[Three Letters to Val Kilmer]

Dear Mr. Kilmer,

I dreamt recently that I was signed up for this birthday thing where a celebrity calls you on your birthday. I should mention that I qualified for this birthday thing because I had cancer in the dream—it was sort of like make-a-wish foundation. Anyways, my birthday comes and goes, and no call from you. So I call the people that put this thing together. I assumed that they had my phone number wrong or something. Apparently the problem, they said, was that you had been dropping the ball, as in not making your calls. This was happening for all of your cancer birthday people. So they gave me your phone number and said I should give you a call myself.

I called your phone a few times, but I just get some generic voice mail—the old “the Verizon customer you are trying to reach…” workaround. So I kind of gave up. I figured this birthday phone call deal is just like the rest of life—aka: so much bullshit aka: a real letdown. This life is cockshit I realize—what with my cancer and all.

So I’m at this cowboy themed wedding. Same dream. I still have cancer, but I’m dancing around, and everyone is being extra nice to me because of the cancer and whatnot. I get tired of the wedding and walk outside. I try your number and I get an answer.

Hello. Val Kilmer? Yeah. You never called me. Huh? You were supposed to call me on my birthday… I have cancer. Uh, God—sorry (some background noise, I think you were chewing on something). Whatever, at least I’m talking to you now—you got a minute? Uh yeah (distractedly), actually I’m a little busy (some banging) but I can—hold on a sec (background noise dies down) ok, yeah—what’s up?

So then I tell you about my struggles to become a stage actor. Like how it’s pretty hard to make a living as an actor unless you have connections. You were sympathetic, but you didn’t have much to say because what’s a person supposed to say in that situation anyway? Like if I were you, and someone came at me like that, I probably wouldn’t know what to say either. You told me that you never found it too hard, acting. Then I ran out of things to say to you. So you were like—I gotta go now buddy, but sorry about your cancer. I hope you get better. And I said, “It’s terminal,” but you had already hung up. I had been planning to hang up on you, but sometimes these things don’t work out like you plan. I was sort of mad that I hadn’t thought of anything else to say to you. The cancer wasn’t really terminal.

I’m not exactly your biggest fan, but I really liked Willow, and when I see you in a movie I usually have a good time. I guess I don’t really know how you feel about your own acting. Maybe you are extremely ambivalent about it.

I hope we can become friends,

Kaj Anderson-Bauer

Dear Mr. Kilmer,

Thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate what you said about commitment, and like generally sticking to shit. Honestly, I looked at your IMDB page and I had no idea. You must work so hard. Things have really changed for you since Top Gun, huh? Anyway, I had another dream about you:

I’m at dinner with my wife and children. It’s a fancy restaurant, and we’re having some kind of special dinner, like Christmas Eve or something. Anyway we order, and I head out to the bathroom. While I’m in there, I hear yelling and scuffling coming from the restaurant. I poke my head out and realize that some gunmen have taken the place, and they are shooting everyone. I decide to run away and abandon my family. I escape to the woods behind the restaurant and I run aimlessly for a while, until all I can hear are the sounds of nature, the hooting, the rustling and other such.

I should mention that I feel pretty guilty, even now, about abandoning my family in the dream. I hate to think that I’m capable of that kind of cowardice. Maybe I am. I don’t actually have a wife and children—maybe I just don’t understand yet what it means to have that kind of thing. I would like to have a wife and children someday. It's like there's this hole inside of me. I have a hard time explaining this to people. You were married. What do you think?

Sorry—I got away from the dream. I’m walking through the woods and I see a fire in the distance—like a very spooky orange glowing Halloween type of thing. I get closer, and it’s you. I should clarify. Like, you are anthropomorphically a human, only made out of fire. You are like God in the Bible. You were eating something. Maybe you were eating a tuna fish sandwich. I forget. I ask you if there are bears in the woods, and you say, Yes, there are. I say that I’m really afraid of bears, and you say, “Yes, I too am afraid.”

Then you are gone. Or the fire goes out. Or something. You leave me alone in this bear-infested forest, in any case. I guess that’s how it goes. We don’t really know each other, so why wouldn’t you leave me? You and I have no special connection, except these letters. All the same, I felt you had betrayed me. I still feel that way somewhat.

Some of my friends don’t like your movies—they don’t take them very seriously. I’m not really sure why.

I think we actually might have a psychic connection—disregard what I said earlier,

Kaj Anderson-Bauer

P.S.: A little about me: I am single right now. I'm thirty-seven, and I'm going to school for resort and casino management. You should look me up if you are ever in New Orleans. I have a pretty exciting life, actually. Just thought you might be interested to know a little about the man behind the mask, so to speak—aka: myself.

Dear Mr. Kilmer,

Thanks for your letter. I’m sorry it’s been so long, but I haven’t been dreaming much lately. Things have gotten complicated for me. I’ve gotten sick, and I’m too tired to remember my dreams most of the time. It’s pretty serious I guess. I probably won't be doing much writing in the future. Honestly, it looks really bad. It makes me sick to think about it too much. I’m trying to stay upbeat, though. Come visit me if you can. Anyway, I liked what you said about love in your last letter. I hung that letter up on my fridge with these magnets I have, and I reread it often. It’s given a lot of meaning to my life lately. I want the kind of love you and Joanne had while you were filming Willow. I really do—I’m desperate for it. I've been feeling very lonely.

Here’s the dream I had last night:

I was a Boy Scout leader, and I was leading a troop up a mountain.The mountain was so steep that I kept getting tired. I called breaks pretty often, like every five minutes. I was blaming the need for breaks on this fat kid in the back, but really it was me. I was feeling pretty bad about putting it all on the fat kid. It’s not very nice, you know. He probably gets picked on all of the time. But I just couldn’t admit that I was tired in front of these kids. I really wanted them to look up to me. I wanted to be this impressive guy.

As we reached the top of the mountain, one of the boys yelled out that the fat kid was missing. This made me feel awful, because I knew it was most likely my fault. He probably got fed up with the rough time I was giving him. Yeah, I was teasing him, but we all were—me and the other kids. We’d been calling him "gorilla" because he had this monkey-like way about him—his arms hung too low, and he had a big sloping forehead. This was in addition to being fat. This kid really had it tough. I didn’t get picked on much as a kid, so I don’t know what it’s like. It must be hard, though I can’t relate to his pain. I’ve just never experienced it.

I started thinking about whether we should help the kid. Like, we would all probably need to go back for him as a group. That would be shitty, I thought, but okay. “Save this kid,” I told myself. Then I realized—thanks to omnipresent dream time–that the fat kid had thrown himself off a cliff. I could actually see him falling in the dream. He walks to the edge, looks back over his shoulder to see if we are coming back for him, and when he doesn’t see anyone, he jumps. Then I realized you were the fat kid, Val Kilmer. I ask the kids if they knew that we’d been hiking with Val Kilmer all this time, and they all knew. I tried to explain that I didn’t know because I haven’t seen any of your movies lately, and I guess you’ve aged—that’s what the kids were saying. I’m not the best with faces anyway.

Sorry to be the bearer of such a bad omen. I don’t really believe in omens, and I hope you don’t either. Honestly, the dream probably doesn’t mean anything. I’m crazy about the way you played Jim Morrison, by the way. I think you did a better job than Jim Morrison himself. That movie was full of so much longing. I get pretty sad sometimes thinking about it. It makes me wonder whether a part of you is sad and tortured like that. But then again, a person’s body of work doesn’t always say much about who they are—take Owen Wilson, I hear he can get very dark at times.

much love,
Kaj Anderson-Bauer

Kaj Anderson-Bauer writes fake gossip about his friends and gives real advice to Sasha Frere Jones and Garfield the Cat. He has recently published his stories in Fiction Brigade, Melee Live and Thin Air Magazine. Kaj lives in Arkansas.