Matthew Licht

DD7 girl

A Hard Case (Part 7)

“Camera meltdown. Break!”

The words tunneled in through a thick fog. Where and why was life going on? Who revealed its secret? Whoever I was never wanted whatever had happened to end, but it ended anyway.

Life is like that.

Other times, you get stuck in the wrong life for too long. 

Someone threw a blanket on my shoulders. That meant I had shoulders. Or maybe it was a towel. Whatever it was felt soft. Life didn’t have to be hard. Not all the time. 

The world was warm, and dark. The lights had burned so bright. Light needs a rest too. The stars close their eyes when the day starts. 

The light spoke itself alive. “Think you can give us another take in about half an hour?”

“How ‘bout half a minute?”

“Stand by.”

Life doesn’t stand by. Life moves through space and time. Life finishes, especially when you don’t want it to.

The bright lights blazed again.

“There you are.” 

The soft voice cut through the glare. A touch that meant another life was there. Everything became clear again.

“OK now do the scene where you…” the big voice was unsure. “Do whatever you want.”

Another facet of the mystery dazzled. The director knew what we were supposed to do together in the light. He just couldn’t put it into words, at the moment. But that didn’t matter. All that mattered was out there in the light.

Light-years flew by in all directions and exploded in liquid heat.

“Got it. That’s a wrap.”

Whichever world this was grew darker and cooler. Time flowed. Breathe in, breathe out.  Someone said, “Listen, you can’t stay here. We need to clear the set for the maintenance crew.”

You find a place where you want to be and then you have to leave. The clothes neatly folded on a folding chair fit. I still knew how to put them on. The gun was a leftover from the wrong job. “I don’t want this anymore,” I said, and handed it over to a young woman with a clipboard at her breast. 

“I’ll take care of it,” she said.

Doris had a car outside. The motor started with no fuss. She let it warm up. 

“Are you from Mexico?”

Usually I was the one who asked questions. The answers were for people who had problems in their lives that made them unhappy. My job was to change that. Or that’s what I thought the job was. “I speak English,” I said, eventually.

She put the car in gear and crawled out of Project X’s lot. The words welded onto the gate sounded familiar.

“Work makes you free,” Doris Frawley said. “At least here it does.”

A green light came on and we drove off together into the North Hollywood night.

A blue light came on, and another one, too bright, both headed in the wrong direction. A siren yawped. We stopped.

“Get outta the car,” a too-loud voice said. “With your hands up.”

A Hard Case (Part 1)

A Hard Case (Part 2)

A Hard Case (Part 3)

A Hard Case (Part 4)

A Hard Case (Part 5)

A Hard Case (Part 6)

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