Gust In The Crimson

Gust In The Crimson

A Story by R J Fuller

We want to accept. We want to include. How badly do we want to achieve such openness?

"Ah, Gil. Come in and be seated. We were just about to start our meeting."

"Thank you, Mr. Carlinsword."

"I believe you know Miss Manning."

"Jan, please, and yes, Gil and I have met."

"And of course Bob Witherspoon."

Yes, hello, Bob. So why are we here, Mr. Carlinsword?"

Carlinsword stood and turned his back to all those in the room, looking out the window upon the city below. 

"People, we have to address the issues currently confronting this nation. We have to take the bull by the horns, so to speak."


"Health insurance?"

Carlinsword turned back to face them. 

"Yes, yes, all important issues that need to be dealt with, but the one that is the strongest motivator in the American psyche is racial discrimination. As long as this is a driving force in getting a reaction from the masses, we need to be on that bandwagon. Even more, we need to take hold of the reins and direct that wagon, if at all possible."

"Well, how do we go about doing that, Mr. Carlinsword."

"Glad you asked that, Bob. The accepted trend for dealing with the racism problem in the country is retooling programs that have today's appeal to be more racially inclusive."

"Showing the white people being more inclusive with a black person in their midst." 

"Exactly!" Carlinsword declared. "We'll take on some of the established films that had no black people in them and remake them with greater racial equality."

"Sounds like a good idea, Mr. Carlinsword, but which one will we focus upon?"

"That's what you are for, Jan. What would be the best remake with a strong focus on racial sensitivity?"

The room of people gave some quick thought to the matter and began proposing suggestions. 

"Shakespeare?" Bob suggested. "Black MacBeth."


"Shakespeare wrote Othello, who is generally portrayed by a black actor."

"Yes," Carlinsword said. "So Shakespeare already has its black representative, so no need to go there."

"We find one that doesn't have suitable racial representation?"

"Where to begin?"

"The earliest days of Hollywood?"

"Back when black people were forbidden to appear because the white southern audience wouldn't watch the movies or shows if there was a black person there." 

"I didn't realize white southerners controlled Hollywood back then." 

"Well, obviously they did. After all, what is considered the alltime best film ever made about the Mississippi white family in the Civil War?"

The people sat and stared blankly. Carlinsword looked at them, then proclaimed, "Gust In The Crimson, of course."

"Ah, yes," Jan said. "My grandmother loved that movie."

"Everybody's grandmother loved that movie."

"But that movie had the black servants in it, remember? Ray and Old Lisa. Big breakthrough in Hollywood acceptance there." 

"Yea, but let's face it. Today's audience will regard the classic film as racially unbalanced."

"Today's audience considers anything before 2010 to be racially unbalanced."

"So if we were to make Gust In The Crimson more racially sensitive, what are we talking about here, Mr. Carlinsword."

"We need something like, . . . like Old Lisa running her own business."

Bob, Gil and Jan looked blankly at one another. 

"Mr. Carlinsword," Bob began, "Old Lisa was a slave. She was born a slave."

"Well, she got her freedom, didn't she? The slaves were set free in the movie."

"Well, yessir, they did, but Old Lisa died two years later. How is going to be running a business if most of her life, she was a slave?"

"We'll worry about those little details later. Now other characters in the story, like the Templeton cousins. One of them needs to have a black parent." 

Jan spoke without moving, "which one?"

"Doesn't matter," Carlinsword responded. 

"Mr. Carlinsword," Gil stated this time, "the Templeton cousins were essentially the center of the whole story with their rivalry for the family inheritance and the hand of the beautiful Sweetie Azure."

Carlinsword looked at Gil. 

"Yes," he began, "Sweetie Azure. American heroine, isn't she? She needs to become Latino."

"Mr. Carlinsword, do you think the Gill estate in Mississippi will permit changes such as these to Louise Anna Gill's novel?"

"If they fight us, we'll proclaim racism. Look, we need the rough edges of racism smoothed over in this country. There's no better place to really focus upon than Gust In The Crimson. We change that, both races will see the equality and acceptance. And we'll have the recognition for leading that charge into the future."

"Mr. Carlinsword, do you believe the African-American audience will respond to Old Lisa as a businesswoman or one of the Templeton's being half-black?"

"Gil, it will be a new interpretation of what they have always been told about slavery in America, but a version the Afrain-American community can appreciate more."

"Slaves running a business? A Latino southern belle?"

"What sort of business do you see Old Lisa operating, Mr. Carlinsword?"

He sat down at his desk. 

"I don't know. What businesses did they have back then? She could run a line of ships, perhaps?"

Bob, Gil and Jan stared without saying anything. 

"Too much," Carlinsword responded. "Well, that's the racism we need to bring to the forefront. Why is it so wrong to think of a black woman running a shipping line?"

"But for that time period, it would be just as peculiar for a white woman to run a shipping line," Jan answered. 

Carlinsword stared at Jan for a bit. He reached over and picked up a file and opened it. He took out the top picture, then handed the file to Jan, who instinctively did the same when she saw what was inside. It was pictures from Gust In The Crimson. 

They studied the performers in the old movie, all long gone, and thought of how popular the movie was. How it was hailed as being the greatest film ever made, and there stood the actor who played Ray on the far side of the group photo, so he could be cut out, if necessary. 

"What was his name? The actor who played Ray?" 

"Mike Kensington. Before you ask, I believe he came from Kansas."

"He really put his all into that performance, didn't he? As Ray the cotton boy."

Jan sighed. 

"I guess no matter how much of an excellent movie it was," she stated, "it didn't help much that the performances were still as slaves." 

"Excellent performances of slaves, that far back. Probably one generation removed from slavery, tops. Maybe two." 

Carlinsword looked at his three assistants as they studied the photographs. He looked at the picture he still had and sat at his desk. 

"Then that settles it," he stated. "That's what we'll do."

"What, sir?"

Carlinsword raised his head and looked above everyone else. 

"We'll redo Gust In The Crimson, . . . . with white slaves."


Gil spoke first. 

"White slaves, sir?" 

"Yes," Carlinsword proclaimed, rubbing his hands together. 

"White slaves and white owners," Bob queried. "Isn't that doing away with including black people, sir?"

"No, no, no," Carlinsword stated. "the slaves will be white people, the plantation owners will be people of color."

"And you see this as doing what exactly, sir?"

Carlinsword stood up. 

"It's by indulging racial stereotypes that we have such tension between black people and white people nowadays. We'll open the barriers to those stereotypical images and enable people to see racial history from more diverse perspectives."

"With white slaves and . . . . black southern belles?"

Carlinsword looked sternly at Bob. 

"You have a problem with that, Witherspoon?"

"No, nosir, I don't. Sounds like a very possible scenario."

"Who was the performer to win that last movie award? Get in touch with his agent and let him know what we intend to do. He can portray one of the black plantation owners."

"Who will play the white slaves, sir?"

Carlinsword's eyes opened wide as he looked at Jan. 

"I feel so inspired," he declared. "We'll cast some of the best stand-up comedians around, whoever we can get. They will surely be able to capture the cynicism and humorous reactions we have always attached to African-Americans today."

Gil stared at the cast picture he still held. 

"What about making Sweetie Azure into a Latino or Old Lisa owning a business? 

"Don't dismiss any of those ideas yet. We'll hold on to every angle we need to make the Civil War more racially abiding than it has ever been before."

The three people slowly stood and said nothing further. 

"So is that it, sir?"

"Yes," Carlinsword stated. "Get to work on a new revamped version of Gust In The Crimson and get back with me on how it's coming along."

Bob opened the office door and allowed Jan to depart first, then Gil. Bob exited last. They walked a bit down the hallway and said nothing. Finally Jan and Bob looked at each other. 

"Well, the writers sure are going to have their work cut out for them," Bob said. 

"I don't know," Jan said. "it might work, or at best, find its audience and make the money. As long as it's productive."

Gil hung back and didn't continue on with the other two. He stepped into the elevator and was alone. He pressed the button for what direction he was wanting, then stood. He raised the photograph of the original cast from Gust In The Crimson and looked at them. Then he slowly began tearing off one side of the photo, a very narrow strip, so that Mike Kensington, the actor who depicted Ray, the slave, was no longer in the picture.        


© 2021 R J Fuller

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Added on February 8, 2021
Last Updated on February 8, 2021
Tags: movie, studio, civil war, cast, alternate version