The low grumble of Crank’s Harley Fatboy Softail announces itself outside like thunder. A sigh escapes my lips and I drop a Jefferson on the counter before slipping out the fire exit. Crank is tougher than a tree trunk and my pants almost fill with shit when he surprises me. I never see him, just his long, matted hair whipping in every direction when he rushes me.
Crank hits me across the face with a two by four, loosening my teeth. I fall to the ground and he doesn’t waste time guiding his boot into my ribs. The sores on his face, and sunk-in eyes are strong clues to how Crank got his name. He has probably been up for a week on crystal. Crank smells like a wet dog and isn’t one for patience or appreciation of the arts.
“Where’s my money you fat prick?!” He yells, his face so close to mine now that his saliva hits me like shrapnel.
I spit blood and cough before curling into a ball. A ball of fat, body hair, and skin.
“The movie isn’t finished. We’ve hit a bit of a snag.”
“You have three days to get your thumb out of your ass or I’m taking it with a pair of bolt cutters.” Crank says before spitting on me and leaving me with a kick to the head.
My skull fills with static and a smile tears across my face when I hear Crank’s chopper pull away. I lie in the gravel for a while longer, waiting for a waitress or busboy to end their shift and find me by the dumpster. When no one comes to my rescue, I limp back to my truck. I find a popper in my glove box that a frat boy gave me and inhale it, instantly coming back to life. No one ever said producing a movie would be easy, if you want something, you have to take it, and when you get it, it still won’t be enough because you will need more, even though more never satisfies.
I think about Cynthia. How her dreads fall to her breasts, her soft, chocolate skin. I think about her glowing white, Chicklet teeth. She is the perfect starlet, the perfect vixen. She is the missing element.
The truck is parked across from her house, the tires scraping the curb. Her blue VW Bug in the driveway. My bowling ball bag stares at me from the passenger side floorboard. The bag is unzipped, showing its contents to the world. A slapjack, a bottle of ether, an oil-stained rag and a roll of electrical tape.
My cell vibrates violently in my pocket. I don’t have to look to know it’s Crank calling from a pay phone. Has it been three days already? The director and editor stare at me, the soft glow of the computer screen cast across their faces. The screen turns black and the movie is over.
“Perfect.” The director says. “Good call on replacing the girl.”
My lip becomes bloody and raw after chewing on it. Water clouds my eyes when I forget to blink. The VHS tape ejects and I snatch it like a drooling hyena. With the tape safe in my hands, I give them a nod and leave the basement.
It isn’t there yet. The movie isn’t perfect. We have to start over. We didn’t have enough money, the male lead was too rigid, the lighting was slightly off. Cynthia wasn’t right for the part, I should have seen it before.
This time we’ll nail it, we just need more money, more investors. It will be the best damn movie anyone has ever seen. Just one more movie. One more movie, one more and I’ll be able to get out of this shit-hole town. Crank wants the duffle bag of money under my floor boards but he’ll just have to wait, his investment is miniscule to the next budget we will need to film with.
Outside, my penny loafer stomps the movie into a thousand pieces of plastic.
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