking murder a cappuccino right now. I'll kill it and then flip through its wallet until I find the address on its driver's license, and then I'll go to its house and kill its fucking family too," Chaz eyed the powder with equal parts lust and hunger. His nose drooled in anticipation.
"Your kids: Dead. Your friends: Dead. Your dog: Dead. I am become Shiva, motherfucker."
"Twisted! I'm right there with you, guy. I have just no respect for human life right now without a cappuccino. Janice? Janice are you there?"
"I swear to God, Janice, if I don't get a cappuccino right now, I will turn into a werewolf."
"I will transform into a wolfman, and in my wolfen state I will bite somebody. And they will bite somebody, and they will bite somebody else, and so on and so on until there is an entire army of wolfmen bearing down on the civilized world, Janice. That's what's going to happen unless we get two cappuccinos with extra foam in here, ASAP."
"Right away, sir."
"All right! Let's get down to it, Chazzykins," Geoff finally gestured toward the thin white lines, and Chaz cheerily bent to it.
"I'm sure you've heard by now all about the Spider-Man 4 shake-up? Even though it's pretty much a brand new series, it's still being canceled, recast and rebooted. It is going to be a gritty reboot of a series that is less than a decade old. And that got me thinking..."
"No, no, no. Grittier! He should have guns! He should be raping somebody!"
"Yeah of coOOOOH GOOD LORD THAT IS MAGNIFICENT BLOW!"
"Why, thank you! I made it myself. I've been getting really into this new Artisanal movement--you know, bake your own bread, brew your own beer, cure your own meat--and this shit here is my pride and joy. Shade grown, hand-cut, environmentally-friendly, 100 percent organic cocaine."
"You can really tell. There's almost a whimsical tone throughout. It finishes brightly, with a summery tartness - and is that hints of cherry I detect?"
"Well, a gentleman never tells, Chaz. But back to business: This Spider-Man movie isn't alone; you know they're doing a gritty reboot of Mad Max?"
"Wow. That was a pretty gritty movie already. I feel like my eyelid is bleeding."
"Oh, it is. It absolutely is."
"Fantastic," Chaz enthusiastically replied, fidgeting in his seat. He quickly took off both shoes and squatted on the floor, rocking on his heels.
"And you're absolutely right," Geoff continued, frowning dismally at his enormous pile of coke, "Mad Max was gritty in every sense of the word. It was dark. Dystopian. Morally bankrupt and violent. Hell, there was even sand everywhere. It was literally fucking gritty - there was grit all over the place! And it's still getting a reboot. You understand? We're reaching an impasse here - there can't be much more done."
Seriously, the whole situation: Very gritty. From the atmosphere to Lord Humungus's Rhinestone jockstrap. So gritty.
"Right right. But you gotta milk that cow until the liquid runs red. Right? What else are you gonna do? Right? Am I saying 'right' too much? I feel like I am. Am I right?"
"You're right. Shit. Now it feels weird when I say it. Listen, Chaz - I'm already goddamn bored with this coke. Would you do me a favor? Come over here and choke me a little while I take this next hit."
"God you're so fucking jaded and I LOVE YOU FOR IT," Chaz replied, removing his belt and skipping around the desk.
"So, what do we do when something's become stale and unprofitable?" Geoff's voice rose to a squeak at the last syllable, strangled off by the seal-skin leather of Chaz's $14,000 belt, ironically adorned with a Pabst Blue Ribbon belt buckle he paid an intern to find at a thrift store.
"You don't mean..." Chaz's grip on the belt slackened as the realization dawned on him.
"We reboot the entire concept of the reboot!" Geoff rasped, before momentarily passing out and falling to the floor. He awoke almost instantly, sporting the kind of erection only asphyxiation and power-dealing can invoke. He crawled back up to his desk and depressed the intercom button.
"Janice, ETA on that cappuccino?"
"Five minutes, sir."
"Army of wolfmen, Janice. Army of wolfmen."
That blood is on your hands, honey.
"Where was I? Oh, right. Reboots: What are all reboots?" Geoff continued, his voice regulating.
"Gritty," replied Chaz instantly, as if it were a muscle memory.
"That's right! We take lighthearted franchises and give them a gritty reboot. What I'm proposing is flipping the script: Give gritty original properties a lighthearted reboot."
"Oh tits," Chaz whispered reverently, "I know we just thought of this, but I already want to run it into the fucking ground. I want to bury it."
"I want to more than bury it. I want to take it up to the hills and push it off a cliff," Geoff continued, a blank, frenzied expression overtaking him, "I want to push it off a cliff and then jump off after it, following it all the way down to Earth just fucking... just fucking beating the shit out of it as we fall like Gandalf and the Balrog from Lord of the Rings. I want to die beating this into the fucking ground."
"I can't even properly picture it," Chaz said, weeping cocaine blood onto the pressed slacks that he had sewn onto him every morning for an optimal fit. "I'm too wired for gritty."
"Understandable. Want me to hit you with some examples?"
"Absolutely yes. I want you to hit me until I recover repressed memories about my father. I don't want you to ever stop, ever. No safe words. Wow! This cocaine is bringing me to a dark, dark place and I just could not be happier about it!"
"I'm thinking Saving Private Ryan, but instead of World War II it's a dance competition."
"I'm thinking Scarface... as a child. Think Charlie Brown meets Little Rascals meets True Romance."
"Fuck your brilliance!"
"When he says 'say hello to my little friend'... it's actually a little friend of his; it's like a fucking fairy or something."
"MOTHERFUCK YOUR GENIUS MIND."
"I'm thinking Blade Runner, only this time Deckard is an aging figure skater trying to get his groove back after a bad divorce."
Like this, but replace the gun with a bouquet and the cigarette with a kazoo!
"Holy shit you just ruined my language center! I'm not even hearing words anymore! I agree with the all of the sounds you are making, even though they are not forming coherent concepts in my brain!" Chaz began rabbit-punching his own legs.
"We can reboot everything! Everything! I'm thinking a digital remaster of The Terminator where all the gunfight scenes are digitally replaced by high-fives."
"I love you; I want to fuck you; I just might kill you."
"I'm fucking rebooting the gritty reboot of Spider-Man 4!"
"That's not even out yet!"
"I know, and I don't care! I want a light-hearted reboot of the gritty reboot out before the fucking gritty one is out!"
"You've gone absolutely mad and you will change the course of human history because of it; you are fucking Rasputin!"
"We've got to move on this, Chaz! Quick, get down to production and greenlight every expense you can possibly think of! I need this to happen now!" Geoff was surprised to learn that somewhere along the way he had torn his pure white blazer into shreds and tied one around his head. He also did not recall making the decision to turn over his desk and straddle the remains, but in retrospect it did seem rather appropriate.
"I don't recall how this happened, but I'm pretty stoked that it did!"
"I'm going to run down there, and then when I get there I'm going to keep running in circles while I talk because I feel like if I stop moving now I'm going to die!"
"Do me a favor on your way out, Chaz?"
"Bite Janice on the arm; keep her doubting."
After the door slammed--the unique resonance of the wood reverberating like the shockwaves of a distant explosion--Geoff sauntered over and flipped the deadbolt. He made his way back to the floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out upon the Los Angeles skyline. He took a deep breath, and held it. Slowly, he undid his belt, lowered his slacks and underwear to the floor, and pressed his bare balls gently against the cold, slick glass. After a moment he began, almost imperceptibly, to gyrate his hips. The balls issued a soft, plaintive squeak as they ran across the surface, like windshield wipers in a light drizzle.
"All for you, Hollywood," he whispered affectionately. "That's all for you."
You can pre-order Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead on Amazon, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots where you can read his exhaustive store of Spongebob Squarepants/C'thulhu slash fiction.