Thursday, November 12, 2009


Pilar had wanted to be in the movies ever since padre Ignacio had set up the projector in the community lodge. She was one of the few among her tribe who realized the story unreeling before them on the big white blanket was more wondrous than telling it with pictures that could move, stranger than the cloth covering all but the faces and hands of the people, odder than the sounds they made, or where they were, or what was going on. It wasn’t happening anywhere in time or space. Not on the wall. Not in anyone’s memory. It didn’t happen, it was done.

She remembered several years earlier when the huge boat without sails or oars came up the river with those wet crystals that shocked her fingers when she touched them and turned to water when she watched them. That happened; the only thing that happened at the movie was watching the movie that was done.

It was ninety-three years later, rolling tortillas in her booth at the reopened zocalo one morning, when she realized her dream had come true. The process of becoming one of those people who did their life was a long process of absorbing the changes that began with that movie about a world that didn’t happen, but was done with planning for a purpose.

When people dressed as those in the movie began to come up the river to clear the bank where they landed to build huge buildings with the great trees they felled, she watched her people fall for the ice machine over and over again — or disappear into the disappearing forest. When her clan ceased relocating, it became surrounded by other uprooted clans in an area dense enough to make the big buildings go around it.

Last year the people in the big buildings decided to celebrate the wonderful life they carved out of the wilderness by thanking her people with an urban renewal project that turned their east side village square and its neighborhood for several blocks into a stylized reproduction of the native village when she was thirty — a sort of ethnic cleansing. Many homes were purchased and converted into shops selling mass produced copies of clan items. She was paid a commission to sit in a booth in the zocalo rolling tortillas in addition to whatever she made selling them.

And there was the Director of Photography now. In his flip-flops, black socks and garters, Banana Republic shorts, Hawaiian shirt, gimme cap and shades-on-a-rope he was directing the rest of the cast into position around her. When Pilar stopped to watch as his children and wife gathered behind her and leaned their chins on her shoulders with big smiles on their faces, the DP said, “No, no. Keep on doing whatever was happening when we showed up. I want this to be a real documentary. Okay, everyone. Action.”


Brian Miller said...

i am left shaking my head...

Yodood said...

… as am I at the myriad meanings to be taken from your comment.

Sensei, lighting a candle, "Where does the light come from."

Yodood, blowing it out, "Where it went."

JeffScape said...

Love it. 'Nuff said.