Cosmic Immigration (Story 34)

His name was Lars, though his family was from the Philippines—a product of globalization. Her name was Julia; she was from Sweden, but her family was Jewish—a product of Jewishness. They met at a Starbucks on the Upper West Side. He was coming back from a shoot. She was stuck there because her flight was cancelled. They wouldn’t have met if things worked out as they were supposed to.  Their relationship, for lack of a better word, was a product of Hollywood.

Julia was a writer most days.  The day she met Lars, she should’ve been on her way to Los Angeles to talk to someone about selling a script she’d written. For his part, Lars, who wasn’t an actor as often he thought he should be, had just come off the set of a pilot that was going to go straight to the web. It told the story of an elite squad of border patrol agents with the twist that the border in question was not between countries but between dimensions—“Cosmic Illegals,” the show was called.  “Heady stuff,” was how Lars described it to his roommate earlier that morning.

After getting his skinny, tall latte that was not skinny, nor tall, he took the seat next to Julia and asked her if she and the star of the pilot were one and the same. He hadn’t worn his glasses to the shoot, but from what he could tell, they looked similar.

“You’re asking me if I am an actress?” Julia said, a little surprised to be pulled away from her Twittering. “Is that a line?”

“No. You just looked like an actress I worked with earlier today.”

“OK, so now you’re trying to impress me by the fact that you’re an actor?”

Lars blushed slightly, which made the brown of his skin glow, giving him what some might call, star power. “I was an extra on a pilot. Not really that impressive,” he managed through the glow.

Julia moved her water bottle and her three spent cups of espresso over and made room for Lars. “What was it about, the pilot?”

It was at this point that Lars used the word, “heady” for a second time that day though unlike when he used it earlier with his roommate, who probably knew little and was, by nature, disinterested in most things, Julia seemed smart and asked questions.  In fact, as Julia asked him about his heady experience, he wondered if he actually knew what the word meant.

Of course, he’d already committed himself, so he told her why he was there in front of her and not still on the shoot.

As it turned out, a supporting character, one of the star’s fellow border patrol officers, kept ruining a scene on purpose. In the show, the border patrol agents came up on a pile of dead “cosmic immigrants” in a field.  “Someone,” Lars explained, “was taking justice into his own hands and murdering them.” The scene was supposed to be simple enough. The star was supposed to look at the carnage with a mixture of disgust and sympathy and that was it.  The problem was that the woman who played the star’s second-in-command kept dropping to the ground and putting herself among the stack of bodies before the director yelled cut. “At the time, no one was sure why she kept doing this,” Lars told Julia. “But it came out later that the actress was Latina and she felt a kind of solidarity with the cosmic immigrants. She was fired on the spot, and we were all sent home with pay.”

“They just fired her? Just like that?” Julia asked with a kind of emphatic quality that made both her anger and accent obvious.”

“Where are you from?” Lars asked.

“Another dimension,” Julia joked when her phone rang.  “Sorry. I have to take this.” And with that, she started in on a phone conversation in a language that Lars could not understand but that he recognized immediately.  Julia was speaking Swedish. Lars had grown up hearing the language. His parents, raised in Manilla were both film buffs—lovers of Swedish cinema mainly. The language had always annoyed Lars. He didn’t know why, but the mixture of glottal harshness and cutesy sing-songy delivery bothered him, and it was all he could do not to get up and walk away from Julia, who aside from the whole Swedish thing, was attractive.

“Sorry about that,” Julia said after getting off the phone. “That was my papa. He’s worried.” Julia stopped talking, realizing that Lars was somewhere else. “What’s your name, by the way? I didn’t get that?”

When Lars told her his name, Julia let a beat pass as she looked at him carefully. “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you don’t really look like you belong to my tribe.”

“Just the first name. My last name is Trujillo.”

“Ah. But are you Latin?”

“Latino, I think, is the preferred nomenclature,” Lars said without trying to be ironic. “Latin is a language.”

“Ah,” Julia said a second time. “I told you I was from another dimension.”

“Right. Sweden. That is different,” Lars said, again not trying to be ironic.

At this, Julia bobbed her head, not being able to guess Lars’ relationship to her mother tongue.  Eventually, Lars started doing the same, but only because he felt awkward at having insulted a woman he didn’t know without her seeming to realize it. For a full minute, they bobbed along to the new song by Seal that was playing on the speaker and to each other.

“So what do you think will happen to the actress?” Julia asked. “Will she get work again?”

“I don’t know. I’m new to the Hollywood thing.”

“Hollywood doesn’t like heady stuff,” Julia said.

“No,” Lars answered, his head starting to bob again though less aggressively now that Norah Jones was playing, “then again, Hollywood is another dimension, so she might have a chance.”

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Categories: fiction

Author:the circular runner

g. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his lovely and talented wife. He holds degrees from Columbia and from the Harvard Divinity School where he spent three years thinking about lofty things. Since then, he tries to write some lofty and some not-so-lofty things down so others can see how lofty he sometimes is. When he’s not writing or spending time with said wife, he tortures young people with learning. He blogs at www.circularrunning.wordpress.com and Tumbls at www.circularrunning.tumblr.com

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