It’s later and I’m at a bar, alone in a booth, drinking beer and watching a cowboy movie on the TV hanging from the ceiling. I pick my nose, getting the finger way up in there for a hard-to-reach straggler. Vaguely self-conscious, I look around and realize no one in the bar notices. An immense loneliness wells up inside of me at the realization that I’m the only person on Earth who is aware of the fact that I’m picking my nose. I become paranoid that a gang-related shooting is about to occur right outside the bar and a stray bullet will shatter the window’s glass and drive itself into my brain. Michael Jackson never would’ve been a victim of random violence –the force of his personality was too strong. It’s always the nobodies who get rubbed out being innocent bystanders.
The next time the bartender comes around I order a double shot of whiskey straight up, inspired by the cowboys in the movie. By the time I order my third I’m seated at the bar, calling men ‘sir’ and women ‘miss’, and explaining to the bartender how much I want to defend someone’s honour, maybe in a duel.
I find myself in a movie theatre, alone, watching some loud and ridiculous movie starring Mark Wahlberg. It begins with him being chased through the streets by tanks, helicopters, a heavily-armoured SWAT team. I think at this point in the movie I’m meant to believe he’s been framed or there’s been a mistaken identity or something of the sort. He’s giving a voice-over in a weary tone. Eventually they catch him, his hands go up, he surrenders peacefully. The last thing I remember is the courthouse scene, and big stern judge with a phallic nose shaking his gavel at Wahlberg’s character and promising “a quarter of a million years at least” behind bars.
REFLECTIONS ON FILM
I wake up in my bed, fully clothed, clutching an empty bottle. My radio is blaring, stuck between two stations that clearly cater to different demographics. I turn it off. I don’t remember coming home from the theatre. I recall the line about “a quarter of a million years at least” and it sounds completely absurd to me now; not even the most mindless Hollywood film would have included that line.
I go to the bathroom. Claire bought me a toothbrush with a suction cup on the bottom when we first started seeing each other, which I’d stuck on the mirror above the sink. Now every time I go in there its disgusting yellow handle thrusts three-dimensionally out at me, like an accusatory finger. It makes me uneasy, but for some dark and complicated reason I can’t bring myself to take it down.