Saturday, 29 March 2014

Fade To Black - 29 March 2014

In the wake of Older Than Dirt, it's becoming clear that India doesn't quite know how to handle all the attention.  Where Allan brushes things off without concern, India is left wondering whether or not she's going to be able to cope.  As she is interviewed for Vampire Life magazine, we learn exactly what this lady does and doesn't want from her new career in movies.

Read on as we delve into the meat of the matter.

Oh, and by the way, this is the segment where you will see the short story entitled "April Rain."  I eventually adapted this little gem (with more fun and games included) into a short screenplay, and then entered it into a couple of screenplay contests.  It got to (if I remember correctly) semi-final status, but was then booted out the door.  Alas, no prizes for me!


NOTE:

FADE TO BLACK IS FOR ADULTS. IT CONTAINS ALL MANNER OF DEBAUCHERY, NASTY LANGUAGE, MATURE CONTENT, DEPICTION OF ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES, ETC. IF IT'S NOT TO YOUR TASTES, YOU'LL KNOW PRETTY QUICKLY.


FADE TO BLACK IS NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN. AT ALL. EVER.


IF YOU ARE AN ADULT, AND WISH TO DIVE INTO THIS CRAZY WORLD, PROCEED. IF YOU ARE A CHILD, GO AWAY IMMEDIATELY.
_____________________________________________________________________

Fade to Black

© 2008 CL Seamus


OUR LOVE IT WAS STRONGER
      
     There was speculation that Allan Baird was a one-picture wunderkind with no more tricks up his sleeve. For every cult reviewer who loved him, there were three mainstream critics who bashed him over the head. You’ve had your fifteen minutes, asshole. Now crawl back under your twisted rock, because we’re not shocked by your strangeness anymore.

And yet I continue to be shocked by yours

      His ongoing relationship with India became the subject of talk as well. Some wondered if she wasn’t just trying to cure him of his deviance. But India didn’t view Allan as deviant. If she found he’d gone out with a man, she’d yell at him only because he wasn’t being faithful. Sometimes she’d whap his head or thump his chest during an argument. Allan took it. India was exciting when cross, especially when she boxed his ears. More often than not, her aggressions would be prelude to a good bedroom workout.
__________

      In Allan's youth, the sexes had been separate until the older grades. When girls began showing up in his classes, they took to him like fish to water. He became one of them, a mall rat who spent all his time shopping. He fancied accessories - chokers, scarves, cute ankle socks. He couldn’t wear any of it with his school uniform, but faithfully sported his special trimmings on weekends. Parents, Lisa and Mondo, indulged him with a healthy allowance, so he bought whatever he wanted. He liked girls in that they allowed him to be himself. If he cried when they played a sad song on the radio, the girls comforted him. If he went with a group to the movies, boys were never as willing as his girlfriends to sit through character driven dramas.

      The Bairds knew all along their son was destined to grow up apart from other boys. Little things, like the time he cried when, in front of the shaving mirror, twenty-year-old Mondo had revealed a heavy truth.

      “Why do you shave, Daddy?”

      “I like to keep a clean face.”

      “Does Mumma shave?”

      “No. Girls don’t shave. Mumma’s a girl.”

      “Yeah. Me, too.”

      “You’re a boy.”

      “I don’t shave.”

      “You’re only five.”

      It had scared Allan shitless when the discussion ended with the foreboding revelation that as he got older, he would develop a deep voice and grow body hair. Though Mondo had always been on the fence about Allan’s mannerisms, there was never any doubt as to the love he had for his scrawny little kid.

      Allan had his first sexual encounters when he was fourteen; they’d been with a boy named Don Mitchell, beside whom he sat in art class. After school, porn magazines in hand, the teens would jerk each other off and dry-hump in Allan’s bedroom. Don had fierce parents who didn’t allow friends in the house - especially strange boys like Allan. The kids had heard others talk about losing virginity, and the girls they wanted to bang. Did it have to be with a girl? They’d both seen porn magazines. They’d seen what you were supposed to do with a girl. It was different to what they did with each other. Theirs were just feel-good games between friends. The thing with girls was different.

      He didn’t get busy with a girl until Rhonda Walker balled him in the back seat of his new car at sixteen years of age. Being the sexually insatiable boy he was, he took delight in the fact that girls put out, too. The world was truly his oyster.
__________

She was a child and I was a child in this kingdom by the sea, but we loved with a love that was more than love, I and my Annabel Lee With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven coveted, her and me

      Allan could get sex anywhere. That he was able to keep up a relationship with India meant she had worked her way into his heart. When she moved into the house in May of 1999, she insisted on her own room and lots of space. Living together made Allan realise that even though he’d been called weird throughout life, India was by far the greater challenge. They’d play and make love on the rug in front of the fireplace. They’d write poems to each other. Having grown up in the shadow of Lisa’s love for Poe, he’d learned the work easily as a child. So beautifully sad was his recitation of Annabel Lee that India took it as her own and asked for it again and again - but she hardly spoke of her own feelings, never of her life before they met.

      Accustomed to open, exploratory relationships, Allan found her closed and distant to a damaging degree. Emotionally, you could only ever go so far with her. In bed, she could take him on without restraint, but he knew not whether she had desires of her own. He knew something had gone wrong - that her wiring had been short-circuited somewhere along the way - but it was a solidly closed door and he wasn’t sure opening it would be good. More than a closed door, India was a sealed vault, with secrets that trickled out one drop at a time, and only when she was ready. His involvement with her put distance between himself and Rennie, who, in the winter following Dirt, had gone back to Germany to work with his porn-film compatriots. As the time for Lady of Desire drew nigh, Rennie would be coming back, and it was likely to get nasty if Allan started seeing him again.

      Since rounding thirty, Allan had started to develop a real set of nerves. He took higher doses of lorazepam to relax, then took amphetamines to keep himself awake for the long hours of open calls, meetings, and script work.

Egad I think I’m growing up

      He’d pace the basement, talk roles out loud, run through actions, and immerse himself in creation. It brought his artistic sense to a finely honed focus. Despite the fact he always said he didn’t give a shit that Dirt had only been popular underground, he did give a shit. He wanted to be able to make any kind of film. His ambitions were growing, and he had to grow with them. Stage one had been college when he wrote with the free-handed arrogance of the rich and bored. Stage two was his first professional film - a time for learning business and having his work held up in front of a real audience. Next would be stage three, when the artist would be put to the test. Are you as good as you think you are?

You bet your ass I am

      But it couldn’t be the big free-for-all like when Dirt was made. The holding of Court would have to slow, and with it the excessive abuses of wacky-smoke and alcohol. Lady was not some ethereal otherworldly trick. It was a brooding piece of noir with dark undertones, incestuous themes, and murder. It would be the picture to quiet chatter over Allan’s one-hit-wonder status, and hopefully start a new page in his career.

      Most of the investors and crew would stay on board. Dirt hadn’t made money but everybody got paid. Nobody went home without his or her due. In meetings, Ted actually started speaking up for Allan, reminding his partners that the coming projects could only get better. By the third picture, it was likely they’d all be fattening their wallets. And, of course, there was the excitement of having their names on the big screen. Vanity won the day.

      So all became work. Allan crawled down the tunnel where lay the Deep Visuals, where murderers and human monsters waited to be stirred to life with a kick of his foot. India, in the meantime, had nothing to do but wait and be dark of her own accord. Allan had a special Writer's Nest of Nastiness where he’d dig to find mood. India was her own nest. She dug nowhere. Demons always found her first. She was too young to be in idle all the time, painting seascapes and waiting. She needed to get into gear. She, too, knew that Rennie would be coming back, and that everything would be heating up again soon.
__________
      
     India padded into Allan’s basement office one night as he typed at the computer. He was naked, the word Artist scrawled on his chest in felt pen. He didn’t look up, but could hear her breathing. “Hi,” he mumbled.

      Wrapped in a plain terry bathrobe, hair still wet from a shower, she took a step. “I can’t make this picture.”

      “Hmm, okay.” He finally heard her. “...what?”

      “I quit. I can’t do it.”

Thank you, Mrs Mind-Fuck

      “Why not?” His fingers slipped from the keyboard. He was warm with thought as he eased out of the nest.

      “I read the draft you left on the bed.”

      “...yes?”

      “It’s the subject matter.”

      “What’s wrong with the subject matter?”

      She advanced one more step and hugged herself. “Um, it makes me uncomfortable.”

      He pulled on a pair of pink boxer shorts. “...yes?”

      She sat on the edge of the unmade bunk. “I don’t know if I can talk about it.”

      He sat beside her. “I can’t help if you don’t tell me.”

      Don’t talk to me, just make me stop shaking. She straddled his lap and laid him to his back. The room was quiet as they kissed. India tasted his warm, damp neck. Whatever he was with anybody else, in their bed Allan was her man. His hands fumbled with her robe and slid inside to find bare skin. He kissed her breasts, squeezed her hips, and drew his knees up be-tween her thighs. When he reached to her wrists, she pulled back and sniffed in disapproval. She never liked to be held by the wrists, never wanted restraint of any kind. He had to be submissive and yielding, having seen the mood melt away to nothing if he crossed certain levels of assertion. She found his erection and made it hers. As they moved together, she slid fingers in and out of his mouth in rhythm with her body. Allan closed his eyes and felt the sting. No rush, no fever to make it happen. They were sexual often, and it could be relaxed because it was always there. Keeping him sated meant his urges for others were kept at bay.

     If she had an orgasm, she didn’t say. He knew she had them, but when she didn’t, it never seemed to bother her. She simply didn’t talk about it. Sex was under her control. If she wanted the sting, she knew where to find it.

      When they were still, she rested against his chest and kissed by his ear. “I’m going to bed,” she whispered. “I want you to do something for me.”

      He nodded, his palms on her thighs.

     “I left a box on the kitchen table. I can’t talk about it, but I want to show you something.” She wiped tears from her eyes. “Just go and look in the box when I’m gone.”

      He could feel her heart pound against his chest, and a tremble all over her body. He met her eyes. “Hey? What’s wrong? You can talk to me.” He kissed and held her. “You can tell me anything.” Don’t push. A step forward might come but it wasn’t going to be easy lovers’ talk.

     “Please,” she breathed. “I have to do this my way.” More kissing. She licked a trickle of sweat from his neck.

      He was soft and patient. “What do you want me to do when I look in the box?”

      She leaned up on her hands. “Just think about the screenplay.”

     He opened her robe all the way and sniffed between her breasts. “I love you, yanno.”

      “My boy.” After more kisses she got up and left.

     Allan lay quietly. He reached to the end table and clicked on the disc player to relax his troubled mind with soft piano music. After a while, he fell asleep.

      It wasn’t until three a.m. that he woke with the remembrance that he was supposed to go to the kitchen. He grabbed a shower before heading upstairs. There was the unassuming shoebox. He put on the kettle and sat down. Something in the box bothered the sad soul upstairs. It was bad enough to make her want to quit.

     Tea poured, Allan pulled the box in front of him. What was the secret? His first thought was that she might have some kind of terminal disease, but then he remembered she said it was the subject matter of the screenplay. He spent a moment thinking about that subject matter. Lady of Desire was about a millionaire’s second wife and her duplicitous daughter, scheming and scrapping over which of them would eventually be named to inherit his millions. India would play the sexy, promiscuous daughter, competing for her stepfather’s money. She would get the advantage over her mother by sleeping with the old man. Being younger and much more sexually satisfying, she would convince him to put her name in the will.

      Allan stirred the tea distractedly with his finger, seemingly oblivious to the excessive temperature. He opened the box. Inside was a rolled document in a plastic cover. Beneath were newspaper cuttings held in a paper clip. He frowned and lifted the roll. It took a moment of perusal to understand what he was reading, but he slowly deciphered it as a medical report. Findings following an investigation. There were two illustrations of a body - back and front views, with lines pointing to various areas. Focus was placed on the thighs and genitals. He flipped to the next page and saw a black & white of India as a child. Her face was pale, troubled. Under the picture were her stats - birth date, weight, height, and assorted measurements. He touched the picture - so frightened, her young face. The text below included the words abrasions and contusions, but when he hit upon burn-marks, vaginal tearing, and anal tearing, he stood and walked away, his vision blurred with tears. He put his head to the wall and cried for a long time.

     When all cried out, he sat again and lifted out a clipping.

City police Friday removed a twelve year
old girl from the custody of her father
after a Templeton school teacher discovered
extensive bruising on her thighs. The
child denied abuse, but finally admitted
during psychological examinations that
her father had been bringing friends to
the house and forcing her to submit
to them sexually. She estimated the abuse
had been going on for almost two years.

The father was arrested Tuesday but died
of heart failure during transport to
police headquarters. No other arrests were
made, since the identities of the accomplices
were not known to the child, and were never
given by the father. Several local men were
questioned, but later released due to
insufficient evidence.

     His face broken with pain, Allan sifted through the other papers. There were old appointment cards for doctors, reports from teachers to The Guardians of Annalee MacDonald, and hastily completed drawings of childish fashion - drawings that India appeared to have done when asked to imagine herself. The most striking was of a man and woman, son and daughter, all clutched together in a hug. Allan just covered his mouth and cried again.

      India lay curled under blankets in her second floor bedroom. She was wide awake and heard him come in. She closed her eyes as a big tear rolled to her pillow.

      “Indie?” he asked softly. “You awake?” Nothing. He crawled in, spooned up behind her. She opened her eyes but remained silent. He kissed her hair. “I know you’re awake. I can feel you shaking.”

      But he knew she wouldn’t talk. That’s why she’d left the box. Please don’t ask me. He went to the only place he thought would be safe. “I’ll change it. Could you play the part if I changed it?”

      She sniffed. “I can’t ask you to re-write this just because of me.” Very softly. “...stupid.”

      He whispered, “I’ll change it.”


THOSE WHO WERE OLDER

      Summer of 1999, Lady got underway. The man hired to play the millionaire was fifty-year-old Ellice Groom, who was - as had become the style - a former porn actor. On the evening Rennie was to return, India sat at the vanity in her dressing room, a modest but well equipped space in one of the service buildings at Conversion. She once again tried Allan’s cell, and once again there was no answer. The message came on and she hung up. Since letting Allan into the guarded part of her life, she’d been clingy and whiny, and hated it when he didn’t have time for her. He’d re-written the part of Helen Gables - her character in Lady - to be the millionaire’s mistress instead of the daughter. He’d changed it psychologically just enough to convince her she could play the part.

     Why isn’t he answering his cell? Her temper fumed. How long did it take to pick someone up from the airport? They were probably at the house by now. Probably in bed together. What the hell was going on? Was he her man or wasn’t he? She was confident and secure in the fact that he wasn’t sleeping with any other women, but how was she supposed to deal with Rennie? Or Wallace. Or Brian Holden for that matter. What the flying fuck is going on here?

     The trouble with any teenaged girl, abused or otherwise, was that she wanted her man to demonstrate his devotion a thousand times a day. She needed constant assurance that he loved her, a condition magnified in that he was almost a dozen years older than she. He had to be protector, too. India never used to need that. She didn’t want him close emotionally. Arm’s length was all she had to protect herself. That all changed after the shoebox. Once he became owner of her truths, she became owner of his life. After what I showed him, how can he justify being with Rennie? But Allan had been so affected by the shoebox that if he spent too much time thinking about it, would barely be able to pull off a good bang with her. He’d get into the mindset that his own horniness was just another form of abuse, and then he’d have to get a load of snap up his nose just to keep his hardon.

      India didn’t call again. It was almost nine p.m. and she’d see him when she saw him. They were supposed to go out to dinner after he dropped Rennie off.

      She was about to go for a shower when there came a knock. “Who is it?” she growled, all lathered up with temper.

      “It’s Ted. Can I talk to you?”

      She cinched her robe tie. “Now? I’m about to shower.”

      “It’ll just take a minute.”

      “Hang on.” She rushed to hide things - unmentionables, sex toys, baggie of weed - before opening the door. “What do you want?” Go ahead, fucker. Make a pass at me and watch the teeth fly.

      He moved past into the room. “How you doing, sweetheart?”

      Ted scared her at the best of times - more so in her diminished emotional capacity. She dabbed her nose with a tissue. “Do you know where Allan is?”

      “Nope.” He scanned her clutter. Magazines, clothes, stuffed toys, newspapers, shopping bags - everything in unorganised piles. His eyes came back to her, but she didn’t return the contact. “I know the schedule’s a bitch,” he said. “But something’s come up and I think we have to address it.”

      “Such as?”

      He took a small baggie from his pocket and tossed it at her. The capsules inside rattled. She didn’t move when it bounced off her chest and hit the floor. “Speed,” he said. “I’m old, baby, but I was young once. These were in the pocket of the sweater you returned to Wardrobe.”

      She finally bent and picked it up. “So naturally they’re mine, right?”

      “Are they yours?”

      “No.”

      He took out one of his thin cigars. As he lit it, India tossed the pills to the vanity.

      He spoke confidently. “You know, the ‘Dirt’ thing was a proving ground. For all of us. This picture is the real one. I’m starting to feel good about Allan’s work.”

      She folded her arms and pressed back to the wall. “I’m sure the two of you will be very happy together.”

      He blew a curl of smoke and kept her in his sights. “I’m not here to judge or threaten you. I’m just here to tell you what’s going to happen next.” This was Ted. She wasn’t sleeping with him so he owed nothing to playing nice. Owed nothing to the pussyfoot that Allan always gave her - the little dance he'd do so she would listen to him and still suck his dick when they got home. There was no sucking going on here, so Ted was not distracted.

      He tucked a pamphlet in her robe pocket. “You, my little diva, are going to the doctor. You’re going to confess your sins, and he is going to help you.” He tipped her face up until he found her eyes. “Do you hear me, Ms. Bowman?”

      She pushed his hand off her chin. “Fuck you, Ted.”

      “That’s fantastic,” he continued with a nod. “I’m glad we could settle this so quickly. You have one week to report to the man on that paper. When we’re back on track, he’ll call me to say things are looking up.” He grabbed the pill bag. “Do you have anything else?”

      She wiped her nose. “I don’t know why you’re doing this to me. I’m not the only one who--”

      “No, I’m sure you’re not. But right now, I’m talking to you.” He touched her chin again. “Look at me.” Her eyes were wet and frightened, but he wouldn’t be softened by tears. “You’re not a bit part anymore. This is a real role, and you’re a real actor now. There’s a lot of money invested in this, and I’m not going to stand by and watch it get flushed down the toilet, or see my insurance rates go through the roof.” He thumbed a tear off her cheek. “If you’d like to talk, I’d be happy to listen.”

      She blinked. “Well, you present such a tender, welcoming face, don’t you? Come in and scare the shit out of me.” She threw her water glass across the room. “You don’t own me! Get out of here!”

      He chewed his cigar. “One week.” He opened the door but remained a second longer. “By the way, I haven’t mentioned this to anybody, so feel free to continue walking around with your nose in the air.”
__________

     By the time Allan got back, she didn’t want dinner. He thumped on her door.

      “Go away,” she grouched.

      He came in anyway. “Are we going to eat?”

      She was curled up on her couch. “I’m too tired.”

      He pulled up the vanity stool and sat at her side. “Can you at least do my nails? They look awful.”

      She sighed, sat up, and took his hands. “I have to talk to you.” She reached for her file and started his manicure. “Ted was here. He said I have to go to a doctor just because he found a little speed in my pocket.”

      He dismissed it. “I’ll talk to him.”

      “He’s so scary. I almost shit myself.” She studied his face. “Rennie get in all right?”

I never could hide anything from you

      “You should see him. He has a moustache. He looks like a Village Person.”

      “Did you have sex with him?”

      He laughed, scrubbed his hair with his hand. “Um, maybe just a little.”

      “What does that mean? What does that mean, Allan? Do I have to start chaining you to the bed at night?”

      “Don’t yell at me, okay? It’s been a long day.”

      “I know it’s been a long day. I’m the one who’s been trying to call you for the last two hours. You don’t answer your phone. That maniac comes in here and takes my pills.”

      “I can get you more pills.”

     “He gave me the name of a doctor I have to see.”

      “I said I’ll talk to him. I’ll get you in to see Dr. Park. He’ll give you a prescription. You won’t need to explain a thing to Ted. You’ll have a prescription.”

      “Do you think I have a problem?”

     “I don’t know. Dr. Park will tell you. Besides, what’s bothering you has nothing to do with drugs.”

      “What does it have to do with?”

      “Isn’t it obvious?”  He stopped and raised his hand to calm himself. “Okay, just never mind. I’ll talk to Ted.”

      “Wait a minute. What is so obvious?”

      “Not while you’re doing my nails. You’ll fuck it up or something. I’ll look like a cheap hooker.”

      She couldn’t help a laugh. “I’m sorry. I’m definitely a bitch today.”

      He leaned forward. “My favourite bitch. Kiss?”

      When she drew back from the embrace, she found his eyes. “I want you to stop sleeping with anyone but me.”

     “Why?” His tone was a child being denied TV.

     “We’re supposed to be a couple, dumbass. I don’t sleep with anyone but you. It’s not fair that I put effort into you, but you don’t put effort into me.”

      “I do so put effort into you. A lot of effort.”

      “Don’t sleep with anyone but me.”

      “I can’t promise that.”

      “Would you even try?” She stroked his bristled cheek.

      He kissed her palm. “You’d have to match my commitment.”

      “With what? The drug thing?”

      “No, no.” He pulled up close. “I want you to talk to me. We’ve been together a long time, and I don’t even know you, do I?”

       “You know I can’t talk about myself.”

      “Not yet. But I want you to try. Maybe say one thing to me. Even if just once a week.”

      “Why would I want to relive any more of it?”

     “Okay, well, you said I should put effort into you because you put effort into me... but you don’t, Indie. You don’t put any effort into me at all. There’s more to putting in effort than not sleeping with anyone else. You don’t sleep with anyone else because you hate people. That’s no effort.”

      She laughed a little, but it faded fast. She knew she had no hope of ever turning his eye from people like Rennie unless she made herself someone with whom he could share emotional connection.

      He fussed with her hair. “Now don’t go getting all bitched off at me. I’m tired of being the only one who talks. My life is poured out all over the place for you. You know everything about me.”

      She slumped her shoulders. “I can’t do it.”

      “Not tonight you can’t. But little bits at a time. Okay, all you have to do tonight is say one thing, and that’s it for the whole week. Say one thing.”

      “Like what?”

      “Something that won’t hurt you. Your mother’s name.”

      Her brow knit in anger and fear. “Allan...”

      He touched his finger to her lips. “Not your life story. Not what happened to you. What was her name?”

      A big tear rolled down her cheek.  “...Mary MacDonald.”

      He wiped away his own tears. “Okay. Mary MacDonald. That’s all you have to say. Not so hard, hey?”

      PROTECTION MODE. PROTECT-- it wouldn’t kick in. Fight. Fight. She fell to him and sobbed. “She never saved me. From him.”

      He stroked her back. “It’s okay. Save yourself. Save yourself.”

      She begged for a kiss. He accepted and held her close. It quickly heated up. She was mad as hell for being exposed like that, but right then, all she wanted was to lie down with him and fuck it all away. She wanted the sting, and knew where to find it


’TIS SOME VISITOR

      One a.m. came and went. Tim Wallace rocked in his desk chair and perused an article Howard was ready to submit for printing. “Did he say how long he’d been performing the rituals?”

      Spence checked his notes. “He said he started in ’95 but we can’t confirm any earlier than ’96. The guy who taught him the ritual is in jail, and if we try to get that, we lose the deadline.”

      Tim exposed his fangs. “A prison interview with a devil worshiper? Why wouldn’t we want to hold off ’til next month for that?”

      “Hello? Because I need money this month?”

      “Then I think we should include something about the prison thing. Finish the story with a note that next month, we’ll be featuring an interview with the head of the Order.”

      “What if we can’t get it?”

     “We’ll get it. I’ve done prison shit before.”

      Allan shuffled in, dead on his feet. He flopped to the couch and kicked off his sneakers.

      Howard lit a joint. “You look like shit.”

      Allan rubbed his bloodshot eyes. “I’m so tired, I think I’m going to die. We worked from six a.m. until six p.m. before I picked Rennie up. Left him at the house, then went back to deal with Indie, who drained every ounce of strength I had left. Who am I anyway? George Roundy?” He draped his arms over his face. “Which one of you big fairies will give me a foot rub?”

      Howard sat beside him. “I’ll trade you a foot rub for a blowjob.”

      Allan shook his head. “Oh, God, no. I have a headache.”

      Howard laughed. “I’ll take pity on you and give you a free foot rub. But you owe me.”

      Tim took out a small baggie of coke and threw it. “Here.”

      Allan sat and prepared bumps on the side of his index finger. “Who’s Dr. Stack?” he mumbled as he snorted.

      Tim frowned. “Never heard of him. Why?”

      He flopped back down and put his feet on Howard’s lap. “Ted wants Indie to see him. He caught her with speed. Why haven’t you heard of him? I thought you knew everybody.”

      Tim shrugged. “Probably Coleman’s private physician.”

      Howard started the foot rub. “Is she going to go?”

      “I’m going to call Ted. Try to smooth it over.” He stood again and began to pace.

      Tim reached for the coke bag. “Feeling better?”

      Allan slapped irritably at the grabbing hand. “What’s this package worth? I want this.”

      “It’s had a lot taken out of it. I’d have to weigh it.”

      Out came the wallet. He threw down four fifties. “Get more. I have a feeling I’m going to need it over the next little while.”

      Tim pocketed the money. “I don’t do credit, Mary.”

      “I have no more cash.”

     “I believe you have a chequebook. Cheque or blowjob.”

      Allan chuckled. “Is giving a blowjob considered having sex?”

      Tim gave a curious frown. “What’s that supposed to mean?

     “Nothing.” He stepped into his sneakers. “I’ll be okay with this. I’ll call you. But I’ll want more.” He blew each of them each a kiss and backed out of the office.
__________

      India’s nerves jangled as she got off the elevator. Why had Dan called? Probably something to do with the doctor’s appointment. Two days left and she hadn’t gone yet. Ted hadn’t specified what would happen if she didn’t go. Would he force her to take drug tests? Would he try to have her fired? She hadn’t been taking any more speed since that night. She was too intimidated by Ted. She was eighteen and he was probably fifty. Big scary fifty. Well over six feet fifty. Booming voice fifty. Beat the shit out of her if she didn’t do as she was told fifty. Maybe she could just tell him she was clean. It might be enough. Not bloody likely. It was Ted, and he had told her to go to the doctor. Allan said he’d take care of it, but he’d been out of town for a couple of days doing location scouting. He’d seen some great vintage buildings on a tourism website and wanted to have a look. He needed a couple of days off anyway.

      India stopped at the reception desk. The young man greeted her with a pleasant good morning.

      “Can you tell Dan I’m here? He’s expecting me.”

      “Sure. Have a seat.”

      She paced, then stopped to look out the glass toward the soundstage below. There was something being filmed within constructed kitchen flats. Somebody else’s picture. Conversion was usually busy all the time now. Each of the four partnerships had stuff on the go.

      The intercom buzzer sounded and the young man said she could go in.

      In the office, India found Lucy Kraft sitting on the couch. “Hi,” she half-smiled to the frizzy-haired assistant. Why is she here? She’s seen me taking speed. She’s the one who ratted me out. Bitch.

      Lucy patted the seat next to her and India sat down.

      Dan took the chair opposite. “How are you?”

      She shrugged, folded her arms. “Tired.”

      “Rehearsals are a bitch, eh? I bet you can’t wait to shoot this thing. What are your plans when it’s over?”

      She wasn’t counting on small talk. “I don’t know. I need a holiday.” She couldn’t meet his eyes.

      “That’s sort of why I called. I know the stress you’ve been under. I can’t imagine how hard it is on a young lady. How are you holding up with the fan mail?”

      “Okay, I guess. I got dirty letters in the last batch. Guys making suggestive remarks.”

      “Let it roll off your back. They’re just boys.”

      Another shrug. “Whatever. As long as they don’t start coming after me or anything.”

      “What I wanted to talk to you about is this. Lucy here is going to be helping you. We’ve set it up so that she’ll make some time in her schedule. She’ll answer your mail if you want. Return phone calls on your behalf. You know? Handle some of the things that take up your time. Almost like we’ll share her as an assistant.”

      India’s face was subdued. “Why?”

      Lucy patted her leg affectionately. “Ted suggested it. He said you’ve been under stress and he wants to help you.”

      Her eyes welled. “Ted?” India was defenseless when it came to kindness. She backed away from kindness like an animal from fire. Too close. What she had with Allan was unique, an opening up that wouldn’t come again with others.

      Dan just passed her a tissue. They had all gotten used to India’s emotional fragility.

     Before going out of town, Allan had gone to Ted about the drug thing, and had revealed in general terms that she’d had a hard childhood. Ted knew she’d been on her own, but it wasn’t until Allan spoke that he suspected a darker secret had been uncovered - one that needed kid gloves. Allan had asked him not to tell anyone. Maybe just get a secretary to take calls, answer mail, make appointments and such. He’d said the only reason she was taking speed was because she didn’t want to disappoint anyone by failing to meet the demands placed on her. So Ted had made the suggestion to Dan as if it had been his own idea.

      India wiped her eyes. “Sorry. I’m just tired. It’s a very nice offer. Thank Ted for me?”

      “You know, you can thank him yourself.”

      She shook her head. “...shy.”

      Dan squeezed her hand. “Lucy’s going to spend time with you tomorrow. Get a feel for your day and what she might be able to do to help. She’s the best, that’s for sure. Maybe you can get some sleep and relax. You remember my wife, Carol? You met her a couple of times at get-togethers.”

      India nodded, but kept her eyes to the floor.

      “She wanted to ask if you’d come for dinner tonight.”

      India’s eyes shifted. Something was wrong. Nobody was this nice to her. Not without a reason. Dinner? She mulled over the possibility that Allan had blabbed about the private talks she’d been having with him. “Dinner,” she frowned.

      Dan held up his palms. “Spaghetti and meatballs. Garlic toast. Wine. The works. You could meet the kids. My son, Brad, is a big fan.”

      “You let your son see the picture?”

      “He’s ten now. He has a real taste for movies.”

      She dabbed the last of the waterworks. They dried up pretty quickly when she thought she’d been double-crossed. “I’m really not much for family dinners, Danny. Very nice of you, but--”

      “It’s up to you, but the door is open.”

      She stood up. He was backing her into an emotional corner. PROTECTION MODE. Organised. Lady with a plan. “Listen, tell Brad I’m sorry.” She pointed at Lucy. “It’s great. I have a million things you can help me with. I’ll see you in the morning.” Then she was gone.

      Dan sat back and exhaled. “That is one freaky girl.”

     Lucy flipped the pages of her day planner. “It’s all this... this world. It’s starting to get to her. You can see it in her eyes. When’s Allan coming back?”

      “Tomorrow. That’s another one who could use an assistant.”
__________

      By the time Allan returned from scouting, India and Lucy had gotten through their first day together. Rennie had directed a batch of cutaways and reaction shots, and they all readied to have a look at the footage. Allan had an open-door policy on dailies. Anybody involved in the production was welcome.

      No energy for fancy clothes or a prissy presentation, in shuffled the director to drop his frumpy-assed self down next to India. He was unshaven, tousled, and tired from the flight. “Hi,” was all he could offer.

      She leaned in and kissed him. “My boy.”

      He tangled his fingers with hers, and put his head to her shoulder. “Missed you.”

      “I missed you, too.”

      As Rennie and Gail worked over their notes and prepared to start the films, Allan and India kissed and snuggled. “Dan sent Lucy to help with some of my work,” she whispered. She tipped his face. “Did you know anything about this?”

      He nodded. “I said you were under pressure, and could use an assistant.”

      She probed his soul right through his eyes. He waited patiently, knowing he wouldn’t be able to keep the truth from her laser beam. He felt that beam poking about in his head. “You didn’t tell Dan what we talked about, did you?”

      He shook his head. “No.”

      The wheels turned. “Did you tell Ted?”

      There it was. His eyes twitched. As the lights dimmed for the first set of films, Allan whispered, “All I told him was how you stress out trying to please everybody.” He leaned right to her ear. “I didn’t say anything about anything else.” His heart thumped. Was he actually afraid of her?

      She considered. “Do I still have to go to the doctor?”

      “Yes, but you can go to your own doctor. He just wants to know you’re off the speed.”
__________

      The visit to get her test results hadn’t been good. India fainted in the examination room, and Dr. Humphrey decided to keep her a couple of days. She was under-nourished and anemic. Other things needed to be addressed as well. Her tests had been a mix. HIV - negative. Speed - negative. Not-her-prescription sedatives? Blow, snap, and THC?

Whoops-a-daisy

      Allan had come right away when she’d called, and throughout the day she’d also had visits from Dan, Tim, and Lucy. Though she started out in a room with two other women, Allan had her moved to private spaces by suppertime. The first night had been all rest and tranquilizers. The visitors had been kicked out, the lights doused, and she’d done as she’d been told - sleep!

     On the second morning, Dr. Humphrey came in and dropped the big one. India was pregnant. They calculated it to seven weeks, about the same amount of time she’d been so whiny and emotional. She’d simply chalked it up to hard work, and the talks she’d been having with Allan about her past. She’d skipped her monthlies, but again - stress and work. She had only a clinical discussion with Dr. Humphrey concerning her plans. India did not want to be pregnant.  She was cool and determined in her decision.

     “Are you going to tell Allan?” the doctor asked.

     “Nope.”

     “Sounds like you don’t plan on keeping it.”

     “Nope.”

     “Do you want to discuss options?”

     “Nope.”

     Dr. Humphrey studied her tense patient. “Maybe you’d like to discuss it with family. Your pastor? Someone you can go to?”

     “Nope.” She shifted irritably. “I just want to make arrangements... you know...”

My baby was sacrifice to my art

     There had also been discussion of possible drug rehab, but India said she’d be fine after the abortion. She said she only needed drugs because she’d been so out of sorts, a condition likely due to the pregnancy.

     There was one other thing the doctor wanted to discuss - one more item India refused to entertain. “Would you like to speak with a counselor? Therapist? You seem to be a little emotionally frazzled.”

     “Nope.” She sucked air and dried her tears fast. “I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m just in a bad mood.” A nervous laugh. “I get like this. Come see me at home. I’m fine.”

     “We’re just people, y’know? We can talk. Sometimes it feels good to talk.”

     “And sometimes it doesn’t, okay? I’m just moody because of the... whatever. Can we just get it over with?”

     “I’ll want to keep you an extra day.”

     “Whatever. You won’t tell Allan?”

     “That’s your job. I’m going to have Dr. Washington come and talk with you.”

     “A woman. It has to be a woman. I don’t want any men touching me.”

     “Dr. Washington is a woman.”
__________


DARKNESS THERE AND NOTHING MORE

     Lady of Desire opened to much more promising reviews than Dirt, though there still remained uncertainty about the marketability of such stylised art to a nationwide demographic. Now teetering on the fence between underground and mainstream, Allan was acquiring an entirely new set of fans - classic film lovers, those who pined for the good old days of black & white noir. He who had spent years being called a Man of the Goth was now being appreciated by nostalgic sentimentalists closer to his parents’ age - a mix of admirers that made for unusual autograph sessions.

     On the Bowman side of the story, India had her abortion and started feeling better. Her hormones settled down and she was again tolerable of temperament. Allan knew not what had happened, only that she was opening up and they were getting along well. A trade-off: he didn’t know she’d had an abortion, and she stopped asking about his male friends. Having her own dirty little secret seemed to disqualify her from so often pointing fingers at him. It became a time of understanding between them.

     As to her fans, the bulk of the following was male. As Helen Gables, the nineteen-year-old bounced atop stiff dicks in thousands of fantasies, and her ruby lips sucked off countless horny boys as they daydreamed through to adulthood. After Lady, the fan mail got kinky. Most letters referenced the steamy make-out scene between India and the character played by Ellice Groom. In days of yore, romantic scenes were always contained within the boundaries of the Hays code. To be faithful to the period, Allan’s work was always ‘Hays’ in style and presentation, but he tested those parameters at every turn. One would take a seat in the theatre and sink into his noir adventure, only to be confronted with a cinematic exchange of intensity not found way back when. The Master pulled it off without becoming pornographic, but he took the audience as close to a big group fuck as he could without an X-rating. He made them squirm in their seats, only to pull out at the last second, and if motivated enough, they’d all go home at night’s end and fuck each other silly.

Cinema interruptus

     India became a pin-up girl as the fans climbed aboard the shaded bandwagon. Destination? Straight into the past. Coleman-Kopanski cashed in on posters, and India started being recognised in the streets. She enjoyed it if the fans were polite. What bothered her was the grabbing - when people would hug her without permission, touch or kiss her as if it was their God-given right because of the film.
__________

     Allan lay on his back on the rug, his head on her lap as she talked out a memory. “I was scared he’d find out the teacher had asked about my bruises. I figured if I was nice, he couldn’t get mad at me. Can you imagine that? Being so manipulated mentally that it was actually important that he liked me? After all that was going on, I still needed him to love me.”

     It always got dark and sombre when India opened her vaults, but it was important. He knew she wouldn’t be pushed, so he broached subjects in a manner she could handle. Instead of questions about herself, he would pose hypotheticals. It had loosened her up enough to speak. He just assumed she went into a character situation to talk about herself. Became someone else, detached. He’d seen it before. He knew he’d tapped into it to bring out performances during filming. His mind wandered to the time he’d motivated her to cry in Older Than Dirt. He needed Henna to cry the cry of the destitute. She had to bawl like she’d lost all reason to live. On the night before the scene was to be shot, Allan convinced India to drop acid. When deep in the grip of its hallucinogenic trance, he made up a story which he called April Rain.

Once upon a time, a pretty little girl named April was
afraid to go into the forest. There was a story in the village
of a terrible monster who stalked its dark shadows.
“If he catches you, he’ll tear you to pieces with
his sharp claws!” warned the school children.
But Daddy told her these were fables.
There was no monster in the forest.

     Each time April told Daddy she’d heard another story 
of a child who’d gone missing, he’d calm her.
They hadn’t been killed by a monster - they
had just run too far ahead on the path and had
gotten lost, but soon would be found.
April would fall asleep in Daddy’s arms,
and she soon stopped fearing the forest.
Children sometimes run too far ahead,
but soon would be found.

     One day Daddy even suggested a walk through the
forest so they could enjoy the beauty of Nature and
really see there was no monster. April put on her
prettiest dress and tied her prettiest bow into her
curly yellow hair. Daddy put on his best red cardigan
sweater and made sandwiches.
He was so glad April wouldn’t be afraid.

     Into the forest they walked; Daddy carried the
picnic basket, and April ran to pick the flowers that grew
along the side of the path. She ran ahead, but just a little.
“Don’t run too far ahead,” called Daddy.
“Don’t get lost.” But April just laughed and
threw flowers in the air. Now that she knew there
was no monster, there was nothing to fear.

     But soon April lost sight of Daddy. When she turned
she could not see him on the path. “Daddy?” she called,
not realising she had run so far ahead. “Daddy?” She
called again. Nothing. Oh, no!
Did the monster get Daddy?

April looked at the sky, which was getting
darker as night approached. She was scared.
Would she now be one of the children who got lost?
Would she have to wait to be found? She began to cry.

     Suddenly she heard a noise and spun around.
There before her loomed a huge monster
with bloody fangs and sharp claws.
He wore a red cardigan sweater and had
tears dripping from his angry eyes. “I told you not
to run too far ahead,” said the monster softly.
It was a familiar voice.
“Daddy?” she breathed, just before
he tore her to shreds with his claws.

     “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” India screamed when the ending hit. In her tripped-out condition, she panicked. Ran about the house non-stop for over an hour as she tried to push it from her mind. Allan tried to comfort her, but was tripping himself and wasn’t much help. She’d been so horrified that she was up for the rest of the night, and come morning, almost didn’t make it to the set. Allan, a bit more used to acid, had his head together enough to get her there.
 
     When they got ready to do the crying scene, Allan leaned in and whispered very softly, “Don’t get lost, April.” And that was it. She bawled like a baby for the camera. Nobody spoke for a long time when they stopped rolling. Allan had served, set, and spiked, and the result was staggering. Nobody knew of April Rain, nor what he’d whispered to her. And nobody knew she was still high during the shoot.

Probably for the best

     As they reclined in front of the fire and Allan considered the things he’d since learned about her childhood, he wondered if he could ever do it that way again. Knowing what he knew now, could he again take her to a place of pain for the sake of a perfect shot?
__________

TRANSCRIPT:  KING NOIR
BY TIM WALLACE
© - VAMPIRE LIFE APRIL 2000

With the release of LADY OF DESIRE,
thirty-one-year-old writer/director
Allan Baird has come into his own grand
vision of style. Following in the
footsteps of the Masters,Baird has taken
us all back to the delicious, gritty
roots of noir cinema. And what a trip it’s
been! The film is a feast for the eyes
with its shadows, glowing streetlamps,
cigarette-smoking dames, and dark themes.
Mixed with Baird’s use of modern human
experience, we are treated to a sensual
tale that few could deliver with such a
smouldering touch.


TW: Outstanding work, I must say.

AB: I’m glad it moved you.

TW: Lang would be proud.

AB: There’s been that comparison, but I
    don’t know. I’m flattered to be
    considered a torchbearer, but my
    film is my own.

TW: Have you heard the criticism about
    having so much smoking in your film?
    That kids might see? From the
    anti-smoking people?

AB: If I’m not mistaken, it’s an adult
    film, so little ones shouldn’t even
    be there. Check the back seat of the
    car! I think the kids have slipped off
    to watch people smoke. Fuck ’em. I’m
    not the smoking police. And we all
    know how I feel about censorship.

TW: You’re not a smoker yourself.

AB: I do some social smoking. I have an
    occasional puff with a group. You
    know? If we’re having drinks and
    they light up. But I don’t smoke
    when I’m alone.

TW: How did you come to hire Ellice Groom?

AB: He blackmailed me with compromising
    photos of me on my knees. Just kidding.
    I knew him from working with Rennie
    Raymond. Ellice is a porn star, and as
    the regular readers know, Rennie is a
    porn director.

TW: Do you enjoy Rennie’s work?

AB: If you can get past all the gruesome
    close-up, ass-fucking shots, he’s really
    quite talented. He used to tie me up and
    force me to watch his films. Personally,
    I’m not into porn. Anybody can film
    people having sex. Even the wife and I
    do that. Where’s the style? The beauty?
    It’s a great watch if all you want to
    do is get off, but it’s not art. Anyway,
    back to the question. Rennie always
    brings his own special brand of creative
    energy to the work.

TW: Speaking of the wife. We’ve been hearing
    that term a lot from you lately. Calling
    India Bowman your wife. Did you run
    off and elope?

AB: Not in this lifetime. I just figure I’m
    entitled after all this time.

TW: She’s going to love it that you just
    told us all that you guys film your sex.

AB: Oh. Did I say that? Well, we don’t film
    all of it. Just the kinkier bits. If I
    made porn films, then you’d see some
    style, truly.

TW: What’s your favourite sexual position?

AB: On my back. My partner on top.

TW: Is that for boy sex or girl sex?

AB: Either.

TW: Ever have sex with a fan?

AB: You want the list?

TW: I remember the old interviews. There
    was no sacred ground with you. You’d
    answer any question.

AB: Then you already have all your answers.

TW: Let’s look at this old transcript.

AB: You did bring a list, didn’t you?

TW: Your favourite place to have sex
    is in a darkened movie theatre.

AB: Not very accommodating for my favourite
    position.

TW: I heard that. Let’s see. Other
    Baird facts...

AB: I thought we were here to talk
    about the film.

TW: You never used to be nervous during
    interviews.

AB: And you never used to resort to tired
    shit for shock value. You used to be
    Vampire Extraordinaire. Now you’re a
    tabloid reporter with fangs.

TW: Answer the criticism that you’re
    selling out.

AB: That presumes I have.

TW: Haven’t you?

AB: Considering these screenplays
    were written three years ago, I
    hardly think I can sell out
    retroactively. This work represents
    who I was when I wrote it, and when
    I wrote it, you guys loved me.
    So to turn on me simply because it
    took three years for you to see the
    work is insane. To say I’ve sold out
    is to say that when I wrote it, I
    was misleading your admiration in
    advance, knowing that three years
    later, the love affair would surely
    be over once you actually saw
    the material.

TW: You’re giving me a headache. How much
    shit did you smoke before this?

AB: Not much. I’ve been tense lately.
    Working with Rennie makes me tense.
    Being with him is like trying to shave
    my balls on a roller coaster.

TW: Are you and Bowman permanent? It’s the
    end of all the slutting around?

AB: I’m a slut?

TW: You wrote the book, asshole.

AB: I don’t think so. By the way, Tim,
    are you still an anal virgin?

TW: Now who’s the tabloid reporter?

AB: You called me a slut.

TW: You are a slut.

AB: And you’re an anal virgin.
    Next topic.

TW: How did you come up with the idea
    for the movie?

AB: I had a dream about two women
    having a catfight.

TW: And that’s how it started?

AB: I turned one into a millionaire’s
    wife and the other into his
    mistress. They fight. Murder
    ensues.

TW: Which brings us back to the
    Lady Bowman.

AB: She plays the mistress. A pretty
    nasty one at that.

TW: Is she ready for a bigger role?

AB: You saw the film. What do you think?

TW: I think she could handle it.
    But it would have to be a good role.

AB: Hence “The Diabolical Detective”
    project sometime next year.
    Hopefully, maybe. She’s still a
    little young so we may wait it
    out a bit. We’ll see.

TW: How old is the character she’d
    play?

AB: About twenty-seven. A detective
    by the name of Loretta Marsh.
    Twenty-seven is a bit young by
    reality standards, but hot
    and sexy for pulp.

TW: Talk about these mysterious
    motivational tools you use
    to bring India down.

AB: I just give her certain thoughts
    that make the character work.
    In “Dirt”, Henna was a rather
    serious young lady.

TW: And what about the Helen Gables
    character?

AB: Helen is a manipulative, spoiled
    bitch. I just told Indie to act...
    well, like me.

TW: How was it filming the love scene
    with Ellice? Watching India in
    the arms of someone else?

AB: Interesting. Not a visual I’d was
    prepared for. The new film has
    some steamy sex though, so I think
    I’d better get used to it. Maybe
    a new way to turn myself on.

TW: Let’s talk about the eye shadow.

AB: Darkness Falls. Violet. Matches
    my nails. Like it?

TW: Tell the readers what you’re
    wearing.

AB: Well, for you out there in
    Fashion Land, I’m accented in
    violet today - shadow and nails.
    My shirt is black silk. Black
    pants with purple piping on
    the seams. The tie is purple;
    the sneakies are purple hi-tops,
    accented with matching socks.
    I have a purple wrist wrap,
    four steel rings, and a tinge of
    violet in my hair. Theatric and
    nouveau. And if anybody gives a
    good goddamn, my undies are
    purple, too.

TW: Women’s?

AB: What else?

TW: Thanks for sitting down with
    us again. Scintillating, as usual.

AB: Let’s go fire up a doobie, tra-la-la.





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