by Mark Gordon

“Too Much Junkie Business” was blasting from the speakers of the boombox. The room was empty. The party was over. He passed out in the adjoining room and everyone else was long gone. A messy empty cheap motel room filled with the detritus of a party. Now the only movement in the room is the concussion of sound waves emanating from the tape player. The camera pans from the boombox; gently whisks over the bare mattress; glides lovingly around the bedding on the floor, and then passes through the doorway to the connecting motel room. We see our hero passed out, alone, lying on the floor in a fetal position, his thumb stuck firmly in his mouth and a bedsheet tucked between his legs. The camera catches a sudden movement by the front door. A piece of paper is slid under the door. Our hero doesn’t notice the movement in the room. But we, the audience, some sitting at our computer screens reading this, others possibly sitting in a lazyboy with an anthology of short fiction in our hands, and still others (a big suspension of disbelief) are sitting in a movie theater watching this, do notice the paper. But we only notice the paper because I called attention to this minor detail. You wouldn’t have noticed it otherwise. The aforementioned slip of paper is the bill for the rooms. Since our hero is the last one on the premises it will be his responsibility to pay for the rooms. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to our hero. For a hero, he doesn’t really learn from his previous mistakes.

Nonetheless; there he is laying on the floor as described above. We see a wide-angle shot of the entire room where our hero is sleeping. The shot is so wide there is a slight distortion of the room around the edges. What is funny and slightly ironic (not in an Alanis Morrisette way, but in a more traditional way) is that if our hero were to wake up now, he would see this room with exactly the same distortion around the edges. The camera begins a very slow, almost imperceptibly slow zoom-in towards the head of our slumbering hero. If you were watching this in a movie theater or on your television you would certainly lose patience in this part of the work. The zoom is painfully slow. In fact you really can’t even tell the camera is pulling in at all. Maybe if you closed your eyes, counted to 30, then opened your eyes, you might notice that the camera position has slightly changed. I’m picturing a zoom-in that would take approximately 45 minutes to get to the end point. That point would be the inner ear of our hero.

The camera moves into the ear canal. Throughout this very painful period of our movie there would be absolute silence. The music blaring from the other room stops in mid-song as the tape ends and there is no one to turn the tape over. So we the audience/readers/listeners only hear a very shallow inhale and exhale. We assume it is the breath of our hero. Other than that there is no sound. Not very compelling cinema I’m sure you are thinking. But hey, this isn’t cinema.

So now we are inside the head of our hero. Convention would have the picture go a little fuzzy and then dissolve into another location. We the audience would know that we are now in the dreamworld of our hero. Dream logic rules. We wouldn’t know what to expect; anything at all can happen and usually does in these circumstances. But we aren’t slaves to convention. Or at least that is what this author would like to think. Please indulge him on this one, and if you go along, it will be over that much sooner. So instead of going all fuzzy, the picture becomes almost hyper-focused. Sort of the way things look on crystal meth. The camera pauses on a capillary where we see the blood coursing through. This lets us know that our hero is still very much alive and vital. The blood surges in one direction, stops and then moves slightly in the opposite direction. The director digs this rhythm, so he lingers on this shot for way too long. The rhythm is musical, but the film is still awkwardly silent.

image taken from NASA website;

The rhythm of the blood begins to quicken. A very low volume drumbeat begins to imitate the rhythm of the blood. Now the blood is moving so fast back and forth that we can no longer make out the individual blood cells, it is all a blur. The drumming is getting louder and it is mimicking the speed of our hero’s pulse. A very loud bang is heard, in fact it is so loud that we are all completely startled. Some of us gasp and others actually jump out of our seats. After the explosion, silence again, but now the camera is pulling out. Not painfully slow, in fact it is moving very fast. The 45-minute trip into our hero’s head takes only two seconds in the reverse direction. The camera has so much inertia that it can’t stop in the room; it zooms out and keeps on going. We are now shooting through the roof of the cheap motel nestled among the strip malls. We are heading into the sky at a very dangerous rate of speed. The view we see looks like one of those satellite images that the pentagon shows us to prove how smart their bombs are.

The rate of the pull back is now starting to slow down. It is obvious to us that the camera operator has no idea what he or she is doing. He or she was not able to predict the amazing amount of force it would take to pull out of our hero’s head at that high rate of speed. The camera pullback is now dramatically slowing down, now it is stopped. We see the Earth surrounded by nothingness. The blue oceans are the predominant features we see on the globe. This is that overly used NASA shot of the Earth, we’ve all seen too many times. The camera has reached its apogee and now it is beginning to fall back to our planet. Someone needs to fire this director. Take him off the set before he completely ruins the film. Too late, we know exactly what is going to happen. This is all so predictable. We are slaves to convention after all. We know that the camera is going to begin falling, quickly picking up speed and then it is going to crash through the roof of the cheap motel room, land next to our sleeping hero, scare the shit out of him, and wake him up. He will examine the pieces of a broken 35-mm Panaflex camera scattered about the room. He will be completely befuddled. He’ll blame it on the drugs and alcohol. He’ll remember that there have been many times in his life that he suspected he had an audience watching over him; that he was a character in a play, a story, or a film. But we know that this is just his ego stroking him. It was only his inner voice trying to convince him that he was more than what people see. That he is a unique individual with something to contribute to society. Perhaps, that he is actually somebody that others would want to know. That his life could be perceived as a work of art. That he might even be an artist. But we the audience know this isn’t so. Our hero is just another guy; he could be anyone of us. He certainly isn’t anyone we would be interested in reading about or watching for two hours in a dark theater.

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