When you meet the woman who’s supposed to kill you, you’re in the dairy aisle of a grocery store. It’s Jamie Lee Curtis, spokesmom for Activia. The irony is not lost on you.
The shadowy conspiracy has been following you for years now. You’ve gotten really good at running, at leaving everything behind you. Remember when you had things you cared about? That was weird.
The second time you abandoned your home and everything that belonged to you was harder than the first. The first time, your husband was there. (That time they were posing as a gospel revival band, coming to your work and singing the good news.) As the conspirators closed in around you and him, you made a little “Let’s get the fuck out of here” gesture with your hands. You ran your fingers along your face like legs. You and he pretended to dance along and join their fold till you got close enough to the exit to skedaddle. You hopped in his car and drove away. You left your job, abandoned your house, deserted your friends. But you still had each other. Now somehow he too got left in the dust. Probably when you set the new house on fire. He probably got out. You didn’t check. But you still have his car.
Now you’re holed up at a disgusting motel, one that takes cash and doesn’t ask questions. Early evening, eight pm-ish. “Home” early. You keep to yourself mostly, so there’s no reason to go out. Eating a pizza and watching TV. The window breaks. Windows break more often in your life now, more often than staying whole almost. And the cameras are there, just hands in the darkness holding old, disposable cameras, documenting the persecution.
These people have the resources to follow you state after state. Why the disposable cameras? Is it an aesthetic choice? Are they luddites? Every cellphone has a camera, why not just use those? Maybe they’re afraid of being tracked by the GPS. It was certainly one of the first things you ditched in your efforts to fall off the map.
The arms thrust through the window, shooting blindly. You get the feeling that they can’t really see you, only assured that they’re on course because they’ve done it so many times before.
You drop to the floor, slowly inch your way under the broken window. The glass on the floor digs into the heels of your hands. You try to ignore it. You see an opportunity, and you’re taking this chance to get even an iota of control back in your life.
You spring up. You grab a camera from an outstretched hand. The lights outside obscure the faces of your pursuers, but you turn the flash on the disposable camera and turn it on them. You shoot until the wind-y thing won’t wind anymore. Hopefully you got a face or two to memorize.
For a second, you consider handing the photos over to the police, but that’s a laughably naïve thought. You slap it away. Obviously these people are close with the police. Obviously alerting law enforcement to your current location would only bring more doom and destruction to your life.
You clutch the camera to your chest as you push past the monsters. They claw at your bare arms. You were dressed for bed, wearing only an oversized sleeveless shirt as a tunic. It’s pale blue and has bengal tigers on it.
Barefoot, pantsless, and bleeding from your hands, you run into a grocery store called Happy Cow. It’s not a chain you recognize, it must be specific to the area. You try to remember if you’ve seen another one around here. You try to remember where “here” is: you’ve lost track.
The woman at the Happy Cow pharmacy counter is not being very helpful. She keeps insisting that they don’t have photo developing services, and that even if they did, 1-hour photo service died with the digital age. The CVS down the road sends their film to a processing center upstate, allegedly. It’s becoming clear to you that “Debra” is part of the conspiracy, and is just trying to get the camera out of your possession and to her shadowy overlords at the CVS. You’re grabbing her hands, squeezing hard and trickling blood all over her, and you’re pleading with her to forget her loyalty oath for just one second and be a person, for chrissake! Just show you where the photos are developed!
That’s when you hear it. A voice, confident and mocking in tone:
“You just don’t get it, do you?”
Jamie Lee Curtis is walking towards you purposefully through the dairy aisle. She is dressed impeccably in a grey tailored dress. It drapes and folds over her with a boat neck and short capped sleeves. The pencil skirt falls just at her knees, changing the way she walks. She looks exquisite.
“You can’t escape this,” she says. That’s when you notice the crowbar she’s been dragging behind her this whole time. Jamie Lee Curtis, star of Prom Night and Freaky Friday, is part of the conspiracy, possibly even the head of it, and now she’s come to kill you.
You run; she walks. Somehow she’s keeping pace with you. Michael Myers used to do it to her, and now she’s doing it to you. Irony is piling up all over the place.
You run through dairy to the liquor aisle. You sense the conspiracy all around you. The grocery store is choked with their number, watching the culmination of years of work. Jamie is right behind you with the crowbar. You’re the first to attack, a cornered prey vainly swiping at its destruction. You grab a bottle of Coppola wine -a Merlot- and swing. She parries with the crowbar. Glass and wine go everywhere. More broken glass, the leitmotif of your life.
You’ve got the broken stub of the bottle still in your hand and you’re trying to use it defensively. Jamie Lee Curtis is making wild arcs at your head with the crowbar. No economy of motion. She is not good at this. You cut her hand with the broken bottle and she drops the crowbar. You try to run, but you’re still barefoot and now the floor is covered with shrapnel. Glass buries itself in your feet. Your blood mixes with the Coppola Merlot on the floor. You hobble; she pursues, also hindered by the wine and glass. Her skirt shortens her gait, her kitten heels are suddenly not so sensible on a slippery floor.
You grab another bottle, Absolut. She follows suit with Captain Morgan. You’re both going for the head, but mostly making contact with neck and shoulders. She catches you on the ear and you stagger back. The sound was literally deafening, a crunch of cartilage and ear bones. But she’s too confident in her triumph. You recover, come at her with the Absolut, right on her occipital lobe. She goes down, still breathing. That will do.
You’re limping away, but she grabs your ankle. She’s barely conscious, but what’s left of her is still bent on ending you. You remember her words from before. She’s right. You can’t escape this.
You grab her by her sensible mom haircut and twist. Her neck snaps, but she doesn’t die immediately like in the movies. She slumps over, crying pitifully, like a little child. You wonder if maybe you’ve just paralyzed her. You don’t know how these things work.
Her head hangs at an impossible angle. The way she cries is so helpless. Her breathing slows, then stops. You realize that she is no more in charge of the conspiracy than you are. Suddenly, it all makes sense: your persecution, Jamie’s determination, her absence from Hollywood gossip for the past few years. They’ve been playing you both, harassing and gas-lighting you until you’re willing to do almost anything to escape. Apparently you’re willing to do anything, seeing as you’ve just killed someone – something you never thought you’d do. And it was original teen scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. That was definitely unexpected. And now you’re crying pathetic, heaving sobs. And somewhere your shadowy oppressors are laughing, and leaving. You’re pulling Jamie Lee Curtis’ body close to you, rocking back and forth, like you’re lulling her to sleep.
Somehow you know they’ll leave you alone now, now that they’ve got what they wanted. But in other ways, they’ll always be there.
Bethy Squires is a playwright and comedienne from Bloomington, Indiana. She writes for Broadly and Splitsider and the sheer joy of it! Follow her on twitter @BethyBSQU