Excerpts for Axe Factor

The Lip and Eye Remover
(brand name on bottle of makeup removal cream)

Dear Clint,
It's Jimm here, your Thai friend down on the Gulf of Siam. Merry Christmas to you and your family. It's been a while since I wrote. I hope you are well. My sister (aka brother) Sissi and I noticed that you recently fired your personal assistant, Liced. We hope it had nothing to do with us hacking into her e-mail account and accessing private information about Malpaso Productions. Liced was a victim in all this and was virtually blackmailed into helping us. I hope you can forgive her and consider rehiring her. As we now have nobody "on the inside," I'm sending this package to your private post office box. I promise this is the last confidential information we will take advantage of. The enclosed DVD contains recorded footage of our very exciting pursuit of Burmese slaves on the Gulf of Thailand. As a live Internet feed, we attracted 1.3 million viewers for the event. Sissi and I are certain every one of them would gladly fork out fifteen dollars a ticket and watch it as a cinematic experience, especially if Natalie Portman played me. But I bow to you on casting decisions on this one. I've taken the liberty of wrapping the DVD in my screenplay adaptation of the events.
Clint, I'm sure you'll recall that this is the fourth screenplay I've sent you, each one more thrilling than the last. Although I haven't heard back from you personally (not complaining. Old age is catching up with all of us), we did intercept a message from one of your editorial reviewers that referred to serious doubts about the quality of characterization in our second manuscript. First, it was heartening to know you bothered to have our work assessed internally. But we feel a need to address this issue, especially as the characters in the second screenplay are my family members. We considered the comments to be unfairly cruel and I would like to take your editor to task.
Our mother, Mair, is perhaps starting to feel the teeth of dementia nibbling at her heels, but that doesn't make her "nutty as a fruitcake" as your reviewer described her. She has long coherent periods which do not involve wearing odd shoes or buying secondhand Cosplay rabbit suits on eBay. (She's only done that once. She wanted to bond with the dogs.) Between you and me, she was a "flower child" for several years and did spend a good deal of time in the jungle with anti-system elements and there may have been intoxicants ingested at that time. But I'd like to see them as turning her into a more whole and mellow human rather than "a fruit basket."
The older gentleman who was described as "unlikable and two-dimensional" is, in fact, my Grandad Jah. I have to agree with the "unlikable" part, but Grandad, I have to strongly protest, is not lacking a dimension. At the very most, he may be short a sense or two. But his absence of humor and social etiquette is more than made up for by his innate skill as an investigator. One would imagine that forty years spent in the Thai Police Force, where the focus is on amassing great wealth rather than putting oneself in harm's way, might erase a man's policing instincts. But Grandad Jah has uncanny abilities and is as honest as the day is long (which explains why he's still penniless).
This brings me to my brother, Arnon, known affectionately as Arny, after his hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. Had we not followed our mother to the northernmost southern province in Thailand for reasons that I've only recently come to understand, he would undoubtedly have been this year's Mr. Chiang Mai Body Beautiful. So, the comment, "This character has no personality, no abilities and absolutely no purpose for being in the story," is a bit like complaining that Moby Dick didn't have much of a speaking part. Everything revolves around Arny. He's the sounding board for my stories, and even though he wouldn't harm a fly, he is my protector. In the last screenplay you'll notice that he takes on a boatload of pirates all by himself. I may have exaggerated the number of opponents he faced and the injuries he inflicted, but he did make a good account of himself in front of his fiancée.
The "Impossible Hermaphrodite Queen," is my "sister," Sissi, who was neither born with conflicting organs nor crowned. If your reviewer had bothered to read the character sheet, he or she would know this. I feel he or she was just being smart in an attempt to impress you. I'm sure you have a lot of people sucking up to you. Sissi is transgender and has a medical certificate to prove it. With reference to her computer skills, the Malpaso threat to "chase you down and run you out of business," was very dramatic, but I'm sure you realize she's un-chasable and un-runoutable. Our hacking has, you'll have to agree, been very friendly, and even though your accounts were wide open to access and abuse, we have not robbed you blind. And I'm sure that when we're sitting down at the negotiating table discussing the finer details of our first movie deal, we'll all look back at these days and laugh.
Which brings me to me, Jimm Juree. I should perhaps have been the most offended and hurt by your reviewer's comments, but I am traditionally a punching bag for abuse. As I am only thirty four and have never been in domestic service, I was forced to look up some other meaning for "old maid." Once found, I am obliged to protest most strongly. I was married and had conjugal moments with my husband during our three-point-seven years of marriage. At least once a month, if I remember rightly. Not a record, I agree, but enough to disqualify me from being "a woman who has not formed a human pair bond by the time she is approaching or has reached menopause and the end of her reproductive lifespan." (Wikipedia.) My husband had been desperate to appear married and I was desperate to be asked, which may not make us a pair bond, but it's a precedent. I have a good ten years of premenopausal hunting left in me.
I also take objection to the expression "a very unlikely Thai female character." If by this he means I don't work in a rice paddy or a go-go bar, am not listed on any Internet dating sites, and do not walk with tiny steps or speak demurely when in male company, then, fair enough, he's got me. But, in fact, we Thai gals were given admittance to the twenty-first century. We're allowed to chat online and study overseas and speak foreign languages. Would you believe it? We can even run companies and stand for parliament. No, Clint, my hero, I don't believe for a second that you want movie scripts full of stereotypes, and I'm sure you sent that confidential internal memo to the trash where it belonged.
Well, hey. You probably can't wait to get your teeth into the enclosed DVD and manuscript, so I'll stop here. As Sissi and I are sure the North American postal service is all but redundant since the advent of e-mails, we decided to increase the odds of you receiving this package by making thirty-seven copies, which we are sending to your work colleagues, some senior shareholders of the company, friends and family. In each one we have included a small plant pot mat hand-embroidered by Hmong hill-tribe women in the north. As I say, when we're all raking in the dollars from our first movie collaboration, you'll stop seeing this as harassment and appreciate the charming side of it. Somewhere on the director's voice-over on the DVD you'll mention how annoyed you were at first but that those goddamned crazy Thais had one hell of a product.
Have a great Christmas and may Santa bring you yet another Oscar.
Love, Jimm and Sissi
(Postal address withheld but you have our e-mail)

Copyright © 2013 by Colin Cotterill