The Day’s Not Over Until I Get Hit On The Head With Another Boat

Submitted into Contest #194 in response to: Write a story inspired by the phrase “The short end of the stick.”... view prompt

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Fiction Funny

“It’s simple, really, all you have to do is fall.”

If there is anything Brick Boylan had learned from working in three films with self-absorbed sixty-eight-year-old director Desmond Ford Wilder, it was that Desmond viewed stunt people as disposable and their contributions to film as negligible. The portly director with the bad toupee called people bubala and acted like everyone’s favorite jolly uncle, but Brick knew Desmond would sacrifice his family for a good take.

Brick has broken thirty-five bones, including six ribs, had twelve concussions, and been in two comas. There was a time he was the go-to stuntman, but at fifty-two, being on top of the call list has passed onto sturdier men like twenty-six-year-old Hans Laufer, who possesses a seemingly indestructible, herculean physique.

Brick looks over the edge of the building at the safety net below. Nearby Lake Comfort glistens against the sun but looks like a puddle from where he stands.

“How far a drop is this?”

“Not far, bubala,” Desmond replies. “Only a few hundred feet or so. And I need you to fall backward.”

“I’m sorry… What?”

“The script calls for the villain to get knocked through a window, then get tossed off the building,” Desmond answers.

“Are you mad?”

“No. Actually, I’m on Xanax, and I’m quite happy these days. PLACES!”

Hans grabs Brick by the shoulders, getting ready to punch him.

“How come you’re not doing this fall, Hans, you’re younger,” Brick asks.

“Wrong body type. Plus, I’ve got blonde, wavy hair. You’re… Well, you’re bald.”

Brick looks over at the actor playing the villain.

“He’s got blonde hair and he’s big, like you.”

“I guess they didn’t want me to take a chance on getting hurt. I’ve got two important stunts coming up.”

“Quiet on the set! ACTION!”

Hans neglects to pull his punch, hitting Brick solidly on the chin. Brick staggers back, his arms flapping like a duck struggling to fly, as he crashes through the window. Grabbing him, Hans drags Brick to the edge of the building. Spinning him around, Hans blurs Brick’s features with a pair of punches. Brick takes two steps backward, plummeting off the roof.

Holding their breath as Brick speeds toward them, the stunt crew pulls the safety net taut.

Brick bounces off and away from the net, landing in Lake Comfort.

“CUT!” Desmond yells. “Reset! We’ll go again!”

Brick rises to the surface, choking on Lake Comfort’s tepid water. A boat is quickly sent out to retrieve him. In an attempt to get closer to Brick, the boat runs him over.

Looking at the rickety structure behind him, Brick says in astonishment, “You’re going to drop a house on me?”

“More like around you, bubala,” Desmond replies. “And it’s not a house. It’s just a frame.”

“Yeah, and it could still crush me. If this scene involves the hero, shouldn’t Hans be doing this stunt?”

Hans smiles at Brick as if to say, “Sucker!”

“Hans needs a break,” Desmond says.

“From what? The craft service table? The pretty extras?”

“He has to study his lines.”

“Lines? What lines?”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, bubala. We just gave Hans a role in the picture. Seems a shame to waste his good looks by letting him get beaten up. You’ll have to double up and do his stunts from now on.”

“But we’re not even built the same.”

“Postproduction, bubala. We can edit you to look like Bugs Bunny if we need to. PLACES! Remember, don’t move. We had to use real glass this time instead of candy glass, you know, for effect, and some of those pieces are going to be sharp, and so are the nails. You’ve had a tetanus shot, haven’t you? QUIET ON THE SET!”

Brick is too petrified to move. Looking up at the twenty-five-foot frame, he holds his breath, sucking in his stomach.

“ACTION!”

The frame falls like a giant redwood. Brick remains stock still as shards of glass, pieces of plywood, and nails explode around him like shrapnel.

“Cut! Reset!” Desmond yells as the dust clears.

“What? We have to do this again?”

“Of course, bubala. You know we have to have a few takes in the can to choose from.”

Desmond pats Brick on the back. His smile fades when his hand comes away bloody.

Looking behind Brick, Desmond can see three large pieces of glass sticking out of his back.

“Tweezers! Has anybody got a pair of tweezers?”

Brick heads to the Craft Service table. Discarded halves of bagels, empty tubs of cream cheese, half-eaten hoagies, and warm water bottles are all that remain.

Holding a plate crowded with steak, pasta, and a tangy garden salad, Hans passes Brick on his way to his trailer.

“Hey! That stuff is not for you, Brick! That’s for the actors and crew! Besides, you don’t want to eat too much anyway. You’ll get fat. Then who’ll do my stunts?”

Brick tightens his life jacket, getting into the boat.

“You’re sure the net is going to be enough to stop the boat?” Brick asks Desmond.

“We tested it twice. No problem, bubala. The net stretches across the river. All the guys have to do is hit a few levers and it’ll rise up like a tennis net. It works in the same manner that the Navy uses barrier nets to stop planes.”

“But this is different, Desmond. This is a raging river. If the net doesn’t work, I‘ll get carried over the falls. It’s a sixty-foot drop.”

“Don’t worry, you won’t drown. You’ll probably smash your head on a rock first.”

Brick paddles upriver. The current quickens but Brick expertly guides the boat through swells and dips in the water and past jagged rocks.

The boat’s speed increases as he approaches the falls. Brick can see the spot ahead where the submerged net has been placed.

“…Pull it up, fellas..,” Brick says aloud.

Brick sees the men on the shore in charge of raising the net are arguing with each other. One of them throws a punch, and the whole crew starts fighting.

“The net!” Brick yells, but the men can’t hear his screams above the rushing water. “RAISE THE FRICKEN NET!”

The boat reaches the end of the river, tumbling over the falls.

Brick wonders if it’s worth screaming as he plummets toward the rocks.

Brick lands in a deep pool of water, laughing triumphantly as he floats to the surface.

“I lucked out for once!” he says to himself.

The boat hits him on the head.

“Of course. The day’s not over until I get hit on the head with another boat.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Hans asks.

“I’m surprised you care.”

“It’s just that… Well, I have to do my own stunts if you can’t toe the line.”

“Toe the line? Jeez. I’d better be getting your salary too.”

Hans looks surprised. “Desmond told me I was going to get twice the pay because I’m an actor and a stuntman now. You might want to check your situation with him.”

Desmond walks to the center of the set, scratching at his toupee, which has shifted so much it looks like a dead muskrat on his head. “PLACES, EVERYONE!”

Brick approaches the director. “Just a minute, Desmond. Hans told me he’s getting two salaries. What about me? You’re going to pay me twice the amount to do his job too, right?”

“I dunno. The budget is tight. We’ll have to talk about it later, bubala. We’ve got an Oscar winner to shoot!”

“Be careful, she likes to improvise,” Hans whispers. “Boom Boom Lovine is as tough as any man you’ll ever meet. She’s a black belt and can deadlift six hundred pounds.”

“How’d she get the name Boom Boom?”

“Because she can hit you twice before you even raise your hands.”

Desmond calls Brick and Boom Boom to the center of the set like a referee bringing two boxers together for a championship bout.

Brick’s peace-making grin is wasted on Boom Boom. The bulky blonde twists her neck and squeezes her fists until they crack like hot popcorn.

“You know how to pull your punches, right?” Brick asks.

“I told her not to,” Desmond interjects. “It would look fake. You don’t want the scene to look staged, do you?”

“Sure, if it keeps my head on my shoulders.”

“Okay, take your positions,” Desmond says.

Brick picks up the shield he is supposed to use to ward off Boom Boom.

“This is made out of cardboard.”

“More like the stuff they make egg crates out of,” Hans replies. “Watch her right. She works it like a piston. You see this beautiful nose I have? Courtesy of Boom Boom. She broke my old one in three places.”

Brick glances at Boom Boom who licks her lips.

“She seems to like you,” Hans says.

“Yeah, as an hors d'oeuvre.”

“You still might be okay,” Hans adds. “I heard she broke up with her girlfriend. She might be feeling melancholy.”

“Quiet on the set! ACTION!”

Boom Boom comes at Brick, kicking him in the groin. The shield goes flying past one of the cameras like a frisbee.

“Hey! That’s not in the script!” Brick gasps.

“Neither is this,” Boom Boom replies, punching Brick in the head with both hands.

Brick backs away but gets hit on the chin by a heavy blow that sends him flying backward through a pair of wooden Venetian doors.

Boom Boom reaches into a nearby bowl of fruit, selecting a banana.

She pistol-whips Brick with the banana. Brick realizes it has a steel rod in it when Boom Boom hits him so many times that the banana’s skin comes off.

“I’m not going to try and talk to you about the symbolism of this,” Bricks says, brushing the banana skin off his head.

Roaring, Boom Boom picks Brick up. Spinning him around, she throws him into the next room.

Stunned and bloodied, Brick decides it’s time for him to go off-script too.

Boom Boom charges at him with her head down, intent on burying her head in his gut.

Brick lets Boom Boom draw closer until she’s almost run him through.

He steps aside. Boom Boom flies past him, past Desmond and the cameras, crashing headfirst into a wall.

“CUT!” Desmond yells. “I don’t know what that was supposed to be, but we’ll have to do it again. That’s not what I’m looking for.”

“Neither is getting turned into a eunuch!” Brick protests.

“Boom Boom is hurt. She may have a concussion or worse. This is unprofessional behavior, Brick. I may ask the studio to fine you.”

“Wait a minute. This is like getting hit on the head by another boat. I’ve taken enough of this crap lying down. She attacked me!”

“You’ve been doing this for twenty-five years. You should know better.”

The crew pulls Boom Boom to her feet.

Still woozy, and with blood dripping down from her forehead, Boom Boom shakes her helpers off, looking dreamily at Brick.

“You can’t possibly want more,” Brick says, looking around for something he can use as a weapon.

Boom Boom comes at Brick. Grabbing him in a bear hug, she kisses him before he can dart off.

“A survivor. You’re my kinda man,” she says. “I’ll see you later, sugar.”

Boom Boom winks at Brick as the crew takes her to get stitched up.

Stunned by Boom Boom’s unlikely display of affection, Desmond looks at Brick. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a six-foot girlfriend.”

“My wife will be thrilled.”

Brick shuts the front door, wearily shuffling toward the living room couch.

Noelle, his wife of twenty-eight years, is soon hovering over him.

“Do you smell that?”

“I swear, I didn’t have Mexican food for lunch.”

“No, not that. But thank you.”

Brick takes a deep breath. “Well, I smell something, that’s for sure.”

“I smelled it when I got home from work,” Noelle says. “I tried calling you to tell you. What do you suppose it is?”

Rising off the couch, Brick follows the scent down the hallway, past the dining room, and into the kitchen.

“Maybe it’s the stove,” he says.

“I told you we should have replaced it before we put the house on the market.”

“Great. Another expense two weeks before the closing.”

Brick follows the scent to the steps leading to the cellar.

“It’s stronger in the basement.”

Noelle flicks on the light.

The basement floor is covered in oil.

“I think the date of our closing has just been pushed back.”

Brick leans against a prop, rubbing his tired eyes, still trying to process that it will cost $75,000 to clean up the oil in his cellar and install a new tank.

Boom Boom moves alongside him. “Hey, sugar. You stopping by my trailer later?”

“…Ummmm…”

“It’s not a request.”

“Wait a sec. You’ve got a trailer?”

“Yeah, Desmond gave it to me. I’m in the movie now, a bonafide actor. So come by later and I’ll show you how I earned my trailer.”

Boom Boom winks at Brick as she swishes past Desmond. The director twitches in response to her smile, adjusting his toupee while trying to hide a recently acquired limp.

“Great googly moogly,” he says to Brick. “Stay away from that maniac. Sex with her is like making love to a pneumatic drill in overdrive.”

Desmond hands Brick a gun. “You’re going to need this.”

“I know she’s strong, but…”

“You’ve been landing on your head too much lately, bubala. The gun is for the next scene, the shootout at the tower.”

Brick looks over at the twenty-foot tower, then at the nearby safety nets.

“Why aren’t the nets underneath the tower?”

“We changed the scene a bit. You’ll be on the ladder of a helicopter. You’ll fire a few shots then get hit and drop from the helicopter’s ladder.”

“Heli what?”

“It’s a piece of cake for a man with your experience, bubala. Places, everyone!”

“You sure this’ll all work out?” Brick asks the pilot.

The cross-eyed pilot smiles at Brick. “Piece of cake!”

“Where have I heard that before?” Brick asks himself as he carefully climbs down the ladder.

The helicopter picks up speed. Pulling his gun, Brick squeezes the trigger.

The blank cartridge doesn’t go off. Brick presses the trigger again. Nothing happens.

Brick looks down to see Desmond shaking his fist at him.

When he looks up again, he sees a forest of trees closing in on him.

Brick brushes the leaves off his jumpsuit, plucking a twig out of his pocket.

“I wish we’d flown over rather than through the trees.”

Desmond continues to complain. “You ruined the shoot by not being able to shoot.”

“It jammed, Desmond.”

Desmond shakes the gun. “Jammed! This piece is immaculate! We used it on the set of the last Bond movie!”

“Sorry. I always get the short end of the stick. I’m just bad luck.”

“There’s no such thing as bad luck!”

Pointing the gun at Brick, Desmond pulls the trigger.

April 20, 2023 16:37

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4 comments

Mary Bendickson
00:30 Apr 26, 2023

So funny. Short end of the stick, indeed!

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00:22 Apr 27, 2023

Thanks!

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David Sweet
01:20 Apr 25, 2023

Fantastic! Loved the humor. You have great comedic timing. I enjoyed the story from beginning to end. Sounds like the director runs a loose set and is a lawsuit waiting to happen, which is why the gun at the end is a nice touch.

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00:19 Apr 26, 2023

Thanks! I really appreciate your feedback!

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