a '40s ice cream parlor (stolen booth for booth from the late C.C. Brown's)
a moment of the imagination
floating somewhere between the mid '40s & mid '50s
Beth (who looks like Elizabeth Short)
Jimmy (who looks like James Dean)
soda jerk (who looks like Percy Helton)
Beth sits alone. it's a summer afternoon but she's wearing a black dress & a hat. even tho the place is empty she looks around. seeing no one she brings a finger to her mouth & fusses with a tooth. she hears a noise & snaps the finger out of her mouth.
Jimmy lopes into the place. when Beth sees him she smiles. he moves his right hand in a small semi-circle then slowly approaches the booth & settles in. Beth continues to smile. Jimmy looks sullen.
over the years I've written a few speeches for this play but I've lost them all. of course the woman known as the Black Dahlia was murderd in LA 2 & a half years before Dean moved to LA. but for decades these faces have been LA to me. so in the play I bring them face to face to discuss the urge for fame & the premonition of early death.
it's a 2-character play except for a brief moment when my favorite character actor appears to ask their order. Percy is Hollywood of that period. he adds layers to the play as once again he is Everyman.
the play that won't finish itself came back to me this afternoon when I read Todd Moore's new essay. in his mind Dillinger lets Todd touch his gun. in my mind Beth keeps asking me to put her pieces back together.
I've spent at least a half century considering Short & Dean & Helton. each means something different to me. yet it seems natural that I shd bring the trio together in one piece. if I ever complete it I'll dedicate it to Todd whose staccato lines slap the dictionary out of my hands.
Todd & I have had many desserts together over the years but we've not been to Hollywood at the same time. C. C. Brown's is gone. but we cd walk past what's left of the Florentine Gardens. the smell of the dahlia wafts down from its neon sign. & if we wear the shoes without holes we cd keep walking all the way to Griffith Observatory where Dean & a knife made movie history.
"dreaming the dream." Beth & Jmmy both did. & their halting dialog keeps playing in my head. so I dream their dreams & they become mine.