Last Scene w/ Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay

We now return to The Last Video Store On Earth with CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO, already in-progress. 

CINEMATICO: Welcome back to The Last Video Store on Earth. I’m Cinematico Magnifico.

Our next segment is “Last Scene w/”, in which I finally leave this godforsaken place to locate, tag, and interview the feral and semi-domesticated artists and entertainers lurking and crying in the dark corners of Southern California.

Today’s quarry is writer, director, and amateur ear-wax collector, Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay.

Enjoy.

CUT TO:

A hillside somewhere in Riverside, but not anywhere near a farting river. Cinematico joins DACOTA WITTACEE-NOTTAKAY beneath a tree.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) I found Dacota sitting in the shade of a large oak set against the weed and bramble choked hills of Riverside. A tee-shirt with only the word “fart” printed across the front and a rather snazzy pair of jeans belied a lean frame. Long hair masked dark, expressive eyes. And his beard smelled of honey and cilantro.

I first met Dacota when he was performing standup comedy in a sports bar within a bowling alley within a nice place to live. Now, I watched on as he needle-felted small figures of people he had never met, yet loved all the same.

CINEMATICO: What consumes you to transmute such magnificently bizarro creations to life?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: Fascinating.

Dacota… There’s a discussion to be had as to whether or not – as well as to the possible whys – audience are a bit hyper-sensitive to material that challenges them these days. But I also believe there’s a discussion to be had regarding those who make such material being equally quick to deny or deflect responsibility. Has there ever been a time where you’ve regretted a joke, scene, or some other moment in your work, or perhaps felt you’ve outgrown your older material?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps others can glean something from such a tragic loss of life and limbs.

Dacota… May I call you “Dacota”?

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

CINEMATICO: Wonderful.

Dacota, you’re a fellow cinephile. Have you ever felt betrayed or cheated by a film, and if given the opportunity would you set fire to those involved?

Dacota reaches into a small sack, releases a hummingbird.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) But before answering my question, Dacota reached into a small sack at his side and released a hummingbird.

Cinamtico watches the bird fly off.

And as I watched the hummingbird vanish off into the otherside of the 91, the bearded man who smelled of cilantro spoke these words of wisdom:

DACOTA: (incoherent mumbling)

Cinematico turns back around to find…

Only a note and a needle-felted figure of Cinematico where Dacota once sat.

CINEMATICO: (voice-over) When I turned to thank Dacota for his time, he was gone. In his place, a needle-felted figure of me and a hand-written note. The doll resembled me, and had what appeared to be a time and date written into its pattern. The note explained the doll foretold my death and prayed I make use of the time I had left.

CINEMATICO: Shit.

CUT TO:

The Last Video Store on Earth. Again.

CINEMATICO: Dacota Wittacee-Nottakay is still at large, and is considered personable and charming.

Up next after the break, we take a look back at the 1997 seminal box-office disaster, “I’m a Middle-Aged Werewolf,” featuring John Jablonski and Maggie Sex-Pun.

Santa Carla Zoo

A depressing local zoo located beneath a freeway. DOUGLBY, an exhausted, underpaid zoo employee, leads us through the cramped, ill-fitting cages.

DOUGLBY: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Santa Carla Zoo, the only zoo located beneath a freeway, adjacent to a water treatment plant, and built atop the mass grave of local indigenous people.

I’m Douglby. And unfortunately for me, Brennifer called-out… again. Something about her uterus climbing out her throat. I’m not sure. So, I guess I’m your guide for the day.

(looks around)

Uh… This way. I think.

(waves us over)

Yeah. This is fine. It’s fine.

(gestures) This is Alex, our endangered Moronikan Sexually-Frustrated Dolphin, best known for his offensive language and history of sexual assault. (considers this) Probably has something to do with living in a tank the size of a budget, above-ground hot tub.

Anyway. On we go…

(moves on)

(gestures) This is Charlie, our Idiotican Ook-Ook. Everyone, Charlie. Charlie, Everyone. Fun Fact: Charlie weighs only ten pounds, yet operates the largest car-theft ring in all of Santa Carla.

(moves on)

(gestures) Terry and Brenda, our perky pair of Jiggly Maguppies, both of whom have become global internet sensations thanks to their podcast where they spread conspiracy theories and violent, late-night domestic disputes. (considers this) Maybe it’s better if we just keep moving.

(moves on)

(gestures) And this is Terry, our thirty-something American Male with a Masters degree in theoretical business and several-hundred thousand dollars in debt that will haunt him until the day he dies. He currently works from home, selling his body for nickels and dimes.

Now. Some of you might be wondering why Terry lives in this cramped, inhumane cage of concrete, shame, and artificial light and food. That’s because people like you can afford to go to the zoo on a work day while people like Terry have to make do on a teacher’s salary.

An alarm BEEPS.

Sorry. That’s just me. Looks like my shift is up. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go hose down my cage again because Charlie is the roommate from Hell.

Douglby leaves.

Ouch! My Thumb!

NOT IMPORTANT tenderizes their hand with a hammer.

Then…

Not notices the audience, stops with the hammering.

NOT: (to audience) Oh. Hello. I’m Not Important.

People often tell me that violence is never the answer. But, what if it was?

We at “Violence Is Sometimes the Answer” are dedicated to solving the unsolvable with our unique brand of not giving a shit.

Our panel of Violence Engineers worked long hours for little pay in the pursuit of unlocking the secret of solving even the most benign issue with swift, painful, and inexpensive hammer-wielding justice. And once our engineers realized that they all had hammers and middle-management did not, they now work just as long, but marginally more flexible hours for slightly, albeit trivially more pay.

Whether it’s a discussion leading nowhere, a cold, uncaring economic system crafted and upheld by affluent slave-owners disguised as cold, uncaring bastards, or crippling arthritis left untreated due to wholly unaffordable healthcare, it turns out there really isn’t much you can’t, on occasion, solve with a bit of tender, loving violence and a good hammer.

Goodnight.

Not returns to hammering their hand.

Sonathan

SONATHAN composes a letter, as one does.

SONATHAN: Father…

Reconsiders this, but it’s fine. It’s fine.

It’s been nearly fifteen years since you left. Last month, I investigated the refrigerator myself. There was milk to spare. I’m starting to suspect you didn’t go to the store.

A depressingly pathetic, yet pathetically depressing beat. Then…

Repressfully yours… Sonathan.

Nice Night

STEVE: The most utterly depressing thought I can manage at the moment is… in knowing all this suffering is, quite literally, pointless. All of it. The [insert current hot topic], the [insert recent hot news story], [insert worthless, yet utterly stupid whatever] – all pointless tragedies of equal measure, sure.

And all in the face of certain death. And following that, likely cosmic heat death.

Bit of a hat-on-hat, if you ask me.

I mean, how much deader can it get?

Makes you question the whole divine plan thing. Just a little.

What’s divine about anyone who can’t sort out a decent ending to their work, huh? That’s just sloppy craftsmanship. No love or passion at all. It’s lazy.

And you can’t blame humanity for having to fill in all the blanks. We’re curious things.

I suppose that’s why we always have to touch the fire or attempt a [insert the latest sensitive cockup of discussion] before you realize you’ve made a big oopsie. Or watch someone else try first. See how it goes.

“Oh, [latest sensitive cockup of discussion]? Yeah. Turns out it burns something nasty. Not too bad though – leaves you a bit raw for a day or two. Unless you’ve record it like some flaccid halfwit.”

Anyway. I finally got around to watching [insert literally any film with actor Bill Hader]. I think it disappointed me some.

Bill Hader’s a dream, though.

Pine Cones

STEVE: Y’ever wonder about the first person to die only for some asshole to come along, look down – or maybe up, I don’t know – wasn’t there. But they look at what’s left of the poor bastard, shake their head, (half-hearted) “Shame,” (“normal” voice) and then continue on with their day as if they hadn’t seen a dead body?

I wonder what they must’ve seen.

Not the dead guy, of course, though I am curious about what he saw too. And I’m sure I’ll see something similar soon enough.

But what about the other guy? What did he see?

Was the corpse still warm?

How many pieces were there, and did they find it all before a bear made off with some?

Did it happen in front of them? Or maybe they came in mid-scene – no context, just a corpse in a cave with too many pine cones up his ass.

Personally Challenged

FINE: Podcasts. Whether you make them or listen to them, you’re still wasting your time.

I’m Fine Thankyou, and welcome to the backseat of this unlocked car.

Created in 1982 and later popularized on the Commodore 64, the podcast has evolved from an assortment of fully-produced talk shows and audio blogs to struggling comedians failing to hold their drunk friend’s attention as they blather ceaselessly into their outdated budget smartphones. Who are these people, and why do they titter on week-after-week before giving up without so much as a second thought after their seventh episode? Nobody knows. And nobody cares enough to find out.

CUT TO:

VOX POP: I wanted to challenge myself. See what I could really do, ya know? Could I come up with a minute – just one minute – of original material every night… and waste it. Every second.

The Nightly Chill

A bumper: the sort for a local station’s late-night programming block. Graphics, timeslots, generic upbeat music.

STEVE: (voice-over) Tonight on The Nightly Chill…

Relevant footage and graphics for “Chicken or Fish!” appear.

Kicking things off at 11:05, it’s “Chicken or Fish!” – the number-one game show for seniors who can’t fall asleep at a decent hour.

Then, at 12:13…

Relevant footage and graphics for “The Lonely Widow” appear.

…sit down at a kitchen table with Charlotte St. Pierre and a local housewife and squirrel killer addicted to sleeping with men named Doug. This and depressingly little else on “The Lonely Widow.”

Relevant footage and graphics for “C.R.A.P. Wrestling” appear.

And be sure to stick around till 1:45 for the latest microwave-safe action from California Ring-Adjacent Pro Wrestling as Monaco Midnight takes on The Dated Racist Stereotype in an empty parking lot brawl!

Return of the generic, upbeat music.

The Nightly Chill: because it’s always dark somewhere. Only on NUTS Channel 62, Santa Carla Public Television.

(Whispers in the Dark) Adia

Transmission XX85.06.06:

WHISPER: Listen up, lo-fi fiends and freaks. The sun’s setting on Adia, and you know what that means…

Transmission glitches, continues.

Word on the wire has it The First Adopters are no more following a successful coup by the scattered subscribers of the recently canceled Admiral Iron Shavings. No official statement yet from former officials. But First Adopter profiles have gone dark as of noon today.

Transmission glitches, continues.

Demand is high, bills are due, and credits are short. We wish nothing but the best for every citizen of Adia – from The Owners, all the way down to basic binary organics. And to show our appreciation, we’re offering a limited-time blue light special to every unit of human capital stock. Supplies are limited, so speak IRL with any and all members of Management or Security to collect what’s yours tonight.

Transmission glitches, continues.

And, finally… don’t settle on the cards you’re dealt, and never let your specs control your performance. The analytics are a lie. Hire only the best modders to reclaim your sense of self. If you can scan it, we can clone it. If you can scrap it, we can hack it. Be who you were meant to be. They’ll never know you weren’t there.

Transmission glitches, continues.

That’s all she scanned, bits and grids. This is another Whisper in the Dark, reminding you: anything is legal in Adia, if you can afford the transaction fees.

Transmission ends.

Audrey

DR.‌ ‌HOWARD‌ ‌FINE‌ ‌documents‌ ‌his‌ ‌thoughts‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌fashion‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌time‌ ‌-‌ ‌wherever,‌ ‌whenever,‌ ‌and‌ ‌however‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌point.‌

DR. FINE: When I first met Audrey McGuire in the bar of a hotel on the outskirts of Los Angeles, she was a fiery shock of red hair poured into a full skirt dress that teased a curvy figure beneath.

Her full, blood-red lips pouted at me as she performed a sob story about needing money for a bus ticket to Indianapolis, to stay with her mother after her husband had raised his hand to her one time too many.

The second time we met, Audrey was a willowy blonde wearing long boots and a short skirt, lying through thin lips about visiting her sister in San Francisco.

A beat. Then…

The third time we met, I observed Audrey gracefully flowing from one potential mark to the next, shedding her previous appearance between tables before seamlessly slipping into a new life with a single, gentle touch of each man’s hand.

One moment, she’s an olive-skinned beauty in a cardigan distracting a married man with her piercing blue eyes as she steals his wallet. The next, she’s laughing it up with a group of drunken suits pawing at a pair of milky thighs exposed by the short hem of her fashionable Mod dress.

I never gave a second thought to the way she’d temporarily leave with this or that man as she wore this or that face–sometimes an hour at a time, sometimes for mere minutes. But when some loud, dark-haired stranger in an expensive suit dragged Audrey away by the wrist, the panicked look she shot my way from a hauntingly familiar face convinced me to follow close behind.

A beat. Then…

I caught up to Audrey and that dark-haired stranger in the stairwell, just in time to hear a cry of pain closely followed by a drunken voice demanding to know why he had to hear from the boys at the office that his wife was moonlighting as a whore in a hotel bar.

Cynthia. Some poor housewife named Cynthia was probably somewhere cooking dinner for a husband she didn’t know was drunk in the stairwell of a hotel, threatening a frightened woman wearing her face.

And as Cynthia’s face attempted to lie her way out of a literal corner, Cynthia’s husband raised his hand. But as he raised his hand, her face changed. Her left eye darkened and swelled shut. Her bottom lip split and bled. And bruises appeared on her from head to toe.

Whether by fortune, divine intervention, or alcohol, Cynthia’s husband stumbled backward down a flight of stairs and scuttled out the door without another word, looking as if he’d just seen a ghost. Then once we were both sure he wasn’t coming back, I returned to the bar with a woman who looked like my dead wife.

A beat. Then…

Over the next several hours and drinks, I found myself lost in the glittering hazel eyes and gentle lines of my wife’s face as she shared the story of a life she never lived with a name she never knew. There was mention of a one-bedroom apartment in Shermer, Illinois, some boy named Reggie, and a kiss behind the high school gym that left her with no choice but to leave behind both Shermer and Reggie forever.

As we danced, the woman I struggled to call Audrey inquired about my work with childish wonder and glee. And as I explained the nature of the microscopic Sutherland Fluke coiled around both her central and peripheral nervous system, how it allowed her body to instinctively reshape itself in reaction to physical and emotional stimuli, she pulled her body closer to mine.

Audrey was gone by morning. And while I’m unsure if I’ve seen her in the years since–or if a person by the name of Audrey McGuire from Shermer, Illinois, ever existed–I do know a lost soul gave a lonely man one last night of happiness. And for that, I will always remember her.