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VM Productions
Nathanael Thiesen


By Nathanael Theisen

               Steven Dumphy was born on March 3rd, 1984. He was welcomed into a happy family of three, his mother Anne, and his father Bill. His older sister Angela, 15 years his elder, was intrigued by a younger sibling, yet entering her teen years, was dismissive of another member of the family. Their parents, not expecting another child to raise, struggled with the change in the family dynamic. The struggles to raise a newborn, as well as teenager made life in the Dumphy less than desirable. As Tolstoy said, “all unhappy families are unhappy for their own reason,” and the Dumphy household was no different. By Steven’s third birthday, the family unit was breaking down just as his ability to understand the world around him was being developed. His sister would leave for college the coming September, and shortly after, his father disappeared. He never left word as to where he went, he just left the family funds, the house, and all his possessions. Angela, struggling to fit into a new environment, still harbored resentment towards Steven, unfairly placing some amount of blame on this small accident. His mother, though angry with his father, never again mentioned his name.
                     Growing up with an estranged father, Steven looked to his mother for guidance. She would need to work double duty as sole provider for the family, as well as mother figure and trying to give Steven a sense of how to grow up a man. With college taken care of, Angela was free to drift in and out of the Dumphy household, although never without hostility. She avoided Steven, leaving a void where Steven desperately needed a role model and a friend. As a means of dealing with her husband’s abandonment, Anne worked tireless hours at the hospital, making rounds as the head nurse, picking up overnight shifts, and working doubles on the weekend. She could always justify her work schedule, claiming bills to be paid, but she knew better; the family’s financial situation was never the issue, but it was her only solace in life. Though young, Steven could read this in his mother’s face as she left for work in the afternoons. Coming home from school, he could sometimes get a glimpse of her getting into her white station wagon as he hopped off the school bus. Always in a rush, she would shout parting words to him, without so much as rolling the window down all the way or slowing the car to a complete stop. Afternoon snacks were never an issue for Steven, whereas other mothers had milk and graham crackers waiting for the young school children, Steven had complete reign over the kitchen cabinets. And despite the tempting foods, nothing tasted as good as the snacks that had once been prepared by his own mother. As a young student, Steven was studious. A dedicated reader, he was always sure to finish his schoolwork upon arriving home. Once finished, he could spend hours pouring over the World Books that his father had bought him on his first birthday. In those books, he discovered the world, imagining the people that lay outside of his house and his school. He imagined swimming in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, and running down cobble stone streets followed by big red, double decker busses, while the big game animals of Africa and India inspired safaris in his imagination. All of these dreams would end as soon as he closed the World Book and opened his eyes to his suburban house with no neighbors to play with and no one there to teach him.
                       On his eleventh birthday, Rashid came into Steven’s world, moving in across the street. Rashid, another outsider moving in from another city, found a kindred spirit in Steven. As both of them had limited social circles, the found a common bond in one another. For the first time in years, Steven felt the emptiness of his world slowly fill with the joys that a friend can bring. The world book was no longer his sole source of imagination and fantasy. Rashid introduced comic books, video games, 52 tv channels, and a zest for recreating wild imaginings. With Rashid, Steven was able to go on hunting safaris in the big back woods, build towering forts that overlook acres of battlefields, ogres and princesses were around every corner, and at the end of the day, there was someone with whom to share all the days experiences. From an outsiders perspective, Steven was receiving the attention from an adult group, and more importantly from a peer, that would help him as he prepared to enter junior high. Despite still searching for approval from his mother and those classmates that were less accepting, it appeared that Steven was growing as an individual. Then, the summer before eighth grade, Rashid’s father was transferred to another city in another state. The move happened quickly, and within a week, Rashid and his family were moved out, and Steven was left alone once again.
                       In Rashid’s wake, Steven retreated further into his world of fantasy. He no longer noticed if his mother was home or not. He holed himself up in his room, reading comic books and experiencing the world through movies. His mother had an account at the local video store, and every other day after school, he walked to the store, picked up a movie, and watched it as he ate dinner, watching how actors moved in the scene, how the walked into a building, the way the smoked a cigarette and held a soup spoon. He imagined himself defeating Drago in Rocky IV, and it was he who corralled a friend into playing hooky and riding a float in downtown Chicago. Films were an easy way to live an exciting life without risking himself. His fantasies could be fulfilled, one 120 minute dose at a time. His obsession with actors grew and grew throughout high school, as he became less and less interested in geometry, biology, and the daily struggles of school and socializing. While interested in films, and the actors that presented the stories, he never made the leap into acting. He never even auditioned for a high school show, nor attended any of the productions through his four years. He often thought about it, imagining himself a smooth Johnny Depp from CRY BABY, walking on set and wowing the director, but he allowed those fantasies to remain just that, fantasies. As college quickly approached, Steven struggled with the paths that laid before him. Because of his poor grades and lack of motivation or effort, any school with a lengthy application process would be out of the question. His sister, despite having been out of the picture for nearly a decade, did leave some precedence in attending college, and Anne, despite her absence as a mother, did encourage Steven to continue school or find a trade that he was excited about. Once done with government mandated education, Steven took the opportunity to study at a local junior college, where the courses and curriculum were rather lax. He retook some math classes that he had done poorly in, and explored some design and auto classes, aimlessly taking classes that seemed interesting, but always proved to be more work that Steven was willing to put in.
                       After two years of junior college, steven decided to take a break, and began working at a local pharmacy through connections his mother had at the hospital. Five days a week, and sometimes on Saturday, he worked at the first floor pharmacy downton. Steven took money, had patients sign paper, and handed out medication, day in and day out. He saw individuals from all walks of life; the corporate high-flyers that looked on top of the world, would slide in at the end of the day, looking for their medication that would help them through another evening. There were the pre-op and post-ops that showed up for government assistance in their life altering ways, the old folks looking to extend their days by one more cycle. In all of this, steven saw a cross section of the world that he had never seen before. He saw the pain in other peoples eyes that he had previously imagined were only in his. Yes, he was alone and spent years trying to hide, but so were the people that came in every day, looking for another way to hide. All those people looking for escape gave Steven the sense that we wasn’t alone in the world. But what changed his life and his surroundings was an encounter with an older gentleman one night as he was helping to close up shop. The pharmacist was tirelessly working to contact the insurance company to make sure the prescription would be covered, and as the pharmacist toiled away, and Steven was counting the drawer, the old man asked Steven what he wanted to be. Was he studying? Did he have a plan? What was his dream? Steven stood stock-still for a second, not knowing what to say to a question that had never before been asked of him. And in a flash, Steven said, “I want to be an actor,” never before having entertained the idea, or even admitting to himself that he wanted to be more that just the guy working the counter at the local pharmacy. The old man stayed seated in his chair, looking at Steven, and all the while taking in Steven’s presence. And then firmly, with the utmost sincerity and concern, he said, “It is time you move on and make that a reality.” With those words, Steven resolved to move on, to leave a house that never was a home, and head west where dreams are made. Within two weeks of their quick talk, Steven had packed up, and started his journey to Los Angeles...
                       From here, I need to work on Steven and his relationship with Bob...