Operation Bed Tundy
How do you accidentally become an assassin?
Leave it to me to find out. One minute I’m driving down the fourlane and the next I’m being pulled over, silently cursing my lead foot (again). Many don’t believe me when I describe the leaden-ness of my foot. Can’t really blame them. I suppose the inability to distinguish between sixty and a-hundred-and-forty miles an hour would be hard to believe, to one on the outside looking in. And with a condition this unbelievable, your only recourse is to keep your mouth closed and take what comes. Explanation is futile.
Twelve tickets in six months.
I tense to think this might be the one that gets me time.
Imagine my surprise when a mitigating opportunity presented itself. I say mitigating because this option allowed me to forgo a court appearance. All I had to do was follow some government guys to a shady looking outpost (that looked more like an outhouse) in the middle of nowhere, and board an elevator car wherein I descended into an enormous underground compound replete with all kinds of futuristic tech.
They told me if I agreed to this super important mission all my tickets and subsequent charges would be waived forever. I should’ve taken the fact that they didn’t tell me what the mission was as a hint. If it was something pleasant, the payoff probably wouldn’t have been so generous. When I learned what it was, it was too late. I’d signed on, with no chance to renege.
The mission, should I choose to accept it—and stupidly I did—was to be a guinea pig for time travel. But not just any guinea pig. I was to travel back in time and assassinate none other than Ted Bundy, before his killing spree began.
Them twelve tickets weren’t looking so bad right about now.
I loaded into the time travel pod thing (I made straight Fs, so don’t judge me for not getting more technological), and prepared to probably die, but lo and behold I didn’t. The circles of light slid up and down my body, no de-atomization or nuthin. When the pod split open I found myself in an empty field. The giant oaks having surrounded the government outhouse (sorry, outpost) were twigs, and even the sky had that sepia-old look.
Now I’d been armed to the teeth with a bunch of gear, so I wasn’t totally defenseless in the belly of this new world. They’d printed and minted a bunch of money with the dates changed so not to rouse suspicion. Why couldn’t they have just used real old coins, you may ask. Well, real old coins are rare. They’re collectible for a reason. And I needed a lot. So the fake ones had to do. And it was the government that did it so…I don’t guess it’s illegal.
I found the beat I was supposed to walk and lingered there a while. Bundy apparently frequented that road.
It wasn’t long before a rust-bucket paid me enough mind to slow. A young-ish man with brown hair called out the window.
“Need a ride, Ma’am?”
I climbed aboard the rattletrap and settled into shotgun. The government dudes had given me a special needle of stuff to inject him with. Shooting was out of the question since any bodily trauma might damage his brain in the long-run. Oh yeah—they wanted me to bring his head back for scientific observation. Guess I forgot that part.
I still brought my own gun, just in case things went south. At ninety-three pounds soaking wet I’m not exactly apt to fight off a hulking man.
I smalltalked with Ted for a few minutes, an attempt to get his guard down. But before I could strike, the destination I’d made up came into view. Huh. Guess Boswell Gas Station was a real place.
Our ride now shortened by this unforeseen hitch, I reached for the needle. It was now or never. So, in other words, never. Ted read my movements a little too well and swerved his rust-bucket sharply, sending my head bashing into the window. I don’t even think he saw the needle, which meant... All the while I was planning to move in, he was apparently planning the same.
Regrets ebbed and flowed, as he slowed the car to a crawl. My original plan had been to force him to kidnap me at gunpoint. And before you say that sounds stupid: That way he’d have seen the gun from the jump and known not to mess with me. Also, nobody would’ve believed him if he managed to get away.
“Officer, it wasn’t my fault! She forced me to kidnap her—at gunpoint!”
No chance of that flying.
Alas, I’d gone with option B. And I was paying for it.
We wrestled back and forth, him grabbing me by the wrists and holding my arms apart. A headbut later and I was nearly out. Through my disorientation I could see him drawing a big hunting knife. He smiled at me, jaggedly.
“This is for your vocal cords, little deer.”
I didn’t know which half of his sentence I felt worse about. The part about severing my vocal cords or the creepy “little deer” addendum, which were it a physical being would need to be killed with fire, the ashes launched into deep space with twelve nukes attached.
Sorry. It just creeped me out.
In the throes of sadistic revelry (or maybe he had a stroke—I dunno’ what that was), he hesitated.
I swung my stiletto up and kicked him square in the neck, my heel possibly puncturing something. So much for no damage. But the government could suck it up. It was him or me.
As he sputtered and spat, blood slipping from the corners of his mouth, I took the wheel and hit the accelerator, launching us off into the grass, past a shabby treeline, and into a big reservoir of water.
I can’t win, can I?
As the waterline climbed up the windows and slowly immersed us, I rushed to open my door. Ted had me by the ankle, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I shoved and it parted away, sending a surge of muddy water gushing in. The tide smacked him upside the face and knocked him off me. I writhed my way out, swimming and swimming until I felt the ground kiss my feet.
From the grassy shore, I watched the water slowly suck Ted’s car under.
I was grateful to be alive—but hoo boi the government was not gonna’ be happy.
Then, something weird happened. Which in the context of this story, is saying something.
The tide coughed up a big hunk of something. I rushed over and poked it. It didn’t move.
Upon closer examination, I realized it was Ted. He was dead—waterlogged and bluish.
His brain probably wasn’t in the best of shape. I realized this.
I brandished the metal plate the government dudes had given me, holding it up to his neck. A click later and a blade had discharged, severing the head and encasing it in a bubble-like, malleable skin. The coating would preserve it.
After some time walking the backroads, a severed head tucked neatly under my arm (guess that’s why nobody offered to pick me up), I found my pod and climbed in. I was pretty eager to get back to the present, all things considered.
When I stepped out in the lab again, I presented the head. One of the scientist dudes examined it carefully, a look of great displeasure crossing his face.
I was quick to justify myself.
“He was gonna’ cut my vocal cords! I had to drive us off into that reservoir—”
The displeasure intensified.
“It’s not that…” the man garbled, indignantly.
“THIS IS NOT TED BUNDY!!!”
“You incipid, brainless embarrassment of a human being!”
“Do I still get my tickets waived?”
The scientist sent me a glare that was scarier than the one not-Ted Bundy had sent me.
“I can make this up to you,” I shrugged. “Maybe I could go after Jack the Ripper, or Jeffrey Dahmer, or the Zodiac Killer…”
“Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, and…”
“The Zodiac Killer?”
“What is a ‘Zodiac Killer’? You’re just making killers up at this point,” he pinched the slack between his eyes, exhaustedly. “You know what—get out.”
I tried to object, but he’d already shuffled me to the door.
“But dude! I think I—”
Long story short, the government wasn’t too terribly impressed with my work.
And my tickets did not get waived.
Writing and I have a difficult relationship.
Our relationship has been especially difficult as of late, since my return to Wattpad. Wattpad and I *also* have a difficult relationship, but to stop this from becoming a five-thousand page tome I won’t comment, apart from: it’s *really* hard to get noticed on bigger sites, despite the quality or social relevance of your work. You submit what you believe to be your magnum opus for editor’s pick, just to get no response. So you write another magnum opus, more tailored to what you believe acceptable. Second verse same as the first. At the end of the day, I will not relinquish my authorial experimentality. If I can’t write my weird heart out, I don’t wanna’ write at all. And if I have to write what’s wanted—i.e. good girl/bad boy romances and BTS fics—then I’d just as soon relocate. BTS is great; I just feel the fic market is saturated enough without my input.
My interests lie elsewhere, in the philosophical, the spoopy, the bizarre. I’m not a romantic by nature, so that puts me at odds with WP from the jump. Interestingly enough, these interests once put me at odds with talent itself. Should I go into that yet? Why not.
I’ve written for the majority of my sorta-brief life on this planet. As a wee lass I’d scribble my fantasies. The fascination was always kind of a fixture for me. A hiatus found me a bit older, rustily returning to the game, ambitiously trying my hand at a concept a decade or so too mature for where I was at. I am convinced the result was one of the worst, most bloated acts of pretension ever committed to paper. It was AGONIZING.
The warm-up was better, a story about abused animals turning against humanity. That one was neat. But this one—an endless diatribe packaged as a character study, affectionately dubbed “The Love”—was unclean on a cellular level. It centered around a gritty young orphan, from losing her mother to consumption, to being snared by the streets, taken in by an orphanage, befriending a sheepish boy, and defending said boy when bullies tried to rob him. That defense culminated in a few of the bullies being killed. So by nine the co-protag is a killer, hauled in to a sanitarium, and forced to live among every shade of mental illness imaginable. Her story elapses in tandem with the assassination of the country’s king, and the ascent of his young son to the throne after spending his early childhood in hiding. A royal ball is thrown and Warri, the co-protag, manages to escape the sanitarium and attend. It’s there she actually talks with the young king, and they strike up a bond. But the king is soon arranged to marry another girl, who’s really spoiled and bratty. A bunch of stuff happens, that I don’t care to remember. The spoilt princess ends up dead at Warri’s hand, igniting the ire of her father. To save his mother in exile, and of course the guilty party Warri, the young king gives himself over to be punished for the killing. But at the last minute Warri steps in and rightfully takes the rap. And they bid their farewells as she’s flown away to prison.
The concept, as mentioned, is decent. Flawed, but decent. The story...is mostly just flawed. Younger me seemed to conflate “wise writing” with “endless big-worded rambling” so that’s what you usually got. Younger me also seemed to conflate descriptions of nature (and the neverending onslaught of metaphors and similes it entailed) with...prodigious writing. And that’s okay to an extent. I’m not one to knock a good metaphor. But when you spend like thirty pages describing the sky, it tends to wax tedious. The sky descriptions were probably longer than the actual scenes they encompassed. Though I don’t know for sure. It’s been a small eternity and I’m not going back to check. I know characters did like to monologue, so it might’ve been a tossup. Adults liked to monologue. Children liked to monologue. I think there was even a toddler that monologued, and no, I am not making that up. Younger me tried to naturalize it by playing her off as a genius. In reality I just couldn’t write for a toddler. I also couldn’t write for nine-year-olds. Or adults. Or humans in general.
The interactions were probably mind-numbing.
Another one of my problems was hoarding. That’s not often a word you hear associated with writing, but let me explain. I was a hoarder of sentences. I’d describe something decently, and be so impressed by my own description that even if there were two other close-proximity descriptions describing the exact same thing...I’d still keep the third, and fourth, and fifth. That was probably more of an ego thing, in hindsight. Imagine! A girl so young stringing sentences together so beautifully! Sure, she’s saying the exact same thing over and over, but every iteration is so majestic we don’t care.
I filled so many notebooks with this story. I should probably apologize to the trees for that.
Hopefully my wordletting helped expel the cringe from my system. It didn’t expel all of it, by far. Cringe runs deep for a young, aspiring author. I tried my hand at a bunch more stories, but they usually fizzled out before the end. I could complain about those too, but then this post would balloon to unnerving lengths and I think it’s already ballooned enough.
Instead I’ll just leave you with this factoid.
The first sentence of The Love mentions the sun. I think it’s setting. Rising? Setting? Whichever one it was, I got the direction wrong. Either the sun was rising in the west or setting in the east (I still had to look up which ways were right, ngl).
So if openers are supposed to be indicative of things to come—this one succeeded.
Whenever my high horse discovers stilts, I have to remind myself that for every “the gunmetal sky was already beginning to tarnish” I still have ten ‘suns rising in the west’, so to speak. I’ll stumble across the dumbest mistakes, which shall in turn re-rouse the adage of a wise philosopher: “Sit down. Be humble.” (Kendrick Lamar)
(Oh. And the genius toddler was Warri. Warri was a genius.)
The world went dark on July 20.
Fortunate for my family and I, we still had some of our garden left. By the time the supermarket shelves were ransacked and the riots hit, we’d gathered four twenty-gallon buckets of tomatoes, seventy cucumbers, four dozen banana peppers, ten plump bells, and nine watermelons. We wasted no time dragging it all inside; we knew it wouldn’t be long till the riots overflowed from the city and came our way. They’d sweep through, a wall of greed and disorder, and ravage our land.
Phones were down for the few who still had landlines, and cells were inoperable for loss of signal, which meant no 911. (Criminals...were acutely aware of this.) I took plenty issue with the notion of being inevitably robbed without recourse, but in times like these you kinda’ had to suck it up. We were thirty miles from any police station. Smith and Wesson was our only fallback.
This was social anaphylaxis, an allergic recoil from the sting of primitivity. And like anaphylaxis I figured it would eventually subside.
Scariest were those who depended on technology like a lifeline. We didn’t have news to tell of the suicides. I would’ve been afraid to ask anyway.
A week in and you had stray influencers wandering the streets, lost and despaired, looking like something the cat coughed up.
And I wondered. Had we fallen so far as a species that survival hinged on something as recent as electricity? I kept telling myself how two-hundred years ago there was no such amenity, and the residents endured just fine.
My mind kept circling back to a show I used to watch. Dr. Stone.
A mysterious flash of light leaves humanity petrified, and a handful of humans awaken 3,700 years later to a world devoid of modern means, reminiscent of a Stone Age. Aided by the supergenius Senku, they have to start over from scratch, meaning relearning everything from agriculture to architecture to the reinvention of more luxurious articles like automobiles, phones and cola. I loved that show; I just never thought I’d have to live it. Had I known this was coming I would’ve taken notes. But the extent of my note-taking was when I’d recorded the ingredients for cola on my Pages app. Which was now out of commission. Bruh.
Maybe I don’t really have room to judge the technologically bereaved.
The Stone World residents had it a bit tougher, I’d dare to say. At least we still had standing civilization, skyscrapers, cars. We had battery powered fans; we just lacked a way to charge the batteries.
What ground my gears was knowing all the writing I had logged away on my Pages app. All I knew was, when signals were restored my work better not’ve been lost. I probably had over three-hundred documents.
My anger dissipated a little when imagining the scope of effects brought about. Hospitals would be in trouble. Generators could only get them so far. And what about winter when farming was an impossibility? Hunting would have to suffice, but with the population so high could wildlife really sustain us all? I chose to be hopeful. It was really all I could do.
TV made this look easy.
There was an Amish commune a little ways from our farm. Dad bought wood from them regularly, so we had something of a rapport. Three months in we drove out to see if there was any wood left they could sell us. Winter was coming and our furnace supply was lower than usual. We’d had to start using it early for the cold nights. I met Isaiah out by the barns and he looked nothing like what I’d remembered. He was always so jovial for our wood runs, a man with a countenance of steel. But all the while he was explaining to us, he looked so beat down. He said some outsiders had hit their commune about a month back, and killed a couple of their men. The looters made off with as much as they could carry.
Fear does things to people. Things you can’t really explain. More than just fight or flight, these things hardly ever make sense. Perhaps it’s a narcissistic, impatient, nearsighted drive that fuels it. Why vie for cordial discourse when violence could get you so much further so much faster?
Isaiah told us the names of the dead. A few of them I’d known.
One of them was only a year older than me.
They could only spare a quarter-load of wood, but we were grateful. Isaiah refused money.
Dad gave him a gun and told him to protect his family. Reluctantly, he nodded and took it.
Driving back in our family pickup, I watched the sky. It looked so dreary anymore.
Again my mind circled back to Dr. Stone. Just a few of the petrified had been revived, and even then they managed to find conflict. Enemies were quickly made, and a war eventually followed.
The first thing I heard was the sound of shattering glass. The window at my right shoulder exploded. Dad gunned it but we didn’t make it far. A loud popping noise sent us rolling, ground turning to sky. Next thing I knew, I was in a ditch, about a hundred feet from the truck. I could hardly feel my body, my mouth tasted like copper, and my sight was barely clear enough to make out the faces eclipsing my periphery.
“She alive?” a gruff male voice called.
“Yeah, looks like it,” another replied. “What about the old man?”
“He ain’t moving. Big dent in his head. I’d say he’s a lost cause.”
“I got ’is wallet. He only had about seventy bucks.”
“You think she’s got anything on her?”
“Na. I don’t see no jewelry. And she looks about fifteen, so forget cash...”
“Wanna’ check? I mean, what would it hurt?”
By then, all I could see was black.
I felt myself being rolled over.
“Nothing... Told you.”
“She looks pretty bad, man. You didn’t tell me it would go like this.”
“Well, how could I have known?”
“So what, we just leave her here?”
“You got a better idea? Wanna’ take her to a hospital?” Sarcasm. Even concussed I understood that much.
“What, you feeling guilty now? If you don’t wanna’ leave her then be a man and just put her out of her misery.”
Silence. He’s thinking about it. I don’t know how I can tell, but I can.
“I can’t... I’ve never actually shot someone...”
His voice...he sounds so young.
“Fine. Just leave her. We’re moving out, though. I ain’t sittin’ around nursing some stranger’s kid till dark.”
Footsteps. The grass is rustling. They’re leaving.
I hear a click, and with a fresh fear I realize he’s made his decision.
I hear the first fraction of a gunshot.
Then I hear nothing.
I need y’all’s opinions on something...
So it’s been a while since I’ve been to a studio. With the pandemic restrictions lifting, the one I was using is too booked to get back into, so Mom and I have been searching for a new one. And we found it. Hopefully this one will be less popular so I can maybe get in more. I have a song ready to pitch if I do go, and it’s something I’ve posted on here in the past, but I’ve altered a few of the lyrics to lyrics I like way better. I’ve also recorded an amateur scratch vocal—with only my iPad mind you, no mic, no fancy equipment, just my voice and silence. So if it’s good, cool, and if it’s abominable, that’s probably why. My request is that you check it out and give feedback, in two regards. One, is it original. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything exactly like this; but I’m really suspicious because this melody feels too good to not be taken. I’ve been checking around, making sure I haven’t subliminally cribbed it off Lana. Results have been favorable, and I think I may be safe. But me being one person, I can’t watch every music video in existence to double check, so I figured asking around would cover more ground, since everyone’s musical taste is different and everyone has a different knowledge base of songs. Anyway. Two, is it good. That one kind of speaks for itself. And like I said, the music isn’t there yet, that’ll be what the guy at the studio does, so it’ll be up to my voice alone to carry the melody, but it’s pretty concise and defined so that shouldn’t be too hard.
So...without further ado. (And I’ll also post the lyrics in case anything’s unclear.)
You were never bad news.
So I thought that it was safe
to elevate my heart into
that long-awaited place.
A past full of mistakes.
My civil war you severed.
You held me in your eyes.
We were the best together.
Of fairy tales and broken shells,
we walked along the beach,
under a cloudless denim sky,
the stars within our reach.
You pick me up and spin me ’round.
Swaddles us inside this dream.
Can’t be seen.
You build me up, you tear me down.
Emotions come and now I’m bound.
We drove on up the boulevard,
and I was feeling dead,
while a thousand happy branches
held hands overhead.
What had I become to do this?
What had I become to stay,
inside this cage of gold you’d made?
Gasps of sunlight flitter down.
But I can’t feel them now.
You pick me up and spin me ’round.
Swaddles us inside this dream.
Can’t be seen.
You build me up, you tear me down.
Emotions come and now I’m bound.
You pick me up and spin me ’round.
Coddles us inside this dream.
Can’t be seen.
You build me up, you tear me down.
Emotions come and now I’m bound.
Emotions lose and I break out.
And my feet kiss the ground.
Also, for reference, the genre is probably gonna’ be slow lounge. Just an acoustic guitar strummed, or, something.
Also also, no promises I’ll follow through and go to the studio, but I kinda’ really want toooo...
Song isn't autobiographical btw. It's just a song :)
in which I talk about Miller’s Crossing...
Miller’s Crossing is one of my favorite movies. But I have an extensive list of “favorites” so take that as you will. The beauty of Miller’s Crossing is how effortlessly it weaves between the hard-boiled and the absurd. The Coens take the typical Noir-ish gangster narrative and put their own surreal (read: SURREAL) spin to it—culminating in some downright Monty Python-esque moments that leave you wondering what in the world you just bore witness to. Imagine watching The Godfather—effectively intimidating characters, everyone’s playing it straight, the stakes have been established, the dark tone underscored—then, out of left field, comes this two-minute bit that looks like it could’ve been borrowed from The Carol Burnett Show. It leaves as bizarrely as it came, and the seriousness resumes, with a sly fluidity that tells you...this was no accident; this movie knows exactly what it’s doing. Sounds weird, right? Short answer: yup.
Miller’s Crossing is about Tom, the right-hand man of this aging mob boss named Leo. Tom is a stoic, cunning individual with a strange turn—under his facade he’s actually got something of a heart. This will come into play later. Leo’s rival, Johnny Casper, makes known his intentions to kill a bookie named Bernie Bernbaum. But Leo has a soft spot for the troublemaking Bernie, as he’s dating Bernie’s sister Verna, and thus cannot afford to harden his soft spot, lest he find himself terribly single. So Leo extends his protection to Bernie, much to Tom’s disapproval. Tom is...not a fan of Bernie. This will be justified later.
Tom is also having an affair with Verna. So what could possibly go wrong there? (If you cheat with someone who’s dating someone else, is it still called an “affair”, or is that just a marriage thing?)
Tom dogs Leo about giving Bernie up, but Leo is steadfast in his decision.
Stuff happens. Stuff happens.
Oh. And then we have one of the greatest scenes in all of cinema history, just casually tossed in there. This is, of course, my opinion. But let’s be real—it should be fact.
An assassination attempt is made against Leo. I can hear all of the people who already know where this is going snickering to themselves. An assassination attempt is made against Leo...RIP brevity...deep breath... Two hitmen break into his home, set it on fire, whether advertently or inadvertently, and he catches wind that they’re coming, so he dives under the bed to hide and kills one right as they barge into his bedroom, taking the dead guy’s Tommy gun (after the other guy falls back), running through the house with it, tossing it out the window like it doesn’t weigh any more than a feather (ironic considering like five-hundred bullets are apparently warm and waitin’ in there); then he climbs out the window, slides down his roof, hangs off the edge, drops off like Spider-Man, takes up the Tommy he’d already tossed out, and unloads just as the surviving hitman makes it to the upstairs window. A few things to consider first. A, the drum of a Tommy usually holds up to about a hundred or so rounds, rarely if ever more. B, the Tommys in the hitmen’s possession were relatively small, so in this case the drums would probably hold less than a hundred rounds. C, Leo never reloads once, as he has no feasible way of doing so. D, Leo shoots the surviving hitman like three-thousand times.
I don’t know what kind of magic this gun is infused with, but it can apparently make its own bullets as fast as it shoots them, perhaps by pulling various alloys from thin air. Maybe it’s a stand (Jojo reference haaa). And yes, that’s sarcasm. I love this scene. It’s so ridiculous and beautiful all at once. And if that wasn’t enough, after the hitman dude is thoroughly ventilated, a car glides past and someone inside opens fire, so we think Leo is in trouble because surely he’s used all his bullets by now, but NOPE he raises his Tommy like an absolute legend and unloads on this car. A back and forth of cuts show him shooting it, shooting it more, and shooting it more. Finally, the car swerves off the road, lightly bumps a tree, and explodes like a nuclear bomb. Leo is left standing in the road, in his bathrobe, holding a smoking Tommy Gun that by this logic probably still has bullets in it. He pulls his cigar from his pocket and calmly sticks it back in his mouth.
Now, to debunk some of my hyperbole, the car did catch fire before it exploded and with all the holes in it courtesy of the magical infinity gun, yeah it would likely explode pretty fast and pretty violently. And as for the sheer quantity of bullets fired from that mystical weapon, I believe a commenter said that some database had pegged shots fired at like 534 or so, but don’t quote me on that. I’m certainly not fast or patient enough to count them. All I know is...wow, that was incredible.
And it’s one of those moments where you can tell the Monty Pythonery was completely intentional. The Coens aren’t dumb to realism, they just...chose not to use it.
Oh, and if this hasn’t yet won you over, I’ll add that an operatic rendition of “Danny Boy” is soaring in the background. Epic score for an epic scene.
And then things are just dead serious again. Or...serious in light of the cognitive dissonance we’ve just beheld.
Tom comes clean to Leo about the affair, in order to expose Verna’s dishonesty. Without her around to put a bug in his ear, maybe he’ll rescind his protection over Bernie. I guess that’s the thought process. I’m also guessing this is kind of a kamikaze mission, dude, because you have to realize what’s going to happen.
And happen it does.
Leo follows Tom out of his office and promptly decks him down not one, but two flights of stairs. He tumbles down the first, only to half-recover, and then WHAM! And Leo is so collected and leisurely as he’s walking down to deliver the encore punch. Though maybe that’s just my bad interpretation.
Probably needless to say, Leo cuts both Verna and Tom out of his life.
Spoilers start about here, I’d say.
Tom then goes to Casper, looking to be his right-hand, I guess. Casper charges him with killing Bernie himself, to prove his loyalty. A couple of Casper’s guys accompany Tom, and they intercept Bernie and drive him to a remote patch of woods known as Miller’s Crossing. Tom walks him out to a clear spot, where they’re alone together, and realizing his circumstances Bernie begs Tom not to kill him, saying “I’m praying to you—look in your heart”. Tom eventually caves, realizing he doesn’t have it in him to shoot Bernie in cold blood. He fires a shot to trick Casper’s men, and tells Bernie to run, before returning to the car.
Casper usurps Leo’s power and uses it against him, sending the cops on his payroll to ransack Leo’s operations. Tom begins causing trouble, and eventually runs afoul of the Dane’s suspicions—which, the Dane is Casper’s veteran enforcer, highly trusted, not someone you’d want to run afoul of. He discovers that no one ever actually saw Tom kill Bernie. So he (quite forcefully) brings him back to Miller’s Crossing and demands Tom show where he left the body. Tom maintains his stoicism at first but finally loses his nerve and vomits. The Dane takes this as a telltale sign there’s no body. Right as Tom is about to be shot, one of Casper’s guys hollers that he found the body. And, lo and behold, there actually...is a body. But it’s been shot in the face and is so disfigured it can’t be identified.
Now, here’s where things get complicated.
Extreme spoilers start about here, I’d say.
So upon his life being spared, Bernie apparently returned to town and killed Mink (the Dane’s lover), depositing his body around the place his own body would’ve been. Was this a favor to Tom for sparing him? Nope. He uses it as blackmail, and unless Tom kills Casper, he’s going to start parading himself around town and letting everyone—including Casper—know that he’s actually alive. Gratefulness at its finest. And also really smart. I mean, this powerful mob boss wants you dead, and now he thinks you’re dead, so you have free rein to make a break for it untailed, and he’d be none the wiser. But no. Revenge is worth more to you. Ah, Tom and Bernie. HOW MUCH DO THESE TWO HATE EACH OTHER?
Since Mink is missing, Tom spots an opportunity to use this to his advantage. He starts sowing seeds of doubt in Casper’s mind, leading him to believe the Dane has betrayed him. With the Dane out of the way, he’ll have a better foothold to manipulate Casper without interference. By the way, you’ve probably noticed the lack of conventionally “good” characters in this—everyone’s either amoral or immoral, mostly the latter. Well...all the latter. But that gifts this movie with a certain edge. It’s bold, rugged, and shuns any overly-sentimental pitfalls that could possibly snare it. The dialogue is snappy, witty, and brimming with ’30s lingo. Most characters are cold, some are calculating, and the ones who excel are the ones most talented at being both. That’s just it: Tom is smart, scary smart.
And he succeeds at convincing Casper, who kills the Dane for his assumed betrayal.
That scene is...yeah, it’s another one.
The Dane waits for Tom to arrive to Casper’s office. And he brings this dude. Maybe I’m just slow; I dunno’ who this dude is all the way. Like, I think he’s a boxer with ties to the mob, and the Dane brought him in for...reasons. This man is very strange, to say the least. He doesn’t talk. He just glares menacingly/fearfully for a large portion of the conversation after Tom enters. Until things go south and Casper winds up wailing on the Dane with a shovel, one of those dainty fireplace ones. The Dane kind of started it by trying to strangle Tom, yeah, still, the shovel was a weird touch. But oh, you haven’t seen weird. The same people who snickered earlier at the impending “Danny Boy” scene are probably snickering now. They know what’s coming. Boxer Man starts screaming. Deep, belly screaming. And he does this...in random intervals...like a human alarm clock. Casper starts beating the Dane, cue “AAAA.... AAAA.... AAAA.... AAAA....” Then Casper shoots the Dane. And...the line reading, the manic intonation, the timing, the cinematography, the everything of this scene is just so amazingly strange. It almost feels Lynchian, and I’ve never even seen that much of David Lynch’s stuff. It feels like you’re under heavy medication, and possibly acid (I’m assuming on both accounts). “Always put one in the bRaiN!” Casper declares gleefully, and the scream guy keeps erupting.
“AAAA.... AAAA.... AAAA.... AAAA”. It’s just like, Coens, sirs, did you just out-weird Monty Python??? At some point I think Casper even comes at scream king with the dainty fireplace shovel, but Tom stops him. Scream king doesn’t take a hint and won’t stop living up to the nickname I just gave him.
I’m so used to gangster movies having this certain, distinct sense of humor. Like, this runs SO counter to that stereotype and I’m loving it.
Also, come to think, the shovel wasn’t that dainty. I don’t guess. Which is weird because there’s a fireplace in my house and I can confirm the shovel for it is really dainty. I can just see Casper picking his shovel out at the shovel store thinking “I’m gonna’ have to beat someone with this someday, so it will need to be sTrOnG!!!”
So following this delightful escapade, Tom sets up a meeting with Bernie, but sends Casper in his place, telling Casper he’s going to be meeting up with Mink. I suppose Casper plans to kill Mink, but Bernie arrives early to the meetup and gets the drop, killing Casper. Tom then makes his entrance and tricks Bernie into thinking he’s on his side. He uses his silver tongue to get Bernie to hand over his gun, before turning it on him. Again, Bernie beseeches him to “look in your heart” but Tom retorts “What heart?” and shoots him.
At Bernie’s burial, Tom meets Leo, who is back together with Verna. Verna is cold to Tom and storms off. Leo discloses that she’s proposed to him and he accepted, and offers Tom his job back, which the latter declines. Tom, realizing his future with Verna is nixed, just kind of stands along the cemetery and looks cool for the closing shot.
I’m telling ya. It’s like you’re watching The Godfather but the signal’s iffy and Carol Burnett keeps cutting in, performing skits with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. Or Monty Python. Where else would you see a simple Tommy Gun that could hold an impressive fifteen-thousand rounds of ammo? Or a car that explodes if you look at it the wrong way? Or a guy who screams in intervals like a human alarm clock...and just keeps going...and going...and going, all while a serious conversation is trying to take place? I’m being hyperbolic of course, as is my nature. But not by much.
An extra touch is Mink. This man talks like his sixteenth cup of morning coffee is just kicking in. Someone uploaded this movie to YouTube and to avoid YouTube’s unending wrath they sped it up. I don’t even think I’d seen the Mink thing at this point. He came in and started talking and...it felt like whiplash.
Tom: talks a little fast.
Another extra touch is the random cutaway to a dead guy in an alley. A ‘street urchin’ type kid walks up, stares at him, and steals his slightly-awry toupee before running off. What a way to break up scenes.
Another-another extra touch is Casper’s young son, who according to this movie isn’t too bright. There’s a part where Casper plays guess the hand with him and he picks the wrong hand. Casper gives him a second go without even changing hands and he still picks the wrong hand.
And yes, in order to summarize this thing I had to read the description on its Wikipedia because I doubt I could’ve sorted this insanity out on my own, plus my memory for names is terrible. Reading over it I was just like “oh, yeah, that makes sense”. I visited a couple other places for assistance too. The movie’s not badly written or anything, it just moves really fast and is REALLY intelligent, and I’m too slow to catch every little detail.
TL; DR: Within fever dream sequences and breaks of self-aware parody lies a hardboiled noir with a poker face and a stiff upper lip. The film plays it straight for the most part, except for all the times it doesn’t, but the neat thing about Miller’s Crossing is even when it intentionally and aggressively breaks character, everything seems fluid and seamless. Nothing is out of place, despite grave seriousness cutting to slapsticky fare cutting back to grave seriousness.
an: This article is a mosaic of an old thing I wrote (part of it) mixed with new stuff I wrote for this challenge. And yes, I’m just weird enough to randomly write about a movie I like, with the hopes that maybe someday I can post it somewhere. Looks like that worked out pretty well for me.
Also, it’s been forever since I’ve seen most of this thing, so allow for a margin of error.
Also-also, I’m pretty sure Bernie was *super* embarrassed about the Miller’s Crossing begging incident, and fairly adamant that Tom not tell anyone. Ironically...the begging incident is literally the movie poster. Ah, Coens. Even they hate Bernie, jk.
I’ve had this floating around in my head for a while. It’s a good idea but I’m nowhere near flippant or cynical enough to do it justice. And there would have to be a lot of flippant and cynical humor in this, or it just wouldn’t hit the tone I envision.
Setting: World War II era, maybe?
The story centers around a disturbed, suicidal young man, maybe 20-30, and his quest to die—rather, get himself killed. He’s wanted to die for years, but something, be it religious beliefs or family-related, prevents him from taking his own life. The assumed ‘loophole’, then: to be as reckless as humanly possible, do the dirtiest jobs, and run headlong into the most harrowing situations. He becomes a firefighter and his lack of regard for his own life imbues him with an unhealthy fearlessness. He quickly becomes a hero in the eyes of the public—a man revered as “brave”. But still, he feels nothing. He’s only disappointed in his own survival. So he proceeds to sign up for a sequence of even more dangerous jobs, eventually being conscripted into the army.
He’s thrilled about this, much to the bewilderment of his family. They mistake his strange ideation for patriotism. He winds up on the frontlines, and watches the other men and their reactions. He notes the dichotomy—his apathy in stark contrast to their horror and trauma. He finds a dull portion of amusement in this, but not enough to make life ‘worth it’.
But then, something happens.
He begins to bond with the other men in his rank. He begins feeling emotions he doesn’t recognize—inexplicable urges of self-preservation, and glimmers of camaraderie. His apathy and loneliness corrodes. And he realizes that he doesn’t want to die. He wants to live, because he’s found that happiness and friendship are possible, even to a social outcast like him.
But he and his band are ambushed, and there he must sacrifice himself to save them. In his dying moments, he reflects on the irony and beauty that he finally got his deepest wish—to die wanting to live.
Dunno’ if there’s already anything out there like this. There probably is, but meh.
Also, I’d want Tarantino to write and direct it. Because Tarantino. :3
And what I’ve seen of Fight Club—that’s the vibe I’d like. It’s not a Tarantino movie, I know, but that’s beside the point haha.
i somehow manage to bring Rob Zombie up in the context of this challenge.
If life had a color, I believe it would be white, if only because spectrally speaking, white is the combination of all visible wavelengths of light, making it in essence “every color”. Which is funny. Because a lot of people don’t even consider white a color. But yes, objects we see as “white” basically reflect the whole spectrum, making plain ol’ white the most colorful color of all.
Even stranger? I learned of white’s status as ‘all the colors’ from Rob Zombie. You heard right. That Rob Zombie. One random night forever ago I was watching a part of one of his Halloween remakes and Dr. Loomis was explaining color to a young Michael Myers. He pretty much said that spectrally speaking, true black was the absence of color, and true white was the antithesis, being all the colors. I was just like—cool.
See, I absorb weird pieces of information like that, to regurgitate at random times like this. (With a quick double-check from the handy dandy internet.)
If white is every visible wavelength then that means, like life, it holds multitudes—the blue of sadness, the green of envy, the purple of depression, the yellow of madness, the orange of happiness, the red of anger, the gray of ambivalence, the brown of...brown.
People fail to recognize life’s weight and value as well, and just as white is often discredited as a color, life is often discredited as meaningful by the cynical, the jaded, the cruel, the greedy.
None of these thoughts are really my own, honestly. Maybe one or two or so? Dunno’.
So, among others, thank you Mr. Zombie.
between here and the hereafter.
As a person who’s never been too far removed from death, this question fascinates me. By that I mean I’ve lost many acquaintances, family members, friends. The first part of my life I believed in the hereafter because I was told. Then I had a crisis of faith, I guess you could call it, did some soul searching for the better part of a year, and landed right back at the beginning, choosing to keep my initial beliefs.
I was pretty young when my 17-year-old cousin hanged himself. I vaguely recall a family member of his having their picture taken at his gravesite, and in review a hand was placed to their shoulder. No one could figure out who it belonged to. I’m pretty sure no one had placed a hand to their shoulder at the time the picture was taken. Was it my cousin, allowed back to comfort the bereaved? Was it an angel? This question was never answered, but I believe it was a sign. A sign of something beyond the corporeal realm.
Another cousin of mine died of cancer in his twenties. My uncle mourned him for several years, before himself dying to a medical mistake, when his diabetes medicine damaged his liver. At the funeral one of my aunts told of a call his family had gotten, from D’s (name withheld for privacy) cellphone. D was the son he’d lost all those years before. I assumed his cellphone had surely been deactivated by then. What explanation could there be, then? Some solicitor hijacked the number? What were the odds it would be that exact one? My aunt said the person who’d received the call answered, only to hear dead silence on the other end. They interpreted it thusly: my uncle was with D, and the call was our assurance.
I believe in Heaven. Hell. The latter scares me more than nothingness ever could, at this juncture. I come from a very spiritual family. There have been a couple accounts of family members having dreams and visions of dead family members shortly before their own deaths. It’s come to be a sort of harbinger. Perhaps it’s to ease the fear of the process. I’ve heard someone say: “It’s not the dying; it’s the getting there.”
(Also these are old accounts and my memory isn’t the greatest so take everything I say with a grain of salt, and allow for a margin of error.)
Another topic that sort of ties in:
Do I believe in ghosts? I’ve actually considered posting about this before. My interpretation of ghosts is that they’re actually evil spirits impersonating the dead. I believe the dead move on once the soul and spirit part from the body. “Absent from the body, present with the LORD.” That kind of cements it for me. And think of it like this: I’ve heard of a ghost encounter where a little girl died in this house and close to a century later “she” was tormenting the new family who’d moved in. What motive would a little girl have to do that, unless it was something evil impersonating her? Another reason to dislike the dark side—they deface the memories of innocent people by impersonating them. But again, that’s just my hypothesis.
I could probably go way deeper with this, but I’m gonna’ stop there...
Of Words and Worlds
When you’re a kid, you’re relatively powerless. Add being an only child, having a painfully bashful predisposition, and having an eccentric personality that you’ve yet to really grow into, let alone embrace—and you have younger me. I had a crippling phobia of ball so gym became a nightmare. It was a required class too, thus I’d often find myself stranded amid a cacophony of balls flying, kids screaming, and teachers perhaps too distracted to manage the chaos. I’d sag off into my corner and watch, hoping for the chaos to keep at bay. Feeling like a coward. Cultivating a complex that would morph and lead to a smatter of other insecurities. At the core was powerlessness. I was small, even for my age. I knew death before I should’ve, maybe. And then again. Again. Again. Powerlessness became a fixture. And there was no friction to be had outside the escapism provided by creativity. Television. Movies. Other people’s fantasies laid out for me to watch and enjoy.
So I tried my hand at drawing up worlds of my own, a bit more intricate than my past scribbles. Being slightly older, I started putting words to my worlds, serious words—keeping record of the movies that played almost constantly behind tired eyes. They’d fall together, in vague semblances of coherence. They’d give shape to characters, dialogues. They’d imbue in my small hands a sense of power, something I was at a loss for in reality. And for however long, I’d immerse myself and play with my friends my allies my words.
Words were a foothold against the hurricane of early preadolescence. I would hold bouquets of dreams between little ears, given life by my hands, if only on paper. I’d create a role model, an alter ego, a nemesis. I’d take the things that scared me, make them a character beholden to my will, and fight back. In my head I had power. My notebooks were the exhibits.
My worlds collected nuance with age. I’d find myself trying to understand rather than vilify. I think watching and reading and writing has expanded and honed my empathy like little else. As a writer, you become every character, however shallow, one-dimensional, or wicked they may be. You try to find the anatomy of an emotion, the color, the flavor.
You learn there will always be beautiful things to do with words, even when you don’t have much to say. You can talk forever about nothing and, if you’re talented and practiced enough, make it beautiful.
Or on the days when you’re at your most charged and electric and genuine, you can hold a body’s worth of emotion in a tiny sentence, and make it say everything. Words are catharsis. Words are release.
I have to write because if I don’t I get down. Bummed. Overwhelmed. It’s just one of those natural, inexplicable drives that I have, and not everyone has it so I can’t expect everyone to understand. I have been through phases where I hate writing as much, if not more, than I love it. That’s probably in part due to my OCD, and in other part due to feeling like I’ve wasted my time. It’s easy to feel like you’re wasting your time when you write your heart out to little or no applause. When the validation just isn’t there. It’s not so much that you want to be the shallow archetype of “rich and famous”, but you want people to appreciate the results of your labor, the baring of your soul. There’s nothing shallow about that, in my opinion. And I understand.
Why did I write, then, back before I had a place to publish?
I guess...hope. It’s how I am—I have to have something to wake up for, something to chase after. To borrow a phrase from Nolan’s Joker, “I’m like a dog chasing cars; I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one.” It’s the thrill of the chase. I’ve chased recognition since I was young, perhaps too young to even grasp what recognition truly was. All I knew was, whenever the teacher would let me read one of my stories to the class, whenever I’d get to share the thing that I wrote with another person—I don’t think you can really put *that* feeling into words, and I wanted more. Now I’m here and I have 586 followers and that’s amazing to me. But the aspirational side of me tells me to keep going. The day I stop chasing bigger cars is the day I stagnate, and that’s a bit too close to giving up for my tastes.
I found power in the words. I find life in the chase. And really, what more could you ask for?
a day in the life
(An amalgamation of alliteration)
Allen accidentally ate aluminum.
Ashley achieved accolades as an associative adjudicator. Auburn ambition.
Arielle abolished aristocracy, ablated all authority, and abdicated, advocating anarchy.
Alison actualized atrocious affronts, afflicting all associated.
Abby’s animals aestivated, alarming Addison.
Annie agglomerated animations—ambulating artificial aliens.
Amy argued aggressively, admonishing, avenging, and advecting awful avarice.
Alex advertised autonomy, adumbrating administrative abasement.
Alfie addressed antithetical advice, arborizing accusations.
Archie actualized an aquatint artwork.
Amelia amiably accosted Audrey.
Ada amassed acquaintances, ambling aimlessly after asinine approval.
Avery articulated approximations.
Acidic aquaplanes approached; Allen arbitrarily amassed anger.
Aria affixed an addendum.
Amicable Amber aligned, assisting Aiden’s abjection.
Alvin allayed annual anxieties. Albuquerque’s alleviation.
Alfred abnegated authorship, affected at Andrea’s appraisal. Allonym androgynous.
Airbrushed Andy antagonized accusers. Airtight alibi.
Agnes acted auspiciously, abrasively abating acquiescence.
Angela autographed assorted automobiles.
Aurora abraded Anthony, aiding auditory atrophy.
Aaliyah acknowledged and accepted Abbott’s apology.
Adele adopted Apples, an Alabama alligator.
An auxiliary assisted Arielle, adding agents and ammo.
Allen anticipated acrid agony.
Ashley acerbically advocated an acquittal. Agonistes.
Abby adopted Adele’s Alabama alligator Apples after an awful attack.
Amelia’s adroit adulation addled Audrey.
Ada ate alone. Atomizing adamance.
Aria: anguished, alacrity ambiguous, allegiance ardent.
Avuncular axioms assuage and atone. All affectation. Adulation an aegis. Affirm ad hoc algorithm. Affable affront ad infinitum. Ambivalent alienation—animosity alluded, an apathetic aplomb. All Ada’s attributes.
Antipathy an antecedent, antagonizing all. Avaricious appendages, augmenting audacity, abandoning agility. Avaricious appendages, all awry. Aberration afoot. Abey and abet. All Arielle, abridged. All Arielle, ammo and anger. Atavistic action. Abysmally abstruse. Ada and Arielle ate alone.
Alvin’s aegis—an acclimatized abomination. Alacrity abases. Ada and Arielle and Alvin ate alone.
Aaliyah and Abbot acquaint and acquit. Affection’s advent.
Allen attenuates: attrition afflicted. Ada and Arielle and Alvin and Allen ate alone.
Andy’s aspersions assault. Andy, alone, abjures.
Ashley accrues accouterments and associates. Ashley’s abode—abaculus art acervated. Allemande allusion. Altiloquence arrayed.
Abby accrues animals, alone ablated.
Amy, an aggressive alcoholic. Archie, an amazing artist. Avery...? Alex afflicted—acrimony. Aaliyah and Abbot, allegiant accomplices. Allied accessories. Allision.
Archie aggravatedly abducents from an awkward abbozzo.
Amy abuses alcohol, asservations absent. Abiotrophy.
Atomic anger. Apathy apropos. Abuse akin.
Atmosphere absorbs and allocates apathy.
Abby amusedly abequitated, and almost adequitated alongside Angela’s Audi. Acissmus. “Alongside” aborted.
Abby and Apples ate alone.
Even Ashley’s analects are angora. Abatjour abasking.
Ashley—agerasia adjacent. Amoral akinesia.
Amy—agelast, aggled, alysmic.
Andrew’s autogolpe angered Arielle. Auxiliary aligned. Action affirmed.
Armogan. Abby absorbs aquamarine apricity. Ambience.
Ada. Arielle. Alvin. Allen. Amy.
Atmosphere absorbs and allocates apathy.
Alison’s arrogance attacks. Arguments anorexic, abscinding intelligence. Abseiling reason.
Abby accoyed an angry Apples. Adversity arising. Alabama authorities do not approve. Abby is arrested. Apples is released back into an Alabama afforestation area.
Ashley’s authorial ascent angers Amy.
Allen’s health problems compound; abrupt achromatopsia begets achroous atmospheres.
A subliminal acclimation.
Acicular audacity aligns. Amy is arrested for the alcoholic ambulation of an apricot accented Aston Martin. Arielle is arrested for anarchy, unauthorized accruing of ammo, and attacking Andrew. Acracy ablated.
Ashley’s acropodium fissures and flakes. All adjudiciary authority is ablated.
Alison is arrested. Assault and battery. Allen’s arrest entails.
Allen testifies ardently against Alison. All chance for acquittal is ablated.
Arielle is tried as an anarchist and assailant. Alcatraz? No. Allenwood? Maybe.
Archie advertises his artwork, arranging them along Apricot Avenue.
Abby misses Apples, adynamia rising. Anger in an Aeropostale hoodie. Affreux affrayer.
Aaliyah and Abbot—affined.
Ada awaits an airport arrest.
Amelia and Audrey reacquaint, and set all anger aside.
Allen recovers, ambition anew.
Ashley retires and opens Apex, a charity shelter. Amorality and apathy ablated.
Archie goes to auction, and allots his artwork for astronomic amounts.
Atmosphere absorbs and allocates the ability to excel.
Angela and Aaron argue.
Addy and Avon assimilate. An army of articulate ants, arranging, arraying, aligning, absconding. Ava adorns abridgments; acute abecedarian, advecting amusement. Arranging alphabets and abolishing absurdity, amounting adjectives, adverbs, and advertising aerodynamic advice. Aesthetics alive. Alphabetic architect, aging awesomely. Ava asserts authority.
Albatross ascend amid algae aligned aquaplanes. Agriculture adds ambience. Amphibians and anemones adorn. Airy ambience affixes and alights Amber’s affections. Animals agglomerate; an amusing, anthropological anthology. Archeologically amazing aqueducts, arched above aqua-scapes, amiably align the atmosphere. An awesome achievement. Amber apricates. Anxieties, arrogance, apprehension, anger, antagonism, annoyance—all ablated. Ancient Asian architecture adds awesomeness. Animals animate and audition, as Amber adventurously advances. An adolescent amphibian adjoins Amber’s adventure. An alpaca, an adder, an asp, and an aardvark all abequitate.
And my mind got tired here so...
(And yes I researched a-words. Arranging them into sentences was the hard part tho. :P Also, I think I used a few of these more than once but I assumed it counted as long as the sentence sorta' made sense.)