Coral suddenly stopped in mid stride and said another urgent matter was demanding her attention immediately back in the Children's Paradise. She promised me that we would be seeing our sister Deana very soon and vanished before I could say another word.
Coral had left me to get wherever I wanted to go on my own, so I decided to take my time. Instead of worrying about how I would teleport myself somewhere when I didn't quite know how to do it, I went to the airport instead and boarded a plane. I knew it was silly, but I soon spotted an empty seat and I sat down in it, prepared to take a nap when a woman suddenly came and sat down, practically on top of me. I whooshed out of her way and now wondered if I was going to have to stand up all the way. I thought it would be very uncomfortable to try to leave the plane while it was in mid flight. I soon felt like a prisoner, wondering when I could get off in a place where I knew somebody.
I felt I should have gone on to Deana's by myself and hung around her place, but I wanted Coral to figure out a time when Deana would be very congenial with the spirits. I thought we would have a much better visit if that were the case. I knew that Deana was planning to visit her son in Phoenix at Christmas so I thought that would be a better time to make contact with her. When she was looking up one of my children. I could follow her around and quite enjoy myself. Itt would take Coral to make a trip to San Francisco really exciting.
I finally managed to arrive in Phoenix by plane and disembarked. Coral was apparently going to leave me to my own devices to check out the hereafters that interested me. I resolved to ask James Dean the next time I saw him if there was a millionaires' paradise, and of course there would have to be a movie stars' hereafter. Maybe that was Red River where he had taken me to live for a few days.
I wondered where Red River was and how I could get back there. I was sitting on a park bench when Jimmy showed up. "You are pretty hard to keep track of," he teased me. "Are you having a good time?"
"A good time?" I questioned, "Is that what I am supposed to be having?"
"Well, yes, so to speak. I don't think you deserve a bad time."
"I was just wondering if all the millionaires and the movie stars bunch together in their hereafters just as they did on earth."
"They go where they feel the most comfortable, but of course with no money, the millionaires' paradise is less exciting. Millionaires and movie stars have the same trouble trying to do relevant activity as you do."
"Surely not!" I said perversely. "They don't get to read about their famous selves in the newspapers every day, it is true, but don't they have trouble feeling equal to everybody else?"
"So you were not as famous as movie stars. Is that what is bothering you?"
"Well, not exactly. But I do feel more comfortable with you since you were famous for such a short time."
"I was here and gone. In the total scheme of things, I was hardly famous at all."
"You have probably done all the penance you need to do for aspiring to be so much more important than other people. Famous movie stars make it very difficult to think that what you do for your relatively small circle of people is enough, when they are getting practically every public utterance into the public domain."
"These people are extremists. They have bought the idea that fame is progress which it might not be, necessarily. You should see what a struggle some of these extremely famous people have trying to slip back into being ordinary every day people. They come here and expect to continue on with a life of fame which keeps fading more and more in spite of everything they can do. The worst thing an old star has to contend with is feeling unimportant without that constant media attention they fed on in spite of themselves."
"You say that is their state of reality here, but it is hard to believe. Although I do not have any desire to meet any more famous people than you were. I had to pay too much attention to them in life, while they did not help me with a little recognition."
"Naturally not," said Jimmy. "It wasn't about you. It was about them. They were the worshiped and you were the worshiper. You managed to evade the sure road to fame, so you remained accessible to the common people. You were one of them. Had you become a 'star' you would have gotten a good deal more inaccessible, but people do not realize how costly fame is going to be. They will spend years trying to get back down to earth so to speak."
"A lot of problems follow us into the hereafter I think you are saying," I observed.
"Oh yes, no problem is left behind. Now the movie stars have to figure out how to get out there and mix and mingle with the common people once again. It is not going to do them any good to bunch up and tell endless stories about the old days when fame and fortune was their lot."
I figured that was why I had run into Jimmy. He must have been looking for me, or he would never have found me. I did not expect any of the other movie stars even to care who I was or where I went or what I did.
"No," said Jimmy reading my mind, "The other movie stars are not going to come looking for you. They don't even know you exist. It took me quite a while before I responded to your signal on earth, telling me to beam in if I became too sad about my sudden demise. You would talk to me. I finally beamed back which led to a solid friendship with a nobody. One of the famous stars would say who are you talking to Jimmy? I would say a friend, and he would be surprised because he did not know your name. You were not famous."
Jimmy, I felt, was trying to tell me how it was in Hollywood. Not that I did not know it, but he reaffirmed my own observations that caused me not to want to go movie star hunting in their hereafter. None of them would know me from Adam, while I would have been reading about them for years, going faithfully to their movies, analyzing them, and in every way I could trying to affirm their importance to our way of life on earth."
"You probably won't be ready to meet Brando for years," said Jimmy, "or rather he will not be ready to meet you. If ever an actor was worshiped on earth it was him. He tried to downplay his status as probably the most famous actor in the world at one time, but he still reveled in it, and in spite of himself he promoted the whole idea at the same time as he denigrated it."
"Hm, but what does he do, how does he talk all day?"
"You don't want to know," said Jimmy. "It is not interesting. He lost his way a long time ago, and now he has to figure out how to be just one of many and still do his best. He got so he would not do anything unless he received maximum attention. He was good looking, sexy, and he knew he 'had it.' So he made the most money he could out of that. He became very famous but ended up doing shoddy work. Had he been able to keep things more in perspective his work would have been better. He ended up depending on his charisma to bring in big bucks with him hardly lifting a finger. That was very cynical of him."
"You sound quite aggravated with him."
"Do I?" said Jimmy. "Well, I wish I could take you to see him but he is still too arrogant to be of use to someone like you. He would not know how to treat you. I could not bear that."
"Is he getting any better?"
"I hope so," said Jimmy, tersely. "People are trying to help him. He says he wants to change. I am troubled to think he stopped developing in his spirit so soon, and I worshiped him. But I knew I was apt to be very disillusioned by him. I started to feel so disillusioned with Hollywood it is probably what led to my death. Stars you met would say it was a superficial life, but they were really not interested in changing anything. They wanted to experience the full decadence of fame anyway."
"You must have been very busy here after you recovered, trying to help make the changes from this side."
"Yes, I worked with you to change things. I formed the partnership with you from the hereafter you could not get Brando to form with you on earth by any means known to man. I recognized your talent. He did not. You would have helped him keep developing his spirit, but he did not want that. He really chose the decadence of fame instead. He took every wrong road he could once he attracted the notice of the rich and famous. He wanted to be rich and famous, and that is all he wanted."
"I knew he would never recognize my talent. He would have thought I was insisting on ordinariness."
"Exactly. He did not want to be thought ordinary."
"I did not want to get above myself. People tend to inflate the importance of talent."
"Of course. How else will they be able to command the worship of millions? They have got to make ordinary talent seem so extraordinary it deserves excessive compensation."
"Brando would not risk being too focused. That would have disturbed people. He was going to stay famous longer making a few turkeys. His mistakes and self indulgences would cause people to identify with him if in no other way. His was the kind of talent I needed to do one of my plays, and then we could both have stayed thin, doing some difficult plays together. I studied his style. I wrote plays for him I thought would enhance his acting career, but because of the very nature of fame he was going to turn them down so he could go with a more famous writer. For a while there, every play that achieved a big success, he wanted to play in because he figured they would make him more famous. Even if the leading part did not fit him at all. He did not even use good sense charting the course of his career. He started thinking stupid."
"Yes!" said Jimmy. "That is exactly what he did that was so exasperating. Self indulgent. Undisciplined. He started to personify the worst traits of an actor rapidly becoming too famous to serve his talent well."
"Yes, that was it," I said, "and he was not going to listen to anyone telling him the facts of life he did not want to hear. So his meteoric career ended up disillusioning people with a fatuous dedication to fame instead of to excellence in acting and movie making."
"He became a waste of people's time, and that is the worst sin an actor can commit who was offered the opportunities Brando was."
"Well, okay, " I said, "I did not really expect to get to work with Brando, but I do not want people to think it was because I did not have the talent."
"Oh yes, you had talent to burn, but nobody saw it. As happens so many times in life. A woman, too. That was going to make it even more difficult for you to get recognition of any sort. Just measure how far a woman of talent goes in life, and you will know what the progress of women has been toward equality with men."
Jimmy was full of remarks that made me feel a little better.
Jimmy last words to me that day were, "Brando could have been a key figure in connecting to talent, he had that kind of mind, but he did not choose to do it. Enough said."
Jimmy and I walked on down the street together in silence. I was thinking about my son Jerome and his taste for fame, and was hoping he would do a better job than Brando had of reining himself in and checking on his spiritual well being often enough to keep in touch with what was really important in life and the hereafter.