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A white face, blonde hair, blue eyes. Perfect. Devoid. It tops a rectangle of expensive suit, seated in a studio set of marbled earth tones like sculpted maple sugar. "Welcome to Hollywood Hype... I'm Lex Carrington." Lex appears to be in his late 20s, crammed with understated virility. Capped-teeth smile; faint, fake British accent. "Starting off tonight, Lydia Lysenko is in Hollywood for the premiere of the sick new Aston Trivedi film, in our Hype Exclusive." A 3D neuromarketing logo for the spot whooshes across the screen. It leaves us looking at a female correspondent, auburn hair unspeakably coiffed, heavy natural-look makeup, hazel eyes. She looks into the camera with an aggressive combination of smugness and delight. She has moist underwater eyes which somehow suggest a repressed, violent sexuality.
"We're here at the Consolidated Paregoric Center in Hollywood, California," says the correspondent, "for the star-studded premiere of the Aston Trivedi docuprophecy picture "Glorious Appearing," the remake of the 2016 movie by Tim LaHaye, based on the inerrant Biblical book of Revelation. The stars of the picture, Bobby Lao, Cynthia Medved, are already here... they arrived minutes ago in their bulletproof Ford Torino limousine--" Earlier footage of two beautiful, interchangeable young people emerging from a black bug of a vehicle into a din of camera flashes. Then back to the correspondent. "--and Aston Trivedi himself will be here via simulcast from his floating mansion in Togo, in the Pacific.
"One interesting note this evening: rock star Lavender Muse is rumored to be attending the premiere, Muse of course featured in the role of the Scarlet Woman, Lex, in this film. As you know, she's been very critical of the film's production, so it would be very important if she does indeed come here tonight."
In the studio: "There's the potential for a cinematic confrontation between her and Trivedi."
"That's right, Lex. There could be real fireworks."
In the background is a sudden, enormous crumping sound. The unit's mic doesn't possess the dynamic range to make it sound as loud as it really is. The picture jogs for a moment. Lydia spares a deliberate, well-timed glance in its direction, before returning face-forward. Her eyes are even brighter somehow, orgasmic.
"Apparently there's been some sort of bomb or explosion further down Hollywood Boulevard, maybe at the Tivoli, but it probably won't affect driving conditions or parking, which is already pretty congested."
In the studio: "That sounds like real excitement!"
"It is, Lex. I believe the last time there was a terrorist attack on or near the premiere of a major motion picture was at the opening of Akira Kurosawa, Jr.'s "Blood Revenge II," in August of last year, and it was very bad. Moviegoers were forced to walk as far as eight blocks to reach the theatre."
In the studio: "Wow!"
"Wow is right, Lex. I'm heading over to the scene of the blast, to see if we can have a word with some of the eyewitnesses." The picture bobs and sways as the cameraman overrides the video unit's motion dampers for a raw, documentary feel. "On the ground I'm seeing dust, I'm seeing pieces of brick, I'm seeing what looks like a human foot, beside the Walk of Fame star of Regis Philbin, which brings to mind that very touching moment in Shrek 3 which we all know by heart."
In the studio: "Too true, Lydia."
"Right. So I'm here at the scene of the bombing or explosion, and it's pretty bad, there's a lot of debris, not much room for a set-up, and I'm talking with one of the victims." The camera tracks in on a harried-looking woman in a torn and scorched halter top and slacks. The woman has a cut over her eye which is bloody but minor, and she's clutching the stump of her right arm where the hand no longer is. "Hi!"
The woman doesn't seem aware of her surroundings. Blood drips between the fingers of her left hand. "...hi."
"And your name is...?"
"...Suzanne." She looks into the camera, seems to draw some involuntary vitality from it.
"Tell us what happened here, Suzanne."
"I... me and my friend were walking up from Carl's Jr. and next thing I knew I was lying in the street and I was bleeding and my hand was gone and I'm trying to find my friend Charlene."
"You say your hand is gone?"
"And how do you feel about that?"
"Well I'm pretty upset about it because it was my hand."
"I bet. Do you think your friend Charlene could be under all those bricks?"
"...I guess." The woman starts weeping, her face crumpling. In the background is the rising warble of sirens. Spectators have filtered in behind the woman; they mug for the camera.
The camera turns back to the correspondent. "Real human drama, Lex, at this very critical motion picture premiere."
In the studio: "Wow!"
"I mean, it really is just so very real here tonight, Lex. I don't have the words to describe what I'm experiencing."
In the studio: "We all have you in our hearts, Lydia."
"Thank you, Lex. Emergency personnel are here... they had a little difficulty negotiating with the stars' paramilitary units for a path through. I'm going to have another word with Suzanne, who is very much an eyewitness to this event. Suzanne."
The screen is filled by the back of an ambulance gaudy enough to be a carnival ride. The injured woman is climbing aboard, but the paramedics stop her at the sound of the correspondent's voice. She turns and is snared by the camera's eye. Her face is shiny with tears that she can't wipe; they've mingled with the blood running from her forehead and rouged her cheeks. The spectators have multiplied; some of them point at the woman's stump for the benefit of the camera.
"Suzanne, what will you do now?"
Dazed, besieged, the woman says, "I don't know."
"Would you say your life has been changed forever?"
The paramedic helps the wounded lady to sign a malpractice waiver, leaving a smear of blood. "I don't know," she says again. The waiver is also a release form, giving exclusive broadcast rights to the television network, with which the ambulance service is partnered. Lydia and the cameraman climb into the back of the ambulance after the lady; the cameraman holds the video unit over the woman's head like the sword of Damocles.
"How do you feel now that you're getting prompt medical attention?"
"Does it make you proud to be an American?"
The woman starts, and smiles with obvious effort. "Oh, yes," she says, injecting a note of wavery cheer into her voice. "Real proud."
"Wonderful." Capped-teeth smile. The wounded lady starts to say something else, but the crew is climbing out of the ambulance and on the move. The cameraman is jogging; one can hear his equipment pack shuffling around, and what sounds like a set of keys. They stop, pan across a bustling, bumbling crowd lining a red carpet.
"Oh," says the correspondent, downcast, with genuine emotion. She turns to the camera. "Apparently Lavender Muse was here; she slipped in through the front entrance and is now inside the Paregoric Dome, and unfortunately interior access is not available, to us."
In the studio: "That's a real tragedy, Lyd."
"Yes, Lex, it is." She looks wistful but brave. "In Hollywood, this is Lydia Lysenko with the Hype Exclusive."
The correspondent stands up posture-perfect in an immaculate wine-colored suit, managing to look isolated while in the vicinity of hundreds of people. The cameraman drops his unit to a standby position, looks at her without seeing; they both have that helpless expression that comes of listening to a concealed earphone. Along either side of their position, we see half a dozen reporter-camera teams doing their own stand-ups for this exclusive. Each has their own piece of sidewalk divided off with color-coded tape.
"Yeah. Yeah, I know, Harvey. I made an executive decision." She pauses. "Well why don't you tell him that, because I'm obviously just a flunkie." She frowns at something she hears, mutters under her breath. She paws at the errant strand of hair that's been blowing around for the last couple of minutes, and flails.
"Look, are we going to get the fucking all-weather mousse into the prep kit or what?"