Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sisters of Sundance--Part 3 (of 3)

(This is the final segment of an adapted Brothers' Grimm story started below).

And just at that moment, three homeless women came into view. At least, Jan assumed they were homeless, based on their bizarre, layered attire. She thought of the three “weird sisters” in Macbeth—she’d written a report about them for her Composition class. Were they sisters? They were young—in their late 30s. The blonde was bone thin. She had several pairs of fancy dress gloves, one over another, white, black, red--on each hand and several elegant dresses of different styles and lengths layered over her thin frame. Her cowboy boots were decorated with lace. Was this an attempt to coordinate the ensemble? The brunette was stout. She wore large army boots which stuck out under the bulky, green trash bag pulled over her head. A glittery, green scarf was wrapped around her neck. The last sister had shaved her head and was dressed for much warmer climes. Her tiny arms hung out of a small, black T-shirt with an image to ward off the evil eye. Her camouflage cargo pants were covered in bulging pockets and she wore old spiked golf shoes.

For a brief moment, Jan forgot about her problems.

“What you looking at?” shouted the brunette.

“Sorry. Nothing.” Jan, despite herself, started to cry.

“Look what you did now, Nina, you made her cry,” said the T-shirted one.

“I did not. Shut up,” said Nina.

“What’s wrong, honey?” The T-shirted one ran up to the window.

“Annie, what are you doing, they don’t want us around here!” The blonde was now running in place.

Annie scratched her shaved head and turned to the other. “She’s crying. She needs help. What’s wrong, darlin?”

Jan couldn’t decide who was worse off, the sisters or herself. She was moved by their care, and what did she have to lose? She grabbed some cans of juice, and some snacks, and sat with the sisters in the park, telling her story.

They listened attentively, even if Carrie insisted on running in place, Annie continued to scratch, and Nina occasionally moaned. At the end, Carrie did a cartwheel and made a proposition.

“We can help you, honey,” she said. “But you have to treat us well. You can’t pretend you don’t know us when the big shots come around….”

“We used to be big in this town too.” Nina was now biting her nails as she spoke.

Carrie continued. “I’m great at organizing, Nina loves to clean, and Annie can type like the wind, right Annie?”

Annie made typing motions over Carrie’s head.

“We can start tonight, if you want. You just have to be our friend. Invite us to a premiere or two…”

Jan looked at the sisters. They were odd and had clearly lived a rough life on the streets. Still, what choices did she have? She let them into the office and went to bed.

The next day, Jan got to the room early, afraid that Stephanie would find the sisters and freak. But at 9 am (this was early for Jan) the sisters were gone and the room was immaculate! Papers were organized into tagged files and these were alphabetized and already boxed. Stacks of perfectly typed letters sat next to labeled envelopes and all the surfaces had been scrubbed clean!

Stephanie walked in with a few papers in her hand.

“Jan! Wow! That’s incredible! Amazing! Terrific! Here I was ready to send you off with these papers and look what you’ve done! You must have worked non-stop! You take the rest of the day off, dear. And here are tickets to the premiere tonight. You’ve earned them.”

“Thanks, Steph. Any chance I might have three more? I have a couple of friends who’ve been very supportive since I got here.”

Stephanie was delighted to give Jan more tickets.

Jan searched all day for the sisters and finally found them sleeping in the park. She gave them the tickets and said she’d meet them at the theatre.

For once she was thrilled to be invited to a gala. She primped the rest of the afternoon and got to the tiny cinema early, to watch for celebrities. But the sisters hadn’t arrived at the start of the event, when “Bob,” or Mr. Redford (as she was instructed to address him) began his remarks. They still hadn’t arrived when the movie ended.

“Jan! Jan!” Stephanie was walking toward her, with Mr. R! “Jan, I’d like to introduce Mr. Redford. Bob, this is our new intern, Jan. She is awesome.”

Mr. R smiled and, even with their colossal age difference, Jan felt herself swoon.

They chatted for a brief moment, and Jan was shocked when Mr. R stayed chatting, even when Stephanie was pulled away. Then suddenly, the three sisters arrived.

“Jan, dear, Jan,” they sang together, “thank you for the tickets!” They ran up to her.

“Mr. Redford, may I introduce my friends, Annie, Carrie, and Nina?”

Bob smiled. Carrie began running in place, Annie scratching, and Nina picking her nails. But then each began to tell their story. The theatre emptied but Bob would not be moved. He cried as they told how their lives had unfurled. But other stories were howlingly funny. They each described their psychiatrists and their different diagnoses: “obsessive-compulsive,” prone to panic attacks,” and “neurotic.”

Finally, Nina wanted to go “home.” They made promises to take their medication, hugged or patted Jan goodbye, and ran off.

The next day Bob called Jan to his office.

“You know those three sisters? They're willing to sell their stories and I’d like you to spend your time interviewing them. Write me up some notes, you can start the treatment. You could even try your hand at the screenplay if you want. Do you think you might know someone who could take over your jobs for you, in the meantime?”

Jan smiled. She did.

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