This is the piece I read at the Two With Water Rx Reading Series at Beauty Bar in Chicago. The theme was “orientation.” My apologies to grammar nazis. This is a draft.
In the clamshell shaped air-conditioned Marriott of downtown Los Angeles, the lobby is empty. The lobby is empty except for a chair. Leaning against the chair is a full locked suitcase and suitcoat, ruffled and wrinkled into a kind of ball, reflected perfectly in the recently waxed gold tile floor. Sitting in the chair is Christopher Walken, slouching, defeated. On an adjacent radio the distant beginnings, slowly getting louder, of remixed hiphop music. Weathered Christopher Walken, spirit threadbare, stares coldly into the abyss of empty urban hospitality. He is alone in this space. He looks as though he has exhausetd his options, perhaps wishing for a room but finding only this emtpy hotel lobby, this empty unemployed registration desk. Strange that in a city as large as Los Angeles there could not be just one employee to check him into a room after what appears to be a lifetime of closed doors. This chair is a rescue chair. He looks to his right to find the guest service cart stocked with clean towels, rags, new soaps, new shampoos, tiny toothbrushes, unopened boxes of Kleenx, and copious mints. And the black radio, with its long extended antennae. Is that where the music is coming from? He looks ahead again as if considering his options. He could step out of the air conditioning into the urban desert, hail a cab, find a different hotel. He could sleep in this chair until someone somewhere gives him some kind of service, for Christ’s sake. Or as it were, he could move his head a little bit from side to side and dance alone in this motherfucking empty LA Hotel lobby.
He stands and steps forward, his mind made up. The music on the radio kicks in, the true nature of the rambunctious introduction starting, a dramatic rise, a sudden loud bass. The dancing begins. He assumes a hulking, mounstrous position, leaning to the right, “Thriller” style, his limbs pointing to the left, and then suddenly reversing, stepping forward and to the left, he kicks and spins and jumps, moves to the right.
He suddenly slouches, like an old man, hands dangling in front of him, spine arched. A kind of Nosferatu. Quickly he spins and faces the right, walking in that direction, his shined shoes clacking against the reflective lobby flooring. He does a few kicks, left and right, and lands in front of tall golden doors that through the power of motion detectors, open upon the sensation of his very presence.
The singer in the song sings, “Don’t be shocked by the tone of my voice, check out my new weapon, weapon of choice.”
Christopher Walken, mid fifties, hair gray, spins around and enters backward through the now open tall golden double doors, snapping his fingers and dancing as he goes. The singer repeats his opening line and almost as if to the music, Christopher Walken rings the bell on the registration desk which has just entered his periphery. He rings it and it dings, to the empty lobby of the Los Angeles Marriot. It rings for no one. Christopher Walken, voice actor, stage actor, Tony Award Winner, dances forward the way he came, back through the tall golden double doors, his face bathed in the reddish light of LA evening.
He is leaping onto the baggage cart, sailing backward, his right leg kicked up behind him. He is, as if, surfing through the empty reflective golden lobby. He spins around and abandons the cart and continues in a healthy trot forward toward the escalator. He stands on it backward, snapping his fingers, next to an expensive looking horse carved out of wood. The horse is as if laughing at the man dancing on the escalator, his mouth in a near whinny. Christopher Walken is in what appears to be a kind of ecstasy, totally lost in his dancing. He is halfway up the escalator now, before stepping against the grain of it, interrupting the stairs’ flow, walking down in a kind of jig. His speed increases until he is back on the ground level of the lobby and getting his bearings. He is now running forward and jumping suddenly, with a kind of Olympic skater’s delight. He does a cart wheel and stands upright, looking left, right, forward, to the beat of the keyboardists sudden chime.
He frolics left and dances until he reaches a pulled out chair sitting adjacent a thin but sturdy card table. One wonders what a thin but sturdy card table, a table of function over form, is doing in this otherwise lavish downtown Marriott. Who would put such a table here of all places? He kicks off a pile of newspapers, that are sent into free fall like the dying leaves of autumns Los Angeles will never know.
Christopher Walken, the hulking actor, known for his darkly comic roles, halting speech patterns, and sociopathic disposition, is now dancing on this table, between two identical chairs and two identical lamps beneath two identical chandelliers. The desk behind him reads “Registration” and is long. It can be assumed that there could be at least twenty hours in a day in which this particular desk is filled with an amount of hustle and bustle, but not at whatever ungodly hour this is (all the more reason for some unfettered dancing). And unfettered truly is the face worn by Christopher Walken, with its characteristic dry, pale skin, like onionskin, as he dances on the table in front of the registration desk at the Los Angeles Downtown Marriott. His smile is in stark contrast with the beaten down withered expression from one minute and fifty six seconds before when he was sitting in the Lobby’s chair, his posture sad and lifeless. This is the unfettered smile of a man with a new lease on life. His tongue sticks out his left sidemouth. It retracts back into the mouth and is hidden by gritted teeth (the tongue). The music kicks up its initial dramatic uplift and Christopher Walken takes this opportunity to uplift himself from the table and continues to dance across the floor.
His hands are in his pockets now and he is coolly shuffling forward, his crotch prominent, as the singer informs us “Walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the worm.” He tells us this three more times. He pulls his hands out of his pockets again and lets them dangle, like the Nosferatu from before, but still shuffling forward. Suddenly his face narrows, his left arm goes into the air and behind him while his right hand is moving up and down before him, as if to spank the bottom of or slap the top of the head of an imagined other person.
His dancing carries him into a mirrored room, brighter than the lobby, a kind of reflective hallway, mirrors reflecting mirrors, reflections reflecting reflections with an innumerable amount of his own selves dancing with, an endless amount of partners. What is this room? He spins around and runs and moves forward with grace, his tie flopping in his own motion.
In front of the elevator, he shambles forward, and as the singer sings “You can go with this or you can go with that” he begins to point in respective opposite directions until pointing at the elevator, letting it light up and ding, the elevator’s doors opening, with him getting on.
The doors open on a new floor, darker now than before, to a kind of balcony overlooking the entire first floor. As expected, he comes out dancing. He hurtles himself toward the edge of the railing separating the second floor with the first floor of the lobby. He is essentially jumping off the side, literally diving forward and down, as if to his death, but suddenly and with great precision, in mid air, Christopher Walken begins to fly. With his right hand he is pointing forward and sailing through the air with great speed. When he reaches the other side of the vast expanse of open lobby, he moves backward a bit, turns around, positions his feet against the wall, flat, and then kicks off, floating toward the adjacent left wall and then pushing himself forward toward an enormous painting of three sailboats in a blue and choppy sea. He floats to the top of it and stops.
He inhales deeply as if considering his own worth, his own freedom, his relationship with and orientation with the space he is currently occupying, as if the test of a man is what opportunities that man takes, that a man must utilize the resources at hand, that the world is only an extension of himself, and that he has not let another moment waste by taking this opportunity to dance alone in the hotel lobby. He lifts his arms and one leg in a familiar “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” position and descends with great speed and great force the floor of the lobby.
Christopher Walken, Academy Award Winning actor, known for playing quirky fathers and gangsters, stands, catches his breath, and with weakened resolve resumes his slovenly slothlike position in his same chair next to his same suitcase and same coat. He rubs his nose. He blinks. He is exhausted. Christopher Walken waits.