Bill Tremblay


Diego jams a champagne bottle like maracas in a silver ice bucket.
On studio walls, blue cacti like winnowing hands of the dead
sprout from earth to beseech the sky.
               Doorbell chimes.
When he opens it, there stands Paulette Goddard,
a small radiant woman in white summer dress, big garden-party hat.
She hands him an envelope: —From Gershwin.
What are you doing in Mexico? ripping the letter open.
A photo-shoot for Look magazine to publicize my latest comedy …
               and Georgie says you should paint me.

Diego reads:  —He actually calls me 'a Latin lover'?
Aren't you? Paulette's eyes spark with teasing.
I regard the terrible virility of the men in my family as a curse.
Just my luck. unpinning her hat, laying it on a table.
But how shall I pose you?
Paulette's eyes say she’ll become whatever Diego imagines.
He dances her toward a wall covered in photographer's backdrop paper.
She gives him a down-from-under look: —Was that a tango?
Diego feels her heat, her short intakes of breath.
The silver screen has never done you justice.
You like movies?  Picking up the champagne bottle.
The gangster ones, the slang they talk, it tickles me.
Say some.   peeling back pink foil.
You have a European kisser, he says like Edward G. Robinson.
I'm American, pure mongrel, half Jewish.
Me too, I trace back to a mystic philosopher from Lisbon.
Stop, you're making me nervous.
How is Mexico treating you?
At the bullfights the matador dedicated his victory to me.
Then some jerk said the bull-fighter was an amateur.
I said, ‘Maybe, but the bull's a professional.’

Tip of her tongue between her teeth as she untwists the wires.
He settles Paulette down on pillows.
She looks, from that height, at his zipper: —Now what?
Now we wait for the magic …
Did you know I was raised by a bruja?
You see, my twin Carlito died before we were one.
My mother fell upon his grave, wouldn't leave the cemetery.
My father sent me to Antonia while he struggled for my mother's sanity.
—So you have two mothers, and one is a witch?
—A curendera who helps the poor miners at the Valenciana.
When I arrived I didn't have much will to live …
—Understandable, your birth mother was ... grieving …
—I was 'off my feed,' but Antonia had a plan.
She convinced a she-goat to be my third mother,
I suckled at her udders and became the man you see.

Paulette looks up at him, dumbstruck.
I'm more animal than man, he laughs.
She gets up to give him a kiss, but he pulls back:
Don't you like me? pouting.
It's hard for a man, one of whose mother was a goat,
               to take himself seriously.
—You and Frida are getting a divorce, right?
, he sighs.
As Diego leans for the comfort of Paulette’s kiss, she shrieks.
Frida's pet spider monkey, Fulang, has jumped on her shoulder,
               its tail long and thick as a black snake.
Diego carries him over the bridge to Frida's half of the house,
returns: —I've had rivals in love, but that ...
Diego takes Paulette in his arms:  —You move me,
               like the inherent beauty of  …
—Aw, shucks, Diego.

She looks for something to change the subject to.
On walls, indio women in blue rebozos, men stirring vats of pulque.
She points to a charcoal: —What about that?
A pig-nosed general dancing with donkey-head politician,
each picking the other’s pocket …
Where are you, in the picture?
Diego points to a grinning skull labeled Eternidad.
He slaps his forehead: —O God! I'm to meet Trotsky!
—The Trotsky? When?                       
—Five. Is it five?
—I'll tell you a secret that works with cars…
You hit the gas, never the brakes, you hold your breath,
never look at your watch … and you get there, on time …

As he heads to the door, Paulette calls out— Hey! 
He comes back, snatches her up in his arms.
She reaches down to the bulge in his pants …
O my, she murmurs in his ear.

from Shooting Script: Door of Fire