Forgiveness

Forgiveness

He apparently is more forgiving of the men who shot him than the son who worked side-by-side with him from a young age. He knew it wasn’t normal, but it was his son who’d caused the accident. His son who’d disappeared the night it happened. His son who never visited him the entire six months while he lay in a bed at Cedars- Sinai.

“You’re lucky to be alive,” his medical team repeated. Shot fourteen times. Fourteen.  “A miracle,” his wife whispered. He’d had his suspicions about her involvement. But his investigation ruled her out. Lucky her. Not so for his son.

His son. He sighed, couldn’t even bring himself to say his name.

“What? What is it?” His wife, Bernice, sat next to him on the banquette. “You’re not thinking about him again are you? Dominick, crissakes, it’s our 30th anniversary.”

He nodded, took a long pull of Taittenger’s. Poured a fresh glass.

“I’ve hired someone,” he finally said. Tinkered with his mustache.

“You what?” she almost shrieked.

The patrons at adjacent tables stopped eating. Stared.

“Keep your voice down,” he warned.

Bernice collapsed against the banquette. Her Dolce and Gabbana decollete trembled. “Why are you doing this, Dominick?” She stared down at her lap, unable to look at him.

“Why? You know perfectly well why. It’s time.”

She covered her face with shaking hands. “He’s my son,” she mumbled.

“He’s no son,” he growled, jaw clenched. “He hired those fuckers.”

“Isn’t there any other way?” she pleaded. Used her napkin to dab a tear.

He shook his head, signaled for the check. Glanced at his Rolex. “It’s done.”

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Landslide

Landslide

They were making out when he stopped. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Nothing.” He pulled away, noticed the sunset was dazzling. He wondered if it could break your heart to watch the sun. “Why did you stop then?” He shrugged. “Not sure.” “Is it me? Is it my breath?” She cupped a hand in front of her mouth to check. “No, Ellen. It’s not a big deal.  Can’t you just give it a rest?” She looked on the verge of tears. “I’m sorry, Ned. It’s just- well, every time we make out it seems like there’s so much going on. I mean, at least for me there is.” He nodded, took her hand. “Let’s walk back to my dorm. C’mon.” He put his arm around her.” “ No- wait.” She moved a step away. “I want to finish.” He crossed his arms. “Okay, go ahead.” “Every time we kiss, you stop. It’s like I can feel you shut down. A wall goes up.” As the remaining traces of sun glowed through her hair, he remembered the moment he first saw her. She was playing acoustic guitar on the lawn of the campus library. Her voice, as she sang “Landslide” rang with confidence, her long wavy hair cascaded over the guitar’s frets. She’d gathered a crowd and halfway through the song, she glanced up and saw him. He took her hand, traced the lines of her palm. “Remember that day we met?” “Yeah.” “What happened to her? Where’d she go? The woman who sang that song?” “I’m right here.” “No, Ellie, you’re not. All this worrying, these doubts. That’s not the girl I met.” “Oh, how perfect.” Her mouth twitched.  “So, this is about me? Your inability to get aroused-” He dropped her hand. “Inability to get…?” The freshly cut grass made him miss home. She nodded. “Isn’t that what you call it?” “How about two people who thought there was more here than what actually is.” Her eyes narrowed. “So, that’s it?” She tucked her hair behind one ear. He wasn’t sure what to say so he said nothing. The sun slipped below the horizon.]]>

Idea for a Short Film

My short film

I’d always wanted to make films. I had this idea once to shoot a short movie about the different ways that people die. Well, choose to die. Because someone dying in their sleep would be too Andy Warhol-ish. No, what I’d be more interested in is suicidal tendencies. Maybe find people who have been through a close brush with their imminent death, but for some reason they’re still here. I don’t really want any dialogue as soundtrack. Perhaps a different piece of music for each segment. Art of Noise,  Penguin Café Orchestra. Any vacuous, mindless, wordless music would suffice. I see these acts against a solid color backdrop. Maybe primary colors, or black, white, grays. Then, to string each segment together, I think the transitional segments could be the opposite of ‘endings.’ So maybe film births. Or the birthing of different species, but shot really closely. They call it a tight shot or angle. I’d want to be right up in there, showing the brutality of birth, the surprised new arrival, the ecstasy. The film would premiere at Sundance in January. Then be picked up by the Disney Channel on cable TV. Possible narration, only if completely insisted upon by network executives, provided by James Earl Jones. Maybe loops of William Carlos Williams’ poems. * Garners a Golden Globe nomination for Angelina Jolie’s scene: birthing an Indonesian child. For real. * No animals were harmed while envisioning or filming this movie.]]>

Empathy

Empathy

I’m worried I’m using his death to get attention. Just like my mother did when Dad dropped dead. A massive coronary at work.  Dead before he’d hit the floor. You’d have thought, with time, her grieving might subside. It was nearly twenty years ago. Mine certainly has. At that time, I was twelve, so there were many more years we shared a roof. But Mom persisted, dropping Dad’s name into almost every conversation. Mostly with strangers. We’d be at the Wal-Mart checkout, Shirley rang our items. She’d give the total, “That’ll be 34.87.” Then Mom would turn to me, a look of shock on her face. And I knew what was coming. “Ever since my husband died, I swear, I’m just so darn loopy! Can you believe it? I left my purse in the car again.” Then Shirley would shake her head as mother ran out, giving me those cow eyes and say, “I’m so, so sorry.” Well, now it’s George who up and died. The difference is he’s a child. And in a way he’s a child who never became a child. I carried him full term, took nearly twenty- four hours to deliver him. He lived less than an hour. See, it’d be easy for me to be like Mom. Hell, she’s already used this latest tragedy to fuel her overblown need for empathy. I have to remind her, “Mom, this is not about you.” During his funeral service, someone said that George was a blessing. I guess so. I mean, he came and went so fast it all feels like a blur now. The percocet doesn’t really help matters much. My husband, Dirk, wants to try again. Is he crazy? No way, I tell him. No. I just don’t know if I can go through that again.]]>

Rocket Scientist

Rocket Scientist

There is a slight defensiveness on her part, an anxious tone, a quiver which he recognizes from strained conversations. He brings with him a Hallmark greeting card as his peace offering. She reads, her face resigned, tight at the corners of her mouth, pinched; this mouth which received him openly, tenderly for twenty years, but never enough. They sit on the patio park bench, in the stillness of the late spring morning. She sets the card down, opens her day planner, business face on. “The way Violet did it is she gave me all the cash and you all the assets, so we just have to tweak it.” He delays, attempts another strategy. “Stock market’s up!” “Figures are all right here on the page.” She points, ignoring him.  “Here’s your copy.” He scans the paper, asks, “What about the liquidations, loans, more recent acquisitions?” As he glances at the document his eyes narrow. There’s a pause. She shifts her weight, crosses a leg. “Maya’s not ready to see you.” The image of his precious girl dropping her bicycle, running to him for a hug. He clears his throat. “Your choice, or hers?” “She probably won’t want to see you.” Her jaw muscle strains as she looks out at the traffic on Walker Street. “Not just yet.” Then, “So I believe the only thing left is meeting with the lawyer, getting signatures.” “Lawyers,” he corrects, a little louder than he’d meant. “I mean, you have your cousin. I’ve hired George Hershberg.” She removes her Helly Hanson coat revealing her perfect body. He can’t help notice her amply sculpted breasts despite the cancer. She bites an immense section of the bottom of her bagel, barely chews, swallows. Says, “Whatever, lawyers, fine. But all the work is done. Look at your copy.” She points to the report on his lap. He reads, shakes his head. “It’s not right! It can’t be right.” “That’s all I have. I don’t know why you think that I always have money. I don’t have any hidden money.” He knew that wasn’t entirely true. Part of the reason he’d married her in the first place was her family’s deep pockets. They retreat to their clipboards to reconfigure. He uses the calculator on his laptop while she finishes her bagel. He says, pointing to the paper, “Here’s how I see it: here’s your cash, here’s the American Express. Here’s the lake house, and here’s the house split right down the middle.” He continues, explaining his method of dividing the assets. “It’s exactly what Violet already prepared.” She tries not to look at the family photograph he’s selected as screensaver. “You just did it a different way. It’s still divided 50-50.” The name of this scenario is breaking up at Einstein’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist. He has to do it his way, cannot abide the possibility that someone, anyone, especially a woman, might configure his life into 50% margins, into half of what his esteem requires. As he shrugs, it’s as if he offers back to her, back to the world in which they created all of his burden, his carriage of their responsibilities, a lifetime of self-deceit. He coached himself that morning in his bathroom mirror while shaving,“Bern, you will remain calm. You will not raise your voice. You will not show emotion. Be a man! Be a man, goddamn it!” She looks at her Rolex. Sighs. They’ve reached the end of their agreed meeting time. She says, “So- is that it?” while leafing through the numerous pages drawn up by the innocuous lawyer.  The cousin, hired by her father, hired after everyone warned her: don’t get fucked one last time by this guy. She says “So…” another three or four times to prolong their parting, to jab one last time, like she does when she offers, “She’s just trying to protect me.” As she walks to the trashcan to throw away her half eaten bagel, he notices how much weight she has gained. Especially her rump looks plump. They assemble their possessions; she pulls out the last page, hoping to get the final signature. Before he does, he still has a few more “I this and I that…” He wants to discuss more about Maya as the trump card, insist upon seeing her, but she’s rigid about this. It will have to do for now. They walk away acting complete, satiated, giddy almost. Meanwhile, he is bitter, resolute. Thinks, I will never marry again. Before she gets to her newly leased Volvo, she plans in her head to call her divorced parents, and her entire Park City social network to say: “It is OVER! What a relief! Let’s meet at Maggie Moos for some Butter Brickle!” Years later, he’d recall how exciting it was that as a bachelor, he was saving so much money on toilet paper.
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