Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Film Lab

The loud blonde piped up and asked the instructor to turn the lights up. Someone behind her piped up, too, and - earning my life-long admiration - asked her if she would mind shutting the hell up. People laughed and some clapped. At least one "here, here" was heard. The blonde did her best to ignore it. I hoped, and not a little maliciously, that the embarassment would keep her quiet for good.

After the first film ended, everyone got up and made for the door. I sat in my seat and watched her leave. Her hair was tied up in something of a small pony-tail and a light-pink scarf was knotted loosely around her neck. She was chatting with her friends as they walked out of the lecture theatre. Unfortunatley, the public chiding had done nothing, it seemed, to dampen her spirits. As they got to the threshhold of the room, one of her friends said something I couldn't make out. The blonde laughed loudly and made a high-pitched whooping noise. I remember feeling disgusted when she did this, disgusted and ashamed. I had never found her pretty but she seemed particulary ugly to me then. She disappeared quickly into the hall and I had to jog a bit to catch up.

At home I emptied out my pockets. I had taken her watch, necklace, and left ring-finger as souvenirs, and I laid them out carefully on my writing desk. There was a lot of blood seeping through the paper-towel in which I had wrapped the finger. Some was beginning to stain the wood of my desk, so I grabbed some new towels and wrapped the finger more securely this time, placing it in a plastic bag when I had finished to be extra safe.

I had missed the second feature, I remembered then, and for a moment I considered going back to see if I could catch the end. Good sense prevailed, however, and I stayed home for the rest of the evening.

I went to the bathroom then and washed my face with cold water. Back in my room, I stood over the table. I picked up the watch and turned it over in my hands. It was still warm. The hands ticked by with a regularity I found cruelly ironic. I held up the watch to my ear, listening intently to each beautiful, inevitable tick. I was struck by the thought that this watch would never stop, that somehow it would prevail over time and pulse forever. It would outlast me, outlast the son I wanted to have whose purpose would be to safeguard this watch, to keep it with him and to give to his son and to hold it forever. I never did have a son, and, by the looks of things now, I never will, but, gentlemen, that watch I wear still - I'm wearing it now - and not once in seventeen years has it stopped. It beats with a regularity I no longer find ironic, beats perfect and uniform and ordered. It always will. Say, would you like to take a listen?

So he comes up to me, right, and he says to me, "You shouldn't be doing that in public." And I'm like, "Well, sir, that's quite the point." And he says, "But it's obscene!" And I'm like, "That, too, sir, is quite the point." So he shakes his head and goes inside, right, and at first I don't think anything of it. But then I remember there's a payphone right in the lobby and this guy - I can just tell - is the type to call Jake on me. So I shuffle up to the building, right, and I - hey! you still with me? Alright, yeah, so anyway, I shuffle up to the building - which is pretty hard to do with your pants around your ankles - and I poke my head around the edge of the brick wall right at the side there and I look around the wall and inside, just like I thought, buddy's on the phone. He's talking and looking to the street and I think he saw me 'cause he seemed to get real excited and he pointed at me. So I go back to the sidewalk, right, and like a minute later buddy comes out and tells me he's called the police, I should get outta here, that type a' shit. So I look him dead in the eye. I don't say a word. I don't know why, but for some reason he's looking back at me. He doesn't turn away. So we're standing there looking each other right square in the eye for what feels like a good, solid minute. Finally he says something, a little quieter this time. "Listen, buddy," he says. "No hard feelings and all. Just get outta here before they come. You don't want to go to jail, do ya?" I clear my throat. "Well, sir," I begin. "That, too, is quite the point." I swear, I thought he was going to shit. Anyway, Jake never showed up so it was all good. So, yeah, how was your day?