Actions

Work Header

yellow and purple marks

Work Text:

August 1915
Los Angeles, California

Cosmo looks down over the bridge, into the pulsating waves several hundred feet below them.

"As much as I am an advocate of the theory that come rain, or sleet, or snow, the show must go on — I don't think this is a good idea, Don."

Don is trying not to look down for too long beside Cosmo. He steps back, away from the drop and looks at a place between a couple of cloud banks so fluffy, he could almost make himself believe that the whole place was a overly artistic backdrop. "Please, Cos, tell me what you really think."

"Ok: I really don't think that this is a good idea, Don."

Don rolls his eyes and keeps his head tilted heavenwards. He uses this moment to say a quick, incomprehensible prayer as he tries not to agree with Cosmo on even the most basest of levels. The whole scene had sounded unnecessary, more so when the director told him he'd really be making the jump himself. Not only that, but the doctors and medics would be standing by several hundred feet away from the edge of the bridge, which means any aid he might need at the end of the scene will be almost a thousand feet above him —

"— but who knows, maybe they'll hire a boat and get to you just after the impact but with enough time to edit your resuscitation out of the final scene."

"Cos!" Don shakes his head and starts making his way back to the automobile he's to drive off the bridge from. He knew his prayer should have been more concrete, to better block out Cos's persuasive logic of how foolhardy this whole endeavour was.

Cos's "I'm just saying!" is mostly smothered by the wind, which pushes a damp, thick air across the whole area that makes Don feel like he's already drowning.

Don is already starting to think that after this stunt, his new motto will be 'dignity', not 'the show must go on'. He will never stoop to such low standards that any director would ever even dream of sending him speeding off an incomplete bridge, or piloting an aeroplane into a wooden barn, or flinging himself bodily against an unmoving obstacle of which will definitely leave him bruised and sore for the next three shoots he manages to book. After this stunt, his newfound motto will bring him roles that are much more respectable and require way less make-up to cover up the yellow and purple marks that currently pattern his body.

"Non-essentials, clear the set! Everybody else: get into position!" The yell cuts across the open space and Don picks up his pace. He jogs lightly to the automobile, past the assistant director with his bullhorn. Once he's seated, he is swarmed by make-up artists and the costume stylist. They adjust him accordingly and step away just as the assistant director's amplified voice yells out, "Places, people! Places!"

Cosmo sneaks over to the automobile in a crouch. He edges against Don's door and peeks over. "Are you sure about this, Don? Because I'm really not."

"Yes, Cos, I'm sure. Don't worry about it! I'll be fine! You just focus on setting the mood."

"Well, your unrelenting optimism is worrying enough." Cosmo hurries over to the piano set aside just beyond the frame of the cameras.

"Set the mood, Cosmo! Give us something desperate but brave!" The director has taken over the bullhorn now, and using it unnecessarily close to Cosmo's ear. Don could just make out Cosmo's elastic expression as he cringed away from the loud sound. "And action!"

Don turns over the engine and starts driving. As he picks up pace, he thinks over what he has to do. It isn't much, it is a very simple stunt theoretically. All he has to do is drive and then jump. Of course, in practice, he will have to calculate the precise moment to separate himself from the automobile to enable a perfect shot while landing far enough away from the falling vehicle that he won't sustain any serious injuries.

As the end of the bridge nears, Don has to resist the impulse to slam on the brakes and yank up the handbrake. He barely makes it. His foot grazes slightly against the brake and that's all it takes. The vehicle stutters for a fraction of a second, his speed slowing imperceptibly, but slowing nonetheless. The vehicle still sails off the edge, but not as far as Don has calculated he will need.

He's suspended over nothing but air, and for what feels like a few seconds, he is calm and detached. Then gravity hits and his stomach rises with his hair as both man and vehicle tilt forward and begin the nose-bleeding descent towards the pulsating waves below.

Don releases the steering wheel without effort — he is already being pulled from his seat due to the fall. He somersaults sideways and straightens out, legs together, arms tucked tight against his sides and tries to steady his breathing for the rest of the fall. It's not until he's just about to hit the water that he sees the affects of his nervous foot. The automobile has slanted during the descent and the tip of the hood is just below Don's feet and increasing.
 
The combined spray of water from the automobile's impact and Don's impact feels like needles against Don's face as he submerges. He doesn't feel anything else, but it takes two boats filled with panic medics and assistants to hull him out of the water. He's not fully aware of everything that's happening as the director's face hovers above his saying something about "the best for the best."

Don blacks out thinking that maybe Cos was right after all.