Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chapter Twenty Two: Jimmy takes me to Red River to hang out with his theater crowd

Jimmy found me in a few days and said he would like to take me to Red River where had lived off and on for many years.  He said he thought I would fit in well there, but that I should just go there and live and get acquainted with people to see how I did with the theater people.  He said movie people were mixed up with them, but they were mostly theater people, well read, articulate, the kind I would probably have enjoyed in my youth had I been born among them.
The fact that I had been the daughter of a cattle rancher who lived in a remote area in a western state was the anomaly that made the difference.  He said these people were always studying what caused the tragedies in people's lives, which is why he found them helpful.  They had reached out to him after his early demise and tried to make up some for all he had lost out on by dying so young.  He said he put me in a somewhat similar category as himself.
I had not died, but had been the victim of a crippling physical condition that kept me a prisoner in the environment in which I had been born.  It was my fate just as dying young had been his fate.  He said he thought I was a gifted writer and would have been readily accepted by the most talented people in the world, had I been in a position to move about freely among them.
 I protested that I would probably have never been able to do that, since I was a woman.  He said, I know, I know, it is tougher for women to become successful writers, but let us not argue about that now, just go and stay in Red River for a while and see what happens. 
I had been in Red River for about a week before I got into a notable conversation.  I would go out and sit in the park where I was apt to encounter people.  I was doing everything I could to attract the attention of someone.  Finally a gentleman, white haired, rather handsome, about my age, sat down beside me, one day.
"I see you are new here," he said.  "I understand that you are one of Jimmy's friends.  He told a few of us about you and said you had lived a difficult life, so he was bringing you here for a recovery period.  He said you wrote plays."
I told him, yes, I did but had very few produced.  I produced a couple myself and my son produced one and another man, one, and that was about it.
"I don't require that people be famous before I talk to them," he laughed.  "It is enough for me that you are here. I intend to find out for myself what you are about, although I admit Jimmy rather piqued my curiosity with what he said about you. Do you have family?"
"I haven't looked up most of my family," I said, "as I think it would take a long time for us to become compatible. We always disagreed.  I disagreed with practically every family member I have," I added.  "I could not meet up with one of them without getting into some kind of big argument."
"Really?" said the man.  "By the way, my name is Perry.  But I am intrigued.  You argued with all your family, even the older ones?"
"Yes, every one of them," I said promptly.  "I didn't always tell them what I thought, as some would not allow it, but if I had been able to speak my mind, we would have clashed."
"Really?" Perry kept saying.  I looked at him sharply.  "Didn't you disagree with your family?" I asked.  "I thought anybody who did any serious writing had trouble with their families."
"It's hard to argue with success.  I happened to have written a best seller my first time out of the publishing box, and they were so amazed at the money I was making, they managed to approve, I suppose."
"Oh, well, success made all the difference," I said.  "I hadn't the slightest chance of having that kind of success, I knew quite well."
"Why not?"
"Oh, because my novels were always about unacceptable behaviors.  In my first novel, the heroine marries a man who comes through town, very handsome and charismatic, who is roaming around the United States seeing all the beautiful out of the way places.  He is a very talented jazz musician, but unfortunately he is a bisexual, which the young heroine does not realize until she insists on accompanying him to the city to live, and sees him under different circumstances and after they have had four children."
"Oh dear," said Perry, "So what happens?"
"Well, of course, she decides that she can't stay married to him even though he promises her he will try to be faithful to her if she is willing to have about six more children.  He thinks it will take that many to motivate him to break these old bad habits. But she does not trust him and tells him to go.  Besides during one of the intervals when he is away in the city for a number of months, she falls in love with another man who is visiting his brother.  The novel ends with the beginning of that romance, although I hate to say it, I think she will find out he is a bisexual, too."
In spite of himself, Perry began to laugh.  "I hope you don't mind my laughing at such a woeful tale, but I couldn't help it with your twist at the end.  You really do not have a lot of faith in man-kind do you?"
"I wanted Marlon Brando to play the jazz musician," said Shadra, "I kept trying to contact him telling him about this great part I had for him.  I could just see Marlon working for the girl's grandfather as this jazz musician character, learning the ways of the rancher.  The grandfather character just loves men from the outside world and is always hiring transients to work for him.  He loves the jazz musician who seduces his granddaughter when she is only fifteen years old."
Perry kept on laughing.  He could not seem to stop laughing.  "I suppose the grandfather is a bisexual, too."
I looked at him sharply, wondering why he was continuing to make fun of me.
I ignored him and went on talking about Marlon Brando.  "You know Marlon Brando's signature movie was "One-Eyed Jacks" the title of which I took to mean he was crippled some way.  He kept full control over that movie and took months to make and edit it. So don't you think the relationship he had with Karl Malden, his partner-in-crime character, was far more significant than any relationship he had with a woman in that movie? That innocent little Mexican girl he took up with, oh, she reminded me of the character in my novel, except she was even more painfully naive. She was no match for Brando.  Her character did not carry enough weight.  Of course, Brando would never have taken the part in my novel because I was too explicit about the bisexuality.  He felt he needed to protect his career in the movies to some extent.  It was my perception he did not feel you could call a spade a spade in Hollywood.  You could all but call it a spade, but you had to fall short of the truth, so we disagreed before we ever met."
"A very disagreeable character you are indeed," laughed Perry.  "Brando is over here now you know."
"I have no desire to see him," I said.  "I long since stopped being fascinated with him.  It is going to take him a long time to become a decent human being again. He compromised, you know, in spite of himself.  I don't want to talk about what he did to disillusion me, but I would not be able to get along with him either, I know."
Perry said, "Well, my first novel was my big success, and then after that I somehow lost the hang of it.  I was never able to write a best seller again.  So success did not ruin me, it just gave me enough of a taste for high living that I could never go back to being what I was before.  I just kept riding on that one success, while of course, doing lesser writing projects to keep the wolf from the door and and to keep hanging out with the rich and famous. I don't know whether I have proved worthy of your company or not, but I find you too amusing to fight with.  Doesn't it ever occur to people that you say stuff for shock value, but if you have a good sense of humor, which I do, you are a great conversationalist.  Why you have said more in our first conversation than most ordinary people do in a month of Sundays."
"Why thank you," I said modestly.  "I always hope I will not disappoint the intelligent, even if I do upset the opinionated but not quite so bright category."
"Next week, I would like to take you to meet a woman friend of mine, Bella.  I am sure you will find
Bella to be quite a trip. Are you willing to take a chance?"
"Certainly," I said.  "I am here to learn and to meet people.  I hope I will learn something new by meeting Bella."
"You will," promised Perry.

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