Monday, September 13

We are standing in a suburban strip mall parking lot shooting and Educati-FUN video. This one is about Gang Warfare. The idea is that one child joins a gang, and he's all happy to be accepted at first, but then the other gang decides they want him on their side, so they fight for him. We've shot everything except the final climactic and tradgic fight sequence in the suburban strip mall parking lot.

So we've got several kids hooked up with squibs (small explosives hidden under the clothing to simulate gun shot wounds and spurting blood) and a group of mean-looking boys with automatic weapons and machine guns. The scene starts out with the two gangs, the Blue Gang and the Red Gang facing off in the parking lot with the one kid they both want in the center. They are supposed to yell at each other for a little while then start shooting.

And everything is set up and ready to go. I yell action and the camera starts rolling.

The mean kids yell at each other for a little while. "He's on our side!" one yells. "Yeah, right, dick-stain! He's with us now," another yells. "No!" "Yeah huh." etc.

From behind the camera I make a signal and they start firing their weapons. I push a trigger detonating the squibs and all the little kid bystanders explode in fountains of blood. It's beautiful and poetic. A ballet of agony and death.

And just at the most critical point of everything, when the kids are falling and screaming with all their Acting, those three monster friends of Mr. Happy Puppet Head's walk into the shot and start kicking and poking at the kids and standing right in front of the camera and blocking everything. The one with the tentacles picks one of the kids up and starts tossing her back and forth with the big claw-headed monster. They ruin everything. It took hours to set that up and we don't have anymore squibs or fake bullets and the kid's parents are here and waiting to take their bloody sons and daughters home.

"Mr. Happy Puppet Head?" I call. He's over by the craft service table eating some cookies.

"Yeah?" he doesn't turn to look at me, his mouth full of cookie.

"Could you come here a second?"

He bobbles over, crumbs all over his furry red floating face. "What's up?"

"Your friends. What's up with you inviting them?"

"Oh, we were just hanging out while you were busy. Before we go on and do that final speach about the kids not being in gangs. But I'm ready now, you wanna do it now? Let me grab some juice first."

"They ruined everything. We're done today. No more final speach."

"Really? I got my part memorized." We stare at each other for a moment.

"I want you to stop hanging out with those monsters." I hate saying stuff like this. I'm not his grandpa.

"You're not my grandpa. I can do what I want," he says. "Anyways, they're cool. They just mess stuff up sometimes. Not their fault."

I turn around and watch as the three monsters stomp and spit on the camera that they've knocked over onto the pavement into a pool of fake blood.

"They are destroying everything important in my life, Mr. Happy Puppet Head. "

"Well sorry." And he bobbles off to laugh with his friends.

There are only a few kids left, their clothes tattered and dripping red. They keep their distance from the monsters, scared they'll get tossed around, too. "Come here, kids." I wave them over to me and we go sit under a skinny tree sitting near the entrance to the lot. We wait for their parents. One by one they are picked up and I thank the mother's for letting us borrow their children. And then I take the bus home, by myself, to an empty and dark house.

I miss my bed, the bed those stupid monsters ate last week. I curl up in the corner on the hardwood floor of my room, wrapping my cape around me tight.

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