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Fiction Drama Sad

“It always amazes me, the magic that can be made from doing something as simple as dropping asbestos from the sky.”

“What’s that, dear?”

“Look,” she says, pointing out the window, towards the sight of the season’s first snowfall, “we must be doing the poppy scene today.”

“That’s snow, honey.”

“Darling,” she says, turning to him, “it is the middle of July, we are in Southern California, shooting on-site at the studio—where would they have found snow?”

“Oh, right, that’s where we are today.”

“Of course that is where we are, silly, where did you think we were?”

“London, for starters.”

“London?!” she asks, her hands moving as theatrically as her vowels. “Could you imagine, me, in London?”

“I imagine it every day,” he says, flat as a trombone.

“Mickey, do you think maybe you’ve gone insane?” She laughs as she says this like it’s all a game.

“That must be it.” 

“Snow in July…” she says, now looking elsewhere as if there were someone else around to share this gaffe with. “…what is next, Christmas?!” She sighs emphatically. “I wish I was on that set. Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m just being silly with you,” Mickey says, smiling if only for a moment. “You know how I am, Mr. Silly, always messing around.”

“Yes, that’s you, alright.”

The creases of his mouth fold back down as he looks around, his eyes passing over three different exits in its orbit.

“Now,” she says, “when the hell is makeup going to arrive to doll us up? Or do they expect us to shoot like this?”

“Us?”

“Yes, sweetie, why are you here if you are not in the movie? Are you not playing a tree or some sort of fantastical background character my son would be better off playing in his school production? Surely they have you doing something.”

“Now you’re asking the right questions.”

“And where is Ray? I do hope he is okay. He seemed to have been burned pretty badly last I saw him.”

Mickey presses his fingers into his eyes as if it will make the vision change. 

“Judy,” he says, exasperated, “it’s just me. There’s no Ray. Will you get it together for once?”

“Will you get it together? You silly, silly man. I have a job to do here and I intend to do it well.”

“Why don’t you pop another pill,” Mickey says, taking a bottle out of his pocket, opening it with his thumb and draining its contents with his tongue.

“A pill? I don’t need any more damn pills, Mickey, I need…”

Her words stop as her mouth closes and tears start to drip down her cheeks. Mickey rolls his eyes.

“What do you need?” he asks, his tone lacking any sign of sympathy. 

“Nothing. I do not need a thing. I just…I just want to go home. Please, can we not go home?”

“We are home.”

A moment passes as they look at each other, her eyes turning red while his remains plainly dead.

“I cannot do this anymore, Mickey, you need to take me home.”

“We are home.”

“One of these days, I am going to say no and it will not be enough. They are going to do it anyway and there will be nothing I can do about it.”

“Do what?”

“Whatever they want with me.”

“Darling, that never happened.”

“It happens almost every day. It is either the little ones or the big ones; the unimportant or the much too important. Today will be no different. They will stuff me with lettuce and little white pills and then whatever else they want to stuff me with until I am delirious and desirable and nearly dead. One day I will be. How will they finish filming then?”

“For God’s sake, Judy, it’s been 30 years, would you get over it already? The film was a fucking hit. You were a hit. You always will be a hit. What is the point in all this madness?”

“Madness? Is it me who is being mad? I think it is you who is the mad one. These words you speak…they are gibberish! Who do you think you are, a man of the future? What are these strange tales you weave?”

“It’s called reality.”

“Reality,” she scoffs. “Everything here is fiction; simple toys to tease the masses. This road? Painted. This snow? Poison. This corset? Suffocating. And this script? Nonsense.”

“Judy!” Mickey starts to scream and Judy flails backward as if he had just struck her, though his hands had not moved.

“Mr. Director, how dare you lay your hands on me!”

Suddenly, his hands are on her shoulders, pressing firmly into the bones. She winces as her expression closes in on itself. 

“I’m not the director, you crazy bitch! I’m your God damn husband! Jesus Christ, if I knew this is what you’d become, I’d never have married you.”

Judy presses her hands against his chest, using all her might to push him away from her, though it only moves him a few inches. Mickey releases his hands despite the lack of force.

“I am exactly what you want me to be,” Judy says, rubbing her shoulders. 

“You don’t even know who I am right now.”

“I know who you are, you pig.”

Judy leans her head back and slings it forward as the spit flies from her mouth, across the air, and into his face. This time his hands do move, with his open palm striking her swiftly across the cheek. 

“You bastard!” she screams, reaching her hand towards her now pink skin. Mickey doesn’t reply and instead turns toward the exit. 

“That’s right, go back to your whores!”

“What whores?” he asks, turning back to her.

“You think I do not know what happens in that club? I know. I know everything, Mickey. I know everything.”

“Oh, please, you don’t even know where you are right now.”

“I know where I am not.”

“And where’s that? Hollywood?”

“Home,” she says somberly, looking down, no longer piercing his eyes with her own. 

“Judy, I’m going to work. Pretend you’re wherever you want, just don’t do anything stupid, okay?”

She says nothing in return, her stare still focused on the floor. Mickey returns the favor and walks out the door. 

Judy rises, walks back toward the window, and stares out as the white droplets fall from above.

“Hello world, here I am, your favorite ugly duckling, the hunchback of MGM studios, back again for one last show…”

She strides left, then right, then back again, twirling around and around until she’s in the center of the room, her eyes dizzy with dance.

“This is where it all started, where it truly began…”

The lights flicker and flash as Judy continues to sway from side to side, her movements slowing with each second that passes.

“If happy little bluebirds fly,” she sings, softly, “beyond the rainbow…why, oh why, can’t I?”

December 08, 2023 15:34

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