Francis Ford Coppola was the last one to walk out on the balcony of his Edenic retreat and gawk at the sleek white helicopter that was carefully working its way up the narrow valley and slipping in under the rain forest canopy to approach the lawn in front of the main lodge. He sized up the sexy frame of the 902, a man not without professional experience of military helicopters. Characteristically, he didn’t view the noisy intrusion of the chopper as some fresh hell barging into his lovingly created paradise, but as just one more invitation to view something weird with wonder.
The rest of the invitees to his film conference had different takes on it, though. The muffled chop of the rotor had busted up the afternoon seminar on independent script development, the conferees stumbling out into the blaze of mid-afternoon sun to squint at this rather flamboyant intruder.
Most of the paid attendees huddled together on the porch, or leaned over the lashed cane railing for a better view into the tinted windows. Nicholas Cage and Marty Bregman were joking about the chopper, John Milius calling out over the rising roar, “Hey, Francis, what is this? Apocalypto Now?”
Shane Black rejoined, “If they start shooting, better look around for Andy Garcia.”
Bannock motioned for Loris to go around the corner of the house–which she ignored–and moved towards a stone stele that might offer a little cover it things got as messed-up as they often did when Navy helicopters show up without tickets.
Kenny and Gareth stood somewhat apart from the rest, a condition they had experienced–and despaired of–from the first. The collection of filmdom’s heavy hitters at the lodge had been more bemused than impressed by the entourage that Black had termed the “Jerque du Freak”. Bregman had been taken by Copper’s flame art, Cage had snuck off for a splif or two with Winston, and Coppola himself had expressed admiration for Xchab’s sheer Mayan-ness, but mostly they were seen as a road company publicity stunt. Loris was winning hearts, minds and musculature with her massage treatments, but nobody was taking the Burbank Bros. seriously and flaunting oXo did little to improve their shot at support. Kenny had been increasingly frantic as the first day of conference moved along; the helicopter was about to push him over the edge into babbling paranoia.
Winston turned his back to the propwash and lit a doobie.
Then the ship set down right on the front lawn of the main house, bouncing a tiny bit on its pontoons. A uniformed pilot opened his window and waved.
Silenced and nonplussed, the guests and speakers (and gypsy camp followers) watched Townsend jump out and look around, every bit the central casting action hero. He reached up to help a Diana Ross type out of the front door while a beautiful, bouncy blonde swarmed out the other side followed by a hunky Mayan kid. Then an Asian beauty, handed down from the cabin by her vaguely Asian retainer.
None of this did anything to unstun the watchers on the porch.
Gareth was first to speak, slapping Kenny on the arm and chiding, “I told you we should have brought a cameraman.”
Kenny returned a limpish slap and said, “And I told you we don’t have the money. FYI, it’s the blonde and Noble Savage from that dump in Tulum.”
“Oh, right, and the black babe. Christ, how’d I forget her?”
Coppola heard them from the deck above and leaned down, “You know these people?”
Gareth took a deep inner breath, shook ’em and rolled ’em. “The film I was trying to tell you about? That’s the cast.”
Kenny nearly fainted from the sheer audacity, but recovered quickly enough to add, “The rest of the cast. It’s multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-sexual. It’s… you know… The Yucatan Lives.”
Coppola looked back at the new arrivals. “Interesting.”
All right, Kenny thought. He thinks it’s interesting.
Oh shit, Gareth thought, anything but “interesting”.
Denny grabbed his hat as the copter lifted off again, doing a fancy backflip and blitzing away much faster since the pilot knew the route, and studied the group on the porch. Curtsy and MeiMei gave shy waves and smiles, Aphra cocked a hip.
Tuan recognized Coppola at once and tipped his sun hat in tribute. MeiMei took in Copper and Xchab and Loris, all looking pretty cinematic, and the Burbank Boyz, who looked genetically Hollywood. “What are they doing?” she asked Tuan, “Making a film here and now?”
Tuan looked around, said, “Do you see a camera?”
“No,” she replied quickly. “And nobody gets to see mine.”
“I gathered that. Well, shall we go mingle?”
“You bet your butt we mingle. I can’t believe I have a chance to meet the man who wrote ‘The Conversation’.”
Tuan gave her an amused sidelong look. “But what he really wants is to direct. It’s always weird seeing people like this in real life. He looks so…”
She turned and put on a supercilious expression. “Where have you been? Sorealism is like totally dead.”