The Casting Director

Aimee Parkison


While naked in the hospital, Catherine, your name caught in the vortex of the movie business. Because Jackie's rooms were empty, we began to sublet them to men writing screenplays and found your agent's wacky clients floating around the halls.

There was a scream. (Finally Marion got off the phone.)

There was this young guy kind of hunched in a stooped posture, unattractive. One day I see this guy walking up the hall from Jackie's. Later?

Even I saw the marks of sexual terror on her body.

"If you can't change that, I think you should take my name off," you said. But by then the tattoo was already beneath my skin like a terrible love affair.

In those days, there were nothing but terrible love affairs, as if you loved feeling unloved. As if you were in love with the idea of being underused, womanly unwanted, ladylike castaway, girlish garbage, as if you were— Sick of feeling well, Catherine? And wanted your lovers to destroy your body because someone killed our friend Jackie in September.

I thought to myself do this part. Loving you will be the nail in my acting career and then I can do other things.

Even now, you keep your door locked so I can't talk to you. Even now, I want to say Jackie was murdered but can't afford to say it. Even now, I can hear you say—in sexual matters, there is a medical truth. Don't say—Praying, just let her see me.

Actors were not freaks to me. They were people. Marion would look into Jackie's eyes.

Marion was always looking for you in Jackie's eyes. When I met Marion, she would look at you and you knew she was seeing something you didn't want to see about yourself. My central essence Marion saw was that I had a good amount of ignorance, a good amount from very powerful people.

The audition process is so disturbing, like a pelvic exam. Like a question mark of how good you would look at the swimming pool. Women would get you undressed so men could make sure you didn't have any scars on your body. It was like the witch trials. Unsightly scars, no matter how beautiful they said you were, scars could hurt. Scars were marks from the devil. Women's flesh had to remain unmarred if they wanted to survive. You knew that from the beginning. You should have known after all you taught us.


The man assisting me down there kind of owned the town. He took me upstairs to the little room with a little window, a little window where I could see his town. You weren't a part of his town, not then, and would never be again. That's what he told me as he inspected me for scars that might keep me from becoming a starlet.

I wasn't going to lie to you.

A person like you, not Marion, loves to eavesdrop until the men learn how to see her as a woman they knew long ago. There was one in particular, the hottest actor to hit Hollywood, his aquamarine eyes battered by California and all the young actors who met his description in the book.

God knows they were beautiful, you said to the man, Catherine, the one whose looks opened doors and legs everywhere and ruined him by allowing him to go into places inside other men where other men weren't allowed to go.

People who dreamed of mothering his illegitimate children were locked into you and what women like you had written on the page. Later, they were like your lovers in that battered hearse moving away from the hospital where you once wanted to recover. Recover from the uneasy bargain, the marks on your body, the unsightly scars you tried to camouflage with tattoos like bruises in the shape of your lovers' hands. Soon, it was hard to tell the difference between the bruises and the tattoos of bruises, the scars and the scarification. You were no longer in the little window. I couldn't see you anymore. You were hurting me in places I couldn't see. Catherine, your name caught. People are saying there's no way of knowing.