Impossible Character: Dee Sinclair

Sex sells. And Dee Sinclair is all about sex. Not just a sex worker, she is a sex performer, taking high-paying jobs to perform for exclusively perverted clients in remote locations such as French Polynesia, Greece and Qatar.

She is an orphan girl, her only sister dead, an alcoholic, drowned. But she won’t talk about that. She won’t talk about anything except her exotic cat, a serval, named Apollo.

Photo credit: Michael Nichols (National Geographic)

She doesn’t actually talk about Apollo either. She doesn’t talk about anything to anyone. She feels herself as distinctly separate, an adjunct, an afterthought, a second thing. She feels like she doesn’t belonged anywhere, except sitting alone on the fire escape. She knows that no one who really cares, that no one who would miss her. She just wants to be left alone.

Dee makes her first appearance in My Bad Side and then in Anori, the first book of The Cx Trilogy. She spends much of her time in the ice-choked emptiness of Greenland, a place she treasures because of its mind-numbing isolation.

And then she is suddenly being chased: Dee watched her hands flash up in front of her face, first one and then the other, fists clenched, just her pinkie out on her left hand. She had heard the helicopter come over the glacier, the rotors reverberating off the ice, sharp and then suddenly faded. She heard nothing now. She was mute. Not her footsteps on the hard ground, not her gasping for breath, not the truck door swinging wildly open, not the engine starting, nothing. Dust swirled up ahead, other trucks going to the launch tower. She couldn’t get the truck to go fast enough. The tunnel took forever. She heard something on the other side, helicopters again, as she headed to the tower. But she couldn’t see. There was only the dust and then Valerie on the edge of the first platform.

As the protagonist, Dee operates as the reader’s stubborn vehicle entering the impossible parameters of science fiction – the space ships, three dimensional internet, artificial skin, and most of all, the idea of leaving Earth for another planet. She doesn’t buy any of it. And neither does the reader. Until it is there and there is no denying it. As much as she (we) can’t accept it, it is there.

Dee works especially well for this book because of her personality. As hard as she tries to separate herself from everyone in the world, she becomes more drawn into a mission that aims to do just that – leave the planet altogether. The irony is that, in her efforts to be apart, she of course becomes deeply committed to the others on the journey into the emptiness.

Thematically, the book is a challenge, as it focuses on abandoning, and ultimately rejecting, our society for something else, and the impossibility of doing that. After all, wherever we go, we are still what we are. And so as impossible as Dee might be to access, it is because of that that she works as an excellent conduit for the book.

“my bad side” Opening Revised

I’ve changed the opening to my bad side. Yes, again, but now it has more action, more of a hook, as those in the know have advised…DeeMy hand reflected ghostly in the silver elevator panel. There was a kind of liquid sound, almost like metal rain, inside me, a fluid crinkling in my brain, chewing into my ears and down my neck. I didn’t know what was wrong, a sickness or terror. Crystal was convinced she had brain cancer. She was always saying things like that, determined to be the loneliest, the purest of all. I rotated my heel back on the stiletto, my foot angling sharply up, and thrust through out of the elevator, only half open, my key already out, and pushed hard on the apartment door.
derek“Last warning.” Derek stood between the back of the couch and the window, a broom held up. Apollo crouched, his sleek serval shoulders tensed, his rear legs coiled like springs.

“What are you doing?!”

He turned on me. “Your fucking cat—“

“Leave Apollo alone!”

“Leave him alone?” Derek stepped sideways, his fire fighter’s cap tilted back. “Are you fucking serious?”

Apollo kept his body tight, his eyes on Derek, watching him, a rodent in the savanna.

“This fucking exotic monster of yours attacked me!”

“You need to leave.”

He came around the couch, stepping drunkenly; that’s when I realized he had a gun. “What’s with the dress? You fucking a prince?”

I stepped back.

“You turned your sister against me!”

“You need to go home.”serval-hitting-out-1sApollo sprang, stretching fully across Derek’s chest and dug his claws into his shoulder. There was a bang, like a window slamming shut. Apollo fell suddenly, in the middle of the rug, his bottom leg stuck out. I crouched over him and saw the hole in his shoulder, a tiny nothing and then a watery line of red trailing into the rug.

“I told her to call me.” Derek stood just above. “You know that.”  

Everything in me was twisted tight, my heart erratic, a mess of veins squenched together, vibrating madly, almost still. I grunted as I swung around and threw myself fully into his legs, bringing both of us down, my arm under him. I swung at his face, missed, hitting the floor, surprised that none of it hurt, that I was that strong and had the gun, got up and kicked him in the neck.

“She’s gone, Dee.”gunThe gun snapped up and hovered, a living thing, and there was a vibrating sound, the light hard and burning, and then Derek was looking at his blood coming out.

“Stay there. Just stay there.” 

He slumped back, his hand drunkenly clawing the air.

I tried to lift Apollo, but my arm wouldn’t work, and could only pull him around, his long legs almost lifeless. I drew the clothes off the dresser into a bag, a pile of shirts and underwear from a drawer, all of it onto his cage, like I had been waiting for this, and dragged everything behind me onto the elevator. 

Apollo Film, Scene 3 (Part Two)

Part two of another potential Apollo film: Dee stays at her sister Crystal’s apartment where Crystal’s boyfriend, Derek, is over for dinner. DEE goes into the bedroom after APOLLO.

CRYSTAL: Don’t let him back out! Don’t.

DEE: We’ll go for a walk in a minute.

CRYSTAL (Staring out the window): What makes fire fighters so full of shit? nyc windowDEREK: The witching hour is upon us.

CRYSTAL: I couldn’t hear you. Too much cackling.

DERK: (Turning on the television): Have another glass. metsCRYSTAL: Like I need your permission.

DEREK: What about not getting totally fucked up?

DEE: (To CRYSTAL): Walk Apollo with me.

CRYSTAL: I can get as fucked up as I want, baby, because I know you and your friends are here to make the save.

DEE: (Standing): Come on. Let’s go.stock-footage-hand-pouring-a-bottle-of-white-wine-in-a-wine-glass-on-a-table-at-homeCRYSTAL: (Refilling her glass, looking into it and then drinking everything): Acting like you’re at the center of the universe when you’re just a fat old woman watching it on TV.

DEREK: Ease up, will you?

CRYSTAL: My mother, that’s who you remind me of, my fucking mother, staring at the fucking TV, not shutting up, blah, blah, fucking blah.

DEE gets Apollo out of the bedroom and goes down the hall after him. calvesCRYSTAL (Walking behind her): Your legs look good.

DEE (Letting APOLLO out): Thanks..

CRYSTAL: You working out?

DEE: Where are your shoes?

CRYSTAL checks her phone for messages. phoneDEE: Hey, is everything okay?

CRYSTAL: (Not looking up):Super duper.

DEE: You’re sure you’re all right with me being in your place?

CRYSTAL: I don’t like it when you get passive on me. It’s not cool.

DEE: I don’t want to get in your space.

CRYSTAL: You were born in my space. I have to live with that. (Looking up, snapping her phone closed) You have to live with that too.

DEE: I know Apollo can be a pain.

CRYSTAL: I don’t give a shit about the dog. Why would I give a shit about the dog, except that it smells and pisses on the floor?

DEE: I’ll move as soon as I can find a place.

CRYSTAL gets her phone out again and struggles to focus on the screen. She laughs to herself and sends a reply.

DEE: What was that about mom?

CRYSTAL (Yelling back to DEREK): You passed out, baby?

DEE: What did you mean?

CRYSTAL (Looking back blankly): What?

DEE: You said something about mom. passed outCRYSTAL: Mother?

DEE: You think about her like that?

CRYSTAL (Pushing DEE out and closing the door).: Try not to get raped, okay?

Apollo Film, Scene 3 (Part One)

Another potential Apollo film: Dee stays at her sister Crystal’s apartment where Crystal’s boyfriend, Derek, is over for dinner.

DEREK: Want to hear my cop down story? (Puts down his hamburger): I mean, just seeing a cop on his little bicycle is enough, isn’t it? hamburgerAnyway, he’s going along, Dum de dum, right? And he sees something up ahead, and this car door opens up right in front of him. Bam! Cop goes flying, head over heels, and lands right on his ass. (Laughs, food coming out of his mouth) He’s just lying there and the guy in the car is looking down at him like he’s committed assault, right? multi car crashHe’s thinking he’s going to jail, and the cop pulls the radio off his shoulder and yells, ‘Officer down! Officer down!’ The driver jumps back like this, right? He looks like he’s going to take off now. Holy shit, I couldn’t stop laughing. Those guys are fucking babies.

CRYSTAL: You’re such a pig. (She suddenly gets up, goes through the piles of papers and garbage on the table and television, and opens a fresh packet of cigarettes.) A woman smokes a cigarette indoors in an undated file photoDEREK He had his little ticket book out before he was even off the ground. That’s fucking New York.

CRYSTAL: New Yorkers are so full of shit. If you tell them to beat somebody, they’d do it. Everyone will. They’ll say they do it because they’re afraid. That’s bullshit. beatenupThey do it because they have the permission. They want to. They want to do it before it’s done to them.

DEREK: Be good, babe. (He picks at a scar on the back of his bicep and shrugs at DEE when he catches her looking) It’s just an old burn.

DEE: I couldn’t do that.

DEREK: What?

DEE: Be a fireman.

DEREK: Fire fighter. We fight them. We don’t make them.

DEE: Fire fighter then.

DEREK: It’s not for women. femalefire CRYSTAL: Only misogynists.

DEREK (Answers his phone) Yeah? (Pause) Who? (Pause) No. (Pause) Where? Where you at? (Pause) Call Ricky. He’ll get you. (Nodding anxiously) Yeah, call Ricky. He’ll be there.

CRYSTAL: Missing a party?

DEREK: A couple of the boys got off the wagon. (Scrolls through his messages) They’re good.

CRYSTAL: My fire fighter hero.

DEREK: Let me tell you something…there is nothing like making a save. Nothing in this life, there is nothing like that.

CRYSTAL: So you’ve said.

DEREK: You go into a place where people die. You bring them out of that. It’s the best thing a man can do.

DEREK throws the empty ketchup packets at the garbage and misses. APOLLO jumps after them, banging into Crystal’s legs. IMAG2381CRYSTAL: Fucking dog! (Kicks at him) Move! Fucking move!

APOLLO jumps back and darts into the bedroom.

CRYSTAL: That thing belongs in the zoo.

DEE: He was just playing.

DEREK: You know who the boys ran into? Fucking Stevie Wright.

CRYSTAL: Who’s fucking Stevie Wright?

DEREK: From Woodside. Spring Match.

CRYSTAL: The guy you beat up?

DEREK: It’s boxing, babe. I didn’t beat anyone up.

CRYSTAL (To DEE) It’s the annual punch-up between the police and fire departments. Real high-brow stuff. Derek won last year. US-BATTLE OF THE BADGESDEREK: Beat the crap out of him.

CRYSTAL (Pulls her sweater sleeves over her palms, spreading them out): But you love making the saves, right, baby?

DEREK: Don’t get all pissy because of a fucking dog.

Apollo Film posted

Apollo has just been posted onto vimeo. IMAG1642The 5-minute film follows Dee as she comes home to her New York apartment to find a drunk fire fighter with a knife in his hand and her dog, Apollo, bleeding on the floor. IMAG1649It is begins with an evocative opening shot, followed by a hypnotic sequence in a car. IMAG1659It is a compelling work – acting and technically solid. It’s well worth your time!

Another “Bad Side” film

I have written the first draft of a second Bad Side script. It follows Dee on the train with Apollo north out of the city.

The train inches past the soot and cables, the decrepit buildings, twisted rust jutting out, bottles and shards, an animal skull on an electrical box, and then is on a bridge. DEE wraps her hand, stiff and fat, in a sweatshirt. The conductor approaches, his hat pushed forward; he is older with a thin face and empty eyes.

 CONDUCTOR: Ticket?conductorDEE: I gave it to the other guy, the one before you.

CONDUCTOR (Looking at Dee’s cleavage): Where’s your receipt?cleavageDEE: I must have thrown it away.

CONDUCTOR: Which is it? You threw it away or you gave it to the other guy?

DEE pulls her dress out from her legs. There is a stain on the waist. It looks like blood.

 DEE: I didn’t think I needed it.

CONDUCTOR: Where are you going?

DEE: Providence.

CONDUCTOR: Got on at Penn? (He looks down the aisle and then back at DEE) I have to write you up,

DEE: What does that mean?

CONDUCTOR (Opening his ticket book): What’s your name?TicketDEE (Pulling a hoodie from her bag): Crystal Sinclair.

There is a long pause as CONDUCTOR writes out the slip and then hands it to DEE.

 CONDUCTOR: You mail it back to the address at the bottom.

DEE: Mail it?

CONDUCTOR: The fine.

DEE: Can I get a water from you?

CONDUCTOR (Leaving): The cart will be through.The snack cart & woman on the train.

Pitch Conference: Post Mortem

Writing is a business. Nothing more than that. It doesn’t matter how great the story is nor what a clever little wordsmith I might be. Ontario Northland to MoosoneeIf I can’t pitch the idea, that’s it. It all boils down to the hook, the copy read by that deep-voiced movie trailer guy: Deirdre Sinclair must come to terms with a moment she cannot remember, a past she cannot forget. 2012-10-06 15.43.43I think I did all right in the end, getting the interest of three out of four editors, each of them noting my spin: It’s The Happy Hooker meets Born Free in the style of Cormac McCarthy. xavieraI gave them a minute to think about that and then went back into it: “She was orphaned as a baby. She’s into performance sex. And she has an exotic cat! A serval! Do you know what that is?” serval As my coach pronounced, “Everyone loves a cat. Does he live? Whatever you do, don’t kill the cat!” I couldn’t. I love that crazy cat.

the beginning

My Bad Side is my novel. It begins in New York, present day:

I watched my face fade in and out against the shadows and buildings, my eyes and mouth, my neck and chest, my dress suddenly there and then gone into the scaffolding and lights, a police car, its blue and white lights swimming back and forth. The cab turned, and my face was in the window again, the flat stone of Battery Tunnel and then the gravel and bent-over plastic fences and the wide emptiness and the front of my building.


I gave him $8. “It’s a $7 fare.”

He turned sharply, his collar jutting out at the side. “I’m not a beggar.”

“I’m not a tourist.”

“The fare is $9.40.”

I was only half out, my foot just on the wet asphalt, when the car lurched ahead, and I had to pirouette, kick down and catch myself to a stop, as the wheels spun, jittering, and jolted away, the door still half open.

“Miss Sinclair?” Sully had his hand out for me; he wore his suit perfectly, tie tight, shirt sleeves just out from his jacket,

“Thank you.”

We watched the cab’s tail lights flash on and off, menacingly, and then turn to the park.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with people.” He walked me up the steps. “I really don’t.”

“It’s cold.”

“Yes.” He bowed as he opened the door. “It’s going to snow.”

“It’s supposed to be spring.”

He smiled. “We always have the late snow.”

“Night, Sully.”

“Good night, Miss Sinclair.”

The elevator doors closed. The hall was empty. My key went badly into the lock. Apollo was lying in the middle of the rug, curled away, his bottom leg sticking out, his paw over his head. I couldn’t understand why he was like that.

“Hey there.”

I stepped back and banged my elbow into the wall. “Jesus fuck, Derek.”

He was slouched at the edge of the couch, his uniform half off. “Sorry.”

“What are you doing here?”

He doubled up, coughing horribly.

I crouched over Apollo; there was a hole in his shoulder, a tiny nothing and then a watery line of red trailing into the rug.

“Dee.” Derek was suddenly too close, almost at my shoulder. He had something in his hand, dark and heavy, like a phone, but it wasn’t that. It was a gun. I swung out wildly, twisting away, falling forward, both of us full onto my side and arm, and kicked at him, punching the floor, the gun loose and in my hand. I pushed myself up, everything in me twisted tight, my heart erratic, a mess of veins squenched together, making me think that I was more real than I was, and I raised the gun at him. He wouldn’t stop coughing.

“Your fucking cat—“

It snapped up and hovered, a living thing, and there was a vibrating sound, the light hard and burning. He slumped back like he was pretending to be mad and then he was struggling to get up again.

I was going to shoot again. “Just stay.” He listened to that.

Apollo whipped his tail at me. I tried to lift him, but he swiped back and hissed, and I was just dragging him awfully. I got his cage and pulled him into that and knocked everything off my dresser into a bag, like I had been waiting for this and pulled him after me onto the elevator, getting my phone and was going to call the police but just held it stupidly, thinking they would come after me and decided I had to get away.

“Miss Sinclair?” Sully ran to us. “Are you all right?”

“Apollo’s hurt.”

“Apollo? Let me.” He took the cage out the glass doors. “What’s happened to your hand?”

I looked down, my left hand tight and bent against my chest. “I—I…It’s…I twisted it.”

“You should get it looked at.” He had the cab door open. “You’re sure you’re all right?”

“We’re fine.”

He slid Apollo’s cage in after me. “You’re sure?”

I smiled back. “Thank you, Sully.”

“You should go to the hospital.”

I closed the door. “Penn Station.”