(Fellini’s ghost; excerpt from The Associated Shades)
INT. BLACK AND WHITE FILM. MINDSEYE (A STAGE), THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
LS – UNDERLIT FOG MOVES RIVERINE ACROSS THE SCENE; STAGE STARLIGHT GLITTERS ABOVE
LS – A TRANSMIGRANT MATERIALIZES, WEARING CHARCOAL SUIT, CAPE, FEDORA, USING A CANE, APPEARING FAR DISTANT, MOVING TOWARD CAMERA; FOG SLOWLY DRIFTS AND LIFTS.
V.O.: It’s the Auteur Himself. He viambulates our way….
CU – HIS FACE: FELLINI LOOKING DIRECTLY AT CAMERA.
Fellini: Ciao, Petronio! Is that you? Tell me a story. I lived too long ago; I’ll be ancient history soon, like you. We can’t remember yesterday.
BEAT Where’s my gray?
CUTAWAY – GRAY PARROT FLIES IN AND LANDS ON PERCH THAT NOW STANDS BESIDE FELLINI.
Parrot [parroting]: Change and change and change; and all our yes- yes- yesterdays. A fool taught me that: I memorized all ﬁve words. Genius! And troubadours get laid and also – but only sometimes – die young. I made that up. Mark it: It sounds true.
Fellini: Basta con gli inglesi! They called us Macaroni. Are you illiterate?
Parrot: Me, JC and Socrates. I know another; it involves a calvarium and some philosophy. Or young innamorati.
Fellini: Teenage fornication in an ossuary! I can work with that! And a casino on the water, and metal chariots with jungle rubber, designer shades, what have you. Gotta have trappings, and vagina dentata. Do they still have skeletons with tits in Paris? How about a necklace made of skulls, or skull tattoos? Bet they’ve never seen those before.
Parrot: Boss, they’ve seen it all. However, yes, teats – or rather, breasts, and a jester. Politicians and pundits, too, if you like – fully erect. They can wear panties and dog collars, and pay.
ECU – FELLINI’S FACE, HIS HAND ASIDE.
Fellini [whispering]: Petronio, do you want to hear about my idea for a new ﬁlm?
MS – BED WITH DIAPHANOUS NETTING, INERT SLEEPER.
V.O.: Federico, this is strange. We’re both dead; you’re a phantasm; and I’m dreaming.
Fellini: What a coincidence! It will be a documentary on dreamers, but relax – everyone with think it’s fantastic since I, dead, direct.
BEAT You’re asleep? Eccellente! Ponder these:
CUTAWAY TO MS – ORACLE, RISING FROM EMERGING FOG; CAMERA PANS IN.
CUTAWAY TO CU – PARROT ON PERCH.
Parrot (whistling same tune): What are the implications of the ﬁnity of human knowledge? And speciosuicidal embedded traits? And tribal abdication? [Continuing, to no one in particular] I can go on indeﬁnitely, but I’d rather warble about hedonism.
CUTAWAY TO LS – ORACLE, RISING FROM EMERGING FOG.
Oracle: Bye-the-bye, I’d nearly forgotten to ask: Was it the best butter? Was he a harmless pedophile? Life, what is it?
CUTAWAY TO MS – FELLINI.
Fellini [to Oracle]: I know, Misero de mi. [To Petronius] Petronio, old chum, let them have their duetto. I’ll cast for exhibitionists and asterisks – er, asterisms. The screen will scintillate at a theater near you.
CUTAWAY TO MS – PARROT.
Parrot: Sorry, boss, but they don’t do that any more. They’re merging with appliances. Archæologists will call them Homines artiﬁciales, and they’ll speak Igpay Atinlay, in binary, no less.
Fellini (to Oracle): E vero? Ermafroditi?
CUTAWAY TO MS – ORACLE.
Oracle: ’Fraid so. Don’t you remember when you seduced my granddaughter with rationalism? It was off to oblivion for the masses. Today she’s a chatbot in Vegas [ed.: Lethe] and it’s all your fault.
CUTAWAY TO MS – PARROT.
Parrot: La même chose, la même chose. Ti sei dimenticato.
Fellini: Still, there’s got to be hope:
I heard that from a bartender. I was historical, and she was dreaming. Dobbiamo sempre sogno?
CUTAWAY TO LS – FELLINI, WALKING AWAY FROM CAMERA, OPENING THE DOOR OF A DARK SEDAN. FOG COMES UP; CAR DRIVES OFF. SPX CAR DEMATERIALIZES.
V.O.: So he vanished, Fellini, in Fiat and fedora. Buona notte, sognatore.
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