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A strange, and ongoing, episodic short, that hopefully encompasses, in some small way, 'the 20th-century literary and artistic movement that attempted to express the workings of the subconscious and is characterised by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter.' - otherwise known as, surrealism.
In The Mix
An American Alleyway.
Three damp walls, brick, leaning up into the night sky and a cobbled sidewalk; with both side walls and back, piled high with litter/garbage/rubbish.
The back wall rises sheer and is topped by wire fencing, and a security light from the warehouse building behind shuts on and off as the guard walks into range and out again. He slaps the leather holster of his Smith & Wesson every time it does.
And the light thrown by security casts shadows through the wire fencing and the insecurity of intermittent darkness results.
The walls are greased a little green, from the mildew and the damp, and amongst the cardboard clutter of fast food and packing case discards a breeze soughs through and tosses up a torn poster that clings to the brickwork and flaps, like a loud slap that makes you suddenly turn your head (a little scared, a little wary).
The camera, if there were a camera, if I were a camera, would now move in and focus on the miscreant poster.
"Johnny Cashew plays......................................"
I can't quite make out the rest of the sentence, but it looks like.
No, that can't be right.
The breeze returns and slides the poster down, deposits Johnny on the floor. Ignominious, but pertinent.
For along with Johnny and the pack-a-box and Macdonalds, are the shaft-me-big-boy condoms, discarded, courtesy of the hookers on 52nd, 48th, 3rd and Vine, Sunset Boulevard and 5th Avenue, street, park, road and zip code, and their clee-en-tel; half-full, lying limp, empty, festive decorations for the alleyway; and it's cold, so cold, it could be christmas.
A typical American alleyway, but we'll place it in Nu-Yok, to make life a little simpler for the simple and condemn the vast majority to yawning apathy. A typical everything eighties and nineties (but not necessarily the twentieth century), fast everything. Sex, lies and beanburgers. In, out, in and out.
Rapid turnover and disposable income, along with the syringes, also vie for camera-eye attention in the seeping three-sided, open-topped grotto. Then as the camera pans, you catch a quick movement and a glimpse of what may be discarded clothing, a heap of rags left for disposal, or maybe...........................
The sound of an exit bar slamming down on a theatres back door snatches your attention, and your eye flicks to the doorway where a fizzing halogen striplight acts like a strobe on your retina.
The door swings open, wide, and hits the wall, then bounces back a little, and a man named Bill (But really George) moves forward onto the platform of three raised steps that lead down to the alleyway, and delivers, in a bronxy, nasal twang, the soliloquoy from Hamlet.
And We Begin To Doubt Our Senses.
Having butchered Hamlet, he attempts The Rape of Lucrece and then onwards, through the Henrys and the Richards.
As he begins another stanza, a rustling noise can be heard off-camera.
Bill: 'Hey! Frank!?'
Frank: 'A horse. It's my kingdom for a horse.'
Bill: 'No! Not that!'
In the blackness behind the theatre exit doors, an outline of a figure is seen, but doesn't quite reach the light. Tucked underneath his arm and held tightly to his body, he appears to be holding a small porcine animal, which squirms slightly beneath his grasp and emits a high-pitched squeak.
Bill: 'Over there, by the crates. Something moved.'
Frank: 'Forget it Bill, I can't see anything. Anyway, the play's the thing.'
Bill: 'I just thought.... naw! You're right. Just another drunken, sleazeball, junkie, pleb, soft-touch-roll, commie-loving, squeaky-voiced, queer-kissing-homo-aids-cancer-ridden nobody from nowhere, coming from and going to, don't even pledge allegiance to the flag, probably not even an American. But then, who is? Yeah, you're right Frank, the play's the thing. My horse for a kingdom.'
Frank: 'No, no, no! My kingdom for a horse.'
Bill: ' Sorry Frank. No,no, no my kingdom for a horse.'
Frank: 'No! No! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!'
Discarded clothing, that may have been a heap of rags that moved, moves. And the two men, whose theatrical experiences range from playing to an empty, damp, rubbish-strewn alleyway, to not, stop, and watch darkness rise slowly from the cobbled floor, the shadow lengthening to reach into the gloom of the leaning to night-sky walls. Their eyes rise to follow the eclipse, then dart back down to the darker form below that throws the shadow. And a sound, as thick as syrup and black tar, and foreign to their ears, rolls ebon clouds in their direction. And like the breath that snuffs out a candles flame, the fizzing halogen, fizzes no longer, and darkness envelops all.
"And that's the opening, is it?"
"No. That's the end."
"That's what you think?"
Twenty minutes later and another writer is ushered into the 152nd floor office, with sparkling river view across the Thames, recently renovated, all mod-cons, with beautiful roof terrace, en suite bathroom, entryphone, resident porter, storage/utility space, galleried landing, off-street parking, long lease, mature garden, prime rental value, tessellated and under floor heating, designer kitchen...............
“I know what you write, now get out!”
“Philistine!”, and the writer minces purposefully out of the door.
Another head appears.
“How about Burroughs?”
Intense drumming/strumming of fingers on table-top.
“Nice. Bill Burroughs, good flavour.”
“No, no. Not Bill, Edgar Rice.”
“Who the hell!?”
“Wrote Tarzan of the Apes.”
“Arse! Outtahere! Pronto!”
A few seconds later the head pops round again.
“Flipping furious, and don’t call me Ian.”
“How about a cross between Wilde and Georges Perec?”
“Th importanc of Bing Arnst, and I think you mean ‘qui’.”
“Bloomsbury! Call security and inject this arsehole.”
“Ahhh, the importance of being earnest, I see. And I believe you mean, eject, sir.”
“And as he’s leaving, make sure that you ejaculate yourself with him.”
“Aye, aye, kernel.”
The room is in silence for the next few hours; though occasionally the walls catch a few words spoken in the corridor.
Suddenly, both doors are theatrically thrown open, in western batswing fashion, and in strides a figure who appears, at first, to be dressed as a pair of curtains, black velvet with a burgundy crushed silk lining. The colonel looks up with a start. The start looks up, and with a guilty girlish smile on her face, slides off his lap and down between his legs beneath the desk. The figure raises his left hand to his mouth and coughs, an interruption laden with black tobacco, coffee, cognac and a french accent. (He has no pig clutched to his side).
“I erm Etienne Sang-Froid, and I believe you are in need of my peculiar talents?”
Placing his left leg slightly in front of his right, he sweeps down his right arm, in a courtly, sixteenth century style bow, (He could not do this with a pig beneath his arm), allowing the colonel a better view of his receding hairline.
“Maybe. What do you do?”
“I do not do, I seemply erm. I erm Etienne Sang-Froid, gallante and screeb.”
“No, no, whore-write. R rite.”
“O, you write! Good, good. In that case you may indeed be what I’m looking for.”
“R rite good.”
The kernel picks up the manuscript lying on top of the desk, glances at the title, then throws it across to the writer, who, deftly catching the papers between his teeth, begins to back his way out through the imposing double doors.
“Rewrite this then.”
“I’ve told you a thousand times, you think too much.........”
(And I’m trying not, but it just doesn’t seem to be working.)
“.......just relax, go with the flow. Don’t ask so many questions, you’ll never really find the answers that you’re looking for ...”
(I’m not looking for answers; I’m guessing. I gave up looking for answers along time ago. Life’s easier like that.)
“.............all you’ll find at the end of that route is more questions.”
(But I’m not going to stop guessing, or playing, or thinking. It just doesn’t work; and to be honest, just isn’t possible; at least not for me.)
“It’s simply banging your head against a wall.”
(Bruised but unbowed.)
“And no-one’s going to thank you for it.”
(I’m not looking for thanks, or approval, or even acknowledgement. It’s just something I do; even something I have to do.)
“So I really don’t know why you bother?”
(It’s simply something that I have to do. - Didn’t you hear my off-camera voice-over - and I’m doing it again.)
A picture paints a thousand words, then what’s the point in me writing? I may just as well learn to draw.
SCENE: An office in downtown Downtown.
Solomon Gaugin-Smith (SO) is seated behind his lush, formica-topped desk, gently drumming a military tattoo with his badger-bristle no.5 paintbrush.
Across the room sits attractive Esmerelda Gladioli (GLAD) his secretary and sometime lover.
Esmerelda unselfconciously crosses and uncrosses her legs, her mid-length skirt, rising and falling across her shiny nylon thighs, as she begins to open the mail.
SO: “Anything important in the post?”
GLAD: “No, just a few junk silhouettes and lino cuts. Oh, there is a surrealist picture postcard from a Mr.Lama.”
GLAD: “Dalai, dahling. And, oh yes, there’s this very expressionistic one from a Miss Bloody F. Furious.......from........New South Wales.”
SO: “I think that you mean that you know South Wales, Ms. Gladioli.”
GLAD: “Oh, Mr. Smith, you’re such a wag.”
SO: “Anything else?”
GLAD: “And an awfully sad letter from someone obviously going through their very blue period, and that seems to be about it.”
SO: “Oh well. You’d better come over here then; I’d like you to sketch a letter for me.”
Only you’d understand it better if I wrote it all down.
“If I were to present this as a picture, I think I would........”
“I think I would.......”
“I think it would be......”
“Would you stop saying yes, whilst I’m thinking.”
“Yes. No, yes. No....I’m sorry.”
“Now, what was I saying?”
“I think I would.....”
“No. You were thinking.”
“I was.....oh, yes. I think that I would present it as a montage, based around a pub theatre.”
“A pub theatre?”
“Because of the writers constant allusions to bar snacks.”
“The mention of cashews for instance, the nuts, kernels; and the metaphor of the pig, for pork scratchings or bacon frazzles and such.”
“And the dry roast humour, no doubt?”
“Well, I wouldn’t go quite so far as that, but the whole thing is perhaps a little cheesy, with a soupcon of camp, courtesy of a Quentin ‘Crisp’ type of character.”
“You don’t suppose he’s exploring the myth, perhaps truth, of Bacon writing Shakespeare, through a melange of one author re-writing anothers work and how styles and ideas devised by one, can be embellished and developed by another?”
“Or that he’s simply saying that what is unfashionable today, can be fashionable tomorrow, or vice versa?”
“Or that he’s not happy with.......”
“Oh yes! One can understand that he’s not happy. For a man to devise a plot line that is based solely around pub grub; I can see him as a sad, sad fellow.”
“So you can’t believe that there’s another way of looking at it, another side to the story?”
“Well obviously there can’t be, because I don’t see it. I get the point, and everything else is window-dressing.”
“Ahhhh! The curtains.”
CUT: TO STOCKHOLM; WHERE IT’S SNOWING.
SVEN ICENVEIN HAS JUST FINISHED READING A LETTER AND FIRST DRAFT SENT TO HIM BY HIS PUBLISHER IN ENGLAND. THE A4 SIZE BROWN MANILA ENVELOPE SHOWING DARKER IN PATCHES FROM THE SNOWMELT, SITS UPON THE WALNUT COLOURED IKEA-STYLE DINING TABLE. HIS PARTNER; A TALL BLONDE, BLUE-EYED GIRL, NAMED SVENDERELLA; ENTERS THE ROOM CARRYING A LARGE MUG OF COFFEE, WHICH SHE THEN, THOUGHTLESSLY, PLACES ON THE ENVELOPE, COVERING THE POSTMARK.
“So, Etienne Sang-Froid, couldn’t make anything of it then.”
“Well actually, I’d heard that he got into a big fight with his fiancee over his planned storyline. Ended up committing suicide.”
“He killed himself!?”
“No, not him, silly, his girlfriend. Or at least that was how it was reported.”
“Interesting. Sad, dark. That gives me an idea.”
SVENDERELLA PICKS UP THE COFFEE MUG, IDLY STARING AT THE STAIN REVEALED BENEATH IT, (could it be a butterfly, perhaps a wet lettuce leaf, but always sexual imagery), THEN LEAVES THE ROOM, MUTTERING TO HERSELF.
“And it’s about time that you had one.”
Thrown aside, and covering like a blanket; like the dark clouds, pregnant with storm and snow that envelop the city; an invitation to the unwary to walk and get caught out. But she had no choice.
Trapped in her two room apartment, she needed air; she needed to feel life and not allow her senses to experience everything secondhand; she knew she was becoming dull, and with her dullness came depression. She needed air, a chance to feel the chill, to see her billowing breath, to catch a snowflake on her tongue, to hear her heart beat faster, in the stillness of the night.
She stepped out from the light of her apartment building, with its central-heating and the warm and bitter memories of lovers, into the deeply darkening evening, and, turning left, she began to tread the icy pathway that ran alongside her block.
Trapped in her thoughts, heedless of the burgeoning storm, out of the city and into the dimly-lit suburbs. Her mind in careless games, not knowing where she was, or if anyone had seen or hailed her. Lost in the memory of her last battle with a lover. Lost, but now finding an intent.
For miles she walked. And all the while her mind asked those questions, that we have all at some time asked ourselves.
Why had he said the things he had?
Why did he treat her as he did?
Why had she ever let him stay?
Why had she ever let him go?
Would she, could she, should she, will he?
Because, because, because, because, because.........
And as she continued; as each time she found, or thought she’d found an answer, she would remove a piece of clothing, freeing herself, and walk on.
It was three days before her body was discovered; before the pure white blanket had softened to reveal her frozen form. Stiff in hoar-frost and rigor mortis, curled into the foetal position for warmth and ancient memories of darkness and safety. Naked, but for her blue-black boots, which matched her blue-black lips. A snow princess of virgin hue with jet black hair, fallen amongst the debris of the modern world, in a three-walled cul-de-sac; left to lie and dream. And dream, forever more.
(To A Tab Near You)