Monday, November 17, 2003

Red is the Color of My True Love's Hair (and Blood) or Spewy Bill

"Shake It! Shake it like a Polaroid picture!/Now all Beyonce's and Lucy Liu's and Baby Dolls get on the floor/You know what to do! "

Once upon a dozen years ago, on a particular spooky Halloween morning, Satchel Uhgohrafobik was awoken by his ringing phone. BRRRRRing! Given the early hour Satchel sensed who was on the other end even before he picked it up, since the list of people who would think of calling him at the early hour was short. Indeed the small voice on the calling end belonged to Buckee Sailes who despite the quiet tone she used to greet Satchel with this morning was assuredly not timid.

Satchel carefully listened to Buckee's voice, more the tone than the words- he loved the melody of her voice- and soon found himself glancing past his cat Mouska out the window of a tiny efficiency to the pure white swirling snow that blanketed everything within sight (and most things out of sight as well). Even though he knew who was calling Satchel was still surprised that it was Buckee's voice on the phone seeing they hadn't spoken in weeks since hitting a snag in their relationship. Their silence had rang throughout the office they both worked in and now to hear her voice again, trying to be kind, reaching out, seemed as surreal and out of place as the coat of snow that hid everything outside to such an extent that even the ever placid Mouska looked concerned.

"I can't get my car out of the garage," Buckee said referring to the foot of snow that had fallen overnight. "Can you give me a ride?" To pick her up he had to go backwards- in the opposite direction from work. He felt he owed her nothing, he was angry and hurt and knew she was disappointed in him for all the usual reasons. "Sure, I'll be there in twenty minutes," he said without hesitation.

The drive down the road to her apartment was slick and treacherous and Satchel knew if he stopped moving he'd get stuck. He saw others stranded by the side of the road, their vehicles facing in odd directions. They made it to work a few minutes late. In an office of 84 people, they were two of five that had braved the conditions and showed up. The day passed by in a blur as the snow continued to fall in a record amount. The drive home was slightly less hazardous but still rather slow as the plows tried to keep up with the thirty-one inches that was to fall. The silence in the robin blue Honda Accord seemed equal parts trying to concentrate on the road conditions and trying to figure out the relationship conditions.

"Bless the Lord," Buckee said out of nowhere. They continued on until they finally arrived at her home. She gathered up her stuff and wrapped her scarf more tightly around her neck. Satchel sensed he had to say something. "Say" he said. "Why did you Bless the Lord?" She looked at him puzzled. "Back there, you said, 'bless the Lord.'" Buckee let out a giggle when she finally figured out what he was talking about. "I didn't say 'bless the Lord,'" she said. "I said, 'bus alert.' I was warning you about that bus pulling out."

In all the years (and other stuff) long since passed, buried and smothered, Satchel had only smiled three times. The first was sitting through Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction during the scene when the John Travolta character (assassin) is quibbling with his partner played by Samuel L. Jackson and during a bumpy car ride a gun accidentally goes off and kills the occupant of the back seat causing quite the mess. It's unexpected, terribly violent and a great example at the randomness that can permeate life. The second time was the first time Satchel heard Outkast's "Hey Ya," an exhilarating song that seems like blissful Technicolor compared with the other music currently available that seemed black and white.

And the final smile time was while Satchel was sitting through Tarantino's most recent movie, Kill Bill Vol. 1 when Uma Thurman wills her roman toe to move. Kill Bill is to movies what "Hey Ya" is to music, Satchel thought to himself as he found himself cringing at the wall to wall bloody violence at the same time as he found himself smiling at Tarantino's obvious love of movie-making. Sure the movie was guilty of being all about style over substance and compared to one of Satchel's other all time favorite movies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill's weaknesses became all the more apparent like self inflicted character flaws. Yet Satchel couldn't help but think how Thurman had always reminded him of Buckee, something about her melodic speech pattern and killer smile. One of the running jokes of the movie was that the viewer never knows the name of the character Thurman plays (whenever it is uttered it is bleeped out). But Satchel knew she had to be named Buckee. He saw first hand what happened if Buckee were to get pissed off (does anyone really need to see Lucy Liu scalped?). And the final scene, so Japanese, with snow poetically falling in a difficult situation was memory resurrection defined.

Sixty-seven percent of 12 years of smiles in a matter of weeks- perhaps Satchel had turned a corner (or a page) after all. He remembered one of his final times with Buckee when he picked her up after she had been shopping and bought a wicker chest. "I like your chest," he said to her innocently. She laughed her wonderful laugh.

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