I have a recurring fantasy that if one were to dial the telephone number of someone in the past, one would hear again a familiar voice, and time would instantly rewind from now to then. I still have Orson Welles’ telephone number in my book (213-851-8458). Do I dare ring him and talk to him back in 1982, where he is busy trying to convince Jack Nicholson to play Pellarin for two not four million dollars? Should I tell him that he’ll not get the picture made? No. That would be too harsh. I’ll pretend that I have somehow got a copy of it, and that I think it marvellous though perhaps the handkerchief was, from so prudish a master, a bit much? Even incredible.
“Incredible?” The voice booms in my ear.”How could it be incredible when I stole it from Othello? But now I have a real treat for you. Standing here is your neighbour . . . Rudy Vallee! Overcome that ‘quiet reserve of shyness.’ Sing!“
From out of the past, I hear, “My time is your time,” in that reedy highly imitable voice. The after-life’s only a dial tone away. “What makes you think that this is the after-life?” Orson chuckles. “This is a recording.” Stop story here.
—Gore Vidal, “Remembering Orson Welles”