Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unavený Jako Pes: The Shocker Was A Yawn

When it’s all said and done 20/20 hindsight may seem like a welcome bolt of clarity, but in essence, it’s only spelling out the path you’ve already followed, the bed you’ve made, the house of cards that you’ve built... and it’s rubbing your face in it.

ENDGAME: While stewing in one’s own karmic juices and being forced to watch the Grand Retrospective (a sort of cosmic Friar’s Club, if you will), one can hear the distant baying... the welcome approach of the mongrel Nostalgie, eager to pitifully hump your wooden leg in a desperate plea to highlight attention to past hollow victories.

Let’s face it -- attention whores fantasize about going out in their own ‘blaze of glory,’ not without sensing the road they intentionally paved to get there... But it seems that Fate has an ironic Last Say in terms of how anticlimactic their denouement will be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who’s Afraid of Tobacco Road?

“That scene might as well have summed up the whole movie...”

-- Eljack McGhee,
Heritageville Courant-Ledger

A rickety beachhouse at Paulie’s Shore, on holiday with Greg Brady, Karen Allen, Andrew McCarthy and a Casual Friday Marilyn Monroe. Big names, yes, but alas, they are but minor characters.

Let us look at George, bipolar associate professor, and his passive-aggressive consort, Martha, daughter of the college president.
Outside of swimming, sunning and sightseeing, an uneventful week passes, punctuated by increasing bouts of petty bickering. The subjects run the gamut, all equally pointless:

“YOU went skinny-dipping with THEM?! Did SHE look at you?!”

“Why do you want us to eat alone and not with your friends? It’s obviously not a romantic overture, judging by your arctic demeanor. You merely want to hoard the prawns, perhaps?”

Back and forth. And so on.

And as the dry, fuming ride home gives in to full-blown character assassination, the Citation itself overheats -- thin wisps escaping the bonnet, testament to a machine having given its all.
George eyes a dusty service station ahead on the right as the car wheezes past a faded sign: Tobacco Road.
Rusty dust and gravel are kicked up as they pass the pumps, pulling up alongside a faded, decrepit building -- more of a shack, actually -- seemingly having baked in the southern sun since Sherman’s flame.

George pops the hood. Fossilised auto chassis litter the lot. Sporadic shouts from behind a screen door make the place sound more like a roadhouse that has seen better days.
After hours in the car bitching, the now-quiet Martha can only offer, “George, I’m nervous.”
“Don’t worry... just gotta find some antifreeze or something.”

George and Martha walked past empty garage bays. A layer of grease and grit cover what junk is left. In a chair slouched a man in a stupor. Mechanic or local hobo? Hard to tell. Flies buzzed in the breezeless sun.
Approaching the screen door, they could hear more shouting and laughing. Suddenly the door flung open with a black guy lumbering out, neck arched back, arms flopping in the air. In one hand was a pistol.

“George, I don’t like this.” A verbal shirt tug.
George and Martha slowed, gazing at the man stumbling along the wall, shirt unbuttoned, drenched. His incoherent words slurring in between screams and laughs were aimed at the sky above. His shadow followed along the wall, waving the gun loosely in the air. Who could his tormentors be?
“George, I do not like this.” Another urgent tug.
George paused, mulling the options as the man passed by them, oblivious.

The heat. All week long. And not the good kind. Heat and no light, figuratively. Heat between a man and his woman, hurled to-and-fro with bile. Heat that exhausted a car. Heat that perhaps exhausted one man’s feeble grasp on sanity. (Okay, that one was probably the booze. But it made an impression on George.)
“Let’s get outta here,” he mumbled.

George managed to start the car and get it to a proper service station, where they simply yanked out the thermostat. The rest of the way home he did his best to remain tight-lipped, tuning out any and all static.
Did he win the battle? Lose it? Win by ceasing to play? Lose?

It was nine in the eve when they pulled up to the house. George and Martha trudged inside. Though George was majorly drained, a part of him in the back of his head was energised.
He walked back to the bedroom, oblivious to Martha’s mutterings, popped in a tape of Mancini’s The Untouchables, dimmed the light, lay down, and immediately fell asleep.