Ignacio Rojas was seventy-two when the doctor told him he was dying. He had three children, nine grandchildren and a long-term starring role on the soap opera (“Filmed live before a studio audience!”) Passionista as Don Ignacio, the poor stable boy who had risen to become dictator of a fictional banana republic. Now in his senior years, he was keeping power by playing his devilishly handsome sons, Jorge and Luis Garcia, against one another in a high stakes game of scenery chewing.
All this was going through Ignacio’s mind when during a meeting, the show’s producer mentioned the idea.
“We want you to die on the show.”
The producer continued, “Not just die, but really die. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out…”
And Ignacio did. In exchange for Ignacio’s live on-screen death, the producer was going to pay [censored], more money than he had made in the last twenty years.
Thinking of his family, Ignacio agreed.
The scene, once written, was somber. Ignacio would be in a hospital bed, his sons kneeling on either side, and as he took his final breath their hands would meet across his dying body, symbolically ending their terrible feud. Power would be shared. Family would prevail over politics. The show’s viewers would join in a now-genuine mourning, and afterwards there would be a half-hour live tribute to the departed.
On the day of filming, after everyone had said their goodbyes, Ignacio gave a wonderful performance, culminating in his hospital bed scene. A real nurse hooked up a fake IV, through which the real killing drug would be administered, and as he said his final lines and closed his eyes, Ignacio prepared to die.
But instead of feeling arms meeting in truce, Ignacio heard shouting!
Jorge and Luis Garcia were arguing.
First about dictatorship, then brotherhood, and finally childhood.
Dulled by whatever had been pumped into his veins, Ignacio was unable to speak.
He barely sat up in bed—
Before Jorge’s fist cracked his cheek!
Luis Garcia turned on him too, jerking him up by his hospital gown, and the two brothers performed a hateful dialogue as they took turns pummeling him.
They knocked him out of bed and beat him mercilessly.
“The face! The face!” the producer instructed.
And the actors obliged, taking turns on Ignacio’s face until it was but a bloody quagmire with teeth.
Sputtering meekly on the floor, Ignacio could only watch as they picked up a heavy piece of machinery, no doubt bought for this very purpose, and smashed it against his head—once, twice, three times!—fragmenting it as audibly as a hollowed-out melon.
The music swelled. The credits rolled.
Followed by a message:
What you saw today was real. Welcome to the future of television. For more information, visit [URL removed] or support us on Kickstarter. Fuck [network name removed]! Be part of the entertainment revolution.
Passionista Episode 7567: In memory of Don Ignacio Rojas.