Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Excerpt Tuesday - South of Sundance

For Excerpt Tuesday, here's a sample of my most recent F/F story, South of Sundance. I had written this one after inspiration struck on hearing a friend's retelling of his adventures at a film festival. I've never been to one myself, but one day I'd like to head up to NYC for Tribeca and perhaps see some films that will never see the dark of my local theaters.

I enjoyed writing this piece, though it's not my biggest seller of my F/Fs. Nonetheless, I'd like one day to continue the theme. Already have another title in mind.


Bebe allowed her gaze to linger on her assistant’s profile as she steered the Dodge Ram past endless brush and sand. With no obvious signs of life before or behind them for miles, total concentration on the highway didn’t concern her. So long as their current route led them to their destination as her GPS promised, Bebe preferred to watch the animated smile play on Debra’s lips.
She talked to herself—a habit to which Bebe also admitted. The curse of the creative, she chose as their alibi, and when she failed to correctly read the other woman’s lips Bebe broke the silence.
“What is so damn funny?”
Debra Carrico, twelve years junior to Bebe’s thirty-five, with the flawless skin and soft brown hair to justify it, grinned and popped her gum. “I was remembering this show I watched on one of those oldies cable channels the other night,” she said, and Bebe rolled her eyes and returned her focus to the road.
Good thing, too, as she managed to avoid a slow-moving armadillo on a stroll. With traffic so rare in these parts, of course, why hurry? Bebe imagined the poor little animal forgot to check his calendar, else he’d know to expect a few more cars than usual, all heading this way for South of Sundance.
“Jesus, every channel is oldies if they don’t feature dancing Canadian idols stranded on a desert island and competing for the affection of some has-been sitcom star,” Bebe grumbled. What Debra considered vintage, Bebe had enjoyed at Debra’s age, and it irritated her to no end knowing that Debra enjoyed yanking her chain and pulling at the few gray strands already highlighting her dark auburn hair.
“It was Mary Tyler Moore,” Debra said with a laugh. “You remember that show, right?”
“Of course I do. That was the gig she had before she joined Wings.”
Debra ignored the crack. “The whole cast was gathered together singing this song. ‘It’s a long way…to Tipperary…’” Off-key notes filled the cab, and Bebe cringed. She willed a sign to emerge from the distant heat, and smiled on seeing they had only a few miles more to reach the town limits.
“…and I was just thinking that it’s not only a long way there. They should have renamed that song to Casa Rosa,” Debra finished, and leaned closer to Bebe. “Or maybe it seems so long because we didn’t take the interstate.”
Bebe didn’t like her assistant’s accusatory tone. “There’s less traffic on the state roads and highways.” Next time you drive, Magellan.
Debra slumped back against the passenger door, and bent her knee to brace her foot on the glove box. “I think you did it on purpose.”
“How observant. I do like scenery and fresh air.”
“Because you’re nervous.”
That quieted Bebe. They passed another sign. One mile to Casa Rosa, and true to Debra’s theory her stomach quivered. Soon they’d check into their hotel, then scout the festival for registration information, and look upon hundreds of faces who would see her film for the first time. Bebe didn’t want to think about the ensuing wave of reaction—a few hundred smiles falling into twisted frowns, or even a collective open-mouthed shock.
She gripped the wheel and heeded the GPS’s monotone instructions. The small town of Casa Rosa, New Mexico was laid out in a simple grid, permitting simple navigation. Large, rainbow banners hanging from lampposts welcomed visitors to the tenth annual South of Sundance Film Festival, arguably the largest lesbian and feminist film event in the country.
Hell, Bebe thought. This had to be the only such festival in existence. She’d attended more populated affairs at home in San Francisco, but most queer-friendly gigs included all manner of sexual orientation. South of Sundance, while not the behemoth party like its sort-of namesake held up north in Utah, still attracted an impressive crowd, among them some of the most influential women in the motion picture industry.
Despite her fluttering nerves, Bebe sensed a warmth spread from her heart through her veins. They drove past multitudes of women window shopping and enjoying lunch on sidewalk cafes. They held hands and cuddled—natural and free of disapproving stares. She’d heard the aptly named Casa Rosa, the Pink House, was a great gay-friendly destination for vacationers to the Southwest, but to see it unfold before her encouraged her sense of belonging.
The South of Sundance organizers deserved some credit for that as well. Of all the festivals to which she submitted Buzz, only SOS extended a guest invitation and a special screening.
“Over there! You missed it.”
“What?” Bebe snapped her attention to the right, glancing cursorily out Debra’s window. They passed the circular driveway of the Casa Rosa Inn, so Bebe executed a quick lap around the block and corrected the overshot. The small, stucco-covered inn reminded Bebe of the beautiful Spanish homes of her native St. Augustine in Florida. An elegant stone bird bath with a fountain sprayed water in the center of a tile-floored courtyard, which the two ladies walked through to enter a cool, spacious lobby painted a darker shade of pink.
Debra stood close to Bebe as they waited in line, pushing her rolling luggage to and fro. “Mah colors are blush and bashful,” she whispered with a quiet snicker.
No matter the location, leave it to her assistant to call to mind the appropriate movie dialogue. Lord, she hadn’t seen Steel Magnolias in years, too.
Bebe’s gaze panned the breadth of the lobby, taking in the vases of pink orchids, the mauve Queen Anne sofas in the sitting area, and even the pink lemonade in a clear pitcher on a credenza bearing other snacks. Heaven help her if she messed up her line—Debra wasn’t one to let things like that die.
“The entire sanctuary looks like it’s been hosed down with Pepto Bismol.”
That earned a generous laugh that rang too loudly, and when Bebe turned her attention back to the registration counter she saw everybody else had been served. An older woman in glasses, stern yet soft in an out of place green blouse, eyed them with unease.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
Bebe quickly composed herself and stepped away from Debra. Little hope of disassociating herself completely from the girl, but maybe the clerk hadn’t heard them joking. “Sorry, yes. We’re checking in,” she said, fishing in her purse for her license and credit card. “We had two rooms under the name Yasbeck.”
The clerk brightened. “Well, hell. It is you finally come.” The woman extended a hand and shook Bebe’s hard, jostling a shocked Bebe. “I am so glad to meet you, Miss Yasbeck. May I just say, too, I’m thrilled that you’re staying here for the festival.”
“Uh, thank you.” Bebe wanted to shrink into the pink; surely she flushed bright enough to match the d├ęcor. On her first film fest outing she encounters a would-be fan and what does she do but act like a cold fish. In her defense, with Buzz being her first movie—and an independently produced documentary rather than a summer popcorn blockbuster—she hadn’t anticipated recognition. Not even at a lesbian event, since she didn’t really consider Buzz a lesbian work.
Momentarily she wondered if the festival advertised it as such. Damn. Another thing to check on before she could truly relax and enjoy herself.
“Yes, ma’am, when I heard your film was showing here I got my ticket first thing,” the clerk rambled on as she gathered keycards for them. “Good thing I did, too. You know Buzz completely sold out in five minutes?”
“It did?” Bebe looked back at Debra for confirmation, but the girl shrugged her ignorance. The news sent her heart into overdrive.
“Yep. They had to add a second screening to fill the demand. Everybody is looking forward to it.”
“Well, uh, thank you.” What more could she say? True, the content of the film was bound to generate interest, but Bebe didn’t expect a mad box office rush. Fear and excitement intertwined into a thick sword and stabbed at her gut. Buzz described her film perfectly, as it chronicled a series of women exploring their sexuality through vibrating adult toys. Yet, despite the nature of the theme, the movie showed nothing explicit. Surely to God people hadn’t bought tickets thinking they were going to see some hot girl on girl action?
She wobbled in place, enough to catch a look of concern from the clerk. “I should get to my room,” she explained. “It was a long drive.”
“Oh, sure thing, hon. You both are on the second floor. Beautiful balcony view of the back garden. Elevator’s down the hall to your right.”
“Thanks.” Bebe hastened her exit before the clerk could volunteer any more platitudes. Debra nipped at her heels, her luggage squealing behind her.
“How in the hell did that kind of interest catch on?” Bebe hissed once the elevator doors sealed them from eavesdropping ears. “We’ve had zero publicity up until now. I haven’t even updated the website with a trailer yet.”
“I don’t know,” Debra squealed her defense. “It’s probably good word of mouth. You’re in a town full of dykes, and they all want to see women enjoying themselves. Maybe the festival’s playing it up.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Bebe said, wondering how much play the festival told viewers to expect, and would Bebe be allowed to play elsewhere if Buzz flopped.
“Don’t worry about it,” Debra told her. “Let’s get everything unpacked and settled, and we’ll do some recon work.”
Bebe nodded. How appropriate to begin her budding film directing career at a festival bearing the initials SOS.
She needed all the help she could to get through the weekend.

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