“Banging into a car! Banging into a car!” Shelby howls. “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
“Was he the gold mine?” Tommy Chong asks. “Was he the gold-mine writer?”
“You do such a good setup,” Shelby says.
“You learned that from the early selling,” Chong says. “How to sell.”
Finally the conversation lands on his lack of sleep. Belfort tells us he’s seeing a psychologist now, trying to come up with a cure for his insomnia.
“Why can’t you sleep?” Shelby asks him.
“I hated going to sleep as a kid,” Belfort says. “I almost trained myself to fight sleep, and it eventually became a pattern.”
Shelby is confused.
“You make your real life so scary,” she says. “How could sleep be scary?”
The night is warm and clear. After dinner, I drive with Belfort back toward Manhattan Beach in the Mercedes. Top down, we pass the tattoo and taco shops on Lincoln Boulevard in silence. Finally, he breaks it.
“Did you like the stories?” he asks.
The stories were great, I tell him. He’d told them so well. It was the truth. Once he got rolling, all the laughing was infectious. He truly was a talent.
Belfort smiles to himself. For a minute, the compliment has perked him up, but the feeling soon fades. As the stoplights on Lincoln Boulevard pass by, I look back at him. He looks pale and deflated.
“Honestly, it’s just so exhausting,” he says.