peterjackson: (Outside pointing)
[personal profile] peterjackson
Pete: The day's a good crisp one, no wind, perfect to head for the park with one of my toys. I've brought out my British S.E.5 a World War I bi-plane I haven't flown for quite a while.

I get my equipment all set up, and fiddle with the controls longer than I need to. It's just relaxing and fun to play with this stuff. And, I'm putting off that moment of takeoff, I know. I just like the anticipation of it.

Finally, I fire the plane up, glad no one's close by because I think I heard myself actually giggle. It's been a while since I used this set of controls, and the takeoff is wobbly. Next one will be better. Finally, she's airborne, and I get comfortable, crosslegged on top of a picnic table, watching her fly in graceful arcs. She's a beauty, one of my first models, and I've missed watching her soar.

John: After loading up the trunk with groceries I'm about to unlock my cardoor when, in the park across the street, I spy a familiar figure. At first it looks like he's fiddling with something on the ground, but as I watch something small races across the grass and flies into the air. Pete follows its ascent, turning completely around as the little plane circles him, gains altitude, and finally reaches a cruising speed high in the air.

None of my groceries are going to spoil too quickly, and other than a quick phone call after that night I haven't spoken to him, so I decide to go say hi. As I approach, I see that this is a much different Pete than the one found crammed into the hall closet just a few weeks ago. There's a big grin on his face as he watches the little plane soar. And he doesn't see me, not until I'm so close that he jumps when he hears my voice. "So this is how the famous director spends his free time?"

Pete: "John! Good to see you, my friend! Sit down, sit down here! You've gotta watch her, just for a little while, indulge me." I'm not leaving room for a 'no', I've been putting the girl through some tight banking turns and I swear she's never flown better. Maybe I need to leave her sit another ten years before her next flight if she's thriving on neglect. "Watch this, okay, you ready?" I pull her into a tight one, bringing her down just enough to give us a show, the flat back of her wings facing towards us so we can really see her bank. "I mean look at that! I swear she'd tickle all sides of a tetherball pole if I asked her to!" I'm laughing and pointing, shaking my head to get my hair off my glasses. "Want to try her out?"

John: I look up at the plane as you put her through her moves, but when you're distracted I turn back to watch you. I honestly believe I'd forgotten what you look like when you're happy, truly happy, like you are at this moment. There were rare moments on the shoot when you were able to get just what you wanted on film, and your eyes would light up for just a few minutes like this. But that was a long time ago. Since then I've seen you hiding secrets, worrying about Hugo, gussetted by the Witch King - not carefree and joyful like you are right now. And who'd've thought a little brown bi-plane would be the thing to bring that out in you. "She's a beauty, Pete!" I exclaim as you smooth the bumps out of the flight and then bring her in to a glide before us. "Um, try it? Well, I've never done that before, but sure, long as you'll take over if she starts to crash."

Pete: "She's really forgiving, you'll be fine. Models may look like the real thing, but they're built to react a lot more easily." I hand over the controls, and show you what makes what go which way and how fast. After a false start or two, you get the girl airborne, and though it's a wobbly takeoff, it's still damned good for a first go. "That's the way, John. Just keep your eye on her, and your fingertips on the controls. After a while, you can practically will them to do what you're eyes are wanting to see. That little plane will do whatever you ask, within reason, without question or hesitation." My voice lowers and goes thoughtful. "Some things in this world are still within our control. And can raise our spirits up to the clouds on little homemade wings. I built that plane, John. She's mine, and obeys me without question. Her only job is to take me up to the sky, make me smile, and let me choose a direction of my own for a change. No one can tell me how to fly her, and for once, the path is the one I choose."

John: I chuckle as the little plane lifts into the air. At first my hand's a bit shaky, but after a few minutes my confidence starts to grow. With your words of encouragement, I start to play around with the controls, noting how much pressure it takes to get a response from her. At first I bite my lip in concentration, but you're right, she is forgiving, and I quickly feel my face relaxing into a smile as the little plane climbs higher. You're right, she is doing what I tell her to do, I do have control.

But my hands start shaking at your next words. The plane takes a little dip, and only you reaching to grab the controls stops her from crashing. I willingly relinquish the helm because I need both hands to bury my face. You bring the bi-plane in for a safe landing and look at me with such concern that I hate to have spoiled your moment of peace. "I burned my boat, Pete. That's what she was supposed to be - my control, after everything started to fall apart. And it wasn't enough." I look up at you, my voice empty. "I burned Phillippa."

Pete: You were doing so well, and then you just lose it, and I wonder what's going on. I'm worried about my plane so I quickly take over and get her down to ground, then set the controls aside and look at you. What you tell me next hits me on a couple of levels. Hearing Phillippa's name in this context rattles me, but not as much as you telling me what you've done. It's one thing to have these young guys running around angsting left and right, but to see you crumbling, well, I guess I have to admit that somehow I expected you to be a rock. Why, Pete, just because he's older? And have you been keeping your own act together? When no one's looking, have you been a rock? At least he's opening up, when was the last time you really let anyone see below your smartass surface?

"The planes are an outlet, yeah - but they can't fly me away from all this, they're just a way to vent a little tension. Can't say I've been tempted to burn them, but, well, we all have our unique ways of lashing out, I guess." You sound so lost, and it's hard to reconcile the guy sitting next to me with the one that stole ever scene he was in during filming. "I don't know if I can help, but if you need to talk, I've got nowhere to be for a few more hours."

John: Get a grip, John. Pete was in his happy place, and you had to go and muck it all up, almost wrecking his plane when he was just trying to share a little of his joy. "I'm sorry about this, Pete. Don't mean to lose it on you. It's not like I'm dealing with anything unusual. Seems this thing's taken on epic proportions. Seems like everybody and their dog knows about shifting these days." A wry smile as I recall how actors' kids and bartenders are in on the secret now.

But I wave my hand at your offer to listen. I still can't think of that night rationally. It's hard enough to admit what happened to myself, much less to anyone else. "It was just a setback, you know. I'd thought my life was coming together ... and then all of a sudden it wasn't." I look at the little plane resting on the ground. "I'm not looking to fly away, Pete. I know that won't work. I think that's when I lashed out, when I realized that. And now that I know, it almost doesn't feel worth starting over. It almost seems like too much effort some days." My voice is resigned more than sad, and I wish I could let you know that I'm not looking for easy answers. I don't know what it is I'm looking for. But whatever it is, I'm just not sure it can be found in something as simple as a little wooden plane or a boat.

Pete: I know what it's like to face a monumental task. That feeling that someone just sucked all the air out of your lungs and punched you in the gut at the same time when you step over the last hurdle and realize you're going to make another movie, oh yeah, I know that one. Staring down the long road from 'So, we've got a new project' to 'Well, that's a wrap' can knock you over if you look at it all in one fell swoop. I learned years ago not to do that. Maybe I need to apply my own logic to this shifting business. Maybe John does, too. "I've never built anything like a boat. These planes are more my style. But, um... if I were to accidentally stick two boards together and a friend was watching and he slipped and pounded a nail into em, and then they got stuck in a vice, or something, well, it wouldn't be building a boat or anything that absurd. It's just two friends probably having too much beer and goofing around in a workshop." I look at you and give you a warm smile. "It's how movies get made, too, a lot of the process involves inspired accidents. But if you're with people you know and like and trust, the process is good. And most days, it doesn't seem like too much effort, John. It really doesn't."

John: There's something in what you say that makes a lot of sense, and I think for a few moments before I reply. I've been too alone in all this, trying to hide what's happening from Sam, being caught unawares by people who shouldn't know about the shifts, but do. It's unsettling. But maybe you're on to something that could help. Finally I look up and return your smile. "One day at a time, eh, Pete? Sounds like we could use some kind of twelve-step program. Shifters Anonymous." I chuckle at the thought, but I'm only half joking. "You know, maybe there is something in what you say about people you know and trust. Seems we're all trying to deal with these things alone, when really we should be helping each other out more. I mean, I've talked to you - what, once since that night? I haven't seen Viggo or Orli for longer than that. And did you know Bernard's in town?" I see from the look on your face that you didn't. "Only he's not Bernard, he's Theoden, and he's locked up in the mental ward of the hospital. I've called and they won't let anybody in to see him, seems there was some kind of disturbance with his son." After meeting Jay I can't say I was entirely surprised to hear that, he definitely seemed full of spirit, though I'm still not sure about the details of what the hospital referred to as 'the incident.'

"Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming anybody for not calling me, I've been a recluse lately and spending a lot of time on the play. Not to mention Denny poking his nose out and giving me headaches or stealing time when I'm trying to enjoy a drink at the pub. Doesn't make me the most sociable of creatures. And I'm not saying we should have weekly picnics in the park, although..." I nod down at the control box " might be nice to see you give some more demos of your hidden talent."

Pete: The more you talk, the more my mouth's gaping open. "Bernard's where?" The rest of what you say just sort of washes over me, hell, I had no clue on half of this. If you're a recluse, apparently I'm living on another planet. "I, um... er. Viggo, Orli, saw them a few months ago, Vig had some problems with a story he was... living, and needed some writing help." I pick up the control box, not really sure what I'm doing with it but I'm feeling fumbly now. Pack it up, yeah, get the plane, get it set for transporting home, set it on the table, here. "No one can see Bernard? And he's shifting?" Okay, now my mind's racing. So, smart writer guy, gonna write a miracle out for Bernard now? I'm scolding myself on the inside, muttering on the outside. Save the day? That's what you do, right? When they get stuck they come to you so you can un-stick whatever fucked up situation they've gotten themselves in. But then, it's not like I'm on the phone making lunch dates either. I hide in the house, or bury myself in work, or lurk in the park with my planes. "So, John. How many recluses does it take to screw in a light bulb? Only one. Cause, well... can't be a recluse if you're working with someone else, right? Fuck, that's the dumbest joke ever. Well, besides the one about three elves walking into a leather bar..." The plane's set now, my nervous hands have managed not to snap a wing off of the poor girl, and I stop fiddling and just look at you. "They won't let anyone see him?" Bernard's situation has hit me hard enough that I'm a little surprised at myself.

John: "That is the dumbest joke ever, Pete. Your days as a comedian are probably numbered, you'd better just be satisfied with being an Oscar-winning director." I try to smile at you, but I know it's a feeble one and that makes me feel guilty, after you were trying to share your hobby that brought you so much happiness. Now you're fidgeting with the plane and look like you're ready to flee. I know that feeling too well. I'll tell you all about Bernard, and you'll probably be interested to know about the twins, too, and maybe even Paris if you haven't talked to Dave about it already. A whole new cast of characters has come to Wellie, and I don't know what that means. But first I have to see if I can get that frantic look off your face. "Pete, I'm sorry I brought all this up. You were having fun with your plane. Don't go on account of me. Come on, take her up one more time, make her soar one more time."

Pete: "I've already got her set to take home, John, I'd have to fiddle around a lot before she's ready to go up again. And, well. I think I've probably had my head in the clouds long enough for one day." I sigh and stretch, rubbing my face and then reaching to touch your arm. "Don't apologize. I need reality checks more than I'm getting them, and you gave me one today. Thanks for this, I mean it." I pick up the controls and set them back in the supply box, then give you a sincere smile. "You've got a knack for flying, John. You did great for your first try. I think you'd pick this up in no time. Want to do it again, soon?"

John: I'd never considered replacing boats with planes. Seems like a pretty drastic switch. But maybe it's not really. It's not about whether it's a boat or a plane or anything else. It's about being with your friends, and doing a little at a time, and helping each other along. I think maybe that's what you meant about inspired accidents. I smile warmly as I nod. "Yeah, Pete, I think I'd like to give it another try sometime. As long as you're willing to teach me. Same time next week?"

Pete: "That would be nice, I'd like that, John!" And I really would. It's been a while since I did anything socially, I mean really socially, without smiling and nodding and waiting for the motive, listening for the other shoe to drop. I'm glad you opened up to me, and maybe I can get some of my own frustrations out too, over time. I pick up the box of equipment and shift it in my hands. "Want to carry Marlene for me?" I shoot a look at my favorite little plane, thinking she'd done better today than ever, in ways I wouldn't have anticipated. Yeah, Pete, so you're this bigshot director, everyones boy when it comes to new projects, but maybe you can just be someone's friend for a change. Or, maybe you even allowed to have one yourself. "Definitely on for next week, John - and bring beers, willya? Can't believe you showed up empty handed!" I stuff the box in the trunk, glad you can't see my face right now cause I think I look a little goofy.

December 2006

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