“This…This is just too much, and I don’t understand your reasoning in the end. They die. They all die and it just, doesn’t make sense.” He slaps the pages down on his brown monogamy desk, and give me a sadden look.
“Maybe if you change the ending. Give it a happy ending, and don’t kill all the characters. Then we will consider taking another look at it.”
“I can’t change it. This is how it’s supposed to end. And if you don’t understand that, maybe you shouldn’t be reading my work.” I stand up from the uncomfortable cushy office chair, in front of the huge desk. I can feel myself fuming. He doesn’t understand, he never will. Neither will his supervisor, or the head of the department, or the president of the company. They want sweet scripts that end happily, and I was further from that idea that they ever imagined.
I grabbed my coat that hung lazily over the back of the chair then I reached down unto the desk to take my terrible script away from judgmental and conformist eyes. He puts his hand on mine before I have time to grab the script.
“Mr. Cringlin, please. All we are trying to do is help you to be a successful and well-known script writer. This script,” he gestures at the script on the table with his eyes, “is good, all it needs is a good, happy ending.” The fire is working its way up through my spine to the back of my head. I yank the script from under his hands before he has the chance to stop me. Stumbling back a few steps I pause before turning to look him in the eye.
“Not all successful writers are good, just like not all good endings are happy.” We stare at each other for a second, and I turn on a heel and leave this pathetic pile of waste to sit in his clean and perfect office, with his clean and perfect life, with his clean and perfect screenplays. Screenplays that suggested ideas of perfect pictures and cliché love stories that were completely unlike real life. So the entire world had attempted to compensate to make the stories at least a little true, by trying to make everything perfect, and that ended in war and hatred and death. That’s what we had gotten from the strive for the perfection, incited by the stories that naïve little writers try to pan off is real.
Outside the office the air was frosty, I could see him standing at the window. His fingers lightly brushing the clear twenty foot sheet of glass as he made eye-contact, he moved along the window leaving whitish marks with his fingers, that were viewable from the courtyard. I turned the corner and continued out, my stomach in my throat.
I should have said yes. I just should have agreed to change the ending. I stopped, rubbing my unwashed hair, and looked down at the script. My beliefs were the reason I was not getting paid, except for the small amount of money I got from being a bus boy. The reason I was living out of a shitty little apartment with a brothel beneath me and a cocaine dealer above me. Why I wasn’t eating so I could pay for ink and paper. I took a deep breath and kept walking, I wouldn’t turn around I would never turn around. I was not going to help him dig the world further into delusion. I would rather not get paid then change the ending to what they wanted it be, not what it should be.
The apartment was freezing. The heater had probably gone out again. Throwing my coat and the script on the old couch, that was most likely stolen by the previous owner of the apartment, I sat down and stared at the empty wall that supposed to have some sort of television on it but it didn’t, instead I got to look at the yellow stains, and growths that inhibited the wall. To my left, the city lights gleamed in through the window, and onto the cracked floor. Shutting my eyes I reached into the hole in the couch where a small stash of Vodka was kept, hidden from anyone who may break in. I could start a new project, write something else but the same exact thing would happen. I took a sip, rubbing my face, feeling numb, and I was not even drunk yet.
I stretch out on the couch and stared at the blank yellow wall. The lights seem to gleam harsher into the apartment and through my exhausted eyes. Too tired to imagine tomorrow. Too tired to even attempt to get fully drunk, so that the ache in my head would go away. I drift off with the city lights reflecting through the windows and into my glazed eyes.
It’s in the morning. The suns barely pushing through the blind. I’m blurry eyed, too hung-over to concrete. She’s skinny, She’s only wearing a black bra, and a pair of ripped pants, she sits on the window sit, rays of sunlight created by the spaces in the blind, make yellow jail like bars on the side of her face. Music plays, echoing in the rooms, twists through my ears. How it burns like the sunlight, gleaming off her straight onto my face. And it’s perfect. The music, the torturous light, her sitting by the window. It’s perfect. My eyes shut again, as another round of delirium crawls in to my head. Everything flutters. When I open my eyes again, she’s gone, the sun has been clouded and, now only slits of grey, dully creep through the blinds. She’s gone and I might as well be dead.
I snap awake, puffing air out through my nose heavily, rubbing my eyes . It’s late, the odd dream kept me in delirium for longer then I should have. And now I will be late for work.
There’s a rundown café across the street. The name is French, which makes its a much bigger deal than it actually is. I run across the street, while pulling my black jacket over my back. I’m late, and dressing on the go seemed like the best option. Multiply cars beep as I jog through the busy traffic to the entrance of the café. I shove the door open , and the bells chime loudly against the glass. Rhonda one of the overweight angry waitresses sits posed at the counter smoking a cigarette, and flicking ashes into the sink.
“You’re late, Mills” she chortles, her eyes tinted with blue eye shadow bare down on me in disgust.
“The café is not open yet, so I’m not late,” I slide around her, holding my breath against the unbearable stench of cigarettes and stale perfume, and grab my apron, tying it tightly around my own waist I kick the door to the kitchen open with my foot, and slip into my disgusting work area. Rhonda’s face appears at the door, the last few centimeters of the cigarette hanging from her over redden lips.
“Joe’s not here today. Called in sick. You’ll have to skip lunch and take his shift.” She sneers, as her smoky face disappears back through the door.
“Shit,” I grumble under my breathe, hating Rhonda even more so as I look over the couple of dirty dishes that weren’t washed the previous night.
Bus boy. Might as well be called Bitch Boy. Because that’s all I am a Bitch. To Rhonda , to the idiot who runs this piece of shit restaurant, to the customers who are seduced by the cheap prices and greasy food, to the rich C.E.O ass-holes who drive by sneers on their botoxed faces, and to all those who said no to the script, all those who think it should have ended happy. If it did, if it should I wouldn’t be washing the uneaten crumbs off a silicon dish in a ugly little café pondering the best way to end this Hell of a life.
I lean on the stool drying my shaking hands, watching as Rhonda wipes the counter off and lights up another smoke, to celebrate the end of another work day.
“Tomorrow, Joe‘ll be in, and you can act as you always are: Lazy. Guess today was a real wake up call for you huh, shit-brain?” She coughs and spits on the floor.
“Hey,” I snap my fingers near her face, “you said if I worked an extra shift I could get a free dinner. I worked another shift, now where’s my damn food?”
“Jesus. You sound exactly like those petty little tourists who come in here; I’ll get you your damn food.” Her lips curl up as she mimics my voice, and shuffles into the kitchen. Stupid whore. I rub my eyes, and let my mind float back to the less then comfortable couch with the half full bottle stuffed into one of the cushions.
A small chime makes me raise my head in surprise. The bells on top the door, dance back and forth as it slams shut. The girl standing at the door is skinny; her pale limbs stick at an awkward angle out of her ripped shorts and almost see-through black shirt. Her hair is full of static, and floats around her head in a crocked black halo. She looks familiar. I’ know I’ve seen her before.
“Here,” Rhonda appears balancing a cigarette and burger and fries on a plate .She drops in front of me, before noticing me staring at the door, and turns her fat head to see what I am looking at.
“We’re closed, you can’t be in here. Didn’t you see the sign?” Rhonda takes another drag, as she studies her. The girl doesn’t even move, she doesn’t even take her eyes off me.
“Hey, kid what are you fucking deaf. I said get out.” That’s when I notice it. She’s got something on her face. I stand up from the stool slowly. It’s blood.
She looks straight at my eyes. Her voice crackles like leaves.
“I think I need to go to a hospital.”
She’s dead before she even gets on the operating table. Heart failure, the doctors tell me in the waiting room. Heart failure as well as a fractured skull. They don’t even know her name, or what happened. No reports of hit and runs, or kidnapped children, just a random girl walked into café already dead.
I walk home from the hospital still wearing my apron, and a jacket. Rhonda went home as soon as the ambulance got there, saying that it was my problem now.
I feel numb, at least number than normal. Every single person I pass seems to have the same face that the girl had when she walked in, I can’t even look anymore. Just stare at the ground, but every crack in the sidewalk mirrors the fat gash that curved its way down her face. And when I close my eyes, all I can see is her blank eyes, half hidden behind a black halo of hair. I feel responsible. For her life, for her death, I feel responsible.
The building is cold as I walk up the empty stairs to my more than empty apartment, her pretty face keeps flashing before my eyes, she’s bloody, and her eyes drill into me. Blaming me.
I unlock my door, and slowly slide into the apartment, locking it again, as if the door will keep out the demons in my head. My couch is cold. I sit staring at my yellow wall, in my hollow room, in my hollow life. My hand reaches into the hole in the cushion without my dictating its movement. I lie down, and put it to my lips, as the ceiling slowly starts to spin.
We’re walking up the corridor of a building. Not my building, but a building. The man next to me has reddened cheeks and he reeks of cheap alcohol. He’s laughing at something I don’t remember saying. Get to the top of the stairs and open the door, loud music flushes away the silence of the hallway. The room is modern, full of stainless steel products, and good smelling food. Faceless people cheer and laugh as they see us. They pat me on the back and say congratulations. A red cup appears in my hand, and I drink it all down without pause. Another one replaces it. A funny feeling begins to raise in my stomach. I turn to the man next to me.
“Why am I here?” I’m slurring already. He laughs, and pats me, saying something with a smile that is drowned out by the music. He disappears into the crowd and comes back a skinny girl at his arm. It’s her. It’s the dead girl. She wears the same shorts and t-shirt, her hair is still floating around her head, her flirty unbusied eyes, are tinted with make-up. She’s perfect and beautiful. He leans in and pats me on the back. Saying something, and disappearing into the mass of happy people. She giggles and takes my drink.
Everything blurs, people move their arms brushing mine, their voice slurring against my ears. It’s darker outside and I’m sitting on the couch. The dead girl sits with her feet on my lap, her back against the opposite cushion. Her lips tuck against each other as she reads something. It’s my script the dead girl is reading the script. She sits, her black halo hair sticking to her face from drunk sweat. Her shoe-less toes dig into my thigh, as she scans the last few pages. She doesn’t make an expression as she finishes. Not a frown or a smile turns her lips up or down. But there is a sort of bleakness radiating from her, like the city lights shining through my window, onto to a dirty blank yellow palette. This was my first trial. My first test before I attempted it onto a much different colored back-drop. The one that covered up the blackness of the world, and kept it in its delusional state. By painting over it, trying to recreate the truth for those who were just too wrapped up in their colors to see it, I would change how everyone saw the world. They wouldn’t see the colors anymore, just the blacks that were not as pretty but were much more real. Looking at her finishing my script I realized it. Attempting this was pointless, it would end in failure. No one could take the true colorless world as it actually was, they would paint back over it. This time with bigger colors and more swirls, and more false hope. She knew it and I knew it, yet just like the entire world, I could not accept it and would not accept it.
She takes her feet off the cushion, and places the script next to her. She doesn’t look me in the eye. I feel less drunk. More numb. But less drunk. All the colors, seem to get brighter, and the music gets sharper. Her fingers lightly pull on the buttons on my shirt.
“It was good.”
“Really? Then why do you look sad?”
“It’s just…” She tightens her grip on my collar, and slides closer to me, running her fingers down my shirt, and refusing to make eye-contact.
“What? Tell me I want to hear it.” She signs and shakes her head. Her black hair smacking her cheeks.
“You’ll get angry.”
“Just tell me.” She snorts in frustration, and tightens her grip on my collar.
“It was good, no it was wonderful. But if you pitch this to that producer tomorrow, he’ll say no, Mills. And even if he says yes, or anyone ends up saying yes, and this gets made, no success will come of it unless the ending gets changed to something not so depressing. What you have here is good but if you don’t change it the entire audience will think it’s nothing but shit.” We stare at each other, the music has slowed down, the occasional car sound rolling by the window echoes like a bomb through the apartment. A knot of anger, and disappoint, and frustration twists itself up into my chest, and I can’t breathe.
I violently shove her away from me and stand up, pacing back and forth across the room.
“Why the fuck would you say something like that!” The loudness in my voice, seems to physically break the air, and crackle it across the entire building. She sits up, eyes gleaming with a nervous excitement.
“I told you, you’d get mad, but you said you could take it. Besides why to you even care about my opinion anyway?”
“Because, you’re wrong. Okay. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.” I’m shouting even louder now, my arms and legs and neck are tightening, I feel ecstatic with anger. She laughs, as she stands up, her eyes crinkling in a teasing manner.
“I’m right and you know it too.” She is still smirking, as she picks up her jacket from the floor.
“Do me a favor, Mills, call me when that piece of shit is in the theaters.” She turns around and begins to walk to the exit of the apartment her black hair swinging back and forth in a cocky manner. She’s right. She’s right and I know it, but I can’t accept it. I feel the cold metallic lamp in my hand, I’m across the room, my arm is up, and I swing it against her head. The cracking noise shatters the silence. I keep going, keep the silence away, because in that quiet that realization that she was right, will be overbearing, and I might actually feel something, against a numbness that I thought I would always have.
She’s on the ground and there is blood everywhere, all over my hands, my jacket, the lamp, the floor, the walls, the ceiling. The lamp clatters against the rug I stare at her. I tore her shirt, and now her bare back gleams against the soft overhead light. I slowly sink to the ground, a chill climbs up and over my back. I’m already drunk, and now I am slowly passing out. No I have to leave; I lay down my head facing the window where the edges of a street light are shining in.
It’s three o’clock in the morning. The suns barely pushing through the blind. I’m blurry eyed, too hung-over to concrete. She’s skinny, She’s only wearing a black bra, and a pair of ripped pants, but this time she’s bloody, her head leaks little drops onto the window seat, her eyes are bruised and her hair is matted. I didn’t kill her. She’s still alive. At least alive enough to walk into my café and die there. In front of me. To taunt whatever amount of humanity I had left. She sits, rays of sunlight created by the spaces in the blind, make yellow jail like bars on the side of her face. Music plays, echoing in the rooms, twisting through my ears. How it burns like the sunlight, gleaming off her straight onto my face. And it’s perfect. The music, the torturous light gleaming off her dried blood, her sitting by the window. It’s perfect. My eyes shut again, as another round of delirium crawls in to my head. Everything flutters. When I wake up, she’s gone, the sun has been clouded and, now only slits of grey, dully creep through the blinds. She’s gone and I might as well be dead.
I wake up. Not in a panic, but with an empty numbness in the pit of my stomach. My face is pressed into the couch cushion, and I can feel dried drool on my lips making them stick together in a drunken manner. All along she had been right and she had to die for me to realize that. My legs feel heavy as I stand up looking at the faceless outline that gleams in the shining yellow stains on the wall, echoing with light.
The window sill is cracked, making it impossible to open, but the glass breaks easily when I shove my barefoot against it. A frozen wind blows into my face, as I shut my eyes against the morning sun that hangs a warning over the city buildings. The glass cuts my feet as I step onto the window frame, and look over the entire world I can’t help but hate.
Well I was busy trying to pick away at their delusions, they were busy trying rip holes in me. They had been cheering for my demise the entire time I had been trying to revile them as the black and grey nothing they were underneath. And now. Now they believed they had won. That I would step back in place and disappear into their colored conspiracies. No. I wouldn’t give up like that. I was not going to let them win. I would leave a scratch in their perfect painting of lies, so deep that no one would ever be able to cover it up. They will finally be exposed, to the blackness they so naïve ignore. A scratch that so deep no matter how hard they tried to paint over it, it would never disappear. Always there. In the corner of their minds, in the corner of their perfect paintings. Always there to make them and everyone wonder, about what really is underneath all that color.
My fingers had gone cold, and my grip slowly loosed on the window sill. Glass stuck to my bloody feet, as I pushed off from the window and let myself sail toward the concrete greyness below.