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:::SCENE: STATIC!!! An image appears. Filmed sometime in the nineties on VHS with the use of a less than moderately priced camcorder. While the quality lacks the High Def of today’s video, it is not grainy. A young woman sits in the dining booth of an RV. She is brushing her long light brown hair. Her complexion is clear and pale, her cheeks have pinkish hue. She wears a bland as plain toast cream colored dress, which looks to be made of muslin.
The voice of a seven year old Gilda Ockelman is heard.::::
GILDA: Mama. Wave to me, mama.
::::Gilda’s Mother smiles a warm smile at her daughter. It’s a smile that brightens a room. Gilda’s mother looks into the camera with her wide amber colored eyes and waves.::::
GILDA’S MOTHER: Hi Gillie.
GILDA: What are you doing? Getting ready for the “Cleansing”?
::::The smile becomes less genuine and as Gilda’s Mother responds.:::
GILDA’S MOTHER: I am. What did you do today?
GILDA: Brother Dominic showed me how to make a horseshoe. I want to be a furrier when my vocation is bestowed.
GILDA’S MOTHER: It’s called a farrier.
GILDA: Farrier. Are you excited, mama? Founder says The Ritual of the Cleansing is the MOST important of ALL the rituals. And you are one of the Chosen Maidens! Do you think I’ll be a Chosen Maiden one day?
::::Gilda’s Mother’s smile fades and she opens her mouth to say something, but resists her impulses and stays silent.:::
GILDA’S MOTHER: Gillie, maybe you should—-
GILDA: Will we travel again?
GILDA’S MOTHER: I don’t know. Why?
GILDA: Founder says if we travel again, he would decree Brother Paxton to teach me how to perform the ritual. He would teach me how to cleanse.
::::Gilda’s Mother‘ s face loses the pinkish hue and goes white as if she has just seen a ghost. Her expression is one that is synonymous with pure fear. Her left eye begins to well up and she turns away from the camera. Her sniffling is heard.::::
GILDA: What’s the matter, mama?
GILDA’S MOTHER: One second.
GILDA: What’s wrong?
GILDA’S MOTHER: Put the camera down, Gillie.
::::The camera is very shaky as the camera is placed on the table. The lens is pointed at Gilda’s mother. The visual is her neck, chest, and the bottom of her chin.::::
GILDA: What’s wrong?
GILDA MOTHER: We won’t be doing any traveling, Gillie.
GILDA: Why not?
GILDA’S MOTHER: Mama made a mistake, Gillie. A big mistake.
GILDA: What did you do?
::::Gilda’s Mother turns towards her daughter, it impossible to see the expression of her face due to the poor angle of the camera.:::
GILDA’S MOTHER: Look at me, Gillie.
GILDA: What, mama?
GILDA’S MOTHER: Sometimes we make choices that we think is the absolute right decision at the time and sometimes, that choice is wrong, even though we have the best of intentions. By the time we realize it….how wrong we were, it might be too late. It was wrong to try to take you from….to travel.
GILDA’S MOTHER: You are the most important person in my life and I would never let——
::::There’s the sound of a knock on the RV door. Gilda’s Mother reaches towards the camera and then there’s static. There is a double triangle pointing to the left on the screen with the letters “REW”. It goes back to Gilda’s fearful face looking at her daughter. The screen is paused.
The image is on the big screen television located in the master bedroom of Jatt Starr’s bomb shelter located behind his modest house. The low hum of the generator is the only sound in the shelter, which contains 5 bedrooms, eight cots, and one queen sized bed. The master bedroom is the only place Gilda could fins with a working VCR.
Gilda looks at her mother’s face. The fear. The petrified look on her face. It was the first time she saw her mother scared. It was then, Gilda believes, that her mother resigned herself to her place in that community. She would not let anyone hurt her daughter, no matter the cost to herself. Or could that moment be the prelude to what happened twelve years later?
Gilda touches the screen it’s her hand, placing it on her mother’s cheek.:::
GILDA (Quietly): Mama….I’m sorry. I wish I could—-
::::She looks at the frozen image of her mother, hand on the screen, and closes her eyes. She takes a few deep breaths. The television illuminating her face. The sound of the door to the shelter opening echoes through the emptiness. Gilda turns her head towards the door.::::
JATT STARR: Gildy?
GILDA: One moment!
:::Gilda quickly presses the eject button to the VCR, extracts the tape, and hurriedly grabs her pink backpack which was on the bed. Another VHS tape falls out as well as several dollar bills ranging from five to one hundred. She grabs the loose tape and the money and quickly tosses it into her backpack. She pulls the tape from the VCR and tosses it in and zips the bag closed.:::
JATT STARR: What’re you doing down there?
::::Gilda throws the backpack over her shoulder and walks out of the master bedroom. She walks through the main living area which has A large screen TV, two leather couches, a massage chair (which no apocalypse should be without, apparently), and shelves of sardines, pickled herring, canned mushrooms, and canned creamed corn. The Mayor of ManJatthan has been meaning to go to the store to restock and gather more variety.
Gilda’s gets to the foot of the stairs. She sees the silhouette of the King of Grapple from the Big Apple sitting in his wheelchair. She starts up the stair.:::
JATT STARR: What were you doing down there?
GILDA: It’s the only place where I am guaranteed privacy.
JATT STARR: Were you looking at porn? Is that what you were doing?!
GILDA: Ew! No!
:::Gilda reaches the top step and emerges into the tool shed, where the only tool is a shovel, a rake, and a rusty hammer. Jatt Starr swings the door closed. The Hero of Jattlanta makes a note to restock and get the airlock installed which he has put off for the past three years.:::
JATT STARR: Are you still angry with me?
:::Gilda storms out of the shed and heads to the modest house of Jatt Starr. A one story two bedroom abode with two bathrooms, a kitchen, a small dining room, and a living room. Gilda enters the house where there is a strong odor of pizza. So the Jatt Starr apology tour has begun. He knows she loves pizza. She prefers Primo Pizza, the “authentic” New York pizza (everyone know New York and New Jersey has the best pizza, nothing else compares or is authentic, its the water, at least that’s what Jatt Starr tells her) instead of the normal chain pizzarias that deliver, the Domino’s, the Marco’s, the Papa John’s. She enters the living room and makes a quick left into the dining room.
On the basic wooden back dining table is a slice of pizza, mushroom and pepperoni on a paper plate. A can of Coca Cola next to it. She takes a seat as the Sovereign of Starrgentina rolls in behind her. Today’s pizza has been brought to them by Domino’s whose box is in the center of the dining room table.:::
GILDA: I’m not mad…..
JATT STARR: It’s the pizza, isn’t it? That’s what did it.
GILDA: No. You pulled me out of my match. You had me leave Kostoff to fend for himself. All week you were talking about me winning my first match and becoming a champion. The nex thing I know you drag me out of the match!
JATT STARR: I told you! I was protecting you! I didn’t want to see you get hurt.
GILDA: Father, I need to know the truth.
JATT STARR: What happened to “dad” or “papa”?
GILDA: We’ve taken a step backwards.
JATT STARR: What do I need to—-
GILDA: Just listen to me!
:::Gilda folds her slice of pizza and takes a big bite and takes a large sip of coke. She takes a breath and continues.::::
GILDA: You’ve been telling me that you saw me get hit with a power bomb and you didn’t want to see me hurt. That’s what you’ve been SAYING. I need to know that you didn’t drag me away from the match because of some eighteen year feud with Kostoff or because he shoved you into a food table.
JATT STARR: It was an added bonus, I won’t lie. But my concern was for you. Did I make the right call for you? I don’t know, maybe not. It was, at the time, the right business decision. I believe it was the right decision for us. I’m impulsive. I screw up sometimes. It’s just that I don’t know I’ve screwed up until it’s too late.
::::The words resonate with Gilda. She takes another bite of pizza and big swig of Coke. As she’s chewing she looks ate her father. He took her in. He’s never expected anything from her, other than a paternity test, which came back positive.::::
GILDA: Three questions.
JATT STARR (mouth full of pizza): What?
GILDA: You get to ask me three questions. I will give you honest responses to each question. In return, I will ask you three questions, and I expect truthful responses.
JATT STARR: Okay….
GILDA: Mother was never up front about certain things. There was a lack of communication in certain, important subjects. There’s some things, I’’m not ready to open up about, but I think if we are going to have any sort of relationship, personal or professional—-
JATT STARR: So, the Ruler of Jattlantis allowing you to stay in his castle, rent free for as long as you need to, is not a sign of wanting a relationship? I think I’ve been more than willing. I haven’t pushed you to open up about anything you didn’t want to talk about. I no longer keep glasses in my cabinets!
GILDA: I’m trying!!!
JATT STARR: Go on. I’ll be quiet.
GILDA: After everything I have been through, it’s very hard for me. To trust. To believe someone has my best interests in mind. Mother was the only one who I knew would protect me no matter what.
JATT STARR: Okay. I’m ready. You go first.
GILDA: Do you promise me, that no matter what happens on Saturday, even if he breaks all my bones, that you will not interfere in my match with Brian Hollywood?
JATT STARR: If he breaks all of your bones, I will kick his ass so hard, he will need to wipe his mouth after dropping a load.
GILDA: You know what I mean.
JATT STARR: I promise, I will not interfere in your match against Brian Hollywood. My turn, how did your mother die?
::::Gilda stiffens. She did not think her father would go right for the jugular this quickly. She expected a slow escalation. However, these were her rules.:::
GILDA: Fire. My turn—-
JATT STARR: Wait! “A fire”. That’s all your going to tell me?
GILDA: Yes. That was your second question, by the way.
JATT STARR: That’s not fair!!!
GILDA: Those are the rules. Three questions per person.
:::The Sultan of SeaJattle accepts defeat and shakes his head as he takes a bite of his pizza.::::
GiLDA: Did you know my mother before you took her virtue and planted your seed inside of her?
:::Jatt Starr spits out his food, shocked. His eyes are as wide as globes.:::
GILDA: I’m waiting.
JATT STARR: Um….Well. I guess we’re going there. I did know your mother. We took a film study course at Princeton. We were actually paired together on a report on a film noir movie. She was a huge Rita Hayworth fan, which probably leads to your name.
GILDA: She told me.
JATT STARR: We were assigned “The Naked Kiss”. We met for coffee at a Starbuck’s near the campus. I liked her. She told me she wanted to be a dancer when she was a kid. She loved diners. She enjoyed film. We got an “A”. She was the driving force behind that project. From there, we would just say “hi” or exchange pleasantries. Then at the beginning of the next semester, we ended up at the same party. We got pretty drunk and that was it. i saw her once after that, maybe a week later. It was awkward. Didn’t see her after that.
:::There’s an uncomfortable silence between the both of them. They silently eat, until Jatt Starr breaks the silence.:::
JATT STARR: I don’t know what you were expecting. It wasn’t “The Princess Bride” or a fairy tale romance or anything. Normally, I’d mention the Starrlite Sexpress, but with her, I just wish—-
GILDA: Don’t. Just don’t.
::::Gilda stares at her crust. She feels disappointed. She heard a similar story from her mother when she was sixteen and she asked of the Founder was her father. Her mother maybe romanticized it more. Instead of a Starbuck’s, it was dinner at a local steakhouse. She pushes the memories away, she feels the burning in her gut, bubbling, the rage mounting. But why?::::
GILDA: What can you tell me about Brian Hollywood?
JATT STARR: Isn’t it my turn?
GILDA: I believe that is your third——
JATT STARR: No! It’s your turn. Like you said.
GILDA: Brian Hollywood.
JATT STARR: The Jattlantic City Icon defended the ICON Championship against him. I won, obviously. Brian Hollywood allegedly stole his name from Indian wrestling sensation Vijay Bollywood, the winningest and most decorated wrestler in Southeast Asia. He is a member of “The Darin Matthews Band”. Although, I don’t recall him playing an instrument or even being able to carry a tune. He’s got blonde hair, so if you’ve watched any eighties movie, that automatically makes him a massive douche. However, he shouldn’t be underestimated. And avoid “Dirty Deeds”.
GILDA: I haven’t smoked or used alcohol. Mother told me that drugs and alcohol will dull your senses.
JATT STARR: No. His finisher. It’s sort of a DDT where instead of falling backward, you falls forward. If you find yourself in that position, hit him in the nuts.
GILDA: I’d get disqualified.
JATT STARR: Rules. You’re always preoccupied with the rules. Fine. Twist his nipple. Claw his face. Poke his eyes. Flail like you’re having a seizure. Do anything you can to get out of the hold before he completes it. We’ll watch videos and have a discussion.
GILDA: You have one more question for me, I believe.
:::The Ruler of Jattlantic considers what he should ask. He should ask and wants to ask about her past. It nags at him. She was in a rough situation where her mother died from a fire. Was it an accident? Was it murder? And what kind of freaky deal cult was in? Did they worship the sun or moon? Did they worship boobs or sloths? Instead, he asks…:::
JATT STARR: What was the most important lesson your mother everytaught you?
:::Gilda cracks a small smile and then becomes very serious. She stares off for a moment, she feels herself choking up. She fights to keep herself together. She clears her throat. She looks back at Jatt Starr, her face flush.:::
GILDA: People will let you down. But if there’s someone you care about, truly care about, you will make sacrifices for them.
::::The Starrabian Knight nods.::::
JATT STARR: I assure you, I will not let you down.
GILDA: You better not, Papa.
JATT STARR: “Papa”? We’re back!
GILDA: For now.
JATT STARR: That’s good. Because! In honor of Brian Hollywood, our movie of the week is a film that is as exquisite and brilliant as he is talented: The Joe Pesci stinker “Jimmy Hollywood”.
GILDA: I really don’t know if you’re being serious.
JATT STARR: It’s the story of a blonde haired nobody who adds “Hollywood” at the end of his name and becomes famous. I mean, I’ve never seen it, but I‘m pretty sure that’s the plot.
GILDA: That doesn’t sound very good.
JATT STARR: Exactly.
GILDA: Can we watch something else?
JATT STARR: There’a always “Weekend at Bernie’s”.
JATT STARR: Jonathan Silverman has never been better.
GILDA: Which one is he?
JATT STATT: The dark haired fellow.
GILDA: The one who looks like Brother Saul only without the beard.
:::Jatt Starr starts rolling towards the living room and his favorite recliner (which has a few stains from a failed salsa/chip experiment a few months ago).:::
JATT STARR: Um, sure, whatever helps you. Grab the pizza.
GILDA: Brother Saul was nice. He worked in the wheat field.
:::Gilda grabs the pizza and places it on the coffee table, covering the magazines that have been there for months and only one of them actually read.:::
JATT STARR: Yeah. Can you not mention Brother Sal again?
JATT STARR: Whatever. I’ve never met the man,, so I don’t get the reference.
GILDA: Now you know how I feel when you bring up Ferris Bueller or the Cleveland Browns or Guy Fiery or “Star Trek Three: The Wrath of Sean”.
:::The Monarch of MadagaStarr turns his head incredulously, almost as if his daughter, his own flesh and blood has committed blasphemy. Which, is some circles, she probably had.::::
JATT STATT: It’s Khan! Not Sean! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!! And it’s “Star Trek Two”. “Star Trek Three” is “The Search for Spock”!
::::Gilda rolls her eyes like a teenager being asked to do homework on a weekend. Part of her enjoys the banality of mindless movie banter but part of her really wants to punch her father in the face whenever he talks “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” or “Rhinestone”. He tends to go on and on. But that rage must remain contained. At least until Saturday. END SCENE.:::