Primarily known for his ‘Jungle Geronimo’ series of boys’ adventure stories, L. P. Eaves is a lifelong aficionado of the silver screen. His literary debut was the poetry chapbook Wadded Leaves (1974). He quickly went on to his famed series of find-a-word-puzzles, for which he received the prestigious Stiggs Prize in Gamesmanship. A number of his instructive pamphlets for the FDA were collected in his humorous travel memoir File Under Queasy. He lives with his sister Penelope in a converted glue factory on the shores of Lake Michigan. His forthcoming The Hauntings at the Old Glue Factory is based upon his own experiences.
The world’s most unlikely sequel, Uncle Kent 2, has gloriously been given the novelization by the fine folks at Factory 25, who are releasing the film. The following is an exclusive extract from the book by L.P. Eaves, and also features exclusive sketches by the film’s writer-star, Kent Osborne. For more info on the film and the book of Uncle Kent 2, go to the Factory 25 website. – N.D.
Grief crushes our wristwatches, as in a movie where a murder victim’s timepiece is smashed in the convenient service of a detective who needs to tell what time the crime occurred. But so often that clue is a ruse, planted by a wily killer. And time itself is the wiliest killer of all. Every mourner knows that time is a charlatan and a murderer and a pickpocket and a fraud. Why should Kent Osborne be any different?
“Uncle Kent,” as he was known to one and all for his effortlessly avuncular demeanor, which belied his youth and dark good looks, seemed to have it all: a carefree bachelor lifestyle in the fashionable Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, the city known to many of its residents as “Tinsel Town,” thanks to the glitz and glamour of the show business types who made it their playground. And for them, as for Uncle Kent himself, work was but another form of play. Cheeky humor sparkled forth like Heaven’s manna from his crinkly eyeballs.
Uncle Kent’s career as a top-notch practitioner of the ancient art of storytelling took a most surprising guise: the animated cartoon! And no one dared call him a dabbler or pretender to the throne. It was more than just a hobby to Uncle Kent, though he could just as easily make a living as a matinee idol of the indie set — and sometimes did.
But none of that could bring his cat back to life.
Ah, Babycat! Uncle Kent’s partner in crime. Who could count or measure the influence of this little ball of fun, or number the days he had been gone? Uncle Kent kept an earnest vigil for his former companion. A freshly lit candle always graced the framed photograph of our frisky feline. With the selfsame lighter he applied to his favored marijuana cigarettes or “doobie sticks,” Uncle Kent guarded the eternal flame.
Less a pet than an inspiration, Babycat had played an important supporting role in the movie Uncle Kent, in which Uncle Kent had starred some years earlier. So it was in an emotional reverie of the past that Uncle Kent stripped down to his underpants and watched the kitten-sized adult cat frolic on the screen. Gently he adjusted the computer screen with a supple toe. And from this innocent pastime — the unlikeliest of wellsprings — he conceived the idea that would propel him headlong into the most incredible adventure of his life.
“Lights! Camera! Action!”
Those thrilling words of yore may as well have rung out over the canyons of Hollywood, bringing to life the glistening bronzed bodies of dozens of “extras” — no less than the cream of partygoers, the most desired in all the land, milling and mixing in an old-time celebration tinged with an electric jolt of the new: a genuine wingding thrown by the reigning “it boy” of the moment, a mysterious director known to one and all simply as “Joe S.”
Uncle Kent arrived in the best of spirits, and why not? He had recently enjoyed a creative breakthrough. Sitting on his elegant and breezy balcony, on various examples of his tasteful patio furniture, with no more remarkable tools than a simple pen and paper fueled by his ample imagination, he had begun the journey that every creative artist must make, one humble step at a time. The journey, that is, into the self. But more of that anon.
Uncle Kent arrived ready to party in the most conscientious way that might be imagined. First of all, he took his trusty bicycle all the way to the gay affair, not caring to pollute the air with foul emissions. This was less of a habit for Uncle Kent than a way of life.
Nor would he think of arriving emptyhanded. There was whimsical pathos, to be sure, in the way he double-bagged his bounty: two six-packs of premium beer. A man alone, trying to double-bag. Is there any keener picture of incompleteness? Yet even by himself, Uncle Kent invested this moment with physical comedy on a par with the acknowledged master, Jerry Lewis. Having successfully inserted one bag into another, and then storing the beers safely within, he made ready to leave. But fate is unkind, as we will have all too many opportunities to confirm in these humble pages. The handles of the bag came loose and he watched his thoughtful offering, earned by the honest sweat of his furrowed brow, shatter beneath him on the cold kitchen tiles, never to be recovered. Can there be a more touching picture of the fragility of human life and human plans?
Ever plucky, Uncle Kent pedaled his way for his destination, an unharmed sixpack tucked securely under his muscular arm, the headlight on his bicycle providing illumination against the rich colors of a California dusk such as the settlers themselves might have seen with their wondering eyes.
Inside the home of Joe S., by contrast, the lights were all ablaze with merriment. But Joe S. was a new kind of tycoon, one that F. Scott Fitzgerald may have barely recognized. Uncle Kent was astonished to find the acclaimed director sprawled in the middle of the floor, playing a game of “racing cars” with his precociously entertaining child.
Observe Uncle Kent in this moment! How he stands in dignity with an almost bemused air of appreciation. This is not the life he has chosen. And yet he respects it.
Ever the gracious host, Joe S. leapt to his feet when he sensed Uncle Kent’s encroaching presence. Embracing his erstwhile collaborator with a manly hug, he extended his greetings, welcoming his visitor as if he were the most important person in the world. And, as we will see, perhaps he was.
“Where can I put my helmet?” asked Uncle Kent, grateful for the personal interaction.
“Anywhere you want,” replied Joe S., adding one ominous footnote: “I’m not really hosting.”
Not really hosting. Those words would come back to haunt Uncle Kent as they took on greater meaning than either man could have anticipated at the time.
“Hey, daddy?” demanded the child.
“Here I come, here I come,” responded the reassuring voice of the young director, just as at ease placating a child as he was assessing the capricious demands of glorious movie stars. Leaving Uncle Kent to his own devices, Joe S. returned his attention to his progeny. For now! But very soon a fateful encounter would take place, one that would change Uncle Kent’s life forever.
Download the above extract from Uncle Kent 2 here.