He’d caught a catnap on the flight from the Twin Cities. Middle of the afternoon, filming in Chicago at Rosa’s Lounge, Keith sat at the bar wondering just how much longer it’d take. He’d never quite got used to the hurry-up-and-wait of making a movie. Even the tech crew, who were all accustomed to this kind of thing, clearly were bored to their bones.
He finished thumbing through the local edition of the New York Times, absently humming Bobby Womack’s “Facts of Life.” Sipped at his drink. “He’ll be there,” he idly intoned, “when the sun go down.”
There was a review of Mirage’s newest: She’d done a great job only to get slammed by some fool who just didn’t get it. That happened in this business time and time again. He wouldn’t be surprised if the writer was some homely, spiteful broad who couldn’t carry a tune in a paper bag and would give her left big toe to be Mirage. He was going to have to send Mirage a note. Well, better her than me.
He pushed the paper aside, looking around. The director was taking Helen through yet more changes. About this angle, that aesthetic. Helen was on the verge of having enough, saying, “Well, if you look at it from the character’s view, she’s fighting for her life. A life, when it’s said and done, she desperately wants to have again.”
“Yes, but from a certain perspective,” the director rejoined.
Helen threw up her hands. Alena Sheridan, thankfully, had stuck around. She got up and quietly said, “Okay, hold it.” Everyone in the room turned and stared, watching every tiny inch of her walk over to a few folk gathered in a corner, including the star, whom she had brought in.
One of them summoned the director and, a few minutes later, he came back looking chastened. And dispensing with the artistic jargon and gesturing, he let Helen do the scene any way she pleased. Frankly, Keith’d wondered why someone on the order of Helen St. James had had to have word-for-word with this relative nobody for the past half-hour or more.
She wanted to take five before going back at it again. The director called, “Let’s take a break. Please, don’t anyone stray too far. Camera again in fifteen.”
Which entirely was fifteen minutes past the end of Keith’s patience. To blow off steam he absentmindedly sang the song out loud. One of the late, great Bobby’s best as far as he was concerned. A sweet ballad with salty lyrics: “He’ll be there when your lights go dim. So, why chase me all up and down the road. When you know in the back of your mind you should be with him.”
It got good to him and he let loose: “I thought I’d let you know where I’m comin’ from. Don’t really mean you no harm, but I gotta keep movin’ on. Movin’ on.” Then he stopped. For some reason, the place had got real quiet. Eyes on him, as if they’d never heard anyone sitting around singing to themselves during a break.
He said, to no one in particular, “What?” That met with scattered laughter as folk went back about doing whatever they’d been doing.
Helen grinned. “Come here, boy. Wanna talk to you.”
Whenever she said that, there was something special on the woman’s mind. He walked over as she motioned Sheridan to join them. “Why don’t you,” she said to him, “sing for this thing?” He looked at his dear friend like she was some deranged stranger.
Alaina Sheridan offered, “Not a bad idea.”
Next week: Keith proposes he and Lesli tie the knot now.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.