Saturday, April 28, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment twenty-three)


The arrest was a gift to Cassius from the honeyed center of the universe, and soon he had pasted and posted “wanted” signs everywhere, with a blow-up of Elendele’s police blotter shot, and a smear of painted red across her lip. At the bottom was Cassius’ business number, but that didn’t work because people took the posters for decoration and art objects.

The red smear, compliments of Cortez, was the painter’s first real success, ending up in a lively opening, sponsored by a gay city councilman, on “Art and Local Politics.” What he’d learned from it all was that painting is not a question of size and stroke, rather of hidden and shifting sensibilities. And now that he was dizzy, he was a more pleasant person.

Still, with Elendele’s union status all clear, and her face in every place, Cassius was able to find her a commercial to act in. Her ugly attitudes against commerce were not to be found, because no moral value was more important than the possibility of her becoming, “a simple working actress. Not famous,” she clarified, “just a simple working actress,” which is what she was pretty sure she wanted.

Soda pop stuff. We all go down to the location to see our little starlet. Cameras and lights and motorcycle cops stopping traffic. Elendele’s sitting in a high director’s chair and a black guy is doing her makeup for her. Painting her imperfect perfections perfectly and talking fast enough to leave out the spaces between words.

There’s action everywhere, but nobody actually does anything while they wait all day for the sun to begin going down. Finally it’s time and Elendele heads for her spot. I whisper her an old theme, “aspire to be a goddess,” and she grimaces, because there’s nothing like when it’s time to put up or shut up.

All Elendele has to do is stand outside a phone booth with another solid chassis girl and go mad, together with her, over the guy in the booth. Still, it takes a hundred takes to do it.

The people shopping stop to see who the famous actress is. “Who is it?” asks a
middle-aged lady and I answer her proudly. “My friend, Elendele.”

“Never heard of her,” she shrugs me.

“Sure you have. She burned the church.”

She gets clouded and her mouth gets older with a disapproval wrinkle that young
people never have. “Oh her!”

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