Tofino Timeless: Chapter Eight
by Shirley Langer, Tofino
Location scout, Danny Cubit, has found the ideal locations for the filming of a horror flick in Tofino. The production crew of The Waiting Deeps is ready to swing into action, which turns out to mean a major rearranging of nature to create the horror elements. Everything began to go wrong when the plans of the crass production director, Nash, clash with the values of some of the locals. Furthermore, Danny seems to be in the grip of a life force that is influencing him in strange ways. At the outset Danny blurted to a Tofino woman, Shell, that he was in Tofino "to fulfill prophecy". Another local woman, has done Tarot card readings for Danny that foreshadow dramatic events. And what exactly is to be made of the words incised into the bark of the Eik Street heritage tree: HE HAS COME TO REPOSSESS? The effect of the developing conflict and the drama of mysterious events and strange emotions has completely discombobulated the usually detached Danny Cubit. As things spin out of control, Danny receives a telephone call informing him that the production crew is ready to transform the Eik Street tree into something permanently ghastly.
Danny could almost taste the adrenaline surging through his body preparing every corpuscle for fight or flight. Do something to confront the mess you're in, or get the hell out. Ordinarily Danny would have taken flight, washed his hands of the whole bad Tofino scene, gotten into his SUV and hit the road. He'd done his job, things had gone screwy, but now things were in the production crew's hands. Let the locals deal with Steve Nash and company. He would do what he always did when he had completed his job--leave, hang out in his bachelor pad in Surrey, catch up on his zines and wait for the next assignment.
"Can't do that," Danny said aloud, jumping into rumpled jeans and yesterday's T-shirt. He ignored his growling stomach and headed into town. Got to tell Shell what's happening. Got to try to stop Nash from disfiguring the Eik Street tree. He was also asking himself why he was doing this. He was the guy from nowhere in particular, the guy with no roots, no loyalties, no complications. Yet ever since he had arrived in Tofino, he was being challenged at every turn. People and things appeared, then disappeared mysteriously. He either felt hunted, or ignored. The only times he felt grounded was when Shell was in the picture, and then she would do a disappearing act. Thinking about Shell made his loins tingle. I want her in the picture. I need her in the picture. At the sign of The Red Crow, Danny had an epiphany. Cubit, you dimwit, you've fallen in love! And she probably hates me.
Slowing down at the approach to the Eik tree, Danny was relieved to see nothing was happening. Probably Nash was at Velella's float house, trying to buy her off. Fat chance, but he wasn't sure that a wad of greenbacks couldn't buy off someone else with a float in the Sound who wouldn't mind having the place turned into a marine nightmare. As he passed the Police Station, he saw an f-350 parked in front of the Municipal hall. Permits. Nash would have to get a permit to set up on location and alter the tree. Nash will lie; tell them that once the shoot is over, they'll never know a film crew had been there. Think of the free advertising for Tofino, he'd say. Danny parked, and started sprinting toward the entrance of the Municipal Hall. Rounding a corner obscured by a huge bush, he bowled into someone, and they both went sprawling.
"Goddammit, Cubit! Where're you going in such a rush?" Nash got up, brushing sodden debris off his cords. Danny rose, wincing. He had landed on his back, and cracked his head on the sidewalk. Par for the course, he thought. Another painful encounter. Would he get out of this town alive?
"Nash, can we talk? Let's go somewhere for coffee."
"No can do, Danny boy. I just got a shoot permit for the bondage tree, so I have to round up the crew and start remodeling, if you know what I mean," he said, winking.
"Nash, you can't do that."
Nash patted his breast pocket. "Oh yes I can, Cubit," mistaking Danny's intention. " Council held an emergency meeting early this morning and issued a permit."
"That's not what I mean, Nash. There'll be trouble if you mess with that tree. Some people in this town went to a lot of trouble recently to save that tree from being cut. They had to raise a lot of money. If you mess with it, I guarantee there'll be trouble with the locals."
"Since when do location scouts worry about trouble? You're job's done, Cubit, and you done good. So relax. Any trouble from the local yokels, the council will handle it. And look, right across the street. . . . . society's best friends, the enforcers. "Anyway Danny boy, gotta split." A mock salute, and Nash was gone.
* * *
"Hasn't been around today." "Nope, don't know where she'd be." Nobody knew where Shell was. Mussel's boat was at the dock, but no Mussel. Hell, I'm in love with a woman who regularly evaporates like a phantom, and I don't even know where she lives or where she works, if she does. Danny called Long Beach Lodge to see if she had been there asking for him. Negative. He drove around town searching for her. Negative. So he headed to Eik Street.
To say that Nash was hotter than a habanero chili pepper would be an understatement. Danny could hear him long before he saw him.
"Can't do a goddam thing," Nash was bellowing into his cell phone. "There are people in the tree, lots of them. They're dressed in black, sitting on branches like the crows in this burg. We can't do anything....Of course we've informed the authorities.... You think I don't know that time is money?.... Yeah, I'll keep you informed."
Nash caught sight of Danny. "Cubit, see if you can talk some sense into them. I've told them they can all have parts as extras, but they're not biting. That girl-- Shelby or Shirley or whoever.... the one who was with you in the boat--apparently she's the spokesperson. She just keeps repeating the same thing: No evil mer-men! No damage to the tree! That they're not coming down until their demands are met with a written promise signed by the producers."
Danny's eyes were searching the tree. He counted six dark figures, but couldn't make out any faces. How had they managed this escapade? No more than an hour had elapsed since he had passed the tree on his way into town, but then he realized they could have been in the tree already.
"Shell," he shouted. "Shell...."
"Butt out, Cubit. You've done enough damage." Mussel's voice.
"Shell, please.... I need to talk to you."
"So talk." Shell's voice, but Danny couldn't tell which figure had spoken.
"I want to talk to you somewhere else. Not yelling like this."
"Tough beans, Danny, I'm here till this is settled our way. Besides, you're one of them."
"But I'm not one of them. At least, not any more. Shell, I think I love you" he shouted. "No, I know I love you."
If Shell replied, Danny didn't hear it. The sound of drumming and many voices chanting in unison erupted on the scene. Turning in the direction of the hoopla, Danny's jaw dropped. At least a hundred people carrying signs were crowding into the clearing, causing the film crew and knots of people who had stopped to see what was happening move out of the way.
Hands off the Eik Street Tree!
Get Out of Tuff City!
Make Love not War on Ancient Trees
And there was Velella with a megaphone, leading the chanting.
We Soved it Once, We'll Save It Twice
Eik is Precious, it has no Price
Then Danny noticed the cameras, a swarm of them. He laughed out loud. No doubt the Vancouver numbers on Shell's cell phone would match up with the media. A woman reporter from the Globe& Mail had already button-holed Nash.
"This scene will be history in a few minutes, honey." Nash was playing it cool, but Danny knew he was anything but. Nash was violently jiggling the chestnut he carried in his pocket, his lucky talisman, something he did only when he was under great stress. "The police will be here in a few minutes. So will the mayor." He waved the permit. "Fantasy Films has a legal permit to shoot at this location."
Later, Danny would say he didn't remember making a conscious decision to do what he did next, which was to grab a sign that said Up with the Eik Street Tree! Down with Hollywood Phonies! and join the protest.
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group.
Read Chapter Nine in the September issue of Tofino Time Magazine...
Previous chapters of Tofino Timeless are available online:
Tofino Timeless is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group. This is chapter 8, writting by Shirley Langer