Archive for memories

AN UNSCHEDULED REWRITE

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2011 by kimmy

She winds her hands in his hair, long argent strands curling around her fingers .  The smell of tobacco and mint drifts from his lips.  What are you thinking about, he asks.  Don’t you know?   Strange how the sea cannot fathom the heart.

“CUT!!”  The director threw the script to the floor.  “What kind of dreck is this?” he bellowed.  “Get me the screenwriter!” 

His assistant scuttled to the door, making frantic motions with his arm until a slumped shouldered woman with tired eyes appeared and lowered it to his side.

“You called for me, Chief?”  She shuffled across the soundstage and pulled a battered laptop from her satchel.

“You call this passion?” he said, kicking the script her way.  “How can I make the audience pant when you don’t give me any heat?  Jesse!!” 

The assistant crept out from behind him.  “Gimme one of your Vicodin; I got a migraine”.  He swiped the pill from the assistant’s trembling hand, and washed it down with the last dregs of coffee in his mug. 

“Listen up, people, we got 6 hours to pull this together or we don’t make deadline!  And you two…” he said, glaring at the actors on the set bed, “at least try to look like you’re interested.  You’re actors for chrissakes…”

The writer raised the lid and began typing…

She rakes her fingers through his hair, long silken hanks that brush her face and curtain them off from the rest of the world.  She inhales deeply before looking into his eyes, searching for meaning within still tidal pools.  What are you thinking about, he whispers.  How much I love you.

“CUT!!!  No, no, NO!!  Not rom-com cornball bullshit!”

Again the script flew through the air and the hapless assistant scuttled to find the writer.  “If I had a bigger budget, I could have hired someone with talent, who knows what I want!  But, noooo… I’m stuck with a literature geek from Hyde Park! JESSE!!”

Jesse sprinted to his side. “Get on the phone and track down that writer from Vivid.”

“But, sir,” squeaked Jesse, iPhone in hand, “he writes porn.”  

“I don’t care if he’s a goddamn porn writer, at least he can write heat!!” The director leaned back into his chair and mumbled under his breath. “… two SAG nominations and now this… If that woman doesn’t torpedo my career, I don’t know what will.”

The writer stepped forward from the group standing paralyzed off-set.  They watched silently as she padded up to the director and opened her computer. 

“You sent for me, Chief?”

He turned with some effort to face her.   “Did I or did I not tell you that this is not a film for women?” asked he through clenched teeth.  “I don’t care about the psyche of this character, or any like her.  This is a man’s film.  It’s not even important that she thinks at all, only that she’s ready to go.  Got it?”

“Got it, Chief.”  

The director dismissed her with a wave and called for a twenty minute break.  The set was immediately abandoned as cast and crew fled outside to smoke and worry.   The writer sat quietly in the silence, recollecting her memories and tapping them onto the keyboard…

She twines her fingers through his hair, still damp from the shower.  He’ll need another one before she sends him home, damper still with sweat and longing.    What are you thinking about, he growls. There’s an off-shore storm roiling in his eyes.  How much I want you.

“Cut!  Print!”  The director’s shoulders sagged, but there was a trace of smile across his thin lips.  “There!” he said contentedly.   “Now was that so hard to do?

The writer shrugged and closed her computer.  Harder than you’ll ever know.

Advertisements

BRING OUT YOUR DEAD

Posted in personal, reminisce, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by kimmy

It had the earmarkings of a truly life-changing week.  And it did change me… but in ways I didn’t anticipate.

I was on retreat in Kansas City, trying to make sense of a life which had become incomprehensible.  The grounds were beautiful and I walked them everyday, sharing my despair with the trees.   They must have heard my pleas because not long after, my walk was accompanied by an enormous bird.  She had an eight-foot wing span and kept pace with me, always twenty yards ahead. 

It never occured to me to wonder why she was out of her normal habitat, or if she considered me prey.  Instead I followed her, listening to the heavy whoosh of her wings as she lighted from branch to branch, hoping that she would reveal her secrets.

She did, of course, a few days later when I realized that my marriage had died.    Why hadn’t I seen the vultures circling earlier?  I knew that it had to be buried, but the pain of this knowledge was so profound that it paralyzed me. 

And there was more to come.  I left the retreat the next day and rode to the airport like a zombie.  The highway was just a blur; the voices on the radio, a jumble of noise.   I paid no attention and just stared out the window, watching the fine Missouri homes pass by in streaks of color.

“… he died in a helicopter crash at Alpine Valley.”

The location roused some recognition in me, and I turned up the volume.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was dead on a hillside in Wisconsin.

It felt like a knife in my heart.

I couldn’t stop weeping.  And couldn’t understand why I was weeping for a man I had never met.  The dj’s were hushed, reverent as they recapped his life and played songs from his repertoire, but I didn’t hear them.  I only mourned the loss of, what felt like, a brother.

There was no respite when I returned to Chicago.  I walked into my apartment and dialed the phone.  I had to speak with Kathleen.

There was no answer.  Oh, why was I gallivanting around the country trying to find myself when she was in such frail health?  She had been good friend for ten years, but all I could recall in that moment were her lips stained with morphine.

“When I go, I’d like it to be of heroin overdose.” 

She couldn’t have meant it, so many years ago, laughing with the recollections of youth.  But her words were prophetic, and she had died in my absence, after a long battle with cancer.

What more would my winged messenger bring?  At the wake, I saw more than Kathleen’s body lying in the coffin.  Domestic fantasies, idealistic visions and adolescent dreams were nestled next to her, waiting to be interred forever into the cold ground.

PERRENIAL YOUTH

Posted in flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , on April 2, 2010 by kimmy

Like Mercury, he took flight and she didn’t see him for years.  The time passed placidly in the interim, although there were occasions when memories would rise unbidden and seize her with longing.  She put those items carefully aside.  It seemed unwise to reflect on something which belonged to the ether.

Nor did she confide in anyone; there was no one who would truly understand.  Over time, she began to question herself.  She wondered if she had been hasty and allowed her imagination too much free reign.  It was simpler than acknowledging the truth.

So she was surprised one afternoon when he telephoned.  She had relegated him to the island of lost souls and expected never to hear of him again.  His voice, sharp and abrupt, was a shock to her.

“Kathleen, it’s David.  Call me.”

Her scalp began to sting with heat.  She replayed the message twice before dialing his number.

If he was happy to hear from her, he hid it well.  His words, all jumbled and running together, were barked out hurriedly as if he had a tremendous amount of things to say in a limited time.  He never could get his mouth to match the speed of his brain.

She smiled as she listened, not to the words but to the meaning beneath them.  “Slow down, David!  It sounds like you’re about to blow a gasket. . .”

He laughed, that sweet hearty laugh he used so seldomly.  “This is me, relaxed!”

He hadn’t changed at all.  He was still the brash young man she had known years ago, bursting with news and brusque questions. 

It was only after the call ended that she realized its portend.  Alarmed, she threw down the phone and blotted her sweaty palm on the sleeve of her jacket.  She didn’t have to accept the tidings from the messenger of the gods.  She could just wipe them off and pretend they were lost in translation.

LILLIE LANGTRY’S

Posted in flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by kimmy

“Are you happy at home?”

It was easier to feign ignorance than answer the question.  “What do you mean?” she asked, wondering if her plight was that obvious.

David took a swig of beer and looked away with a smirk.  Fortunately for her, he had the same trouble maintaining eye contact.  “I mean, shouldn’t you be home making dinner for your husband instead of drinking in a bar after work?”

It was a reasonable question, but she recoiled.  He had an amazing way of repelling her at the oddest moments.  She sighed.  He did have a right to know why she came.  Fitting, she thought, that he should bring her to a place named after the most famous American courtesan of the nineteenth century.

Instead, she went on the offense.  “Do I look like June Cleaver?”

He scanned her briefly and flicked his eyes back to the game on television.  “Clearly not,” he snapped.

Irritable and impertinent.  She wondered if he had any redeemable qualities.  They sat in silence for several moments before he asked if she wanted another drink.

“Why not?” she replied.  It was better than going home to her empty apartment.

She wanted to light up a cigarette, but remembered she had quit the year before.  Without a task to keep them occupied, her fingers began to drum on the table.

“You seem a little anxious,” he said, taking out a tin of snuff and tucking a wad of it behind his lower lip.  Apparently she wasn’t the only one with a hankering for tobacco.  She watched with fascinated revulsion as he discreetly spat into a paper cup.  What would Lillie have done, she wondered, looking around for a spitoon. 

“I thought only baseball players chewed tobacco,” she said, nauseated.

He corrected her. “This isn’t chew; it’s dip.”

Nothing reminded her less of dip than the brown sludge gathering in the cup.  Suddenly her desire to taste the inside of his mouth flatlined.  “Maybe I ought to go home,” she said weakly. 

His eyes glittered a moment before turning matte.  And suddenly she understood.  He was trotting out the very worst of himself for a reason. 

She spoke defiance just as fluently.  “On second thought, I’ll stay.”