The Legend Of Marvin Drenk
By Chris Oakley
"How..." Amazement and disbelief fought for control of Marvin Drenk’s voice; the fight ended in a time-limit draw. "How in the Paramount Pictures backlot did you do that?!"
Grinning like a small-town high school senior who’d gotten lucky with Jayne Mansfield, Dr. Reinhardt said: "Ach, it all has to do vith a journey I took to ze New Mexico desert back in 1949. I vas looking for specimens for my genetic experiments and in ze course of my travels I came to a little town called..."
"Roswell?" Drenk guessed.
"Nein, Mr. Drenk." Dr. Reinhardt replied shaking his head. "I took a wrong turn on ze highway and never made it to Rosvell. I’m talking about a town called Roadkill Flats." He led the enlarged Japanese beetle to a small enclosure that Drenk thought looked a lot like a carry-on for a dog or cat. "Zere I met a man who had invented a machine that can make things grow...or shrink, vatever you prefer."
Closing and locking the door of the enclosure, Reinhardt said: "I bought ze patent from him and built my own machine in my laboratory when I returned to Germany." A panel at the base of the huge machine read: REINHARDT 2000 MOLECULAR RESTRUCTURING BEAM PROJECTOR & COSMIC MATTER EXPANDER.1
Drenk whistled appreciatively at the contraption. "Wow, you could do a lot with this gizmo." he said.
"Ja, Mr. Drenk." Reinhardt nodded. "Ven I heard about your problem, I decided it was only proper to use my vast scientific, intellectual, and personal resources to help you fix it. Naturally, I vill need to have one of my assistants look after things here in ze laboratory vile I accompany you back to Hollywood, but I am lookink forvard to vorking with you in making your movies the brilliant successes zey deserve to be."
That was exactly what Drenk needed to hear. "Just say the word, Dr. Reinhardt, and I can have you on the next plane to Los Angeles!"
Sure enough, within two hours Dr. Reinhardt and his shrink ray2 were on a 707 bound for LAX. The baggage handlers were understandably puzzled at the size of the huge crate they’d been assigned to load onto the plane with the rest of Reinhardt’s luggage, but Reinhardt had told them it was just part of the normal equipment he used in his lab work as a scientist.
Neither Drenk nor Reinhardt drank much on the flight back to Los Angeles, but they didn’t need to-- they were wacky enough when they were stone cold sober. Dr. Reinhardt listened with rapt fascination as Drenk explained his bizarre conspiracy theories about why his movies weren’t the box office triumphs he thought they should be. Had it not been for the fact that Dr. Reinhardt was a complete raving lunatic, he might have noticed that Drenk’s theories had more inconsistencies than the defendants’ alibi at the Nuremburg Trials. He also might have seen that Drenk was more or less projecting his own neuroses3 onto the rest of the world. But Reinhardt was, as you may have already noticed, not exactly the brightest Bunsen burner in the lab.4
So he accepted everything Drenk told him as gospel truth, even though Drenk’s theories made less sense than a Jim Morrison LP. Not once did it occur to him to ask for solid proof of Drenk’s theories or to point out any of the flaws in those theories...5
One person who was familiar with Drenk’s conspiracy concepts, and was getting heartily sick of them, was the receptionist at the front desk for the offices of the CEO of Continental Pictures. Maisie Jones had heard every bizarre explanation Drenk could think of for why his bug movies never did well at the box office; the one explanation she hadn’t heard from him was the one which actually made sense-- namely, that he couldn’t direct a decent movie if his immortal soul depended on it.
But it wasn’t just the endless repetition of his conspiracy theories that made her detest him; it was also the fact that his repeated box office failures were causing Continental Pictures, once one of the greatest studios in Hollywood, to lurch ever closer to going out of business. The studio was at least $2 million in the red thanks to Marvin Drenk, and this meant Maisie wasn’t getting paid very much.
She couldn’t think of a single possible situation under which she would tolerate being in the same room with him if her duties as a secretary didn’t require it.6 But when a security guard down at the Continental studio gates phoned her desk the morning after Drenk’s return to Hollywood to tell her about the oversized gizmo Drenk had lugged onto the Continental Pictures backlot, she managed to swallow her distaste for the hack director long enough to be curious about what it was and pay a visit to the soundstage where Drenk made his "Cockroach" movies.
Unaware of the secretary’s presence,7 Drenk watched a group of stage hands pull the tarp off Dr. Reinhardt’s cosmic ray projector. He noted with satisfaction the looks of amazement and disbelief on the stage hands’ faces when they saw the ray projector in all its glory; he then turned to Dr. Reinhardt and said genially, "Why don’t you tell our friends here about what the Reinhardt 2000 does and how it works?"
"Very good, Mr. Drenk." said Reinhardt, who then proceeded to launch into a barrage of technobabble that would have left even Gene Roddenberry scratching his head. Maisie, her blonde beehive glowing like Rudolph’s nose under the beams of the spotlights on the ceiling, felt like she should have had an interpreter with her while the not- so-good doctor was going through his spiel...
To be continued...
 Long name, isn’t it?
 Or growth ray, depending on how you wanted to use it.
 And psychoses, for that matter.
 In fact, it’s something of a minor miracle Reinhardt hadn’t blown himself to smithereens before he met Drenk.
 And rest assured, there were plenty of flaws he could have chosen from.
 Except, maybe, identifying him in a police lineup or a morgue. Marvin Drenk had a long list of people with restraining orders against him and an equally long list of people who wanted him dead. And Maisie should know-- she was in the top ten of the second list.
 Let’s face it, Drenk was unaware of a lot of things.