Journal #43 (in which said man runs out of people, finds himself alone)

Brian is gone.

[…]

Brian is gone.

[…]

Brian left, came back, but Brian is gone again.

[…]

I don’t know where Brian is.

[…]

Brian is gone.

[…]

If my memory has served me, and I’m not sure it has, Tommy still owes Brian one more letter.

[…]

Though Tommy never leaves my side, our little “van mansion,” it’s clear he lives in his own world. There’s always been a disconnect between us, a divide too wide to cross, but now it’s widening.

[…]

It’s a matter of story, I think. We live in different stories. I remember he’s a man on the run and his story is consumed by crime and the avenging of what happened to Brian back then. It’s easy to forget this, how his view of reality must be colored by this. This other color is in his eyes.

Sometimes our stories bleed together, his coloring mine and mine coloring his, but the colors never mix. My story isn’t his story. His story isn’t my story.

[…]

With Brian gone most of the time, Tommy becomes consumed with the fourth letter. Maybe if he finishes the fourth letter, Tommy thinks, Brian will stop disappearing.

[…]

I’ve seen the list posted on the ceiling of the DREAD NAUTILUS, right above the corner where he sleeps. On the list are three names crossed out, and one that is not—

“No Last Name Danny”

Tommy is trying to find Danny.

And this Danny has no last name.

He makes phone calls, he scours the internet, he rips through phone books from states away (how did he get these???), he doesn’t sleep. Maps cover the mattress, the tapestries, the ceiling — cities crossed out, cities circled and crossed out again. If I crawl to his side of the “van mansion,” he ignores me. If I linger too long, he gives me a look. Gone is the sympathy he had for me. Gone is the place behind his eyes. Suddenly getting Brian back takes priority over helping me find Annie.

[…]

It stings for him too, I realize, Brian leaving. It’s hurting Tommy too.

[…]

[Meanwhile,] Annie is nowhere to be found.

[…]

While Tommy searches for No Last Name Danny, I search for Annie. But there’s nothing. I’ve changed locations on Tinder, every godforsaken place in LA and surrounding, widened my search radius to its limit. I’ve tried Hollywood. Nothing. Studio City. Nothing. Pasadena. Nada.

Glendale Santa Monica Inglewood Burbank El Monte Beverly Hills Culver City Hawthorne Huntington Park South Gate Whittier Hacienda Heights.

Nothing, nothing, etc. Nothing.

[…]

What if I missed her? What if she changed her name? Her hair? Her nose? But I’ve been looking for her eyes! Just her eyes!

[…]

No, I couldn’t have missed her.

[…]

But what if I missed her?

[…]

Pooping is no longer a problem. I haven’t been eating. I’m not sure Tommy’s been eating either.

[…]

A cop taps on our window, tells us to move on. We say, yes, officer, absolutely, officer. His radio crackles, he tells us he’ll be back, we better not be here when he is, then he’s gone. We move our “van mansion” one parking lot row closer to the 24-Hour Fitness.

[…]

At night the vagrants come out. Gunshots echo from the East. The low dark mountains.

[…]

The cop doesn’t come back.

[…]

Tommy crawls to my side of the van. Through the opening I see his maps folded up, everything tucked away. His eyes look calmer, but steeled for something. He asks how I’m doing. I tell him I’m okay. He sits next to me and takes out his phone. He’s on Tinder and once again looking for Annie. But I can see his eyes, he’s not really looking.

[…]

[Later] I hear the shredding buzz of clippers, smell burnt hair flying next door.

[…]

[Later] I hear Tommy snoring.

[…]

Tommy is gone. He left during the night. A breeze sweeps in through the open side door to let me know it’s just me now. The planks lie on the parking lot pavement where the DREAD NAUTILUS had been. I close the door and lie down and think.

[…]

Nothing to do. Flipping through older notebooks. Come across a quote from Fitzgerald. Wrote down page 72, though not sure from what book. “…one is not waiting for the fade-out of a single sorrow, but rather being an unwilling witness of an execution, the disintegration of one’s own personality…

Good. Use this somewhere?

[…]

Annie watches me write. In a nearby cafe across the street from the university. It’s a screenplay I’ve agreed will be for her. It’s called Suicide Blonde, about a woman who picks up suicidal men at a suicide hotline, her own dating service for lonely, desperate, sensitive men. I will not sell the screenplay unless Annie’s attached as the lead. I’ll only write for her. In turn, all her acting will be for me. She’ll perform only my words, my work. We need each other, we tell each other.

[…]

LA was always where she was heading, but she never needed me to go to LA. I’m the one who needed her.

[…]

If Tommy had redirected the energy and resources he used in finding “No Last Name Danny” into finding Annie, we would have found Annie a long time ago.

[…]

I won’t find her cooped up in this van. I won’t find her in Orange, on Tinder, Passport location set to LA. No, if I’m to find her, I have to go into LA.

[…]

Nighttime. Brian knocks on the window. At first I think it’s the cop again, but seeing it’s Brian I let him in. He flops on the mattress and says nothing about Tommy’s disappearance. He says nothing about anything. He doesn’t want to look at me.

“Where have you been going?” I ask him.

He takes a breath, his eyes roll up as if to find the answer there. “I’m trying to help you.”

“How?”

“Just know I’m trying to help you.”

He’s trying to convince himself, not me.

“If you want to help me, then help me. Come with me to LA tomorrow. Help me find Annie.”

Brian doesn’t say anything. He closes his eyes. At first I think he’s asleep — he’s not moving — but his breathing isn’t sleep breathing.

“Why are we here then?” I ask him. “Isn’t this why you took me here? To find her?”

“Here was beside the point,” he says. “I just couldn’t leave you there.”

“Thanks.”

“Do you really think Annie will save you?”

“She’s the only way to end this.”

“Only you can end this.”

“I’ve tried to end this. I was going to end this and then you came back, took me here, and stopped any possibility of ending it myself.”

“But—” he sighs. “You must see that’s why I had to take you here.”

“Well, we’re here. So what the hell. What’s the big next—”

“SHE’S NOT IN LA!” he shouts at me.

“How do you know?”

“Because she doesn’t exist.”

“What do you mean? Of course she—”

“That’s not what I meant — sorry — but she’s not the person you think she is, I’m sure of it. She’ll destroy you.”

“Maybe I need to be destroyed.”

He sits up, buries his eyes in his hands.

“I don’t know.”

“Are you coming tomorrow or not?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then I don’t know what we’re doing here. What you’re doing here.”

“I don’t know either.”

[…]

Brian is gone.

[…]

I start the car just as the sun rises.

[…]

I will find Annie today.

[…]

Traffic is slow. Sky a bluish gray, but at least you can see it. A good omen, seeing the sky. I will find Annie today.

[…]

LA skyline approaches. Gray stacks against gray.

[…]

One hand on wheel. The other on Tinder. Tinder set to “current location.”

[…]

Horizon, gone. Sun, gone. Stuck in the shadow of high buildings. Traffic at a standstill.

[…]

Haven’t moved in 25 minutes.

[…]

An hour. I can see where I was an hour ago.

[…]

The sun moves faster than this.

[…]

Looking around, I realize, I don’t know this place. I don’t feel anything toward this place. Keep eyes peeled for a familiar exit.

[…]

There is no familiar exit.

[…]

I don’t know this place.

[…]

Traffic moving again, steady. Must get off Tinder. Must put down notebook.

[…]

The unthinkable. The skyline south of me now. Pulled off on the side of I-5, Tinder tells me — “There’s no one new around you. Use Passport to choose a new location.

[…]

In LA?

[…]

I choose a new location. Every location imaginable, in LA and surrounding. Tinder tells me the same thing — “There’s no one new around you. Use Passport to choose a new location.”

[…]

My van shakes at the passing of cars heading for the northern mountains. I look back toward the city.

I don’t know this place.

I don’t like this place, but it’s only a place. I don’t know it.

I see that now.

[…]

My profile picture pulses on the screen. There is no one new around you.

[…]

I shouldn’t be here.

[…]

“…an unwilling witness of an execution…”

[…]

I need to leave.

[…]

“…the disintegration of one’s own personality…”

[…]

I look to the mountains. I could go home. This road, the straight road, would take me there.

[…]

I drive north only to take the first exit, turn around, and drive south.

[…]

None of us should be here. This place was meant to be a desert.

[…]

I’ve looked everywhere for [Brian]. I’ve waited in the parking lot, I’ve driven around the still fading streets, I’ve called [his] phone but it goes straight to voicemail.

I feel sick.

I need to write all this down.

There’s a park here, nudged up against the 22. I’ve pulled into the park drive and stopped. I need to write all this down.

[…]

“Why did you drop out of college?” people used to ask me.

“I hated LA.”

[…]

“Why did you stop screenwriting?” people used to ask me.

“I hated LA.”

[…]

And I’ve internalized the lie.

Because LA never had anything to do with me.

LA never wanted me.

No, I don’t hate LA.

[…]

But I fear it. It represents everything I couldn’t be.

[…]

I feel sick.

[…]

I need to write this all down. But I can’t see it. My thoughts are gone. The crack is wide open, but I’ve never felt more [sane?]. The delusions recede, the visions and voices recede — yes, this is what it feels like to be “an unwilling witness to an execution, the disintegration of one’s own personality” — leaving me alone in this world. My head is a vacuum. I hear only the scraping of the pen on paper, forcing out thoughts that aren’t even mine.

I need to write this all down. To get it back? No. Everything is too far away, my [interior?] has escaped the crack leaving me with nothing. I feel so terribly “sane” that I’m afraid I’ll forget what this feels like, if I ever lose it again, I want to remember how this feels.

I need to write this down. “Sanity” is the real loss, everything is surface, the real losing of things. I need to remember this. If I ever lose it again, stay down there, stay lost because then at least you won’t feel this [illegible—

The last half of this sentence is a rough scrawl. You could see his eyes drifting, catching something outside of himself as he wrote this, which incidentally became the last thing he wrote. You can make out an “L” but the rest is impossible. I’ve gone over it I don’t know how many times. I can’t make it out.

He saw something. After what he saw it’s hard to believe he’d care to write much of anything again. He put the notebook down, where it slid to the place between the seats, face down across the floor, the open pages bent and stained with dirt where he left off.]

📓

join Brian next week for journal #44 (in which Brian takes over)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s