You Can Make It Up: Rip Torn Gambles On The Puppy Bowl

Rip Torn’s eyes would barely open and his face was a ravaged, haggard, stubbly mess. His chapped lips stuck together, and the pavement had left a red, mottled impression against his cheek. He looked around blearily, barely able to focus on the parking lot where he had spent the night. With a swollen hand he absently brushed Archway cookie crumbs from his hawaiian shirt, and then smoothed out his wild scarecrow hair. There were holes in his pants, but at least today he was wearing pants. It was important to be thankful for the little things.

Rip Torn struggled to his feet and stood wobbling for a moment in the cold afternoon light. He braced himself against a lightpole until he felt confident enough to move, but soon realized his confidence was built on a foundation of self-denial, and he stopped for another long while. He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten, and the Craft Services leftovers he’d taken home from his last movie had disappeared long ago. But Rip Torn did not know when he would eat again. Besides, who could eat on a day like this? If the folded up complimentary 2010 calendar he had picked up from a car mechanic’s waiting room was right, the starting line-up for this year’s Puppy Bowl had just been announced!

Rip Torn needed a quarter, and fast.

Obviously, he needed a gun. He hated the idea of violence, but Rip Torn needed 25 cents, and there just was no other way to get it than by force. What was he going to do, ask someone for a quarter? They would think he was crazy! If anything, robbing a bank was the SANE thing to do. There was a prop guy in Encino who owed him a favor, but that was hours away. Rip Torn came up with an even better plan: he would use a fake gun to rob a pawn shop to get a real gun! He stuck his finger in the pocket of his hawaiian shirt (his hawaiian shirt had pockets, it was a really crappy shirt) to make it look like a gun in his pocket.

“Stick ‘em up!” Rip Torn said to a parking meter. “Pew pew!”

The bells jingled against the door of the pawn shop. Rip Torn wiped the flop sweat from his brow with his free hand, the other hand, of course, stuffed in his pocket, very gunlike if you asked him. The man behind the counter eyed Rip Torn suspiciously, as he did everyone who came into his store.

“Can I help you pal?” he asked. “Are you wearing shoes? No shoes no service.”

Rip Torn looked down, scared for a second that his plan would be foiled. It would not be the first time that Rip Torn had been caught by the tricky Shoes Policy. But he had shoes on. He looked up with a crooked smile on his broken old face. “Ha!” he said.

The two men stared at each other. Then Rip Torn pointed his finger gun at the clerk and demanded that he be given a gun.

“What do you need with a gun if you’ve got a gun?”

“Oh,” Rip Torn said, “a wise guy!” Rip Torn was not being sarcastic. He was nervous that he had chosen too intelligent of an adversary. But he shook it off, as he did so many things about his life these days. “Just give me a gun, Professor. Save your questions for the extra credit homework assignment, Mr. Brains.”

The clerk looked at him. “Look, I’m not giving you a gun, old man. Don’t you have a grandchild, or a hospice worker who can come pick you up?”

Rip Torn took the finger gun out of his pocket and put it in his mouth. “Gibbe a gum or I’ba kill mahfelf,” he grumbled, tears forming in his eyes.

“Go ahead,” the clerk said. “Do it!”

Rip Torn pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. The clerk, meanwhile, was on the phone to the police. When they arrived, Rip Torn tried to explain that he only needed the gun in order to rob someone. Surely there were still such things as LOGIC and REASON in this world?! The police officers gently placed the drunken, potentially psychotic old man into a squad car. Rip Torn, of course, had absolutely no idea what had gone wrong. As far as he was concerned, he had worked out all the angles. It was the perfect crime. “I’m Oceans 78!” he said, but the cops were too busy with their paperwork.

When he got to the jail, Rip Torn realized that God does work in mysterious ways after all. When he closes a Pawn Shop he opens a Jail, like they always say. He would work his angle from the inside. “I want my phone call,” Rip Torn demanded before he had even been booked. “And you should just know right now that I do not even have a quarter, so you’re going to need to lend me a quarter, I am an American.”

One of the desk cops shook his head sadly and gave Rip Torn a quarter. “Relax, Rip Torn,” he said, “you’ll get a phone call. Hush now. I loved you in Welcome to Mooseport, by the way.”

“Get away from me faggot,” Rip Torn barked. Then he put the quarter in his mouth so the cops wouldn’t find it if they tried to strip search him.

Eventually, Rip Torn was led to a pay phone. He took an old Taco Bell receipt from out of his pocket, the number for his bookie scrawled on the back in a palsied handwriting drawn out in what looked like blood, and dialed the number. “Rico, it’s Rip, I want to make a sizable donation to the Puppy Bowl Hospital.” In his head, Rip Torn thought, “very clever, Rip Torn. Very cool. You are a slick slickster.” To Rico he lowered his voice and said, “I would like to put $10,000 on Garbanzo for Most Valuable Puppy. You heard me. This is my ticket, Rico. The next time you hear from me, I’m going to be calling you from a cordless phone in a house made of solid gold. On a boat. In space.”

Rip Torn hung up the phone and smiled to himself, rubbing his hands together like a man who just pulled off a most wonderful heist, even though if anyone had overheard him they would have just been like, seriously, Rip Torn? Garbanzo? Come on, you fool.