over a month since Mallender had been to Jo-Ann Fabrics
since the visions leading up to the pizza party and the accident
it had all been too much and the fabric store took the rap
as unfair as that may have been
Jean was too busy setting up
a “Make your own Christmas Stockings” display
to say anything other than “Long time Mallender!”
good: all the easier to get lost in the fabrics
with the cow spot flannels
fucking elephant baby nursery fabrics
give me a good calico and let my eyes swim in it
than a kaleidoscopic pattern
first caught Mallender’s eye
the white polka dots on black
did not draw him in
but the aura stitched around them
made his eyes feel unfocused
that by itself would have made a fascinating print
but no: the designer had to throw in a pastel cut-out frogs
crouching or leaping
their mostly-white googly eyes
in concert with the lunary dots
their dumb grin their playful-above-all-else nature
pulling Mallender in
with their reckless hedonism holy shit this is the frog print
this is the frog toss print from my vision Mallender looked up
and there was Casey
looking over the pure animal-skin prints
red auburn companionship
sagging and tight but-not-as-tight-as-LEI-jeans jeans
he rubbed his eyes she scratched her back
the store will be closing in fifteen minutes please
bring your purchases to the front counter thank you
Are you fucking kidding me? What are you doing here? Crocheting a coozy for your trumpet?
I come here because I can see the future, and focusing on the prints eases my mind. I actually came half-knowing that I would meet a companion here today. I couldn’t see who it was before, but now I know it’s you.
Are you hitting on me, nerd?
That could be a good shtick couldn't it, but this vision was more of a casual, non-sexual but important friendship.
I thought Picasso or someone says the opposite—that that kind of tension is exactly what makes friendship in the first place.
In a male-dominated world like he presided over, sure.
So we'll never hook up?
Even if you acted on your desire to prove my visions wrong, it wouldn't happen. Even when you make out with me, after a few seconds you say to yourself, "What the fuck am I doing?" and I say "I told you so" and then we laugh about it like the good friends we'll be.
So calm. So certain.
I also recommend two yards of the cheetah pattern for your braided-cloth replacement for the chain on your wallet. You are going to want to make more than one.
Yeah, isn't that such bullshit I got a detention for my chain wallet? The chain is not as thick as some neck-laces I've seen in school and less than a foot in length.
Yeah that's fucking bogus. Let's check out, especially because Jean has a lot on her plate as it is. She's about to divorce her husband.
Are you getting anything?
A few yards of this frog toss print. It was the one that told me about you.
EXT. SHEER’S BACKYARD — DAY
A mirror where one is tricked into seeing the body of another with their own eyes. The bottom half is a mirror the top half a pane of glass. Sheer stands at attention except his legs are shoulder width apart. He looks at himself not as Narcissus, breathless with admiration, nor Hephaestus, disappointed by fate's utter abandonment of physical beauty in favor of an ultimate inner luminosity, but as Zeus between forms, never a god in Sheer's case but not entirely sure what kind of swan or human he might be.
If it weren't for the movie, he would have looked away at this most startling proposition, this strange animal attached to his mind, the hands scratching his head were not entirely his own because behind Casey's contraption, the reflecting room as she had called it, Mallender stood perpendicular to Sheer but in front of an array of mirrors so his upper torso stood as what Sheer saw in his own reflection.
Casey had measured the distances so Mallender's reflection would be for the most part proportionate with the rest of Sheer's body. So perplexed by what the mirror offered him of himself, Sheer did not notice his hand well above his waist, his father's ruger steadied against his side already cocked and when it fired Sheer screamed out of astonishment combustion shattered glass but all too fast to see it was not the glass in front of him.
Casey had Mallender pointed towards the woods where the bullet sped through a decent-sized birch and settled into an old pine, but Sheer grimaced and held his stomach where the bullet would have hit. Near death yes but never had Mallender been the cause of it even if a ruse. He slouched back. The gun released itself from his hand and no one saw either tumble to the ground.
INT. NELSON'S BASEMENT — DAY
DIANA and CASEY sit across from each other at a card table in NELSON'S basement. They are both wearing pastel business suit tops from NELSON'S mother with white cloth napkins tied into cravats over black t-shirts.
The face of each has been powdered liberally, DIANA'S hair tied into a tight ponytail and tucked into the back of the suit; CASEY'S hair in a beehive and silver-dollar-sized lipstick-red circles on her cheeks.
Tea lights are scattered across the room, and standing lamps from the living room, outside of the shot and on the lowest setting, make everything visible on camera. NELSON'S brother JOE, with a frown painted on his face, is the dealer.
PROVOST is DIANA'S assistant, his long black hair curled, an eyepatch over his right eye. There are no more sports coats for him or SHEER, CASEY'S second. As in Barry Lyndon, Schubert's 2nd trio for piano, violin, and violoncello plays in the background.
A game of cards commences, JOE deals, the assistants observe and whisper; empowered by her obliviousness to these goings-on, DIANA stares directly at CASEY with a jittery resilience.
It is early enough in the day and with the comforters to block out the sunlight that CASEY and DIANA'S makeup remains impeccable, catching the tea light and reflecting neither an antique past nor anything these women knew in their own time.
Bets are made.
An extreme close up of DIANA'S eyes, darting to take in every detail of CASEY'S face. CASEY notices but cannot maintain direct eye contact for more than five seconds. She whispers something to SHEER, who says, "Oui, mademoiselle."
She then exits through the door leading to the back yard, and the moment it is opened, the shot is flooded with the blinding light of the sun.
DIANA rushes to follow, but when she makes it outside, CASEY is no longer there.
Diana removes her suit top to reveal a bedazzled single strap tank top. She is now wearing hoop earrings and lipstick as if this was her most natural way of being although this was not true for the character who just exited the basement or even Diana herself. The voiceover, taken directly from Orlando, is overlaid with The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness” instrumental:
Then she called hesitatingly, as if the person she wanted might not be there,"Orlando?" For if there are (at a venture) seventy-six dif- ferent times all ticking in the mind at once, how many different people are there not - Heaven help us - all having lodgment at one time or another in the human spirit? Some say two thou- sand and fifty-two. So that it is the most usual thing in the world for a person to call, directly they are alone, Orlando? (if that is one's name) meaning by that, Come, come! I'm sick to death of this particular self. I want another.
While this is being read, DIANA moves first around the small patio and then the yard proper, for the most part unconcerned with how she might look on screen.
It is as if the body had gone involuntary to facilitate the business of her mind.
Was it the growing heat that staggered her, thoughts of Orlando and the mystery and the beauty of her transformation, the intense wish to lead another existence directly after this one, for it never to end, life, the sun coming through the only tree left before the woods took over, a pine with all its branches six feet from the ground cut off?
Someone once got her a John Cale record and pretended like they knew it was someone other than her obsession, John Cage—how that record lead her to the closing of the NICO: ICON film with a 1995 Cale channeling Nico's "Frozen Warnings" through a Steinway, gashes on the factory walls, a thousand cycles to come, still the Orlando she needs may not come, the cloudy borderline, in a similar reply—
A black screen, solemn mid-low notes with a run of high notes, nothing other than the opening song from Mega Man 2.
A blurry series of black and white images fades into each other: scrambled porn but just a woman lifting her head back and smiling, neon geometric grid work, what an early video game would look like if transported into the real world, a black marble pyramid, and then the triangle/sun/ouroburos logo spinning on its Z-Axis below the title.
Casey insisted on showing Rick the opening since he was the first actor to appear just after it. She had no script or lines for him; just drive and stop anywhere he'd like.
He wanted to go down Munsing St. and make that not-u-but-V turn onto Church. His hair felt like Mega Man's at the top of that impossibly high building, fresh air like he'd never known coming through the window his brother said not to open because it sometimes didn't close.
The emphatic part of the Mega Man 2 theme played through Rick's head, 8 bit chords, the sun in such a position that the shadow of the power lines ran parallel to the street.
Casey sat in the backseat recording him, he tried to make it like he didn't even know she was there and only looked back out of the corner of his eye once or twice.
Casey went from recording out the window to focusing back on him. He parked by the church to look over a multi-family tag sale going on in the small triangle of land across from the front of the church.
Rick opened an old suitcase filled with records, Casey turned the camera to an obelisk with a wrought-iron fence around it. Close up shot of the fence, each slat ornate like a ceremonial trident.
A few small flags with stars on the sticks blew in the wind. Rick looked over some used board games as Casey focused on the monument itself:
A wide shot so the entire obelisk makes it into the frame. Rick can be seen in the background handing an older woman a few bucks in exchange for Scrabble.
Ben Pease is a board member of the Ruth Stone Foundation and an editor of Monk Books. His first full-length collection of poems, Chateau Wichman, is forthcoming from Big Lucks Books, and more work can be found online at fugitivesofspeech.tumblr.com/works. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet and artist Bianca Stone.