Duvall actors get this rough?

The second winner of our Celebrity Dreams essay contest finds himself pinned to the ground by Robert Duvall.

By Walt Davis

Published December 6, 2000 8:00PM (EST)

I work at a university and Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming to visit. Secret Service agents are snooping around our offices. We figure it must be because he's married to a Kennedy relative. In my best Arnold voice, I say, "Ja shu-er, like Ah-nult would toor our offices."

Of course, on cue, Arnold happens to be walking down the hall and hears me. He's not upset, but I'm very embarrassed. I stammer my way through an explanation of what we do and they start to take him to the next stop on his tour.

Which is when I make my big mistake. I reach into my pocket for my keys. Secret Service folks don't take kindly to folks reaching into their pockets and I'm quickly (and painfully) wrestled to the ground. I twist my head around and see that the Secret Service agent is Robert Duvall. I'm in deep shit now.

The Secret Service takes over our offices and sets up a command center, all for the purposes of checking me out and interrogating me. It seems like hours of Duvall and I butting heads: "Why were you threatening Mr. Schwarzenegger?" "I wasn't threatening him, I was pulling out my keys."

I finally realize that this must be a movie, only none of us regular folks knew we were in a movie. So this won't end until I figure out how to end the scene. And they won't let my co-workers leave until this ends, so they're starting to get real pissed at me and telling me to just confess. I start asking Duvall some questions about himself; he digs deeper into my past. Finally, we have an emotionally charged, tearful climax.

"I know you're just doing your job," I say, "but I grew up during Vietnam so I learned to distrust the government. But I see that I can trust you." Duvall recognizes his own prejudice against "university types." We embrace.

The scene finally ends, but now I'm standing at the back of a theater with Duvall. "I can go now?" I ask. "In just a second," he says. On stage, Melanie Griffith is standing on a pedestal, singing. Barbra Streisand comes running in from offstage, screaming something about a woman's right to choose and the Supreme Court's Webster decision. "Now you can go." And not a second too soon.

Walt Davis

Walt Davis lives in Carrboro, N.C.

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