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Smart as a Rabbi

I’ve seen dead bodies before, but this is going to be rough. This one is going to sting right where my foreskin used to be.

Photos by Janicza Bravo

Someone shot an angel. Some piece of dreck found their way up to heaven, got past the gates, somehow got a gun in without anyone noticing, saw an angel sitting on a cloud, and opened fire. Now an angel is dead. Maria is dead. 

The memories rush my mind. Liz Taylor gorgeousity. Brandoesque talent. And smart as a rabbi. I start thinking about being on the set of Not Remembering Sasha Mathis, watching her on the monitors, making me laugh my hairy ass off. Damn, she was good in that. She was good in everything. Great in everything. No words to describe. Except “great,” obviously. 

I should have married her. She would have made a great fifth wife. Only thing that stopped me was that she wasn’t in the tribe. That and I’m married to this town, Hollywood, baby! But that didn’t stop me from loving her more than a sheet of matzo with some chopped liver. Boy, she’d get my belly heaving. And she knew it too. Whenever we got together I’d turn bright red with hypertension. “Your blood pressure, Combover. Your blood pressure!” Always so caring. I’d have 40 heart attacks for her, 75 diabetic comas, 125 strokes. I would have died for her. Well, maybe not died, but definitely a hip operation or two. 

I remember when she auditioned for Birdbrain. You might remember Birdbrain. It was only one of the top-grossing action movies of all time. She came in to audition. I didn’t want her to. Yeah, I knew she was good, but to me she was always sugar. Like Audrey Hepburn, but Hepburn never played a cop. 

I said, “Mar, don’t waste your time. You got the world lovin’ you. This part is too hard-edged.” She told me if I didn’t see her for the role she’d never talk to me again. Now if another actress said this to me, I’d give them a swift backhand, make a couple calls, and bury their careers. But never Maria. She had a hold on me tighter than my grandmother’s grip on a packet of Sweet’N Low. So I agreed. She came in, and what did she bring with her? Her own gun! A gun to an audition!

She pressed the barrel to my head. “How sweet am I now, you big, fat Jewish pile of shit?! You give me this part or I’m gonna give you a fucking lead yarmulke!” I knew she was good, but I didn’t know that good. Needless to say, she blew my tallith off. I gave her the part, and we went straight to Malibu. I fed her fresh herring all weekend. She fed me a little redhead lovin’. 

I feel dizzy. I don’t like any of this one bit. Oy vey, what’s that on my face? Tears? I’m crying.

I’ve seen dead bodies before, but this is going to be rough. This one is going to sting right where my foreskin used to be. I walk up the stairs to her place. The door’s open. I hear the cop’s voice, the guy I was on the phone with. 

“Come in, Combover.”

Strange for a crime scene. No yellow tape. No photographers. No cops. And where’s her body? It’s on the couch… sitting up! 

“Hey, Combover.”

“Maria, you’re alive. Who called me?”

“I did,” she says in a deep Brooklyn-accented man’s voice. Uncanny. Never in a million years would I have guessed it was her. Damn, she’s good. I can’t help but feel the nachas tsunami over me. 

I embrace her. We make love on her rug like a couple of wild rams. I blow my shofar in her like I’ve never blown it before. We lie in postcoital perfection. I make a couple mandatory business calls while she smokes and plays the guitar. A horrible afternoon just got a hell of a lot sunnier. 

“But why, Mar? Why did you fake like you were dead? What are you, meshuga?” 

“No, I’m not, Combover. But I’ll tell you who is. Pickering. He’s nuts. Said if I didn’t marry him in two weeks he’s going to kill me. I can’t have that. I’m a star, not a corpse.”

“I couldn’t agree more, Red.”

We get her dressed and ready for her flight. She’s in some real sweet travel digs. Looks classy enough to board the Titanic

“When will you be back? I got this great role waiting for you. You’ll get an Oscar for sure.”

“Soon. In the meantime, can you straighten things out with Robbie?”

Oh, I’ll straighten things out all right. I’ll straighten things out nice and good. 

Time to get Mossad on a fucking goy.

This is the second chapter of Combover, Brett Gelman’s new novel about Hollywood, the beauty of the Jewish tradition, baldness, and murder. We will be serializing it throughout the rest of the year. Read "That's Tokyo Town," the previous installment.