Back to playing with new ideas for a short five minute screenplay. My main project , a feature film, is having a break. So I thought this except from a true story of an adventure I had in Chile five years ago might be a starting point... it's ending has a great twist.
I thought it might be interesting to have the whole film silent, except for a musical sound track, but at the end, where the twist comes, the surprise will be spoken .
The Chilean Sculptor.
Just before sunset, newly married Santiago born Soli drives me to a small village about a half-hours drive from the log cabin guest house where I’m staying. We’re close to the Pacific Ocean. I’m geographically half way down the long thin spine of Chile, en route to Patagonia. Soli, a vet in search of patients, has recently honeymooned in Patagonia. Her eyes sparkle when she talks about its turquoise lakes, its opal colored rivers and its abundant wildlife.
She’s decided that as I’m an artist, I must meet ‘The Sculptor.’
Owner of the log cabin guest house, Soli’s charging me for this little adventure. Being a clever business woman she’s devised other tempting treats for her guests. Tomorrow night, which is full moon, we’ll be walking along the beach with her dogs, then making a bonfire out of drift wood. Not 100% sure about the skinny dipping. This adventure cost double the visit to the sculptor. I’m fine with this. People are too poor here to bring their sick animals to me she confides.
We’re heading for the sculptors village in Soli’s brand new red 4x4, a wedding present I think. Her designer hand bag sits on the back seat. My small travelers back pack covers my lap. I love my new green slip on shoes. Soli is chic, I feel scruffy from the ankles up. We share a bar of dark chocolate. The vehicle smells of wet dog.
We plough across a wide dirt track road and stop on an autumn clad hillside in front of a large circular adobe house. This is the sculptor’s new home Soli tells me.
The house has 18 windows. There’s a smaller roundhouse on higher ground. That’s his studio she whispers. And right on top of the hill, there’s another strange adobe building. It's oval. My new friend offers no information about this architectural curiosity.
Without any introductions or goodbyes, Soli and the sculptor’s wife abandon me. They drive away in a cloud of thick brown dust.
“Wait here” the sculptor instructs. He scratches his chin with a dark brown wrinkled finger.
I stand outside the round house smelling the lavender, wondering why Soli is so anxious for us to meet.
A few moments later the man returns. He's carrying a CD player and a fat chuck of water melon. He eats it noisily.
Fifty-year-old Antonio has thick short steely gray hair, walks like a matador, likes watermelon and has just become a father for the fourth time.
“I’m a campasino ( a peasant )," he tells me as we walk past his studio.
“Never been inside an art school in my life. Self taught. And you?”
We’re heading for the oval house. Why aren't we stopping at his studio?
Soli has told him I’m an artist. He looks at me , waiting for a response.
“Well I’m a kind of campasina too," I say.
Why do I want to hide the fact I’ve studied art for six years, that I’ve dipped my toe into the International art scene, and withdrawn it.
“Yes, I live in the campo ( countryside) too.” I tell him.
“I live in a tiny village in Spain. There are probably more mules than cars in our village.”
Well, this was almost true when I first came to the village eleven years ago.
At the top of the hill he orders me once again to “Wait here.” His tone is neutral.
The weather beaten ‘peasant/sculptor’ then disappears into the oval adobe barn carrying his shinny CD player.
The sun is about to set and the air is pure and still.
I can smell the sea.
I feel a great sense of excitement. This is my first taste of South America.
Five minutes later he re emerges.
“You can go in now," he tells me. "Close the door behind you.”
Alejandro strolls past me down the dusty hill, smiling with a look I can’t decode.
Have I been judged a waste of time? Is that it? What now?
I stoop and climb though a child sized door closing it carefully, as instructed.
A pitch-dark, warm, wax scented, nothingness envelops me.
Everything feels black- brown, including my body. I’m temporally sightless, there are no windows.
Haunting sacred music fills the air. Gradually my eyes adjust.
Slowly the dense brownness lifts like a veil...
My attention is drawn towards a figure on the left. He’s sitting on a chair, hands outstretched, but he’s not moving.
Beside him on either side are six exquisitely crafted empty seats. At his feet 4 small candles dribble wax onto the sandy floor. They give the only light in this large empty mysterious space. The wax smells strong. Time comes to a standstill. The music disappears.
Much silence makes a powerful noise.
I sit a few seats away from the life-size sculpture of Jesus and gaze at his profile. I cannot bring myself to sit beside him. The twelve empty seats of his companions touch a nerve. Where are they?
At the far end of the room there are three six-foot high sculptures depicting birth, relationship, and death, also carved from native local wood . I’m told this is what they are later.
After a while the sculptor returns and we sit opposite each other in silence.
He seems to be praying, his head rests on his hand.
Suddenly he starts to talk.
When he pauses,I respond, wholeheartedly and spontaneously. His words touch the silence of my soul.
Without any preamble,we seem to be creating a brand new language as we begin to communicate, artist to artist. But how can this possibly be? My Spanish is so basic.
Gradually, our conversation becomes something else.
We appear to leave our bodies and dissolve into a vast ancient heart space. Our words and feelings become fireworks in the shared darkness. It’s like living a Rumi poem:
'Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field ( an adobe sacred space). I’ll meet you there.'
Everything Antonio says sounds like a Hymn to the Divine, a Psalm to Creativity, and a Prayer to Jesus, a Celebration of the Mystery of Life.
When we leave the oval house the sun has disappeared and the moon is bright in a Prussian blue star studded sky.
I feel elated, charged , cleansed, spring-cleaned and new.
Now, the idea is to turn this true little story into a short film. But first, here’s the ending.
Later that night at supper in the log cabin, Soli’s husband Alejandro tells me The Sculptor was best man at their wedding recently. He paints a word picture.
“He’s a very good friend, a Jack of all trades actually. Quite an actor. A kind of ...."
I don't hear his last words.
I am still in a state of speechless awe after my unforgettable experience.
“He makes his living by showing bus loads of tourists around his adobe grotto. He gets them all to meditate!”
Alejandro can’t stop laughing, his eyes scan my face for a reaction.
“Oh!” is all I manage to say.
Was this a set up?
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.