About the short--
|"Cristina's Bedroom" by Andrew Wyeth (1947)|
A couple of months ago, a small army of workers began construction on the lot directly behind our house. My bedroom is the only one (among three) with direct access (and a substantial view) over that lot. When we first moved in (and our house was the only one on our side of the street) I had a clear, unobstructed view of the mountain range and the hills behind our village. Now, I look out and into someone else's window. This piece was inspired partly by having to change my voyeuristic habits and partly by my own desire to peek at the workers. They kept a live cock (read: full grown clucking male chicken) in their backyard, within my view, and for months I had nightmares of waking up to find a chicken staring up at me.
This piece by Andrew Wyeth inspired the tone (and language) I wanted to achieve for the short. I hope to revise it extensively.
As usual, he woke up early to spy on the shack that had, one day, built itself on the rocky plateau behind his house.
Splintered sound sputtered from a handheld radio approximately twelve inches long, six wide, and four inches thick, almost the exact dimensions of the hand that held it, steady and suspended in empty space as a stationary planet, dead center among four brown bodies, the orbiting satellites captured and stilled into indolence by cracked but audible commentary. Ding had been wrong about the workmen's temporary lodging—two slits for windows and a green aluminum door stamped with their construction company's wiry logo of a half-built house and the letters E over C—it wasn't empty. Far from it.
Kupal crouched on the ground, an arm stiff against the wall for support and his hoots of appreciation were small eruptions, flat vowels ricocheting off cement. Ding had given them all nicknames in the same spirit he had earned his own moniker (‘ding’ as in dingding or wall, for all the times he slunk out of his mother’s sight to skulk, she said, to hide, as a ghost). Kupal he christened for the rowdy laughter that interrupted conversation. Ding had listened in on enough conversations when the foursome settled down for dinner or breakfast—never lunch, however, because they took those separately—to know that Kupal was a unanimous choice.
Utong, darkest skinned of the quartet, chose to, shirtless, lay down cement blocks and shirtless sleep in the shade of the half-constructed house and shirtless and stinking slurp marrow from bone and drain the pot of bulalo. He stood by Bukol, arms crossed and wearing an expression of pain and misery. His team was losing. Yet, although Utong grunted, pouted, and hardly spoke, he was not as fearsome as Bukol, the gangly giant whose body was grotesque with unnatural growths as though his skin had been stuffed with durian instead of bones. But his arms, Ding noted, were corded with muscle and his hands were large and flat like oars. Bukol spoke most of all. But it was Kintab he watched most often, youngest of the four, his face like a stormy afternoon. He was the only one among them, according to Bukol, who hadn’t yet managed to claim a wife. And how often they teased him.
Squatting out of sight beneath the ledge of his bedroom window, Ding with inflated cheeks tested the strength of thighs and skinny ten year-old ankles to sneak another peak. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, willed himself into wakefulness. Today, the women arrived, he thought. He had overheard them last night, Bukol bleating like a lamb in anticipation of his wife. Every now and then, Kintab, playing with the broken and hastily repaired strap of his rubber slipper, looked up, frowning, at Ding’s window. Ding felt it, the weight of that expectant gaze. The ten year-old wasn’t used to being stared at. Ding’s mother often joked how his large brown eyes popped out of their sockets from all his spying, looking, staring. He had acquired, after years of hiding and long moments of tireless appraisal, the singular gift of an unblinking stare and his entire moon face was lit up by those eyes, mirror eyes.
But Ding wasn’t a quiet child. He liked the chatter of the basketball game—that’s what drew him to watch the builders—and he liked to hear himself chatter.