Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What We've Been Up To

What the fuck is WCMU? What have we been up to these past years? Well, in short, anything but idling about!

For my part, I've spent most of the last year stewing in my own piss-sweat (chronic dehydration) in an asbestos-infested garret in which I've been squatting for some months now. My main preoccupation has been diligently avoiding all human contact as I produce page after page of rambling manifestos, conjectural recipes, and "practice" suicide notes, taking only occasional breaks to cast distrustful glares at the beams of light from the outside world as they seep in through the slits in the gable shutter above. There's no heat up here, and the one light bulb burned out about five weeks into my sojourn, but hey. What doesn't kill me, etc.

In the days preceding my self imposed exile I had been making attempts with my friends to get some writing projects off the ground. It's long been our nebulous goal that we write and shop around some scripts for TV pilots, movies, or something in that vein. (Although at this point I seem to be showing promise as a dangerous recluse- I eat very little and I'm quite good at keeping my piss and shit out of the way of where I walk. But I digress.) My compatriots (or cohorts, if you will) in this endeavor were "Imp", and Klein, whose names you yet see listed in the "contributor" section. We were serious about writing- enough so that at one point, the three of us moved out of our respective New England homes and spent a long summer sojourning in an abandoned farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania.

Well, Imp and I did. Klein was never around long, and was usually never to be found during the night hours. But each day at daybreak we'd convene in the farmhouse, Klein returning from whatever mysterious errand had kept him. As Imp and I got accustomed to waking with the first daylight, I'd get used to spotting Klein as he arrived up the long dirt road leading from the state highway about a quarter mile down. His decrepit town car would come rumbling up the way, and I'd see him step out, dressed as always in a fine, grey polyester-silk blend three-piece suit, replete with a vest as dark as pitch and shoes to match, shined to a mirror sheen each and every day. From his vest pocket he would pull a silver pocket watch of his, an ornate ("Downright goddamn showy, if you ask me," Cory would growl, before spitting pointedly on the ground, right at Klein's feet) filigreed number and expensive, obviously of Swiss origin.

We'd meet, talk for maybe a half an hour, agree that we had some promising concepts for writing projects, and then disperse. Each of us had his own "pet projects" to pursue through the long hours of the day, and occasionally we would regroup to collaborate on joint projects, large screen play ideas, etc. We wondered how Klein managed in the intense heat without ever so much as removing his jacket, but the manner of dress seemed imperative to his creative process- kept him in just the right state of mind, I guess. Regardless, he had the hardest time coping with writer's block. Once, he surprised us by leaping up from his chair at the desk in the corner of the room, and in a rage dumping all of his papers, note books, all of it onto the floor. He kicked a metal trash bin as hard as he could, sending it ricocheting across the floor, and before we'd even composed ourselves after the initial surprise he picked up his enormous underwood typewriter (there was no electricity out here) and, with a tyrant's strength of hatred he hurled it as hard as he could into the foundation, displacing several bricks and causing a section of the ceiling above to cave in.

He stomped off out the door, as Imp yelled after him. I hazarded a look at one of the pages that fluttered to the ground near me. On it was a stretch of dialogue from a stage play he had been writing, a romantic and sexually charged encounter between two young people. The last line of dialogue on the page was "what will you do next?" Beneath that he had scribbled furiously "I DON'T FUCKING KNOW!" presumably the moment before his excited tirade. I looked out the window in the front of the house to see Imp yelling after him, "GIVE ME YOUR KEYS. YOU AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE!!" Klein stopped, turned and hurled his keys at him full force, hitting Imp square in the chest. He averted his gaze and turned, not saying a word since his fit began, and stood staring intently at the hills in the distance. Imp was angry, he was yelling, "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THIS IS?? WHO THE FUCK DO OYU THINK YOU ARE?!" and so forth. "YOU'RE GONNA THROW SHIT AT ME?!" I was worried, genuinely scared for a moment, that it was going to come to blows. But then Klein about-faced and, after a deep breath and a momentary clenching of his fists, seemed to calm down. I saw him mouth something to Imp, who stopped yelling right away. I couldn't hear what was said. After a long silence, Imp turned and started walking toward the house again, at which point Klein strode to the front of his town car and after pausing for a moment, kicked his car as hard as he could. A loud SMASH indicated that he had destroyed one of the headlights. I dimly made out a "…FUCK!" and he threw his hands up, marched purposefully over to the other headlight, and kicked that one in, too. Imp simply walked on back to the farmhouse, shaking his head contemptuously.

It wasn't always that bad, of course, and usually we had perfectly civil meetings and writing sessions that yielded many compelling ideas. I feel bad that many of them are probably never going to be marketable enough to warrant being purchased by a major studio, and many of them were left unfinished. As the months wore on, and our meager funds dwindled, we found that we were no longer generating the kind of ideas that spurred our love of writing like we used to. There was some friction, and some days would pass where none of us managed to write down a single thing. We talked character bibles, we drafted pilots, short films, and Imp even proposed an idea for a travelogue that we would write as we wandered the country, probably as a means to escape the confines of the decrepit farmhouse. The hole Klein created with the typewriter posed a problem as the weather got rainier, and once a timber rattler managed to slide in through the hole, Imp waking from a nap and screaming bloody murder at the site of the thing one afternoon. We had to evacuate the house for most of that day, until Imp fetched his hunting knife from his jeep and managed to fell it with an expertly aimed throw from about twenty feet away. He was so proud of his kill that he barely remembered to menace Klein over the fact of the hole being his doing.

Toward the end, things were more apparent than ever that our writing experiment was grinding to a halt. Klein fell quiet and hardly ever had anything to add to our meetings. He was later arriving and earlier leaving. Often he would step out of the house to be own his own, while I struggled to write dialogue and Imp tried to do song lyrics, nihilistic ballads in the style of country music. Once in a while, when I was having an especially hard time thinking of anything, I'd look out the window and see Klein on one of his walks. Occasionally I'd see him stoop at a corner where an ancient stone foundation met the corner of an unpaved road leading far and away into the distant countryside. He'd stop, take a look around, as though to make sure nobody was looking. Then he'd produce from his breast pocket a yo-yo of some old world make. He'd turn it over in his fingers once or twice, scrutinizing it with a remote but wistful look of nostalgic longing on his face. Then, briefly, he'd deign to whistle, and as he did so he'd slip the loop on his finger, and give the thing a single, halfhearted toss, but the axle was worn out and it would only climb about halfway back up the string before giving out and danglingly pathetically on the end of its line.
At this moment the whistling would fade to silence, and Klein would only stare down at the toy for a moment before rewinding the string and stowing it back in some unseen confine of his suit coat. Then, with a forlorn air about him, he'd head away down the dirt road into the distant countryside, and it might be days before he returned. Over time his trips got longer and longer, and eventually he stopped coming back altogether.

Imp meanwhile went absolutely batfuck mental about six weeks after I posted the thing about Beakman. I'm not sure what it was, what events might have precipitated his decline into madness, but surely enough one thing led to another and before long he was taking his ancient Honda Nighthawk for week-long rampages through the city. He'd roll into reservation casinos nightly, getting absolutely shitfaced at the roulette tables until he either ran out of money or they kicked him out. His uncanny luck at the tables ensured that he'd enjoy a lengthy stay. His storied lucky streaks began to attract naïve players and instill in them a notion they they too could win it big, but what they didn't understand was that for every top-of-the-world victory Cory enjoyed, there was another crippling and demoralizing defeat waiting just around the corner. Cory would roll in some days with some $30 cash, and walk out about $800 richer. After staggering out into the night, soured on free casino whiskey, he'd rampage into the red-light districts and end up at the losing end of a three-man beat down when he got too pushy with an east European escort. On other occasions he'd land himself at a bus station well after the last shuttle had run, sharing street hooch with homeless derelicts and projecting drunken tirades about the "corporate fascist state" far into the night.
The last contact I ever received from him was in the form of a postcard, arrived about three months after his last sighting near the bus station, addressed from somewhere in Malaysia. Mysterious stains adorned its surface, suggestive of the unimaginably filthy places it had seen in the days before it was finally dispatched. All it said, scrawled hurriedly across a glossy photograph of a Buddhist monastery ensconced in a remote mountain forest somewhere, was "WISH YOU WERE  HER." I'm not sure if that was a joke or a spelling error, but either way I took it to be oddly foreboding. This was about a week before Klein and I finally abandoned the farmhouse. Although neither of us said it, the arrival of the note for some reason solidified the idea in both of our minds that Imp was long dead.

No comments:

Post a Comment