Joshua Allen Aiken
SCENE 1, TAKE 1
ME and a FRIEND go the movies to see Fruitvale Station. FRIEND has a brother who is
training to be a cop. ME: a boy who was stopped by the police for ‘walking too
quickly’ outside of a Macy’s Department Store at the age of six. Scene should be shot in
red-white-and-blue. ME and this FRIEND watch and clutch each others arms like they
seatbelts. ME and my FRIEND know the crash is coming and we know who dies.
SCENE 1, TAKE 2
BLACK STUDIES CLASS and I watch 12 Years A Slave at the boutique movie theater
in town. At the bar they sell movie-themed mixed drinks called ‘SOLOMON
NORTHRUP’ and ‘ABOLITIONIST’S TEA’. The theater must have leather couches; it
must feel like 1840s Louisiana can be viewed from the living room. YOUNG WHITE
COUPLE seated next to ME leaves twenty minutes after the film starts. They mutter
something about too much blood. This scene is a reminder that people do not like when
movie screens turn into mirrors and show them that they have their great-grandfather’s
SCENE 2, TAKE 1
I visit family in Oakland and ride the BART. I map out the route OSCAR GRANT took
on New Years Eve. BYSTANDERS show him being kicked in the lungs and shot
squarely in the back. Video evidence could not capture what it means to tell a FOUR-
YEAR-OLD GIRL her father is dead. The metro ride must be the trailer for a horror
film. I will see this movie—the one in a staircase, in a jail cell, along the highway—a
dozen more times. Location for scene should not be the metro but should be the very
SCENE 2, TAKE 2
LUPITA NYONG’O wins the Oscar for her role in 12 Years A Slave and the
conversations are about how white dresses drape over her skin. A small thing: zoom in
on my teenage COUSIN tugging her braided hair as she sees LUPITA accept an award
never intended for her. My COUSIN’s shiny eyes, intergalactic moon-sized things, pool
an entire sea. This is the crime.
SCENE 3, TAKE 1
Fruitvale Station is snubbed by all major award shows for as one CRITIC puts it: not
being Hollywood enough.
SCENE 3, TAKE 2
12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.
Fruitvale Station is the SLAVE Hollywood does not chase after because it would mean
admitting the plantation has always been theirs.
ME and my giant stuffed brown friend named FEROCIA BEAR watch the Oscars every
year. I cry when QUEEN LATIFAH loses. I cry again when DENZIL wins. These
scenes repeat themselves. We know what it is like to rarely be seen.
BLACK OUT. END OF FILM.
In this film, the crime report plays the casting call. The casting call follows ME after
seeing Fruitvale Station and asks for my ID. The casting call is looking for a BLACK,
MALE, height FIVE-SIX to SIX-THREE. The setting is the well-lit route—the avoided
darkness—the path I always take when I walk home. I know that this is how the movie
JOSHUA ALLEN AIKEN is a Pushcart-Prize nominated poet and playwright from St. Louis, Missouri. His poetry has been featured in publications such as Cactus Heart, local nomad, and Nepantla. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Oxford.