The International Writers Magazine: First Chapters
First Chapter of a work in progress
by Elayne Keratsis
"Theres sex and drugs and rock and roll. All behind
the tape. Just out of reach of the ordinary folk. All they can
do is stand outside and look in."
Past is Prologue" William Shakespeare
"This circus is falling down on its knees. The big top is crumbling
down..." The Counting Crows
"You don't need Nicoret gum or the patch, you need an Exorcist"
From a sermon on the Berean Bible Church website
"The full catastrophe!" Zorba the Greek
"There are only two kinds of people in the world," her gay
friend Ali intoned seriously over the cell phone. It was four in the
morning east coast time. Ali was in LA, the girl was in Miami and they
chatted many nights during the dark hours of their discontent. The girl
lit a cigarette.
"Go ahead, Im listening..."
"Theres us. The people in the movie business. We work inside
a taped off environment. We go to work on a movie set, say maybe down
Hollywood Beach. We bring in all the shit, the lights, the cranes, the
cameras, the trucks. Then the cops or the security guys tape off the
area, close down the street, you know, to keep out civilians..."
"Im with you so far," said the girl as she inhaled.
"So we are the people behind the yellow caution tape." She
could hear Ali shuffling papers in the background. She was probably
doing her filing. None of them slept well at night. Like vampires they
could stay up all hours after sunset, doing the busy work that ordinary
people did during the day. But a day without work for people in their
profession was the equivalent of an emotional death sentence for which
sleep was the only remedy.
"Ali, where are you going with this?"
"Sorry, I was doing my filing. Anyway, so thats us. Now there
is the other half of the entire world. The people on the other side
of the caution tape. They drive by and see our big top circus and want
to gawk. Some tourists from Indiana or Canada slow down to a crawl,
staring beyond the tape, looking to see someone famous, envying all
those cool people standing around behind the barricades. They wonder
all about us, who we are and what we do, and what kind of awesome lives
we must live."
The girl considered this. It was true that no matter what you were shooting,
a crowd always gathered. It could be a shoot of a sign for an auto dealership
and people came out of the woodwork to watch. Ali continued.
"As well they should. Everyone behind the tape who wants to get
laid, does. The prop guys tell the young girls in bikinis passing by
that theyre stunt men, the teamsters tell em theyre
producers, the A.D.s swear theyre directors and everyone promises
everyone else a part in a big movie. The chicks are just as bad. They
tell the muscle boys that they know Vin Diesel and Stallone, or that
they can introduce them to the stunt coordinator who, in the meantime,
has a backlog of women lined up to give him head just so they can say
they had a taste of what the poor slobs think of as "greatness."
Theres sex and drugs and rock and roll. All behind the tape. Just
out of reach of the ordinary folk. All they can do is stand outside
and look in."
The girl laughed. There wasnt a living soul in the industry who
didnt have a book full of war stories. She herself had her picture
flashed across the screen on Hard Copy twice when she was in the employ
of a famous movie star, much to the chagrin of her mother and the delight
of her father.
"OK, I m still with you Ali, but you gotta tell me, where
are you going with this? How does this relate to my present situation?
What should I do"
"Let me finish..." Ali sighed. "We start to buy our own
press. Never mind the fact that our personal lives are a mess. We can
fly one hundred people to Guam with less than twenty four hours notice,
and yet half the time we forget to pay our own cable bill. But then
it doesnt really matter, does it? We say to ourselves, after all,
were The People Behind The Tape. We are the Fearless Gods of the
Big Top. We can do just as we please, and we will never suffer consequences.
If we werent, if we couldnt, well, hell, then those cars
would never slow down and look at us."
The girl was getting impatient. "Ali, please! What is the point
you are trying to make?"
"The point," Ali said patiently "is the fact that the
people driving by dont get it at all. Its not a big fabulous
circus they are seeing, no tricks and treats, no high wire acts and
"You lost me."
"Darlin, it aint nothing but one big ass train wreck.
Sex, drugs and rock and roll only go so far. Everyone is divorced or
cheating or married to more than one person illegally from the last
town they rolled in and out of. Half the guys are drunk, the girls are
high on coke or pills, or trading sexual favors for better titles, the
producers are scamming money and the actors are scamming the producers.
The studio is scamming everyone. The unions are strong arming the workers,
the workers are dodging the business agents. No one has any semblance
of a personal life, in fact the word personal is a euphemism for a billboard.
Its not a circus at all. Its one big gruesome daily train
wreck." Ali finished with a flourish.
There was silence on both ends of the phone. High above the earth, the
cellular phone transmission bounced back and forth across the clear
starry night, from tower to slowly rotating satellite to tower, awaiting
The girl spoke first. "So what does that make me?"
"You," sighed Ali once again. "In the world of train
wrecks, darlin, once again you are the conductor."
"I am thinking youre not meaning that as a compliment."
The girl stubbed out her cigarette. "Thanks for the analogy, but
I prefer to think of myself as the glamorous high wire act, even if
the circus is indeed a runaway train."
Ali shrugged three thousand miles away.
"Think whatever you want, old friend. But either way, youre
still working without a net, and we are nothing but a bunch of carnies
traveling from town to town, wreaking havoc, causing train wrecks, and
riding out under the cover of night. And this time youve really
done it. Youre coming up on a crossroad and you dont seem
to be able to pull the switch. In answer to your question of what should
you do, it seems very clear to me. You either need a real kick ass engineer...or
This is the story of yet another train wreck and a runaway exorcism.
© Elayne Keratsis April 2004
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