Thursday, 2:00 p.m.
VERA: When do you fly.
ALEX: On the eighth.
VERA: Your last few weeks at home.
ALEX: Looks like it.
VERA: New York, film school, a new life, a long way from home.
ALEX: All that’s not such a big deal.
VERA: You look tired.
ALEX: It got a bit late last night.
VERA: Michael’s train leaves at eleven. It would be good if you picked Rebekka up from school at noon.
ALEX: At noon.
VERA: Can you manage that.
ALEX: I think so.
VERA: She doesn’t like it if you wait for her in the building. She gets embarrassed. So it’s better if you stay outside.
ALEX: Sounds fine.
VERA: Nothing personal.
VERA: I’ll leave some money, then you can go to the Chinese for lunch.
ALEX: You got it.
VERA: Although—what will you have for dinner.
ALEX: What does she like.
VERA: Pasta, pasta, pasta.
ALEX: So that’s fine.
VERA: There’s sauce in the refrigerator.
ALEX: Sounds like a plan.
VERA: Alex. You’re up to this, right.
ALEX: Pasta with sauce. Yep, I should be able to handle it.
VERA: I mean the weekend with Rebekka.
ALEX: Ah. Sure, I’ll do fine, absolutely.
VERA: Rebekka’s really looking forward to being with you.
VERA: All she can talk about anymore is your film.
ALEX: Yes, making films is awesome, just awesome.
VERA: Don’t take her to the lake. She’s not a very good swimmer.
ALEX: Don’t worry. They also call me Alex the Beaver.
VERA: The beaver.
ALEX: And not because of my teeth.
VERA: Well anyway, no going to the lake.
ALEX: We won’t have time anyway. Friday afternoon we’ll be writing the screenplay.
VERA: I thought you wanted to be filming.
ALEX: What do you need for a good film, Mr. Hitchcock. A good book, a good book, and a good book.
VERA: How’s Chantal, by the way.
ALEX: Honestly or pro forma.
ALEX: I think she’s dying. Of boredom.
VERA: She hasn’t called in ages.
ALEX: She doesn’t call anyone.
VERA: And then there’s Saturday.
ALEX: We’re going over the whole weekend, are we.
VERA: Does that bother you.
ALEX: Doesn’t bother me.
VERA: Not minute by minute.
VERA: So Saturday.
ALEX: On Saturday we shoot. No mercy.
VERA: The whole day.
ALEX: I’m counting on eight, nine hours.
VERA: Nine hours.
ALEX: Until we’ve got the thing in the can.
VERA: Rebekka can’t keep going for nine hours.
ALEX: She can’t.
VERA: She’s seven, Alex.
ALEX: Hard to believe.
ALEX: That she’s only seven. She’s got something.
ALEX: Well anyway you wouldn’t think she was seven.
VERA: Chantal’s practice is doing really well, or so I hear.
ALEX: She’s totally raking it in.
VERA: She’ll miss you.
ALEX: I doubt it. She has him.
VERA: She has a boyfriend.
ALEX: A really special, angelic boyfriend—
VERA: You mean—
ALEX: She talks to him. When she’s cleaning. Or chopping onions. Or in the bathroom. Is that—
ALEX: Well you work with people like that.
VERA: People like what.
ALEX: It’s not an illness if you’re talking to dead people, right.
VERA: Lots of people who’ve—
ALEX: How long will she keep going.
VERA: It usually takes a year before the person can start a new life.
ALEX: I mean Rebekka.
VERA: Two, three hours. At the most.
VERA: Don’t take too much on. Process rather than product.
ALEX: If the film’s any good, we can show it at the short film night. The guy who’s organizing it promised me.
ALEX: There’ll be some pretty important people there, producers and TV types.
VERA: We’ll see.
ALEX: Do you do that too.
ALEX: Do you also speak to dead people.
VERA: Me. No. There’s no one it would make sense for me to do that with.
ALEX: I mean, I don’t care, she can talk to whoever she wants—
VERA: Of course—
ALEX: It’s like when she’s sitting on the john, and I can hear it plop, I mean, the fact that she has to take a shit, that she’s eaten, but that doesn’t mean I have to—
VERA: Talk to her.
ALEX: Yeah, well, it’s difficult.
VERA: How so.
ALEX: I’ve tried. She denies it.
ALEX: She’ll be sitting there in the armchair chatting away with Dad, I mention it—
VERA: And what does she say.
ALEX: She doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
VERA: Is she sleeping.
ALEX: I just don’t know if she denies it because it’s embarrassing to her, or because she really doesn’t realize.
VERA: But she is sleeping. At night.
ALEX: No idea. Is it worrisome.
VERA: You’re worried.
ALEX: They never talked to each other, and no sooner is he in the ground than they start yakking.
VERA: I’ll give you something for her.
VERA: So that she sleeps. That’s the most important thing.
ALEX: She hates medication.
VERA: They aren’t strong. I take them too.
ALEX: You can’t sleep either.
VERA: It hasn’t always been easy recently.
ALEX: Does she have something she can wear.
VERA: For the short film night.
ALEX: For shooting. A costume. Something, I don’t know, something special.
VERA: The pink tulle dress maybe.
ALEX: A fairy, a little wicked fairy all in pink.
VERA: New York’s great. Or at least it was. Fifteen years ago.
ALEX: You were there for a while.
VERA: A few weeks. After college.
ALEX: On your own.
VERA: At first, yes. What is it.
ALEX: You and New York, don’t get me wrong, but somehow I just don’t see it. You’re more the Paris type, aren’t you.
VERA: What’s a Paris type.
ALEX: Or Florence.
VERA: I went to CBGB’s a lot, but that’s not there any more.
ALEX: Hey, we need your shoes.
VERA: Which shoes.
ALEX: Those. The ones you’re wearing.
VERA: These. For Rebekka.
ALEX: A pink fairy tottering through the universe, in her hand the wand of perdition—
VERA: I was going to take them with me.
ALEX: Another pair then.
VERA: I did have a cherry-red pair. With rhinestones.
ALEX: With a heel.
VERA: Death-defying heels.
ALEX: That I’d like to see. You in red pumps.
VERA: Don’t underestimate me.
ALEX: Well they’re allowed anyway.
VERA: I gave the shoes away a long time ago.
ALEX: A scandal.
VERA: Alex, listen.
ALEX: I’ll find something else, no worries.
VERA: We still need to—
ALEX: We can work with screen names.
VERA: With screen names.
ALEX: If you don’t want to be associated with the film. Ginger Lily, or something like that.
VERA: Ginger Lily. Please.
ALEX: You don’t want an evil fairy, right.
VERA: That’s not it.
ALEX: She’s got something, I mean, you could think she’s a little angel.
VERA: Rebekka is a little angel.
ALEX: Yes, but after a while you understand, you discover her second face.
VERA: What second face.
ALEX: Only in the story of course.
VERA: Please don’t force her into a role.
ALEX: I thought I was supposed to shoot a film with Rebekka.
VERA: Well yes, you are.
ALEX: I don’t have to. I can also do something with toilet paper rolls—
VERA: That’s not what I meant.
ALEX: I’ll do it right or I won’t do it at all.
VERA: It’s just that she should feel good while doing it.
ALEX: Madeira you said.
ALEX: For two days.
VERA: Two nights, three days.
ALEX: Not exactly extravagant.
VERA: For me that’s like two months.
ALEX: What are you doing there.
VERA: I’m looking at churches.
ALEX: Just don’t turn devout on me.
VERA: That’s not my intention.
ALEX: There’s this guy who sometimes comes, from some church.
VERA: To see Chantal.
ALEX: I think they pray together.
VERA: For some people, this life isn’t enough, they yearn for depth.
ALEX: Dad would never have let a guy like that through the door. You should see the flyers he leaves. Only idiots fall for that stuff.
VERA: Lights out is at nine. She needs her sleep. You can read something to her. We just started with Pippi. It’s on the dresser.
VERA: It’s dumb. There’s the father, Pippi’s, and it says he became a negro king.
ALEX: Negro king.
VERA: I changed it.
ALEX: You censored Pippi Longstocking.
VERA: It’s an outdated translation. I bet it says something else in the original.
ALEX: I won’t say negro anyway.
VERA: That’s what I mean. No one says that any more.
ALEX: I’ll say nigger.
ALEX: It’s not a swear word. These days niggers call themselves niggers.
VERA: That’s absolutely out of the question. King of the Africans.
ALEX: So I call the negro king the king of the Africans.
ALEX: Hey, it’s OK if someone stops by on Saturday evening, right.
ALEX: A friend. His name is Tim.
VERA: Oh, well I don’t know—
ALEX: He’s cool, I swear.
VERA: Can’t you postpone that—
ALEX: I’m leaving soon and—
VERA: It’s alright with me. But he has to be out of here by midnight at the latest.
ALEX: Sure. So. I’m going to take off. I have to go to bed, this is one hell of a hangover.
VERA: Alex. No alcohol. And that applies for the whole weekend.
VERA: You understand me.
ALEX: We wanted to watch a few films—
VERA: I’ve got nothing against that.
ALEX: And when we do that, we like to drink a beer or two—
VERA: There’s no way.
ALEX: But Rebekka will have been in bed for ages.
VERA: I think you’re not taking this seriously enough.
ALEX: We’re not going to get drunk—
VERA: I’m giving you responsibility for the well-being of my daughter, young man.
ALEX: Got it.
VERA: I don’t want your friend to—
ALEX: We won’t drink—
VERA: No, Alex, I’m worried you won’t be able to say no, and that’s too big a—
ALEX: I can say no—
VERA: It’s probably better if we call the whole thing off.
ALEX: You won’t go to Malaga.
VERA: Of course I’m going to Malaga. Michael will look after Rebekka.
ALEX: I could have delivered pizzas. I turned that down for you.
VERA: Like I say, it’s not my problem any more. Michael will have to decide whether to hire you.
ALEX: And if he says no.
VERA: Then you’ll have a free weekend.
ALEX: And I won’t have the money. New York isn’t cheap.
VERA: Then you’ll have to put yourself out a bit.
ALEX: Vera. I was counting on the three hundred.
VERA: You’ll get half, whatever he decides.
ALEX: Let’s say two hundred.
VERA: A hundred and fifty.
VERA: Or nothing.
ALEX: You were at CBGB’s.
VERA: I told you I was.
ALEX: At the CBGB’s.
VERA: There was only one.
ALEX: On the Bowery.
VERA: Of course.
ALEX: That’s where the punk bands played.
ALEX: Don’t tell me you like punk.
VERA: I liked the atmosphere.
Thursday, 5:00 p.m.
MICHAEL: OK, now listen. This thing is at least as awkward for me as it is for you.
ALEX: Why should it be awkward for me.
MICHAEL: Let’s talk it through seriously. Man to man.
ALEX: How else could we talk about it.
MICHAEL: Good point.
ALEX: I understand, sir. You want to know who’s looking after Rebekka.
MICHAEL: No need for the sir. I’m Michael.
ALEX: Well anyway I’d proceed just the same way.
MICHAEL: You’d mistrust you.
ALEX: I’d want to know what kind of guy he is.
MICHAEL: And. What kind of a guy is he.
ALEX: You want me to describe myself.
MICHAEL: Why not. It would be a starting point.
ALEX: I’m nineteen. I live with my mother. My father died a few months ago.
MICHAEL: Vera told me. I’m sorry. My father hasn’t been dead for so long either. But that’s a different thing of course.
ALEX: Why’s it a different thing.
MICHAEL: Well, I am older than you.
ALEX: And at a younger age people cope less well with bereavement.
MICHAEL: I don’t know. You tell me.
ALEX: It hasn’t left me devastated, if that’s what you mean.
MICHAEL: And what does leave you devastated.
ALEX: Me. Not many things.
MICHAEL: For instance.
ALEX: Well not people.
MICHAEL: What then.
ALEX: Lighting states.
MICHAEL: Lighting states leave you devastated.
ALEX: They move me.
MICHAEL: And what else.
ALEX: I’m an artist.
MICHAEL: An artist.
ALEX: A filmmaker. It’s not always easy.
MICHAEL: The existential suffering, the depth of the feelings, certain lighting states.
ALEX: It’s not funny.
MICHAEL: Not in the least.
ALEX: The road ahead of me is a rocky one.
MICHAEL: If you know it, you can prepare yourself.
ALEX: This era has no need for visions.
MICHAEL: Tell me.
ALEX: What do you want me to tell you.
MICHAEL: About your vision.
ALEX: It’s not something that can be summed up in words. Maybe only in pictures.
MICHAEL: I used to go to the movies a lot.
ALEX: Sure, but you can’t watch films in the cinema.
ALEX: I watch films at home. I want to be able to analyze the scenes, rewind, get into the découpage.
MICHAEL: Into the what.
ALEX: How the film’s been edited.
MICHAEL: You approach it in a pretty analytical way.
ALEX: If you say so.
MICHAEL: But you’re missing out on the whole experience. Getting excited when the lights go down. Getting annoyed by the ads.
ALEX: Well I’m not watching films for pleasure. I want to learn, understand the tricks.
MICHAEL: Sounds like hard work.
MICHAEL: But making films is fun for you.
ALEX: Not at all.
MICHAEL: And you do it anyway.
ALEX: Aren’t you familiar with that. Having to do something even though it won’t allow you to eat or sleep, and even though it hangs over you like a big black cloud.
MICHAEL: There’s a big black cloud hanging over you. Super.
ALEX: Not when I’ve finished a project.
MICHAEL: Well thank heavens for that.
ALEX: But I can’t stand it for long.
MICHAEL: You need your cloud.
ALEX: I need that total immersion. That perfect surrender.