<HONEA EXPRESS: Madness, Bubblegum and What It is I Do

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Madness, Bubblegum and What It is I Do

For years people have been asking me what it is I do. The easy answer is what I don't do: Windows.

I'm a Mac.

Everything else? I'm on it.

Years ago I was fortunate enough to have a story published in a new magazine called Diagram. That same year the story was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. It didn't win, but nominated, honor, all that.

Over the past two years my partner at Limey/Yank Productions and I have been adapting the story into a screenplay. We've had some extremely favorable responses to it (and it's not even done). It's all networking.

At some point in the conversation about what it is that I do I find myself explaining this story. I try to tell people how it is narrated by someone of questionable morals, judgment and overall lack of trustworthiness. People assume it is based on me. It is not.

It is based on fiction. And to a lesser extent, me.

See, that's the lack of trustworthiness that I was talking about.

If you are so inclined, here is the intro from the story. For the record, the movie will be totally different.

If you are not so inclined then this post is pretty much over for you.

From Madness and Bubblegum:

I was seventeen the first time I saw a man die. It was Mrs. Banana's husband. Her name of course wasn't Mrs. Banana, but something else that I could never remember. It wasn't the same as her husband's, which was Franklin, Dr. Franklin, the dead guy. No, she was more independent than that and had kept her own name, or maybe she just made one up. I don't know really. So I called her Mrs. Banana due to her favorite outfit that she would wear at least twice a week. It was all yellow; cowboy hat, boots, belt, and jumpsuit. At first I thought it hilarious, then I started to think it rather sad, but by the time her husband died I just accepted it as the defining attribute of Mrs. Banana.

Of course she had other things, I guess you would call them quirks, that set her apart. She always wore a Walkman. It was red and white with a yellow cord that blended away on jumpsuit day. One day she came up behind me when I was talking to a guest and put the headphones on me. It was a tape of whales singing, or maybe they were screaming. I don't know really. That was what she listened to at all times, whales, not fish or waves, or foreign drumbeats, just whales. I told one of the other bellboys, Todd, about it and he said that I should call her Shamu instead of Mrs. Banana, so I tried, but it wasn't the same.

Now before I go any further on the nuances of Mrs. Banana let me say that she is not an important part of this story. She just happened to be married to Dr. Franklin, who was the first person I ever saw die, and since I know nothing of him I described her instead. It's all relative. I suppose that could make her a very important part of this story. I don't know really.

I should also tell you that my name is Lyle, this may or not be important to the story, but it is important to me. When Dr. Franklin died I was a bellboy at the nicest resort and golf club in Arizona. Now I am an ex-bellboy, recently fired from the nicest resort and golf club in Arizona. The resort and golf club is actually two entities, which of course are the resort, which is just a fancy hotel, and the golf club, which is just a fancy golf course, or maybe it is a fancy club, I don't know really. The point is that we had to deal with two types of people: rich hotel guests, and rich club members. Actually that's one type of person, rich. I should say that we dealt with two types of people, those we did know, and those that we didn't. Everybody knew Dr. Franklin.

I should say that Dr. Franklin knew everybody. I didn't know anything about him except that he was a plastic surgeon and his wife had a face as tight as a fist. Some said that he had actually created his wife out of plastic. Dr. Franklin on the other hand knew everything about me. He knew that I was a college man, that I enjoyed tennis and cricket, that I had lost my virginity to a whore in Mexico, and that my name was Larry. None of these things were true of course, but Dr. Franklin knew them, and he knew them about me. He knew similar things about Todd too.

The best Dr. Franklin ever looked was at his funeral. His hair was perfect. I don't know how they did it. He always had the worst hair due to the fact that he let his wife cut it. He told me once that there was nothing sexier than having your lover cut your hair. Those were the truest words he ever said to me. Of course when I was young I didn't have a lover, and now that I do I don't have any hair, but damn if it didn't sound nice.

Todd and I were able to go to the funeral by a stroke of luck. The entire resort and golf club staff had been invited to the private ceremony, but seeing as how we were just bellboys we lay pretty low in the pecking order of company fringes. About an hour before the service a guy came in for a job and we told him that he was hired. When we got back later in the day he was still there so I had him talk to the general manager about getting paid for it. The next morning when I got to work he was there again, except this time he was my boss. Seems he really was a college man, although I'm fairly sure he was still a virgin.

We needed a new boss, whose official title is that of concierge, due to the firing of our original one. It seems that he and Mrs. Banana were having an affair. I first became suspicious when the concierge, the first one, came in with the worst haircut that I had ever seen. He was a dandy , that guy, almost queer in fact, and his hair had never been out of place. Actually, I don't know that I ever saw it move at all.

So he comes in with this terrible haircut, which can happen to the best of us, but he was happy. I had never seen someone with such bad hair be so full of happiness, except Don King, but he's rich. Of course I would be that happy now if I had any hair, bad cut or not, but that's different. Anyway, the concierge, Franz, comes in and asks me what I think about whales. I told him that they had lovely voices, causing him to just stare at me in wonder. That was when I put it all together. He was in love with Mrs. Banana.

When I told Todd he said that he had known it all along. He said that the summer prior he had caught Franz masturbating in the pool-house while Mrs. Banana lay out in her yellow bikini. She had a great body, still does in fact. Franz begged Todd not to tell, and he didn't, which explained why Todd hadn't worked a bad shift in months. The thing was that Todd was positive that Mrs. Banana could see Franz the whole time as she lay there sipping piƱa coladas and listing to whales.

It had never occurred to me that she was the cheating type, but apparently she was. Shortly after the haircut word spread through the resort and golf club, and before long it got to the doctor.

Now remember, all of this happened in one day, starting with the haircut and ending with a possessed Dr. Franklin coming through the door. He confronted Franz, who cowered into near disappearance as only a concierge can do. This was not good enough for Dr. Franklin who decided to take the situation up a notch by grabbing the computer monitor off of the desk and hoisting it over his head while yelling at Franz and stumbling over its cord for balance. Before anyone knew what was happening he caught his foot on the edge of the lobby fountain and fell back into it with the monitor in his lap.

They say that he was electrocuted at the exact same time that his skull cracked against the marble statue of a golf ball that sat atop the water. They say he died instantly, but it looked like it took a long time to me.

It was that day, the day that he died, that Mrs. Banana became Mrs. Black. She started wearing it all the time, not just once or twice a week like the jumpsuit, but every day. Even her Walkman was black now. So I never referred to her as Mrs. Banana again, or Shamu for that matter. The funny thing is that Mrs. Black is her real name. I think they call that irony, but I don't know really.

I also don't know why I started with this story, other than I just wanted you to be aware that I know things about death and madness.

The entire story can be found at Diagram and soon in a theater near you.

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