Mark and Collins attend a protest, one with a surprising turnout. The filmmaker knabs a "backstage pass" and acquaints himself with his newest subject.
When the protest began, Mark was more than a little sated. The plethora of multi-colored lights flickered and danced across the room, illuminating excited faces. Catchy samba music drifted in, growing steadily louder, bringing yet more energy and spirit in the crowd.
Then she stepped out.
From behind the speakers and helter-skelter lights came the tall, slender silhouette of a young woman. The music came to a halt, the lights switched off, and the entire room was shrouded in darkness. There were a few eager whispers, then silence. A single spotlight lit the center of the stage. No one was there.
The audience's eyes searched the room, confused. Suddenly, a voice to the left of the stage spoke up, unassisted by electronic equipment.
"Friends, enemies, and everyone else," it spoke, soft and feminine, yet adamant, commanding attention, "we gather here this night in protest. We protest the grotesque transformation of the 16th street apartment building into a decaying meadow of cement and plywood, accented apathetically by twigs strewn recklessly across the landscape. And by twigs, I do mean thin white lines indicating parking spaces.
"Our orchard of trees will be street lamps, our apples, pears and peaches will be video cameras. Our rich raspberry bushes will be toll booths, and the babbling of our books will be the incessant honking of car horns. The king of this wondrous and terrible land will be yet another mogul that has decided that Alphabet City is the newest modern Wonderland. Ladies and gentlemen, Benjamin Coffin III invites you to step through the Pottery Barn wardrobe and jump into the vapid, flavorless land of the Fake Believe."
The speech continued, the young voice moving about the stage. From left to right, each and every time the light coming closer to the tongue and missing its host by a hair. The audience continued to be spirited, as each word became a captor of their attention. Mark followed the light with his camera, but got nothing.
"Fuck," he grumbled. Collins gave him a questioning look. "This lighting is terrible; I can't film anything in here."
"So, sit back and enjoy the show," Collins replied, as mellow as usual.
Mark muttered another "God damn it" before switching of his camera and tucking it under his arm. "I need footage."
"Selling out to Alexi, are we?" Collins asked.
"No, but it'd help the protest, and we're running low on Cap'n Crunch at the loft," Mark answered. Collins chuckled lightly as the protest continued.
Time passed and eventually the protest came to an end, much to the audience's dismay. The greater part of the following, the homeless, headed back to their makeshift home: the abandoned 16th street apartment building. As the crowd began dispersing, Mark and Collins stood unmoving.
"Are we going or what?" asked the professor.
"I need something. I'm gonna go backstage and see if I can get a word with her."
"How are you even gonna know who she is?"
"She has a recognizable voice," Mark replied.
Collins snorted. "And here I always thought Roger was the aural one." Mark chuckled, while his dark friend glanced at the door. "I'm gonna head back to the loft."
"By yourself? Try not to get your ass kicked," the filmmaker cautioned jokingly.
"That was a one time thing. Besides, you're the one that's always gettin' mugged," Collins protested.
"Yeah, yeah," he brushed off the remark.
"Whatever, you should put some meat on those bones and maybe dudes wouldn't jump you so much. Anyway, I'm out, bitch," Collins gave a curt wave before following the now thinning crowd to the exit.
Mark waded through the audience towards the stage, getting pushed and shoved more than a few times. Looking around, the blonde ducked behind the speakers and into the backstage area. There were a few A/V technicians working the equipment, but luckily they were too absorbed in their work to notice Mark. Besides, he rationed that he of blended in, anyway.
Reaching an entranceway and going through, Mark followed a long, dim corridor past numerous other doors. Ahead, he saw a thin ribbon of light peeking out from an open room. He peeped inside, and saw a young woman bustling to and fro. She looked like she was collecting all her things, getting ready to leave. Mark took his chance.
"Knock, knock," he announced himself, opening the door.
"I don't do autographs." Mark recognized the voice as the woman looked up. She had long, red hair that reached just past her shoulders and was tousled. Her eyes were blue, not an extraordinary shade but much lighter than Mark's. She was wearing a pair of jeans, ripped at the knees, and a worn leather belt. Her t-shirt was a faded baby blue color, with some sort of advertisement for a grocery store on it. She wore multiple tarnished silver bracelets, and on her feet were very vibrant pink stilettos.
Her shoes were somewhat of an anachronism in comparison to the rest of her outfit. They appeared to be the only thing on her that wasn't torn, faded, or tarnished.
Mark took out his camera, prepared to get this interesting woman on film.
"Hey, hey, hey, put the camera down, buddy. I don't do that press shit." She stood straight, placing her hands on her hips and giving him a frank glare.
"I'm not from the press. The name's Mark Cohen, I came to ask you a few questions about the protest," Mark explained, panning up and down her lean body and was sure he'd find a use for this footage later.
The woman grabbed a large bronze hair clip from her purse and put her tresses up, before putting a hand in front of the viewfinder of Mark's camera. "Listen, honey, I can see you like to cut to the chase. Me? I like a little small talk. You wanna talk to me, you do it without a camera. If I like you, maybe you can do a documentary for the Discover Channel or something."
The blonde sighed, putting down his camera and switching it off. "Fine, can I talk to you, then?" he asked impatiently.
The redhead took some sunglasses from her back pocket and chewed on the earpiece, giving him a playful look. Not bothering to mask her interest, she looked him up and down. He was tall, lean, and blonde with somewhat of a chisel jaw. He was handsome in a very disheveled, meek sort of manner. She smiled sinfully.
"I'm Sylvia. Since you're cute, in a deer-in-headlights kinda way, let's chat. But if you wanna talk, you better keep up." She grabbed her coat from a chair, swung her bag over her shoulder and headed out the door, Mark grumbling and hurrying after her.