REPORT A PROBLEM
Ok. Well, it said that he could only write one hundred words. He hadn't written her a letter since 1924- it was hard to get it all down, I mean, there'd been a couple wars, the civil rights movement, and now Barack Obama. But he decided the key for the moment was clarity, and there was no point beating around the bush. There was no bush anyways- they'd taken it down for safety reasons. He put pen to paper- the computer wasn't their language- and he started out simple: "Dear Clara," it read in black calligraphy strokes, "I'm pregnant." Amen.
“I can’t see the point in asking you for money- it wasn’t your involvement that led to this- but I thought that you should know, as I’m thinking of naming it after you, if it’s girl. I feel that we left on sudden terms last time, and if you’re in town I want you to feel welcome to look me up~ I’d love to see your face, hear your voice and have a cup. I’m at the address on the envelope. I know this finds you well because you always had such a knack for making things work. Sincerely, Robert
The Canadian Broadcasting Company had placed three large lights in the room, one right above the doorway, and he reached over to the cord and switched it off. Time for a good night’s sleep.
He awoke to the grinding sound of someone pushing the window up against its frame- the old wood bunked out in the humidity of August and squealed as it rubbed against itself in the wet. Robert felt that he too squealed against himself after a rain, but he chalked that up to the belly- it was like a moving tank now, with all the extra weight.
He had never been a serial tv watcher. He was a TV watcher, no doubt, but the idea of being a serial watcher-one who follows a show, and watches it recurringly, on time, every week, was something he could not handle. You see, first you had to find out when the show was- well, first you have to find out about the show, and then you find out when it is- and then you have remember what that time is… and then you have to REMEMBER to WATCH the show when it comes on. Which is an entirely tiresome, loathsome,
impossible sequence of events to uphold. And so he’d never been a serial watcher. He had considered hiring a neighbourhood boy to keep him abreast of current trends and apathies, common currents in the current popularity, and to have the boy tape the shows, or recorded them on the machine for future viewing. I mean, if he was any good, he could have even done his hair-Robert’s that is. But when they asked him to just get pregnant, he did. The good old CBC. So, he didn’t have to watch- he could just be IN one. This was much more pleasant.
The room was pleasant. The breeze was flowing through now, and Veronica the craft services woman, (this is who had opened the window), was fashioning his table for him, over in the corner. You could say she was also a quasi nurse, because she came in at certain scheduled hours to feed him- well, to offer him food. One time she even had to take his temperature, which was nice. “Veronica,” he said- it was an apologetic, half-way asleep voice, unguarded in the morning- “could you pass me a Reader’s Digest? I finished April sometime last night. It was good.”
“It’s just hard to bend down-“ “I know,” she reassured softly. He lay still on his back, on the bed. It was just the two of them. She handed him a copy from under the sofa. “Maybe when we’re done this crazy mess, you’ll come to Hawaii with me, and lose your hair in the surf.” He was always dreaming now-he was free to. There was a freedom that just went out to forever. He didn’t have to do anything. His fate was solidified in this growth, his purpose. His role was now outside of him. The sun shone in.
The sun shone in, and he read.
The crew came clambering through the door, because it was almost twelve, noon. They went on live for lunch. Roseanne was first, (not THE Roseanne, but a woman of the same name, she was the director), and then Rash always came second. Joey was in last, he was the producer. It had all been his idea. Rash always kept in too tight to Roseanne, Robert wasn’t sure if it was a case of liking to keep up, or that he was trying to someday over take her, or maybe constant nerves.
Joey was pretty present, but about half the time he had other things on his mind. The game? Sunday night dinners? They hadn’t had a chance to talk. He was the off- the-cuff type, and it was obvious if you looked for a second, that this was just a slice of a great big pie that he had going on. A life-liver, a social type of man. The boom was being placed overhead. “That’s fine, Joey, but we’re going to need a crane! We can’t lift him all on our own. The hallway is fine, that’s just fine.”
“A bit of walking is fine, but I’m not having him go down those steps! All we need is one lost foot! What I want is the crane to come over to the window, we crank the bed up to be level with the window, and the crew can help hoist him on out. They can place him in the pool easily- that shouldn’t be a problem. I mean, you can stand up on your own still, right?” She turned to him only then, as she said it. The rest of it was all overheard news. He didn’t know a
thing about a pool, but he supposed he’d find out soon. ““And Live in- three-two-one-role tape!” She turned back toward him, again, in her seat. “We want you to relax in the pool, we want you to have a little time in the sun. And this way, you know, people might stop on by on the sidewalk to look, you know, someone starts a popsicle stand that kind of thing, you know.” It was all very hush-hush. But they were still filming the outside- they always came in through the hallway, from the outside. “I didn’t know we HAD a
pool,” he said. “We do,” Roseanne said. “We got it this morning. It’s a…smaller one.” He looked out the window and saw a kiddie pool. It was inflated, with an embroidered picnic umbrella inside it. An interviewer came in quickly before the camera crew reached him, and although she had just a second, she the question-the big one.
“Why did you do reality T.V?”
Robert’s reason weren’t economic, although with all his absences from the office now, it was true that his family was starting to worry about who might fill the cupboards, whenever they might happen to run low.
But this was after the fact. And any issue of his wife Lorena not being able to conceive was not something that was on the table either, because they had Massie, and they loved her alot and they could definitely have more if they wanted to. The fear of
getting pregnant, and having to raise an irresponsible teenage love-child, this was a notch in his psyche, even while she wasn’t at all at risk. I mean, they were having a lot more frequent riverside bush parties, and the summer was getting considerably more into the humidex. More string bikinis.
Massie was seventeen. But what it really did, was it all led back to the pool, because what Robert held as his prime one reason, his number one link, had something to do with water. Water bright as day. Water in your cup. The idea that life could be a destiny unfulfilled, and paramecium live in the sea, and the ocean is where it all began, it was just about getting the right ingredients. Robert looked back up at the woman-she had a hair sitting on her forehead.
“Well, I thought it’d be fun, and I needed cash.” Episode
(OK-whoa. A note from the writer: that last part went way off in the ditch! It's rambling on, and it's a lot of bad writing (!!)I know, but stick with it-maybe soon, it might make some sense.) :) Ok, continued: Episode 253 went as usual. It was glowing and effervescent, and they all cleaned up the space afterwards.
* * * At the end they did some rehearsing and some blocking for the kiddie pool. There
going to be a crane, and Robert was looking forward to how it would be gotten in the room. He surprised himself.
He found he was liking the puzzle of the technical side.
It was supposed to rain, but luckily that had held off and the sun was peaking out now and then.
He was still out in the kiddie pool when Lorena came up. She walked up the slope of the driveway in a slow, deliberate air. Actually, a little bit too deliberate. It wasn’t really that steep. She came to a stop in front of Robert, and she wouldn’t look in his eyes. He took a pen and wrote on his notepad, it was the one he kept handy beside him.
‘DID THEY GIVE YOU LINES?”
“NO,” she messaged back. She’d come prepared too. The last time she’d arrived on-set they’d prompted her with things to say, and they’d given her some lines that got all mixed up with real emotions, and they ended up taking only about 15 seconds from it, because it got so confusing. It was a terrible conversation. The noon show was over now, but the web cam was still on for the internet feed, and there were boxes and wires going on, up in the tree. The camera couldn’t see their papers from that far away.
“I CAME HERE BECAUSE WE HAVE TO TALK!!!”
She clearly was out of sorts. He looked at her trying to read her scene, and then watched as she wrote again. She moved too fast, and ripped the paper.
“You’re not even having my BABY!!!’ she screamed. She was beside herself~ outside of herself. And that was the soap opera moment. He really had to find someway to call her, because she was right. Somehow she must have forgotten the contract, or somehow she must not have seen it. Or somehow he’d avoided showing it to her. But not consciously. It
was a mess. “Lorena- !” And he was starting to get agitated, because she was already escaping down the sidewalk, and she was hustling. The few surrounding bystanders stood still and they paused. It was like highschool.
-wait, come back!” She didn’t. “LORENA- it’s not what you think?!” But he wasn’t sure. He sounded like a frog. A lizard. “YES_IT’S EXACTLY WHAT I KNOW!!” she yelled back. And Robert wanted to get up and chase her down the block. He wanted to get up and run, and catch her. But in all the slippery wet of the water on the
plastic, his feet stayed stuck in the pool.
* * * “How can you
a contract?” It was Roseanne~ she’d come in late to see him. He was irked. “I didn’t
to miss it, I can remember talking it all over with her, and signing it- she must remember! She signed it!” It was incredulous!
Roseanne ate her pizza. “No, she didn’t, it was only you. We didn’t need maternal consent. “Well, can I
the contract?” ‘No, you can’t. Everything’s out in the trucks, and it’s all locked up. I’m not going to get it.” “Well, that doesn’t really seem
fair, since I can’t get it.” “We’re not really dealing with what’s fair.”
Robert used Roseanne's cell phone and managed to call Massie at the house. Roseanne didn't want him to speak with Lorena as it might alter his delicate condition but he spoke with Massie who talked about what pills were best to take for cramps- he was having a few- and that went on for a while. His daughter then asked about mitochondrial ribosomes for a biology test-she'd misplaced her notes- and this rang a distant bell, but Robert wasn't really able to help her.
He said that maybe she should go ask her mother. And Massie agreed. Sometimes she was a weight and sometimes she was the gap- it depended on the situation. This time she was the weight- she had a grounding effect on him, even if she didn’t know it. Once, when Robert was younger, he and a friend had decided to climb up a tree in the Cascades in Washington- it was a whacky decision on a whim, one of the Douglas firs, meters 'round that stretched up to the heavens- and part way up, you could feel the weight of
the depth you can feel while floating on the ocean- it’s a lot more heavy than a river and its water- and the weight of the wood and all it had pulled it down and pushed it up to the sky. If you looked across to another while you were up there, any other on any side, there was a huge vast gap in between. Sometimes she was the weight, and sometimes the gap. He couldn’t think of any answers for the test.
He had a dream that night of living with his child. They were together on a beach
in Barbados. There was a blanket slung on chairs for shade, and this did them well for a lunch on the sand.
***** “And LIVE in three, two, one…role tape!”
***** The baby was born at 5:37 am, on September 2nd, 20__ by caesarean section. The embroidered umbrella stood it’s ground and stayed upright in the pool, despite the torrential summer rains.
****** The position of curator had been something that Robert had coveted for a very long time. He’d placed his mother’s ceramic Dalmatian statues under the heat lamps at the front of his parents’ grill
after hours, adorning them with information tickets to make them relics from the Ming dynasty at the age of eight. His parents had run a mom-and-pop burger joint on the Danforth-a major street in Toronto- and this had gone on for forty-three years, until the diner had closed due to lack of clientele, sometime in the nineties. Prior to this, (in the eighties,) the crowd had been robust, (individually and in group,) and they found themselves to be in such a state because they all came in very often. Robert hadn’t really ever been able to converse with the customers.
He was a quiet type, and he’d preferred to sit alone in the corner curled up with a book. Somehow a bookshelf had made its way onto the southwest wall of the eatery, perhaps it was from his mother’s side, and the small boy was usually to be found biting into the next volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which was housed there in a full set from 1923. He’d grab a snatch of ‘Ants’ or a little bit of ‘Gastropoda Molluscs’. They were galaxies unto themselves.
‘The Great Train Wreck of 1918’
Nashville, Tennessee, July 9, 1918. Two passenger trains
operated by the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad ("NC&StL"), collided head-on, shortly after 7:15 am , killing 101 people and injuring an additional 171. It is considered the deadliest rail accident in United States history. The two trains collided while traversing a section of single track line known as "Dutchman's Curve" west of downtown, in the present-day neighborhood of Belle Meade. Traveling at an estimated 50/60 miles per hour, the impact derailed both trains and completely destroyed several wooden cars. An investigation by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) attributed the cause of the accident to several factors, notably
(from wikipedia…) And it went on forever, from there! It went into the details, and this and that, and the other, but really, you could go absolutely ANYwhere! You could have trains, and the tracks and even little buildings from the nearby town, and people with miniature expressions of horror and surprise- you could even do some with the faces of your friends! If they didn’t notice…And, well, it could be juxtaposed with a display on the evolution of the railways- yes, of course- and this could part of something on the development-
You could say the boy was hooked.
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