Mise-En-Scène

. . .

Vivos voco, mortuos plango

. . .

i. World

We kick-start the Armageddon with me, Mark, beside a hospital bed. Or many hospitals beds, if you want me being pessimistic. I do not know what day it is today – because days seem irrelevant now; sometimes it's just now and nothing else matters. Or maybe I've got this all backwards. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore.

Pan on the empty hospital bed, where the great Angel Dumott Schunard battled disease one year ago. And won. I still visit the place sometimes, despite the fact that hospitals reek of death and despair and other unmentionables that have consumed (and destroyed) what was left of my once artistic mind.

It kills me to know that the world I've regarded as 'reality' has already begun wasting away. And perhaps I have been wasting away, too. Metaphorically, of course, though I suppose I am suffering just as much as they are. It just saddens me, that's all; the tiny fact that art isn't really beauty, contrary to popular belief. Sometimes, beauty just lies in whatever moment one can scavenge – any blink, pause, comma…The ugly things that we cannot avoid; the things necessary to the evolution of man's spirit.

If man had a spirit.

I cannot remember the day Angel left us anymore. Perhaps it was the build-up of melancholy that blocked everything else unpleasant in my mind. But I do remember that it was as if we had all died and had miraculously been brought back to life – some sort of electricity surging through all of us, then electrocuting us after the buzz.

Excuse me for trying to be poetic (and failing miserably), but this is the only way I can go on. The moving stillness my camera manages to document depresses me.

ii. Candle

The Armageddon opens its arms to me as I sit on some broken bench and shoot the falling snow. Roger's coughs echo in our flat and Mimi's practically translucent now. They're broth breaking – they just don't want to admit it to themselves yet.

And here I am again – the only person who would be willing to face the mirror and see the truth's bitter reflection. They're half-gone and I am still here, forever continuing to wonder if I might magically become their Messiah and save them.

Or something.

The electricity's always gone – though I can't blame Benny for that. His divorce with Muffy – ah, excuse me, Allison – turned out to be messier than he had expected. Or so he says. I think I'd like to believe him, since he had been a lot of help with the Undertaker's fees and Mimi's rehab…

Zoom in on The Man, who is running around the park, searching for customers. It is very unusual for him to not have any of his chemical dependents trailing behind him at this hour. It's almost twilight; dark will be here soon…

I really should go back to the flat. Roger might be – I'd honestly rather not think of what he might be doing. I'm tired of filming hospital beds.

Enter the flat – it's freezing cold, but that's not exactly news. Close up on Roger – oh, sorry, Roger. I'll leave you to your candle. No, I know. I was being insensitive, sorry.

Close up on the candle – that's all what he does; her just lights candles and let them flicker away. He's already lit five candles and they're melting on the floor. We're going to run out of matches come Christmas Day— Okay, okay, Roger. No need to attack me with your guitar. I'll turn this damn camera off.

Zoom out to the empty flat. This is how it is to be alive.

Yes, yes, Roger! I'm turning the goddamn thing off.

iii. Mask

December – Oh, I give up. I don't know what day it is. The sun's creeping outside. The apartment's a bit warmer now; Roger's asleep, clutching his melted candle and mumbling his song.

Close up on the door – Collins will probably barge in any minute, preferably with some bottle of alcohol with him…And maybe some firewood. And some matches. Roger's been using them up while he's hallucinating about Mi—

Shit, he's up. No, Roger, I'm just…erm…cleaning my camera. No, I do not know when Collins is coming back. It's still December, right? It's January! Oh, you were kidding…No, I really do not know when Collins is coming back. Get some sleep.

Mr. Negative 'cause he's HIV positive…

Snow is falling softly outside; its naïve beauty providing a stark contrast to the druggies attempting to survive just for one more day. It's quite chilly, but still warm enough for children to run around, unbeknownst and too ignorant of what lies in a future.

I think I'm getting too philosophical here. Pan in on some broken bench – Mimi was dying here a year or so ago. I cannot believe that this bench is empty now and that the candle's forever out.

Then again, I cannot believe many things have happened over the course of a year. I cannot believe I do not talk to Maureen anymore, or to Joanne…Or to anyone really, except my camera. And Roger. But Roger's…well, he's not himself anymore.

But enough about that – it's snowing.

That should give me else to film instead of the rust and decay of the human soul.

iv. Action

Enter Life Support – the stage is crumbling, the chairs are rusting and the people are dying.

Hi, Paul. Have you see Co—Oh, he's not here. It's just that…well, he promised he'd be home already. I'm kind of – Check the hospital! What! And Roger, too? This cannot – thank you very much, Paul…

Static.

v. Fool

This ends with me, Mark, beside a hospital bed. Flowers are going limp in a vase, probably from Collins' old students who actually bothered visiting him. He's been here for…I don't know how long, but I've been here, filming, creating memories.

Roger is here, depressed and suici – do not give me that face, Roger. Collins smiles, albeit briefly and I catch it on film, as I am supposed to.

I do not know where we are all headed, but for this blink, this scintilla, this flash, we are here and I suppose that's what counts. The hospital still reeks with death and despair, but it seems like nothing compared to what I have on tape – a reflection of the lives of artists who struggled and lost against the tide of conformity and stereotypes.

Maybe this story has no end, or perhaps it is only the beginning. But none of those things matter. The only things that are worth something are the smell of the decaying flowers, the whiteness of the box-like room, the slashes on Roger's wrists and a bed-ridden Collins who still smiles no matter what.

But whether or not this caps off our story, I know I will be here, beside a hospital bed, filming.

As with everything, it ends and begins with me, Mark.