Red heels? Yes! I happen to be an expert at walking in high heels. Very high heels…
My new dress? Yep! Black dress can’t fail.
Hmmm. A wide red leather belt? Hmmm. No. The red scarf I bought in Florence. Italy, not Miss’sipi. Tied around the waist. Good!
A touch of make-up. Red lipstick. Too red? No.
And a hat. The red felt one. The one I bought downtown. At the antique shop. Vintage hat. I love vintage. Love “old”. Per-fect.
Now a carriage ride to downtown. To my favorite Cuban restaurant. Can’t wait for the mojitos.
Love this place. Love this town. Hmmm. The horse trots softly on the pavement. Clippity, clippitty clop. A cool breeze.
But wait! Wait! That’s the wrong turn! No! Not to the Bates Motel and the creepy Laundromat! Nooooo!
South of the border,
West of the Sun.
My friends call me West. The question “West of where?” inevitably comes up when I meet new folks. West of nowhere, actually. I live in a small town right smack in the center of America. West of New York, East of Californaya. North of Miss’sipi, north of the real border, Mexico, south of Canada. West of nowhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my town. It’s no Stephen King small town. It’s a lovely small town. Tidy. Well kept. Hardly any crime at all. I’ve known the Sheriff all my life, he was buddies with my grandfather. Most of his work involves catching school kids playing truant. Or the occasional bar fight at a trucker’s bar near the highway. Or High school kids caught DUI. A night in the joint serves both as a lesson and a twisted reward. “I spent the night in the joint”. “Wow! Is coffee as bad as they say it is?” “Worse!”
I’ve been to New York, to San Francisco. Love both places, though each seems to belong to a different country where they happen to speak English, but there’s nothing like a small town, this town, my hometown! There is something about small towns no Economics teacher has ever been able to explain to me. I’ve travelled in Europe and South America extensively (my backpacking days!) and I’ve always marveled at how they do it? There’s a small town in Colombia, north of Bogotá, called Zipaquira (where the legend of El Dorado) began) where there’s no visible industry, no big companies, yet the streets are full of shops and people. Ordinary folks seem to make a living (an honest one) just by tending the needs of others. Same goes in small towns in Italy or France: there are doctors, accountants, shop owners, car dealers, motels, offices, dentists, shoe stores (Love shoes. Don’t get me started on that topic!) And the town lives. Same here: no big company around, no factories, no paper mill, nothing big. More corn fields than cotton fields, but that’s about it. No oil, no cattle. Just an ordinary small town and ordinary folks making an honest living. Maybe Nobel prizes in Economics 901 should start looking at small towns.
Mine’s a pretty little town. Downtown might look like a movie décor sometimes. There’s a general hardware store the owner looks like Gibbs’ father. Complete with the sawed-off double-barrel shotgun beneath the counter. There’s only one movie theater left. But alive and kicking. Each January they put on “The last movie show” as a joke. I’ve already seen it like 6 times! Have to keep the local business running! Not many redneck pickup trucks with the rifle hanging in the cabin park on Main Street. Lots of stores. Clothes, shoes, accessories, flowers, there is a bookstore! Stubbornly fighting the e-book revolution! Computer stores, restaurants. There’s a Cuban restaurant I love. And many other “cuisines”. What more can you ask? The Cuban restaurant serves the best mojitos north of Cuba and the Miss’sipi. My BFF and I go there at least once a week. Yes, I have a BFF! Lucilla. Known each other since fifth grade. We laugh together, we cry together, we fight and reconcile…
There’s a carousel downtown. Or should I say a merry-go-round? Always been there as far back as I can remember.
It’s funny how a picture can bring all your senses to life in a single moment and suddenly the sights, smells, sounds and emotions surrounding a single memory come bursting to life.
I remember thinking that the carousel sounded like a jewelry box. You know the kind … the cheap ones. They play a simple, tinkling, bell like tune when you open the lid. It was my favorite gift at my most favorite birthday party.
He was six and me four when my cousin decided I should ride my first carousel. I sat perfectly still in the saddle, totally entranced by all the lights; his little hands clutched around mine, holding on to a long, golden pole. And the music – Magical, tinkling bells -an all encompassing sound that vibrated through my body as I rode a pink painted pony … up … and then down …. again and again in a slow circular motion~ the most perfect way to turn four years old.
Continuing the city tour, there’s a First National Bank, a First Methodist Church, a First Presbyterian Church, and a First Baptist Church (Praise the Lord). I sometimes wonder what happened to Christian humility. Shouldn’t there rather be a Second or Last Methodist Church? Like Avis: Number 2 we try harder?
My dad’s a CPA. Works from home, attending a good chunk of the small businesses in town. My mom’s a computer programmer. Works at home, too. Remote. Sometimes she gets clients in India, in Hong-Kong. Each has their own separate office so they don’t get in each other’s way. At 5:00 sharp every day, my father closes the door to his office, goes into the corridor and shouts: “Honey! I’m home!” “Hi, dear, how was your day?”. Aren’t they cute?
Me? I’m your original All-American girl-next-door. Pretty I guess, but what woman is ever satisfied with herself? Straight, long blond hair. Grey-green eyes. Slim. I run 5 miles everyday. Don’t eat between meals. Something my grandmother taught me. So I keep a good figure. J I went to school here all the way to High School. Now, a lot of movies or TV shows portray High School as a small infierno with tiny bitches competing on clothes and men, I mean boys, where boys only train to be quarterbacks and the bigger ones kick the sh.t out of the little ones between classes. Not here. Or at least not that overt. Maybe it had to do with the Principal, Dr. Carpenter. She just retired last year. She was a no nonsense tough lady, who could drag a 180 pounds aspiring jock by the ear to her office and suspend him for a week. She had a private deal with the Sheriff. Community service was the least capital offense in High School. But under Dr. Carpenter’s iron fist reign, High School was for learning. “And I don’t care how fast you can run the 40 yard line, boy!”
Perhaps, because of her, every year I volunteer, helping underprivileged children use recycled items from home to make Easter Baskets on a less-than-shoe-string budget. They are made of shoe boxes and tissue paper, so it’s no holds barred on colors and patterns.
Now, speaking of colors, I love red! Just love it. If I were Mick Jagger (I see a red door, and I want to paint it black) I’d paint every black door red! Whether it’s of the candy apple or fire engine shade, I love RED. It’s bold, confident, beautiful and oh-so-hot … and this next picture of mine is no exception! Thoroughly coated, recoated … and recoated, this antique door is both glamorous and vintage-chic; at once flirting with your curiosity and commanding your attention … I love red.
After I finished High School I went South. North of Cuba, but deep, deep South. To the U. of A. Tuscalooser, Alabamer. Roll tide! Had a great time. Learned my first furn language: Sudern. Ah swear: the first week Ah thought Ah was in a foreign country! Had fun. Learned a lot. Wasn’t a cheerleader. Wasn’t into dating quarterbacks. The brain-muscle balance seems a bit one-sided to me. Ah done got me a B.A. in Digital Communication with a minor in Photography. Many things may define me. Red for instance. But photography accounts for a significant percentage of who West is!
After College I went home. To my mama and papa and our three cats: Bagheera, Baloo and Mowgli. I’m thinking of sharing an apartment with Lucille downtown. Right now I work from home, setting up digital communication strategies for my dad’s clients and a few others. But I need my own space.
Vintage signs are the best: their colors, shapes, fonts are sometimes so blatantly unapologetic, even if there’s no rhyme or reason … what’s not to love? Sadly this “Quick and clean self-service laundry” is closed for business.
Did I mention I love “old”, and “vintage”? There’s an antique shop downtown I go to almost every week. Now remember that in the US of A, anything post sixities is an antique. John Travolta is antique. He’s from the fifities. Pre Civil War stuff is archeology!
– Excuse me. Is that what I think it is?
– Errr… What do you think it is?
– A Nikon 35mm, 1975.
I was having a late, pre-lunch, black booster coffee in my favorite diner downtown. Complete with formica counter and fake leather seats. Sometimes I think my hometown’s been caught in a Twilight Zone warp. Most patrons are at least 70. The waitress, Lola, has been here as long as I remember. She’s probably 80. I swear I’ve seen her once with rollers in her hair. Calls everybody “Honey”. Always has a half-smoked, unlit cigarette hanging at the corner of her mouth. (Tobacco regulations) She’s a doll.
I generally take a table by the window. Watch the street, ready to grab my camera for spontaneous street views. Remember Doisneau’s series of pics taken from inside an art gallery with a nude painting in the windowsill? The expressions he captured on the people who watched the nude from outside? I’ve taken great shots from my diner’s windows. That morning, I had a 1974 Nikon, reflex, 35 mm, 1:1.4/50 with me. Though digital has changed our lives, I still use traditional, argentic cameras from time to time. Helps for discipline. Framing. Angles. Light. Can’t cheat with the real deal.
– Close, I said. 1974.
– May I? The man signaled my camera.
– Sure, I said. (Curious).
He took the camera. Examined it. Checked the lens I was using. Exposure… without letting go of the camera, he signaled the empty chair in front of me.
– Do you mind? (Great smile).
– No, go ahead. (I did mind, but he did have a nice smile. Aren’t women suckers for a good smile?)
– Thank you, he said. Extended his right hand and said. I’m George.
– West, I said. Shook his hand. Curious again. I should have remembered: “curiosity killed the cat.”
And then we talked! I mean I talked! He had a way of listening! And asking the right questions. In little under half an hour and a couple of poisonous coffee mugs, I’d told him my entire life! Unlike many, he mostly listened. Obviously was a Photo freak. Familiar with the works of my favorite photographers from Leibowitz to Doisneau, to Boubat, Cartier-Bresson, O’Keefe, McCurry, Weston and so many others. Surprised – and pleased – that someone “so young” would still work with an old camera. Didn’t ask “why West”? Took it in stride. Didn’t talk about himself. Different! I barely learned that he was a teacher at the local U. Only much later did I learn that he had a Phd from MIT. Another small town! Then after 25 minutes he checked his watch and said:
– Got to run. Thanks very much for the talk. Take care.
And that was it. Didn´t ask for my cell. Which was sitting on the table right next to the Nikon. Didn’t suggest another meet. Nothing! I sat there dumbfounded. Not that I was… so… interested in the guy, but… Okay. He was cute in a George C. way. Great smile. Keen eyes, that made you feel you were the most important person he’d ever met. (Probably well rehearsed technique). Cleft chin. Fashionable 3 day beard stubble. Greying hair… Mr George indeed! But, he was also obviously “George’s” age. Fifty something. I mean, I like old and vintage, but in other product categories. In men? Not that vintage! He had nice hands though…
Dressed out in the moonlight, this is one of the most romantic spots in the small town American city where I live. This little alley is often filled with the sights and sounds of jazz music and couples dancing. Once a month our downtown area is entirely closed off and the city plays host to a huge residents-only street party … complete with horse and carriage rides in the park and around the lake. The cost of admission… just bring your Utility Bill so they can verify your residency.
I love this spot. Not to mention my favorite Cuban restaurant is behind door No. 3. Best Mojitos north of the Mason-Dixon line! I swear.
Didn’t see Mr. Vintage for three full days! The fact that I went back to the diner everyday in the meantime has nothing to do with it. I just needed to… get more street pictures, is all. And… it would have been interesting to… follow-up on conversation. But, no! Three days! Lola was already asking me if I was waiting for the cute nice gentleman!
Then on the fourth day, he showed up from nowhere at the diner. Sat in front of me. Without asking. Vintage smile. He put his backpack on the table and said:
– Hi! Sorry it took me so long, but I have a surprise for you. Close your eyes.
– Why should I close my eyes? I don’t know you. For all I know you have a gun in that pack. And while I shut my eyes you will shoot me. Because you can’t look me in the eye and do it!
– I do pack a gun in that pack. Just kidding. I don’t, but there is something I’d like to show you. Please close your eyes. Promise I won’t shoot you.
I shut my eyes. Halfways. Thanks to my mother I have very long eyelashes. 🙂
– There you are, he said. You can half-open your eyes now.
I almost yelped! There were two cameras on the formica table. I moved my coffee away. One was a Hasselblad. Gorgeous. With a Carl Zeiss lens. The ones you look down into the camera. A 1953 Hasselblad 1000F! And, visually less impressive, a Leica. Cartier-Bresson’s one and only camera. I gasped something like:
– But, but, where did you get those? They are priceless. May I? I asked extending a respectful hand after brushing muffin crumbs on my jeans.
– Sure, sure, go ahead, he said. Where did I get them? They’re mine. They’re also the reason it took me so long. Three days! (So he counted too) Thing is, since I just moved into town, all my stuff is in crates. You like them?
– Love them, I said. They’re… Cadillacs. No. They’re Rolls.
– Pick one up. On loan. I repeat. On loan. They both have a name: “back”. Loan for a week or a coupla. Which one?
– I can’t accept that. These are worth fortunes.
– I have a good insurance. (Smile.)
– Er… (I had to do something about that smile. Think “too vintage”, West. Vintage) Can I use the Hasselblad for a week, and switch to the Leica? (I put on my 500W smile)
– That was not the deal, he said. But it’s okay. They’re loaded by the way. Fuji Neopan 400. I also have Kodak Tri X 400 if you like. Now there is a condition.
– (There we go) Yes?
– The only condition is that I get to see your pix first. Before you post them on your blog. Very nice blog by the way.
– You’ve been to my blog.? How did you…?
– Not too difficult, he said. Tried Tumbler, no dice, then hit jackpot with WordPress. West, photography, are good tags.
– Okay. Deal. How do I contact you…
– I got your cell, he laughed. I cloned it the other day. You shouldn’t leave your phone on the table!
– You WHAT?
– I’m joking. There are apps that do that but that’s only for the CSA, Central Stupidity Agency and Person of Interest. Here. (he wrote a number on a paper napkin) You have mine. Worse case I can write a comment in your blog. Set up a meet. At any rate, I like this diner. (He looked around) Looks like the Twilight Zone. See you around.
He left with the Leica. I had a Hasselblad to work with!
There is something so alluring about abandoned structures. I find they tease my curiosity like no other subject that I photograph and this withered charmer stopped me in my tracks. It lives alone. Buried. Forgotten. I knew from the moment I saw it I had to showcase it in black and white; to better translate the stark, barren aura that pervades the entire atmosphere of the place. It’s filthy, gritty and completely captivating!
And we started seeing each other almost daily in the diner. He came back the next morning with the Leica, saying that I should use both and compare results. I’d shoot in the day, develop at night, sleeping not too well, dreaming of vintage smiles and hands, eager to discuss the shots the next day. Lola was frowning a bit, threatening to tell my folks. I made a series of portraits of her and pix of the diner, B&W of course, printed them in matte paper, large size, so she could hang them in the diner. I tried the Leica with a color roll.
Blushing in sunlight, brave in thunderstorms, these small, playful coral faced flowers are shy indeed. Preferring the company of squirrels and insects to people, they like to hide, often under a thicket or in the woods~ It’s quite rare to see them out in the open… but today I did.
I took the Hasselblad with a few B&W rolls to the “Bates Motel”. It is an abandoned motel close to downtown. It’s been shut for years. It tends to be used now by High school kids for… entertainment. Me? Don’t look at me. I write this thing. And I will take the fifth. Ever since Detroit started shrinking cars, making it harder and harder for kids to make out in the back seat, motels, abandoned or not, are just one of many options. Why d’you think I want to move out with Lucilla? 🙂
The motel is, was called Route 66 Don’t know why. Route 66 is, like hundreds of miles away in any direction. Local folks call it the “Bates motel” ‘cause it’s creepy.
Untouched. Pure. Refined. Of all flowers, I think orchids are the most beautiful, the most intriguing and by far the most aloof. They crave delicate but distant attention and their blooms, when full, are perfect.
“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead f colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” Rainer Maria Rilke
– You like Rilke? George said. Love him. He started citing Autumn:
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
I smiled. Rilke is one my favorite poets. I asked, teasing:
– You don’t know them in German do you?
– Der Abend wechselt langsam die Gewänder,
die ihm ein Rand von alten Bäumen hält;
– Let me guess! Let me guess. Abend is… I took French at school!
– Abend is the evening…
– Got it! Slowly the evening changes into the clothes
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
– Very good. Beautiful isn’t it?
Checking late at Lakewood lodge
Bold and beautiful as ever. This vintage road sign still lights up the scene every night at sundown. Still open for business… $28 will get you a room for the night.
Yes that motel is still very much in operation. And, no, I didn’t book a room there!
And the days went on. Taking pix in the afternoon (best light) or at dusk. Printing at night, coffee in the morning with Mr. Vintage. Strange man. Straightforward. One day he told me he’d learned about my interest for Rilke on my blog. (I have to clean my blog. Take my own picture off. Put a Gravatar instead) And he’d memorized a few Rilke lines, in English and German, just in case. He now had my cell number. I’d Whatsapp him photos on the spot. From digital cams of course. I was kinda waiting for him to make his move, but wasn’t much in a hurry either. ‘sides I had my birthday coming up. Lucilla told me she’d organize something. Didn’t count much on that. I love Lucilla but she overpromises all the time. If all came to worse, my parents sure would have a cake ready!
Laundromats. I don’t have much experience in them. I never actually went inside one until I was… well …. you know, older. A nice stranger (what’s with me and strangers?) with baskets heaped full clothing helped me find the change machine and got me started on my very first load at the “Wash and Fold.”
This is a very small, rather lonely, dingy place … looking around at the time, all I could think was, “I should have brought my camera.” So, I finally got around to it- this time no laundry, I left it tucked away at home, safe from the thin layer of cigarette ash and dust that covers just about everything there. But it isn’t all bad, they have a fabulous vintage television set… it picks up 2 channels, a Pac-Man game and a carry out Pizza restaurant next door… by my third visit, I had advanced to level 3. (No… I’m not very good at video games…)
I processed these with vintage filters I made in Photoshop.
Gritty and grim, dusty and used… this 70′s-something “Wash and Fold” sits right in the middle of town. A half empty vending machine and broken down arcade game wait at the door to greet patrons, while rows of washing machines work overtime washing, rinsing and spinning … or is it washing, spinning and rinsing?
It is creepy at night.
Well! I have a date!… Mr. Vintage finally invited me for dinner at my favorite Cuban Restaurant. Door Number 3, remember? At 9:00 he said. Why nine? (My folks have supper at 6:00. I don’t, but 9:00? This town’s almost dead by then) Nine because I like the night. ‘sides, green eyes shine better at night. That’s corny you realize that? Yeah, Trite, I know. I also like Bluegrass music, but I do like the night and I couldn’t think of any other line. And the Mojitos are being harvested as we speak. Green too. The Mojitos. I’ve also asked for Moros y Cristianos. Love it. (How does he know?) Then it’s also your birthday… How do you know? Facebook. Mental note: clean my FB. Besides, he said, this will be carriage night. Make sure to bring your utility bill. I don’t have one yet. We’ll take a ride in the carriage. I said yes. What the heck? Worse case scenario, I know the Sheriff. Sat on his lap when I was five at a barbecue at my Grandpas’. I told Lucilla. She was slightly P.O’ed. Said she already organized everything. How could I do that to her? I got out of it with the promise to “tell all” the next morning at the diner.
So here I am. All clothes and shoes strewn on the bed, on the floor. Making final decisions. That’s it. Settled!
Red heels? Yes! I happen to be an expert at walking in high heels. Very high heels… My new dress? Yep! A Black Dress can’t fail.
Hmmm. A wide red leather belt? Hmmm. No. The red scarf I bought in Florence. Italy, not Miss’sipi. Tied around the waist.
A touch of make-up. Not too much. Red lipstick. Very red. Too red?
And a hat. The red felt one. The one I bought downtown. At the antique shop. Vintage hat. I love vintage. Love “old”. Per-fect.
I walked out of my house barefoot with the heels in my hand. I thought I’d drive to downtown, but there already was a carriage stationed at my door. Not the usual coachman. How had Mr. Vintage pulled that one? I showed the coachman my utility bill. He shook his head. Not necessary. I put my heels on. Managed to climb in the carriage. Not easy. Try it with Louboutins next time.
And off we went. A smooth carriage ride to downtown. Can’t wait for the mojitos.
Love this place. Love this town. Hmmm. The horse trots softly on the pavement. Clippity, clippitty clop. A cool breeze.
But wait! Wait! That’s the wrong turn! The coachman is whipping the horse to a canter then a full gallop. No! Not to the Bates Motel! Nooooo!
The carriage was going too fast. If I jumped I’d break my neck. Turns out our destination was not the Bates Motel, but an empty lot behind the Laundromat. The carriage screeched to a halt. Two guys in black with ski hoods grabbed me. Forced me down from the carriage. I tried wrenching my arms and running. But try running in 5 inch heels! They got me back. Grabbed my arms again. I bit one of them in the hand. Kicked the other with my right heel. Wasn’t going away without a fight! They put a bag on my head. Half carried me to a back door. I started screaming, but the bag cut off the sound.
They dragged me across a tile floor. I could hear the sound of my shoes. Tiles! The Laundromat! I was kicking the hell out of them with my shoes. I could hear them groaning when I did hit something. I heard the clang of a glass door opening. The washing machine?
They practically folded me in two, shoved me headfirst inside the largest washing machine. 100 pounds of laundry! For just 5 Bucks! There was something soft underneath. Clothes? A mat? I tried pushing myself out with my feet. No way. Guys were too strong. I heard the washing machine glass door bang shut.
I took the bag off my head. It was dark inside. From what I could see the lights were off in the Laundrymat too. I could hear heavy breathing outside. I twisted and started banging on the glass door. On the inside of the drum.
No way José. I just bruised my hands and scratched my heels on the metal inside. Then I froze. I felt a drop of water on my face. Then another. Then a trickle. Then a full flow of water on my face. They’d turned the machine on! It was filling with water. I could smell Downy somewhere. I was gonna be washed! Spun! Ransed? Rinsed? Drowned! Nooooooooo!
The lights are switched on.
All West’s friends are there shouting and chanting HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
There are balloons, danglers, confetti everywhere in the laundromat. A birthday cake, bottles and paper cups on a table in the back.
Lucilla’s in front of the crowd. All jumping and shouting HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
The two guys in black have taken their hood off. Standing at a distance.
George is standing by the washing machine ready to open the glass door.
He looks at Lucilla.
Lucilla waves at George to open the door. She mouths: “Hurry up!”
All chant HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEST!
George opens the washing machine door.
HAPPY BIRth… chant dies.
A flood of murky water spills on George’s Doc Mertens. On the floor.
West crawls backwards out of the washing machine on all fours. Gasping for air. The black dress is a mess. Her hair worse. She looks like a wet black cat in a wet cat’s foul mood.
As West turns around and staggers upright, Lucilla runs to her and says: “West! Baby! Are you OK?”
West punches Lucilla in the face. Lucilla falls backwards. (Get a mattress)
(Cut to black)
Credits start rolling:
Produced and directed by Bruno Martinez
Executive producer: West
First assistant director and Production manager: Stephanie Dieuleveut
Photography: Stephanie Dieuleveut, A.B.C.D.E.
West as herself
George C. as himself
Amanda S. as Lucilla
Lola as herself
The producer and crew wish to thank the Mayor, Sheriff and the good folks of Nowhere Gulch for their heartfelt welcome.
– CUT! CUT! Turn on the lights! Great scene guys, the director says. She put up a real fight. Great job. We won’t have to reshoot. First take is good.
– That bitch bit me, says a guy in black, taking his hood off.
– Get a band-aid, ask Stephanie. What now?
– She kicked me in the foot with one of those f… heels of hers. I’m sure she broke something. (The other “hood”)
– Go to the Union. Or sue me.
Amanda S. looks bored. She’s in front of a crowd of extras, hired from the town youngsters. Jocks in their best jeans. Local girls with a 300$ hairdo elbowing subtly to stay at the front where the camera will pick them up, cast them for eternity. Lola is lighting a cigarette in the back, close to the extinguisher. George is standing by the washing machine. Checking his watch.
– Ok. The director says. Let’s roll for the last scene.
– Boss? Stephanie, the first assistant director says.
– Yes? Steph?
– Shouldn’t we get West out for a break first? I think she’s banging on the door.
– No! No! Banging! That’s a great sound. Turn off the lights and let’s go to the final scene when the crowd starts chanting. George? Ready to open the door? Boom? Get the banging sound. Ok. Let’s roll!
The lights are switched on.
– “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
George opens the washing machine door.
– “HAPPY BIRth…”
A flood of murky water spills on George’s shoes. On the floor.
Stephanie looks at the director. Opens her eyes in a mute question. Slits her throat with a finger. Director shakes his head. Makes a rolling gesture with his hand. Lola’s half-lit cigarette butt falls from her mouth.
West crawls out of the washing machine on all fours, her black dress a black mess. She looks like a black wet cat with a wet cat’s foul mood. Her hair is worse than the dress. Looks like a blonde mop.
West staggers upright. Amanda S. is petrified. West walks to Amanda and punches her in the face.
– CUT! CUT!
Lake Wood Lodge Motel. Room 517. 28 bucks a night. 45 minutes later. A knock on the door.
– Come in! Ah! Steph!
– Hi Boss. Ready for status?
Bruno Martinez, the director, is sixtyish with a white head, more beard (a fashionable 3-day stubble) than hair. He’s looking at rushes on his Mac. A bottle of Tequila is on the table. He points at the bottle. Stephanie grabs a glass. Fills it and sits heavily on the bed.
– What a mess, she says. Stephanie’s a pretty don’t-mess-with-me blonde in her early thirties. Downs half a glass of Tequila and nodds:
– Thanks Boss. I needed that.
– Don’t we all, Martinez says. I’ve just rewritten the script. We can use that last scene, but what the F… happened?
– F..irst is first, Stephanie says ticking her fingers. The Louboutins are toast. Red toast. And they’re, like, almost 15% of the budget! Even if we sprayed those heels with car-paint… They’re gone. Red gone!
– Ok. Doesn´t matter. We can shoot the coupla remaining scenes from the ass up. American shot.
– That would be from the knees up. Stephanie says.
– Whatever, Martinez says. Next?
– The black dress, which we also still need for the last two scenes, might, stress “might”, be salvaged. I took it to the Chinese laundry next door. The guy says: maybe. He looks like the Chinese cook in Bonanza! I swear! A Chinese laundry! Can you believe this town?
– No I can’t, Martinez says, helping himself to another Tequila shot. Fills Stephanie’s glass up. What about the cast?
– The “hoods” are a bit messed up. One needs stitches. Called the local Doctor. Came in a car. Not a carriage.
– Thank God.
– They’ll be all right. I gave them a bonus. Now Amanda… is extremely pissed. Beyond a bonus which we can’t afford anyway. Claims West broke her nose. Not true, but she’ll look like a raccoon for at least two weeks. I think you should bring her flowers. Already ordered them. Room 175. And go talk to her please.
– Okay. I will. Call the insurance. I take that back, I’m sure you have already. We’ll scratch Amanda out of the last scene she was supposed to be in. What about George?
– George’s all right. Always is! His Doc Mertens are soaked, fried, lost, brown toast, but he’s put them out on the windowsill to dry. Laughs his head off. No hassle.
– West? (The director is cringing a bit. Stephanie laughs)
– West? Now that she’s showered, washed her hair, she says it’s hilarious.
– Why… hilarious?
– Why? Because she says she’d always wanted to punch “that bitch Amanda” in the face! And that she wasn’t scared for a second of drowning, because, she says, we had everything under control! So the wet cat act was an act, and she took a swing at Amanda just for the fun of it. I ordered flowers for West too anyway. Room 571. Paid by the entire crew. Doesn’t come out of budget.
– Ehhh. The thing is… the water thing was not supposed to happen. What the bloody f…ing Hell happened?
– Well, that’s the… thing, Boss, Stephanie says, downing another half glass, with a strange look in her eyes. I personally checked all the washing machines at seven. Twenty minutes before… the scene. I unplugged all the water hoses on all the machines by my very own self. In case the idiots put her in the wrong machine. Opened up all the machines. No water inside. Turned off the main water supply. Checked twice. Not even the john had water. The machines were not even connected to the light. Couldn’t run.
– And? Maybe some idiot connected it again?
– No Sireee. While everybody was busy pulling the two fighting kitties apart, I ran to the washing machine. Still spilling murky water. The machine was not connected, Boss! Nothing. No pipes, no hose, no water, nothing! There’s no way the water could get inside! No way!
The end. For real now.
(inter)Text(uality) © BMO and West
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and situations are but a figment of the author(s)’ twisted imagination.
Rilke’s poems: Darn! I don’t remember where I found them. Google “Rilke poems in German and English”. 🙂
The Lucilla name comes from a Reverend mother’s character in Frank Herbert’s Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse. A must read if you haven’t.
Except for the cover illustration (toasted Louboutin) all photos are from Wikicommons. Authors In order of appearance: Joe Mabel, Vassili, Si Griffiths, CT Liotta, Jonathanfv, Moller Addison, W. Zandler, Renji Shino, Dinkum, Adam Lerner, Andrew Filer, Florian Köhler, Unknown & Unknown.
Do visit West’s blog. A great photographer. And you’ll see the original pix that inspired this story: