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Whatnots by
Kyle Hemmings
 
Illumination by Peter Knoll
'world party'  2008 Peter Schwartz
'world party' by Peter Schwartz

Orson Welles Throws a Party

I'm the hustler from Cleveland. Rita Hayworth hires me to find her missing husband. At the party, at least three men claim to be Orson Welles. This much I know, a man fell out of a plane once and claimed to be Orson Welles.

This is the story about all of us.

You steal someone's identity, someone tries to find the other in you, lost and found, lost and found, lost, then-- the screen fades to black.

At the party, everyone wears masks and the men talk about how they spent years after the war searching for the perfect gypsy all over Eastern Europe. On the screen, Rita Hayworth does a perfect dive from a cliff into a glittering sea. I suspect the punch is spiked and only the shrimp and olives will survive.

Someone is telling the story of how he survived Dachau by poisoning the guards, then, denies the tragedy of space. There's a plane buzzing overhead. This might be the fourth Orson Welles.

The lights dim, an image of a bearded Orson Welles looms on a far wall. In deep and theatrical voice, he says this party's over but an after-hours one will soon start on his yacht, drifting at sea, by invitation only and only if they can locate it.

*

Sometimes, when I'm in a plane, I pretend to be Orson Welles who was Mr. Arkadian who was the father of a girl who lived in a castle with an Audrey Hepburn hair cut, a lifestyle of a pampered Angora cat. And Rita Hayworth was The Lady from Shanghai.

Then, I'll jump, find myself in a strange city, reinvent myself from a pile of old newspapers and photos, kill off anyone who still remembers me from the Eastern Front, the staunch resistance of the Hungarians, the Czechs, the way I once handed names to the Nazis, for a handful of chocolates and a pack of Turkish.

And there was an old gypsy who once loved me before she turned to brothels and stolen diamonds. The way she pronounces my name in a lurid city of pickpockets and sailors turning up dead.

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last update: February 29, 2008