So I had a huge post written about John Hughes, but I’m not done with it yet, it needs revision, which I swore I would never do for this blog, but whatever. In the meantime, I am posting something I wrote last night, it’s Chapter 1 of a novel of as yet undertermined title. Read it, comment on it, I’d love to see who is actually reading this blog. Anyway, without much ado here it is:
“I love you,” he whispers to the dark, not sure if she is awake or already dreaming. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Liar,” the voice in the back of his head says, “liar, liar, pants on fire!”
“Shut up,” he says to himself, to the voice that taunts him. He says it too loudly, she stirs and rolls, but thankfully doesn’t wake.
“You do to know what you would do without her, you can lie to her if you like, but you can’t lie to me. You can’t lie to yourself. If you lost her we’d go crazy.” The voice holds the hard ‘e’ sound from crazy spinning it off into an irritating whine before it begins to sing the theme song from the Love Boat and David feels more at home. He wasn’t used to the voices in his head talking to him at that point, it happened only rarely and it usually sounded like someone he knew. This voice was different, it didn’t sound like someone else, it sounded like him, his real voice, the one he heard in his head when he was thinking or talking, not the voice that the rest of the world heard when he spoke, but his true voice. He rolls over and spoons the girl in the dark and hopes the voice in his head was wrong, or at least he hopes that he never loses the girl. He’d seen enough movies, the boy always loses the girl, that’s the point of the second act, and if you didn’t lose the girl you couldn’t get her back for a happy ending at the end of the third act. He knew that, but he hoped reality was different, for the first time since he had discovered Hollywood he hoped that his life wouldn’t play out like some hack-written rom-com. For the record, it wouldn’t, but he didn’t know that, not even the voice in the back of his head knew how it would all work out, not then.
David woke to the sound of running water and teethbrushing. The light slanting in through the venetian blinds told him it was still morning, a nice change, he thought. He stretched and yawned and rolled over to look at the alarm clock: 6:30am. She must be on set today, he thought, she never gets up that early. He closed his eyes for a second, and then felt her lips on his forehead. He smiled and reached up to pull her back into bed with him.
“Morning babe,” she said, “thought you were still sleepin’. Sorry I woke you, I gotta get to work, the car’s downstairs already.”
“Mmmmm, don’t go, call in sick, stay in bed with me.” She laughed and pushed him back into the silk sheets.
“Can’t do it, hun, they need me today.”
“Just for a little while then, like twenty minutes, less if we don’t worry about you.”
“Nice, very nice,” but she was smiling. “Not all of us can get to work in forty seconds flat, Mr. Cross. Some of us need things like cars.”
“It’s a limo, it’ll wait.”
“But the director won’t. Baby, I’m sorry, you know I’d rather lie in bed with you all day, but I signed the contract, now I gotta go to work. I’ll see you tonight okay, come back after your show.”
“Okay,” he sighed, knowing he had lost that battle.
“Say ‘hi’ to Book for me, remind him about the party on Saturday, I know you guys have to work, but it’s not like you can’t be back in LA in no time flat, okay? Have a great show, I love you.”
“Love you too.” And she was gone; all that was left was a hint of perfume on the air. David debated going back to sleep but sleeping in her bed when she wasn’t there just wasn’t the same, besides he had been forced into a four minute conversation which was two minutes longer than he was usually capable of pretending hadn’t happened. So he got up and jumped in the shower.
It was barely seven in the morning and he was already showered and dressed. He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. It was too early to wake Book up, too early for just about anything but making movies, and he didn’t do that. He opted to go for a walk down the Santa Monica beach instead. It was early, but the surfers were already coming back in getting ready to put on shirts and ties and suits and go to whatever day job they maintained. A couple homeless people were lying on the beach half asleep or still drunk from the night before, they looked like piles of clothes an army surplus store might be throwing out, which is probably what they were wearing. David walked by without hardly noticing them, which would have surprised him just a few short years before that. He was holding a pair of Italian leather shoes in his hand, a ball of socks stuffed into the toe of one of them. His pants were rolled up to the middle of his calf muscles. The waves danced over his feet, erasing his footsteps as soon as he had made them, leaving nothing but wet sand in his wake. He was invisible here. No one would ever follow his tracks.
The first time he had seen that ocean, the first time he saw any ocean, he had been about twenty miles farther south. It was night, a full moon was floating somewhere behind a thick layer of smog and cloud cover. The sky seemed to glow even though the sun had set hours before, it was as if the heavens were smouldering, a bonfire the morning after the party, all orange coals and smoke. He had walked or ran most of the way across the country, his feet were so sore they almost wouldn’t hold him any longer and as he crested the ridge over the highway he saw the ocean. It was a glistening black with rolling lines of whitecaps that crashed on the beach, it was so loud, so magical. He had never seen anything like it in his life. For a moment the world stopped and he stared into the blackness of the water and realized there was nowhere left to run. He had literally come to the ends of the Earth. He stepped off the grass and fell face first into the sand.
He crawled over the sand, forcing his limbs to carry him into the water, it was cold and tasted like tears. He let the waves carry him out, felt the undertow pull at the rags he had been wearing since his escape. He stripped them off and lay back on the water riding the waves as they crested and rushed headlong into the beach. For a moment, a minute, a lifetime, he debated swimming out into the black abyss of the sea and being done with it all, let them find him then, he thought. But as appealing as that idea seemed the voice in the back of his head, which at the time sounded a lot like Christian’s voice, wouldn’t let him. “You’re not going to do that, and you know it,” it said. “Don’t be such a coward, David, they can’t find you, not here.”
“But if I got out, they can too.”
“You’re better than them, they don’t even know to look for a door, how will they ever pick the lock?”
“They know to look for a door now, I must have escaped somehow. John’s a brute and a bully, but he’s not entirely stupid, he’ll be looking. And our fathers knew where the door was all the time, that’s how they got there in the first place. They’ll come for me, and it doesn’t matter what spell I put on that doorway, they’ll find a way through it, it’s just a matter of time. The water is so cold, so big, I could just get lost in it.” It didn’t occur to him to be self conscious that he was fighting with a voice in the back of his head, he had been doing that for almost as long as he could talk.
“David, you have to live your life,” the voice that sounded like Christian said from inside David’s mind, “because you know I can’t. You don’t owe me anything, but please brother, don’t do this, go, live.” Christian’s voice receded into a hoarse whisper that David could no longer make out as a large wave picked him up and fairly threw him back onto the sandy beach.
“Well then,” he said, laughing for the first time since he could remember. “I guess that makes that decision for me.” He rolled over and lay naked on the sand, staring up at the fiery ember clouds and the hazy yellow circle of the moon. “So what the fuck do I do now?” But no voice answered his question and for a while he just lay on the sand enjoying the solitude and the sounds of the ocean.
“Should have gone with the first plan,” he says to himself as a crest of water soaks through the bottom of his Versace pants, “wouldn’t have met the girl, but then all the rest of it wouldn’t have happened either.” For a second it seemed as if he was back on that same beach, on that same night, and the wind and the ocean said together: “Coward,” but then he was back and it was daylight and time to go wake Book up.