LOVE IS BLIND, LUCKILY THERE’S LENSCRAFTERS
Backstage, we join Kohime Mori. The young woman wrings her hands together while pacing. One, two, three, four steps and turn around. One, two, three, four steps and turn around. Her head is on a swivel, checking down one side of the area before looking down the other a few seconds later. She stops, closing her eyes. Her chest expands, accompanied by the sound of a slowly inhaled breath. Her exhale is much faster, almost as if she’s forcing every bit of oxygen out of her lungs. She opens her eyes and turns to the right. The worry that wrought her face subsides a bit. Mortimer Knightingale has entered frame.
There is a confidence, a sort of pep in his step as Mortimer approaches Mori. A smile on his face, an image of exuberance, as if he is about to break out into a large Broadway musical number. He walks up to Mori and bows respectfully.
Mortimer Knightingale: Hi. Like “Hello”. Not the, uh, you know, Karate kind. I don’t want you thinkin’ I condone nor support any derogatorically insensitive remarks, there’s been enough of that, what with what happened earlier with that little prick, Gamble. Not that hai is mutually exclusive to Karate, sorry…. I’m ramblin’….
Mortimer laughs nervously before Kohime Mori with an earnest smile.
Mortimer Knightingale: Hello. I was hopin’ I could, uh, talk to you? I’ve been workin’ up the nerve to—–
Mortimer notices something on Kohime Mori’s face and he becomes concerned.
Mortimer Knightingale: You okay?
Kohime gives Mortimer a half glance up before her focus goes to the ground.
Kohime Mori: We need to talk…
Her tone is low, her shoulders are slumped. This isn’t the usual upbeat Kohime people are used to.
Mortimer Knightingale: Yeah, yeah we do. I, uh, I wanna tell you somethin’, somethin’ I need to get off my chest….unless you’d….
Mortimer extends his arm, welcoming Kohime Mori to begin. Another deep breath from Mori. She finally raises her head to look up at Nightingale.
Kohime Mori: I like you, Morty and I want to believe you’re great. But you hang around with Tommy Gamble, let him mistreat you… I don’t like to say things like this, but that guy’s a jerk! And I’m not sure how close we can really be if that’s the kind of company you’re going to keep.
Kohime speaks her words in a quick fashion, as if they’d explode out of her if she didn’t expel them when she did. She pauses in an effort to center herself. Once ready, she gives Mortimer a slight nod. Mortimer pauses, processing everything Kohime laid before him until he realizes one important fact.
Mortimer Knightingale: You—You didn’t see it. You missed the whole fuckin’ thing! That arrogant little twerp, Tony Gamble, out there, in the middle of that ring, malignated your good name so I beat him. I beat the shit outta that prick. Literally! There was a particularly fecal stench when his two dumb fuck goons pulled me offa him. I’m free from all that! For you!
Kohime’s eyes widen.
Kohime Mori: You… You stood up for me?…
The blood rushes to her face. She looks down to the ground again, but there’s clearly a different feeling in the air. Mori takes a few shuffled steps forward until she’s right in Mortimer’s personal space. She rests her cheek against the larger man’s heart, wrapping her arms around his broad torso as best she can.
Kohime Mori: Thank you…
The volume of her voice is just above a whisper, but the words are clear and crisp. Mortimer wraps his arms around her.
Mortimer Knightingale: I….adore you.
Mortimer’s voice trailers off as they hold each other in silence for a moment. Mortimer cherished every moment of this embrace before releasing Mori. Mortimer Knightingale takes a step back.
Mortimer Knightingale: I’m, uh, gonna say somethin’ and I’m….fuckin’ terrified that once I say what I’m gonna say, your opinion is gonna change. But I need to say it, you know? I want you to know me.
Mortimer Knightingale puts his arms around his head, his hands shaking as he loosens the ties on his mask. Mortimer looks into Kohime’s eyes, locking in on them as he removes the mask. He clutches the mask in his hands, sheepishly keeping his gaze.
Mortimer Knightingale: I’m a piece of shit. I’ve done things. Things I ain’t proud of….I—I have committed certain illegalities for money. There’s this movie I was convinced in doin’. There’s people I’ve hurt. I don’t wanna be that—-For you, I wanna be…..
Mortimer finds it hard to get words out. He memorized everything on his way to Kohime and now, the words are lost on him. He feels his voice cracking as he stands before her not as Mortimer Knighingale but Rowan Scatino, his birth name. How long has it been since he has found himself this vulnerable in front of another person? Kohime raises her hands, tenderly placing them on each side of Mortimer’s jaw.
Kohime Mori: People can change. You can always be better than you used to be. Nothing but yourself is stopping you from being better.
Mori flashes Rowan a bashful smile.
Kohime Mori: I believe in you. You have to believe in yourself. You know what you have to do.
Mortimer’s brow appears to tremble, his breathing becomes slightly irregular as he feels Kohime’s hands on his face. Mortimer looks petrified as looks into her eyes. Those dark, beautiful, affectionate eyes that look at him as the man he could be. The small bashful smile that he has, on occasion, thought about. In this moment, Mortimer can see what he and Kohime Mori could be together.
Mortimer drops his mask and brings his hands up, taking her hands in his, finally dropping his head, breaking eye contact.
Mortimer Knightingale: I….You’re too good for me….
Mortimer lets Kohime’s hands go and sucker punches her in the face. Kohime staggers back, looking stunned. Mortimer clocks her again with another right hand in the mouth, dropping the young woman to the ground. As blood trickles down her lip, tears trickle down his cheek.
Mortimer Knightingale: …but I’m a piece of shit. Better you know now….
Mortimer, unable to look at Mori, bends down and picks up his mask and walks away. Mori slowly pulls herself to her feet. Her breathing quickens, just short of hyperventilation. Her fists are clenched and her face is twisted in anger… Only for it to fade quickly. Kohime’s lip quivers and her eyes well up before she collapses to her knees as tears flow down her cheeks. She buries her tear soaked face into her hands, a gutteral bawl echoing throughout the hallway as the girl cries in sorrow.