Night Shooting

Rob McClure Smith

The director emerged at last from the editing tent. MacPherson was using a crutch and sported a red bandanna. A scarlet macaw perched on his shoulder.

“Ah,” said Duffy. “Captain Kidd has seen fit to grace us with his presence.”

MacPherson and his DP looked over the shot list. Lillee consulted a computer, agitated over a blocking issue. More whisky arrived, different shots.

“Excuse me,” interrupted Duffy. “We have been assembled here for three hours amid mosquitoes and incompetence.”

MacPherson looked exhausted—with the questions, with the shoot, with Duffy.

“How’s aboot you take this opportunity tae git on a treadmill then? Maybe lose some of the flab. You figuring tae do yir Chang Kai Chek in the super-heavyweight division, Terry?”

“What did you say to me, you little homunculus?”

“You heard me fine.”

“Oh, come on, fellows,” pleaded Lillee. “Not this again.”

“Fuck,” offered the macaw. “Fucky-fuck.” The bird commenced preening the light blue of its tail feathers.

“You’ve been teaching it to talk,” said Rich.

“There have been countless useless setups,” snarled Duffy. “These fancy shots of yours are the equivalent of putting tap shoes on a paralyzed man.”

“I didn’t even know a macaw was able to talk,” Rich noted.

“He’s smarter than some people ah know,” said MacPherson.

“I have an eye is what I have,” said Duffy, pointing at his eye.

“Fucky aye,” said the macaw. “Fucky aye-aye. Fucky-fuck.”

“Is that all it says?” asked Rich, stroking the bird’s head. “Just expletives?”

The bird feinted a bob, intent on nipping his finger with its beak.

“I’ve been in more movies than you’ve seen, MacPherson. I’ve worked with the best. I’ve been directed by men whose shoelaces you are not fit to tie, mister. And this is all, so...” Duffy contemplated the worst insult. “This is all so television.”

“What did you say?” MacPherson was incandescent with fury.

“Let it go, mate,” said Lillee, pawing at the director’s arm.

The director pointed a clap stick at Duffy’s nose. “There’s some actors want tae direct, some want tae write, some want tae produce. This here medieval fuck’s the only wan ah know wants tae be an assistant director.”

“I will have you fired,” said Duffy, smiling. “One phone call is all it takes. One, and I will have you replaced by the genuine article. Don’t you forget it, little man.”

“Make yir call then, fatso. See if ah care.”

“What did you call me?” snarled Duffy. “What was that?”

“Oh Christ,” muttered Lillee.

“Wanka, wanka” clucked the bird on MacPherson’s shoulder. “Wankawanka.”

“Aye, that’s whit this yin is,” said MacPherson. “Well seen, Claverhouse.”

“You watch your mouth you little chanty-wrastler.” Duffy spat, balling his fists. “Or I will be sorely inclined to smack you one in the kisser.”

“Go ahead. Ah’m sick of it! Come oan, I want you tae punch me in the coupon! Go ahead.” MacPherson inclined his chin, pointing at it. “Take a big swing, porky.”

“Don’t tempt me, you imbecilic gnome,” said Duffy.

“I don’t see how this is productive,” Rich offered. “The studio believes...”

“We all remember how you were injured,” roared Duffy.

MacPherson glanced at Rich. “Ah pitched intae a big massive thorn bush is all. The spines went and embedded in mah leg.”

“He was intoxicated at the time.”

“Rubbish.”

“He uses chica like mouthwash. The poison put him into anaphylactic shock.”

“Ah wis jist fine.”

Duffy turned towards Rich, smirking. “He was raving and calling for his mammy at one juncture. Stick that in your report to the studio, suit.”

“Ah’ve had this yin up tae here,” yelled MacPherson. “Ah don’t like actors in the first place, and in the second place ah don’t like them telling me whit tae do on a set, and in the third place—” MacPherson hesitated, “ah don’t like them in the first place.”

The director threw the clap stick like a discus deep into the ceibas, retrieved his crutch, and gimped back to the editing tent. Claverhouse hopped clockwise on his shoulder. Duffy stared intently at the bare white skin around the bird’s light yellow eye.

“So Mac’s gone off the deep end again,” said Rich. “Many times is that?”

The crew looked at Lillee, seeking guidance from the lieutenant. The Australian chewed at his lip, considering.

“Someone go get that clapper maybe?” he suggested finally. “Might need that.”


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