Anderton Schultz looked back at Kent, his eyes wild. One of the contact lenses had slipped, with blue appearing like an eclipsed moon from behind the blood red. The latex appliances were coming off in spots, and hadn’t really been applied properly in the first place.

“Think about what you’re doing!” Kent cried. “You’re not well, Andy!”

“Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!” growled Schultz. “Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!”

“Stop saying that stupid line!” Kent snapped despite himself. “Andy, for shit’s sake, snap out of it!”

Even if Schultz’s hatred toward Kent hadn’t been laser-sharp and incandescent, he wouldn’t have heard a word. The movie had been made in 1990, and he’d been buried under makeup, but in light of his recent reversals, Schultz had realized that after fighting it for so long, it was time for an embrace.

With a gutteral growl, Schultz hefted Kent up over his head with both hands, using the strength that he’d used often in doing his own stunts. Upon seeing the inky abyss before him, concealing the canyon floor 100 feet down, Kent’s wheedling abruptly turned into frenzied, infantile shrieks.

“Cast…the warm-bloods…into..the Caverns of Ice!”

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The editor put out a cigarette in the ashtray. “Yeah. Sixteen weeks at number one, and a sold-out tour. Starlet’s on the up before the inevitable bullet train to the bottom and tabloid punch lines. Every performance, every song, every goddamn tweet devoted to this guy of hers, who’s so private none of the paparazzi can get a shot of him.”

“More or less what I was told,” Ransom said. “Your man in LA said as much.”

“He also said that you had something for me,” the editor said, lighting another Parliament.

“Yeah,” said Ransom. “I’ve looked and poked and prodded, and there’s no record of anybody by his name, anywhere, ever. The starlet’s muse? He doesn’t exist. He’s a delusion…a hallucination.

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The acclaimed songwriter behind the 1970s pop ballad “My Dear Lovely One” is another example. Stanley McManus had been an art student at the University of Leeds and roomates with Herbert Tretheway, better known by his later stage name “Cordoba.” Cordoba was in the process of assembling his first musical group, and had approached McManus to draw posters for them. The young student had done so and, in gratitude, Cordoba and his band gave him a blanket pass to their engagements.

McManus, shy and retiring, attended out of a sens of obligation even though he had no real regard for the music. He would bring sheafs of paper with him to doodle on and often composed small poems to women in the audience–things he regarded as doggerel and never actually delivered. After one performance, McManus forgot a stack of poems and Cordoba found them. Intending to return them to his friend, he read them and was inspired to use them as lyrics in a song that the group sang as an encore.

The reaction in the dingy club was ecstatic, and within a month the song was getting local airplay. Cordoba and his bandmates were careful to credit McManus as songwriter and when they were signed by EMI for a self-titled debut album, they signed away a portion of their royalties to him. “My Dear Lovely One” went on to become an international smash, charting at #2 in the UK and #1 in the USA, and McManus was quickly overwhelmed with offers to write songs.

For his part, McManus bitterly resented the circumstance. He regarded himself, first and foremost, as a visual artist and dismissed his poems and other writing as worthless. The notoriety made it impossible for him to sell his artworks or to find a career as a commercial artist after graduation, as prospective employers were all convinced that a “songwriter” couldn’t possibly have the artistic chops they sought.

Though he cashed the royalty checks, and didn’t deign to sue when Cordoba turned more of his poems into hit songs (though once again fully crediting and compensating him), McManus eventually withdrew from the world. He purchased a large country home with his royalties and set out to paint on his own terms. But even there he wasn’t truly isolated: throughout the tumultuous rise and drug-addled fall of Cordoba and his various groups, there was no shortage of fans and aspirant musicians to seek out the “lyrical genius” behind Cordoba’s earliest and best-regarded songs. Even after McManus disconnected his telephone, admirers still found their way onto his property.

An intruder who climbed through his bedroom window in 1987 was apparently the last straw for McManus; he overdosed on sleeping pills and died in his home. Cordoba, long past his prime and mired in a cycle of addictions that would take his own life in June 1990, paid for the funeral and a lavish headstone from his already dwindling funds.

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Anderton Schultz had worked his way up in the entertainment industry the old-fashioned way: through hard work and dedicated, scene-stealing supporting performances. Schultz wasn’t a vain man, but there was a measure of deep satisfaction in dropping a mention of his Oscar nomination into conversation with people who’d insisted he was too short or too homely for a successful career in pictures. It had been gratifying, working his way up from “what’s his name” to “that guy” to “that guy from Summers With Charles” “Hey, it’s Andy Schultz!”

Being recognized on the street at least some of the time had its perks, to be sure.

But there was always that guy, that one guy, who’d bring a copy of the 1990 remake of The Lizard Men for Schultz to sign.

It was a trashy movie; he’d spent the entire thing under a mound of Rick Baker latex prostheses. But it had a cult following, as did the campy 1969 original. No matter how many Oscar nominations there were, there’d always be his latex-smeared face leering from a DVD cover and fans snarling his character’s most “memorable” line at him:

“Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!”

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