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October 2018, vol 14 no 3

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Charles Tarlton,

Mise en scène: A Cinematic Tanka Prose

FADE IN:

EXT. BEACH – MORNING

CHARLEY, an emaciated man of thirty, dressed only in boxer shorts, sits cross-legged on the bare sand, listening to the waves.

In the foreground, an OLD MAN sets up a folding table, a beach umbrella, and a chair. He places a black portable typewriter and a ream of paper on the table.

The CLAPPER LOADER steps into the scene, raises his clapper board. The WORDS – “Beach, Morning, Take three” appear.

The clapper snaps down – BANG.

CLAPPER LOADER

now the scene’s been set
a scene of writing, the scene
a writer’s waiting
in the wings, waiting for words
to fly - “lights, camera, action!”

The Clapper Loader steps out of the scene.

OLD MAN
Ready?

CHARLEY
Do I have to go through this again?

OLD MAN
It’s our last chance, Charley.

EXT. BEACH – LATE AFTERNOON

Charley sits at the table and types rapidly, nodding his head demonically. He is MUMBLING and HUMMING as he types.

CLAPPER LOADER (V.O.)

a river of words
gravity seems to beckon
downhill. The writer
strains to remain afloat. Look!
he’s surfing in the torrent.

CHARLEY
A river of metaphors and we’re all drowning.

As each page is finished, Charley pulls it violently from the machine and throws it aside.

The Old Man rushes to pick up the pages and shoves them into a manila folder.

OLD MAN
This is so great, Charley!

He picks up another sheet, reads it to himself, and then reads it out loud.

OLD MAN

“Secret is the sleeve
that is pulled inside-out.”
          (looks to the heavens)
Jesus, Charley! Where do you get
this stuff?

CLAPPER LOADER (V.O.)

a mysterious
sleeve that some wore on their hearts
as spiders wove it
then it was pulled by the cuff
inside-out, revealing tears

Charley types faster and faster, throwing pages out so quickly now that the Old Man can’t keep up. The wind begins to blow them away.

The Old Man is frantic, running after the blowing pages, even as more and more come out of the typewriter.

OLD MAN
Come here, you! Come here!

The sun is going down. The Old Man’s image slowly fades.
Charley fades away too, but the typewriter continues to CLACK.

The Clapper Loader appears, and reads his lines from a copy of the shooting script.

CLAPPER LOADER

the music of words
once played on rubber platens
like shadows erased
by the light, leave impressions
in the mind, but only the mind


EXT. BEACH – NIGHT

There is only darkness now, nothing can be discerned, but the sound of loud typing and Charley laughing hysterically.

CHARLEY (O.S.)
I’m locked in now.

OLD MAN (O.S.)
Charley! Charley!

FADE OUT


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