Forget About Love: A novella in twenty-four parts
by jeffrey s carter
Author’s Note: For a quick refresher, please read Parts 1-4, contained in Issue 31, February 2005:
Part Five: The All-Knowing, Unblinking Eye of the World
The turn of the key brings “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies to life through the Porsche’s audio system, from which I deduce that Franklin was the last person behind the wheel, but I could be wrong. Besides her penchant for casual sex with near strangers and her acting ability, I know little about Andrea Silvers. She may also have a thing for hits from the 70s. Who am I to say?
I choose to leave the song playing, as it couples nicely with thoughts of the contours of Naomi Darling’s face, and lends a certain irony to the proceedings that I can appreciate.
The Porsche handles like a feral go-cart. On corners, I take the opportunity to practice my heel-and-toe downshift, a technique I learned from Gavin Earl, once one of the best up-and-coming racecar drivers in the world, now a well-respected advisor on things automotive to the film industry. You may recognize his name as being associated with accidents, as he holds the record for most crashes ever. His greatest hits are a staple of all those “caught on camera” shows on television. Though I have seen the clips often, I am still amazed at how Gavin emerges unscathed every time, a veritable Lazarus, smoke rising from his helmet as he waves to the crowd.
He is a stand up guy, and continues to drive like a certifiable maniac in regular life. Once, I joined him for coffee, and to this day I will swear in court that he was trying to kill us both. He threw the car into corners with such verve that it seemed the street itself was pulled from the curb, as if in a cartoon.
We became fast friends there in the shadow of the grim reaper. I can probably count him as one of the few people I can genuinely abide, and must remember to call him later and see if he is available for this new project.
* * * *
“It’s not what she said, it’s the way she said it,” comes Jeanine’s disembodied voice as I enter the front door. A caucus of other voices joins in, and as I round the foyer, I’m greeted with a usual sight, a gathering of Jeanine’s hangers-on.
A rag-tag assortment of cultural vultures, some mildly talented, all of whom love each other’s work in a kind of self-supporting elitist circle jerk. Here we’ve got the new media artist, the hip writer who writes exclusively about the new media artist for the city’s most well funded ‘underground scene’ magazine, the actor who only knows about the new media artist exclusively through the hip writer, the DJ who performs at the new media artist’s shows (not exclusively), his girlfriend who runs a reasonably popular national Web site for DJs, and so on and so on until it’s impossible to find an unconnected soul, a person who’s not jacked into this matrix. And my cousin Jeanine, a young director with too much money and too much time on her hands, laying in the lap of Brad, he of the cymbals, with a cigarette in her hand and her hair cropped anew.
The shift in hairstyles indicates she is getting ready to do a movie, a private decision rendered as a public announcement. It gives me pause because it is typically preceded by a borderline psychotic phase of crying, writing, screaming, impromptu workshops, and at least one trip to the emergency room for hyperventilation and/or panic attacks.
“Oh, there’s Jason,” she says, and the group turns to give me a group smile-not-smile-waves-not-waves. “Jason,” she continues, “tell them what that twat at the Lyndon wrote about me.”
“Mostly that she didn’t particularly care for your style, if I remember,” I say off-handedly as I move through the space. The Lyndon, named after the technically brilliant but sleep-inducing Kubrick film, is an industry magazine so full of itself that you have to send in an application before you can subscribe at $120 a year for a whopping two issues. The moniker is apropos, but everyone sends themselves into a tizzy over every word published within its lavish pages. The twat Jeanine is referring to is Washley A. Vender, who spent an entire month basically sponging off Jeanine and enjoying the perks that came with being within her inner circle before returning to her posh office at the Lyndon and penning nearly 3,000 words about Jeanine’s inability to make a decent film.
Jeanine appears incredulous, lifting herself from Brad’s lap to fix me with a glare. “My style? Are you kidding me? Jason, what?”
I continue to drift past. I am fully conscious that I have made a grievous error in treating her question with indifference, especially in front of her feeder fish, but I am burdened with purpose, and shielded by genuine disinterest.
“How did you get here, anyway?” she says, expertly flicking an ash into a tray almost a foot away from her position. “You were supposed to call me to pick you up. Did you take the bus? You don’t have a car.”
This elicits a jitter from one of the fish.
“Your father lent me the Porsche,” I say, almost to the other end of the room. As I am enveloped by the safety of the hallway, I let another one fly, despite feeling that I should just let it go.
“He and Andrea say ‘hi’, by the way.”
Silence for a moment as I quickly retire to my wing of the house, full of purpose. The chatting begins again as I ease the door shut.
I fling open the windows, clear my desk with a wipe of my forearm, and open the notebook that Jeanine gave me this morning. I tear out the first page with its cryptic note, leaving a blank slate. I light a cigarette. I remove a cold beer from its nesting place in the mini fridge. I find a pen. I take a seat. I take a drink.
I hesitate for a moment, my pen hovering just above the page. There is something just behind me, something that doesn’t even want me to begin. Something that will measure every word against every other word that has ever been written, in the hopes to dash me against the rocks. I know what it is. It is an old friend, the worst of enemies, and a necessary evil.
It is the all-knowing, unblinking eye of the world. And it is watching me.