She Dreamed of Kashyyk

When Faye Dunaway married Chewbecca after a string of heartbreaks in the late ‘70s, everything was champagne and tree houses for a time. They received the expected threats from Southern extremists, but even that only enhanced their aura of Hollywood royalty. Between films, they retreated to Kashyyyk, the Wookiee forest planet, for long weeks of walluga-hunting and intercourse. Soon they shared an agent as well, a ruthless Serb who pushed for joint projects designed to cash in on the publicity. Universal green lit a lavish remake of Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, but when Chewbacca learned that Warren Beatty had been cast as the handsome prince of the finale, he threatened to rip the arms from the sockets of every executive in the room. The project was quickly canned, and instead, the studio set the pair in a Tracy-Hepburn-style marriage comedy, Whither, My Wookiee?, that proved a modest success.

Soon, however, the strains that afflict all Hollywood couples began to take their toll. They quarreled over Kashyyyk’s remoteness and the hair that Chewbacca’s alopecic brother Garbacca shed in their canopy home. They disagreed about children, Dunaway preferring a stunt adoption from Dagobah while Chewbacca held out for pups of his own. When Chewbacca churned the tabloids with a secluded dinner with Julie Christie, most Hollywood observers agreed the end was near.

The last straw came when Chewbacca, tired of his typecasting as the growl- ing sidekick, announced his intention to pass on Return of the Jedi to star in an off-Broadway production of Troilus and Cressida. “Arrrrr arrrrraawwwwooo?” he asked Dunaway, tears dotting his St. Bernard’s eyes, but she’d had enough. She snapped her bow caster over one knee, climbed into the nearest X-wing, and hit the hyper drive. The last he heard from her was a letter containing a photograph of her with a human male and a cruel joke about heartworm.

But what he didn’t know was the way his memory continued to haunt Dunaway long after. When she saw his career bottom out into children’s comedies like Uncle Shaggy, The Center from Another Planet, and Harry and the Hendersons, she remembered the gentle press of his paws. When she saw him on flyers for conventions and supermarket openings, she remembered the snow-leopard softness of his undercoat. And on the day he fatally overdosed on Wild Turkey and cat tranquilizers, she stood fully dressed in the shallow end of her pool, drinking Jack Rose after Jack Rose, and every time she closed her eyes, she smelled wet leaves, soft musk, and the last, bracing sting of an alien breeze.

A former Peace Corps Volunteer, David Yost has served on development projects in the US, Mali, and Thailand. His fiction has appeared in more than twenty publications, including The Southern Review, Witness, Pleiades, Asia Literary Review, and The Sun, and his anthology Dispatches from the Front: Graduate Students on Creative Writing Pedagogy is forthcoming from Continuum.