“I had a chance to do something another time a week or so after that, on the subway again,” Liyuan offered. “A young boy, maybe 10 years old, was performing a dance for a crowded train, with his father watching beside him.”
The boy approached Icarus again, head twisted to the side, humming a tune to himself.
“It was late at night, maybe midnight, and so I said something this time. ‘There’s a reason for child labor laws, you know.’ He glared back as the train pulled into Union Square. The doors opened, and he kicks me, hard, just like that. I was so surprised by that. ‘Mind your own damn business.’ And he storms off the train, pushing his kid ahead of him. It took me days to realize that I had been assaulted.”
“I liked living in New York,” Dee offered. “The people are real.”
“Even if they’re racists?” Faith demanded.
Four months after Hurricane Irma, the Florida Keys are still covered by the detritus of the storm. Although many residents have returned, abandoned homes are still a common sight. Big Pine Key, the worst hit of the keys, remains cluttered with boats, refrigerators and motor homes. And yet the Key Deer, an endangered species, seem to be as plentiful as ever.
I went to get that new enhanced driver’s license today – something which requires two proofs of address, passport, green card and social insurance card, to say nothing of the undisclosed number of unmarked bills, blood and Stem cell samples. This was my third attempt. A guy stood wavering at the entrance and then puked on the sidewalk. It didn’t seem like a big deal to him, more like he was spitting. The woman at the front door was very nice and upbeat and steered me to Counter 30. I thought that I might actually get my enhanced license, and the counterperson made me even more confident. She accepted my unopened utility bill and asked for my Social Insurance Card. I had forgotten that. I would return. That’s what I told myself as I sat down at my desk and realized I had forgot my glasses on the counter.
Fragments are getting set adrift from Aqaara as I trudge through Draft One:
“Lying to your maker, Em. That won’t get you anywhere.”
“I miss you, Dee. I really do. I look forward to seeing you. I think about coming here. I look forward to coming here to see you and my cat.” Em opened her Bearing, glancing through the images. “And then I don’t.”
“There’s nothing worse than high expectations.”
“I keep mine very low.”
“This is cellular,” Liyuan interjected. “This exchange, all of this is cellular. That’s who is speaking to each other, your cells.”
“Ignore him,”’ Dee replied. “And tell us about your politics. They make you a senator yet?”
“Lai got me an Ethi for a present.”
“What do you get out of it? To do your bidding?”
“Her name’s Emma.”
“I mean, what’s the point of it? Does it tell you how great you are?”
“Dee, why don’t I bring Emma here so you can insult her, like you do with me.”
“Insult you? Em, I only talk to you like you were me.”
“That’s it, isn’t it?”
A few things I’ve gleaned from the opening 100 pages of Melville’s opus:
- Maritime jargon such as “lee of land” and handspike.
- Surprisingly non-traditional views espoused by Ishmael: What is worship? To do the will of God. That is worship. And what is the will of God? To do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me. That is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow man. And what do I wish this Queequeg would do to me? Why, unite with me in my particular form of worship. Consequently, I must then unite with him in his; ergo, I must turn idolator.
- Building a story takes time. Captain Ahab does not appear until page 85, with Moby Dick not even on the horizon.
- That said, Mr. Melville also would have benefited from an editor.
Life is full of disappointment, people letting you down, letting yourself down. It’s a shame that the place I seek solace from this – film – offers the same:
Toklat (Robert Davison, Sweden, 1971) The first film I ever saw in a theater, and it was awful. Shots of a bear randomly stitched together. Yes, disappointment starts early.
Juggernaut (Richard Lester, UK, 1974) Advertised as an edge-of-your-seat thriller but in reality was all talk and no action. Terrible fare for a 11-year-old.
Sorcerer (William Friedkin, USA, 1977) I have never been more excited for a film, nor more disappointed. The poster was the best part. Southern Comfort (Walter Hill, USA, 1981) A bunch of guys wandering around in a swamp. Sounds existential but not.
Conan The Barbarian (John Milius, USA, 1982) The prototype for why all comic books fail on the screen.
Return of the Jedi (George Lucas, USA, 1983) The only thing worse than an Ewok is a Jar Jar.
The Godfather III (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1990) Not as bad as everyone says, but Ms. Coppola is. I also had a guy behind me explaining Godfathers I & II to his girlfriend. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 2014) The problem with a high bar is that you have to maintain it. (See also Woody Allen, post-2000)
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