The Story of the Story
Rich Ives

He's like a bright balloon tied to a tree to show the way to the party, which you expect to be boring anyway because that's the kind of party that invites people who appreciate balloons set out to find their way. It doesn't take much of a wind to set him loose, and then the party goes with him, colorful and unexpected, more fun than it would have been if he had remembered what he was there for.

There's nothing sensitive about him, even if his story might be considered poignant. It's the story that's sensitive, not the guy. But how long can the story go on this way? Not very long. And how long can the guy go on this way? Longer than the story wants to think about.

So let's just admit it. The guy's a jerk. He doesn't even deserve our attention. But he's going to get it anyway. That's the best part of writing a story. The guy can do any horrible thing we want him to. But he can't hide. If we hate him enough, we start to like hating him, and then he becomes a different kind of guy, already conforming to rebellion, an intelligent and sensitive egocentric. Might as well be the author for all you know. Or we just skip past all the posturing and read the story anyway, knowing it has only one subject and maybe it'll be fun to dislike this author.

Okay so now he feels like telling you what's going to happen next because that would be so inappropriate and cool, but the truth is he doesn't know. At least he doesn't know in any way he can consciously explain, and he's a little superstitious about the subconscious. He doesn't know how long the story's going to just sit there until something that can actually happen coincides with a desire to see something that could actually happen get finished, but he has to admit he trusts that particular coincidence, which means that he's confident of creating an appropriate coincidence, which means it's not really a coincidence, but he doesn't know how long it's going to be before that happens because he's good at letting things ride, even though he's impatient enough to want to discover what they are going to do to him before they do it. That's why he's thinking about himself as the author of his story, even though he isn't. So he doesn't know what's going to happen next because he doesn't have the same need for it to happen that a lot of people experiencing his story vicariously might. Perhaps that's why he's interested in the story of the story that doesn't really have anyone in it but him.

Skip this part if you want to because it's not essential to the nearly nonexistent plot. It's a moody kind of moment where the weather doesn't seem to like the protagonist/ author very much, and it gives only a little more plausibility to the emotions the guy is experiencing, even though in reality it might not affect all that many people in such an obvious manner.

Anyway, the guy feels like the sky just wants to spit on him. That's how it feels. It's not that big of a deal, but it does affect him. Under the skin, so to speak. It's not something he can talk to his therapist about. It seems petty. But it really does affect him. And you can't control the weather, right? So what's all this bullshit about making good choices in our lives, huh? If you feel like the weather's going to shit on your head then that means something. Even if it's not likely to do that, it could. That's what weather is. It's real.

And if there's some French-bereted idiot out there who will someday make a documentary about the author's story, it isn't the protagonist's fault if the author didn't have the happiest life and the weather sometimes pissed on him. And if said beret-head thinks the story's about some character who actually answered the phone when beret-head called him out of nowhere, and who actually gave acceptable answers to beret-head's internal interview questions, then beret-head's got it wrong because he thinks too much about redeeming social values and that's not the author's fault either.

So here's the story of the story of the French guy's documentary:

Guy with a floppy hat talking to actor who thinks he's just playing the part of a loser, who's going to win in the end. Guy with the floppy hat explaining how self-aware in its mockery the appearance of complex depth will be when the loser, who's been leading us to expect he will die tragically, actually wins. Flash forward to different guy, in a baseball cap, the new director, appointed when the documentary went way over budget, now finishing the movie minus floppy-hatted second-hand art pretenses, which now promises to end suddenly with a compromise that pleases no one. Still it's an anti-Hollywood movie. Newer Than New, New Age Gentrified Condo-Dwelling Hip.

So struggling actor's therapist explains that self-awareness may not be enough by itself. You have to actually do something. Sometimes making a bad choice is better than not making any choice at all. So the actor does that. Chooses to stay in the movie and chooses to make more choices. But the story's not about that. The actor could be the guy in the story after all because he doesn't want to make these choices, but then he explains this to the French interviewer, and he's no longer even the real guy he used to be in the documentary, just a talking head answering questions about who the real guy was and how he couldn't explain himself. He's all self-assured now, and the real guy didn't have that point of view.

And now the actor can't really have that point of view either, because he understands it too well, and it's a point of view that has a lot of not understanding in it. He can't even be the guy who writes about the guy in the story. Because that guy doesn't understand himself well enough to explain it but maybe just to write it. Too bad they didn't get that into the movie.

Then there's this long shot of the author in what used to be the French guy's movie that slowly moves down the narrow hallway, like in that movie Serpico, which is about the good cop that gets treated very badly. Or was it Taxi Driver, which is about the bad guy who gets treated like a hero? Anyway, there's something incredibly ominous at the end of that hall, and colors that change just often enough to remind you it's really happening but never seem to match anything you'd find in real life. Like it's supposed to be hyper-real, except that hyper-real isn't real. The shot seems to go on forever. Maybe it does go on forever. You could get a couple of fingers shot off while you're going down that hall. You could get horribly beaten. Disfigured for life. You could lose a part of yourself almost immediately. You could sit there for a while in a pool of your own blood. You could do a lot of things that create even more tension, including deny tension exists, but one thing you can't do is stop. This story isn't a story about stopping. It's not that kind of story. It's not in that genre, which doesn't really work very well anyway. It's not even the story of that story about stopping, which could end right here if the story could make you feel you knew why. But it doesn't end here. You don't get to die in this one. You don't get to answer your questions. You only get to stop paying attention because the story lets you.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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