Written by: Keith Helinski
Hand drawn picture by: Paddrick O'Riley.
December 29th, 1959.
Ext. Hollywood Hills, California.
Sirens attached to several police cars surround a rundown apartment complex in the slums of Hollywood Hills.
Int. Apartment 989.
Setting the tone of the scene, an ominous somber score is heard in the background, either by Franz Waxman or Bernard Herrmann.
Handfuls of police officers crowd a small apartment unit, investigating a crime scene. The apartment, though clearly on the poverty side of things, is very well kept. Also has the appearance that a female owned the apartment unit.
A Gone with the Wind poster is tacked onto the wall. A green silk dress is laid across a couch. A half-empty (or full) bottle of tequila is on the coffee table right across from the couch. A handgun is right next to the bottle of tequila.
Underneath the handgun is a note that read:
They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted Hollywood.
Blank bullets are on the floor next to the couch.
The police are taking samples of everything around the perimeter of the couch, the coffee table, and the bullet hole in the wall to the left of the couch.
Head detective, whom has seen more crime scenes than he cares to admit and is just three weeks shy of retirement; comes into the scene and inquires the scene at hand. He is filled in by the first officer on the scene that a neighbor called the police department at approximately 11:05 P.M., that he heard a gunshot fired a few units down. Once the first officer came on the scene, the door to this particular unit was open, but no body was found. And no trace of blood.
Head detective: Who's on the lease of this apartment unit?
Random police officer: (reading off from their notes) A Jane Doe, 30 years of age. She was a performer of the Citizens of Hollywood walk-by acts that performs on Sunset Boulevard.
Head detective: Is Jane Doe her real name?
Random police officer: Yes, her legal name.
Head detective: Clearly, this was either a homicide or a suicide. My money is on suicide. Fish out the lake nearby. Maybe she jumped.
Another random police officer: Maybe she skipped town?
Head detective: I don't think so. Once a Hollywood actress, always a Hollywood actress. Even if she wasn't working on pictures, she wouldn't just leave it all behind. Not this kind of life-style.
A crime scene set out to be a homicide or suicide, with no body (or sign of struggle) in sight. A great premise for the next Alfred Hitchcock picture, titled Lost in Hollywood. I could see Grace Kelly play me (of course, she would have to dye her pretty blond head, red). Humphrey Bogart could play the head detective, though; I don't ever see him starring in a Hitchcock picture. Bogey loves his noir, but Hitch is a little too bleak for even him. Maybe James Stewart or Cary Grant. They seem to be Hitch's go-to-men.
In any rate, I was just setting the scene here of what most likely happened after my immediate death.
You see, darlin', I did die on December 28th, 1959. I don't want to confuse you already, but I have to be honest to you, I mean, to me. We tell the truth to everyone else – but we tend to lie to ourselves. It's easier to lie to ourselves. The more we do it, the more we lie. I remember looking in the mirror the night that I had died and hated what I saw, whom I saw. I felt a discontent with myself, as I would look into my eyes and not even recognize the reflection looking back at me. I hated who I was, who I was becoming. Hated the silk green dress I wore. Hated the character I made up for myself. Hated the Jane Doe I became. No joke, I went by Jane Doe.
But I will tell you, uh, I mean me, I will tell me, myself, and I - that Jane Doe died on December 28th, 1959.
I moved to Hollywood from Buena Township, MI - back in '49 when I was 20 years old. The lore of Hollywoodland had always fascinated me. My parents took me to see Gone with the Wind at the Redford Theatre in '40. They brought me along, thinking it was the right time and picture for me to see at the cinema. That first shot of Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh, left an ever-lasting impression with me. From that day forward, I wanted to be like Scarlett. I didn't want to be like Vivien Leigh playing Scarlett. No, darlin'. I wanted to be like Scarlett – how she played men like spin tops, how she always prided her independence. Yeah, she was kind of whiny. Yeah, she kept marrying the wrong men for all the wrong reasons. And yeah, she said 'fiddle-dee-dee'a little too much. I still instantly fell in love with her, and longed to mold in her spirit.
My parents thought I was crazy for wanting to move to Hollywood. To hell with them. I had an aching in my heart, to be a star. I remember the exact moment I got off the bus with one suitcase in my hand, a red umbrella in my other hand – wearing a silk green dress and large sunglasses that filled my entire face.
When I wandered down Hollywood Boulevard, the first thing I did was visit what resided on 6925. I placed my suitcase on the ground before me. My hand still gripped my umbrella. My heart was racing. My eyes behind my sunglasses were in love, love, LOVE with Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The architectural of the building itself felt out of place on this street, yet, also looked exactly like it was supposed to be there the entire time.
I got myself an apartment, tucked off the beaten path along Hollywood Hills. Wasn't pleasant to look at, but I was close to EVERYTHING. In the following days, I tried setting up meetings with the major studios. I wore my silk green dress to each one. I thought I was a shoe-in. Apparently, no one would talk to me without an agent. Weeks later, I tried setting up meetings with agents. Agents wouldn't talk to me without a headshot and portfolio. Weeks later, I tried setting up a photo-shoot. They wouldn't talk to me without a rep. Talk about discouragement, darlin'. Round and round we go - Hooray for Hollywood! I didn't think the big stars (or even small stars) would go through this. I guess they had. Dreamer's dream, but they rarely do the necessary homework.
I ended up getting a job at a rundown diner near my rundown apartment, just to pay the bills. The diner is called The Trolley Car Drive-By, Dine-In. Fitting, really. It has been around since the '20s (the Drive-By was added to the name in the early '40s), and it's a cute, quaint little shanty of a place (despite it having the occasional questionable clientele and cockroaches!) I must say, though – the coffee is fabulous. The owner is a coffee master all to himself and spends a great deal of time studying the coffee beans that get shipped from other exotic countries. Trolley was one of the first establishments on the block that had its own coffee grinder. The coffee was great, sure, but I was mostly in love with Trolley's fine selection of pies. They had 99 to choose from…99 pies! You wouldn't think of 99 pies existing on this planet (!), but The Trolley Car Drive-By, Dine-In features 99 pies!
The Trolley Car Drive-By, Dine-In is a 24-hour joint, and I had worked a mixture of various 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts, six days a week. Joy! I will not bore the details of what goes on in a diner. I will leave it for the imagination. My life was nothing but Trolley, up until June 1953 when I had a strange encounter with a strange woman in a strange outfit, who appeared to be in her 50s or 60s. She sat in a booth by herself. I waited on her, and noticed she was wearing this blue dress with a bright red hat on (didn't exactly match). Also noticed she had too much makeup on. WAY TOO MUCH! She looked up at me and said the most strangely, wonderful, amazing statement I've ever heard in my life.
"You are a Wanderer, hon!"
"A Wanderer?' I asked.
"Yes, a Wanderer. I've noticed you quite a few times the last couple of months, dear. Your mind wanders. Doesn't wonder, but rather wander. As your mind wanders, I wonder what your mind is wandering off to."
Before I could question what exactly she is talking about, she pulled out a bell and placed it on the table. Then she proceeded to say to me:
"If you have any questions to ask me. Please feel free to ring this bell here…" she pointed at the bell, then continued, "…and ask away." She smiled.
Most people would write this off as sheer pure crazy-town. But I was just an innocent bystander in crazy-town, and was a little curious what this lady wanted from me. I was also starting to think that this was just an act. So naturally, I rang the bell. Everyone in the diner looked at me with a puzzled look. I didn't care. It was like being in a trance, like I was away from my job as a waitress at a rundown diner.
I then asked, simply:
"Who are you?"
She blinked, smiled, and grabbed the bell that was on the table, and then got up. She pulled out a bill that was most certainly more than enough to pay for her cup of coffee she ordered, and placed the bill on the table next to the cup. She didn't even finish the cup. Then she pulled out a business card and handed it to me. As I grabbed it from her hand, she said almost in a whisper:
"Your Fairy Godmother, hon. Time to wake up, Cinderella – Cinderella – Cinderella."
And with that, she walked out of the diner. I looked at the card and it read: CITIZENS OF HOLLYWOOD. I flipped the card over. It read: SUNSET BOULEVARD.
The next day (which happened to have been my only day off for the week), I took a trip over to Sunset Boulevard. To my wandering wondering eyes, I saw a group of street performers interacting with every day people. They were all dressed up in their best leading lead's Hollywood garb, and were acting out various scenes from various pictures. What was precious was seeing what appeared to be two male officers (clearly fake officers) reenacting the ending to Casablanca. The woman that called herself the Fairy Godmother spotted me from across the street. She bolted across traffic without noticing the cars that swiveled and swayed, avoiding collision. She got up to me with a smile, took my hand, and pulled me into the busy street. Near-collisions didn't frighten her at all. A tanker truck almost dared me to a duel, but she pulled me ever so tightly and ran ever so quickly, the only collisions I felt were the gust of wind from the moving cars as we darted across the street. I caught my breath as we were safely on the other side of the street. I then politely asked the woman what was her name. She looked at me like I was crazy. A gentleman that was very well dressed and had a button that read 'MAYOR OF HOLLYWOOD' answered my question.
"She's our Fairy Godmother. Figured she would've told you that by now."
I blushed a little. Then responded while pointing at his button:
"You don't look like the mayor of Hollywood."
The Fairy Godmother pulled out her bell and held it with both her hands. The Mayor of Hollywood tapped the bell first, and then polity asked:
"Who is she, love?"
Fairy Godmother responded matter-of-factly:
"You know how much I hate being called, love – hon."
He coughed, looking slightly ashamed.
The Fairy Godmother glanced at me, and said:
"She is The Wanderer. And she will be my new assistant."
Everyone in the group of street performers gasped as they crowded around us (all eight of them). I didn't really know what to think or say or do or anything. Everyone looked at me for a sign of agreement or approval or something. Instead, the Mayor of Hollywood clapped and chanted "hear, hear."
So that was the start of my time with the Citizens of Hollywood. There was just something about the group, the Fairy Godmother, and well, the idea of losing yourself to a character you were portraying, but out in the public domain. It wasn't like acting in a picture or play. You acted and reacted to certain unpredictable circumstances, simply called improv. What they were doing isn't a new concept at all, but it seemed fresh in Hollywood.
I walked to the Trolley diner and quit on the spot. I knew that was probably a dumb idea, but hey, darlin' – this was Hollywoodland – full of dumb ideas. I was just an innocent bystander in the land of dumb ideas!
The next day, I wandered down the rabbit hole and arrived before everyone else at the very spot the Fairy Godmother declared I was going to be her assistant. I wore my silk green dress, oversized sunglasses on my face, a green hat with a white feather on top, white high-heels, white gloves, and a whole lot of heart. I'd already had in mind a character I wanted to portray. Someone that was a mixture of Scarlett O'Hara, Mae West, and my own overzealous personality; I would flirt with no end game; I would stretch the R's and the S's in any given word. I would act like I was already famous in show biz.
The look I came up with was inspired by a painting I saw at the Detroit Institute of Arts by Pierre Bonnard, a French painter. I don't recall what the painting was called, but it was a portrait of his ginger sister in a green dress holding a red umbrella. At 13 years old (when I saw the painting for the first time), it held an impression over me. I felt like there was both a seductive and classy power in the image his sister possessed in the portrait. I harnessed that into my character.
I was officially part of Citizens of Hollywood, and gosh – was it a fabulous time. From '53 to '57, it was some of the best moments of my life. I could fill many pages of all the magical moments I had, details of all of players of the Citizens, and even anecdotes of some of the craziest incidents with strangers reacting to our bits – but none of it is relevant to this particular yarn here. I mean, yes – it was a big factor to my life. During those years, it was the big picture, the main attraction, and the close-up focus in the camera. But then as the show goes on, life carries forward, and the wanderer wanders about – those magical moments parading around with the Citizens of Hollywood were nothing more than brief segments, captured in time. It led me from point A to point B. If this were a motion picture, it would be trimmed, edited, and spliced into a short montage sequence featuring me in my green silk dress, acting my heart out in various skits and bits.
CUT. Next scene.
December 28th, 1957 – the Fairy Godmother took her own life, jumping off a bridge nearby. There was no rhyme or reason to the explanation: why. None of us even knew her real name. Hell, none of us really knew who we were underneath the Hollywood façade. If that isn't a perfect metaphor for Hollywood in general, I don't know what is.
Our Fairy Godmother gave no indication that she would take her own life. She didn't seem depressed or down at all. She performed normally the day before, with a big smile on her face. We were sitting at a table on the side of the street with her bell placed ever so comfortably on the table. We had a sign that read:
'Husband auditions – ring bell if interested'
The bit itself was quite droll, an idea the Fairy Godmother thought of. Her persona was full of zeal, life, and possibilities. She had a Katharine Hepburn commanding quality. She guided us in every act as any leading lady does so well at, but she also sat in the background and let us lead anytime she felt we needed more 'screen time,' or, in this case, 'street time.'
In her will, she was to give her trusty bell to me. The bell was inside a package with a note that read:
They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted Hollywood.
What did she mean? Did she mean the Citizens of Hollywood? Did she mean Hollywood in general?
I tried to learn what I could about her, but she was the very essence of enigma. She founded the Citizens of Hollywood in the early '40s. Some of the Citizens say she was a spinster nomad that traveled with the Citizens of Hollywood idea place to place, and finally settled with Hollywood, knowing it would work in this town. I don't know. With each myth I heard - it made her mystery even more mysterious. And that mystery surrounded the basic question to any given suicide: why? No one wanted to really touch upon that subject.
We all held a candle light tribute the night we found out about it. We all ate pie (from Trolley, of course) in honor of our fallen Fairy Godmother the next day. We talked about her frequently. Then life sort of carried on. It wasn't quite the same; everyone sensed that. But we still carried on. I wasn't very close with anyone other than the Fairy Godmother. And close is a subjective word when you don't even know the person you worked along side with on a daily basis for years.
For many, no one wants to talk about suicide. It's this sacred taboo forbidden to and from openly discussing about it. Religion turned it into a sin, in which you will instantly go to hell if you practice the methods of suicide, and succeed. But let's be honest and real here - everyone thinks it. Everyone has a breaking point. The Fairy Godmother certainly had one. As the days, weeks, months, and years went by without the Fairy Godmother, I was starting to sense my breaking point.
If this were a motion picture, there would be a montage of me slowly but surely losing myself to depression. There would be shots of me in skits and bits without much enthusiasm. There would be slow motion moments of me in my apartment, either staring into space or crying endlessly. There would even be a perfect Oscar award winning tracking shot of me walking by the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, contemplating on life (and death). An interesting contrast to when I first arrived in
They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted
CUT. Next scene.
Life wasn't like the pictures we watched, glorified, and admired. And despite what people say, life isn't short, either. A day could span forever. A week went on like it would never end. A month seemed like eternity. And a year slowly felt like a lifetime of joyless nothingness. In retrospect, life is short. But within the moment, it dragged with its long-winded slowness. That is the very essence of depression.
Depression is not prejudice or racist against anyone. It is an equal opportunist that will wreck havoc in a person's life, sucking all energy, desire, happiness, and the person's very soul away until there is nothing left except an empty hollowness. You feel a discontent from other people. Depression truly is one deadly bitch. The Fairy Godmother knew that, and it took her life as a result. I was soon finding myself, as I kept on dwelling about the Fairy Godmother and who she was as a person of substance, I was slipping farther into the very pit the Fairy Godmother fell into. Her suicide mirrored my own emotions.
Though depression latches onto a person's life quite rapidly, it builds within slowly, fueling the fire of every negative thought, feeling, regret, sorrow, anger, and loneliness. It is a slow burn, but it lasts, stays with you day and night. You wake up with it. You go to sleep with it. It floats around you while you are at work. It acts like a friend, but it is your enemy. You can have 99 reasons to be happy, grateful, and joyous with life – but that not so fabulous depression will always find something to pull the rug under you. And it has no shame of giving you myriad reasons to hate yourself.
I was about to hit the 30-year-old mark in my life, and I had not reached the potential I strove when I first moved to Hollywood. I was in a rut. Hell, I couldn't even find a man that was man enough to be my man. Not to say I never dated or been out or even had my share of a fling here and there (every girl has her secrets). None of them panned out.
My dreams of being the next big actress crashed when the Hollywoodland I envisioned, but wasn't, turned into realityland it truly was; the slums everyone else crawled in while the big stars clamored at all the good roles. Producers wouldn't even give me the time of day without reps. Reps required a lot of money to do what they do – rep. I earned what micro-sized tips I got from my Citizens of Hollywood income. There was a six-month period I was late on rent. And as magical as Citizens of Hollywood was, it wasn't fulfilling as it used to be. I felt like the Jane Doe with the silk green dress and over-sized sunglasses on her face was slowly dying inside.
A year after the Fairy Godmother's passing; I had considered taking my own life. The thoughts crept up. I thought about overdosing on pills. Figured that might be the best way to go – in my sleep. But living in Hollywood, overdoses are an everyday thing. Reading and hearing about overdoses, I learned that there is no such thing as the right amount. Then I thought about shooting myself in the head, or hanging myself, or slitting my wrists or something overly dramatic Alfred Hitchcock would love and exploit on screen. But I am not a fan of pain, even if it's an instant death. Then I considered Fairy Godmother's method of ending it all.
December 24th, 1959 – roughly two years after her passing, I visited the very bridge she fell off to her death. It was late at night, like around 2 am. I wore my silk green dress. I didn't have any initial plan in my head as to what I was going to do on the bridge. If this were an Alfred Hitchcock picture, he would want his leading lady to look the part of a leading lady, even if they were about to fall to their death. '58's release of Vertigo proved that.
The bridge itself looked like the Bedford Falls bridge in It's a Wonderful Life when George Bailey was about to jump off before good ol' Clarence stepped-in and saved his life.
As I approached the bridge, I started sobbing. It was like every negative emotion I had came out to greet the bridge ahead. I stood there at the ledge for quite a while, looking at water down below. The tears down my face matched the ripples in the water. The desire to jump was there. My head kept shouting: 'JUMP, JUMP, JUMP!'
Even my heart was about ready and willing to give in, give up, and go down. However, something inside of me was restraining from actually jumping. Almost like there was a defense mechanism that was working twice as hard to protect me from self-harm. A voice inside of me kept saying:
"You are a Wanderer!"
After some time, I walked down to the end of the bridge and proceeded to venture underneath the bridge. Two older gentlemen were sitting in folded chairs with fishing poles in their hands. There was a collection of beer cans on the ground next to them. They both turned their heads and looked at me. One of them nodded their head and said:
"Merry Christmas, young lady."
The gentleman next to him shook his head and said:
"Why must you greet every person, young? Hello young man. Hello young lady. Some people might get offended by that, you know?"
"Who?" the first gentleman asked.
"Me! I am offended!" the second gentleman replied.
"Hell, everything, Rhett, offends you!' the first gentleman snapped back.
"There you go again, saying my name to a stranger that has no business knowing my name," said the second gentleman, Rhett.
"What's your name, young lady?" the first gentleman asked me.
By now, I was slightly amused by the banter between the two gentlemen that I didn't quite registered what I was being asked about until the first gentleman asked for my name a second time.
"Jane Doe," I said with a smile.
Tears were still coming down my face as the emotions I was feeling was still quite high (and rapid), but I felt a little calmer after seeing an unintentional comedy routine in front of me.
"That is a very unusual, but pretty name. My name is Clarence. Please to meet you," he said to me with such a friendly tone that I felt like he was a close friend.
Won't share to them the coincidence of their names being Rhett and Clarence, as life always enjoys throwing unrelated coincidences and ironies at you, don't it? Or could it be signs?
Clarence turned toward Rhett and said:
"Now we aren't strangers, Rhett. So stop being such a sour-puss to the pretty lady name Jane."
Clarence sighed, but doesn't say anything.
All of the sudden, an outburst from up on the bridge interrupted us three.
"Fuck that bitch!"
I looked up and saw a man leaning against the ledge of the bridge with the appearance that he was about to jump.
"Ten bucks says he is going to jump," Rhett said.
Clarence doesn't acknowledge Rhett. His eyes were on the man on the bridge. Muffled crying could be heard. After some time, the man pulled himself together and walked away from the bridge.
"You know I never bet on a man's life. That's just sick, Rhett. And you know that, you old damn fool!" Clarence said to Rhett.
I coughed and asked them:
"Do you guys see people jumping this bridge often?"
"We've been fishing here for the last decade. We always see people, mostly men that think about jumping but they never do." Clarence said.
"Were you here two years ago, December 28th?" I asked.
They both looked at each other with a frown on their face. Rhett spoke up and said:
"Yeah, we were here. That was the only time I didn't bet on a person's life on this bridge."
Clarence glanced at Rhett and was about to say something, but seemed like he was choosing his words carefully. Then he looked back at me and said:
"A woman jumped off this bridge that night. I will spare you the gory details, young Jane, but it wasn't pretty at all. She did say something before she jumped. At first, I didn't quite understand her. It was almost like a whisper, rather than shouting obscenities, as you clearly saw a few minutes ago. What this woman said was something I kept going back to months afterwards, retracing the exact wording. I finally figured it out, replaying it in my head over and over. She said, 'the Wanderer keeps wandering, the Wanderer keeps wandering.' I couldn't make sense of what it means, though."
Tears were running down my face. I thanked Clarence and ran away in a hurry with the Fairy Godmother's last words looped in my head. "The Wanderer keeps wandering." Did she know I was going to visit the bridge in time? Was this like a final sign she had placed for me? What the hell does any of this mean, besides making my depression worse?
I paced myself once I had a little bit of distance away from the bridge. I finally got to my apartment about 40-some minutes later.
By the time I finally relaxed, it was well into Christmas morning. I slept in my green silk dress on the couch. Never had done that before. Oops! I woke to the sound of a phone ringing. I answered it, dazed and half-asleep. My mom called me to wish me a Happy Christmas (she would always have a half-ass British accent when she would say it, yearly Christmas tradition). She then informed me the news of the family (not much), the town (rumor was Buena Township would be expanding town limits to city limits, and vote to change its name to Buena Heights). I had to hold back my tears once my mom stopped talking and asked how I was doing. I looked around my empty, run-down apartment and realized how lonely and isolated I had become. But I didn't tell her any of that. I faked a smile (even in phone conversations, my mom could detect when I was frowning) and acted my heart-out into making it sound like I was a-okay. It wasn't hard to master, since I've done it on the phone quite a few times while talking to my mom. We ended the phone conversation by reenacting the last 5-minutes of Miracle on 34th Street, another Christmas tradition since '48.
Citizens of Hollywood had a short Christmas break, up until the 28th. All I did during that duration was barricading myself in my apartment. I kept on dwelling over what I learned about the Fairy Godmother on that bridge. Her last words were circulating in my head. It was all I could think of. "The Wanderer keeps wandering." My life truly had turned into an Alfred Hitchcock mystery picture.
I returned to work with the Citizens of Hollywood on the 28th without much enthusiasm. I did a couple of reenactments of The Maltese Falcon with a few of the Citizen actors. The crowd surrounding us ate it up, as they usually do (especially when we turn a scene from a noir picture to a comedy routine). That was our specialty, the way the Fairy Godmother intended. We had a prop gun that was very much real, but with blank bullets (which always made the real cops in the area nervous anytime we shot the prop gun off).
I didn't realize until after I was mid-way to the apartment after my day was done, I had the prop gun in my coat pocket. It belonged to one of the fake cops. Oops.
I went to the store nearby and picked me up a few things I needed (mostly toiletry items). I also picked up a bottle of cheap tequila. I walked over to the gun section, and spotted the bullets. For the hell of it, I grabbed a box. I wasn't quite sure what I had in mind with those bullets. Then again, I wasn't quite sure what was going through my mind, period.
I got to my apartment, placed everything on the kitchen table. I took off my coat and gently hung it on the chair next to the table.
Besides noises coming from neighbors above, below, and between me – I was completely and utterly alone. Silence crowded my apartment. So did loneliness. I looked around and noticed I didn't have much of a life to show for. A faded Gone with the Wind poster was push-pinned to the wall. Below that poster was a couch that was stained up, and with a few holes in the cushion. I had a bookcase with a few books in it, collecting dust, of course. My kitchen was even worse, for I didn't have much food stored. I mostly ate at Trolley. Some days, I didn't even eat at all. Depression either inspired you to binge eat or starve. I starved half of the time, with no energy to replenish myself.
I grabbed the bottle of cheap tequila in one of the grocery bags, untwisted the cap, and chugged a mouthful. I made a disgusted face, as cheap tequila doesn't taste very good (at least to me), but felt instantly warm as the liquor intake washed over me.
I walked over to the bathroom, turned on the light, and stared into the mirror. I barely recognized who was staring back at me. Certainly wasn't Jane Doe.
Jane Doe was a name my parents picked after arguing over names. My dad wanted my name to be Stacey. My mom wanted me to be Liz. They could've named me Stacey Liz. Or Elizabeth Stace, which actually sounded like a stage name. Instead, at the last minute when I was born, I became Jane Doe Helga. I chose to be just plain Jane Doe once I moved to
They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted
The Jane Doe that was reflected in the mirror I was staring into wasn't the Jane Doe I knew well. I thought I knew myself well enough. Not well enough to know. She seemed like a stranger that barely lived. Her body parts were all functioning correctly. She was moving about in the world, like any normal human being was capable of. But there was something missing, something off, something that used to been there but isn't there anymore. It was noticeable when the Fairy Godmother, my Fairy Godmother, fell out of existence.
My soul, limbs, brain; my everything - was beyond exhausted from everything, almost as if there was nothing holding me together.
Most carry with them, along with their soul, some type of joy within themselves. Me, or should I refer me to simply Jane Doe, present (so to speak): my joy was missing. I felt an empty void inside of me. I went to bed with this empty void. I went to work with this empty void. I walked around with this empty void. I woke up with this empty void, except, I don't exactly wake up; I was sleep walking through life. Maybe that's what the Fairy Godmother was referring to me wandering around.
"The Wanderer keeps wandering."
I got out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. I took off my dress and got into Denim Capri jeans and a green long-sleeve shirt. I walked back over to my crammed living room/kitchen. I placed my green silk dress on the couch. I then headed over to the kitchen table. I took another mouthful of cheap tequila (disgusted face included). I reached into the bags for the box of bullets. I then grabbed the gun that was still in my coat pocket. In my left hand I had the gun and box of bullets. In my right hand, I held the bottle of tequila. I walked toward the couch and collapsed. I don't drink much, so as a lightweight that I was; the room was starting to spin. I placed the bottle of tequila on the coffee table across from the couch. I opened the box of bullets and got out a few bullets. I placed the bullets into the cylinders of the prop gun (after dumping the blanks on the floor).
The liquor was really doing a number to my head. Thoughts were invading my head. Thoughts of the Fairy Godmother. Thoughts of the Citizens of Hollywood. Thoughts of death. Thoughts of life. Thoughts. It was like a quick montage from an edited motion picture, spliced into a reel.
CUT. Next scene.
I placed the gun onto the temple of my head. I closed my eyes. Tears were running down my face like the Niagara Falls in Canada. My parents took me to Niagara Falls once; the same year they took me to see Gone with the Wind. That year was the year my life was all planned out. I was going to be an actress. One could argue that I am still an actress, but my name never made it to the credits of a picture. Jane Doe never took the next leap above just wandering.
"The Wanderer keeps wandering."
I would count to three.
I was once a waitress at The Trolley Car Drive-By, Dine-In – home of 99 pies.
Stop me if you heard this one. 99 pies walk into the bar. The bartender says he doesn't serve their kind. The 99 pies say it's their birthday. The bartender asks: you all were born on 3.14? Ba, dum, tss!
I was stalling.
I pulled the trigger.
'They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted Hollywood. You're a wanderer. The Wanderer keeps wandering.'
I opened my eyes. Heavens to Betsy; I was still alive. I aimed at my head, but shot the wall the gun was pointed at. If I aimed the gun just two centimeters closer to my head, I would have died, fade out ensured. I sobered up quickly, placed the gun on the coffee table, and got up. I raced over to my room and grabbed as much cash as I had, hidden in a shoebox in my closest. I hauled my behind to the kitchen table and put on my coat; and then ran out the apartment as fast as my legs could carry me. I ran for dear life, as I was close from taking my dear life away.
I caught my breath a few times as I was running. I didn't really have a destination in mind, but somehow, I found myself standing at a bus station. I got myself a ticket to some random place somewhere. I wasn't really specific on where to the person that sold me a ticket. I just said somewhere far away.
I got on the bus, sat in the back, and looked out the window. After a few minutes, the bus drove away. By then, it was midnight. I wasn't sure if there would be police surrounding my apartment. I wasn't sure if the Citizens of Hollywood would declare me missing, and file a report. But I was sure the
They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted
Hollywood Jane Doe died December 28th, 1959. All that was left of her was broken dreams, a gutted heart, an empty soul, and a coat to cover her exhausted body, as if gravity had possessed her limbs to feel utterly and completely numb (and alone).
Tears were still running down from my burned, squinty blue eyes.
Behind those blue eyes was a scene, spliced in a reel from a memory of the Fairy Godmother sharing a pie with me at Trolley a week before she had passed away. Over the yummy pies, we had a fabulous conversation about possibly writing a screenplay involving the Citizens of Hollywood shenanigans. We could turn this unwritten script to Orson Welles, who could spin it into a satire about surviving in Hollywood. Or we could submit this hypothetical screenplay we haven't written yet to Walt Disney, and watch it turn into a musical feature length cartoon. Hell, Warner Bros. would have fun translating each Citizen player to a caricature on those Looney Tunes shorts, or hand in a treatment to Ed Wood and watch him turn gold into schlock.
What could've been, but never was.
I leaned my head against the window and closed my eyes. I slept through most of the trip, but I had no memory of dreaming at all. It was just all blackness. Somehow, the blackness was comforting to me.
'They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted Hollywood. The Wanderer keeps wandering.'
I opened my eyes. Heavens to Betsy; I was in Mexico, in a town I couldn't even pronounce out loud, let alone, in my head!
I got off the bus and walked around this strange New World, though, it wasn't much different than the world I came from. I walked along the beach, watching the waves come and go along the shore. The shore was attached to the Pacific Ocean. It was like being in a place that had no memory.
I sat down on an uncomfortable (but comfortably enough) rock and kept looking out to the water. I felt a nice little breeze from the waves in the water. There was a life force within the water. I was imagining all the life the water consisted of, all the various species of fish and water life that lived within the life force of the water. I was wondering if there was a random fishy (maybe with red fins and green gills) that was wandering in the open ocean and that was as lost as I was. I was wondering if that fishy was staring out from the water, imagining itself out of the water and onto land.
Then I had a flashback of reading The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. I remember reading it in high school. At the time I was reading it – I thought it was a boring book English teachers forced students to read because English teachers hated their students. Somehow, at the very moment I was staring into the water before me, the entire theme, message, plot, point, and gist of the story was paralleling to how I was feeling; about feeling, wanting, needing something, anything – but didn't know exactly what.
I stood up and started walking (with all my clothes on) into the water, reenacting the ending of the book. The water was actually quite warm. I walked along the shallow end and went further into the deep blue sea. My entire body was soaked by then. I finally reached a point where I was tiptoeing. I held my breath, closed my eyes, and imagined the Fairy Godmother falling from a life force of nature to nothing.
'The Wanderer keeps wandering.'
I opened my eyes. Heavens to Betsy; the Fairy Godmother's bell was floating in front of me in the water. I gasped for air and grabbed the bell. I walked back to the shore and away from the Pacific Ocean. I later learned that the Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of the Earth's oceans.
I sat on the uncomfortable (but comfortably enough) rock, drenched in Pacific Ocean water, and held the Fairy Godmother's bell in my hand while analyzing it. I turned it over and noticed the bottom had an initial engraved. JDH. That was my initial. I wondered if that was also the Fairy Godmother's initials, or if she had it engraved for me.
I rang the bell. I then asked out loud to anyone, or someone, or everyone:
"Where to go from here?"
As predicted, nothing happened. No response from anyone, or someone, or everyone. No one was around, except me, who felt like no one. The Fairy Godmother never appeared. A wave erupted abruptly, interrupting my concentration of the bell. I looked at the bell and placed it on the ground. I then looked out in the peaceful, calm water.
I imagined myself settling at this spot. Maybe open up a summer dress shop (sell silk green dresses) and fall head over heels over a hotel owner nearby that escaped prison (you never know). I could move back to Michigan and learn how to play piano, and then provide piano lessons. Or I could move back to
They make me, and then they break me. I should've never trusted
Hollywood and rejoin the Citizens of Hollywood. Or become a film director myself. Female directors were rare but not unheard of. I could move to New York and open up a fabulous pie parlor (why not). I could travel the world and then write a book about it (maybe call it The Wanderer).
Life presented with myriad of possibilities. The very second before the last second had passed-by, life hasn't been written yet. But once the second has in fact passed, it becomes history. I could choose my own adventure and run with it.
I picked up the bell and placed it in my pocket. I got up from the uncomfortable (but comfortably enough) rock and proceeded to walk into town. As I was heading toward town, I walked passed a fruit stand that also sold various empty notebooks. Not sure why the two were sold together. I didn't ask. But I did buy myself a spiral notebook (along with a pen). The front of the notebook was lightly tanned, with a glued on picture of the globe (North and South America) as the centerpiece. Inside the notebook, there were cardboard dividers within every 18-pages. The back of the notebook, there was a Spanish word, viajero, which was in cursive. I later discovered that viajero meant traveler. It was almost like my Fairy Godmother was right there beside me this whole entire time, dropping hints and signs anytime I needed it.
I found my way to the beach, sat at the same uncomfortable (but comfortably enough) rock. I had my notebook (and pen) in my hand. I placed it on my lap. I stared at the water for quite sometime. There was certain tranquility about where I was residing. I smiled for the first time in days, weeks, months, and years. I then started tearing up. But for the first time in a long time, they were happy tears. They weren't tears of grief, or sadness, or emptiness. They were tears of joy, tears of hope, and tears for life. For the first time in a long time, I was thinking about life – not death. I then closed my eyes.
I heard a whisper in my head say:
'The Wanderer keeps wandering. Now write, hon.'
I opened my eyes.
Heavens to Betsy, darlin'! Here went nothing. I opened up the notebook, lifted my pen, and started to write. The first words I wrote was 'fade in.' I then stopped and looked out at the water. A wave was approaching me. It crashed within a few feet from where I was sitting. I caught myself smiling again.
Perhaps here was where I needed to be. Here. Not there. Here. Here and now.
kept wandering, but wasn't wondering anymore where the wanderer needed to wander off to. The world, life, love, anger, sadness, loss, and death awaited us all, regardless what one does (or doesn't do). Might as well make the best out of it here and now, and do what one is best at doing.
I continued to write, filling page after page of my story, my feelings, my thoughts, me; pouring my heart and soul with every letter, word, sentence, and paragraph that I wrote down in the notebook that ultimately was my lifeline. Was I writing for my Fairy Godmother? Was I writing for an audience that wasn't there? Was I writing for me? I stopped writing, placing the pen on the last page I was at. I pulled out the bell from my pocket and rang it. I then asked the same questions I had written down. Once again, no answer was given; just the sound of waves making love to the shore, and the wind lightly tapping my face.
The sun was coming down and the sky was changing colors from bright blue to dark purple. The dark deep purple sky was reflected in the water below.
I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with my life (let alone for the night). At least I was optimistic. I looked down at the notebook and noticed that I had almost filled an entire section before meeting a divider in the notebook. I closed up my notebook, shoved the pen in the spiral, and placed the notebook in my pocket. I got up from the uncomfortable (but comfortably enough) rock and started walking toward the hotel nearby.
The Wanderer keeps wandering…
The Spirit Carries On – The Fairy Godmother's afterword.
What happens to us when we die, hon? That's the most common question us humans ponder over, more so than 'why are we here?' Many believe we go to heaven. Some believe we become spirits/ghosts. Others believe we are reincarnated into some other being. And there is a good portion that had this notion that nothing happens at all; that we just fade out like a film reel that finished its final filmstrip. I was part of the minority that believed in that. I was so close, yet, so far from the truth, hon.
My spirit did carry on, but the misconception that a spiritual being floats up in the sky is way off.
My spirit carried on through the memories of people that knew me as well as they had. You see, dear - each time the grief of a person that had passed away turns into a vivid memory latched into someone's head, the spirit carries on and could live forever. Not the ideal heaven we all envisioned, but still quite heavenly.
My spirit not only carries on through memory; it also carries on each and every time you ring the bell. You see, Jane Doe, hon, I gave you my bell and all the signs I could possibly convey to you because I love you dearly, dear. At first, I had envisioned you taking over the reigns of the Citizens. As fun of a playground as Hollywood is, it is no place for the Wanderer. The world is your canvas, not just a screen or a side street. The Wanderer keeps wandering, hon, as I knew you would find your way to my crime scene eventually. I just didn't foresee how close you were to jump, or shoot, or drown. Your story is not done yet, dear. The Citizen's stories aren't done yet. In time, they will tell their own stories. My existence in spirit is very much alive with them as it is with you, hon.
My story, on the other hand, was about to come to an end. You see, hon, I received some dreadful news from a doctor. The precise reasoning is too technical for my taste. Let me put it like this – the doctor gave me an estimated timetable.
From the very beginning of my life, I choose every step I make – not some doctor with his fancy words, dear. Not some timetable, like an hourglass that is designed to end my life just as the last grain of sand drops from the top to the bottom. I choose when I was going to die. And gracefully, I chose. One could argue that it was a bit over-dramatic. Then again, so is cancer.
I certainly didn't anticipate that you would become so distraught over my passing. If this were a motion picture, we would call such a dilemma a plot-hole or flaw. When a story or motion picture is constructed, you try to map it out best you could without plot-holes or flaws. However, life is full of plot-holes or flaws (as well as plot-twists, turns, and suspenseful thrilling scares and jumps, hon). We could try to understand and study every crevasse, surface, or hole that life beholds us. I certainly could question why cancer was thrown in my face when life was so grand, or, as you would put it, fabulous.
Life can be a bit abnormal, though. Every person we encounter in life, dear, has an impact or imprint in our life – both positive and negative. There is no audition or casting call, dear, as people drop in and out of our life; by chance, fate, tragically, or accidental, without a moment's notice and with no exact rhyme or reason, hon. I knew the second I ushered you away from Trolley to Citizens, that my imprint on you would be quite significant. And I knew the second before I jumped off that bridge, this would cause such a hole in your life (though, again, hon, I honestly had hoped my overly dramatic exit out of life wouldn't inspire you to follow the path I took). The Wanderer follows the Wanderer's own path, dear. That's why I provided you clues. And I will always whisper in your ear the moment I pop up in your head. It might be a faint whisper, but I know deep down inside your wandering wondrous heart that you do hear the whispers, you do see the signs, and you do sense my spirit, hon.
You most certainly worried me for a bit, so to see you make it this far, dear, brings happiness to this old spirit. Jane Doe, hon – you need to write to be better. To write to learn. To write to escape. To write to grow. To write to inspire. To write to live. To write to write, my dear Wanderer. I am ever so proud of you.
'The Wanderer keeps wandering. Now write, hon.'
K.H.; March 27-May 1, 2018.