The Director

[Estimated reading time: 24 minutes]

Habeas Corpus - 1992

The woman behind the glass is crying, tears are running down her not-quite make-up-free face.
She is sobbing, quietly, while staring with kind eyes at a person on the other side of the glass.

She is wearing an orange jumpsuit and is shackled into a black chair.
There are wires connected to a metal cap on her head and metal bracelets on her arms.

"The studio wanted less tears in this scene.
Apparently, having a death-row inmate bawling her eyes out is just 'off-putting'," The Director narrates to no one in particular.
The Director sits in the small, dark room, where a dozen people are sitting and watching the execution through thick glass.
The Director sits at the edge of the assembled, in the very back, and slowly looks from one attendant to the others.
Miranda is accused of murder, and the victim's parents are both sitting in the front row.
Her's husband is also in the front row, with the prosecutor and the defense attorneys between the two parties, acting as a sort of buffer.

No one notices The Director, no one reacts as he comments about the scene.
There are no cameras, no gaffers, no microphones just out of view.

"The screenwriter had just three conditions for this whole picture, and it was all about this scene," The Director continues.
"Three things she asked for: real tears, an older actress, and the protagonist dies."
The Director sits and shakes his head.
"The actress, a newcomer by the name of Jenifer, was cast as Miranda when the studio sent down a nicely-worded threat.
She got picked because she is a Julia Roberts type, but younger, and that's what the studio wanted.
But Jenifer cannot cry on command, so the makeup artist is just off-screen, ready to apply a tear here or there as necessary.
I wanted a single tracking shot, backing away from her eyes, pulling back so we can finally see the electric chair.
But Jenifer couldn't hold an expression for more than ten seconds!
So we ended up with lots of quick cuts, like fucking amateur hour!"

The phone rings on the wall, next to a clock that reads "11:57", and everyone gasps.
Miranda's eyes follow those of the assembled audience, and suddenly there is hope in her eyes.
The warden picks up the phone and has a short conversation, then waves to the executioner, stopping the whole thing.

"Miranda's released on a technicality.
A promising script is flushed down the toilet because of studio interference, once again," The Director laments.

A green-eyed woman in a smart blue suit turns and looks at The Director, and for a moment he wonders if she can see him, but she looks away quickly.

Miranda's husband cries a single manly tear, and the world fades away to black.
The credits start to roll.

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