“The Usual Suspects is criminally overrated. The plot is weak, and the twist really isn’t a twist at all as all the flashbacks are complete fabrications. It doesn’t age well. The acting is sub-par and despite some interesting editing, the overall look of the movie is cliched.”
He took a drink of his gin and tonic, letting the satisfied sensation linger as the bubbles tickled their way down his throat. Later, after three too many drinks, and after he kissed her throat again and again, he would feel differently.
“Weren’t you eight when that movie was released?”
The question was ridiculous to him.
“So I’m not allowed to have an opinion because I was too young to appreciate the film in its proper historical perspective? That’s like saying I can’t be critical of the drab and overdone music of Nirvana because I am too young to have understood the impact it had on the music industry as a whole. My opinions are as valid as you and your 40 something pals.”
A thin, pale smile danced across her face and she held in the laugh that involuntarily pressed up from her chest and into her throat. He was adorable, and she adored adorable.
“Certainly, your opinions are valid and you are welcome to them. It’s just that this conversation is twenty years old and at least fifteen years too late. It feels unnecessary, like me complaining The Ten Commandments is an anti-communist propaganda piece, cloaked in a bible story. I may be right, but who besides me really cares? Let’s talk about something more interesting, like how nicely that dinner jacket rests on your shoulders.”
She reached out and brushed some lint off his lapel, letting her fingers linger on the expensive fabric.
He decided she was pretty, even though she was 40, which surprised him. Her long legs and short dress, the tiny wrinkles around her eyes, each strand of gray hair, only added to the unexpected attraction. His plan to sound smart, to fit in at this party, where he was the son of an invited guest, no longer interested him. He felt a suddenness work its way through his body, a familiar shift in mood, a loss of clarity and focus. He wanted to blame the alcohol, but it was never a convincing argument.
“Your glass is empty,” he said. “What should we fill it with?”
I do not write to be appreciated or respected.
I do not write to be praised or complimented.
I do not write to boost my own self image, my own arrogance (though this is a deep and hard to avoid trap).
I do not write because I understand things that others do not.
I write because I am compelled to by something inside of me that demands it.
I write because there are stories that need telling.
I write because I have a love affair with words, even though I often use them incorrectly.
I write because it liberates me in a way that few other things do.
Why do you write?
“You have your mother’s hands,” he said, reaching out to take her left in his right. She felt the first tear try and well up, but she forced it down, unwilling to let this moment slide into mourning someone who was long gone.
In the corner of the pub, three musicians tuned their instruments, laughing with one another. She made a list of fragments in her head-an old guitar. Too shiny a violin. Vibration of a soft alto voice. Scales, up and down, half steps, whole steps, forgotten steps. She wanted to dance but knew he would never join her. The crowd of strangers was too intimidating, too close and judgmental. The father/daughter jokes always lingered in their hushed undertones.
“We won’t be able to talk once they start playing. Let’s go. I should know better than come here on a Friday night, but the food, right?”
They walked out towards the parking lot, where his too expensive sedan waited. Someone recognized him and shouted a spirited “hey aren’t you?” He waved back, then opened the car door for her. She climbed in, the feel of the leather always making her a bit nostalgic. She missed his old car, the hood held down with a nylon cord, the result of one too many collisions with the back wall of his garage. She’d known him before he became wealthy and famous, but that was never enough for her critics. She loved him when he was still a reckless drunkard, but that only cemented her intentions in their minds. She was always too young, too pretty, too manipulative. She had him under her spell, trapped in her web, or one of seventy thousand over-used analogies that painted her as a gold digger, someone to be simultaneously despised and envied.
Next month, she would turn 30. Maybe then they would leave her alone.
“Where should we go? Standby’s? Maybe Storytellers? They always have a quiet corner we can claim as our own.”
She wanted to go home, climb into bed along side him and fall asleep with her head resting against his shoulder. He would let her lie there long past when it was comfortable for him, only nudging her when his arm went numb. Still, she couldn’t suggest that. It was his last weekend before heading out for more appearances, more interviews, more fans and more adoration. He needed the distraction more than she needed quiet affections.
“Storytellers,” she said. At least if they went there, she could pretend they were alone.
He turned the car around and headed south.
They drove with the sunroof open, the night sky a mixture of too much light from the city and the occasional star bright enough to make itself seen against the backdrop of deep purple. She pretended instead of going to another club, they would drive all night away from the city, with nothing but the hum of the radio between them. Words would be unnecessary, the passing landscape taking them farther from what was comfortable, towards something unexpected, something uniquely theirs. The prospect of that unknown place made her skin tingle, and she rubbed her own legs, absorbed in the pleasure of it all.
She looked at him, the strength of his arms as he held to the steering wheel. The curve of his chin, the lips she adored. In the glow of the dash-lights, his eyes sparkled orange and green. She loved him and that was what mattered. She saw the reflection of the city in the window. Her fantasy slipped.
He smiled as he turned into the parking lot.
I was reading an article in the Salt Lake Tribune today about a BLM employee who was transporting horses in western Utah. He claims that two men in a pickup truck pulled along side him, flipped him off, then drove away. Shortly after, on a second encounter with the same vehicle, the men displayed a sign which read, “you need to die”, while one of them appeared to point a hand gun at the BLM employee.
An idle threat? Perhaps, but certainly a cause for concern with the current anti-anything government mentality running rampant lately.
I am not interested in the reasons why these men felt justification in threatening another person. I am even less concerned about perceived or actual misdeeds by the BLM. People disagree for all sorts of valid and ridiculous reasons. In this situation, none of those reasons are good enough to justify killing someone.
Some would disagree with me. Which makes me wonder-what would motivate me to take up arms?
I understand wanting to protect my family. If someone was trying to harm those I loved, I would certainly give anything and everything to protect them. I believe I could kill someone in that sort of situation. I understand making that choice.
What is less clear, and what I think is a more interesting question-Who would I seek out and kill because of my convictions?
I am not talking about pulling the trigger on a rapist, a burglar, someone with a gun pointed at you or your child. I’m talking about actively seeking out someone to kill. I am honestly having a hard time thinking of anyone, or any reason.
Who would you?
She told him to pack his things and go-
The morning after, she stood on the porch, her right hand buried wrist deep in a pocket of her favorite oversized parka, her left clutching the white ceramic handle of an employee of the month coffee mug. Steam rose from it, along with the scent of hot apple cider, the remains of a pot she made for her son before he left for school. She anticipated the first sickly sweet taste, how the liquid would slightly scald the tip of her tongue. The winter wind slipped across her face, lingering a bit longer on her right cheek, as if caressing the bruise that stretched from the corner of her mouth up to her eye.
Four-perfect-fingers-his talent. His superpower.
She heard him stumbling about in the kitchen. He’d finally woken up. Turning the cup upside down, she watched the cider as it fell in a mesmerizing, evolving and shifting shape. Almost soundless, It splashed on the ground, leaving a dark puddle that could be mistaken for water or something more sinister. Her resolve returned.
A storm was brewing.