A Short Story
© 2002 Richard Katz
20 Belvedere Avenue
Point Richmond CA 94801
510 236 1865
Stealing's got a way of perpetuating itself. Like the story I'm about to tell; or the story about the playwright John Dennis. Most everybody gives all the credit for coming up with the phrase Steal the Thunder to Wm Shakespeare. There's no evidence for this at all. The phrase "Steal my thunder" is not in any of Shakespeare's plays or sonnets. But that's exactly what thunder stealing is all about.
They were putting on Macbeth one time, about five hundred years ago (when it was relatively fresh); and when the witches were out there casting spells and whatnot, somebody noticed that the last playwright -- this Dennis fellow -- had left behind his custom brand-new thunder-making apparatus. Playwright Dennis had left it backstage, after a brand-new play of his had been shuttered early. The stagehands cranked it up, the thunder machine worked okay, so they used it. In Macbeth. Now, five hundred years later, most everybody attributes the phrase to Shakespeare (you know, that fellow who was the world's greatest writer who doesn't seem to have left behind a single page of anything he wrote, in his own handwriting; just left a bunch of paperwork from his production company,.like any producer, then or since, who bought scripts and took writing credit.) Actually, it was John Dennis, who was in the audience on opening night, who shouted "You wouldn't run my play, you bastards, but you'd steal my thunder!"
It was life imitating life, imitating art.
Not that John Dennis had patented the machine, or copyrighted the phrase. It was just one of those good ideas that caught on, and somebody else got all the glory for it.
* * * * * * * *
"Good afternoon, Fancher Sure-flo."
"Hi. Is Lamar Cole there?"
"Lamar Cole ... "
A short pause.
"Let me put you through. Just a moment, please."
Dead air, then,
"Just a moment."
"This is Lamar."
Obviously a cellphone, en route, a symphony of highway sounds and automobile audio, with Lamar Cole soloing in his sophisticated and mellifluous baritone.
"Lamar! This is Reuben. Reuben Spector."
Reuben was at a coffee shop, and he had his own cell phone, but he had opted to pay the fifty cents to use the pay phone instead.
If Lamar Cole remembered who Reuben Spector is, Reuben thought, that would eliminate a lot of chit chat.
The pause continued.
"You know," Reuben continued, "the guy with the short training movies. We walked around the plant together. About a year ago."
"Oh, right," said Lamar. "Right. That was a while ago. How've you been?"
"I'm fine. Hey, you don't sound like you're at Sure-flo. You're in your car?"
"Oh, yeah, I don't work at the plant anymore. I'm on the road most of the time. I'm in sales. Hey, let me ... Let me pull over here."
Now that was interesting. Reuben could see it, could imagine it, Lamar Cole bringing his car out of traffic, or off the freeway, turning down the car stereo, maybe turning down the air conditioning a bit. It was his tone of voice that led Reuben to envision the car as a young single man's car, something like a white Porsche with a nice black leather interior, a sincere confident kind of automobile that anybody might aspire to, but especially someone who might use it to call on clients at manufacturing plants. Looks good driving in; looks good in the lot. On a young black man, it looks especially good.
"Okay, that's better," Lamar continued. "What's up?"
"So you remember me? We..."
"Sure I remember you. Reuben, right? Yeah, what was that, maybe nine months, maybe a year ago. Before we became Fancher Sure-flo. You know about that, right?"
"Uh, no, not really. Yeah, I saw the sign, last time I drove by. I don't go by that way much. Only time I ever actually went there was the two times I went to see you."
"Yeah, this is real good. Fancher's been real good to me. I'm learning a lot. It's a good outfit."
"I'm sure it is. So hey, you're in sales. What do you sell?"
"Valves. You know, the stuff we used to make. I mean, we still make it, I just don't make them myself personally anymore. Plus I have access to the whole Fancher line. Fancher's a big company. Global. Pretty much a complete product line."
"So you sell those high pressure little valves, like the ones that run like twenty five thousand psi [pea ess eye] for making chips?"
"Oh, yeah, all of that. Hey, what can I do for you? I know you didn't call me up to talk about valves. Maybe you did. So what's up?"
"I just felt like giving you a call to see if anything ever happened with the movies. You know, we were going to make those little computer movies of all the steps at the plant."
"Right, and my boss said 'Go get a camera and do it yourself.'"
"He did? I thought he said he was going to get a camera and do it himself."
Lamar Cole laughed. He really was amused at that.
"Yeah, he might have told you that. 'I'm gonna go get a camera, do it myself.' First thing he said about it after you left was "Lamar ...'"
"Lamar, fetch me a camera."
"He left out the 'boy' part, I guess."
"Well, I don't want to get into that part of it, but yeah, that was definitely a part of it too."
"Yeah, he looked some kind of a cracker to me, but what do I know? So he's making movies himself now, now that you're out doing sales?"
"Hell no. Fancher canned his ass."
"Oh. So, you were The Boss? I mean, you were the Boss of Training?"
"No, well, yeah, you know, it was kind of topsy turvy there for quite a while. But we got it straightened out. Now things are good. Real good. Hey you know, I got to get goin' here in a minute, I'm supposed to be seeing this account here pretty quick. Why don't you stop by sometime? Just call my secretary, her name's LaVerne, I mean she's not MY secretary she takes care of about a half dozen of us, but she can set up you for lunch or whatever, just give her a call. Just call the main number, they'll put you through to her. LaVerne Robbins."
"Yeah, man, maybe I'll do that. Hey Lamar, so who's making these movies, they're making movies like that, and how'se it going with the movies?"
"You need to call the person who took over for me. Her name's Bonnie. Bonnie Sorrels. Two three seven oh eight six five. But don't tell her I sent you. Don't tell her, like, I gave you that number. I gotta run, my man. I really do."
"Yeah, really. I'll talk to you later. Take care, Lamar."
That was strange.
Reuben put another fifty cents in the pay phone and called Bonnie Sorrels right away. She wasn't in. He left a short message, then scribbled her name next to her phone number in his notebook, so he'd have it for later. And just for good measure he punched enough keys to record her name and phone number in the memory of his cell phone. First name Bonnie, last name Sure-flo, 237 1865.
Reuben went back to the sidewalk cafe, run by an immigrant from Yemen, and to his cappuccino. And thought about coffee.
Coffee's good, he thought. Especially when it's good coffee. He looked down, at the cup of cappuccino the Yemenis had brought to his table whilst he was at the pay phone. A montage of thoughts and feelings gushed out of his head, loosely centered on the subject of coffee, but emanating by association, like the ripples in a pond, to some pretty far corners of his mind. Coffee is good, yep; but most of it's pretty bad. Face it, most of the stuff that's served is just so ordinary that it's ... well, why bother serving and drinking it?
Kind of like sex, he thought.
Men apparently think about sex more often than women, but that's a subtle detail compared to the more surprising pattern that he had once read about, that both men and women think about sex more than once a minute. The more surprising thing, when it popped into or gushed out of your head, was that the sex and the coffee were mostly bad.
Sitting outside this coffee shop, as he was, Reuben refrained from talking to himself, out loud. He liked to hear himself talk, to hear the words, to repeat the phrases and see which way of saying a certain thing resonated a bit. The spoken language and the written language seem to have diverged a great deal in the past hundred years or so, since books and libraries got relatively cheap and common. More and more of the culture had gotten written down, and the culture had become more and more the province of the arcane and esoteric world of books. Ah hell, maybe it was always a matter of most people not knowing most of it. That stuff in the arcane, erudite, or otherwise out of the way publications was always obscure and unknown. Nowadays most people can't even read convincingly out loud. Different language.
Like the coffee. Now this cup here, it's pretty good. Damn good; it'll certainly do 'til a better one come along, as they used to say back where Reuben grew up. But how many people were drinking a cup of coffee this good, out of all the millions of cups of coffee being served right now in homes, offices, restaurants, and coffee shops domestically and internationally? Damn few. Less than one percent, he reckoned. A truly undervalued asset.
Coffee, he mused, silently, is the opposite of dogfood. You don't need coffee. Your dog, he probably only eats dog food. He may only eat one formulation of one brand of dog food every meal for his entire adult life. If there is anything wrong with it, if it's lacking in some vitamin or "mineral" or other precursor of strong minds and bodies, that product won't last long on the shelf. By the third or fourth crazed or anemic dog, that company would be staring down the barrel of impending bankruptcy. Coffee? Irrelevant. It has no vitamins, no "minerals". Hell, it doesn't even have any calories. It has only taste, and THAT there is no accounting for.
Like --- like what? What else is like that? Sex. It's like sex. A mood of general negativity rushed across Reuben's thought processes for a moment, and he knew this wasn't an analytical thing. There was nothing logical about the connection he had just made between coffee drinking and the sex act; it was visceral, originating far from the central nervous system. This was from the land of the emotional, from the vagus nerve no doubt. What, exactly, was that all about? If you stop to think about it, .... Yes, that's a good thing to do. Stop, and think about what you're feeling, figure it out with the supercomputer spinning in your head. Your brain, it's trying to tell you things, sometimes even before they happen. And you can listen in. Your tenth cranial nerve just told you, that just like this coffee is good, for goodness' sake, and feels good in several ways; that good sex is really good, and there isn't much of it.
With the coffee, if it's good coffee beans, fresh roasted, and you have at the very least a Mister Coffee machine to brew it with, that's all you need. You're good. And in almost all of those sex acts, all over the world, she doesn't ejaculate, and Reuben thought about that at least once or twice a day.
Reuben's cellphone started whistling "Dixie" just then. A good digital gadget, lots of figurative bells and literal whistles; the little genius even knew who was calling, by name. None other than Bonnie Sorrels. "That was quick," Reuben thought.
"Hi Bonnie," he said. "Thanks for returning the call."
"I'm looking for Reuben Spector, please?"
"This is he. This is Reuben. Hey, Bonnie, How're the movies goin''?"
"Oh... Really well! They've got me on an early afternoon flight to East Rutherford, to shoot electrostatic welding on the JIC-swivel line."
"Yeah? That's swell. Super. You been there before?"
"No, that's why I'm just so pumped for it."
"That's great, Bonnie. I know you're in a HUGE hurry, I don't want to make you miss your flight or anything! I've got to tell you about this camera. You will absolutely love it and wonder how on Earth! you ever! got along without it."
Reuben paused, cogitating momentarily, thinking, "What am I doing?"
A split second later he answered himself, "I'm talking like Lamar Cole. Here I'm talking like Lamar Cole, and I've never even heard Lamar Cole speak with a salesman's smooth spiel. Hell, this is fun, 'long as she stays on the line; why don't you just keep that up? He'd listened to enough junkies and conmen to imitate convincingly at least so far the trick of knowing a little bit about the mark, and leveraging that into a warm personable relationship.
"What kind of a rig are you running right now, Bonnie?" Reuben continued. "Your Sony?"
"Yes, the TRV-866 or -666 or TRV- whatever it is. But we're supposed to be getting a new one. One of those really fancy ones, like the news people use."
"That's great, just great, Bonnie. You can use that. You know, in some shots, you need a genuine Betacam like that, with a digital back of course, and nothing else will do. Nothing! A nice shouldermounted rig is something you definitely need to take on the job."
"But hey, Bonnie, for the tight shots, the really close in closeups, you've just got to see what this little Sanyo can do for you. You know it does Quicktime, right out of the box. Just like that! You shoot it, you're done. Ready to upload. Whaddaya think of that?"
"You mean, let me see if I understand you ... What did you say you're name was? Rubo? Are the guy who ..."
"Reuben. From Gasser's. In the City. Second and Harrison. Let me show this to you, you can try it out on this trip. You'll impress those guys in East Hackensack or East Rahway or wherever it is in New Jersey."
"You know, I've really got to ..."
"Just take a minute, I can be there in five, I'm at the new Starbucks around the corner. Right around the corner. Want me to bring you something? A latte? A cap?"
"No, I've really ... well, if it's quick. Are you really at Starbucks?"
"Trust me, I'm at Starbucks. I'll see you in five." And he pushed the "No" button very quickly. What, after all, did he have to lose? If she weren't there, so what.
This woman obviously knows next to nothing about what Lamar had planned to do a year ago, when he and Lamar had waltzed around the plant. A year ago, Lamar ran down the whole operation to him from raw stock at one end to finished valve at the other end. Lamar knew the whole operation because he'd been there eleven years. He took the whole thing a bit personally, too; when Reuben, who'd had a bit of chemistry in grad school, noticed that the guy at the first station was setting one rack of valves-to-be on top of another rack, and then blowing the alcohol off the valves-to-be being rinsed and onto their cousins who were dry already, he pointed it out. In fact, he had pointed to it, and hadn't had to say a word. Lamar Cole had gotten deeply upset instantly. "I'll talk to him," was all he said to Reuben. Later on, when they were at a quieter part of the plant, he added, "He was off work, for a while. He's actually been here a long time."
Reuben and Lamar mapped out the plant, and the first station was first on the list for HowTo's. Digital Video HowTo's -- Just Watch!
One thing for sure: When the subject of making movies for Sure-flo had come up at Sure-flo any time within the past year, the name Reuben Spector hadn't come up with it, at least within earshot of Bonnie Sorrels.
* * * * * * * *
"Hi," said Reuben to the Sure-flo receptionist. This place looked vastly different from a year ago. It didn't look seedy. It looked -- corporate. Well, that's okay, thought Reuben. If it hadn't been slightly seedy, I wouldn'tve gotten in the door. Fat lot of good it did me. I got in and the seedy people picked my pocket. Larcenous bstards.
"Good morning," said the well-groomed receptionist. "Welcome to Fancher Verflo. And whom are you here to see today?"
"Bonnie Sorrels, Ma'am."
"Oh, Bonnie. Of course. Let me ring."
Bonnie Sorrels herself walked into the receptionist area at that very moment, no ring necessary. She looked surprisingly pleasant; Reuben wasn't expecting pleasant. Reuben's foul mood evanesced as they shook hands.
"Hi. Sorry to be in such a hurry. Here, put on your little visitor's tag and you'll have to show me this camera while I'm gathering up my stuff to go to New Jersey. I'm right over here."
It was Lamar's old office. No, wait, that's not Lamar's old office, that's Lamar's old boss's old office. It's neither and it's both, the rooms have been rearranged to somehow become more congruent with the New Order.
While leaning over her desk and punching buttons on a computer keyboard, Bonnie asked, "So what model camera did you say I needed?"
"Sanyo. IDC-1000Z," Reuben replied, staring intently down her blouse.
Bonnie Sorrels punched a few more buttons and a spreadsheet materialized on a display on her desk, with two rows of cells that had all the specifications for a Sanyo IDC-1000.
"That's slick," said Reuben. "Very slick. You trained that computer to search stuff for you? Like that?"
"Not exactly Search. But yes, sure, something like that. Anyway, that's a still camera. We make movies. So,..."
"It SAYS it's a still camera," countered Reuben, as he scanned the information on her screen, picked up the pointy end of pencil, and began pointing out things on the screen with the eraser end. "Trust me, it makes movies. Still camera, movie camerea, it's a DIGITAL camera. See over here, it says
Recording file formats:
Still images: JPEG, TIFF (YCbCr), Exif Ver 2.1 et cetera, right; but here it says
Video clips: QuickTimeTM movie,
and then over here it says Video clips: 640 mode: 640 x 480 ;
and then over here, it says
Video clips (per disk,approx. times in minutes)640 mode
30 fps 8 minutes
Audio recording 8 kHz 8-bit monaural, PCM.
It will make an eight minute movie. With Scratchy sound. Then you pop out the little disk, this
'730MB iD PHOTO disk (iD Format) Laser pulse magnetic field modulation recording Center aperture detection magnetic super resolution' disk -- I'm just reading this off your spreadsheet here. And you pop in another one, and you shoot some more.
The disks are thirty bucks a pop or so. Cheap.
It makes a Quicktime movie. Just like that."
"Oh, well, we don't do that. We use Real. The Real Player?"
"Uuuh, you can output these things as Real if you want."
"This is a still camera. We make movies. Are you sure you got the right model number?"
"Yes Ma'am. Sanyo. IDC-1000Z," Reuben responded, with just a bit less alacrity. "It IS a still camera, just turn this little dial here..."
"Oh, you've got one hanging from your neck!"
"... and it will record a movie instead of snapping a picture. Here, watch. I'll push this button, and it's making a movie of you putting those papers in that folder and putting the folder in your laptop bag. Now I punch the button again, now I turn the little dial, and there you are putting your papers in your folder and your folder in the bag. And there your are again."
Reuben felt the rush of evangelism as he went on, "You want some neophyte to get a picture in their head of just how to properly pack up a packet of papers and stuff'em into a laptop bag -- with a laptop -- you just show'em this movie about fifteen times -- three sets, five reps oughta do it -- and anybody who has a mind to watch it with can keep it in mind forEVER. With a little on the job practice from time to time, of course. Just Watch! Piece'a cake."
"I see," said Bonnie, watching.
"I'll bet you do," Reuben muttered. What the hell was he doing this for anyway? He already had achieved the dubious distinction of becoming a trophy on Fancher Sure-flo's mantelpiece. They had transmogrified his purloined concept into a moosehead on their wall; some amputated version of his schema and regimen had somehow become the centerpiece of Bonnie Sorrels' Training Department.
"I don't know," Bonnie continued. "We edit them a lot. That looks kind of, well, it needs some work. You know, like, it doesn't really look like a MOVIE."
"Hollywood," said Reuben.
"I don't know about Hollywood, but you can't show something just like THAT!"
"No, I suppose not. So these movies you make, like the one of station one, how long was it?"
"Oh, now that was ... now even people outside of Fancher are hearing about that?"
"You know, we just got back the audited results on that and ..." she said, punching a few more keys on her keyboard, bringing up another spreadsheet page, "that movie brought a ninety percent reduction in waste."
Reuben was about to say something, some more salesman's palaver, in reply and partly in advance mostly to keep the conversation going, to elicit the path that his ideas and Lamar Cole's ideas had taken. He wanted to know by what circuitous route his concept had been turned into what Reuben sensed was surely nothing he had intended or proposed, except perhaps in the most general sense. Movies. Movies of station one. HowTo Blow the Alcohol from the Stock, fifteen seconds running time, including -- especially including -- a line of text at the bottom telling the viewer to NOT stack the stock on top of anything except the sink. DO NOT stock ANYTHING on top of anything clean! RealPlayer can't even play a text track. How is it supposed to communicate something like that?
Ninety percent ... reduction in waste? Waste? Maybe she doesn't know anything about production lines. How could you possibly have a ninety percent reduction in waste? And still have been in business? Aha!! Still have been in business? They had been inexorably going out of business. Fancher had bought the whole business, gunlock gunstock and gunbarrel, at their competitor's and sometime supplier's going out of business sale.
"You got that in your spreadsheet too?" asked Reuben.
"Income and outcomes," said Bonnie, brandishing yet another extremely clever spreadsheet page.
"This is AutoCad."
"That's what Sure-flo had available," said Bonnie, "when I got here."
"What's 'HC'? This thing in this row of cells here, or whatever you call these, uhh, cells."
"Like investment capital? Or some other kind of capital? You keep track of 'human capital'?"
"Yep. You watch the movie, you're marked to market a little bit higher than before. You watch with a lot of mouse clicks, you're worth even a little more than that."
"So what if the viewer, he just sits there, and clicks, just clicks, to bullshit you? A faker. Just pulling your chain."
"This is all secret. Nobody even knows they're being scored."
"A secret? What kind of secret? You're telling me all about it."
"That's true. I am. But so what? Who are you?"
"You're just another guy I'm telling this to who doesn't believe me or thinks it's all bullshit. I told a lot of people. You know how many times I've heard that bit you just figured out about how people are going to just sit there and jerk off and click the mouse once in a while to act busy? Hey, nobody cares. I told a lot of people. Believe me."
"Interesting," said Reuben. I know more about it than anybody else, he thought; or I thought I did.
"Joyce," said Bonnie, wheeling around to accost her lieutenant at the desk behind hers, "what was the waste reduction at station one Herman told us last year after Craig was here?"
Joyce didn't think about this at all. Didn't need to; she punched the requisite buttons on her keyboard and read, "Ninety one percent."
"Thank you very much," said Bonnie, strangely after the manner of Elvis Presley in concert.
I wonder from whence THAT tradition arose? mused Reuben, who was beginning to get interested, nay intrigued, by this whole scene. Bonnie Sorrels had taken his practice, his idea, and run with it. She ran it into the endzone. She had, if the trappings of her office were any indication, become a Star.
"Hey, Bonnie, can I see this Station One movie, just so ... so we can compare it to what we'd make with the little IDC-1000Z?"
Bonnie wordlessly punched several buttons, some of them simultaneously, and a second monitor came to life, a very nice and well-resolved flat panel LCD display featuring a woman in a white shopcoat rinsing and blowdrying the little metal stock pieces that were to become the proud products of Fancher Sure-flo division of Fancher Incorporated, nee Sure-flo Inc; Sure-flo, humbled but still proud, just not flying their own flag any longer.
A woman; that was notable. All of the workers at Sure-flo Inc had been men.
The movie was lengthy. By Reuben's standards, it was interminable. He figured if a task took 46 seconds, the movie depicting it ought to be 46 seconds, RT. This little production on Bonnie Sorrels' screen was just getting past the credits at 46 seconds, and some talking head was now holding forth about the importance of having a good attitude. The usual industrial "safety" crap. The woman at work was rinsing and blowdrying the stock in the video background, while the soundtrack blathered on, adjusting the viewer's attitudes; and a musical score of slightly military spriteliness blared in the background audio.
"So," Reuben said thoughtfully, "this is it?"
"That's it!" Bonnie replied, with a slightly impish smile.
"So, uh, ..." Reuben was at a loss for words. "What ..." He just couldn't resolve this Hollywood production with the ninety percent reduction in waste, and no mention, at least so far, of not blowing wayward drops of alcohol all over the product. Didn't look like they were too concerned about that, actually.
"Okay," he finally blurted out, "so how did you get the ninety percent reduction in waste?"
"Oh, that! That was nothing. An engineer spotted it, in the movie, and then we just got women to do the job."
"A woman. That was it?"
"Right. Women. They blowdry. And then we kept track of what she did, and there was this one woman who kept clicking on the mouse a lot -- during her training -- and she would get the little metal things REAL clean. At least that's what the welders told her."
"Your CAD program here, analyzed the mouse clicks? Really? You just kept track of everything. You just kept track of so much stuff that ... Hey Bonnie, you know this Sanyo One Thousand or whatever it is witll take a fifteen minute movie, full screen? Plug it into that computer and it's ready to go. Blah Blah blah. Ninety percent? No! Ninety percent. Because some chick, did some random clicks."
Somewhat murderously, he thought, entirely to himself, "And you know what? She can just suck my dick." But that wasn't really what he thought, that was what he felt. When he did stop to think about it, he remembered a conversation he had had with himself over the years since personal computers had been invented, formulating a general theorem which in its current iteration went something like, "digital information re-organizes the information around it." Just digitizing any of the process had a digital Hawthorne Effect. One day you're making a digital video, and then a little bit later you may very well find yourself doing click analytics. Crescat Scientia, Vita Excolatur.
"So hey, Mr Spector," said Bonnie, lifting the camera from Reuben's neck and over his head. "Reuben. This is just like me," she said, playing with the camera, playing the movie of herself stuffing the envelopes, over and over -- fast, slow, and in between, pausing here and there. "I'm pretty good at that. This is just great, really. So fresh!"
And a clever thought popped into her head. "So, let's go."
"Let's go? Where?"
"I've got to go to New Jersey. Come to the airport. I need a few more minutes with your camera. Will you do that, just for me?"
"For the Queen of the Movies? In the Kingdom of Fancher. Here, let me carry that camera," he said, immediately slipping the carrying strap back over his head.
"The car is outside," she said, peeking through the Levelors at the parking lot, at a long white SUV.
He walked out with her. She had surprisingly few bags. He picked up his briefcase and his coffee cup in the parking lot from his car. They went to the airport in the SUV, a Jeep stretched out to be very limousine-like. The Fancher Verflow purchasing agent had gotten the company an excellent rate on this car, having noticed that it mostly sat around the livery company's parking lot on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It was surprisingly posh, for a four wheel drive Jeep.
Traffic was light.
Halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge, Bonnie reached across the seat and retrieved the camera from Reuben's neck. "Why don't you -- why don't we -- just park his little bottom right there on that little shelf and have him take a good, unedited look at ... whatever?" Bonnie said, leaning far forward with the camera and setting the Sanyo on the upholstered ledge that dropped down from between the front seats.
She punched the Record button as she set the camera down, and slid off her cotton Maidenforms as she settled back. For the next fifteen seconds or so, she inched up her dress most revealingly, then spread her lips more than revealingly, almost conspiratorially, if mere fingers could talk. Reuben, sitting to the side of her, couldn't see a thing, he could only infer what she was doing.
Bonnie leaned forward and retrieved his camera, punching the Record button again to stop it. She held the little camera between them and said, "Play." Reuben wordless punched the Review and Forward buttons, and Bonnie's striptease, amateur beavershot, and fingerjob appeared.
Bonnie was still holding the camera, and she moved the dial back to movie mode, as she placed it back on the seats in front of her. "How long did you say this would record?" she asked.
"Fifteen minutes. At six forty by four eighty," Reuben replied. "Full screen."
"Fifteen minutes," she repeated. "Excellent." Her voice sounded different. She had her hands inside her dress and was not concealing a thing as she rubbed and pushed and pulled and reached inside herself. About a minute later, though Reuben had entirely lost track of time, she seemed to lose control of herself, like a palsy victim almost, and then with a slight sigh she raised up a bit and poured forth a stream of sparkling fluid,mostly in one gush and later just a bit more. Reuben stole a glance at her face, and thought for a moment that she had passed out. Then she smiled, and said very sweetly, "You can turn it off now. Show's over," and put her dress back down almost to her knees.
Reuben leaned forward, retrieved the camera and set it up for replay of the last shot. Bonnie played it over and over again, smiling a little each time just before the end.
"I'll take it," she said. "You're a great salesman."
"I'll get you one," Reuben said. "Your very own."
"I need it now," she said. "In New Jersey."
"You ... I'll tell you what. I'll hire you and your camera."
Reuben was quite speechless.
"Okay then," she said.
And they went to New Jersey, to the Winter Castle in the Empire of Fancher, where she fulfilled her offices as the Duchess of Movies; and Reuben from that day forth was her Knight Errant, digitally filming in flawless filmless verite the most unlikely of scenes as he and only he saw fit; and she dubbed him "Shooter", and it stuck.
© 2002 by Richard Katz
Point Richmond, California
510 236 1865
All Rights Reserved