He wasn't, I realized when I read those scenes concerning Blair and myself, close to any of us-- except of course to Blair, and really not even to her. He was simply someone who floated through our lives and didn't seem to care how flatly he perceived everyone or that he'd shared our secret failures with the world, showcasing the youthful indifference, the gleaming nihilism, glamorizing the horror of it all. But there was no point in being angry with him.
The audience-- the book's actual cast-- quickly realized what had happened. The reason the movie dropped everything that made the novel real was because there was no way the parents who ran the studio would ever expose their children in the same black light the book did. The movie was begging for our sympathy whereas the book didn't give a shit. And attitudes about drugs and sex had shifted quickly from 1985 to 1987 (and a regime change at the studio didn't help) so the source material-- surprisingly conservative despite its surface immorality-- had to be reshaped.
At Columbus Circle, a juggler wearing a trench cloak and top hat, who is usually at this location afternoons and who calls himself Stretch Man, performs in front of a small, uninterested crowd; though I smell prey, and he seems worthy of my wrath, I move on in search of a less dorky target. Though if he’d been a mime, odds are he’d already be dead.
But the thing I remember most about the screening in October twenty years ago was the moment Julian grasped my hand that had gone numb on the armrest separating our seats. He did this because in the book Julian Wells lived but in the movie's new scenario he had to die. He had to be punished for all of his sins. That's what the movie demanded. (Later, as a screenwriter, I learned it's what all movies demanded.) When this scene occurred, in the last ten minutes, Julian looked at me in the darkness, stunned. "I died," he whispered. "They killed me off." I waited a bit before sighing, "But you're still here." Julian turned back to the screen and soon the movie ended, the credits rolling over the palm trees as I (improbably) take Blair back to my college while Roy Orbison wails a song about how life fades away.
... Because the writer resented that she had turned to me I became the handsome and dazed narrator, incapable of love or kindness. That's how I became the damaged party boy who wandered through the wreckage, blood streaming from his nose, asking questions that never required answers. That's how I became the boy who never understood how anything worked. That's how I became the boy who wouldn't save a friend. That's how I became the boy who couldn't love the girl.
Do you know what Ed Gein said about women?"
"'When I see a pretty girl walking down the street I think two things. One part of me wants to take her out and talk to her and be real nice and sweet and treat her right.'" I stop finish my J&B in one swallow.
"What does the other part of him think?" Hamlin asks tentatively.
"What her head would look like on a stick
She said that you--"
"I don't care what she said." I stand up. "Everyone lies."
"Hey," he says softly. "It's just a code."
"No. Everyone lies." I stub the cigarette out.
"It's just another language you have to learn." Then he delicately adds, "I think you need some coffee, dude." Pause. "Why are you so angry?
I want to stay," and then, more weakly, "Need some more sun."
A fly from a batch of seaweed lands on a white, bony thigh. She doesn't slap at it. It doesn't go away.
"But there's no sun, dude." I tell her.
I start to walk away. So what, I mutter under my breath. When she wants to come in, she will. Imagine a blind person dreaming. I head back up toward the house. Wonder if Griffin will stick around, if Mona made reservations for dinner, if Spin will call back. "I know what the word dead means," I whisper to myself as softly as I can because it sounds like an omen.
What you need is a chick from Camden,' Van Patten says, after recovering from McDermott's statement.
Oh great,' I say. 'Some chick who thinks it's okay to fuck her brother.'
Yeah, but they think AIDS is a new band from England,' Price points out.
Where's dinner?' Van Patten asks, absently studying the question scrawled on his napkin. 'Where the fuck are we going?'
It's really funny that girls think guys are concerned with that, with diseases and stuff,' Van Patten says, shaking his head.
I'm not gonna wear a fucking condom,' McDermott announces.
I have read this article I've Xeroxed,' Van Patten says, 'and it says our chances of catching that are like zero zero zero zero point half a decimal percentage or something, and this no matter what kind of scumbag, slutbucket, horndog chick we end up boffing.'
The reassuring smile was now useless. I was plastic. Everything was veiled. Objectivity, facts, hard information--these were things only in the outline stage. There was nothing tying anything together yet, so the mind built up a defense, and the evidence was restructured, and that was what I tried to do on that morning--to restructure the evidence so it made sense--and that is what I failed at.
It's basically a joke."
"I think it's cool," Julian says. "It's all about control, right?" He considers something. "It's not a joke. You should take it seriously. I mean, you're also one of the producers--"
I cut him off. "Why have you been tracking this?"
"It's a big deal and--"
"Julian, it's a movie," I say. "Why have you been tracking this? It's just another movie."
"Maybe for you."
"What does that mean?"
"Maybe for others it's something else," Julian says. "Something more meaningful."
"I get where you're coming from, but there's a vampire in it.