Aldon sat on her tiny couch, quietly watching their tiny television. Or rather, she would've been watching the television, had their cable not gotten shut off earlier in the day. In the interim, she had been filling her time with stacking the golems on top of each other, making paper cranes fight each other to the death, and staring at the less-than-useful T.V.
She reflected on the struggle of being an art student on the west coast without a job. Art supplies were plentiful enough with their community, so there was never a lack of that. Never a lack of time, either. Tough to put food on the table with paints, though, especially if nobody was buying.
She glared across the room at the golems. These little fuckers aren't pulling their weight, either. In her mind's eye, she saw the golems putting on tiny suits in the morning and heading to the office, and returning with fat stacks of cash. She sighed. Her attention was pulled away from her periodic pals and to the door, which swung open as Finnegan pushed his way in past a pile of her canvases.
"Hey Al. You've got some mail." he said, pulling an envelope out of the pile. He tossed it in her direction. "Let me know if it's a check, because we need to take care of the water bill here before too long." He glanced down at the blank television screen. "And probably the cable bill, too."
She nodded, leaving her dreams of daytime soap operas behind her. "Did you cash the one from the exhibit I did on the 16th?"
Finn shook his head. "No, it didn't come in yet. Neither did the one from that piece for Morganson."
Aldon pulled at her face. "Holy shit what is the point of doing commissions without the money part."
They both sat quietly for a moment as they looked through the mail, Finn occasionally mumbling some displeasure about being poor. Aldon broke the tension by tearing into the articles addressed to her.
"Let's see here… ad, ad, coupon (ooh and for that new hat store awesome), ad, bill, ad, bill, court summons (probably not important), and… oh, hey. Look at this."
Finn raised an eyebrow and scooted over towards her. The envelope in question reeked of butter and grease and was stained accordingly. It was addressed, oddly, to 'those goddamn liberal California art-types'. Finnegan cocked his head.
"How in the hell did we get this?"
Aldon placed a single finger over his open mouth. "Shhhhhhhhhhh," she said, "let's see what it says."
She flicked through the adhesive and opened the flap, pulling out a piece of lined paper. It too bore the same grease stains and shaking it revealed it was encrusted with what looked like salt, but Aldon was undeterred. She flipped the paper open and began to read.
"Dear goddamn liberal California art-types (this is starting well), I'm writing to you because people at my drive-in like that Hugo Weaving in movies (can't fault them there, I suppose), but I need him in more movies so I can sell more tickets and people won't get bored. I figured if somebody had the time to do something like this, it'd be you jobless, good-for-nothing art students who are riding the ass of decent people by pretending to have some kind of worth. I-"
"Hold on," Finn raised a hand, shaking his head and laughing. "Why are we not shredding this thing right now?"
Aldon carried on. "I know the only way to motivate you is with money, so I'll pay you $1000 if you can do it by the end of the month, $2000 if you can finish it this week. Don't call me, just show up if you want to do the work. Won't be surprised if you don't, though."
She stopped, and looked up at Finn, who was standing with his mouth slack-jawed. He blinked twice, and ran off to the tiny closer where he kept his things. Aldon snorted, and called after him. "Where are you going?"
His voice was followed by the clatter of falling shoes. "To get my stuff, come on! We're going to Indiana!"
They arrived within the hour, after a quick trip through a meandering Way that may very well have been a cornfield in some other world. Aldon paused to pick a stalk out of her hair, before glancing up and down the dirt road they stood beside.
"Is this it?" she raised an eyebrow, sniffing.
Finnegan pulled a map out of his bag, eyes squinting against the sun. "We're close, I think. Kind of hard to tell, looks like there aren't a lot of Ways out here." He looked up. "Just down this road, maybe. Let's get going."
They strolled down the gravel road, Aldon kicking dirt about and scuffing her shoes in an attempt to make the most of their already worn soles. A quarter mile passed, and then a half mile, and with every step Finnegan's brow furrowed further into his eyes. When they rounded another bend and there was no movie theatre in sight, he stopped in his tracks.
"Alright, what gives," he said, gazing around mystified. "Are we in the right town, or what?"
Aldon shrugged, and then squealed. Finn spun on his heel to face a man that had not been there a few moments before. He was not particularly tall, but was particularly rotund, and smelled like cigarettes and old butter. His white polo was stained with a variety of unspeakable liquids, and his baggy jeans sagged below the line of common decency. He gave them a once over with his beady eyes, and then snorted.
"You two them Californee art-types?" he said, sneering. Finn nodded slowly, and Aldon continued to stare, shell-shocked. The man snorted again, and spat. "Got here faster than I 'spected. Guess that's cause you ain't got nothin better to do." He turned around and started walking into the woods. "Get on, now. Don't need to waste time."
The two of them met eyes briefly, and then scuttled along behind the mysterious stranger as he traipsed through the woodland. Heavier clothing would've helped avoid the nettles and spines of the less inviting plantlife, but they hadn't planned for hiking. After another quarter mile and about a pint of blood loss, they emerged in a clearing before a fenced in field housing a building and a screen, both standard drive-in fare. Aldon gulped, and Finnegan knew why.
The building might've been a building at one point, but it looked now more like a delicately assembled arrangement of mold and mildew, with the roofing having long since caved in at the back and the mortal crumbling to dust whenever a strong enough breeze kicked through. The fencing itself was little more than rust, and the screen had easily seen better days. As they approached the shack, Finnegan noted a dirty, though recent model, red Camaro sitting a ways away from the clearing. He leaned in towards Aldon and snickered. "Found what he spends his money on."
Her face twisted into a half pout. "Sure as hell isn't this drive-in."
They entered the tiny building after the man, who stopped long enough to spit again before turning to face them. He gestured to his left and right. "This here's the projector. I just got it fixed so don't fuck with it or I'll make sure to charge you for it. Over here's the movies. We got a bunch, but only got a few of them Hugo Weaving movies. All you gotta do is get him in a bunch more movies, and you get paid." He sneered again. "Easy enough for you?"
Aldon's eyes opened wide, followed quickly by her mouth, but Finnegan averted danger by stepping in and smiling politely. "Absolutely, sir. We'll take care of it."
The man took a few more moments to eye them slowly, and then moved towards the door. "Don't break anything," he said as he exited. The door smacked him in the ass on the way out, and Finn thought to make a joke, but thought better of it. He turned to Aldon, who was poking through the movie collection.
"What do you think?" he said, coming up behind her. She paused briefly, and then pulled a film from the shelf. Her eyes labored on the cover as she peered meticulously over it, and then raised an eyebrow.
"Lot of porn over here," she said, her words slow and calculated. "Isn't this a family theatre?"
Finnegan snatched it out of her hands and tossed it into the corner. "That isn't important, or anything I wanted to know anything about. We've just got to make sure that we get this guy into a bunch of films, enough to get paid," he laid the emphasis on heavy, "and then we can get out of here. You dig?"
Aldon recoiled. "We need to get that guy into movies? Jesus, I don't know if he'll fit, I-"
Finn shot her a look, and she stopped. He rolled his eyes, and they both walked over to the projector. He threw his bag on the table and sat down on an old stool resting near it.
"Alright," he said. "Let's get to work."
"Fucking- no, holy shit how have you not seen any of his movies," Finnegan said, hands hanging in the air. The clay statue that Aldon had produced stood before him, but he was not particularly moved.
"What are you talking about?" Aldon said, pointing dramatically at the finished piece. "This is perfect! That jaw, the eyeline. This is exactly what you asked for, that guy from the Matrix."
Finn facepalmed hard enough to leave a mark. "No, Al. That's Keanu Reeves."
Aldon cocked her head. "Who?"
"You ever see Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?"
She nodded. "Duh. It's a classic."
Finn rolled his eyes. "That's Ted."
Aldon squinted and turned back towards the statue. As it was, the statue was the spitting image of Keanu Reeves, in the buff. The statue turned its head slowly and raised an eyebrow at her, which caused her to nod. "Yeah, I can see that. This is the Matrix guy though, right?"
"Well yeah, he was in the Matrix, but no, this isn't the right guy. You want the other guy, the one with the suit."
Finnegan nearly did a backflip. "How the fuck do you know who Laurence Fishburne is, but not who Hugo Weaving is?!"
Aldon shrugged. "I like CSI."
Finnegan shook his head. "This isn't going to work. We've been doing this for five hours, and we're not even done with one movie yet." He rubbed his temples, contemplating the choices that brought him to this point in his life. "Alright, how about this. Why don't we just go talk to Mr. Weaving and see if he wants to help. If anything, it'll give you a chance to see what he actually looks like."
Aldon perked up. "Oooooh, meeting a movie guy. That sounds fun." She paused, considering. "What if he says no?"
Finn shrugged. "Then we cast everybody as Keanu Reeves and hope nobody notices."
She paused again, and then nodded. "Alright, cool. Road trip it is."
Some time later, two gangly looking twenty-somethings stepped out of a Way and into the personal residence of one Hugo Wallace Weaving, much to the surprise of Mr. Weaving and the aforementioned twenty-somethings. There was a brief exchange of heated words, after which both parties found common ground to hold a discussion about their intent.
"So what you're telling me," Hugo said, choosing his words carefully, "is that you want to somehow cast me in every movie ever made, to appease a drive-in movie owner from Indiana, so you can afford to pay your bills?"
Finn nodded while Aldon thoughtfully stroked her chin. "Yeah, that's the gist of it," Finn said. "What do you think?"
Hugo considered, and then squinted at them. "You know, I'm having a hard time believing you're not batshit."
Aldon rolled her eyes. "Hang on," she said, reaching into her bag. She fumbled through it for a moment, and the pulled out a tiny metal bobblehead. At least, that's what it looked like, before it started walking around and poking the furniture.
Hugo watched it ponderously. "Alright, an animatronic. I get it, but you said you were artists, not enginee—"
"Just watch it," Aldon said, shooting him a look.
The golem peered up at her and, with a nod, melted into a pool of liquid copper before reforming as a tiny man in a black suit. He wobbled around, shooting a tiny gun and chanting "Mr. Anderson, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Anderson," before collapsing into a pool again and reforming in its previous bobbleheaded shape, making a noise that was unmistakable as tiny, metallic laughter.
Hugo nodded slowly. "I see." He looked down at the golem, now chewing on its own foot. "Can it do other movies?"
The golem popped back up, spun quickly, and was then sporting flowing locks and a bathrobe over a white t-shirt with black sunglasses. It looked up at Hugo and, with as much gusto as it could manage, said, "Shut the fuck up, Donnie."
He smiled. "If I do this, can I keep this one?"
Aldon reached into her bag again, and pulled out another golem. This one was slightly gaseous and buzzed with bright purple light. "You'll need two. They get lonely if they don't have somebody their size to torment."
He nodded. "Alright, then. I'm in."
Aldon and Finn smiled, and she shot a wink at the tiny dancing golems on the floor. Little fuckers are pulling their weight, after all.
The scene was set, in some Way or another, and Hugo stood in his wizard robe on one side of a dark room. He glanced over at Aldon and Finn, both sitting atop tall director's chairs. "When's my cue for this one?" he shouted.
Finn pointed at the door. "He's going to come in through there, then just read your line and run over towards him."
Hugo gave the thumbs up, and got focused. Aldon brought a clapper down, and a scrawny boy with messy black hair entered the room. Hugo charged across the room, cloak flapping behind him, with passion in his voice.
"Harry!" he shouted. "Didjapudyernameindagobbledefire?!"
"This is really cold," Hugo said, his breath catching. "Is this worth it? For a bit part?"
Aldon pointed off set. "No no, you're a really big deal in this one. All you've gotta do is hit that boat when it comes floating your way. Then you can just kind of float off over that way."
Hugo shrugged and resumed his doggy paddle. As the Titanic came into view, he kept paddling, straight through the steel hull and then off stage right.
Hugo sipped a cup of coffee and turned towards Finnegan. "So we could just keep doing this forever, and nothing weird would happen to us?"
Finn nodded. "Yeah, something about being outside of time and space, I honestly just kind of go with it." He looked over towards the treeline, where Aldon was chasing a Velociraptor with a broom. "Hey!" he shouted, "easy with that. We're going to need it later."
They were all quiet as they observed the flock in front of them, taking in the majesty of nature firsthand. The beautiful moment lasted as long as the silence, when Hugo broke it with a question.
"You want me to do what to that penguin?"
The two of them stood in front of the disheveled theatre owner, quietly sweating his reaction. A crowd had gathered to see Hugo Weaving as The Kraken in Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and business seemed to be moving. The owner, as usual, was unmoved, but hadn't insulted them personally yet. Progress, Finnegan thought. It wasn't until the movie ended and the crowd began to disperse that the man made a noise, when he spat on the ground in front of them.
"Huh," he said, shrugging. "So that's Hugo Weaving. I thought they was talking about that guy from Bill and Ted."
"Right?" Aldon shouted.
Finnegan put his flat hand through his face.