Friday, June 21, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday!

by Dylan White

     He looked at the body laying next to him, wondering what he had done.
     He couldn’t remember much from the night before.  He had no idea where he was or how he got there.  Or who this lifeless woman was in bed with him, her pretty blue eyes staring dead ahead.
     Panic set in.
He considered just getting the hell out of there.  Then he realized there might be witnesses.  Not to her actual murder, but certainly other people saw them leave the bar together.  And it was possible a neighbor or two saw them come back to her apartment.  But he was the last one to see her alive.  And the first one to find her dead.  He would be the prime suspect.  No, the best course of action would be to call the --
     She snored and shifted in her sleep.
     She’s alive! he thought to himself excitedly. She just ... slept with her eyes open.  Ew.  That’s almost creepier than her being dead.  Almost.
He dropped back on the bed, relieved.  She snored again and rolled over, kicking off the sheets.  She was naked and so was he.  Now he just wished he could remember sleeping with her.  That, and her name.
It was going to be really awkward when she woke.  She would probably remember his name and he’d just be drawing a blank.  He didn’t want to look like that much of an asshole.
     Again, he thought about bailing.  But that would make him look like an even bigger asshole.  Not like they ever had to see each other again.  Given how hot he thought she was, however, he definitely wanted to see her again.  So he had to figure out her name before she woke.
     Carefully, he slipped out from under the sheets and searched for his clothes.  They were strewn about the room.  It must have been one wild night.  Maybe I took pictures, he hoped.  But he couldn’t find his phone.  Or his pants.
     His head throbbed as he pulled on his shirt and underwear.  There had to be something laying around that would at least give him a clue.  Searching the room, he found her phone.  Her name has to be in there, he thought.  Scrolling through her contacts, he realized what a dumb idea that was.  Who puts their own name in their own phone?
     Then it occurred to him that maybe they exchanged phone numbers the night before.  All he had to do was find his name and call his own phone.  Her name would pop up on his caller ID.  Brilliant!  And he’d find his phone.
     Luckily, he did find his number and pressed ‘call.’
     His phone rang in the other room.  What it was doing out there, he had no idea, but he hurried to get it before the sound woke her up.  He also didn’t want her to hear that his ringtone was “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears.
     His great idea didn’t pan out.  He dug his phone out of the pocket of his pants, which were thrown over her TV.  Her picture appeared on his phone display -- a picture he must have taken at the bar -- but no name.  Unless her name was “Unknown.”  And that wasn’t likely.
     Looking around, he found some of her mail.  But her name probably wasn’t “Resident” either.  She didn’t even have any magazines or anything identifying her.  Then he discovered her purse.
     He hesitated a second before going through it.  There wasn’t a good explanation as to why he was rummaging through her purse if she woke up and caught him doing it.  But when he heard her stirring in the bedroom, he didn’t see another option.  Fishing for her license, he came up short.  So he dumped the contents on the kitchen table.
     All of her crap clattered loudly and he sorted through it quickly.  He figured he’d just tell her he knocked it over.  Finally, he found her ID.  He stared at it for a second -- she even looked good in her driver license picture.  Turned out, she was older than he thought she was.  He didn’t care.  Most importantly, though, he got her name.
     It was such a simple name, he couldn’t believe he forgot it.  He returned to the bedroom, hoping to slip back in bed with her for just a little while longer.
     The gunshot was deafening.  It was the last thing he heard before the bullet went through his brain.  He was dead before he hit the floor.
     She held the gun on him a moment longer, making sure he was dead.  Her heart pounded in her chest and her hands shook as the adrenaline coursed through her body.
     When she woke up alone, she didn’t remember when or how she got home.  She had so much to drink the night before, the whole thing was a blur.  All she knew was she could hear an intruder in her apartment, rooting through her things.  Someone must have broken in, she thought.  So she fumbled under her bed and pulled out her pistol, ready for when he came for her.  She gasped when she recognized his face.
     She looked at the body laying next to her, wondering what she had done.

© 2013 Dylan White

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Indiana Jones Anniversary

Today is another significant movie anniversary for me.  On June 12, 1981, Paramount Pictures released Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I was 11 when Raiders came out.  Indiana Jones had to be one of the coolest movie heroes I'd ever seen.  I'll go so far as to say he is one of the most iconic movie heroes of all time.  That's not a stretch, really, is it.  Like any other eleven-year-old boy, I wanted to be Indiana Jones.  At the time, it was mostly because all the action provided a lot of play-fodder.  Yeah, I had a fedora and a make-shift whip and I ran around the neighborhood pretending to punch out Nazis.  I hoped one day I would even get to be in a movie like Raiders.  But that's a story for another time.  As I got older, I learned to appreciate other aspects of the movie.  There were the historical and religious tie-ins, Indy's intelligence, and the throwback to the old movie serials of the 1930s.

Then I started to appreciate just how great the screenplay was/is for that movie.  I often use it as a template for a good screenplay.  Not that I've written a particularly good screenplay myself, but at least I have a guide.  Part of what makes the screenplay so great is its homage to the 1930s adventure serials.  Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan said that he wanted some sort of cliffhanger-type of event every five pages, just like in the serials.  And he delivered.  The screenplay is formula, yes, but it's formula that works!  Kasdan establishes Indy's character and the tone of the movie with the opening set piece in South America and then in Indy's classroom.  Then he introduces the instigating action and goes on to tell you everything that's going to happen in the movie!  All you have to do it sit back and enjoy.  And I enjoy it every single time.  Of the four Indiana Jones movies, this one is by far the best IMHO.

Speaking of the four Indiana Jones movies, I will have another "One Too Many" about them in a future post.  So subscribe and check back.  Or follow me on Twitter.  All the cool kids are doing it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Ferris!

On June 11, 1986, Paramount Pictures released Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  It is considered to be one of the most iconic movies of the 80s.  And for good reason.

John Hughes was the king of high school movies back in the day.  From Sixteen Candles to Pretty in Pink to the Breakfast Club and even to Some Kind of Wonderful, Hughes managed to capture our teen years in such a way that just about everyone could relate -- if you were a teen or had ever been a teen.  But Ferris stands out as just slightly better than the rest, in my opinion.  Here's why ...

Most teen movies (now called YA -- especially if they have shiny vampires or some dystopian element) rely too heavily on the stereotypes.  It's ironic because a lesson in most teen movies is to be yourself and not worry about the stereotypes.  But they all have the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, the weirdo, and on and on.  There usually isn't much actual character development.  The Breakfast Club had nothing but stereotypes -- but it worked so well because all of the characters understood why they were stereotypes as Brian writes in his letter to Vernon on behalf of the group, "You see us as you want to see us."

Ferris is fantastic because Ferris is his own man.  He doesn't fit in to any group or clique.  Actually, he fits in to all of them.  As Rooney's secretary Grace describes, "He's very popular, Ed.  The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads -- they all adore him.  They think he's a righteous dude."

Ferris was a righteous dude.  He was nice to everyone.  Even the supporting characters, the ones who only have a couple of lines, they all know him and love him.  They way they talk about him shows that they consider Ferris a friend.  That was huge for me.  I don't understand why that wouldn't be huge for anyone.  It's so easy.  You want people to like you?  Just be a good guy, a righteous dude.  I think that's why Rooney couldn't stand him.  He was the ant-Ferris.  Bizarro-Ferris.  He was all about the rules and structure and he didn't care if anyone liked him.  I don't think Rooney disliked Ferris because of his blatant disregard for the rules. I think Rooney resented Ferris precisely because Ferris was a well-liked free-spirit and Rooney wasn't.

His friends didn't really fit in to cliques either.  Maybe Cameron was the geek and Sloane was the popular cheerleader chick.  But the cliques cross-bred.  Just like they do in real life.  It wasn't about cliques.  It was about characters.  And Ferris was cool because he wasn't wrapped up in labels.  He liked people for who they were.  He wasn't one thing.  He was every thing.  I mean, the guy went to a baseball game and a museum on the same day!

I won't say I idolized Ferris.  But I will admit, I wanted to be Ferris.  At least, my version of Ferris.  In some ways, I think I succeeded.  In other ways, I still aspire to be like that guy.  Someone who savors life and enjoys every moment.  The tag line, I think, is misleading.  Ferris wasn't about leisure and doing nothing.  He was about enjoying everything life had to offer.  And then sharing that joy with others.

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


Friday, June 7, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday!

Seven Minutes
by Dylan White

     Jason had never been so nervous in his life.
     He watched anxiously as the bottle spun, hoping it would point to Penny.  But just like it had the past two spins, Jason found himself having to kiss Kim Carson.  Jason didn’t like Kim.  No one really liked Kim, actually, and no one was really sure how she got invited to Penny’s fourteenth birthday party in the first place.
     Penny’s plan to only invite a few select people backfired when Kim overheard her ask Jason to the party.  Butting in where she didn’t belong was one of the things that bothered people most about Kim.  To make sure Kim didn’t tell anyone else about the party, Penny reluctantly invited her, provided she swore to keep it a secret.
     Normally, Kim loved to share secrets.  She thought it made her seem like she was popular and knew things.  It was yet another trait people hated about her.  But this time, she didn’t say a word.  Being let in on a secret, especially one from Penny, was a big deal to her.
     When the bottle pointed to Kim for the third time, Jason knew he didn’t just have to kiss Kim.  He had to spend “Seven Minutes in Heaven” with her -- seven minutes alone in a dark closet together to presumably make out ... and more.  But Seven Minutes in Heaven with Kim seemed more like an eternity in Hell.
     Everyone “Oooo’d” and started chanting, “Ja-son!  Ja-son!  Ja-son!” as he stood up from the circle and headed to the coat closet with Kim.  The two crammed themselves in the tiny space and shut the door.  The few jackets in the closet had already been shoved to one side when Brandon and Skylar spent their seven minutes.  Jason shuddered to think what they did and that he had to do it with Kim.
     Jason thought the darkness might make it easier.  He could just imagine Kim was Penny.  Jason felt around, found her face, and kissed her.
     But Kim pushed him away.
     “You don’t have to do this,” she said.  “I know you don’t like me.”
     “I like you,” Jason insisted, somewhat convincingly.
     “I’ve heard the way you talk about me,” Kim continued.  “None of you like me.”
     Jason felt guilty, knowing she was right.  But her statement begged a question.
     “Then why are you here?”
     “I don’t have any friends,” Kim admitted.  “And I wanted to feel like I did for a night.”
     The silence between them was more awkward than the time his autocorrect sent a text to his mother saying he wanted “french kisses” with dinner instead of “french fries.”
     “I’m sorry,” Jason finally apologized.  He almost didn’t, but he figured he’d look like an even bigger douche if he spent the next six minutes without saying anything.
     “I don’t get it,” Kim complained.  “I’m really nice.  Why doesn’t anybody like me?”
     Jason sighed.  He couldn’t believe the responsibility had fallen on him to tell her.  So with brutal honesty, Jason told her about her annoying habits, including how she managed to get herself invited to Penny’s party.
     It was a major reality check for Kim.  She didn’t realize just how poor her social skills were.  Jason comforted her as she started to cry and offered to help her actually make friends with everyone at the party.
     Kim was thrilled and thanked him.  Feeling magnanimous, Jason took his offer to hook her up with the “in crowd” a little further.
     “We have another four minutes,” he said suggestively.  “You want to ... you know?”
     “No, thanks,” Kim refused warily.
    “No, thanks?” Jason repeated, stunned.  He couldn’t understand why a girl like Kim Carson would turn down the opportunity to make out with him.
     “You’re not that good of a kisser,” she said not-so-delicately.
     “Not that good of a -- ?”
     “You don’t have to repeat everything I say to you,” Kim interrupted.  “I’m sorry, but I had to kiss you twice out there and, to be honest, I was expecting more.”
     “What were you expecting?” Jason asked.
    “You press too hard,” she said.  “It’s like kissing a brick.  With a tongue.  Oh, my God, your tongue.”
     “You like it?” Jason asked, thinking he had to have at least one marketable skill.
     “You’re, like, whipping me with it, like the queen’s tail in Aliens.”
     Jason had never seen that movie, but he knew it wasn’t good.  Her description, not the movie.  If he saw it, he’d know the movie was awesome.
     “You’ve got to do it more like this,” Kim said.
     She took Jason’s face in her hands and gently pulled him close to her.  She softly placed her lips on his and kissed him tenderly.  Jason instinctively went into Aliens mode, but Kim gave him a light slap on the cheek to make him stop.  He gave in and let Kim take the lead.
     They spent the next three minutes kissing deeply and slowly.  Her tongue slid between their lips and she caressed his tongue with hers.  Jason caught on quickly and returned the gesture with a much more tender approach.  Their arms enveloped each other.  Jason felt a chill run down his right side and the blood rush from his brain.
     Finally, Kim released him and wiped the little bit of spit from her lower lip.
     “Much better,” she said.
     “Where did you learn to kiss like that?” Jason asked, dreamily slurring his speech.
     “Sleep-away camp last summer,” she said.  “We played ‘Seven Minutes’ a lot after lights out.”
     Just then someone banged on the door, telling them time was up.  Kim opened the door, anxious to return to the party and implement Jason’s advice.
     Jason, on the other hand, didn’t want to leave the closet.  He found himself wishing he could spend another seven minutes with Kim.  That, and he needed to calm down a little before facing his friends.

© 2013 Dylan White

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