i was the camera
i was the camera and i was shooting everything in black and white film-stock. my lens traveled uncut through an afternoon party. it was the late 1930's or early 40's and all the men wore suits and the women wore gowns. the depth of texture and the preciseness of the silhouettes was dazzling. not a hair out of place and all the make-up was impeccable. it was a visual wonderland to me. i began to pan in for close-ups and i soon found the young and laughing faces of sinatra, brando, grant, montgomery clift, james dean and other idols. they were telling dirty stories and making each other laugh until tears fell from their eyes. i panned back to see where i was and found a grand mansion with sprawling grounds. white gloved staff moved through the house and garden offering drinks and finger food from silver trays. i moved in to get a closer look at the cluster of old people overlooking the whole event from a balcony. their conversation was cold and judgmental. shortly it was clear that their primary focus was on claudette colbert. she was the heiress and this was a soiree to present potential husbands.
i was claudette colbert, looking through my eyes now and everything was in technicolor. i felt detached and uncomfortable to be there. i knew the point of the party and was repulsed by it. i had agreed to attend only after weeks of emotional protest had worn me down. the responsibility to my family's wealth was like iron chain on me. my eyes were drawn to a young clark gable. he was not a movie star, but an acrobat. he had been hired to wow the crowd and his silent gaze drew me to him like a magnet. 'i can take you above all this.' he whispered. i followed his eyes to the apex of the roof. 'come with me, i won't let you fall'. like a sleepwalker i let him take my hand a guide me. soon we were scaling the roof. 'just do what i tell you and you will be safe.' i felt i had nothing to lose and let myself go entirely in the moment.
black and white again, i was the camera. i tightened in on gable's face and saw total control and concentration. i knew the audience would trust him too. he pressed his face against the point of the roof and lifted his body above his head with strength and perfect balance. the party goers were mostly looking up now and whoops could be heard from the ground below. a kind of smug satisfaction emanated from the balcony holding the old people. it was an ugly satisfaction born of the warped knowledge that money could be traded to make people with less of it risk their lives for your amusement. gable reached for a chair and expertly guided it up to balance on his feet. 'ahhhs...' could now be heard. gabel reached his hand out for colbert.
technicolor/ i took his hand and stepped gingerly on his body until i had climbed into the seat of the chair. the wind blew softly and i tilted up my chin for a closer look at the sky. i felt free for the first time ever. i felt happy.
black and white/ panicked orders and screaming originating from the balcony and traveling in a jagged line across the lawn and up the roof to a rock solid gable. soon hands were grabbing at him and trying to clutch colbert. 'no you fools! let me bring her down! don't touch me!' said gable through clenched teeth. but the hands clawed and soon colbert was toppled and bumping on her bottom down the roof. the screaming was panicked and loud now. colbert was whisked away and gable was left with a ragged purchase only able to look helplessly after her.