The Trojan Horse by J E F Rose
Irving G visited Victor King in Daffy’ studio hospital room. “Maralinga is profoundly unhappy with the film and is wailing she is so lonely she is threatening to ‘go home’.”
“Keep her passport in your safe so she can’t go home until the film is done” Victor King snapped back.
“She is very unhappy” Irving G added.
“I hear Luna Normii, your wife, is jealous of the time you are spending with Maralinga” Victor King added. “Maralinga is playing you like a violin!”
“I though you loved her” Irving G asked Daffy who was playing on the water bed pretending he was a sail boat. Daffy responded by pulling the sheet over his head.
“Maralinga says you are avoiding her” the producer added to his curiously unsympathetic audience of the film’s director and movie star. “Cutting her. Cold. Absolutely cold. She wailed on and on to me how cold you have been to her. How cold she feels. How everyone is cold to her. How hard it has been to perform in a film where everyone hates her. She is very shy you know! Shy around people she does not know and who are cold toward her!” In reply Victor king mimed playing a violin.
“No one loves me! Everyone hates me! Guess I’ll go eat worms! Big ones! Little ones! See how they wiggle as they squirm!” a voice sang from beneath the hospital sheet.
Irving yanked up the sheet and glared at Daffy. “I thought she was the love of your life?” he asked Gigantic’s most famous star.
“I am not going to continue to play the duped lover and underestimate Maralinga’s lust for a career. Nor am I going to pretend to underestimate my lust for my own career! People depend on us! Irving G! Are you listening?” Daffy said paraphrasing an Alexei line.
Irving tossed the sheet back over Daffy’s face. “The Snow Queen has frozen the heart and blinded the eye of this particular person!”
Daffy tossed back the sheet and glared at Irving G. “You and Sneed are all but plunging the ice pick in my back! Building up Maralinga by tearing me down! The newspaper articles! The fan magazine articles! The rumors! The tittle-tattle! Suddenly all around me people are suddenly tearing me down! Accusing me of being a drunk! An conceited prima donut! Success gone to my head! Being an untalented ham! A fake! A fraud! And don’t tell me the studio can’t control that! The studios control the fan mags and the studios and newspapers each have hands in each other’s pockets! So don’t tell me Gigantic PR is not churning out this offal! And it is all tied hand in fist to Maralinga propaganda! Oh she is so wonderful! Oh she is great! Oh she is the greatest thing since sliced bread! What does that make me! Baloney!” Daffy throw himself down on the swishing waterbed and yanked the sheet over his head.
Victor King opened the drawer of the hospital side table and pulled out a magazine folded to an article: ‘An Expose Of A Fairawayland Fake’ by Tullii.
“‘His emotions are as superficial as the fake gilt on the fake decor of his fake pictures! His sincerity is as shallow as a whore. And like a whore he just wants to be loved and will spread wide his legs to anyone at all. His talent is as genuine as the Fairawayland Sign on the Northern Viaduct which is made out of plywood. His enthusiasms are as transparent as the headlines on the Fairawayland Trade Papers. He plays demigods and epic heros but is a petty coward. He is labeled the Great Lover but he is a faggot. He claims to do his own stunts but is nothing but a crybaby. He was sired in the dregs of the gutter. His father was a second rate comic who could not get out of the site of his conception fast enough. His mother was a second rate show-time whore who fucked so many men she need a traffic sign. Fans think he is a god. People in the know however know Daffy Gilbert-Blackheart is nought but a publicity manufactured, overrated, untalented, bastard of a bastard.’ Unquote. Tullii. Newspaper expose. The Zendula Babylon Magazine.”
Victor King shoved the paper back into the drawer and slammed it shut. Irving G yanked the magazine out and reread it blanching.
“Don’t tell us Gigantic could not have stopped that libel if it wanted to!” Victor King said as Irving G gagged.
“I….I….this is terrible!” A hand appeared from under the sheet had grabbed the magazine and threw it violently against the far wall. Then the hand disappeared and crying could be heard from under the sheet.
Irving pulled the sheet up. Daffy was crying into the pillow. There were specks of blood on the pillow. “Please don’t rupture another ulcer Daffy! We just stitched you up from the last bleeding ulcer. You are ice packed every single night to keep the inflamation down as it is. The insurance company is panicking because of your bleeding ulcers! And your heart test did not come back 100% good. So please stop bleeding!”
Daffy turned his face away. “Gigantic Motion Pictures Ltd is killing me by inches! By inches! A knife in the back every single day! I have been so stupidly loyal! Do you know how many movies I have made for you! Box office blockbusters! I have ruined my health! I did that stupid ‘Russian Nights’ film I loathed where I was cast as a total idiot! In incredibly stupid clothes! Trying to seduce a hysterically frigid bimbo! Which my contract did not require me to do! Just to make Gigantic Studios money! I have made Gigantic some of the very best films in it’s vaults! Poured out my talent like blood! Wringing every last drop of my body and soul into good films! Poured my very life’s pranic energy into the celluloid nitrate! Saturating the celluloid nitrate with every fiber of my being! My soul! Until it feels as if every damn movie I make for you is devouring me! All! All to be repaid this way! Why? Why?
I have treated everyone professionally! First on the set! Last to leave! 12 to 14 hour days during filming! Six days a week! Dangerous stunts! The best! Always the absolute best I could do! I have tried to be fair and kind to everyone! I never tried to cash in on fame! I have never deliberately been mean to people! I have never been a prima donut! An ego crazed movie star! I am not a bad person! So why are you doing this to me? Why are the gods doing this to me?
‘They who the gods wish to destroy they first raise up to the heights!’ Well I never asked to raised up to the heights of movie stardom! I just wanted to make films! Mostly behind the camera! Writing! Composing! Directing! I did not ask for any of this to happen to me! But it did! But why should I be raised up so high just to be brutally hurled down and crushed on the rocks! What evil have I ever done man or god that I should be punished like this! The Bastard of Destiny! The Fool of Fate!” Daffy pulled the sheet over his face like a shroud.
Irving G sat down by Daffy’s bed. “I don’t know about Sneed! I don’t know what Sneed is plotting!” the producer told his best movie star. “Me! This love affair of the century was just great PR! That is all! Come on! If I was plunging an ice pick between your shoulder blades then why is this turning into the most expensive film Gigantic has done since ‘The Savage Wars’? I mean! Two technicolor scenes!”
‘One scene” the voice under the sheet corrected.
“And the second scene in Venice. That is what I came to talk to you guys about!”
“What is this about the Italian Scene?” Victor King said defensively. “What is it you want changed? We can’t cut that scene! That is the key scene where Anna’s love for Alexis turns to hatred! It explains why they end up back in Russia! It explains why Anna throws herself under that damn train!”
“I know you have a backdrop of a dainty garden but what about Venice at Carnival time?” the film’s producer explained to his director and star. “They are suppose to be in Venice during the winter so why not do the famous Carnival? Have the Snow Queen parading into the Grand Plaza on one of those weird boats. Gondola boat things! Everyone dressed up on fantastic costumes. A ball masque. We have lots of carnival costumes. The Duchess is still here. We have her costume. Your Alexis and Anna could wear the Russian fairytale costumes of the opening Hermitage ball masque scene. But now their costumes look shabby and run down as their love unravels. And the over the top Venice costumes could increase the paranoia of lovers being gossiped and spied on. Those ‘Plague Doctors’ with their strange masks and sticks prodding and poking them as if inspecting a disease. As if their love affair has become a disease. I ran this passed Paladine and he loved the idea of doing it. Really classy fantastic carnival costumes!”
“More expensive” Victor King said. “A phony canal can be done fast but the set?”
“We still have the Ice Palace! For emergences! Costing us a small fortune in monthly rentals. So why not have people disembarking from the canal and dancing up the steps to a black and gold facade a la Russian Black Laquer Box which then opens up to the Ice Palace? Is it Carnival? Is it the Ice Palace? Or both? And suddenly Anna and Alexei find themselves in the Ice Palace of the Snow Queen. You said this is when the love withers? Right? The next scenes are back in frozen St Petersburg so this would lead into those last scenes. And we can do this newfangled technicolor!”
Daffy yanked the sheet off and sat up in the swishing waterbed. “Their love is faltering, strained. The weirdness of the carnival might symbolize their love turning into a grotesque pantomime. Their real feelings are dying but they feel compelled to pretend they are the ‘great lovers’ even if it is turning into a fraudulent show for hostile eyes. We can still do the newspaper scenes as Alexis reads the papers reporting the approaching war. But that ball masque will allow us to again compare the now fading and unraveling Anna to the glamourous Snow Queen. And it would propel them back to St Petersburg and the final two scenes of love turning into frozen hatred as Alexis begs his regiment to let him come back in order to volunteer for the war. All while Karenin is frantic to stop the war which is why he is so ruthless toward Anna. Could work.”
“Good because I already sold this to Paladine and Gabon and they are hard at work!” Irving jumped up. “As for that thing!” he said pointing to the magazine, “I will get to the bottom of it!” Doctor Kaffii came into the room disapprovingly.
“Gentlemen! Unwanted! Begone! I am here to ice Daffy’s Stomach!” The doctor held up massive ice packs. Irving G darted out. Freezing temperatures effected him grievously.
Daffy groaned as the doctor placed freezing ice packs on his stomach. “My own version of the Snow Queen” he quipped as the ice froze him.
“To numb the inflamed tissue” Doctor Kaffii said. “Bleeding ulcers can mimic appendicitis.” Victor King cringed as Daffy was all but crushed by the ice packs. Victor King came and patted Daffy’s chin. “Hang in there Daffy! Remember! We all love you!”
“Little did I know when I dreamed up this film version of ‘Anna Karenina’ that it would come to mirror my love for Maralinga! The greatest love affair of Fairawayland disintegrating into the same hatred and jealousy and murderous rage!….”