For those of you who follow me on Facebook (which could be all of you, as I don't think my audience has expanded quite that much yet), you may know that I will be making my official theatrical debut here in Los Angeles (insert applause here). Finally, after a year and a half of goofing off and trying to survive, really doing only the bare minimum of getting paid extra gigs on TV shows (which is kind of a joke, I'm just saying...) I'll finally be getting some actual exposure and getting out of my daily grind. It feels good. Great, actually.
This show is an all-female stage adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut, "Reservoir Dogs," which starred Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, and a few other bad-boys of the silver screen. If you're not familiar with the film, you can check it out on IMDb here.
If you have seen the movie, you will easily recall it is one of the most offensive and bloody films many people have ever seen, infamously known for - and this is a total spoiler - a scene (click here) in which Michael Madsen (a.k.a., "Mr. Blonde") cuts off a hostage police officer's ear with a straight-edge razor while singing and dancing to "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Steeler's Wheel. I think that scene matches in poetic nature only to the instance in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" when Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is kicking the crap out of that old guy while singing "Singin' in the Rain". Disturbing? You betcha.
Anyway... So yeah. "Reservoir Dogs" done live with an all-female cast. I have to admit, I have a thing for Tarantino's work. I don't know what it is, but when "Pulp Fiction" came out in '94, I was hooked. The dialogue, the grit, the idea that characters like these actually exist - it blew my mind, and was a prominent influence in my desire and dream to go to Hollywood and make stuff like that. It's really no surprise to me, then, that I auditioned for this show.
Truthfully, I wanted to be the villain. Don't ask me why. I guess it's just the idea of the sheer illegality of dressing up in a cheap suit and packing a 9mm to go hold up a jewelry store... well, pretending to do so, anyway.
But when I received the phone call that I had been cast, I heard the exact opposite - I would be playing the victim. That's the funny thing about QT's movies: there really are no heroes. No one is truly a "good" and "just" person. They're either really, really bad, or just human. Or they get their ear sliced off by Michael Madsen. Which is exactly what I'll be doing tonight, and every Saturday night, for a month. Needless to say, I am STOKED! Seriously! Fake blood = Awesome!
Going into the rehearsal, the first thing we did was a table read - we sat around and read through the entire script, from start to finish, just to get an idea of where we were with one another and, more importantly, where everyone was with their character.
I went home, and began a character analysis. Who was I? I was a cop, obviously. And I was captured and mercilessly tortured by a psychotic trigger-happy madwoman. Sweet. But that was so shallow, so vague. Who was the cop, really? What was her life like before she got totally screwed by fate?
Even in the movie, there wasn't any character development beyond a few lines of dialogue that maybe eluded to something about this poor sap. Maybe character development wasn't really necessary though, considering the things that we, the audience, witness at that point in time. Pretty sure the question, "I wonder what he had for breakfast this morning?" was the furthest question from our minds.
But the more I thought about it, the more I felt a little cheated. I mean, in the movie, Officer Marvin Nash (Played by Kirk Baltz) briefly eludes to a few things - "I've only been on the force eight months, nobody tells me anything" and "Please, no, I've got a little kid at home," which is probably only used to evoke even more sympathy for his character. It is said that Baltz, in preparation for the role, had Madsen drive him around in the trunk of his car, just to get an idea of what it would really be like.
No, I said. Not good enough. Put yourself in the character's shoes - literally. It's one thing that you were captured. But you sure as hell must not have expected that when you woke up that morning and went to work. Who does? This character needs a story, she needs quirks and likes and dislikes and a birthday and a favorite color, and a personality. She needs life.
So I started writing this stuff down, creating a character. It would be interesting enough doing this show, which is largely chauvinistic, with an all-female cast...but a cop? A woman cop? Wow. Tough job. I wouldn't even want to do that; I don't think I have it in me. I'd join the Army before I became a cop. But that's just me. So, what kind of woman would I have to be in order to do that? I kept writing, building and building, first just writing as though I were crafting a biography. "Marva Nash was born in blah blah blah," etc. But the more I wrote, the further into the mind of the character I got, and before long I found myself telling the story through her eyes, using words and expressions and turns of phrase that perhaps, were she sitting here next to me, I would hear uttered from her lips.
And so I bring you, dear readers, the latest post - a glimpse into the mind of Officer Marva Nash. And me. Actually, it's one in the same. I'm Marva Nash. I am an actress.
...oh, and for ticket and showtime info, scroll all the way down to the end...
(Disclaimer: All characters, settings, and dialogue are taken from the motion picture "Reservoir Dogs" and are property of Quentin Tarantino. I DO NOT own any of this stuff. Thank you.)
* * * * *
I can’t tell you exactly when I decided I wanted to be an officer of the peace. Truthfully, I guess I always did, my whole life. It was the uniform, the glittering badge, the camaraderie, the heroism, the glory… anything and everything. It was my Daddy, sure, he was a big part of it. My hero since day one. A legend. He was one of the most highly respected police officers in the whole city, well-loved by all, except for maybe Ma. But if you saw him like I did, through my eyes, and held him with the same regard and admiration, then maybe you’d understand a little more. That was the reason. That’s why I was going to be a cop.
And maybe it was those damn television shows my brothers and I always caught hell from Ma for watching that had a little bit to do with it too. Lord knows they glorified the hell outta life in the force.
It’s a tough process; going through training, finally getting your badge, all the while being told you’ll never be big enough, or strong enough, or fast enough, or good enough, just because you don’t have a dick. And it’s really not even all that exciting like they say in the movies; you think you’re gonna be a cop, and then it’ll be bustin’ bank robberies and chasin’ bad guys and feelin’ that adrenaline rush, shootin’ your gun left and right. Actually, for the first eight months, you just get stuck behind a desk doin’ a shitload of paperwork. ‘Course, it was probably like that for my Daddy too, but he never let me catch wise. The way I saw it, he was a genuine bona-fide hero, I thought for sure he was out there every day, makin the world a better place for me, catchin’ all the bad guys and puttin’ em behind bars. But when he was shot by that drunk… it felt like the whole world came crashing down. I remember going to the funeral, Ma crying – she wasn’t hysterical, or anything, she was just crying, like she knew it was coming all along. I always thought Daddy was the Cat’s Meow, and Ma was afraid I’d wanna follow in his footsteps. I was the baby, the youngest of four kids and the only girl, and I knew Ma didn’t want to see anything happen to me, so she tried to make me act as perfect and ladylike as possible.
I never was into the tea parties or dolls or anything like that when I was little. I was much more at home and in my element with my brothers and the neighbor boys, climbing trees, catching frogs and bugs, playing cowboys and Indians. They let me play with them, willingly at first, then more reluctantly as time wore on and we all got older. Ma never let me have any toy guns or swords or anything like that, maybe she was afraid I’d want to be more like Daddy. After Daddy died, Ma kinda lost her grip, and we moved around the city a lot, Ma and my brothers working odd hours in crappy jobs. I tried to do the best I could in school so I could have a good job and support my family. I met my husband, Joe, when I was in High School. We were sweethearts, he was sort of a tough guy, one of the bad boys, but never let anything or anyone hurt me. We were so in love, I never thought Ma was too crazy about us, but she just stood to the side, as usual, and let things go at their pace. We got married after we graduated, but Joe just couldn’t hold a job. Things changed, he started drinking, and our happy little nest soon fell apart. We had a baby, a little boy, my little Jack, after my Daddy. That little boy was my world. I knew things between me and Joe were coming to a bitter end, and in an effort to give my son the world and to escape from the one I shared with Joe, I set off to finally pursue my dream.
Well, like I said, it was tough, real tough. And just because my Daddy was on the force didn’t mean shit. I was still not or ever gonna be good enough because I was a girl. I don’t wanna sound feminist or anything, but it gets to you after a while, especially when you have a dream to do something, and to create a life for you and the people you love, and you can’t seem to catch a break. But I got through it, and got my badge, and I thought for sure I’d be out there doing good for the world in no time. But no sooner had I gotten my badge, they stuck me behind a desk and made me do clerical shit. Yeah, I know, it’s important too, but I wanted nothing more at that point than to prove myself to the whole world.
Finally, 8 months in, I get my chance. It happened like this: we had word that Jolie Cabot, one of the L.A. Crime Syndicate’s most formidable bosses, was getting a bunch of her girls together to pull off this jewel-heist at a jewelry store downtown. We had known about this thing for months; I heard we even had one of our people on the inside, undercover, to bust these bitches once and for all. Chief got the word that this thing was finally going down, and he was all ready to go, and I had been running my mouth for months, looking to finally get the okay to prove myself. He finally gave in, I think, and just sent me along with the rest of them to finally get some action just so I would shut the hell up. “Okay, Nash” the chief said to me, a little disapprovingly, “this is your chance. Get out there and kick some ass.” And I got up, all chompin’ at the bit, and told him he wouldn’t regret it, that I’d show him what I can be, that I’m as good as every one of these guys he’s got. I had no idea that I would soon regret making my move.
So we got down there, and I’m nervous as all hell, trigger-happy and willing. Our orders were to stake out the store, across the street. We wanted to catch this Jolie Cabot red-handed on this job, and if anything got outta hand, then we could take the necessary action – open fire on these motherfuckers.
The situation seemed to be under control, everyone cooperating. I could hardly see through the windows, but it looked like it was goin’ okay. They had one of their girls guarding the door. It was quiet, real fuckin’ quiet… and then one of the employees, the clerk, tripped the alarm. I dunno if she meant to, or if it was an accident. But the damn thing went off, and shit got crazy. One of the gangsters – a real tall, mean lookin’ girl – just hauls off and shoots her. Right in the heart. But she was real calm about it, you know? Like it was nothing; she just kept talkin’ to everybody, and then she went and shot another. And another. And after five hostages takin’ one for the team, the chief signals us to go for it, and we storm that place, and all hell breaks loose. The gangsters opened fire on us, run for the door, ready to make their getaway with the stones. We got a couple of them, I saw a couple of my fellow officers get tagged, but the rest of the gang got away, shooting anything that stood between them and their freedom.
Two of them made a run for it. I followed.
Out the back door, I emerged onto the empty loading dock, looking for a sign, something, anything, that may have pointed to their presence. Nothing. Not a trace. It was as though they had vanished into thin air.
A shot rang out in the distance, amidst the storm of sirens and helicopters looming overhead. Probably not the brightest idea to go chasing after gunshots, I thought, but where there's smoke, there's fire. And anyway, I had my reputation to protect.
I ran. From the loading dock I ducked through a gate that gave way to a small residential tract. Dogs barked, echoing through the empty streets. Still, not a soul. I darted through an alleyway, gun drawn. Further ahead, I saw the aftermath of the shots - an idle car, the driver dead, shot. A slow, dripping trail of blood led away from the car, and then faded into the asphalt.
They were close. They had to be. But I was fucked. I lost them. The sirens, the helicopters, the traffic... all noise faded into oblivion, engulfed by the sickening thud of my heartbeat. I turned circles, feverishly gripping my gun, fighting to hold it in my sweating hands.
And then I felt the hand clasp over my mouth, and the cold steel of a gun on my temple, and I was dragged away into the darkness of the alley.
I don’t know where we went, where I was, or where I was being taken. I didn’t even have the pleasure of knowing my captor. All I had was a voice, and a fleeting glimpse of cold blue eyes, and a tall girl with blond hair in a cheap suit and heels. This bitch - the one who shot up the store... she just stood me up, holdin’ the gun to me, and started searching me, taking my mace, my nightstick, my radio, everything but the clothes on my back. She even went through my wallet, and found the pictures I have of little Jack, and held them up. “Aww,” she said, feigning sympathy. “Piggy’s got a little piglet of her own. How fuckin’ precious.” Then she looked at me, and I could see the danger in her eyes, and I felt fear, real fear, as she said, “you ever wanna see that little brat again, you better play real fuckin’ cool, missy. You better tell me anything and everything I wanna know – and maybe you’ll get out of this. Or maybe not.” She turned me around, and forced me down on the trunk of the car. “Now this,” she said, wrenching my arms back and tying me up with my own cuffs, “this is gonna hurt you a whole hell of a lot more than it’s gonna hurt me.” And laughing, she pistol-whipped me, on the back of the head, and even as everything went black I could still hear her laughing that sick laugh.
The first thing I remembered when I came to was the taste of blood. There was a vice grip on my head, my face was throbbing. And I was moving – my head kept hittin’ the floor of wherever the hell I was, and I’m sorta sliding around. It’s a coffin, I thought. She’s burying me alive. Jesus. I open my eyes, but I can’t see shit. It’s black. Pitch fuckin’ black. I’m blind, I thought, and I started to panic. I’m fuckin’ blind!
Then I saw the lights – red and white lights, in intermittent bursts – sometimes in short pulses, other times longer, more deliberate. I wasn’t blind, at least I had that goin’ for me. But I was still completely fucked unless I could get a grip on my bearings, and fast. I focused – Jesus, my head hurt – and slowly retraced my steps before I had taken that last blow. The car. I must be in the fuckin’ car. That psycho put me in the trunk. But how long? How much time had passed? Shit, we could be halfway to Mexico by now. I tried moving; my cuffs dug into my wrists. I had no choice. I’d be waiting this one out.
I felt us slowly roll to a stop. I heard a voice, quick and strangely muffled, almost mechanical. Then I heard Blonde: “Yeah, uh, lemme get a – gimme a double cheeseburger, a large fry, and… and a diet Coke.”
That cunt. That fucking bitch. Takin’ a detour through the drive-thru at Burger King. I guess armed robbery and the prospect of manslaughter would make any girl hungry. We pulled forward, then stopped again. “Six seventy-two,” said a voice – I guessed the cashier.
“Sorry,” said Blonde. “All I got is a fifty.” Classy, I thought.
She pays, and I can hear the crumple of the paper bag, the smell of hot, greasy fast food wafting into the car. I wanted to puke. We peeled out of the parking lot, and on our way to who-the-hell-knew where.
I think at that point, with all that driving around in the California sunshine, it started to get real fuckin’ hot in that car, and being trapped in that prison, in that God-awful polyester uniform, I would rather have been burning in the fiery depths of hell. I think I passed out again shortly after that, because the next thing I knew, I was still baking, but we had stopped, and I heard voices. Three of them. One was Blonde. “We’re gonna stick around, and we’re gonna wait.”
Then a new voice, a little louder, more authoritative. “What for, the cops?”
“No,” said Blonde. “Nice Girl Evie.”
The third spoke up, a quick, jumpy voice. “Nice Girl Evie? What makes you think she isn’t on a plane right now halfway to Costa Rica?”
“Because,” said Blonde. “I just spoke to her on the phone and she said she’s on her way down here.”
The first voice again. “You talked to Nice Girl Evie? Why the fuck didn’t you say that in the first place?”
“’Cause you never asked me,” Blonde replied.
“Hardy-fuckin’-har. What did she say?”
“She said stay put.” I heard the crunchy scraping sound of Blonde shoving the key into the lock on the trunk. My pulse quickened, I thought my heart was going to burst. “So, in the meantime,” she continued, “I wanna show you guys somethin’.”
The trunk flew open. The daylight was blinding. I couldn’t see a fuckin’ thing. Then, slowly, three silhouettes came into view, all towering over me, staring down at me into the trunk space. And then laughter, that same sick, unmerciful laughter.
“Jesus Christ!” It was the third girl, the jumpy-sounding one. She stared at me, hands on her hips, looking at me with something like disbelief and joyful surprise.
“Maybe our girl in blue here can answer some of these questions about this rat business you’ve been talking about,” Blonde said. She smiled. If it weren’t for the heat sucking the life out of me, I would’ve spit right in her face.
“You’re a piece of work, my friend. It ain’t a bad idea. Let’s get her the fuck out of here.”
The three of them reached for me, laughing.
* * * * *
It wasn’t until after they had tied me to the chair that I started to question the reality of the situation. Blonde took the honor of landing the first punch. They beat the shit outta me. After the first few decent hits, the body and mind sort of separate from one another. It’s a strange, strange feeling… shit suddenly seems real far away, and like I said, you start to question the reality of it all. Like, if it’s really happening, if you’re really there, handcuffed, getting the snot beat out of you by a bunch of two-bit thugs. If you’re actually feeling the biting sting of bone against bone, of a fist cracking upside your jaw. And you drop to the ground, because suddenly your legs don’t feel like holding you up anymore, and your head hits the cool concrete floor of the warehouse, and you double over when you have an Italian boot shoved into your gut. There we all were, me lyin’ on the floor, three against one. And you can taste the blood and sweat and even your own tears as you try to gasp for breath just so you can scream, not just because it hurts, but because you’re scared, and you’re angry. And even though I loathed them all, even though I loathed Blonde and these two bitches, and the Crown Vic, and that fucking warehouse, mostly I just loathed myself. I should’ve known. I shouldn’t have been so fucking stupid.
After they had taken their fill of beating me like a dog, they tied me to a chair, all POW-style. I sat there, sputtering and coughing, spitting little bits of blood and pieces of my teeth. The three of them stood in a circle, laughing and joking, like some fuckin’ sewing circle. Even through my blurred vision I tried to concentrate and remember faces, details, shit that would help me out greatly if I lasted long enough to get outta this alive. We were in a warehouse – the rendezvous point. One door, no windows. Dark and cold and gray and solid as a rock. Buildings like these, they tend to be pretty sturdy, pretty soundproof. And usually they’re in deserted areas, so even if I had the energy to scream, chances are, there wouldn’t be anyone around to hear me for miles. And in this part of town, anyone who was around most likely wouldn’t want to help you out anyway, especially if you’re in uniform.
So Blonde was standing there, making cracks about cops, and the other two – “Pink” and “White” – laughed and joked along with her. I kept surveying the area, trying my best not to take my eyes off them in case they tried anything funny. That was when I saw her – one of the other goons, lyin’ there on the loading ramp, in a crumpled and bloody heap. She was alive, from what I could tell, but she wasn’t moving… I had never seen so much blood in my life. And I wouldn’t have felt sorry for her, not at all, but she looked so pathetic, so sad, lyin’ there, and the more I looked, the more familiar she seemed to me. I swear, I had to have seen her before, somewhere… or maybe I was just seein’ things, one too many blows to the head.
The back door suddenly burst open in a fury, and here comes this Guido lookin’ chick in a track jacket, struttin’ in like she fuckin’ owned the place. Or maybe she did, I dunno, and I didn’t care. But the three girls did, and we all jumped.
The Guido spoke. “What in the Sam Hill’s goin’ on here?” She was pissed.
“Hey, Nice Girl Evie, we got a cop!” White exclaimed, grinning stupidly.
Pink was less enthusiastic, almost irritated. “Where the fuck is Jolie?”
But Nice Girl… Evie, was it? I guess so. Anyway, she just keeps walking, all in a tizzy, and when she sees the dying chick on the ramp, she stops dead in her tracks. “Holy shit,” she says. “Orange is dead.”
White stepped in, the voice of reason. “No shit. She’s not dead, but she will be if we don’t get her taken care of.”
They were eerily calm about things, they stayed professional, I’ll give ‘em that. But then Pink had to go and stick her nose into it. “We were set up,” she accused. “The cops were there waiting for us.”
That was the straw that broke the fuckin’ camel’s back. Evie’s temper was hot. “What? Nobody fuckin’ set anybody up.”
“The cops were there waitin’ for us, man!”
They argue. Orange is still comatose, slowly slipping away.
“Hey, fuck you, man,” Pink yelled. This was going nowhere fast. It was a heist turned playground brawl. “You weren’t there, we were. And I’m tellin’ ya, the cops had that store staked out.”
Well, it wasn’t total bullshit. We did. But Evie wasn’t buying it. “Okay, Ms. Fuckin’ Detective, you’re so fuckin’ smart, who did it?”
“What the hell do you think we’ve been askin’ each other?”
“Yeah? And what did you fuckin’ come up with? Huh? You think I did?” Evie’s tone was growing more dangerous by the moment. “You think I fuckin’ set you up?”
Pink raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know, but somebody did.”
“Nobody did,” growled Evie, descending on the two. “You assholes turn the jewelry store into a Wild West Show and you wonder why the fuckin’ cops show up.”
From the corner of the warehouse, my captor finally spoke, quiet but firm. “Where’s Jolie?”
“I dunno,” said Evie. “I ain’t talked to her. But I talked to Dov, and he says Mama’s comin’ down here, and she’s fuckin’ pissed.”
Pink turned to White. “Told you she’s be pissed.”
“What did Jolie say?” White asked.
“I told ya, I ain’t talked to her!” Evie was somehow more annoyed. “All I know is, she’s pissed!”
“What’re you gonna do about her?” White pointed to the girl who lay bloody and motionless on the concrete.
Evie said something, still fuming. At that point, the punches to my head were taking their full effect. My face was numb, my ears were ringing… everything was starting to go black. My head nodded as I struggled to stay alert and conscious, but I kept a wary eye on my captor. Blonde sat on a crate in the corner, staring dreamily into nothing. My glare caught her attention, and she glared back at me. I looked away.
Evie threw her hands up in aggravation. "Jesus, give me a fuckin' chance to breathe! I got a few questions of my own, ya know."
"You ain't dying, she is."
"Alright, Ms. Fuckin' Compassion. I'll call somebody."
White knelt down next to the dying girl. "Who?"
Evie looked back in disbelief. "A fuckin' snake charmer, who do you think? I'll call a doctor, fix her up. Now, what happened to Brown and Blue?"
"Brown's dead,” said Pink. “We dunno what happened to Blue."
"Brown's dead? Are you sure?"
Pink nodded. "We're sure."
"I'm sure. I was there,” said White. “Took one in the head."
Evie was frustrated. "Nobody's got a clue what happened to Blue?"
From the corner, perched atop a crate, Blonde finally spoke. "Either she's alive, or she's dead, or the cops got her…” She shrugged. “Or they don't."
White snickered. Evie rolled her eyes, and at last gestured to me. "I take it this is the bitch you told me about. Why you beatin' on her?"
"Maybe she can tell us who the fuck set us up," Pink suggested.
"If you beat this chick long enough,” yelled Evie, looking around the room, “she'll tell you she started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it fuckin' so! C'mon, man, think! Alright, first things fuckin' last, who's got the stones? Please somebody tell me one little fuckin' good thing, just for my sake."
Pink spoke up to the defensive. "I got a bag, I got a bag. Okay? I stashed it to make sure this place wasn't a police station."
"Good for you. Now, let's go get it. First we gotta get rid of those cars outside. It looks like Sam's Hot Car Lot out there.” Evie turned to Blonde. “Okay Blondie, stay here and babysit them two. White and Pink, you take a car each, I'll follow ya. You ditch, we'll pick up the stones. And while I'm following ya, I'll arrange some sort of doctor for our friend here."
There was a pause. White shook her head, an odd smile slowly creeping across her face. "Yeah... no. We can't leave these girls with her."
"'Cause she's a fuckin' psycho.” She stood from where she knelt by the dying girl, and advanced on Evie. “And if you think Jolie's pissed, it ain't nothin' compared to how pissed off I am at her for puttin' me in the same room as that bitch."
It was now Blonde’s turn to come to her own defense. "You see what I been puttin' up with? I fuckin' walked in here, I told these girls about stayin' put, Ms. White whips out her gun. She's stickin' it in my face, callin' me a motherfucker, sayin' she's gonna blow me away, and blah blah blah blah blah."
"She's the reason the job turned into a shooting spree!” White turned to Pink. “What're you, a fuckin' silent partner? Tell her."
Pink seemed reluctant to add any more fuel to the fire, but shrugged, and spoke anyway. "She went crazy in the store, but she seems alright now."
"This is what she was doin',” White said, taking her gun from it’s holster and pointing it around the room, miming. “Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!"
"Yeah, bam bam bam bam bam...” Blonde pushed Evie aside and strode up to White. “I told 'em not to touch the fuckin' alarm. They did. If they hadn't done what I told 'em not to do, they'd still be alive."
White applauded. "My fuckin' hero! That's your excuse for going on a kill crazy rampage?"
Blonde’s eyes grew dark. "I don't like alarms, Ms. White." A storm was on the horizon.
"What does it matter who stays with the cop?” Now Evie was trying to reason with the two, attempting to break up the imposing fight. “We ain't lettin' her go, not after she's seen everybody. You shoulda never taken her outta the trunk in the first place."
"We were trying to find out what she knew about the setup,” Pink was whining. How ludicrous. They were plummeting from hardened criminals to bitchy teenage girls at an alarming rate. I probably would have laughed to myself, had I not been in such agonizing pain and rendered nearly catatonic with fear.
In reality, all they had accomplished was igniting the incredibly short fuse on Evie’s temper. "There is no fuckin' set up! Now here's the news: Blondie, you stay here and take care of these two. White, Pink, you come with me, 'cuz if Jolie gets here and she sees all those fuckin' cars outside, I swear to you she's gonna be just as mad at me as she is at you."
The three of them walked out bickering, leaving me all alone with Ms. Blonde in the empty silence of the warehouse.
After what seemed like an eternity, Blonde finally broke the deafening silence. “Alone at last,” she said, smiling that awful fucking little smile. She stopped suddenly, the smile wiped from her face, as though in thought. “Hey, guess what? I think I’m parked in the red zone.” And then she laughed her sick laugh at her own pathetic joke, and smiled that evil goddamn smile again. I wanted to spit in her face, splatter blood all over her little smirk. Who’d be laughing then, bitch?
She recovered a few seconds later. “Now, where were we?”
This was it. She was giving me my one shot at getting out of this, whether she knew it or not. I had to take a chance. I thought of everything I had learned in the Academy, everything I had done in the subsequent months that might give me an edge in this. The easiest by far, and the only thing that came to mind, was reverse psychology. Try and reason with her.
“I told you,” I said, nearly whispering. “I told you, I don’t know anything about any fucking setup.” This was, of course, total bullshit. I hoped I was a decent liar. “I’ve been on the force only eight months, they don’t tell me anything, nobody tells me shit!” This, on the other hand, was the truth. They didn’t tell me, the bastards. I had to find out for myself, through shameless eavesdropping. “You can torture me all you want.” The last part, I hoped, was not a total fuck-up on my part. It seemed to work for everyone else, it would have to work for me.
Blonde had slowly walked away, seemingly uninterested in anything I was telling her. But only on the word “torture” did I seem to grab her attention. She whirled around. “Torture you? That’s a good idea. I like the sound of that.”
Fuckin’ psycho. Time to backpedal. “Even your boss said there wasn’t a setup.”
She froze, staring at me in horrified disgust and disbelief. “My what?”
I couldn’t help it. I wanted this bitch to feel like the lowlife piece of shit she was. I easily outweighed her and had at least two inches in height on her; I could’ve taken her if I hadn’t been tied to that fuckin’ chair. “Your boss,” I said again. If this was how she wanted to play the game, I was ready.
But she just raised her brow, scoffing. “Excuse me, pal. There’s one thing I want to make clear to you. I don’t have a boss. Nobody tells me what to do. You understand? Did you hear what I said you bitch?” She slapped me. “I asked you a question, are you clear about that?”
Any questions I had before about the reality of the situation dissipated the moment her palm hit my cheek. It was suddenly real. Terrible, horrible, and undeniably real. “Alright, alright, you don’t have a boss, alright.”
Blonde saw the terror in my eyes. “Look kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, okay?” I felt like a child in a schoolyard, challenged to some recess brawl. I started shaking, and couldn’t stop. “I don’t really give a good fuck what you know or don’t know,” she continued. “But I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information, it’s just amusing to me to torture a cop.” She sauntered over to a long shelf cluttered with junk that ran against the wall, and grabbed a roll of duct tape, tearing off a long strip. “You can say anything you want ‘cuz I’ve heard it all before.” She swaggered back over, and straddled me, wrapping the strip of tape over my face, across my mouth. My heart beat ferociously, and I struggled for breath through my busted nose. “All you can do is pray for a quick death…” She arose, and took a few steps, her back turned to me. “Which you ain’t gonna get.” Like lightening, she whirled around, drawing her gun, pointing it right in my face.
Training doesn’t even begin to prepare you. Not for this shit. Sure, we had simulations – a bunch of dumbass meathead cops with blanks, firing them off like they were cowboys at some fuckin’ frontier saloon. But to feel a piece against your skull, to look down the barrel of a 9 millimeter with your hands tied behind you and tape over your mouth, smelling and tasting your own blood, pissing your pants and praying for some fuckin’ miracle as you anticipate takin’ one between the eyes… nothing even comes close.
She had me cornered. She had her shot, point fuckin’ blank. But she just laughed again, and put her gun down, shaking her head in amusement. “Ever listen to K-Billy’s ‘Super Sounds of the Seventies’?” There was a radio on the shelf. She walked over to turn it on. “It’s my personal favorite.”
A plodding mariachi band crackled over the airwaves. Blonde sneered, fumbling for the tuning dial. A guitar strummed lazily into the room, echoing through the warehouse. Blonde listened for a moment, and smiled as the deep baseline stumbled through, underlying the twang of the guitars.
“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight… I got a feelin’ somethin’ ain’t right…”
This bitch… she starts dancing. Two-steppin’ across the concrete floor. Parading herself around the warehouse like it was the talent portion of the fuckin’ Miss America competition, making no point to hide the fact she was obviously enjoying herself. She bent down, rolled up her pant leg, and from within her boot, produced a blade, waving it so it sparkled in the dim light.
“I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair… and I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get down the stairs…”
It would all be over soon. I hoped, at least. And I hoped I could somehow, some way, get out of this yet. But my life had already begun flashing before my eyes. I saw my Daddy, reclined in his easy chair in the living room, nursing a Budweiser, tapping his foot to the radio. This song… this fuckin’ song… I had heard it before, a million times. Countless times. It was one of my Daddy’s favorites. I could see him then, in my mind’s eye, dancing around the living room in his socks, the loveable goof he truly was at heart. And I saw myself there too, in my mind’s eye, young and innocent, just a kid, full of wonder and amazement at this thing called life I had laying before me, laughing happily at my father, my hero, as he danced around our living room and sang along.
And now I heard the song again, the musical ghost from my past, and now I wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t five years old, in my living room. Now I heard the song, and I was without my innocence, wonder and amazement overcome by fear and horror. And now I was without my father. I was without everything and everyone familiar.
My daydream shifted, took a nosedive into a nightmare, and the sharp bite of reality, stinging like a slap in the face, came flooding back, and I found myself in my own personal hell, in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, with a maniac performing a striptease with a straight-edge razor.
Like a cobra, she lashed out with the blade, catching my cheek, right below my eye. I tried to scream, only to be muffled by the tape, my chest heaving with the shock and surprise and pain of it all. She lashed out again; this time I dodged her. She got angry, and decided enough was enough. She reached out with her hand this time, and grabbed a chunk of my hair. Yanking my head to the side, she straddled me again. “Hold still! Hold still, you fuckin’…”
There was searing, white-hot pain, and the icy chill of the blade as it cut through my flesh.
My screams were drowned out only by the tape over my mouth and the deafening ringing in my head as the floodgates opened, and for a moment I was lost in the raging torrent of thoughts and blood and tears.
Fuck fuck fuck oh Jesus God no why me why fuckin’ me what did I do to deserve this I’m as good as dead she’s killing me this bitch is going to kill me no no no why oh God why my Jack my little baby boy he’s all alone now he’s got no one she’s killed me I’m dead dead fuckin’ dead fuck fuck fuck…
My ear. My fuckin’ ear. She hacked it off. A hot, sticky river of blood ran from my head, soaking my shirt. Through vision blurred by tears I saw Blonde swagger into view, flipping the poor bloody remnant of my ear in her fingers, chuckling to herself. She looked at me through her wolfish eyes. “Was that as good for you as it was for me?”
All I could do was whimper sadly, heaving for breath. Blonde held my ear to her mouth, speaking into it. “Hey, what’s goin’ on? You hear that?” She asked, still cracking herself up, laughing at her own sick pathetic brand of humor. “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.” She pitched my ear into a dank corner of the warehouse, and turned away, walking lazily to the door.
A blinding flash of daylight engulfed her silhouette, and she was gone. I was alone once again in the warehouse, a whimpering bloody mess, the air thick with the scent of death, with only my father’s song to keep me company. I wanted to fade away into nothing; to melt away into the floor and leave this place. I wanted to magically wake up in my own bed, to smell coffee brewing in my kitchen, to hear the patter of Jack’s little feet in the hall as he ran to my room and jumped on the bed, ready to greet the day with his beautiful innocence and wonder as I once did.
The blinding flash of daylight brought me crashing back to reality, and I was once again alone in the warehouse, with Blonde fast approaching, dancing playfully, carrying a gasoline can.
I shook my head in desperation. No way. No fucking way. This was a dream. This had to be a nightmare. Wake up, dammit, just wake up, fucking wake up –
The gasoline hit my face, burning my eyes, seeping into my wounds. I fought for breath, fought the sour, bitter taste I had in the back of my throat as I heaved against the smothering fumes. I flailed wildly about in the chair. Laughing, my assailant ripped the tape from my face, reveling in my screams.
“Stop! Stop, stop, stop it, stop stop…”
“Why? Whatsa matter, burn a little?”
“Don’t do this. Please don’t. Stop.” My voice cracked; I coughed as the searing heat of the fumes filled my lungs. “Stop. Just talk to me a minute, please don’t burn me, please I’m beggin’ you, I don’t know anything about any of you fuckin’ girls, I’m not gonna say anything… don’t, don’t, don’t, please don’t, stop!”
She poured a trail of gas away from me, and threw the empty canister against the wall. Her eyes were sharp, but calm, collected. “You all through?”
I was frantic. I had to find something, anything that would strike a nerve, make her reconsider. I thought of Jack, my precious little Jack. “Please, look, I got a little kid at home now, please don’t…”
“You all done?” She dug into her pocket, and produced a lighter. There was a brick in my gut, my heart sinking. She saw the fear in my eyes, and held up the lighter. “Fire scare you?”
“Please don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t…”
She bent to the trail of gas on the floor, and for an instant, I thought I saw fear in her eyes as the divine intervened, and a spray of bullets exploded in her chest.
She staggered back in surprise and hit the floor, leaving me in horror and odd relief as I stared in wonder at the dying girl on the loading platform as she grimaced, her smoking gun trembling in her bloody hand.
There was thundering silence once again as the blast of gunfire faded away, and Ms. Blonde fell still to the ground, and I sat in my chair, awestruck and confused as all hell, trying to will the burn of the gasoline off my skin and fighting the loss of blood.
The dying girl glowered at Blonde’s figure, almost regretfully. She dropped the empty magazine from her weapon; there was a metallic thud and a wet slap as it hit the blood-soaked concrete. At last, she gazed my direction. “Hey,” she said casually, as though we were passing on the street. “Hey… what’s your name?”
I looked at her, the dead woman, who was now speaking to me. This day was just getting better and better. I gathered everything I had to answer her. “Ah, shit… Marva.”
She blinked. “Marva what?”
There was that sour taste in my throat again. I swallowed it down. “Marva Nash.”
“Listen to me Marva Nash…” She trailed off; for a second, I thought I saw the calm in her eyes falter, replaced with surging pain. She hesitated, fighting to compose herself, then continued. “Listen to me, Marva Nash. I’m a cop.”
That was it. It all made so much sense. I knew I recognized her, from somewhere. She was a cop, that wasn’t bullshit. I nodded. “Yeah, I know.”
She looked surprised. “You do?”
I nodded again. “Yeah, your name’s… Frannie somethin’…”
“Newendyke. Frannie Newendyke.”
“Frankie Ferchetti introduced us about 5 months ago,” I explained, recalling the day I found out about this whole damn thing, about the diamonds and the gangsters and the undercover sting, and Frankie, one of the only friends I had in the whole damn outfit… I remembered Frankie being so excited, so proud that someone he knew was going up against these bastards. I remembered Frannie, the same Frannie who now lay dying before me, humble yet confident, as we shook hands briefly.
Now, Frannie shook her head. “Shit… I don’t remember that at all.”
“I do.” I recalled the sting, the burn of envy I had that she was accepted, that she could do anything, that they worshiped the ground she walked upon; I remembered the battle between this wicked jealousy and noble admiration, knowing in my heart I could never have what she had, I could never be who she was. Shit, she even outshone me in the face of imminent death. “Hey Frannie… Frannie…”
“How do I look?” The second I uttered those words, I knew I would regret asking. But I had to. I had to know.
She just stared at me for a second, as though unable to comprehend what I just asked her. And she began to laugh, as she realized I was completely serious in my query, looking regretfully from the gaping wound in her belly back to me. “I don’t know what to tell you, Marva.”
She should have lied. She should have lied to me, told me it was okay. I wasn’t stupid; I knew it was bad. I could feel the blood drying on my face, matted in my hair. I felt my ribs cracking each time I had been kicked, my arms straining and nearly breaking when they tied me to the chair. I mean, Jesus… my ear. My fucking ear. It was gone, lying somewhere in the bowels of this fucking warehouse. I looked away from Frannie, trying to hide the shameful tears in my eyes. But when I looked away, and through the blur saw Blonde’s body, riddled with bullets, I lost it. I let go. “That fuck… That sick fuck! That fucking bitch!”
But Frannie was still cool, still calm. “Marva,” she said, “I need you to hold on. There’s cops waiting a block away and – ”
“What the fuck are they waiting for?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After all I had been through, all that had happened today… I had been through the fucking mill, and she wanted me to hold on. I screamed, “This fuckin’ bitch slashes my face, and she cuts my fuckin’ ear off! I’m fuckin’ deformed!”
“Fuck you!” Frannie screamed back at me. It caught me as a surprise. We had both reached our breaking points, to say the least, but she had been so calm about the whole thing; I guess I didn’t expect it. “Fuck you! I’m fuckin’ dyin’ here! I’m fuckin’ dying!”
More silence. I was still sobbing out of rage; I tried to stifle my tears, if only for her sake. Frannie shifted her weight on the platform, collecting her thoughts, and looked back up at me. “They’re not to make a move until Jolie Cabot shows up. I was sent here undercover to get her, all right? Now you heard ‘em, they said she’s on her way.” A glimmer of fear flickered behind her eyes; we were both facing death, we knew it. “Don’t pussy out on me now, Marva. We’re just gonna sit here and bleed until Jolie Cabot sticks her fuckin’ head through that door.” Suddenly the look she gave me was more pleading, more apologetic, as she realized what was being said, and how true her own words were, secretly hoping she would be able to live up to them.
Nothing more could be said. The immense amount of blood I had lost in the ordeal had begun to take its toll. I trembled; despite the heat of the summer in the warehouse, my body was frozen, numb. I let my head roll forward, falling limp against the rope that tethered me to the chair. Frannie and I sat in our prison, and though no words were exchanged between us, none were needed; secretly, inwardly, I smiled, and thought of Jack, and knew that when I closed my eyes, and gave in to the sleep that was creeping over me, I would be home again.
And on that note... don't miss "Reservoir Bitches" opening Saturday, February 6th, at the NextStage Theater in Hollywood, California! 1523 N. La Brea Avenue, on the corner of La Brea Avenue and Sunset Boulevard! The doors open at 8 pm! The show will run through the month of February every Saturday - the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. Come see me get the snot beat out of me on stage - it's pretty awesome! Tickets are $25 at the door, but drop my name for a $5 discount. See you there!