“Line!” Geoffrey shouted across his formal dining room table. “Good morning…” a small voice from another room replied. “Good morning, son. How did you sleep?” Geoffrey said, picking up from his cue. The 67-year-old plastered a toothy smile on his face and looked over at Devin, his son. Devin let his head fall back and sighed before gathering enough composure to mumble a quick and unenthusiastic, “Fine, dad”. His father seemed contented by this so Devin grabbed a croissant from the center of the table and attempted to leave the dining room.
“Young man, I believe there is still the small matter of your grades we need to discuss. The headmaster has been in contact with me, and I must say, I am deeply disappointed by the lack of interest you seem to be showing towards your academics,” Geoffrey said before taking a small bite from a piece of dry toast. Devin pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. “This is getting ridiculous,” he thought to himself.
“Can we talk after school, dad? I don’t want to be late,” he faked a smile as he continued to back out of the dining room. “Very well, Jeremy. But… LINE!” Geoffrey abruptly yelled. The small voice again from apparently nowhere replied, “…we will talk after school today.” Geoffrey picked up from where he left off, “we will talk after school today,” he repeated. “Sure thing, pop,” Devin shouted as the front door slammed behind him.
“Cut!” the same phantom voice shouted from the other room.
Geoffrey spit out the piece of dry toast he had been gumming. “How was that, Gerald? I don’t know… I wasn’t really feeling it, you know? Can we do that one more time?” Geoffrey asked the empty dining room. A diminutive man in a fedora entered the room from behind Geoffrey and said, “No Geoffrey, I think we got it,” and he took a seat next to him. “Are you sure, Gerald? Well if you think so. Can I get a bottled water, someone?” Geoffrey twisted in his seat and looked over his shoulder. Out of nowhere, a youngish girl in a hoodie and a headset popped into the dining room and handed Geoffrey a bottle of water and quickly disappeared again. “I’d like to talk about the scene by the pool where I confront Jeremy. I’m not sure if my character would really scream and then shove his son into the pool,” Geoffrey said after taking a swig from his water.
“Hmmm… ok, Geoffrey. What did you have in mind, instead?” Gerald leaned in. “Well, of course I’m no director, and please stop me if I overstep, but I believe my character would play it a bit cooler than that. What if I say the lines in more of a detached but forceful monotone as I walk towards him. As he’s backing away from me he fails to realize how close to the edge he is and just as I deliver the line, “you aren’t my son” he takes his final step back and falls into the pool,” Geoffrey seemed very pleased with himself.
Gerald leaned back in his chair and hid a melancholy smile, “That’s great Geoffrey, really. I think that could work. Let me talk to Devin and see if he’ll be onboard, and I’ll need to check with the crew, but I believe that could really project the tone of the scene”. Geoffrey smiled and took another drink of water. “Why don’t you go back to your trailer and I’ll send Paige out for you when we’re ready for the next scene,” Gerald said as he stood from the table. “Ok Gerald, and can you see if they will start stocking Starbursts at craft services? I’ve been asking for days and still, no Starbursts,” Geoffrey stood and walked from the table and out of the dining room.
Gerald watched the man walk outside to the backyard and into the airstream parked behind a swimming pool. Once Geoffrey was out of site, Gerald pulled out his cell phone and called Devin. “Ok, you can come back, he’s in his trailer,” Gerald ended the call and then dialed Paige. Ten minutes later Devin reentered the house and found Gerald and the young girl in the hoodie, Paige, sitting at the table. “Gerry, this is getting way out of hand,” Devin said as he took a seat, “how much longer are we going to keep this up?”. “Yeah, fetching water and picking up sandwiches is getting really old,” Paige piped in. “I’m a dog walker, not a PA. I don’t know how much more of this I can deal with, man,” she said as she stuffed her hands into her hoodie’s front pocket.
“I know guys, this isn’t easy but it’s for the best. We talked about this and all agreed that this was the best way. Now, the way I see it, we keep it up for another week or so until he thinks it’s the end of shooting and then we can help him understand. At first he’ll think that it’s just the end of the production but eventually when he doesn’t get any other work, we will have to tell him,” Gerald took off his hat and wiped his forehead before replacing it once again.
Geoffrey changed into his dressing robe and clicked on the 17 inch television above the wet bar in his airstream. Disney’s Pocahontas was on and soon he was singing along with Mother Willow to Colors of the Wind… completely oblivious to the conversation in his dining room… completely oblivious to the fact his reality was just a figment of his diseased brain.
Once an acclaimed actor with decades of films and Broadway productions under his belt, Geoffrey McElroy was now suffering from dementia caused by an aggressive case of Alzheimer ’s disease. For the past month he believed he was the star actor on a movie set. Rather than send him hurdling into reality, his friend and psychologist, Dr. Gerald Bethany, had convinced Geoffrey’s adult son, Devin, and his dog walker, Paige to play along with this fantasy.
“…you can own the earth and still, all you’ll own is earth until…” Geoffrey sang/mumbled before quietly slipping into a peaceful sleep.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
I am happy to report that my computer issues have been resolved thanks again to my brilliant boyfriend who spent hours researching and battling a virus, removing my hard drive, copying all of my files and other data to his computer and reinstalling Vista onto my laptop.
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: I’m writing to you now, from a movie set. Ok, technically its some high-rollers’ house in Clermont, but there is a movie being made as I type this which, as you may have gathered, is the inspiration for today’s story. My boyfriend has been working on this movie for the past few days and tonight he wanted me to tag along. The scene being filmed for the past day or two is a dinner party and man… is it boring. One actor cannot, for the life of him, remember his lines and everyone else is getting a little testy about it. The whole experience just strikes me as bizarre; there are all these people around doing miscellaneous jobs, grip, lighting, etc. for something so rudimentary as a small dinner party. And, in the middle of holding a somewhat normal conversation over tomato bisque every so often the air is pierced with “LINE!” before it continues as if nothing had happened. On top of that, the poor misinformed people who agreed to have a film shot in their home have had the misfortune of coming home each day to find their house torn apart, things and people are everywhere and they are basically confined to the top floor. Adding to the sense of being in an alternate reality, this house is filled to the brim with artifacts, antiques and rarities ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre (there is a stuffed hyena in the lounge). The absurdity of where I find myself at this moment was begging to be documented and so… I did (in my own little way, of course).
TWO: After several attempts to remove myself from the chaos of shooting, I finally found a quiet place to write. Setting up shop on the home’s screened-in patio where the wind blowing through the moss-covered live oaks and the waves of the lake beyond have provided the perfect soundtrack to the unfurling of tonight’s story. Until they cut and a few of the actors wandered outside for a snack (I failed to realize I’m sitting next to the craft services table … which means I’m by all the food. That need to always be in the spotlight does not stop when the director yells cut, that’s for sure. So as I’m typing away these actors all of a sudden start belting out the lines from “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. And let’s just say they held nothing back. Singing at the top of their lungs in this spontaneous duet, they eventually begin to dance and spin each other for a full on production. Honestly, they were probably expecting me to stand up and applaud. When I failed to do so they returned inside; perhaps in search of someone who could better appreciate their ‘craft’. Wow…is all I can say.
Love & Squirrels.