"Do you find this funny?" she asked as I turned my camera on.
"It's my job." I said as I checked the aperture and framed her bust with the background. Rule of thirds.
"Do you find your job funny?" she asked again.
"Sometimes. Most of the time I find it fascinating. Sometimes I just go through the motions." I zoomed in on her face.
"How do you find this job?" she asked as I panned out slowly with the lens.
"Unhealthy." Her expression did not change with my answer.
"It's suppose to be unhealthy. Our relationship is unhealthy." I panned to a woman sitting legs crossed to one side of a love seat. To frame the love seat or simply the woman herself. "If I confronted him and we talked this through it would mean this is a healthy situation."
"If it's so unhealthy why are you here?" She asked.
Stillness, but the camera kept rolling. "I find my job fascinating. I am asked to dwell on something and truly get to know it, study it. That in and of itself sounds unhealthy to me, but I am able to do it and occasionally get paid. I love my work, unhealthy or not."
Stillness, but the camera kept rolling. "Do you love me?" she asked.
"Yes." I said. Her face went blank. No smile or frown. "Unhealthy fascinations." Zooming in on her face. She smiled again, slightly.
"So tell me about your job." she said. I panned out to her bust.
"Would you like me to give you the camera?" I asked.
"No. I like this." she finally said. "But will you tell me about your job?"
"I learn things as I catalog them with this magical device. It let's me review them as often as I need to anytime I want."
"Unhealthy fascinations." she said. I panned in on her beautiful smile. "I don't love you."
"I know." I said.
"Am I going to hurt you soon?" she asked.
"Yep. I'm going to torment over you for a bit, drink heavily for awhile, and eventually discover something beautiful to point my camera at once again." I said. I shifted the tripod. The camera jerked to a side profile. Aperture. Rule of thirds.
"I'm not even paying you." she laughed.
"You don't have to." I said "You're giving me something many people cherish, even if they do not know why."
"Well don't expect me to let you film us fucking." she said.
"Maybe we should switch to water." Drinkers. How could you possibly trust them unless they are drunk all of the time.
"Fine" she said. "Review this when you have to."
Stillness. The camera kept rolling.
"Do you really believe in love?" she asked.
"What did he do?" I asked.
"He's a professor." she said.
"I know what he does, I know who he is, but what did he do?" I grabbed the camera off of the tripod and shifted to her feet as she leaned back on the love seat. She kicked off her shoes. "Why did you stop loving him?"
"I didn't" she said.
Slightly freckled face. Beautifully asymmetrical eyes. Mops of curly hair. Light hits in a way the camera reveals. "You want to use me" I said. I panned out to a modern reclined model.
"And you can use me." she said. The light hit her toes, her feet, her legs, her hips, her stomach, her chest, her arms, her hands, her fingers, her neck and shoulder blades, her head and hair, and the couch she reclined on.
"Why?" I asked with a streaming digital camera I could keep rolling so long as I did not push stop. She curled up into a ball within a square frame. I wished the sun had been setting.
There was a time when we altered our environment.
It now seems the environment alters us.
"He's fucking his assistant." she said. I zoomed in on her face hidden by her tangled hair. It's beautiful. "You love me." she said.
"You asked me earlier if I really believe in love." I said. "Most of the time it seems like people are desperately trying to find love anywhere they can imagine it." I took my eye away from the camera. "It's as if it is the only thing they have left. It seems pathetic to me since there is so much in this world to explore and understand besides love." I brought my eye back to the camera. "I'm always a little surprised when I do fall in love, and now you are giving me a chance to explore this the way I explore all things that fascinate me."
"I'm not going to let you film us having sex." she said.
"I don't want to film us having sex." I said "I'm not even 100% sure I'm going to have sex with you."
"Oh yeah?" Her head rose from her fetal crouch.
"Think of offering something that might explode on a person." I said
"Are you talking about jizz?" she asked.
"No" I said "but I see where you're coming from."
"Jizz again." she said.
"The camera is rolling." I said.
"Well, what is your point?" she asked in frustration.
"My point is for you to think about giving someone something that might explode." I said. "No matter what it is." I added. "Even if it is just an ejaculating dick."
She sat in the middle of the love seat with her head sunk towards her knees. Her hands vaulted strands of curly hair up against gravity to one of many subtle contours on her head and body. A modern model of grief and frustration. The camera rolled on.
A modern model of rejection and denial. The camera rolled on.
"He'll forgive you." she said.
"I don't care about that" removing my eye from the camera
"If he doesn't forgive you, he's not worth caring about." she said. "He won't forgive me."
I hated her for a moment. This is my job. This is fascinating. This is unhealthy, but still fascinating. This is something that has happened, does happen, and will happen for a reason.
"I want to go to bed." She said.
"Let me take you to bed." I said.
"It's not fair."
I turned the camera off.
"I want to ask you more questions today." She said after breakfast and before I turned on my camera. I took a sip of coffee. Two eggs over easy with wheat toast. Hot sauce on the eggs and butter on the toast. Delicious. I grabbed an apple off the counter.
"Do you mind if I finish breakfast with your apple?" I asked.
"Please, I buy them as a guilt trip to persuade myself to eat them." She said staring into her coffee. "I want to ask you more questions today, when we're filming."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yes" she said. I took a sip of my coffee.
"You don't like apples?" I asked.
"It's the texture." She said. "The mush."
"When was the last time you had an apple?"
"I don't know." She said. "Look, I want to ask you questions today."
I picked up the butter knife from the kitchen table and cut into the side of the apple. The blade broke the apples skin. Juice spurt on the blade as I slid the knife through the meat of the fruit. I took a bite of the apple slice. "Try this." I said. It's firm, crispy, juicy, a little crunchy and sweet." I held out the bit slice.
"I'm going to ask you questions today." she said staring into my eyes.
"Okay," I said. "But try this."
I turned on my camera after I finished my coffee.
"Why are you here?"
"To fulfill a job I was asked to do."
"Why are you doing this job?"
"Because I was asked to do it by someone I trust."
"I doubt it looking at my background."
"Release from what?"
"I'm asking the questions." She said.
Stillness. "Yes ma'am."
Mimosas. Hair of the dog. A camera too. And stillness.
"Do you love me?"
"I answered already."
"I don't love you."
"I hate you right now."
"I felt the same way about you last night." I said. "It passed."
"So you say." She said.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"I'm asking the questions."
"What does that mean?" I asked again.
"You'll remember. You'll remember when you found me, discovered me, the woman who made you change, for at least a little while, possibly forever." She said.
"How many mimosas have you had?"
"I'm asking the questions."
"For a little while." I said. "Possibly forever, but a little while."
I turned off my camera.
"Why are you here?" She asked as I pressed my pale chest against her bare back.
"Should I get my camera?" I asked as she wrapped her leg around mine. Sweat seeped through our pores as I buried my face into her curly hair. "If this is it, that is why I'm here." I said.
"Fuck you, sweet talker."
I kissed her face in so many ways. "Guilty." I said. "I won't forget you. I can't forget you."
"I might forget you."
"Sorry" she said.
I turned my camera on. "May I film you in bed?" I asked.
"You have to understand this is hard for me to do." She said. "Eventually I will get on with my life and this will probably not be something I want to think about as I get older."
"You try and forget things?" I asked. "The camera is rolling." I reminded her. She looked over her shoulder into the lens with her lip curled upwards and one eye squinted.
"You don't have memories you want to forget?"
"I never imagined I could forget things." I said. "I forget things, more often than I wish to, but it's not something I try to do. My job is to figure out how to remember things. Trying to forget seems counter-intuitive to almost everything I do."
"But you drink." She said with a blank face.
I rocked the camera back and forth to signify nodding. I framed her figure under a bed sheet by a sun flooded window. "May I film you in bed?"
"Aren't you already?"
"What do you try and forget?"
"No" she said. "I want to talk about you some more."
"Would you like the camera?" I asked. She smiled.
Stillness. I turned off the camera.
Stillness. I handed her the camera.
"Do you know how to work this?" I asked.
"Everyone has a camera." She said.
"Okay." I said. "Would you like to go for a walk?"
"Yes" she said. "But wait." She turned on the camera and pointed my lens at my soft pale shirtless bust. "I want you to see this." she said. I bowed my head and smiled. Average white American.
"When I asked if you try and forget things, I meant do you have memories you regret?" She asked with my camera pointed at me.
"Of course" I said as we walked down a city sanctioned path parallel to the river which divides it. "Having only good memories is a lie."
"But why dwell on them?" she asked. She jerked the camera when her skirt snagged a branch.
"I don't dwell on them." I said as I stepped over a root jutting from the dirt. She chose the proper footwear for the occasion. A pretty girl in a dress with hiking shoes and a camera. A modern model. A guy in used clothes and deteriorating hiking shoes with his hands in his pockets. Visions of Urban Outfitters in nature. Cameras. "But I know they are important. Those regretted memories are there for me to learn from." I said. "even if I do forget about them much of the time."
"We have different coping mechanisms, you and I." She said. I looked into the lens. I stopped walking. She stopped walking.
"Not that different when you get down to it." I said.
"You're pretty good at this." she said.
"Have you checked your light?" I asked.
"I can see you." she said.
"But how is the light?"
"You can change nature pretty easily with light and shadows" I said. "If you have an eye for it."
We continued walking. "May I take the camera?" I asked.
"Did I do something wrong?" she asked.
"No, I simply want to film our surroundings." Six steps without a voice. "My surroundings." Six steps without a voice. "Your surroundings." Six steps without a voice. "B roll?" I requested.
"Words are not important know." She said. She stopped. I stopped. She handed me the camera still rolling. Upon review it blurred the landscape into a smeared spiral of color and shadow.
She walked ahead of me in the green leaves and growing trees. She walked ahead on leaves, humus and dirt. She walked ahead with rays of light beaming through dark wood towers that collapse from time to time when the weather becomes too punishing. She walked ahead on a beaten path matted by footprints. She hopped over a set of paw prints which dug into the path. An animal had made a mark. She smiled as she looked back at the camera, at me. She waved her hands in the air while she walked. She spun around practicing a dance move on the narrow path. The camera jerked as mt foot caught a root. She smiled. She almost laughed. "Are you going to edit that out?" She asked.
"We'll see how it looks on review." I responded.
"This feels like a cliche." She said.
"It is a cliche. Let's enjoy it while it lasts." I set the camera down. We stood thirty feet from each other staring into each other's eyes. I sprung at a dash towards her. She let out a short high squeak as she bounced into motion. She ran and I chased her letting out hoos and hahs when irregular breathing seemed necessary. She turned off the beaten path. Crouched, she grabbed honeysuckle branches, using her arms to navigate with her feet. She swung and darted through the web of flora, the jungle gym next to the river. I followed her, grinning. She looked back, occasionally, grinning. We reached a clearing next to the river with knee high grass. I gained on her. I wrapped my arms around her and spun her in the air. I dropped my knees to the sandy ground and laid her upon my chest. We both exhaled. The grassed tickled my skin. It felt itchy.
"I feel itchy" she said.
"Yep." I laid wide eyed.
Stillness. "We should get the camera."
"Yep." I said. "Or we could stay here forever."
"We should get the camera." She said.
"Film it again." she said.
"Film it again" she said. "With your camera."
"It's all recorded" I said. "It kept rolling."
"It didn't follow us."
"The camera didn't follow us." she said.
"I can't follow you with the camera. Too many twists and turns."
"You can't follow the twists and turns with your camera?" She asked.
"I would have to mount it to something so I can use my hands." I said.
"You don't have something to mount your camera?" She asked.
"I have a tripod, but it's to keep the camera level." I said. "I film a lot of conversations."
"Sounds boring." she said.
"Have you found our conversations boring?" I asked.
Stillness. She looked up with her eyes squinted, the front of her tongue barely exposed between her lips. "Do you think it's worth getting a moving mount?" She asked.
"I can set the camera up in the field on the tripod, have it rolling as we made our way towards it."
"I kind of want the middle part too."
I zoomed in on her face. "It's going to cost money." I said. "We can buy a body mount or we can hire another cameraman to follow us." I framed only her face, her forehead, her eyes, her nose, her mouth, her chin. Sunlight cast a shadow on the contours of her face.
"Let's try it your way." She said.
The top of the screen was young midwestern foliage. The bottom of the screen was grassy wetlands. Two atoms grew larger as they approached the camera. A woman first, a man second. They remained parallel between the trees and wetland. They eventually dipped down into the wetland.
The top third of the screen was blue and white sky. The middle was young green and brown midwestern foliage. The bottom was grassy wetlands. Two atoms grew larger as they approached the camera. A woman first, a man second. They remained parallel between the foliage and wetland. They eventually dipped down into the wetland.
A sliver of blue sky. A small band of young foliage. Two thirds of the bottom of the screen were wetlands. Two atoms grew larger as they slowly sank to the bottom left corner of the screen.
Two thirds the blue sky and cumulus clouds. One third young twisting brown roots and scattered green leaves. Two atoms bounced occasionally above the bottom of the screen. Eventually only a breeze.
The sun set alone, the bottom of the screen the horizon. Two atoms under sight.
The camera framed her head, her hair, her neck, her chest, her back matting the wetland grass. It's beautiful. I rested my head on her breast filming her. A millipede scuttled along her thigh to mine. She didn't notice or didn't care. I rolled back in a semicircle, blurring the screen. I grounded myself and framed her again with her hair in her face and her shirt strap sagging below her shoulder. Wetland grass dangled in front of her lips. She bit the grass. "We need to film the middle part." she said.
"Okay" I said. "How?"
"We hire someone to film us." She said. "Someone we trust."
How beautiful was she?
How beautiful is she?
I know him.
I know what he does.
I know what he is.
I think. Think. Think. Think.
I think harder because I have to, right?
"Why are you doing this?" I asked.
"I answered already" she said. "Who did you hire?"
"Your father." He walked in with a camera.
"I hired your mother." She walked in with a camera
"Do they know how to work those things?"
"Everyone" father with camera said.
"has" mother with camera said.
"a camera" she said.
Her husband walked into the dark room. "Even if it is not digital" he said or wrote.
After the nightmare, we laid in bed both awake and still. The camera may have been rolling the whole time. I'll check youtube occasionally.
"Say the most disgusting thing you can think to say." she said, breaking the silence in our bed. I rolled over to parallel her body. I put my lips to her small ear.
"Support the military-industrial complex." I kissed her lobe. "And keep buying shit you don't need."
"Do it again." she said.
"Let children die in poorly constructed factories" I said "so you can look stylish for cheap."
"Do it again." she said as she pushed her back and buttocks against me.
"Brainwash your homosexual child into believing." I said wrapping my leg around hers. "They are wrong, even if they can't understand why."
"Faggot" she said.
"Caught me" I said. "I'm a faggot." I said as I thrust my hips.
We laid in bed in the morning sunlight, my arm around her waist. "Say the most disgusting thing you can think to say." she said.
"Consume" I said "without thinking."
"Don't think I haven't thought about it." I said.
"I don't love you." she said.
I sighed. "What do you love?" I asked.
"What do you love?" she asked.
"Truth." I said. "The older I get the rarer it seems, which for some reason makes me want to root for it all the more."
"I can pick up a bottle or I can pick up a camera or I can pick up both while I consume because I must consume something to be able to continue to pick up a bottle or camera or both." I said as I rolled away from her.
"Unhealthy fascinations." she said.
"Natural fascinations." I said.
"You're a strange wild animal."
"Aren't we all."
"You have a funny way of talking dirty." she said.
"This isn't dirty to me" I said. "I would only use flowery language to describe this. I would woefully attempt to write poetry."
"You are a faggot."
"Just so you know, some parts of your personality seem rooted in midwest America in the most delusional way I could imagine."
"I can have this anytime I want." she said.
"Maybe I would write a song instead."
"Insider" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom Petty was once described as an important poet and figure of Americana music. His music has been a part of my life since before I could choose what I did and did not hear.
"I can have this anytime I want," she said. "from anyone I want." she added.
"Not anyone" I said. "Some, but not any."
"I don't love you."
"We have work to do."
"I thought this was work. Unhealthy work."
"Please take your head out of your ass." she said. "It's natural, but not work."
"We have different coping mechanisms, you and I." I said.
She grabbed my inner thigh. I jerked and the camera slipped from my hand. I forgot I was filming. My mind was elsewhere when my hand picked up the camera. "Not that different when you get down to it."
"I want to make a film." She said. "and I want your camera, if nothing else, to make this film."
"What will you do with it?" I asked. I framed her face, then her body, then her body within a background.
"We'll decide later."
"I have other work I must do." I said struggling to keep her in focus. "For a living."
"No room for a passion project?" She asked.
"I'm full to the brim with passion projects." I said. "This is your passion project." I finally focused in on her. Stillness.
"I can't pay you, but I can pay for us." She said. "I can take care of us." She said. "I can take care of you while we make this movie."
"What happens when it is over?" I asked.
"We sell the movie." She said.
"Do you own a dog?" I asked.
"Do you own a dog?" I asked again.
"What are you talking about?"
"Do you have a pet?" I asked.
"Yeah, I have a cat." She said. "Do you have a dog?"
"No, but I empathize with them." I said.
"Why did you ask if a had dog?"
Be Your Own Pet. A band I saw during Lollapalooza at Millenium Park in Chicago, Illinois. Underage bodies shaking and jerking and sweating in summer clothes holding microphones and electric instruments. Making joyous racket. I wondered what they were doing at the time.
She kissed me on the cheek. "Where were you?" she asked. I had slumped the camera on my chest.
"In my head" I said with the camera still slumped. She pulled the camera up and stared into the lens. "I want your camera even if I can't trust anything else."
"Fuck you, sweet talker."
"I write screenplays as well." I said.
"Full to the brim with passion projects." She quoted me. "I will take care of you for a while."
"And when it is done?"
"Jesus, man, do what I do, improvise."
-What is your name?
-You know my name.
-Those seeing this do not know your name.
-What is his name?
-You said you know his name.
-You have made it clear this is not about me.
-What is your name?
-Everything is obvious, but if you want to play games I will happily play games.
-You're a bitch.
-You're a faggot.
-You wish you were black.
-Actually, I don't.
-You want an excuse to be defiant.
-No I don't. I wish I didn't have a something to be defiant against, but I can't forget certain things.
-White, heterosexual, privileged, over educated, midwestern guilt.
-Aaron is also a person.
-Will you help me make this movie?
-Will you take my advice with my minimal, yet useful experience, bitch?
-That doesn't hurt very much, does it.
-I don't love you.
-I hope you learn to love something which loves you back, eventually.
-We're both still here despite such shocking dialogue.
-Waddling sack shitter of yore.
-That's the spirit.
-Fuck you, fuck him, fuck the guy before him, whatever his name is, fucking sharp chinned, long necked, skinny boned, tight t-shirt wearing fuck.
-That's the spirit.
-Fuck men, fuck man, fuck my dad and fuck my mom while we're at it. Fuck everything I foolishly viewed on the bright side. Fuck this fucking bullshit, I'm tired.
-I want to make this movie. I want your camera.
Such a dark background.
I turned off the camera, took a piss, and joined her in bed.
"I want you to listen to me, but I don't want to look at you." she said.
"Look away from the camera." I suggested.
"I want you in the shot, listening." she said.
"I can set up the tripod." I reminded her.
"Your camera filming while I tell you something, and the camera sees it, overhears it."
"The camera as voyeur." I said. I turned on the camera. A man sitting in the foreground, facing away from the camera in shadows. A woman in profile, sitting reclined in the middle ground, well it. Behind her a window exposing a patch of moving sky in an otherwise still background. Interiors.
He's a professor. He grew up in Kansas on a farm. Growing up, his family's farm was fruitful and college seemed a good investment for the extra income. Responsible parents invest in their children when they can. Growing up he spent a lot of time alone, working on projects, cultivating rare plants from the area, singing to himself songs he made up in his head. He's the youngest of three siblings. He rode his bike a lot over the rolling Kansas hills. He thinks it looks like a desert now, not as beautiful as it once was. When I first saw it, it seemed beautiful, but too dry. That's something I think he's right about, his childhood was too dry.
He discovered college gave him the materials to do the things he had done since before he could remember, experiment. He took at least twenty credit hours a semester, excelling and failing in various subjects which either brought him joy or frustration. He ended up with three degrees: Botany, Physics, and Political Science. He has a minor in music as well.
He plays cello. He used to be a part of a quartet, but he says he doesn't have time for that now. Music brings him joy like only one other thing I have seen. I saw it when he use to make love to me. He forgot how to love me eventually. He'll never stop playing cello.
Eventually the University hired him.
I was a student there in design and communications. I was required to take a Political Science course he taught. Something clicked. I visited his office hours, asked him questions about his course. I bugged him, I could tell. I knew what I was talking about. I studied his assignments and cracked his academic code. I made him trust me, as I strangely trusted him. He learned to love it, love me, for a while.
He works very hard. He has an assistant who helps him with every little project or grand scheme he can imagine. Explore with me he silently screams with how he presents himself.
I leaned over and put my hand to my cheek. "He's fucking his assistant" she said looking into the camera instead of the dark shadow in front of her.
"How do you know?" The dark figure asked.
"Because they're perfect for each other." she said to the camera.
"She is rapt by him, his passion, his drive, his ambition." she said. "She would follow him to the ends of this Earth and she is beautiful. She's a beautiful radiant creature." she rubbed her eyes with her hands. "He needs someone who knows what to do with his drive, his passion. He once believed he had it with me." she laid back and placed her left arm behind her head. "But he didn't. He must know everything to be happy. I just want to be happy."
I looked at the camera behind me.
"She loves him more than I do, so I must harden up or have my heart broken."
"Why will your heart be broken?" I asked.
"Because he's better than me. He's better than us. Here we are trying desperately to create some semblance of human nature, while he and the woman he truly loves work to make this world better somehow." she said looking down at her lap. "It hurts. It hurts because I want to be good enough for him, but he knows I will never be. The only thing I can do is either give up or go out with a fight."
The Battery died. She wanted to stop for the night and go home to her husband. She never came back. She left her husband and this town a couple weeks later. She left this footage with me and I don't know what to do with it.
The middle part originally filmed was me setting the camera down. From the ground the camera caught my foot. A small figure stood next to my crumbling monolith of a shoe thanks to perspective. Blurry globes of green and brown radiated gradients of colored light around the small bright figure. My foot blocked the colored light. My foot shifted, letting rays of colored light beam past my shadowed ankle, uprooted from the dirt as we both moved towards our wooded point omega. Frenetic breaks in the light fluttered on the screen as my feet, legs, waist, back, shoulders, head, arms, body, self grew smaller on the screen running towards the small bright figure dwindling towards the horizon in the glowing light. Two beings disappear into the woods.
Aaron C. Molden