A storm wrecked a filmmaker’s set and will ruin him unless his ex-lover rides to the rescue. 4,758 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.
“Don’t look sullen, David.”
“Sullen? I was shooting for serene.”
Even at 40 — with her loose-fit trousers and black ankle boots brown with dust — Kay Winters was still the image of glamour. Though she was never fodder for People or Us Weekly, candid shots of her alongside her more famous friends appeared regularly in red carpet feeds during awards season.
Best he could, he’d maintain an outward calm. He was David fucking Pierce. A grown man. Forty-four years old but still the Comanche Kid.
He had hoped a phone conversation would suffice. He hadn’t wanted to see her, and he knew she hadn’t wanted to see him. Nonetheless, she’d told him that if she was going to humor him, if she was going to even consider rescuing his movie, well, she had to see the shit show. For one thing, she had to make sure he was really working. Had to make sure he wasn’t just wasting away on booze in his Laurel Canyon condo. Wouldn’t be the first time, after all. Another drunk Indian. What if he had a needle in his arm? A rope around his neck? What if he was just trying to milk her before checking out, making it look like she was financing a debauched suicide? The media would love that.
She had mused over the hypotheticals. Had made him bring her up to speed on the picture in detail. Had insisted on seeing his proposed budget, his actual expenses, his personal account holdings. She had reviewed his casting choices and cinematographer — an Austin transplant who’d assisted Malick — and had even read the script. A rigorous woman. A ruthless woman, same as ever. He used to love her for it. Now here she was in the flesh, nosing in. Bearing the heat. Staring out at the desert, inspecting the galleys, the proofs, the kerning, frowning at the crafty table where there used to be snacks and refreshments and where now there was only water in enormous insulated jugs and paper cups and a husk of snakeskin. A shedding. A strange decoration that someone had found and thought would make a good prop — or maybe a memento. God knew.