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That’s a Wrap!
On the day that he was stabbed on the set of a vampire movie, Terrance rehearsed his lines for his final scene. How fantastic this was! After all this time. After all of these years. He finally had an interesting part. His character was to have a great death and that death would move the plot forward. He was so happy!
Not just literally as she examined her costume in the mirror, but she also mentally reflected. Lately she had been thinking quite a bit about her life and her so-called career. She had, in fact taken to carrying around her Theater diploma, attempting to use it as inspiration to keep going. But that plan wasn’t really working.
True, she was now in a movie playing the mortal young woman who is being targeted by the lead vampire. Hers was one of the main roles, but frankly, it was an awful script. Though Coach Bobbie’s words echoed in her ears — Never say ‘no’ to anything except porn — the other words which echoed in her ears were her mother’s, telling Sarah that she had given it a good shot. But that now it was time to come home.
Icon fitted the rented lens onto her DSLR camera, the only camera she had left after the recent robbery. The last several weeks had been really tough: dealing with the fact that someone had taken nearly everything she owned; dealing with the concept that a lifetime’s worth of film equipment was gone; dealing with the fact that said equipment was truly and forever gone as it had been stolen before she had gotten it insured; dealing with her father.
But the last few days shooting this silly vampire film had been good for her. Since Mike had actually worked in the film business, he ran a very professional set — he had even found her an assistant! Unlike so many of the student films she had worked on, it was great seeing a professional at work. True, the script was terrible and would likely make for a pretty bad movie, but Mike encouraged her to really push herself cinematically. She was getting some great shots which would look impressive on her demo reel. This was turning out to be a good first professional experience and she was cautiously approaching ‘happy.’
And Sean? Well, since today was the day to shoot the death of the 40-Something Vampire, Sean had been walking around with the two prop stakes and stabbing everyone he came across with the retractable stake. He had never before realized that he could have so much fun without a guitar. Maybe he should think about a side career in film?
As they prepared to shoot the scene wherein the 40-Something vampire meets his demise, the actor playing the Vampire Hunter was asking Mike a series of ridiculous questions about his character’s motivation. No doubt this actor thought that these questions were deep and penetrating but everyone else on the set thought that the questions were ridiculous (Sarah had overheard the sound guy muttering under his breath, “Motivation? You want to kill vampires! What’s so hard about that?”). It seems that on every production there is that one person who rubs everyone else the wrong way. This actor was that person. He didn’t seem to be too terribly bright and in fact the cast and crew alike had taken to calling him Dull Stake behind his back, as in he’s not the sharpest stake in the drawer.
Everyone waited patiently for Dull Stake to finish bothering Mike. They had all learned that it was pretty useless to try to get this moron to move it along — he would take whatever time he needed to say whatever stupid thing that he felt needed saying. Trying to cut him off only stretched it out longer. So they waited.
Sarah only had one line in this particular scene. As the Vampire Hunter moved in to attack the 40-Something Vampire, her character would step between them and exclaim “You can’t! He’s my father!” only to be gallantly pushed aside by the 40-Something Vampire who is then stabbed by the Vampire Hunter. Not exactly Shakespeare — but at least it’s a role she kept trying to convince herself.
After what seemed an eternity to nearly everyone present, Dull Stake finished his line of inquiry and announced that he was ready. As Sean approached with the two stakes, the thought that kept running through his mind was: hand him the right stake, hand him the right stake, hand him the right stake.
Terrance was so damned happy that he had to consciously wipe the smile off of his face and get himself into the dramatic mode necessary for this scene. He was thrilled: a great, heroic death for his character and an important scene for the film. But he had to make himself serious in order to shoot it.
The actors all moved into their positions. After a moment Mike said, “All right Icon, how are we looking over there? Are we about ready?”
Icon looked through the camera viewfinder, then nodded.
“Okay,” said Mike, “Action!”
“I have you now Benedictus!” said Dull Stake (as the Vampire Hunter) in an accent which no one had yet been able to figure out, “Your days are done. And now you will return to…” he laughed ominously, “… Dust!”
Sarah (as the young heroine) leapt between Terrance (as the 40-SomethingVampire) and the Vampire Hunter. She was a good enough actress to make her one ridiculous line sound not completely ridiculous as she said, “You can’t! He’s my father!”
At which point Terrance pushed Sarah out of the way and Dull Stake leapt forward and plunged the supposedly retractable stake about an inch into Terrance’s left lung.
There was a fair amount of chaos. There was a fair amount of confusion. There was a fair amount of blood.
As the paramedics loaded Terrance onto a stretcher, the police officer turned his attention to Mike and said, “So, you said that he was stabbed by a prop?”
“Yes,” said Mike, “The way it works is that there are two different versions of this prop stake. One stake is solid and the other is retractable. And…”
“And so the actor used the wrong one,” said the officer.
“Actually, no,” said Mike.
Sean chimed up behind him and said, “Dude, I’ve got the solid one right here! It never left my hand. I gave him the right stake! I swear!”
The officer seemed puzzled. He looked at Mike and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. If the one that stabbed him is retractable…”
“Well, the way it works is that it’s actually two different pieces, each are about six inches long: you’ve got the pointy-ended part of the stake and then you’ve got the flat-ended part of the stake,” said Mike, “You hold the stake by the flat-ended part, then when you stab someone, the pointy-ended part retracts — it slides inside the flat-ended part. So the stake basically collapses to about half of its original size. And that’s what gives the illusion of the stake penetrating the body.”
“So this one malfunctioned? It didn’t retract?” asked the officer.
“Well it would have retracted. There was nothing wrong with the prop. The actor who was using it held it by the pointy-ended part instead of the flat-ended part. Of course it didn’t retract because he had a hold of the part that was supposed to move.”
“I see,” said the officer, “and prior to filming did anyone offer this actor any training as to how to operate this thing?”
Mike sighed and said, “With all due respect Officer, if you look at this stake you’ll see it’s pretty self-explanatory. I would have thought that a 5-year-old could figure it out. Apparently, I was mistaken.”
“I see,” repeated the officer.
The police officer took a deep breath then looked past Mike’s shoulder and to the view out Mike’s window. It was dark outside and the multicolored points of light glittered from the Valley below.
Terrance spent the night in Intensive Care. Obviously, a puncture wound to a lung was a fairly serious injury, but his physicians all agreed that chances were that he would recover. It would be a long and painful recovery, but he would recover.
As she walked out of Mike’s house on the night of the stabbing, she pulled the Theater diploma out of her backpack and tossed it over the cliff at the edge of the property.
Sarah then got into her car and immediately started her drive home — home to the house where she had grown up. It would take her a few days to drive there, and eventually she would have to arrange for something to be done about her apartment in L.A., but for now she just wanted to go home. To give up on all of this. And to be with her mother.
Sean and Icon had driven back to their apartment building in his rusted old car Ramona. As they stood before her apartment door, Icon said, “Makes you think, doesn’t it?”
“Think? Oh! You mean the thing about getting stabbed? Yeah, I hadn’t thought of it but, yeah, I guess it does make you think,” said Sean, “Oh, wait, that didn’t really make any sense did it?”
“No, I mean saying that I hadn’t thought about something that makes you think. That just sounds stupid. I must just sound stupid.”
“No,” she replied, “You don’t.”
“Well that’s nice of you to say. But, hey, you’re probably really tired and I should let you…”
“I don’t want to be ‘on hold’ any more,” said Icon.
Icon sighed. “Since I got robbed,” she said, “everything has kind of been on hold.”
“Well, that’s understandable. That was pretty messed up after all. I don’t know which is more messed up: getting everything stolen from you or getting stabbed in the chest. Actually, getting stabbed in the chest is probably more messed up. Yeah, now that I think about it that’s definitely more messed up. And bloodier too. But still, getting all of your stuff stolen…”
“But before that,” said Icon, “We… Well, it seemed like we — you and I — were starting something.”
“It did,” said Sean, “It did seem like that. But I figured that maybe you had changed your mind. I’ll be completely honest with you, it’s not the first time that I asked a girl out and I thought she said ‘yes’ but then it never happened. Actually, it’s been more than once for some reason, and…”
“I’ve just been on hold,” she said, “And I don’t want that any more.”
“Okay. So that means… Well what does that mean?”
Icon looked at Sean and sighed again, “Would you… come in?”
“Just to hang out,” said Icon, “I don’t want to… you know… do anything. I just don’t want to be alone.”
“Oh, I get that,” Sean said.
“Then from there…” Icon said, ”We’ll see.”
“Dude, that’s about all you can say about life.”
Icon raised an eyebrow. She asked, “What’s ‘about all you can say about life?’”
Sean smiled. He looked up at the inky grayness of the Los Angeles night sky, took a deep breath and looked back at Icon. Then he said: