For Kader El-Janabi: “The French Connection” - [*The following short essay & poem were commissioned a decade ago for publication in Kader El-Janabi’s short-lived magazine,* Arapoetica de la Poésie Int...
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I. Revenge of the Volkswagen?
A long day of location scouting began with the consolidation of cars. We met at O'Connell's Pub. Laurent Torno III and I were chatting about the movie we are making when Dawn Majors arrived.
We were discussing the vintage car we need for the picture. A '50s Volkswagen I could borrow for free had been supplanted by a more appropriate $200 rental '40s American model. I was left alone in my own Volkswagen as Dawn and Laurent shuttled their cars into the surrounding neighborhood, where I would pick them up.
But, suddenly, my car wouldn't start. The key wouldn't turn in the ignition.
Jiggling the steering wheel, an old ignition trick, I managed to lock the steering wheel to the far right. I thought a push-start might free up the ignition and steering. Given where I was parked, and the hard right position of the locked steering wheel, I would not have much space, once the car pop-started - to break before crashing into the pub.
Bad in any event, this would be made worse by the fact that O'Connell's is the family pub of a Poetry Scores board member and actor in the film, John Parker. In fact, we were meeting there that morning because the family pub was hosting a shooting launch dinner for the cast and crew at the end of the day.
After I called Dawn and Laurent back to push my car toward the pub, and while I was considering how little space I would have to start the car yet not hit the pub, into that narrow zone between Volkswagen and O'Connell's slid a delivery truck.
Now there would be no way to get up enough velocity to pop-start the car before we pushed it into the delivery truck - or the delivery men unloading product on a hot July St. Louis Saturday morning.
The delivery men declined moving the truck until we solved our problems: They were on a tight delivery schedule.
Dawn and Laurent conferred. Managing battery power for their cameras is a constant concern for them. Perhaps for this reason, they suggested it might be a drained car key battery. So off they went with my car key to get me a car key battery.
Then I put my hands on my hips. I detected what seemed to be a car key in my pocket. It was a car key.
It was a car key, it fit right into my ignition, and indeed it started the car. How did I have my car key, of Dawn and Laurent had my car key? Obviously, Dawn and Laurent were on their way to the battery store with the car key to my wife's Volkswagen, not mine.
I called them back. After all due explanations, apologies and calls home, we were off to scout locations in my car. "Remember," I told Laurent, "my car - a Volkwagen - froze up on us right after we were talking about taking the vintage Volkswagen out of the movie. I consider that an omen ..."
To be continued.