Read. Write. Repeat. Aspire to be a Janitor.
We were gods among men. The ever spitting, moaning from hangovers, time stopping deities. Where everyone saw lines, we saw wiggles. Where we saw rainbows, everyone else saw blue. We were the universe looking back at itself through kaleidoscopes. My name is Tommy Turvey and I’m an extra.
The movie industry is a money making representation of the cosmos. You have your main actors and actresses and they are the planets in our solar system. The sun is the movie; if it weren’t for the sun, the planets would be shrouded in darkness.
Then, there are the extras: the backdrop. We are the tiny stars, light-years away, yet so close you feel that you can reach out and grab a handful.
And a handful we were.
Herded from our sheep pen of a staging tent to the set and back again, we were the universe in flux. Forever expanding and contracting in waves of orgasmic ecstasy. That ecstasy would lead all of us to the end of the week when our meager compensation would be handed to us in a simple white envelope.
It was Saturday night, again. We found ourselves waddling down Glenwood Avenue in downtown Raleigh. Drunk off of youth and high off of life, Mark who was swinging around a light pole with the words “Ashley Artiguez is the best!” graffitied in sharpie on the side, hummed the tune of “Singing in the Rain.” I grabbed the paper bag from Neal’s clenched fist.
“But the state of affairs,” I continued in a mock posh tone, “shows us that we will all soon die from cancer, heart disease, or a random shooting. What do you think would happen if a grand conspiracy killed off all the movie stars?”
Mark, still swinging from post to post yelled back, “What did the Greeks do when they found out that there wasn’t an Olympus?”
Neal chimed in, “Or how did the Christians react when Jesus was killed?”
The public would hide away in tiny hovels, scared for their lives without their gods. Those gods were nothing more than demiurges compared to the Kronoses and Atums of directors and producers. Screenwriters are the muses and fates predestining and controlling the desires of our society. Of course, you have to put a ruggedly handsome face and a pair of sexy legs to sell and distribute the high gods’ agenda.
Before I had a chance to respond, Mark took the initiative. “We extras are the true gods. We make the movie. The ancients care nothing for the film as art. They want sacrifice; they want homage.”
“But we don’t need the money, the fame, the parties,” I said. It was true. The three of us inherited our fortune from our parents and grandparents. We spent our time flying from one movie set to the next. The big shot actors didn’t know us. The directors never paid any attention to who their extras were.
We were the unseen face. Were were the pedestrians. Were were the passengers on the ferry. We were the human decor.
Neal continued our thought, “In us they live and move and have their being.”
Walking up the sidewalk toward us was Venus. Renee Nihila was an up and coming actress. Her big break was the role as the leading lady in the movie we just finished–and I had fallen in love.
I took a gulp from the brown bagged bottle and shoved it into Neal’s hand. I was going to talk to her; I had to.
Her every step was that of Aphrodite, graceful, beautiful, intoxicating. Narcissus would have abandoned his image in the still pool for her. The cool summer evening breeze gently weaved through her dark hair. Time was growing slow as she came closer and finally stopped as she turned her body to make her way past me and Mark.
In the stillness, I said her name, “Hey Renee.”
She smiled to herself, not looking at me. She sighed a reply and kept on walking. I was Echo and Glenwood South was the forest.
I had turned fully around and staggered slightly as I watched her continue on her precious starlet way.
Mark threw his arm around my neck. He reached out and pointed at Renee with the bottle. “We’re all just meat-props in each other’s wet dream…”
“How the hell did she end up in mine?” I finished.
We were the forlorn gods of our generation, burning bright into the night to be forgotten when the sun rose the next morning.
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