Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 6 - Abuse of Substance
Log 6 - Abuse of Substance

Chris Kraus


In Scene One of this movie called The Pact we see a bunch of young people stumbling around a field. They've just taken acid together for the first time and they're starting to get off. It's a longshot; hold. The scene looks like an album cover, grunge-Ophelia. It's as if the acid wasn't cut with speed and has a very slow build. They're gathering twigs and dragging branches into a kind of clearing towards the middle of the field. The landscape's moist and northern, late summer-early fall, everything bending underneath it's weight.

Dissolve to another part of town, wideshot from a two-lane bridge over a wide but shallow river. Police cars, sirens. A team of rescue workers dredging out the river, yellow parkas, silt and spillage from hydraulic pumps. A wide net wrapped in algae, beer cans. They haven't found anything yet except for all the river's treasures.

Like the opening in Stormy Monday you don't know where you are. The action's sharp and discontinuous. Dissolve back into the field. We don't know yet ten years have passed between the two locations. We start to see the people closer (fast-forward 500 years of Western culture): their clothes, their hair, their different ways of gathering wood, move haphazardly together.

Matchsticks, kicks and heavy breathing: they set the bramble pile on fire. Smoke and flames and rotting foliage. The girls hold out their hands to warm them in the fire. The fire's the event that's saved them from that never-ending sense of acid escalating nowhere. "Let's play a game." Except for Jamey and Stefan, everyone is in their early 20s and different shades of white and Asian middle class: Paul and Jeremy, Lin, Miyoshi, Jessica and Margot. Jamey's about 15, a local kid who knows about the woods. Stefan's 36 or so, European, he's in charge. As the fire catches on they start to play a game where they all introduce themselves by name and 'confess' to some addiction, goofing on the 12 Step Program. It's all giggly, trippy, nice and noncommittal until Margot speaks and Stefan challenges her. Implies that she's a snob. She gets defensive, squirmy, all the others watch excitedly, conflicted maybe but still waiting for a taste of blood, until Stefan lets her off the hook. Throws her a "lifeline back into the group. Reintegration. Conflict materfully raised, averted. This is the first hint that things are pretty creepy.

* * *

Ann Rower and I wrote The Pact five years ago and it was never made. In lots of ways Ann and I were like the same person though we different ages, backgrounds and experiences. Collaborating made us even more the same to the point where it got mystical or scary. We were both too repressed to fight and most of our understanding passed between the lines. Example: For months we'd both been getting our hair done on East 8th street by this guy named Joey. One week, without saying anything about it to each other we both spontaneously felt uneasy with this twinning and decided to change haircutters. At that time there must've been 400 hair salons in lower Manhattan to choose from. Ann got her hair done at Vidal Sassoon and so did I. Etcetera.

So when we wrote The Pact both of us were drawing from different, parallel experiences. Ann experienced The Pact when she was in her early 20s in New Hampshire. I was thinking about experimental theater games and a shithole I'd spent time in outside of Hamilton, New Zealand. I must've been, 19, I was hitchhiking down from Auckland back to Wellington. I'd got a letter from my old friend Paul saying he was living in a commune outside Ngaruwahia. I remember it was pretty hard to find it. I spent a night in Hamilton with the "Anglesea Mob", it was mostly Maori kids looked after by a hippie Christian couple. Something about finding jobs. The night I stayed there people sat around playing guitars and singing radio songs they'd changed the words to. "United We Stand." It was boozy, sweet and Polynesian.

In the morning they sent me on to Ngaruwahia. It was 16 miles outside of town and there wasn't any phone and no one had a car.Walked for miles along a dusty unpaved road, finally a farmer showed me where the house was. A white rectangle wood-frame thing, broken windows. There wasn't any furniture, just sleeping bags and mattresses spread out on the floor and people's stuff in plastic bags and backpacks. Nobody had a job and the place didn't seem to be about gardening or farming. It shocked me, seeing Paul; a bishop's son who'd gone to New Zealand's most exclusive private school, living in a place so squalid. Paul was there when I arrived. He showed me round and stuff came out about the breakdown he'd had in Sydney, first stop on his travels overseas. He was here, he said, because of Vee, a slightly older guy he'd chosen for his "teacher." What do people do all day? They get up, they cook a meal, they talk. Sometimes fights erupted, mostly of the playground kind, and Vee presided over them. Residents drifted in and out the dormitory/lounge, and these people seemed more lost than Paul. It was a way station on the road to and from the mental hospital. Vee'd gone into town that day and there was lots of speculation about where he was and what he was doing.

That night Paul and I crashed out early in two sleeping bags at the far end of the lounge. Around midnight I woke up to screaming. A big burly guy with long red hair berating a stumbling speed freak for doing what? - spilling beer over a mattress? Vee's home, Paul whispered. I curled up deeper in my bag but Vee didn't seem to notice this extra body (mine). The next day Vee acknowledged me but I avoided him. I was a journalist, and Paul tried to broker some idea about a 'story' but Vee and I backed off. I got to see a little more of Vee's 'therapy' in action, yelling at the misfits, Shape up, asshole. Paul was scared of being homosexual and studying Vee's 'manliness' and I was just a sentimental moralist, I couldn't see the point, got all choked up about how these people needed help and this wasn't helping anyone.

* * *

Dissolve. The people disappear and ten years pass. Margot drives up in her little silver Jetta. The field is overgrown, it holds no clue, and she's still amped on getting-out-of-the-city energy. Gets out, looks around, she doesn't see anything. Ten years later she's a video game designer, dressed hip professional, ABS over Patricia Field and she's only here because she's just inherited the house her grandmother abandoned all those years ago. The house the group spent 7 months in.

Cut to town: Margot darts past a woman about her age swatting a screaming kid, darts into the superette and just misses a beat-up Plymouth Barracuda crawling down the main street. It's Jamey. He's also just arrived. He's been working somewhere north and he's very proud of the car's pushbutton windows.

From here on in the script cuts back and forth between realtime and flashbacks moving forward. And there's a point to this: the longer Margot stays, the more she can remember. The way the group devolved from giddy druggy psychodrama to the heart of fucking darkness. The way athletic independent Jessica got scapegoated like the medieval Jews 'Til she finally broke down and the group dumped her in a mental ward. Jessica's a spy! She's evil! The way Margot knew that it was wrong but didn't stop it because Stefan was her boyfriend. The way the group promised they would stay together all the time and tape everything they said and did together. The way Margot listened to the tape one night and heard the sounds of Stefan fucking Kathleen, the new girl who he'd met in town. You're so soft, your ass feels like a baby's. The way she let him tie her up, spend all her parents money. The night she tried to run away and failed. The way her favorite picture at the time was a postcard of a drowning woman by Millais, pre-Raphaelite Ophelia.

Jamey's Barracuda eases to a halt outside of town to pick up a hitchhiker. Her name is Karen, she's Irish, 17, her face spills out like water. Karen's just ditched her au pair job in Bar Harbor and she's terrified of being found because she still owes the family on her ticket. What do individuals become over circumstance and time? (True subject of the 19th century novel). Margot's reaction to the terror of the Group was amnesia; she spends the movie flashing back to things that she's blanked out. But Jamey's different. Shy and passionate and inarticulate. His confusion crashes all around inside. Jamey's a little strange but Karen likes him. They get along; they drive around to all his favorite places. But then things turn. Karen wants to leave and he won't let her. Their string of magic afternoons turns sour, the way things do. Her fear makes him crazier and angrier. Jamey is tormented because he's run out of things to do. And so he kills her.

Jamey runs her body through a woodchipper.

Last week at school, Stephanie Taylor and I were talking about the pre-Raphaelites. Isn't the point to fuck it up? Beauty's close to death because it's begging for some kind of violation.

There's a police alert all over town, they're searching for the missing girl.

Blood and bones and fingernails flying in the river.

Cut back to back with Margot's climax flashbacks of the group's disintegration.

And Margot solves the crime (too late) because now she knows.

Was the point of this, Just Say No To Disintegrative Violence? The point was, Ann and I wanted to make movies.

James Schamus read it in New York and said, 'Horror is a dead genre.' Great line. He passed.

And so I started pitching it in New Zealand.

* * *

Auckland, 1993: The New Zealand dollar's been devalued to .52, and the tax law's been rewritten to make film losses entirely deductible. American movie and commercial crews are shooting here because the dollar and landscape and proficient crews make it a third-world buy without any of the hassle. Jane Campion is the hit of Cannes and the Film Commission's turning out six feature films a year and for a moment anything seems possible.

I'd made a bunch of underground/experimental films and was wondering how to make the magic cross from art-land to real movies. Everybody said 'the script, the script.' Ann and I had already written one called Sadness at Leaving and were finding out that this was not so easy. Sadness was an espionage romance set in the New York early 60s, an ensemble drama with good characters. It wasn't very underground and no one bought it. But on the other hand, The Pact had lots of sex and violence. It occurred to me that we could pitch it downtown art and then do something full-on sleazy. So maybe we could hit up the New Zealand Arts Council for production as 'short drama,' use the funds to shoot a pilot and then find a real producer. Or maybe find one first and cut him in? There was a vision, it was hazy.

It was incredibly effective, phoning round production companies in Auckland and telling them I was in town for two weeks from New York. Everybody read it. Everybody said that it was suffering from "narrative confusion."

My old friend Shake took me round to see Hank Barker, a former leftist pal of ours who'd gone from writing midnight rock & roll theater shows to being one of New Zealand's best-paid screenwriters. Hank was everybody's hero. His plays were actually entertaining, an element mostly missing from the New Zealand literary world, with lots of sex and drugs. He got up at 5 and wrote in whatever commune he was living and had beliefs outside himself. Hank was the most militant of all the leftists, leading a mass defection (five people, maybe seven) from the softcore Socialist Action League to the Communist Worker's Party, an organization with ties to and maybe even funded by Albania. One time Hank took us with him on a pilgrimage to home of a reclusive famous older poet and we could see the torch was being passed between two generations of literary rebels. Hank's hagiography was impressive.

And now he had an office and a screenwriting award, a wife and child and mini-van. If Shake, the good-natured fuckup, was Hank's link to his rebellious past, I was the floating signifier. Hank didn't know anything about the East Village. "So," he said, "ya makin' money?" I sort of dodged the question, told Hank how I'd been to see his movie when it was playing in New York. It was about 11 in the morning, but Hank took out a bottle of Glenfiddich's and when the whiskey hit I started telling him about the movie. And Shake, according to our plan, asked Hank if he could talk to Victor. Because Victor Rourke, a former cellmate from their leftist days, had just teamed up with New Zealand's king of 'B's and softcore porn to start a new production company in Wellington. They called themselves Black Label. Was this a template of our movie? I was thrilled to be alive at a moment when old differences were breaking down, believing female anarchy could thrive within the chaos of the new world order. The more Shake and Hank warned me about Victor's blatant piggery, his brashness and aggression, the more I wanted to hook up with him. Hank called Victor, put me on the phone, and I made fast plans to drive to Wellington.

Shake and I were drunk and gloating when we left Hank's office around noon and we had no plans so we wandered over to the Shakespeare Arms Hotel to get drunker. Breezing through the public bar on our way into the lounge, my treat, we passed a guy in a denim workshirt sitting by himself with a book, a glass, and a whole litre pitcher of Dominion Beer and it was my ex-husband, David Healey. David looked just like the alcoholic he'd been trying to become for 15 years, when he walked off the set of an academic career after having an existentialist epiphany. I'd lived with him in the aftermath for the first three years, and existentialism hadn't made him happy. He settled down to dealing pot out of the proofreading room at the Daily News where I was working as a writer. David often beat me up. It was just assumed that I was stupid, cheerful and ingenuous with this straight job. He hated everything I wrote. Slaps and punches. And maybe he was right, because David was a genius and my writing was so shallow. A black eye swollen shut behind a pair of goggle sunglasses. The 70s. I really wanted to be smarter. And then, I was not the only one who came to work with bruises. There were two other girl reporters. But breezing past him after meeting Hank with Shake didn't register as triumph. Neither did I feel compassion. I just felt swirls inside my head, the collision of two timescapes, thinking this is truly cinematic.

* * *

For Margot Smith, things always started with a limitless sense of possibility. Excitement, projects. Even though she often couldn't see two feet in front of her, she liked to think about the future. Margot Smith was Stefan's pimp. She was a little richer, worldlier than the others and so, except for Jessica, who tried to find her own direct line to Stefan's power, they trusted her. She transmitted her belief to them. She was his translator and conductor. When the group broke up they all ran away like rats and Margot never saw anyone again. She went back to school, dropped out, became a software game designer. She's spent the last ten years never questioning her resolution to be independent, self-reliant. And so her world lacks glamour.

In Scene 12, a flashback, Margot's alone and listening to a tape recorded the night before in her and Stefan's bedroom. She'd gone home to try and get more money from her Dad because Stefan wanted video equipment. It's Stefan's voice, and Kathleen's whispers. The thunk and shivering of their clothes. And it isn't just the fuck, the fact, that's so upsetting, it's how he's different, much gentler than he's ever been with her. There are no lessons to be learned. You're so soft, he says, adorable. Your ass feels like a baby's. And Kathleen literally coos. Margot's face compacts into a wrinkled ball of logic, looking for a line of thought that will help to her accept the unacceptable. But then she can't. She wonders where her life went wrong, it's like she's standing at a threshold in front of everything that's dark and inexplicable. And then the door flies open. Stefan looks at her and smiles. You can't just listen to the tape, he says. You have to tape yourself listening.

* * *

Black Label's headquarters on Courtney Place in Wellington had a rubber plant, a waiting room, a secretary and two offices. Victor hadn't read the copy of the script I'd Fedexed but he took me out for lunch at the Amsterdam Hotel, new meeting place for the new New Zealand cinema. Victor had a plate of meat and several beers. I ordered what I'd read what people are supposed to eat at meetings: a salad and a spritzer. Victor laughed because I had to tell the waiter what that was. He was a big guy, with thinning reddish hair pulled back into a ponytail, and something about him seemed incredibly familiar. I couldn't locate how or where, but this often happens in a country of 3 million. Victor started telling me about the sleazy films he was distributing for his partner and his ambitions. He'd just attended a Robert McKee Story Structure Workshop, and he was fired up with plans for crossing over from B movies into mainstream features. Of course I thought The Pact would be the perfect vehicle. The fact he hadn't read it was no problem because he knew just what to do. If Ann and I could shrink it down into a treatment, he'd take it over to the New Zealand Film Commission for development. They owed him one. And then I told him all about my plan for hitting up the Arts Council. He liked it. Because if the Film Commission passed and I could bring in 40 grand, then we'd have seed money for him to hit the European markets for co-funding.

This business part seemed so exciting, so integral to the whole idea of movie. It occurred to me that topless dancing in a hustle bar had been the perfect training. Belief is all it takes for anyone to be a leader. While his followers equivocate and doubt themselves, the leader treats his life as if it were a movie, claiming the unassailable right to be himself. Leaders don't apologize, they don't explain. And so the followers step in, giving up pieces of themselves by interpreting the leader's every word and move, and all this borrowed energy makes him bigger. If money's abstract human energy, then movies are like leaders. Finally Victor let me talk a little bit about the script. He liked the gory parts but wondered if the story and the character arcs would come together. The girl, he said, she's not a hero. Hmm. Margot wasn't Xena Warrior Princess but did she have to be? You've gotta realize, he confessed, I'm a very hands-on producer.

The next day I had a meeting with Helen Benneham, director of the Arts Council. She invited me to her house, a large and sprawling thing that overlooked Otaki Bay. A big Victorian, with oriental rugs and books, the kind of casual wealth you hardly ever see in Wellington. Helen knew all about my husband, a noted European critic. She was a sophisticated person, rich obviously beyond her $60,000 job, a kind of diplomat. Helen was refreshingly unconflicted about using her position to promote her favorites. Perhaps my husband would like to write a monograph about a New Zealand artist she believed in? Let's make a deal. All three of us were Jews. I felt relaxed and comfortable. I parodied the meeting at the Amsterdam with Victor Rourke, she vaguely knew him. Victor says he'll work with me, I told her, but I don't think it's the best thing for the movie. Victor thinks that he's a feminist because he likes tits and ass and gore and character development. She roared. And so I'm worried. Because of course I'd rather work with you. Did she see through this?

* * *

Nearly seven months have passed since the group's first acid trip and now it's winter. Everything has led us to this freezing room. Paul and Jeremy are shoving towels and rags into the broken window Jamey kicked in the night before. Jessica's pacing all around the room, she's wrapped in shawls and sweaters, seven layers of unraveling wool, muttering. Welcome to Bedlam. Very gently, Jeremy tries to take off the long scarf that she's wound around herself like a straightjacket. She tears away and screams: "I need that!"

The camera tracks with Jessica across the living room. Margot's hunched over a smoldering log in the open fireplace, burning photos from her grandmother's family album. Jessica grabs a half-burnt photo out of Margot's hands: "I need that, too!"

Alyssa, the heavy girl who'd always played the role of goddess/ mother in the group, is on the phone writing down the bus schedule. Miyoshi, the vivacious cupcake, is cutting chunks out of her long black hair, dancing by herself and scattering it round in circles on the floor. Jessica scoops it up. "I need that! I need that too!" Stefan appears. He's always somewhere. This is obviously his last chance to keep the group together under his control and he rises to it brilliantly. "Just stop!" he screams. And then he pins Jessica beneath his gaze, she can't escape, she stumbles "What you need is a good fuck," he sneers. For a microsecond everybody watches this, she freezes. He's about to speak but then thinks better of it, tips the coffee table covered with three day's garbage on the floor. Kathleen, holding the microphone beside him, hardly breathes. Stefan grabs Jessica and throws her face down on the table. "Go on, Jamey. Give it to her." At first Jamey doesn't get it, he's confused. Are they still mad at him about the broken window? The entire room is willing him to move. So he obeys and Kathleen tiptoes up beside them with the tape recorder. Stefan proclaims Invisible Sex! and everyone starts chanting Do it, do it. Kathleen looks at him adoringly and Stefan starts to tell a story from The Hunger Artist. "This is the text we'll use," he says, "for the performance that we'll do in Edinburgh. I'll be the hunger artist. We'll build a cage ..."

Helen took another sip of tea and looked beyond me through the leaded windows to the bay. "Christine," she said, "I think your script needs much more violence."

* * *

Back in New York, Ann and I compressed the script into a treatment and sent it back to Victor. Months passed and even though we got a fax or two from Victor there was never any news about the Film Commission.

On April 23 we got another fax from Victor. It was a landmark date-'April 23' was the codename of our character in Sadness. He told us he'd be traveling to Cannes in May. He'd like to stop and see us in New York to talk about the script and did we have a place where he could stay? Ann was a little dubious but I was grasping at the whole idea of 'movie.' Perhaps he'd bring The Pact with him to meetings?

When Victor arrived at Ann's from JFK he still hadn't read the expanded treatment that we'd done on spec, that he'd 'commissioned.' We took a walk to let him rest and read. Ann said she found him "pushy, mushy."

Back at the loft after some chitchat Victor finally gave us notes. He said-I quote- "Too much dialogue. Needs more action. Takes too long for the story to get started." Mostly, Victor thought we had to introduce a subplot. It was not enough that Margot's growing consciousness enables her to solve the crime. Something had to throw her off the track, a false suspicion.

Margot finally remembers something she forgot, the way things ended between her and Stefan. It was what happened on the night she tried to leave and Stefan found her. She's lying on the iron single bed above the stairs underneath the silver-painted eaves. He's tied her there, haphazard, roughly. Black cords around her wrists, the long strings of her roman sandals tied around the bottom of the bed. Her shirt and eyes are open. Stefan's standing by the bed, a giant angry shadow. He lunges forward, slaps her. He rips the phone cord from the wall...

A flood of images of dispersal. Pages ripped, a milkweed pod exploding, scattering. She thinks: I feel like I've been cut into hundreds of bleeding little pieces, now they're flying. I'm just nothing... Ophelia drowning. And meanwhile on the other side of town the chipper whirrrs and Karen's body flies all over town and Margot understands something. All the clues she's missed in town cohere and Margot leads the cops to Jamey's hideout.

Victor thought we ought to add another character. Let's call him Randall. Randall's a bit of a loner living on the edge of town. Margot sees him once or twice in town, maybe he's rude to her. At any rate, Randall reminds her of Stefan. So Margot rallies up a witch-hunt, accuses him as Karen's kidnapper. To make things worse, Randall is a righteous eco-terrorist, a saner Ted Koszinysci, and he's hiding, planning to blow up a dam that would flood the virgin timber in a valley. From Victor's notes: "Margot plays this schizoid game with Randall. She's crazed and on a rampage, living out her past through unsuspecting others."

In the golden age of their romance Margot and Stefan are rolling on the grass outside the house while the group plays Gods and Goddesses. Everything is warm and sunny. Margot's relaxed and blissed, her hands inside of his and reaching for his cock. Abruptly, Stefan flips her over on her back and pins her hands down. He gazes at her from above (directions from the script) and forces her to become aware of her own arousal. She's breathing very hard. He smirks and looks at her so penetratingly she feels like he knows everything about her. Let's make a pact, he says, tightening his grip. Yes -To stay together for one year-he grips, she squirms, he guides her hand back to his cock-Yess-and not to lie-Yesssss-and keep the tape recorder running all the time. Yes, yes-

What's scariest about The Pact is not these little bits of s&m but the way it slides so easily into a pagaent of reality. It was not elective play. That's what was wrong with all these druggy psychodramas-they didn't try to change reality. It was an endless hall of mirrors. Stefan's violence constantly erupted out of nowhere. He was a hulk of isolate and involuted will and misery that he and everybody else called knowledge. The leader is a black hole, consuming particles of energy, belief, ambition from his followers. It's all his game and it's the only game in town. No matter how alert you are he keeps you living in a psychic state of terror. Victor Rourke's reaction to The Pact disturbed me but it was hard to get a fix on it. Because even though I hated it, it felt seductively familiar.

Around 8 Sylvere, my husband, picked us up for dinner. Even on his way to Cannes, Victor was still hick enough to be impressed by the restaurant that we chose, the packed club that let us in because my husband knew the bouncer.

Jammed up against the jukebox in the backroom of Euphoria, Victor and I were drinking double whiskeys while Ann and my husband talked. I felt like I was floating backwards in a bubble, 10,000 miles away to Wellington, an alcoholic womb that could indefinitely contain you. We knew we knew each other, and each failed attempt to pin down the cross led to another flood of recollections. Both of us knew everybody: Mary McGlone and Russell Campbell, the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, the Forester's Arms, the Melser Brothers. Giggling, I confessed I'd slept with 3 out of the four and at that moment Victor's arm reached round to grab my ass and that also felt so right, so Wellington. I was still so stuck on this phenomenon of time and travel, the way an element of the past could present itself right here in the middle of the present, Club Euphoria. But I'm sure that Victor's buzz came from his anticipation of the future. His power, his mobility. Success at Cannes. Perhaps we'd fucked? We both `agreed that it was strange for neither person to remember it.

Ann and I did our best to follow Victor's notes into another draft. It was a hopeless mess. Victor passed it on to a McKee-trained story editor. She didn't like it. Did we want to try again? I bought Ann little gifts: a postcard of Ophelia, a papier-mâché horse like Jessica's, but by now she'd had enough and needed to start writing her next novel. I made some changes, sent the script to Victor with a note that Sylvere and I would be leaving soon to spend the summer in Los Angeles. He faxed back right away. He'd be traveling from Dublin to the Banff Television Market in July. He could change planes at LAX. If I wanted, he could spend the night. "Maybe you could meet me at a cheap hotel at Venus Beach," he wrote. "We could talk about the project."

Everybody in the group wanted to be gods and goddesses. Mostly they liked making up descriptions of themselves and their relationships to each other. The group was everybody's favorite subject. The spent a lot of time on naming. Stefan and Margot of course were Zeus and Athena. They called Alyssa Demeter. Jessica was solitary and she liked to play the flute and so they called her Pan. Taking away her name was the group's first deliberate act to exile her and drive her crazy. It started when the group was dancing. Jessica broke a glass and Miyoshi cut her foot. Adorable Miyoshi howled with pain and Jessica skulked away. I think Jessica's trying to tell us something, Stefan said. Two days before she'd been caught writing in her notebook. They call a Meeting of the Gods and strip Jessica of her powers. She's no longer allowed to play the flute but she can sing. She can't. They force her. Her voice is breaking. How does it feel? It feels like shit. Stefan's hurling questions like body probes in an alien abduction. How does that feel? It feels like me.

Last week at the gym I started crying because the hand weights were too heavy. Instant emotional recall of childhood, being weak and teased and picked on. It's the same with watching any act of cruelty. Jessica was afraid to stay and she was afraid of being exiled. A Taoist healer who I otherwise respected said about her friend who'd died of cancer at age 45, "She decided it was time to leave." Impossible to accept irrationality or bad luck or any other form of chance outside the individual. When Ann and I wrote The Pact, we were thinking about evil. We believed that it existed. We believed it had a source. We blamed the leader.

The rendezvous with Victor Rourke at Venus Beach never happened. Instead he came to stay at the house I was renting with my husband. I felt driven to pin down the reason that I felt I knew him. 'It's not important, never mind,' Victor said. And so we started talking about the high-rent slum that we were renting from the Beastie Boys, the slobbish habits of professor's kids, anything except the script. It made me think of Ngaruwahia and Paul. "I had this friend named Paul who went to Wanganui Collegiate, he was completely helpless..." "From Wellington?" Well, yeah. Paul never hung around the leftist glamour crowd so I was surprised that Victor knew him. "He lived with me." "In Auckland?" "No...it was in a house outside Ngaruwahia. After James K. Baxter died I set up this place for kids who needed help..." And just as suddenly as Margot knew about the wood chipper, I realized Vee was Victor. Of course I had to tell him everything. The trip from Auckland, visiting the house, the way it had affected me. I was blown away by the connection. More than just a shadow from the past, Victor Rourke was Stefan.

The next day Victor and I went for a walk in the Angeles Crest Canyon. He had a long plane ride ahead of him. The Pact was never made. But Victor's company went on to many more successes.

Chris Kraus



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room