erasing clouds

Forget About Love: A novella in twenty-four parts

By Jeffrey S. Carter

Part Four: The Woman Who Would Be Five

The heat is unkind on the Winderkund patio.

Piercing shards of light reflect off the glassy surface of the pool, making it impossible to see. I keep holding my hand up to shade my eyes, to the point where it becomes ridiculous. Franklin doesn't seem to notice. He just keeps squinting and talking and smoking. I can't smoke when it's so hot and still. I don't like the way you get surrounded. He eventually asks me if there's something wrong. I say yeah it's kind of bright, don't you think? The conversation is moved inside, where it is always kept a pleasant seventy-four degrees. I feel like my eyes will never readjust.

We end up in the Den. Franklin wants to show me dailies. He is desirous of my opinion on the progress of his latest film, the first one he has attempted to make in a decade without an original screenplay by me, which is fine, because I didn't have an original screenplay to give him. I haven't written a word in years. There used to be things to say, but I said them and they're not worth saying again, though that doesn't seem to bother most writers. And there's nothing new for me to say. It's like my mind has been wiped clean, and in the meantime my propensity for memory has been deleted. I haven't admitted that to anyone, but that's what it's like, all right. I see things happening, things happen to me, but I don't have an opinion about them, or really remember them or ever reflect on them. It's almost like they are happening to someone else.

I think the real problem is that I never worked at it, it just kind of happened, so now I don't even know where to start from. It was never a problem before. But now it's six years and not a word from me. I can trace it back to one thing. I think we all can.

After being in the Den for about a minute, I realize that I'm sitting on the same bean bag where I had sex with Andrea Silvers earlier. It's a little disconcerting, but I get over it. It just occurred to me outside that, technically, she's my aunt. I just tell myself that it never happened, as if it were something I dreamed up. This technique has proved useful in the past, and it demonstrates its effectiveness again.

Franklin is prefacing the reveal of the dailies with superfluous details about the cast and crew. He also keeps saying, "But there's something about it, you'll see, there's something about it," in defense. I'm curious to see what a post-me Franklin Winderkund movie looks like. I haven't seen one in so long. I'm sure the world is curious as well. Ever since I showed up on his doorstep with that script in my backpack, it's been the way it's been up until the point where he was screaming you just try to leave, you just try to leave at my back as I left.

* * * *

The Bluebird is the story of two successful hoteliers whose lives slowly degenerate into misery due to mental illness, sexual excess, drugs and greed. The title refers to the name of the sleazy motel, in which the wife eventually kills herself. It's also a metaphor, since bluebirds mate for life, and the wife is implicitly faithful and dedicated to the marriage, while the husband is a philandering heel. Lysteria Hinde gave an Oscar worthy performance in her next-to-last role on film, but would never receive any recognition due to the exceptionally poor reception of the movie. A favorite amongst film students and art houses, The Bluebird is an oppressive, claustrophobic experience that leaves viewers feeling alternately confused and certain that they hate it with their deepest, most virulent conviction. Besides the repugnant husband, it contains a thoroughly unlikable cast of supporting characters, strange dream sequences and drug trips, erotica, shocking violence, and a jarring classical score.

It was the last movie Franklin wrote and directed without my help.

The most I can say about it is that it does things with color that I have never seen done before or since. I can also say without a doubt that given twenty years, it will be considered Franklin Winderkund's best movie. They will release a brand spanking new transfer of it on whatever format has eclipsed DVD and it will be filled with all kinds of puffed-up bullshit and cast interviews and behind the scenes garbage. And Franklin will lend a commentary in which he scholarly dissects the shots, or muses on how wonderful the actors are and how understanding the producers were and so on. And we will marvel at the ignorance of audiences at the time while some critics will hold true to their initial claims that it's a colossal piece of shit, and will write articles about it to concur with the release date and it's available at retail stores now if you're really interested and so fucking on.

The dailies that Franklin show me in the Den today are not anywhere near as distressing as The Bluebird. In fact, as much as that movie reflected the nightmarish fever haze of Franklin's mental state at the time, these clips have absorbed the drowsy happiness, the artifice, the new wife, the 3-hour Yoga sessions of the kinder, gentler Franklin Winderkund, offending in an entirely new fashion. Following in the footsteps of his peers, my uncle, left to his own devices, has gone from being a maverick on the cutting edge of visual narrative to a pusher of Prozac in the space of two decades.

The story is apparently called Don't Forget About Love, and some guy named Dane wrote it. Some screenwriter the studio hired to get Franklin out of purgatory. It's a quirky story about two young, motivated people who are too busy to find love on their own, and thus agree to an arranged marriage by their stupendously rich families.

I am horrified.

But the more I watch, the more I realize Franklin is right. There is something about it.

That something is an auburn, sun-kissed angel by the name of Naomi Darling.

Somewhere in there, I agree to help Franklin on his movie. We share a joint to celebrate our reunion. I fall asleep and awaken to the sound of instruments from the Far East and the smell of ginger. My stomach rumbles and I realize I haven't eaten in two days. I break bread at the Winderkund table, and feel strangely at home for a little while.

Franklin lets me take the Porsche home, as long as I drive it to the shoot tomorrow. I don't have a license, but it doesn't even matter.

Things have a way of working out for you when you're a Winderkund.

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