a screenplay and photos shot on location (production in Nov 2021)
EXT. CIUDAD PLAZA - MORNING
A deserted archway stands frozen-still. White sunlight enters at an acute angle, its trajectory etched onto the arches’ intrados. (Think de Chirico’s Enigma of a day.) A bike wheel peeks at the far end corner. The guy riding it, upright, both feet on the left side, weaves in and out of the pillars. The plaza hums. Not the soothing kind, but the kind blows in the wind like a front page paper with an ominous headline.
Camera glides through downtown. Store windows are embalmed in dust. Glue residue from decal stickers that had been unsuccessfully removed trace the names of businesses that came and went. Trash blows through the lot whose grand emptiness intimates an “accident” (arson, perhaps). A heavyset man sits under an oak tree that dwarfs him. He is perfectly motionless.
INT. LAS CALIFORNIAS FOODS - EVENING
Place is loud. Echos propagate from each table. Waitress brings out pozole, pollo con mole, chiles rellenos, and two shrimp tacos. Oscar and his coworkers, PAZ and DIEGO, reach for the plates.
CLOSE UP ON: dark crescents on their nails
The stain is as irremovable as the stigma. Of getting their hands dirty for a living.
EXT. MESQUITE GOLD MINE - DAY
CLOSE UP: Oscar pulls the joystick.
STATIC LONG SHOT: The excavator lowers its neck. For a second, it appears like an animal with its own instinct. The excavator slides its beveled lips under piles of dirt. A faint stream dribbles down the serrated lips. Oscar’s right hand pushes and pulls methodically, feeding it.
INT. LAB - DAY
CLOSE UP: a wafer thin substrate is placed under the barrel lens. Ira’s index gently edges it towards the center.
MICROSCOPIC VIEW: image sharpens. It gets precise to the point it becomes vulgar. Protozoa, forcibly denuded, slithers away. Ira pursues. It has no eyes, but she has a peculiar feeling of coming “face to face” with it.
They are like us in many ways. They wrap themselves around their prey like we swallow our food. They fuse like we fuck. They swim like we dance. They swell up like we stiffen.
(with a faint smile)
It’s called lysis. At the end, they tear at the seams and spill their guts all over. It’s kinda like how we evacuate guts when we, you know, check out.
EXT. OCOTILLO WELLS - NIGHT
LONG SHOT: Ira sits on top of Oscar. Oscar closes his eyes. (His mind travels far, to somewhere familiar. When he glides his hands up her waist, the sensation prompts an important memory of...oak corbels supporting the fireplace mantel at his grandma's. Ten fingers tightly grasped around the curvature, he found himself moved in the way that he wasn’t supposed to at age seven.)
CLOSE UP: he presses her down, causing both to sink. His shoulder peaks like a ship’s prow. She grabs on. They stare into each other in bone-crushing pain glory.
MATCH DISSOLVE TO: a ciliate, engulfed by an amoeba, wiggles.
ZOOM OUT: the amoeba and the ciliate, now one, shrinks to the size of a pinprick on a basaltic rock.
ZOOM OUT CONT’D: the basalt is barely visible in the great expanse. It’s a tiny piece in the mosaic.
ZOOM OUT CONT’D: Ira and Oscar, seen here wrestling, are the largest pieces.