Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Made For TV Movie (Part II)

(Fade in. Bleak landscape. A few radios scattered around. Fade out. Fade in again, but not too close.)

Where does weight go when you lose it?
Skies like this, all shredded up with the meandering oxbow and peanut shapes of clouds, affect people’s moods. They tend to think about things differently, including the life they are living, their daily commute, pinwheels, monster truck shows, and the aerials on their cars.
Taxi drivers are strangers until you get into their cab, trusting them with things like your life. Tipping them well is probably a good idea.

(Close up of a man wearing sweat pants and a tank top. His hands are on his knees, and he is huffing and puffing, and his tongue is hanging out a bit, and he is shaking his head back and forth, and he is winded, and he is tired, and he is not running up any more hills anymore today. Pull back slowly. The man is not going anywhere just at the moment. Circle the camera around him, slowly at first, as he continues breathing heavily with his hands on his knees. Circle faster.)

When shyness is overcome, what happens to it?
Humans are just slabs of meat running around feeling things. Some of them have carpal tunnel syndrome which sends shooting pains down their arms and also sometimes makes their fingers tingle.
Out in the street it is cold. The wind is blowing hard. It has just rained. Rainwater still stains the street in puddles that reflect a little moonlight there too. Not much is happening. Out in the street it is cold.

A voice speaking from the radio: “The tree outside my window, its yellowing leaves flouncing around like golden drooping wings, was all strung up with x-mas lights, which coiled around its trunk and spread like stars through its branches. I looked at it out there. It wasn’t making me feel good. I looked at it again. I looked over and over again. I looked through the darkened pane of my window.”

(These words come up, flashing like subtitles in white on the bottom of the screen: “Everything was wrong. It was all a mistake. I am ordinary. I only take showers when it rains. I flush the toilet too, sometimes. I am not a good person. I keep forgetting how to live properly.”)

The television set can be vile enemy and a toothsome friend. It enchants and distracts one from the task at hand. It can make one say things like, “I have illusions that I try to make real to other people. They call me delusional. I’m a product of the mass media. It’s nothing to be proud of. Just the way it is.”

(Tilt camera on an angle, slowly tilting it over farther until it is sideways.)

When the streets are still a little wet after it rains, and the air still smells that way that it does after it rains, that scent of saturated pavement, that whiff of rain-soaked asphalt that makes you think of cool fall days when all the sidewalk’s trees’ leaves are gold and red and yellow, and there is green all over the place—a blinding, indomitable green that brings comfort to the way the wind blows—then, and only then, is one vulnerable to the vagaries and vicissitudes of the world.

(Quick cut to an empty stage where a play is about to be performed.)

Act II Scene ii
(A small dirty apartment, the kind of place with dust all over everything and stains all over the carpet and a perpetual pile of dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter top next to the sink. Three bay windows at one end let in some light through the blinds, but one of the windows is covered with a dark blanket which is nailed up at the corners above the pane. There is a television set that doesn’t work in one corner, old books cover most of the floor space, and the rotting husk of a former chair sits by the windows. It is ripped up and badly stained. The walls are bare except for a painting of a clown which is leaning against the wall on top of a bookcase in the corner. There are three book cases along the walls that are all in various stages of decay: paint peeling, warped wood, jam-packed tight with books, one almost buckling under the weight of the many books stacked on top of it. A bare mattress lies on the floor in the middle of the room. A silver art-deco style lamp illuminates the room poorly. On the floor is an old typewriter with ink-stained keys and a worn ribbon. A plastic yellow ashtray is filled with cigarette butts. The door to the small bathroom is closed.)

(A dirge of violin and piano music plays in the empty room as a disembodied voice speaks.)

The voice says: “The pink flowers on the small tree outside my window were starting to die and lose their petals to the wind. I hadn’t had anything to eat in three days. My eyes were sore because I hadn’t slept very well the night before. People outside my window looked like beetles or narwhals or cigarette butts smashed in the rain. For a while I’d been talking to myself and pacing back and forth across the dirty floor of my apartment. I spit at the windows and saw snails there crawling on the glass, leaving trails just like my mucus running down the pane in a slimy line. My overcoat was torn, ragged at the sleeves, and my socks had holes in the toes. The radio was playing opera. I was laughing a lot. Once in a while a car would roll by on the street below and I would think, there, there is another thing happening in the world, another person alive who is doing something, making something happen. Time does exist. But these were just empty thoughts. I knew that they didn’t mean anything to anyone besides myself. A dog would bark and I would jump high into the air. A small child would cry through the thin plaster walls and I would dive onto my mattress and roll and thrash about on it. The world was going around as it was supposed to be, and I was there on it going around too.”

(The camera pans across the stage slowly. It then focuses on a disheveled old man who has walked onto the stage. The camera follows him as he walks around in circles on the stage.)

The man says: “The world needs its expendable masses, people like me, to do the thankless, mundane tasks, to serve those who would rather not do such things, those who have wealth and power and take things for granted, who feel entitled to live their lives with a certain amount of unnecessary luxury and comfort. We clean the toilets and the gutters, cut the trees that majestically line the sidewalks, tear tickets into stubs, have staring matches with windows, and fall out of the back of pickup trucks. Sometimes we cry.”