“Are you Rob Lowe?” Asks the valet.
“Yes. Yes I am.” Says Frank.
It wasn’t the first time he’d been asked that question. Hell, he lives off of it. He even has the perfect flattered-for-the-attention expression thing down. So much so that the valet guy reciprocates with the ideal not-sure-what-to-say-next response. “Well…um… here’s your car Mr Lowe.”
“Thank you,” Frank reads the name tag “Leon.” He flashes Leon the perfect Rob Lowe Hollywood smile “Sincerely.” It’s better than a tip. So Leon’s not getting one.
That was a great Rob Lowe Moment, thinks Frank. So he decides to treat himself to a movie montage drive on the way home. He slides into the supple leather seat of the Lambo and cues up Blondie’s Call Me on his phone. The extended mix. The drums kick in as he peels out.
He cruises along Hollywood Blvd and down to Sunset, flashing a Rob Lowe smile at anyone who looks in his direction. He takes Sunset to the PCH, doubles back to Wilshire, then up Rodeo and back along Sunset until he gets to the curvy driveway of a Bedford mansion. He puts the Lambo key in a rose bush pot by the front door and venmos “Ash K” fourteen hundred dollars with an emoji of a car. It’s more than half what he made today but totally worth it for the kind of entrance it gave him.
He walks out of the driveway and strolls the six blocks south to get to his cramped Bedford apartment. Pours himself a reasonably priced bourbon and cheerses to a good day.
10am. Frank wakes up to a text from Ash K “if you don’t gas it up the price goes up bro.” Ugh. F that guy, thinks Frank, he doesn’t look like anyone. The text puts him in a mood. He decides to go out to the busy part of Beverly to cheer himself up with a spotting.
He gets a couple of looks and a smile. Pretty good. But not good enough to bring him back to Rob Lowe level pep. He crosses over to Rodeo where the people are a little more desperate. He’s half a block in when he gets what he wants. An overdressed couple with accents ask to take a selfie with him. He flashes his Rob Lowe Hollywood smile and throws them a rehearsed “Sure. Just one though.”
Things are looking up. He lets them take more than one of course. Four, five, six even. The couple laps it up. Frank suavely commandeers the phone and takes a bunch of selfies with them in the background. Surprisingly nice phone, he thinks, weighty.
“Great to meet you both. Truly.” Frank says “And now I’m heading out with my brand new phone,” he vamps. The couple laugh so he plays it up even more. “Yep. Me and my new phone are out of here.” The couple laugh even harder. Frank feels an uncomfortable amount of distance between him and the phone’s owner. But he likes it. He backs around the corner of Dayton and an unexpected impulse makes his feet move faster. He’s sprinting and already a block away before he hears the overdressed guy with the accent screaming at him “Motherfuckerroblowefuck.” Luckily Frank’s fast on his feet. It’s all that Rob Lowe Body Workout he’s been doing. Before he knows it he’s home. Safe.
His adrenaline’s still pumping. He sits on the couch and grabs his laptop. Googles ‘Rob Lowe phone crime’. There’s nothing. It’s probably too soon. He powers his weighty new phone off and throws it in a kitchen drawer.
Frank Ubers to a late brunch with his friend Baz, a C grade Brad Pitt impersonator. He’s wearing his best Rob Lowe in public outfit: tshirt, jeans, sunglasses and an NFL hat, hoping that the Uber driver will say something. She doesn’t. Maybe that’s even better, he thinks. And that’s why you get the Uber Lux, for complete discretion.
Baz waves at him from a table outside the Ivy on Robertson. The original. He doesn’t love being out with Baz. It curbs the spotting potential. Sure, Baz looks good from a distance. Plenty of people approach him. But they usually stop short, two or three feet away. They get a good look at Baz’s C grade face and think better of it. But he really needs to gloat to someone about his brush with celebrity crime, so Baz will have to do.
“You’ll never read anything about it.” Says Baz after the epic retelling. “They all have people.”
“What kind of people?”
“You know, like PR people. Lawyers. They deal with all that shit.”
Makes sense, thinks Frank.
“Famous people do that kind of shit all the time. You think we’re going to read about it? His people probably buried it already. Bought that guy a hundred phones.”
Franks spots a group of midwestern women excitedly approach and get within three feet of the table. They see Baz up closer and turn away. That’s it. Frank’s had enough of this C grader.
He decides to walk home after brunch. The low carb granola and Greek yogurt bowl that he read Rob Lowe eats at the Ivy isn’t sitting right. He’s halfway up Third when he hears someone shouting his facesake’s name from across the street. He delivers the perfect oh-no-you-spotted-me look. A kid. So brazen, thinks Frank, shouting at a famous person in the street. Maybe he’ll steal his phone too. Teach him a lesson. Frank crosses the street to meet the kid he’s pretending he doesn’t want to meet.
“Hey, Rob Lowe, I love you bro. Can I take a photo with you? I really love your movies.”
“Sure. Just one though.” Frank responds, word perfect.
“Oh cool, let me get my phone ok bro?” The kid opens the door of a nice looking Benz. No wonder he’s so brazen. What is he, seventeen?
He holds the phone out to get them both in the photo. “Cool, just like this. I wanna get my car in it too, ok bro?”
“How about I sit in your car?” Suggests Frank.
“Oh shit shit ok, I love that.” Brazen, thinks Frank.
Frank slides in behind the wheel.
“Oh shit that’s so cool bro.” Brazen.
Frank growls like the car’s revving. And then tries the ignition. The kid left the key right in the cup holder. The Benz roars to life. Frank tingles at the power.
“How about you take one of me actually driving it? Something to tell the guys.” He suggests.
“Oh shit yeah bro” the kid says.
Frank puts the Benz in drive and floors it. Oh, the power. He checks the rear view mirror and can’t tell if the kid is laughing or screaming. Either way, f him.
Frank pulls the car into a quiet driveway a couple of blocks from his apartment. He gets out and leaves the key. Then checks the glove compartment. There’s not much in there. A couple of joints, which he takes. He walks around to the trunk and checks in there too. He finds a couple of jackets that he would never wear. But they look expensive so he takes them anyway. He walks confidently back to his place. No need to run. He knows no one’s looking for him.
Back at his apartment he googles ‘Rob Lowe steals car’. Nothing. He replaces ‘car’ with ‘phone’. Still nothing. Baz might be right, he thinks to himself.
10am the next day. He checks Google again. Still nothing. Shit, Baz is right. Rob Lowe has PEOPLE. A phone is one thing but a car?! His people are good.
He thinks about other stuff he could get away with and googles a few things for inspiration. Where Rob Lowe hangs out. Where he eats. Where he shops. And then psyches himself up to go and pull another job. Or two. Over the few days he gets an armful of books from Book Soup, a couple of shirts from Battistoni, some nice shoes from Neiman’s. He’s not even finished. Each morning he checks to see if there are any stories about his (or Rob Lowe’s) antics. But there’s nothing. He can’t wait to gloat to Baz again at a late lunch.
“Wait, I’ve got an idea.” Says Baz after another epic storytelling. “So, this place is full of us, right?”
“Full of who?”
“Us. You know, people who look like people. If you can get away with it, why can’t all of us?”
Frank didn’t want to burst Baz’s bubble. He’s just a C grade. Maybe. Maybe if it was the right kind of job. And no one had to see Baz. Up close. Sure it might work. He would probably look enough like Brad Pitt on a security cam. Maybe.
“There’s this jewelry store on Beverly. Boulevard, not Drive,” Baz continues “that I know for a fact doesn’t lock all its shit up at night.”
“How do you know?” Questions Frank.
“Sally used to work there.”
“You know, dead ringer for Winona Ryder.”
“Dead ringer? Yah, ish.” Replies Frank. But he knows who Baz is talking about. Baz keeps going, unfaltering “So me, you, Sally, my friend Riley who looks like Christian Slater and that guy who does a solid Ving Rhames from your imposter class.”
“Impersonator class.” Frank corrects.
“That should be enough people for the team.”
An elderly couple approach to ask Baz for a photo, then take another look and think better of it.
“How come you get to plan the heist?” Asks Frank.
“You know. Because of Ocean’s.” Says Baz confidently.
Baz sets a date and they plan to meet in the back room of the old CVS on Sunset. Sally has a key from when she used to work there too. Over the next week Baz plans and calculates the heist in such minute detail that Frank figures they could actually pull it off. They revel in the fact that they don’t even need to wear masks. They are masks. Living, breathing masks. They were born for this.
The night of the heist, Frank puts together his most Rob Lowe outfit. Tweaks it to be more of a Rob Lowe on a heist outfit. Then tweaks it back to just a regular Rob Lowe outfit. He gets to the back room of the old CVS on Sunset a couple of minutes late. It was worth it for the final outfit. As Baz goes over the plan again it starts to feel like they’re in a real movie. A star studded one. It helps that Baz is playing the Ocean’s soundtrack on his phone. Frank is pumped.
They get to the jewelry store and jimmy the back door. As planned. There’s no alarm sound but Sally said it would be silent. It gives them at least ten minutes before the police would even make it from Wilcox. Ten minutes is all they need. This is a smash and grab. They don’t even have to worry about the cameras because of their million dollar, albeit discounted, faces. Hey, cameras, thinks Frank. He grabs a handful of earrings and throws them in his duffel bag. If this shit ever gets out, he thinks, like past all the PR people, this footage is going to be everywhere. That could be good exposure. He grabs a handful of rings and duffels them. This could be his big moment. He looks up at the corner mounted camera and thinks WIDE SHOT. He commando rolls over a counter and pulls at a display of bracelets, gets a few of them and drops them straight in the duffel. There’s another camera a foot away, pointed right at him. CLOSE UP, he thinks, and gives a pained anything-to-survive expression. Nails it. He spins around and snags an armful of long droopy necklaces and expertly shoves them into the duffel. Another camera swivels to his right. TRACKING SHOT, he thinks excitedly. And attempts a cartwheel in its path but flubs the dismount and drops his duffel. Not his best take but they could probably just use the beginning bit. He drops down to grab the duffel and lifts himself up to come face to face with one more camera. Stares straight down the barrel. Ice cold. Man did he deliver. Baz calls “time” and they slip out with their swag. Frank throws one last look over his shoulder at the corner camera. This would be a great time for a punch in, he thinks. Sirens sound in the distance as he slides through the back door of the old CVS.
When he gets inside he notices the room is deserted. He stage whispers “Baz? Sally?” There’s no answer. He wanders out into the old packing area and spots a small clump of people crowded around a desk in the far end of the huge space. “Hey, I’m pretty sure we said the back room, guys.” He stage whispers. He gets a little closer and realizes it’s not the team he’s expecting.
“Are you Rob Lowe?” Asks Frank.
“Yes. Yes I am.” Says Rob Lowe. “We need to talk.”
“So,” concludes the real Rob Lowe after what seems like hours of railing, “either you sign this document my people put together, saying that you will no longer impersonate me, for illegal or even… legal… pursuits. Or Gino and Reno here will beat that beautiful face of yours or, really, of mine, until no one will ever mistake you for me ever again. Like I said, it’s your choice.” Frank knows what the right decision is. But can’t help but think how much he’d be throwing away. He pauses. Rob Lowe senses his reluctance. “You think you’re the first person to try this?” Rob Lowe questions, “I have to deal with one of you f-ing imposter punks every f-ing day. Make something of your own. Stop living off of my f-ing face.”
Frank sees Rob Lowe’s point and takes the pen he’s handing him. But before he can fully bring himself to sign, a wild idea hits him.
“Wait, don’t you think this would be a neat idea for a movie?”
Frank walks out of the CVS back room and down Sunset. “The Imposter, starring Rob Lowe as Frank Budden.” He ponders. “That is a neat idea.”