The pale boy was wandering about his shady room furtively, touching with his white fingers the edges of the scales studded with butterflies; then he stopped to listen. The pounding of Giovannino and Serenella’s hearts, which had died down, now got harder than ever. Perhaps it was the fear of a spell that hung over the villa and garden and over all these lovely, comfortable things, the residue of some injustice committed long ago. Very quietly, Giovannino and Serenella crept away. They went back along the same paths they had come, stepping fast but never at a run.
I got a try-out for a swimming part in a film and found myself alone in the pool, playing basketball, making every shot. A woman appeared, slim and beautiful, and fouled me, keeping her hand on mine, and then I was trying to get the ball, and her suit was undone. More people arrived and I began to forget my lines, and was told as much in the long debrief, that I had started well and then lost momentum, and that there might be a next time once the group went on tour in Australia and New Zealand. I found my father, long dead, having a cigarette on the back patio and couldn’t understand what he was doing there. “I stay up to 11:00 every once in a while.” The dog was there too, and I confessed that it could speak, saying the same thing again and again: “Smoking again?” I felt bad about him being dead, stealing his wife, because she was so beautiful and now all mine.
Watching films is an addiction, consumed one by one, regardless of story or value, but for how they are shot – the lights, shots and edits, watching as as alien, trying to understand the language of this world through Annaud’s The Bear, Zemekis’ Castaway and Luketic’s Paranoia. Finding the moments, beautifully or ridiculously rendered: Redford’s Ordinary People, Hiller’s Silver Streak, NIchols’ Catch-22 (Mike Nichols, 1970). And then the day is gone, lost in the confusion of make belief, and you are an alien no longer, just tired.
Ah. (Pause) When I was young somebody told me, are you ready? The rich copulate less often than the poor. But when they do, they take more of their clothes off. Years. Years, mind you, I would compare experiences of my own to this dictum, saying, aha, this fits the norm, or ah, this is a variation from it. What did it mean? Nothing.
(Paris, 1986) Curtis was a nice enough guy – even if he had been hitting on my girlfriend, calling her “his earth mother” – and was the personal assistant to the wife of film producer, Alexander Salkind. Mrs. Salkind, he said, wanted to produce an adaptation of Euripedes’ Medea, the Greek tragedy of a mother murdering her children.
I wrote a brief scene – Medea desperate on the rocks, blood on her hands – and headed over to the Salkind’s sprawling apartment for my afternoon appointment. Salkind’s wife wasn’t there, off having lunch with a Count and didn’t return until the evening, intoxicated, and acted out Medea’s anguish, crawling beneath the grand piano, for her husband.
Salkind hated the idea. “There are three things people never want to see in movies: suicide, AIDS and this.” And then he turned to me. “And what do you have to say?”
“Uh, well, I see your point, but…”
“Ah.” He waved me off and left the room.
His wife stayed under the piano, worn out from her performance, as I went into the kitchen and got drunk with Curtis. “You’re a sneaky rat bastard, that’s what you are.”
I didn’t understand why he kept saying that, but the tequila was good.