There was an entire block in the northeast corner of Los Angeles which lied.
They awoke, and all day they lied. They went to the corner Starbucks for their morning espresso, and over cigarettes they sat and lied. Over the course of their days they would come and go from the Starbucks, feigning vast schemes to be realized in the entertainment industry, commercial real-estate and medical science. One would take up where the other left off, proffering complex theories strung together by tenuous conjectures and their attendant obfuscations as proof of these elaborate offscreen machinations.
Rollo was especially adept, and was the de-facto prince of the morning press. His upcoming documentary on the struggle for autonomy amongst the poor in the rural Appalachians was rapidly gaining ground as the most important document on the subject in recent memory. Rollo would arrive every morning at 9, the crowd always looking hard to see any telltale signs of letters from his agent or distributor tucked into his worn copy of John Fante’s “Dreams of Bunker Hill”. There was always a real sense of concern in the crowd, what would strike Rollo’s fancy today? Who would prick his ire? For several weeks running Rollo had pushed his agenda to loosen guidelines and submission standards for the cannes film festival. Having had a film in competition there, he was obligated to filmmakers on the other-side of that wall. Hoping to offer them a better chance than the one offered to him, one that first he scoffed at, and latter drove into the ground under his heel, having beaten all the odds and predictions that he was just another face in the crowd. His success at cannes earned him distinction as “an important voice from the dark underbelly of the american working poor”, but it came with its price, he had never had a spare moment since. People looked to him, he was no longer able to amble through the world as he once had, a face in the crowd, no plans but for what was in-front of him, no desires other then what passed through his head at that moment. Being a folk icon was hard work.
That fateful morning he approached the Starbucks by an usual route, he could not put his finger on it, perhaps it was just the jacarandas in blossom, and he sought a few more moments in their musk and splendor. He ordered his espresso and proceeded outside– one of the barristas would bring it to him. He was meet by the usual crowd, and happy to see she was once again there. A regular for the past two weeks, she was an ingenue from the prairie states, housesitting at an uncle’s in the hills. To the group she brought great authenticity and feeling, something which stirred Rollo deeply.
Rollo began where he had left off the previous morning, the subject of his New York distributor refusing to let go of his negative, after they had used all the tricks in the book to wrest it away from him in the name of getting the message out to the world. The consensus among the group was strangely unanimous, Rollo had been taken by “the man”; what he should do was up for grabs. Rollo professed that having had it stuck to him so often this felt good, and proposed a deliberate cool off period, where options where reviewed and policy readjusted. Someone in the crowd suggested a face off with the distributor, weren’t they out for the film-market in June? Someone else offered their frequent flier miles for a plane ticket.
Rollo reminded the crowd that desire was pain, the more that he wanted to fly out to New York and punch his distributor in the nose and take back the print, the more he ruined the chance of it happening by muddling his mind with anger and pride. The crowd was mostly sympathetic, even the ones who disagreed he felt he had gotten to come round a bit. Rollo felt their judgment and their faith (in him), saw these feelings rolling like the sea, and somehow he was just above all of it, when he saw the tear form in the corner of her eye.
He was not sure what happened in any particular order after that. Just the tear, her tear. It felt like eternity had come into his head at that moment and the whole course of events in the universe, both past and present and future existed there in a single point. He inhabited every life and every breath of everyone who lived or ever will, and all he could see for those eternity of life times was her tear.
His nemesis had arrived at some point, and capitalizing on Rollo’s obviously compromised state, offered up a friend’s sublease in brooklyn for the month. Rollo was still unsure if someone had professed to having a cousin who was the distributor’s legal counsel, who would see him monday morning, or if it all was a dream. The only thing for certain was her tear.
He thought it funny as he walked away from the Starbucks, never to return till he had made the film, that he had not even thought to ask her name.