He lived in an apartment near the UN, where he worked as a data analyst and lived with a woman who was an authority on the nutritional value of rice. She often traveled, but he did not. He occasionally borrowed his cousin’s old Toyota in the summer and drove to visit friends and cousins on Long Island or in New England, so driving was half familiar, but, standing in line before the Hertz counter, he began to feel as if he were in a movie. They liked movies, and they often went in the evening to a neighborhood theatre with a mind-swallowing screen and sound more real than real. Then the car itself generated images: a view of the world behind him appeared when he backed; warning images of passing cars flashed on its side-view mirrors.
He had agreed with his partner to meet at a tropical resort half way between New York and a desperate nation she was patiently counseling. The driveway to the resort swept on into what might have been a jungle if it had not been manicured. He parked and walked up to entrance, which was open to the breezes. Two-story stucco Doric columns loomed at once grandiose and unreal, like a movie set. He thought a character in a movie would need to be following a plot to enter this resort. If he were the character, what urgent goal would he be pursuing or fearful outcome avoiding? If it were to meet his partner, what would they conspire to accomplish? What dark figures would thwart them? Seeing his name on the clerk’s screen seemed like some one else’s experience. His partner’s plane was later in the day. A needlessly glamorous young woman gave him a map to guide him to his room in the labyrinthine resort, which was made up of room blocks arranged at random angles like discarded Legos. Mirrors reflected everywhere. He came out onto a curving balustrade a quarter of a mile around that held a vast swimming pool it its mouth with columns like teeth. He began to imagine where the lenses would lurk for this scene. Where the spindly rails that guided the tracking cameras? Might the director even use drones? Did directors use drones yet? When he eventually found his way to his room, putting his cloths in drawers and shelves seemed like setting aside parts of himself for use in future scenes. He went out to a balcony and watched palm trees with snaky trunks shuffling their leaves in the breeze. He felt himself for the moment in South Pacific or even something by Werner Herzog. As he lay on his bed reviewing UN data, he wondered what actor would play his partner, Isabelle Huppert perhaps. He heard her open the door. He stood to meet her. She was smiling enthusiastically and lifted her arms out to embrace him. He looked into her expectant eyes and wondered what actor she was seeing.
Image via Dirk Van Nouhuys