Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Knew I Needed A Break

It was the uneven-eyed drunken leer at the blurry woman that gave me away. I could feel my left eye going crooked. The thermometer on the CitiBank had said 91 degrees. Sometime in May, unusual as I sat atop a green padded barstool at the Farmer's Market.

I don't write FADE IN anymore but when I first started writing screenplays it was a comfort, getting the first two words.

In the parking lot that afternoon outside the Johnny Rockets there was a beige '85 Super Diesel 300 Mercedes. The same car my mom bought after she divorced my dad. Goodbye Chevrolet Conversion Van. There were five of us kids so we didn't all fit. We'd squeeze four into the backseat but one time the police in Malibu pulled us over and my mom was reprimanded. One morning the alarm broke and the Mercedes started howling unpredictably for minutes on end and it was too expensive to fix. So my Mom would pick us up from school and we'd just hope it wouldn't go off.

The guy who wrote Gladiator said his main job was to write dialogue for actors. I liked that, because he did big movies with an opposite intention.

We'd know our mom was getting home by the squeaking of the German brakes. The music of the metal groaning its own warning song and resolution. It was a sequence of unique mechanical pain different from all the other cars outside on the highway. The way it cried. And we'd scatter like those mice living with us in that rundown beach house, turn off the tv and try to appear busy, cleaning or doing homework.

My sister's friend said to us the other night, that now that she's become a parent she gets why her own mother would yell, it's because on certain days there's nothing left.

We eventually moved to a plot up in the Santa Monica mountains. She eventually got a black F150 with front bench that allowed us all to fit. I remember looking out of my bedroom window one afternoon and seeing my mom behind the wheel of her parked truck, in our dirt driveway. I could hear a Gloria Estefan song blasting from her stereo, and through two panes of glass I watched my mother shaking her torso in wild abandon, getting it all out, there alone behind the wheel.

All screenwriters do it, none that I've yet read are too high and mighty to deny the pleasurable relief that comes with writing the words FADE OUT.