The Shoot (Part Four)

The story I’m telling myself as Miranda and I drive to the cemetery is that I’ll be home by dinner. Considering that it’s half-past-three and Mike is still, to the best of my knowledge, in the shower, it’s less of a story than a baldfaced lie, but it’s a lie that I cling to as I sling a guitar over my shoulder and start jumping out from behind trees and rising up from behind tombstones per Miranda’s instructions.

“You’re supposed to be a rock star,” she says from behind her camera. “Don’t be so stiff.”

The “rock star” appellation is less a description of who I am than of the role I’m supposed to be playing. There are four characters in the mini-drama that Miranda has scripted: The Hot-Rod Kitten, the Pet Detective, the Rock Star, and Mama. I’m the rock star, and Mike, stretching any and all definitions of the word, is going to be Mama. What doesn’t occur to me is that a Hot-Rod Kitten and a Pet Detective have yet to be cast.

“Move your shoulders,” Miranda says. “Rock out!”

The song I wrote and recorded is playing on her phone. It’s called “Never Talk Back” and tells the story of a prostitute who gets killed because she doesn’t bring in enough money. I think Mama is supposed to be her pimp, actually. Or something like that. It’s been a long time since I wrote the song, and the seven-page shooting script, which we’re pretty much abandoning as we go along, has very little to do with the lyrics. Thank God. Or, to give credit where credit is due, thank Miranda, since she wrote the script.

And, it turns out, is a pretty good director.

The truth, I realize, is that there’s something vaguely comforting about following orders. I don’t have to worry about what to do or say. I don’t even have to run any of my “normal people behavior” scripts. I just do what Miranda says to do and trust that it will all work out in the end, so I try to play some guitar riffs along with the song and start to mouth the lyrics.

“Maybe don’t sing along so much,” Miranda suggests. “We don’t know which clips we’ll be using where.”

“Got it,” I say, settling gradually into the role of the rock star.

“And remember,” Miranda adds. “Don’t be so stiff!”