|Wednesday morning means straight razors and game shows. Awake in time to catch The Price is Right and watch Bob Barker trembling under the weight of hosting a network television show at eighty-five. Through thick and thin, game shows remain an entertaining source of human disgrace. Some zoot-suited shit-grinning slick-haired dickhead skips around a golden neon glowing stage while a bunch of comfortably useless spectators clap their hands because a giant flashing red sign tells them to.
They have signs that tell you to laugh. Signs that tell you to ooh and ahh. Signs that tell you that you probably have children to feed that are off taking gateway drugs and complaining to all their friends about how horrible you are. Not to suggest you’re not making the best of your time as is, laughing and clapping away; a prisoner of our live, studio audience.
But then, why would they flash that sign? When Grandma Vern scores that new dinette set, nobody wants to hear a room full of uncomfortable laughter and throat clearing.
A heavy blonde lady wins a blue Sedan. She throws her hands up at the camera and says, “Look Sarah! I got it! I got it!”
Nobody bothered to tell Sarah’s friend that when you win a car, you still have to pay state and federal taxes for it, meaning you’ll likely end up selling it. Before you can say, “What kind of gas mileage can this get in the city?” that new Sedan is looking more like a couple thousand dollars for your trouble. Chances are someone would’ve keyed it sooner or later. Maybe Sarah’s friend could buy a nice, leather armchair with all that money. She could sit and relax in it while she knits or reads a book.
While she watches game shows.
There’s a weighty chance I won’t get around to wearing pants today. In my more vital years of self-destruction and dejected anxiety, I would always make it a point to dress up proper before cutting or hanging or overdosing. In my mind, I pictured the humiliation I’d endure as a funeral service full of blushing parishioners commented on how unshaven my corpse was, how stained my white undershirt looked. “He at least could have put something nice on,” they’d say. Eventually, apathy behind the guise of good, old-fashioned pessimistic logic took over, and I stopped making such a fuss of it. I’m sure if I somehow manage to do myself in, they’ll slap a suit on me.
Not that this is a cry for help or anything. Everyone’s gotta cope somehow. In Nazi Germany, they say the Jews bypassed mourning by developing the ability to completely ignore death. I slit my wrists and make fun of Bob Barker.
* * *
I’m a semi-positional freelance photographer, which means I do work for a bunch of people who all have my number and who all reserve the right to call me out on a job at any hour of the day, without actually hiring me.
It has to be the absolute least reliable living situation that doesn’t directly involve the word nomad. No reason to set your alarm, no reason to put on pants at four o’clock in the afternoon. I live with my cell phone in my pocket. I gaff tape it to my head at night. It decides when the sun will rise and set for me. If no one calls, I recluse. If everyone calls, I caffeinate. I’ll go a week without leaving my apartment or I won’t see my bed for days.
Those family members who are old enough to care and young enough to speak up (or at least the ones who haven’t given up on me entirely) usually want to know how I make ends meet. The simple answer: I don’t. I’ve been evicted, I’ve gone bankrupt, I’ve begged, and I’ve lost. It could be written off as another throwaway attempt at suicide; waiting for that week when nobody calls so I can hurry up and starve.
I’m not dead yet, so I must be doing something wrong.
Cleaning dried blood off my straight razor during the commercial break before All My Children, my cell phone goes off. I’ve set my ringtone to Diana Krall’s Pick Yourself Up, and I think I’m just so fashionably clever.
It’s a song that’s remarkable in one respect: The only song I’ve never believed a single word of.
Somebody on the line doesn’t like to begin with “hello.” It sounds a lot like Pat the Editor from the Cristo Chronical. Pat has a history of singling me out for assignments that involve large groups of people, and there’s a new megamall getting the red-tape treatment tonight on Gasman Boulevard. Of course, the Cristo has some fully-contracted cavalry to pimp out for local photo-ops like these, but my hunch is they’re above the whole ‘let’s-get-a-buncha-fake-celebrities-tog heter-and-pretend-we’re-all-important’ scene.
This megamall assignment leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Bad part of town, trudging around an after-party to score profile shots of big-wig jackasses that no editor with the gift of vision would ever take to print, showering, putting on a tie. Considering the condition of my condition, it feels like I ought to tell Pat the Editor how I could care less about his handouts and go back to bed, but I know I would regret that the next time I feel like buying groceries.
It’s a ten minute drive downtown to thirteenth. It’s a two and a half hour drive to Ponil Creek national park, the nearest cliff. I have a half a tank of gas. It looks like I’m going to the mall.
* * *
Running a garden hose from my exhaust to my passenger side windshield (slit down the middle, so as to give myself a fighting chance), I start down Calabrese Avenue. Turning eastbound onto Flintridge Pass, I close my eyes and let go of the wheel, my Rebel TI resting on my lap with a zoom scope and a nighttime filter. Five seconds of blind man driving later, I’m still breathing.
The festivities are a dusty kind of boring that fills your stomach and makes you feel like falling asleep in the middle of the sidewalk.
Ribbon circumscribes the property; there’s a giant tarp covering the entryway; the mayor arches his eyebrows and raises his arms in address; vaguely recognizable faces wave and laugh; searchlights paint the sky starless.
I document this celebration of idiocy on my Canon Rebel TI. Miss New Mexico holds an oversized pair of scissors and pulls her lips back into a curvaceous smile, tilting her head and shifting her weight back and forth for those City/Region pinups.
Electric lumen casts an easy whiteness over the crowd, eyes glistening, buzzing, chattering, and anticipating something big and unimportant.
The Mayor is missing three front teeth. I consider putting on my zoomy lens for a real tight shot of it. Not for the paper, for my own portfolio. I keep a personal album of things that strike me as noteworthy. Somewhere behind the camera-wielding cynic that keeps rolling his eyes and scratching his itchy trigger finger, I still appreciate photography on occasions. That’s the reason this ended up being my thing. I’ve done paperwork and filing and accounting. It was more responsible. It was certainly easier.
It used to keep my brain from the decay of conventional life, but standing a good five feet beneath Miss New Mexico, who looks like she may just be ready to cut the wreath and yield to public ovation, I realize that ship has long sailed.
The flashbulbs explode and I blink myself back into reality. Pyrotechnics spew into the air and you can almost feel the money falling back down with the ash. Glorious blues and greens shower an easily impressed and gasping mob. The zoning contractor, who Pat informed me is named Michael Linklatter, holds the Mayor’s hand in the air, cheering along with the crowd.
I’m trying as hard as I can to look like I care.
A flash of red. Screams from the tech-heads and bystanders. When the smoke clears, Linklatter is down—hit by a firework. He’s wailing loud enough to stay audible over the worried mumble and scurry of the herd. Rival press photographers begin to rush the podium for those bankable blood-shots. Sure as a frigging sunset, my cell phone goes off, and Diana Krall serenades me as I begin to wander towards ground zero.
“Good Lord, his face! Am I looking at his face?!”
Diana: Nothing’s impossible I have found...
“Paramedics, hospital, get someone!”
Diana: For when my chin is on the ground...
“Who can we call? Is there someone we can call?"
Diana: I pick myself up. Dust myself off. And start all over again.
Most everything smells like gunpowder.
“Hello,” I mumble into my cell.
“You. Jesus Christ, you,” says Pat the Editor. “You’re my guy at the pulse, and I need pictures. I need his face all over the floor, I need flesh and bones. I need people crying. Get it, get it, and get it.”
Pat the Editor hangs up.
Linklatter has two or three teeth left. He doesn’t have a nose anymore. One of his eyes is either missing or bled shut.
“Frakkun hewp me,” he gurgles.
Diana Krall whispers in some shadowy corner of my memory, Don’t you remember that famous man?
Someone throws an anti-burn rag over Linklatter’s face, and the blood seeps through it immediately. The Mayor is weeping at his feet.
Diana: Who had to fall to rise again...
A camera man bends down, heartlessly, and peels the rag off of his face, scabs and all, in spite of his pitiful screams of protest. Cameras go off like a firefight.
A mental list: Lunchmeat, utility, more film.
You pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again.
* * *
Not three minutes in bed before my next phone call.
“Got this new site we’re pushing, a gingerheadcherylbbw.com. What say you drive on down to the warehouse in the ballpark of half an hour?”
This is Ethan Dorr, I think. Ethan is one of my numerous contacts in the adult entertainment industry. Ethan’s a porn mogul. I’m one of his ‘go-to’ photographers. Ethan uses terms like that. He’s the kind of guy who’s living the dream; smokes thick, imported cigars. Bets on horses. Walks around in polyester suits and vinyl robes. Always leaving the top four buttons on his shirt unfastened.
“We’re doing line-up tonight. You’re good for line-up, yeah?”
My ceiling fan crackles, telling me I have utility to pay.
Line-up is where a number of porn-star hopefuls stand nude in a line while I walk back and forth, gripping a clip board, picking out the cream of them to meet a quota. It’s the stuff of wet dreams, but it wears thin like a dirty joke.
“You’ll be out by three in the morning. G’head and bring the Rebel along for some test shots. We’re looking for three fats, two with glasses, we need four with moles, we need two with body freckles, six shaven, we need one hairy, one who’ll do bondage, all of ‘em gotta go anal, all of ‘em gotta do cumshots. We need a few fisters. They’ll all be redheads.”
I took to pornography early on. Didn’t bother me then; I was horny and poor. It’s the not getting out of it part that feels more like selling out.
“Hey, Ethan,” I manage between lazy exhalations.
Ethan, clearing his throat, “What’s up?”
“It’s Wednesday and I haven’t slept yet.”
Ethan understands. “Alright, be down here in two hours, but you gotta be out by three. Gotta.”
“I’m covered in a contractor’s blood.”
“That’s real nice, buddy. See you soon.”
Pornographic shoots are curious; hardly erotic, but gratingly unprofessional. Say you have a model on all fours in a bedroom setting, with a standard hunk. If you’re shooting for the net, they’re really, really going at it. Full, unprotected penetration. Fake sex is reserved for light, press-stand, “male entertainment magazines.” You can see how this might put a damper on my integrity as a director of the shoot. At first, you can dictate to the couple. “Throw your hair back. Pace yourself. Put your arms out in front of you.” But eventually, they get into it, and they won’t listen to what you say, so you just have to sit there, taking pictures while they fuck like jackrabbits.
It’s not sexy, it’s downright irritating. No control whatsoever.
But unfortunately, I only shoot for websites. I don’t like to risk the possibility of getting my name circulating in the porn crowd. That would be somewhat compromising on my “legitimate” photography “career.” I just do it for that cherry on top. It’s all about the money. There’s plenty of money in internet porn. Plenty.
The warehouse, Ethan’s warehouse, isn't really a warehouse. It's more like a shack that some companies know about for storing things they’re not using or don’t want, but since a few of those companies will lease out whatever they have sitting around there, people took to calling it the warehouse. It makes for interesting photo shoots and line-ups. Sometimes they’ll be nothing but boxes and boxes of pie crusts lining every wall, or springs scattered all over the floor. It feels like a different building every week. But occasionally, the sunlight will creep through the holes in the ceiling just perfect and I’ll find something worth capturing for my portfolio.
Thursday is beginning when I enter the warehouse. Halloween costumes today. Vampires and Wolfmen, draped from the rafters, collecting in piles all around. Some of them lay in boxes labeled “defunct.” These must be the Frankenstein masks they forgot to punch air holes in, or the ballerina gowns with the bleach waxing wire frame that bleeds into your skin and puts you in a coma. Happy Halloween.
Packed into the back half, surrounded by recalled merchandise, a sea of redheads in bathrobes huddle over folding chairs, stretching, brushing their hair, laughing and talking. Some retreat, cross-legged, cross-armed, bowing their heads in shame. Porn stars. Ethan sits in the back, staring at me as I walk through the door, tapping his watch over and over again. I nod.
“Ladies, this is your photographer. We’re going to need all of the fats to step forward and disrobe, please.” On the website, they call them BBWs: Big, Beautiful Women. That’s because the people who are into fat chick porn like to beat around the bush, for pride’s sake. Behind the scenes, we don’t even call them fat chicks. We just call them fats.
Fifty overweight, stretch-marked, jiggling models stand, staring me in the eyes, waiting for me to look them over. Some of them have trembling legs. I begin to walk the line.
“Ethan,” I ask, “What’s the hook on this new site?”
“Cheryl.” Ethan responds.
“It’s a collection of redheads named Cheryl. Fat Cheryl redheads, anal Cheryl redheads, fisting Cheryl redheads.”
Where did Ethan find so many Cheryl redheads?
“They’re not really named Cheryl, man. Come on.”
I walk by one particularly heavy model with short red hair, and she gives me a “Psst!”
“My name’s Cheryl,” she winks.
I cross her off the list. Most of this selection is completely random. I like to pretend I’m in a state of deep deliberation. Thickens the tension, keeps them hopeful. Build it up, tear it down. Mildly sadistic, but in keeping with my whole game show fetish. People shouldn’t trick themselves into thinking anything’s going well.
“All of the anal vixens, step forward, disrobe, and expose your rear. Unkempt anuses will be disqualified.”
Nobody ever mentions these things. Crew members on porno flicks always tell the stories about when the big-breasted blonde got drunk and took on the whole set. Them against her, a free for all, every man in every hole. They don’t talk about the time she fell asleep in the tanning box and they had to wipe melted feces off the sun lamps. It’s not professional, but it’s definitely not erotic.
“Fisters, step forward, disrobe, and put as much of your hand or as much of your hands into your vagina as you can.”
I used to have to keep myself from laughing when people would say these things. Now I have to keep myself from crying.
Passing along the line-up, one of the models works her hands around inside of her cooch. Her eyes dart up into mine, in a familiar gaze. She begins to giggle.
She’s staring. Staring straight at me and it’s downright uncomfortable. Every time she laughs, her labia clenches around her wrist a little. Not that I want to look, but I have to. It’s my job.
The giggling continues.
“You’re Brian Elias. You’re Brian!”
Deer in the headlights. Pray for a thunderstorm. Pray for the land to split and kill us both. Pray for my phone to go off.
Stop laughing, you little shit, and stop knowing who I am.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes you are! I’m Gena! Gena, you remember?”
Pray for a stray bullet. Pray to wake up.
“Pat Morrings’ daughter! Your boss! Man, who’d’ve guessed? Brian Elias—the pornographer! Dad’s gonna get a kick out of this.”
The last time I saw Pat the Editor’s daughter Gena, she was in pigtails. I wouldn’t have recognized her in a billion years—nude, baring her squeaky red vulva for my Rebel TI. How the hell does she remember me? Tousled hair, blood all over my white collared button-up, sleepless and sweating?
“You and daddy used to go out to lunch on Tuesdays! Do you still do that, Brian? I never see much of daddy any more, you know, since our falling out.”
I’m going to be sick. She calls him daddy. Daddy, with her fist all rammed up inside of her.
“He’s gonna get a kick out of this, Brian. A big kick!”
It feels like all the air is somewhere else and I can’t breathe.
“I think I’m gonna call you porno-Brian!”
“Gena, don’t tell your father about this, please.”
Please. Please. Please. Please. My eyes shift back and forth between the girl, and Ethan, who’s back at tapping his watch.
“What do you care? My daddy hears whatever I need to tell him.”
“Ethan,” I say.
“I’ll call him right now! Where’d I put my goddamned cell phone...”
She begins to check around like she has pockets or something.
Ethan swears, slowly getting up, walking towards me.
“Daddy’s gonna be mad. He’s gonna be real mad.”
I could just fucking tear her eyes out. Her father gave her everything, and she’s nothing but a bratty little whore.
“What, what does my prince demand?” Ethan finally sighs.
“I can’t do this one,” I whisper. “You have to find another guy. This one’s hitting close to home. I need out. Red flag, red flag.”
“Bullshit,” Ethan hisses. “Brian, time is the essence, here. It’s one in the morning, I got a line-up to finish, and nobody else to call.”
“Look, say it’s political differences,” I try to explain.
Somebody hear me out, already. Somebody understand so I can go home.
Ethan is a real bastard when it comes to... I don’t know. Everything.
“Alright, alright,” Ethan rings in, with that familiar ‘don’t worry, baby, it’s gonna be ok’ voice he likes to use sometimes. “Let’s cool down a little. If you want to talk it over, we can talk it over, but if you don’t mind, let’s keep the models out of the business end, alright? We can say what needs to be said outside.”
I look around, wondering who Ethan is trying to protect. These girls? The ones with the stretchy orifices and advanced onset genital herpes? Isn’t this a losing battle already?
“Brian, are you alright?”
I need to breathe a lot. I need to breathe for a day.
Ethan takes me by a shoulder, like he wants to make a toast or lead me in a waltz. He looks me over with those big, fake, caring eyes and says, “Come on. Oustide. We can figure something out.”
Experience tells me that Ethan’s idea of ‘figuring something out’ has to do with more money, but it would be nice to get some fresh air, so I nod my head and we walk towards the front door.
“Ethan, Ethan!” One of the models yells. Ethan turns his head.
“It’s fucking cold in here, baby!”
“Keeps your nipples hard,” he nods. “I know, it’s tough. The AC’s stuck. Put your robe back on, stay warm.”
Outside, through the double-doors, Ethan puts his hand on my shoulder. He tells me that the girl doesn’t mean what she said. He says he’s got a couple a guys who can knock her around and get her to shut up about it, if it’s really that important to me.
The day I figured I was poor enough to start shooting hardcore material, I made myself a promise which I intend to keep: To never let this bite me in the ass.
“I promise you, I won’t let nothing happen to my picture-boy, alright? Brian, how long have we known each other. Six years?”
Ethan and I have known each other for two years.
“Well it seems like a lot longer and I mean that as a compliment. You’re part of the Ethan Dorr entertainment family, Brian. You’re my friend. I’m not gonna have you do anything that’s gonna put you in a position you don’t want to be in.”
I beg, “Then let me go home.”
I plead, “You have to.”
We continue along these lines for some time, Ethan and I both knowing I've wanted out for a long time, now. Even though I knew he could make good on keeping my name clean, I couldn’t see myself doing this kind of shit forever. In any case, it was time to call it a night.
More than that, what the fuck was that smell?
It had gotten bitter enough that we had to acknowledge it. We unanimously agreed to postpone our deepening conversation and investigate.
Opening the door, the first thing I could notice was all of the empty chairs. A double take revealed the bodies. All of them. Hundreds and hundreds of porn stars, baked to a crispy, crunchy, tender, flakey crust. Ethan and I just stood there, differences aside, letting our minds take a shot at what the hell had happened. This veritable nation of incinerated babettes. How did they get there? Why are they dead? Who was involved?
Then I noticed the bare wires from the Air Conditioning box. Then the fluid that had collected on the floor below. Gasoline or Freon. Flammable. Bare wires. The cold girl probably got tired of being cold, and after she messed with the thermostat to no avail, she decided to go knock the AC box around. A fine idea, except this is the warehouse, and it’s bound to be way below code. So she hits it and the case comes off, knocking wires loose, starting a fire against the gas. That’s where the defunct Halloween costumes come in. From the looks of the ashes and masks all over, the costumes were recalled for conducting fire so well. With a surplus of kindling material, these girls would’ve been charred in thirty seconds. Tops. We wouldn’t have heard them scream, either. We shut the door, and we were yelling. Sherlock Holmes would be proud. Or nauseous.
Once I deduce what likely had happened, I go for my cell phone, which makes Ethan upset.
“Who the fuck are you calling? The police? Brian, as soon as John Q. Law has my scent in his tractor beams, he’s gonna take me down.”
This is so like Ethan. A room full of dead porn stars and he’s worried about his taxes.
“My taxes, Brian.”
I try to explain, “I have to call. These are bodies.”
Ethan takes my cell phone and smashes it on the ground. Takes my alarm clock, my sunshine, and my God all rolled in one and breaks it against the dirty floor of the warehouse.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Ethan. My livelihood.”
“You can get another cell phone, but you are not calling the police.”
I laugh. “Well, what do we do, then?”
Yeah. What do we do?
* * *
Ethan’s truck is peculiar in that it’s missing one of everything. One tire is flat. One of the headlights is out. My window won’t roll down. You can’t put it in fifth gear. One of the mufflers jiggles around.
This is our third load of the night. We’re able to stuff six or seven of them into the flatbed each trip, but only if we break their backs first. It was scary when we started. Now I don’t mind so much. You just set their legs up backwards on the ground and step on their chests. Once you crack the spine, it’s like a human briefcase.
Ethan says something about how he hopes we don’t get pulled over because my seatbelt is broken.
The junkyard at Whispering Oaks is only a ten minute drive from the warehouse, both ways. But getting the bodies ready for the trip takes a while, so we’re only on our third load, and an hour’s already gone by. The junk compacters turn on at six in the morning. We’re going to have to work faster if we want to make little porn star cubes for the metal exhauster.
Ethan must’ve thought the same thing, because he started driving faster. He was terrified. I didn’t stay mad at him for long. I understood how it is to have your secrets swinging back and forth against your neck like a pendulum. I was in the same position only a few minutes before he was. Just less corpses involved.
But regardless of our deteriorating confidence, now it was time to quicken the pace. Crack backs faster. Toss them out into the dump. It almost felt good, having something useful to do with my hands after all these wasted days. I felt like a real man. I was proud.
The heavier ones weren’t much of a problem as far as storage capacity goes, because most of the fat burnt off in the fire.
We worked efficiently, on into the night.
* * *
Day broke over the horizon. The buildings and houses shrunk into silhouettes before the rising sun. Sweaty, tired, and still in a state of disbelief, Ethan and I paused in a moment of quiet reflection on an evening of overwhelming disgust and hard work. Our shaky fists, dyed red from sticky flesh, were covered in cracks and blisters from snapping bones and lifting loads. Ethan cried softly. I wondered if anyone had tried to call me.
A bluish haze began to crawl through the junkyard, giving the metal scraps an ominous shine. Once, these had been cars, and bed frames. Once they had shone beneath the sun as instruments of use. Now they were scraps, waiting to be packed into little balls of waste.
The charred flesh of the Cheryls bled a terrible, gorgeous red under the glimmer of dawn. For one brief moment, all of these people looked alive, bleeding and beating. Many of them were impaled on beams, beheaded on saw blades, merit badges from their twenty feet fall to the bottom of the pit.
It was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen.
Ethan looks right at me, ready to laugh or scream.
“What are you doing? What was that, Brian?”
I shrug, unsure what Ethan is asking.
“Did you just take a picture? Goddamn it, Brain! What the hell were you thinking! Give me that camera.”
I try to explain to Ethan about the portfolio, about my hobbies. Ethan isn’t hearing it.
“Give me the camera, Brian.”
I see a change in Ethan’s eyes that lets me know he doesn’t care about our friendship or my name or any of the melted Cheryls of the planet.
“Brian, the Camera.”
My Canon Rebel TI is more important that Ethan’s crazy-man eyes. There’s no way for me make him see that, so I stand my ground.
“Give me the camera, Brian.”
It was a flash of dust. A charge. A brief struggle, and then nothing.
Ethan pulled a knife. He tried to kill me.
In Ethan’s defense, I had it coming. In my defense, he had a fucking knife.
When the cloud had settled, when I still stood, clutching my camera, looking before the wasteland of carnage and auto parts, that’s when it hit me: I killed one of my boss’ daughters, and I killed one of my bosses.
Ethan lay fifty feet down, resting on the metal stalagmites of the junkyard in a position that said, “My neck is broken.”
I decided it was time to go home.
* * *
Back at the warehouse, my cell phone was ringing. Ethan didn’t break it. He just cracked the case.
It was Pat the Editor, if you care. He said he got the pictures I dropped off, from the accident at the megamall. He said I was his favorite person in the world. He hired me. He called it the “best piece of photojournalism I’ve seen in twenty years.”
I was in that kind of mood, so I asked him how Gena was doing. He said, “Good. Real good. She’s my little trouper, you know?”
* * *
That puts me here. Scrawling out one particularly interesting day in my not-so particularly interesting life. I’ve never written a suicide note before. I guess because I never took it seriously.
It used to be that attempting was just a way to remind myself I was alive. I suppose these last twenty-four hours spelled that out pretty clearly for me. It’s time to be the bigger man.
It’s high time I just checked out.
For whoever finds me: I’m not leaving behind much, but my photo album is underneath my bed. Tell Mom and Dad I’m sorry for ignoring them for the last ten years or so. Tell them I didn’t really mean most of what I said.
Tell them I didn’t die happy, but I died alive.
Oh, and don’t bother calling this a sad ending.
What else can I possibly do at this point, standing on a stool, noose around my neck, trying to say everything I’ve ever wanted to say on little pieces of paper, my cell phone ringing, that song by Diana Krall that you don’t believe in that’s beckoning you to return to the life that doesn’t know how to feed you or hold you or tell you it’s going to be ok?
I didn’t give up. I just had to say goodbye.
Diana: Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again.