We Are Talking About Camp Sites, Aren’t We?
Screen Test: Jamie and Christopher – Revised
Your comments are most welcome.
“Oh. My. God. A traffic jam. In the middle of Wyoming? Can you believe this? A traffic jam?”
“Will you look at that line of cars? This is a disaster.” She thought, We have to get that story. Raping the National Forests. I have to show, not say. That means hard evidence. If I don’t have it by Monday, I better look for another job.
“Five RVs and three cars. There won’t be any damned camp sites left why the time we get up there.” No camping. No Wilderness shots. Nothing to splice together tomorrow night. No time for voice-overs.
She winked to her two companions and bounded out of the van. Shoulders back, Jamie set a brisk pace past the idling cars. She ignored women checking her hair, and clothes. She winked at men furtively wondering what was underneath.
Stepping inside the gate hose, she couldn’t miss the signs on the wall. FIRE DANGER – HIGH and UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, RV CAMPING ONLY. Unseen, she studied the two rangers. The middle-aged man hunched over a computer screen. The taller one leaned out a window. No women? Stone Age.
She knocked on the door frame. The older ranger looked up.
She looked him in the eye. “Hey. May I enter? Don’t want to break the rules.”
He shrugged. “What rules? Who follows them anyways.” He rubbed his temples. “¿Cómo puedo ayudarte, señorita?”.
She grinned “Está bien. Hablo inglés.” She noted his name tag. ” Hey, Ed. Having a good day, right?”
“So, so.” He rocked back and forth. His eyes roved over her body. Finally, his eyes rose to meet hers, but only briefly, before slipping back down again. “What can I do you for?”
She slid her feet further apart, willing him to look up. “Well…I’m a…a film journalist. And I want to get some shots of the Wilderness Area. So, I was hoping you had some tent sites near the—”
He pointed to the signs on the wall. ” Nope. Wilderness Area’s closed. Closed most all the tent sites, unless you’re an RV. Fire danger.” He turned to a computer. ” But, let me take a look see, okay?”
Jamie wrinkled her nose. Wilderness Area closed? What did he mean by that? She glanced at the other ranger. Tall and broad-shouldered, he leaned out the window. He trim, athletic body came, complete, with tight buns. She smiled to herself.
Then, he turned.
Caught, she looked away. The back of her neck tingled. She hooked her hair behind her ear and smiled at the man buried in his computer screen.
He was oblivious. He muttered to himself.
She rocked forward on her toes. Why is this taking so long? What’s so hard about answering my question? Lot’s to do and not much time. Sensing movement, she peeked at the other ranger.
Unaware of her, he bent to pick up something from the floor. His half unbuttoned shirt revealed a broad, smooth chest. This time, he winked.
Jamie froze, stabbed through the heart. With an effort, she turned her attention to Ed.
Ed sagged in his chair. ” Sorry Missy. No can do. Closed the ones over to the Wilderness Area. Can’t go in there, anyways. Did you say you got an RV?”
“Damn.” She was afraid this might happen. ” Wait. Closed the Wilderness Area? It’s for my job. I just have to—”
He held up his hand. “Hold that thought” He turned to the taller ranger. “Chris. This young lady wants a tent site over to the Wilderness Area.”
Ed whispered to the younger ranger, “Man eater.”
“Take the window?” The two rangers switched places. “So, Miss, what seems to be the problem?”
She licked her lips. Man eater? How unfair is that? “Chris? Christopher, I bet, right? I’m Jamie.” She stuck out her hand.
His hand swallowed hers. “Yes. Christopher. A pleasure to meet you, Jamie.” “What seems to be the problem?”
“Not a problem, I hope.” Slowly, she took back her hand. His hands are so hard and calloused. A real man’s hand. He’s used to physical labor. “All I need is a tent site. Tonight, and maybe tomorrow night? I want to take some shots of the Wilderness Area. Me…and the rest of the crew.”
She gave him no chance to speak. “The Wildernesses are a great treasure. Preserves the Land the way it was before the…before people came. With all the corporations and foreign money, we could lose the land, forever.”
“I see. I appreciate your…passion.” He punched the keys with authority, then shook his head. “As Ed said, we closed the Wilderness Area. We have no tent openings until next week. You should have called ahead.”
“Guilty your honor.” Okay girl. Time to go to work. She drew her hands together, and offered up words of supplication. “Please? I going to lose my job. It’s totally crazy. I just have to get some Wilderness shots. Please? We stay tonight, shoot in the morning. Then, we’re out of here. Right?” She nodded, willing him to agree.
He settled into back in the creaking chair. ” I see. Shots. Film shots? Video shots? What?”
“Jamie. Please call me Jamie.” His eyes are blue, deep blue. A girl could get lost in them. “Video. I’m…we work for KCWC. That’s the PBS station. Maybe you watch it?”
He shook his head. “I am not much for TV.” His eyes went to the clock. “What does your station have to do with us, with the Wilderness Area?”
“I’m…no…we…are doing a piece on the wilderness area.” She turned up her warmest smile. Who could resist that? “And, since the shutdown is over, we thought we’d show how people abused the wildernesses while you guys were on vacation.”
“Vacation? Hardly.” He stiffened. “Anyway, go on.”
“Whatever.” Good job Jamie. You just pissed him off. “I…we don’t have a lot of time. I’ve just got to show it to, Juan, my manager. Monday. No piece. No job. Jamie on the street. You just have to help, please?”
“I am sorry to hear about your job.” He raised an eyebrow, looking straight at her. “I want you to understand something. I was here during the shutdown. No wilderness area violations occurred. If there were, it is your duty to tell me.”
“Now. To the business at hand.” He nodded to the signs, “We have closed most of our Wilderness Area to the public. Perhaps you could try—”
“I…we don’t have time to try some other place. Can’t you see that?” He has nice hair. Not too long. Not a skin head either. She pictured grabbing it, tugging on it. “They would just be as full as you guys are. Can’t you find us just one little tent site? Near the trailhead? Please, Christopher, please?”
“I can look again.” His eyes narrowed as he turned to the computer screen. “We only have a few spaces left in the RV park. And that is some distance, about five miles from the trailhead. But you cannot enter the Wilderness Area, anyway.”
“Damn it. That so doesn’t work.” She leaned in closer, trying to peek at the screen. Her breasts swayed, safely hemmed in by her top. He isn’t serious. All those empty tent sites, and he can’t give me one? All we need is a tent space. Tomorrow, we can sneak into the Wilderness Area. “Can’t we get one little site, and we won’t tell anybody? Promise. I like your name, by the way. It suits you.”
“My mother likes it.” His eyes went back to the signs. Not looking at her, he said, “I will her you approve.”
“I bet mom gave you that cute little smile, too.” She bounced on her toes, jiggling again. He is so…private. Need to loosen him up. “You should use it more.”
“I see.” His eyes wavered slightly, before finding her eyes again. He pressed his lips together. “I regret that I cannot help.”
“You mean, in this big ol’ forest, you don’t have one tucked away somewhere?” She giggled and leaned in, closer. They swayed more. He tried not to notice, but he did. “No one has to know. Please? I won’t tell anyone, honest.” She crossed her heart, then touched her crucifix, almost in her cleavage.
His eyes followed. He blushed and looked away. “I…I am sorry.” His hand touched a large, ugly burn on his forearm. “Only the RV area is open. The fire danger is extremely high.”
“No fires, honest. Just like Smokey the Bear.” She jutted her jaw out. In a deep voice, she said, “Remember. Only you can prevent forest fires.”
He stiffened, and his eyes turned cold. He chose his words with care. “”We do not take these things lightly. People should have more respect nature.”
“I…I’m sorry. No offense.” Jamie’s hand went to her throat, to the gold chain. Oops. What was that? Now he’s pissed off. Eyes wide, she looked at him.
“Now, you hate me, right?”
“Nonsense. I hardly know you. As it is, you did not deserve that.” He continued to stroke that scar. “I am the one asking forgiveness.”
After a shaky laugh, she replied. “I’m tougher than I look. I stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.” Go for it, girl. Get a tent site. The Wilderness Area can wait. “Tent site?”
He shook his head. “”I wish I had one.” He leaned in a little closer. “Look. I want you to know this. There is nothing personal in all this. My hands are tied.”
“Nice hands.” And no ring to rule them all. She smiled her little girl smile. ” I bet the girls are all over you.”
“What?” He blushed. “See what you just did?”
She giggled. “So very, very modest. Why?” I bet they fall all over themselves. She put a finger to her lips. “I bet you take girls to a special place, hidden away somewhere. Maybe I could I use it? Just one night. No one will ever know. I promise.”
“You have a one track mind.” He laughed and shook his head. “You do not give up, do you?”
“Nope.” A nice laugh, but sad. She reached out and played her fingers over his. “Right now, I want to keep my job.”
“I am sorry about your job.” He looked at her fingers, but didn’t pull away. ” As I said, I do not make the rules. I have to follow them, just like everyone else.”
She leaned in. “Christopher. Rules are made to be broken, right? At least once in a while?” None of that scented body wash for him. Parting her lips slightly, she traced her fingers over his hand. “For me, please?”
“I wish I could.” They both looked to the signs. ” I very much I wish I could.”
“I’m crushed.” She pressed a hand to her heart. His eyes followed. Time to reel him in. “How tall are you? I can wear heels when we go out.”
“When…we go out?” He smiled, wistful. “What am I supposed to say to that? Something like, Latinas are so hot?”
“You really think so?” An almost compliment from Mr. Serious. “Shoshone, actually.”
“Really. Behne, nammi.”
She tilted her head. He sees me as his sister? We’ll have to fix that. “Behne duibichi’ anehwe.”
“Handsome? I’ve not heard that lately.” He scoffed as he looked into her eyes. “The Wind River Reservation? That is beautiful country.” He smiled, faintly. “It is not as beautiful as the Big Horns, but beautiful.”
“You’ve seen our mountains? I won’t mention their camp sites.” He speaks the tongue, maybe better than I do. “Maybe we have the same friends?”
“We better not know the same people.” His eyes had grown hard, and his abrupt head shake fractured the mood. “We got off track, somehow.”
She felt her mouth form a little oh. “You…you’re’ right. I’m running out of ways to ask.” Damn. What did I say that time? “Please, a tent site?”
Eyes still hard, he shook his head. “As I have said, several times now, I have no tent sites to give.”
She spat the words out before she could stop. “Look buster. This is about my job.” Stop. Stop. Stop. Don’t say it. She couldn’t stop. “You’re making me so mad.”
His glare answered hers. “Miss, I have no wish to offend you. But, as you can see, I have real—”
“—work to do.” She stamped her foot. A moccasin makes little noise. “You want to know something? This…this…is so unfair. We…my People, gave your government these lands; And, now, you say we can’t use them; And you have those unused tent sites. Who said you get to make all the—”
“Look.” His voice flat, nearly a monotone. “Those tent sites are closed. Now, I have work—”
“Don’t interrupt me, you big ox.” In the sudden silence, they looked at each other. “Is there someone I can talk to, someone in charge?”
“Art. He’s the Chief Ranger.” His face was unreadable. “He returns on Monday.”
“Come on. I already told you I can’t wait for Monday.” I could just slap him. What a difficult, beautiful man. She took a deep breath. “So. Who’s in charge, then? You?”
“Me.” He tapped his chest. He leaned back in the chair. “There you have it. Art on Monday, or me. Art will say no, just like I have.”
“I should have known. Leave the most stubborn one in charge.” Every time I open my mouth, I make this worse. I have to get that video. By Monday. Or, bye, bye job.
She toyed with her crucifix. With a smile, she tried to change the mood. “So, you’re the one I have to bribe?”
“”You would bribe a poor civil servant? I supposed it depends on what the offer.” He looked at the sign again. “Please, don’t think me rude. But we’ve been over this. I’ve got work—”
“Wait, wait, wait. I didn’t mean that.” She blushed, hard. “This is about tent sites, right?”
“Of course.” He glanced down at his computer screen, before returning to her. His fingers on the keys made clicking sounds. “What else would we be talking about?”
“The same thing you are talking about.” She took a lock of her hair. She resisted the urge to pull it out by the roots. His eyes followed. “I’m really sorry. I know we got off on the wrong foot. Can we start over?” Maybe some flattery. Guys aren’t used to it, not like we are.
“By the way, you look so cute in that uniform. Do they give them to you, or do you have to buy them?”
“What? I…I get a clothing allowance. I buy them when I need them.” He blinked and his hands smoothed out the shirt front. He looked suspiciously at her. “What has that got to do with anything?”
“Oh my God, Christopher, I was paying you a compliment, that’s all. Don’t worry. I’m not going to seduce you.” Yet. She continued to play with her hair. “So. Do you always follow the rules?”
” I always play by the rules. If we do not respect boundaries, what do we have?” He glared at her. “Your question unfair question, by the way.”
“Where does it say I have to be fair?” She giggled and touched the tip of his nose. Here we go. All in. “A girl does what she has to.”
“So you are one of those girls?” His face burned bright red, and he tried to hide it by looking at the clock. “Like I said, I have—”
“One of those girls?” She raised her arm, intending it as a joke. But her body quivered. “Just what is that supposed to mean?”
“You brought it up.” He glanced at her hand, showing no fear “Do you still want to talk about tent sites?”
She looked at her hand, and said, “I guess so. You have me so confused.” You can slap his face off, later. “What am I going to do with you?”
“I am yours to do something with?” He leaned back in his chair, and looked at the clock again. “Please, as much as I have enjoyed our chat, I really need to finish—”
“Yes, yes, I know. You have work to do.” Bending her head to the left, her hair slipped away, exposing her throat to him. “Christopher, are you always this way?”
“What way is that?” His eyes rested on her throat. “Do you mean, acting the same way you act?”
She snapped. “Who’s acting? And, what’s wrong with it, anyway?”
He laughed. “You are one amazing woman. A very pretty one at that.”
She giggled. “Well. Isn’t that just something?” She ran her finger inside the gold chain around her neck. Who’s off-balance, now? I bet Ed would have been easier. “A wonder if you even noticed.”
“The moment you walked in the door.” This time, he let his eyes roam. “You certainly are the most determined woman I have ever met.”
“Thanks, I’m sure. But, it isn’t getting me anywhere.” She twisted her hips and leaned in, nose almost to his. “So, what does a girl have to do?”
“I’m sure you will think of something.” He refused to back away. “Are we still talking about tent sites?”
“Yes, damn it…tent sites.” I can’t win this. He isn’t going to let me camp, let alone go into the Wilderness Area. She let her eyes drift to his lips. “You know what? I going to lose my job, and it’s all going to be your fault. Hope you’re happy. Do whatever you want.” She turned to walk away.
He snapped his fingers. “Stop right there.”
Surprised, she stopped, and looked over her shoulder.
“If it doesn’t have to be a tent site, here’s what I can do. RV site number three. Out of the way. But, only for tonight. Will that do?” He rubbed that burn mark again.
Feeling weak, she nodded. She clutched at the side of the table. “Yes. Please.”
“See how easy that was? As I said, we closed most of the Wilderness Area.” He held up a piece of paper. “Do you still want the space?”
“If that’s all you’ve got, I guess I’ll take it. Is it far?”
“No. Not far. About two miles up the road.” He handed a map. “I might drop by. You cannot go into the Wilderness Area, but I might have some ideas, okay?”
Leaving the gatehouse, she realized their van was next in line. With jerky motions, she climbed in. Anita and Teddy looked at her.
“Hi stranger. We all set, then?”
She realized where she was. “Sort of.” She handed them the map.
Her tummy fluttered. She felt weak. Those blue, blue eyes. And…that touch. It must have been a bazillion volts. This can’t happen now. I’ve got important things to do. I don’t have time for it.
She slumped back in her seat . That damned ranger, that Christopher. He toyed with me the whole time. And now, he will watch us like a hawk. If I can’t get shots of the Wilderness Area, I’m going to lose my job. And it’s such a good story. Raping the land and all. I won’t have to sensationalize it. It’ll sell itself. I could use this to go to Salt Lake, or even Denver.
The van lurched forward. Maybe, if we get up early, we can sneak in there before Mr. Christopher gets up. We get our shots, and get out before he finishes counting paperclips, or whatever. We head back to town and do the voice-overs.
Yes. We get up early. We can make this work.