Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Wrote This Tonight. Not Sure What To Do With It.


It’s just all too easy to forget for Phil. Once you learn more about him, you’ll see why this is surprising.
He stands in his livingroom, staring at the wall. He wants to do something today but he can’t for the life of him remember the thing that had been bopping through his mind all morning. It had been bopping through his mind as he went for a run on his treadmill, hopped around and around as he ate breakfast and took a shower. As he sat down on the bed and got dressed, it just escaped him, left him like a businessman leaves his lover-on-the-side in the middle of the night.
And this is where we meet him, Phillip James Dean Fox, sitting on his bed, one sock on, the other in his hand. Phil’s mind is searching, trying desperately to recapture the thing that had been so easy not five minutes prior. He lets his mind wander, and suddenly it begins to hone in on things on the street. Stray thoughts, stranger’s feelings, hopes and fears and worries all come rushing in. 
For instance, the old woman sitting outside his second-floor window is currently depressed that more and more clumps of her hair are falling out, so she wraps it in a bandanna. Phil takes a moment, looks into her future and sees a doctor giving her suggestions for hair growth formula. She’ll take three different kinds before one actually works. He thinks for her, nudges her. Buy some Regrown, it’s a hair loss product. It will work.
More waves of information come at him, and he bats most of them off. He sees through the eyes of people he’ll never actually see, but no one has discovered what it was that had him preoccupied all morning. 
Suddenly, he looks–with his own eyes–onto the floor, where a newspaper lays. The big headline shouts “GIRL TAKEN FROM HOME” and all at once he is reminded. He slides his second sock on, and pushes his feet into his shoes. He leaves his apartment, turning off all the lights with a simple thought.
He has decided that where he’s going is too risky a place to bring his car, so he flags down a cab. He flags it down not with a wave or a look, but a mental promise made to an unlucky cab driver: This guy tips 200%. The yellow taxi almost takes out a jogger in its struggle to get to the sidewalk. It pulls up and Phil gets in. In a few moments, the driver will think This guy doesn’t have to pay me and although his mind will offer no rationale or reasoning when coming to this decision he will decide it nonetheless. This decision will be unquestioned until the driver gets an angry call from his boss later that night, but Phil makes sure that the boss’ ultimate decision will be to keep the driver employed. The driver’s name is Robert Sufft, he has three kids and is divorced, Phil knows this despite the fact he hasn’t said one word to the driver the entire time they’ve been driving. The driver knows exactly where Phil wants to go without being told, because he was told, just without words. If anyone were to ask Robert about it he wouldn’t remember the man, the ride, or anything else about these precious thirty-three minutes the two have spent together. 
Robert gets out in a neighborhood in a small suburb outside of Boston, and immediately feels discontent flowing overhead like electricity. The woman who lives next door is terrified for her own daughter, and is currently on the phone with a security system company. Ahh, how easy it is to consider such a thing now, after you’ve seen horror in action, Phil thinks, and inside her house the woman considers this for a second and thinks back Better now than never to no one in particular. Phil laughs. I’d probably do the same thing too. The woman does not find this amusing, and at no point does she even consider that the interrogator is anything else but her own self-conscious.
Across the street behind him, Phil is listening to an angry man yell at his wife while their two boys play out of earshot in the yard. “This goddamn neighborhood isn’t safe! Let me buy a fucking gun!” he screams, slamming the table, “Why the fuck are you hesitating like this? Do you want our boys to be kidnaped like Steve’s kid across the street? Do you want to go through that?”
The wife (her name is Merita–strange name, but Phil likes it) buckles against the wall and throws her face in her hands, crying. Phil takes a moment, and looks into the future. He sees the father purchasing the gun, hiding it away in a shoebox in their dress closet, he sees it sitting forgotten for a good seven months. Finally, Phil sees an inquisitive boy (Spencer–he’s older by two years, he is only eleven but he’s already figured out how to masturbate and he dreams about kissing Peggy in his class) reaching into the box and finding it. He sees Spence (that’s what everyone calls him, Spence) take it out and aim it at his younger brother (Danny Jr.) and pull the trigger. He sees the aftermath, the crying, the screaming, the divorce proceedings, he sees Danny (the currently screaming father) attempting to shoot himself with the exact same gun, but he dismisses it. He takes the image of Spence shooting Danny Jr. and plants it in Merita’s (Phil still loves that name for absolutely no reason at all) brain. Merita begins to get upset about it, she sees it so vividly! Phil tells her Don’t waver, and don’t let him bully you into agreeing to get it. Merita makes up her mind, stops crying, and stands up, ready to combat her husband. 
Phil could have tried to implant the thought in Danny Senior’s head, but mind-messing with people in the middle of a passionate rage is dangerous. Sometimes it results in Phil getting a good dose of SHUT THE FUCK UP WHO TOLD YOU TO SPEAK YOU DUMB ASS FAGGOT BITCH FUCK and other profane rants that usually leave Phil with a twenty four hour-long headache. Sometimes the rage proves contagious and Phil finds himself in a terrible mood all day. Either way, it’s better to fuel someone else with an equally passionate rage and watch them duke it out from the safety of his mind’s eye.
All this has happened, but Phil only stepped out of the cab a minute ago. He is walking up the driveway, hopping over yellow POLICE LINE: DO NOT CROSS tape and entering the house. About thirteen different people witness this but will have no recollection of it later. Phil walks into the house and admires the nice furniture, waiting for the full story to hit him. He gets it in fragments like a bad radio signal; he sees a girl, he sees a window being broken, he knows the kidnapper’s name is Travis and that Travis knows the family. He knows the girl’s name is Emily and that she is terrified but inquisitive, he can’t yet see how Travis knows the family and he can’t see Travis’ face for some reason. 
It’s like on crime shows when they blur out the face of a person for one reason or another. Phil tries and tries to locate the man’s face but all he gets is the face of the comedian he saw on TV last night, Louie something. Ugly guy with bright orange hair and a gigantic bald spot, hates kids. His mind has copied and pasted the comedian’s face onto Travis’. It’s a problem that develops, Phil can barely control it. When he can’t get the whole picture his mind will fill in the blanks when things that seem to fit. One time he witnessed his deceased father raping a woman, and he laid awake staring at the ceiling for a week after.
Phil moves from the livingroom down towards the girl’s bedroom. He starts to get the picture clearly; Travis CK is actually Travis Collins, and works with Steven, Emily’s father. Travis isn’t an amateur at this, he knows that immediately. He can feel the thoughts Travis left in the house walls, he can see over three dozen struggling, terrified children, all dying the same exact way.
Emily is one of these children, Phil knows that as soon as he enters her room. He knows that she died exactly five hours and fourteen minutes ago, he doesn’t know how or where. He looks at the broken window, and he sees Travis’ real face for the first time. He sees
SMASH! Travis enters the room almost supernaturally fast. Despite the fake limp he uses at work, he is in top physical condition and climbs through easily.
Emily wakes up, screaming, but Travis is immediately there to silence her. He holds the cloth over her face and watches her pass out.
Phil is standing there, in her doorway, watching it all happen. Like always, he tries to intervene, but his Advantage is useless in past situations. He can only observe the past, not mettle. 
He knows that Travis has wanted Emily since meeting her, which was two years prior. Travis has been planning this one for nine months, this is the first time he has been so bold as to steal the child of someone he knows. Usually he grabs them at the mall or stalks a random family for a week. He became obsessed with forensics at a young age, and uses his knowledge as his own Advantage. No one will know he was there.
And the best part? He’ll get to see Steve’s pathetic face when he finally returns to work after weeks off as he at first searches frantically for his daughter and then copes with her loss. But Travis doesn’t give a shit, Steve deserves it. Steve, who delegates all his responsibilities down the line. Steve, who seems hell-bent on promoting every other fucking person besides Travis. Steve, who called Travis “Pervis” after he caught Travis whacking it in the company bathroom. The worst part? He didn’t even fire Travis, just kept him around. A year of snickers and whispers from his coworkers, a year of PERVIS being written on sticky notes and left anonymously at his cubicle, it was even scratched into the side of his car! Steve will never have another happy moment again in his pathetic fucking life, but life from here-on out will be pretty sweet for Travis.
Phil sees him pick up the girl and scamper out the window. Phil sees Travis move slowly when he’s at work and hesitate a lot, but now Travis is moving with precision and grace. He gets her out the window and bolts for the car, clearing the front yard in record time. 
He drives her to his favorite spot and
-all that he needs to see.

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