Monday, October 18, 2004

Pyscho Killer 

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

In the low budget independent road movie “A Free Man In Preston” (byline - “Witless in Massachusetts”) , the part of Tim is played by Johnny Depp, chosen for his soulful good looks and irritating tendency towards earnestness. Girlfriend is played by Sarah Beeny, the sexy cool property development babe, as smart as she is curvy, revealing hidden depths as a navigator par excellence.

Tim, who is wearing nothing at all except a saucy smile, opens the curtains to discover grey skies. He switches his camera onto Muted Melancholia mode, photographing the causeway again. After filling their faces with bagels for an hour or so, pausing only to snap a lady in a hat looking longingly to sea, they hit the road.

It rains and rains. Today is their big driving day, two hundred and fifty miles, or something like it. On a British motorway, this would be no big deal. Somehow it takes much longer here. The miles chug slowly by. There’s nothing on the radio but country ‘n’ eighties, so they listen to Keane and Elbow and Starsailor. Sounding real good guys, real lonesome.

They pull off the highway and follow a sign promising food. Eventually they reach a small town - it’s nothing special - a high school, a few houses, a Benny’s Tyres on one side of the road and a Wendy’s on the other. It’s full of real Americans, tough looking guys, men who drive trucks and have done their share of heartbreakin’. The women look friendly enough, but life is wearing them down by degrees.
“I don’t know Betty, Tuesdays make me feel so sour.”
“Me too, Wilma. I hear Billybob was out drinkin’ all night.”
“I swear I’ll kill that woman one day, Betty. So help me God, but I’m gonna take my rifle and tell that cheatin’ no good... Yes sir. What can I fetch you?”

Tim is glad to be here, in an “here‘s some authentic America for the tourists” kind of way.
There’s nothing vegetarian on the menu so Tim orders fries. Betty and Wilma behind the counter don’t understand, and there’s a small commotion.
“Nothing else?” they ask, looking at him like he was a deviant.
An old guy with a five o’clock shadow and one mean eye looks to go for his pistol - you looking for trouble, Punk? I gotta whole mess of trouble right here - but actually he’s just headed for the bathroom.

There’s a long wait because Harold is stuck in there. Harold is one hundred years old today and not as light on his feet as he used to be. “You OK Harold? Do you want me to get the key? Can you hear me Harold? Shoot, Harold! There’s folks waiting out here.”

Girlfriend has the spicey chicken burger which later disagrees with her. No it doesn’t. Yes it does.

If nobody has ever sung about the Massachusetts Turnpike in the rain, the huge silver trucks throwing up spray like monsters from the deep, the murky grey trees ominous in the background, full of bad secrets you don‘t want to know, then somebody ought to. They keep on driving, and so does the rain.

In Lenox Tim steps out of the car to ask a shop assistant for directions. It’s a small town, but she’s never heard of their hotel. They ask in the post office - they ought to know - but the question just seems to make them nervous. The whole town breathes a sigh of relief as Tim and Girlfriend head out on the main drag, then head back in again looking confused (sharp inhale), then out again (cautious exhale).

They find the world’s creepiest hotel two miles out of town on a steep curve on Out-a-here Highway.
It looks like it was built in the sixties for the swinging New York set, but nobody here goes back that far, or cares to.
The swimming pool , covered for the winter, gives off an air of high school horror flick. Chipmonks prowl the grounds. There’s nobody else alive - they’re the only ones left - and there’s no bar.

They drive three miles to the nearest restaurant. It’s a Mexican food franchise, and despite the empty rain soaked streets, the atmosphere inside is warm and convivial. The waitress smiles at them sympathetically.
“You’re the English guys staying at the motel?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” and she hurries off screen, dabbing her eyes with a hanky, holding back mournful sobs.

They are hungry and travel weary. While they wait for their fajitas, Tim gloomily takes pictures of telegraph wires.

Camera fades to black.

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