The experiment continues…

For new readers, I am going through old notebooks and posting old writings, some as old as 15 years.

Why?

I don’t recall…I am sure it seemed like a good reason at the time, and now I am just trying to follow through.

The piece below is a poem I wrote when I was 19 and in first year university.

Posting poetry is especially hard, since, like many I am not comfortable with it.

I spent a few years experimenting. Much more while I was in school, since I was reading a lot of it.

I continue to read poetry as I come across it, but haven’t written anything in over ten years. I never produced anything I was particularly proud of.

The poem below was inspired by a man I saw everyday on the Toronto subway. He was always there, no matter the day or time. I decided that, that was how he spent his day, just continually going around the loop, like a modern day hobo riding the rails.

Here it is, for better or worse in its original form, unedited.

Oh, and slightly unrelated, my favorite poem: T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I still believe the line “Do I dare to eat a peach?”. Is one of the best lines I have ever read, for its simple imagery and complex meaning.

Now speaking of inadequacy….On to my poem…


The Circulation of the Dead

 

The wanderer

drifting the streets,

never going forward,

hacking and smoking,

asking for more.

 

He scratches where the hair used to be.

Same jacket for eight years;

Shoes for twelve.

The yellow coat balances;

the shoes are the streets.

 

He is everywhere, looking.

For pity.

The pity they gave to the guy at 7/11.

Sorry, fresh out.

He’ll try again tomorrow.

 

He keeps circling by,

a never ending trip,

smoking his poisoned lungs.

There is no help,

he is already dead.

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bruce-willis-20050704-51840

Alright, here it goes….

Last post, I said I was going through old notebooks and as an exercise, I was going to publish my finding, no matter how frightening or humiliating. Until I started copying the post below, I don’t think I understood how hard this would be.

It would be only right to start at the beginning. I was given my first notebook at 17, that was fifteen years ago. The following in the first thing I wrote in that notebook. It is a screenplay. Which is odd for a number of reasons. One, I had never wrote a screenplay before. More importantly, I had never read one before, so the format is mostly guess work.

At the time, I thought myself to be an aspiring filmmaker. I soon learned that just because you like movies, doesn’t mean you should make them….I didn’t even finish my film school application. I opted for an English/Creative writing major instead. As I befriended film majors, and helped on their films, I realized I made a wise choice.

This particular screenplay was inspired by a running joke between my high school girlfriend and I. Some how I believed that joke could carry through an entire story….I was 17.

It is very hard to refrain from editing. Very hard. However, editing would defeat the purpose (whatever the purpose may be).

A lot of things bother me. I discount the bad writing and dialogue, I wasn’t surprised by that.

I didn’t like the way I wrote the female character, but maybe it is how a teenager would write a female (not that, that makes it right). I guess I wasn’t the most enlightened teenager. Or maybe it was because I knew the person it was based on, and she wasn’t like that. She was funnier, stronger and probably wouldn’t have tolerated the main character half as long.

Of all the insults throughout, the one or two utterances of the word ‘retard’ stood out. I wanted to remove them, but I wanted to keep it authentic. I wouldn’t use it today, and I doubt I could have justified it’s use 15 years ago, but I used it nonetheless.

I do find it funny how dated certain scenarios are. Remember when you find our characters on the side of the road this is pre-cell phone, at least cell phones in common use.

More importantly, I predicted Die Hard 4.

With that in mind, enjoy and forgive me.

Scene 1:


Scene opens with camera focused on TV. Movie Hudson Hawk is playing on TV. Camera stays on TV for several seconds. Camera pans around to find Jason siting in lazy-boy opposite TV. Jason is wearing white tank-top and boxer shorts. He is completely lost in movie, the look in his eyes shows that he is completely involved. There is a voice-over of Lauren speaking, camera stays on Jason.

Lauren (voiceover):

It has become an obsession. It seems to be all he cares about. I know it is all he can talk about. Everything is Bruce this, and Bruce that…

Scene 2:


Camera cuts to Lauren sitting in a room in a different house. Two of her friends are with her. She continues talking where the voice over left off.

Lauren:

…I just can’t believe Jason is being like this…Argghh…He is supposed to be in a relationship with me, not with Bruce Willis!

Friend #1 :

Ok Lauren, don’t take this the wrong way, but I think Jason is fuckin’ nuts!

Friend #2 laughs.

Lauren: Hey watch it, he is still my boyfriend. He’s not nuts, he’s just a little confused, that’s all.

Friend #1:

Lauren honey, you’re kidding yourself, that kid has lost his fuckin’ mind!!

Lauren starts to get upset. Friend #2 moves over to comfort her.

Friend #2:

Hey, Lauren…Look don’t listen to her. Look, what you really need to do is go talk to Jason. Tell him how you feel. I’m sure he will understand.

Lauren wipes her eyes.

Lauren:

You’re right…thanks. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just go over there now and talk to him, tell him how I feel, yeah, and then everything will be find. Yeah…yeah thanks a lot.

Lauren gets up to leave, camera follows her, then moves back to the two friends.

Friend #1:

You know…She is losing it too.

Friend #2:

Hey, leave her alone, she’s in love.

Friend #1: Yeah. In love with a fucking psycho.

Camera fades to black.


Scene 3

Camera is back on Jason’s TV. Now the movie playing is Die Hard. Camera pans up above the TV, there are stairs. Lauren comes down the stairs into the room Jason is in. She moves beside him. Jason does not look at her he stays involved in the movie.

Lauren:

Hi…sorry to…uh…just to stop by like this but…uh..i think we need to talk.

Jason ignores her, she knees beside the chair.

Lauren:

Well actually I need to talk. You need to listen…Could you please listen to me?

Lauren becomes frustrated that Jason stills ignore her. She gets up and moves in front of the TV, blocking his view. The causes Jason to make his first move, as he strains to see around her, but to no avail. He begins to get angry.

Jason (angrily) :

Could you please move away from the TV…Please!

Lauren stands firm.

Lauren:

No! Not until you listen to me!

Jason (yelling):

Get the fuck out of the way…Please!!!

Jason throws some crumpled up garbage he had at Lauren. Lauren, startled and a little upset moves and goes to sit on the couch on the other side of the room, she sobs quietly. Jason ignores this and is again emerged in the movie. The camera stays on Jason and fades to black. Camera fades back in and it is the final moments of Die Hard, the credits on the TV start. Camera pans around to Jason, who is calm now. He turns the TV off with the remote control. He turns to face Lauren, who is still sobbing.

Jason:

Ok, so…you had something you wanted to say?

Lauren (confused):

What?

Jason:

There was something you wanted to say, what was it?

Lauren (angry):

You have some nerve you know that?

Jason:

What the hell are you talking about?

Lauren:

You know something? You are fucking crazy!

Jason (raises voice):

Hey! Don’t you ever call me crazy, ok?!

Lauren becomes emotional.

Lauren:

What is going on with you?

Jason gets up and goes and sits with Lauren. He puts his arm around her, consoling her.

Jason:

Nothing. Looking, I’m sorry for yelling at you. I think we have been neglecting each other too much lately. I think I know what would make us both feel better. Why don’t we go to my bedroom and….well you know what i mean.

Lauren looks at Jason, first confused, then angry.

Lauren:

What? Are you joking?

Jason:

No, why? What’s wrong with that?

Lauren:

Well, nothing. But just now doesn’t seem like the right time. Like, why would we wan—…oh…oh!…Oh my god!

Jason:

What?!

Lauren:

You are sick!

Jason:

What?! What are you talking about?

Lauren:

Every time you watch a Bruce Willis movie, you want to have sex right after!

Jason:

No! That has nothing to do with it!

Lauren stands up, rather disgusted.

Lauren:

You’re lying…uhh…I gotta get out of here. I think I’m going to be sick.

Lauren starts to leave.

Jason:

No Lauren, wait! Where are you going? Don’t go.

Lauren:

I just can’t deal with you right now!

Lauren runs out, Jason stands up.

Jason:

Lauren…wait…

Jason sits back down on the couch, he grabs a book on the table and leans back.

Jason (laughs):

And she says I’m crazy.

Jason pulls the book to his face. The book is a Bruce Willis biography. The camera zooms in on Bruce’s face on the book cover. Fade to black.


Scene 4

Camera fades into a school yard. Lauren is sitting alone on a swing. She is obviously upset. Jason comes up from behind her and grabs the swing next to her. Jason is still in a tank top and boxers.

Jason:

I thought I would find you here….Mind if I swing with ya?

Jason gets no response, Lauren doesn’t even look at him. Jason sits on the swing.

Jason:

We uh…Were not cool, are we?

Lauren, crying, barely tilts her head to look at Jason.

Lauren (angry / crying):

No Jason, we’re not fucking cool!

Jason:

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Lauren:

Gee…What tipped you off, was it the yelling, or the crying?

Jason:

Alright, you made your point. So, talk to me. What’s wrong?

Lauren:

Oh, now you want to talk, eh? Now that Bruce isn’t around?!

Jason:

What is that supposed to mean?

Lauren:

Jason face it already, you are obsessed with Bruce Willis. You care about him more than you care about me.

Jason (frustrated):

You know that’s not true.

Lauren:

Oh isn’t it? Think about it. The only time we really talk is when your talking about Bruce. The only thing we ever do is watch hi movies, and the only time you want to have sex is after we watch those movies….At first I didn’t really pay attention to it, but the longer this relationship goes on, I’m realizing that your not in love with me…Your in love with Bruce Willis.

Jason is stunned and almost speechless.

Jason:

No. No….no that’s not —

Lauren:

Jason. Think about it for a sec. For once, listen to me. You have an undeniable, unhealthy attraction to Bruce Willis.

Jason becomes flustered.

Jason:

But…but, I’m not gay. You know that…Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Lauren:

Of course not. And I know you are not gay. But for you I think it’s more than that. You seem to have some profound feelings for him. You have to come to terms with it. I can’t explain it, you have to figure it out for yourself.

Jason becomes very upset. Lauren tries to comfort him.

Jason (emotional):

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I’m feeling…Arggh..I’m so confused…So what does this mean for us?

Lauren:

I don’t know honey. You know how I feel about you. You have to go figure out how you feel.

Jason nods in agreement. They stare at eachother. Camera zooms in on them, and then fades to black.


Scene 5

Camera fades into Jason walking down the street. Camera is in front of Jason and follows him as he walks. Jason is obviously still very emotional. After walking for a while he stops and sits on some steps outside a building. He buries his head in his hands and starts to cry. Jason sits there for a while, then wipes his eyes, stands up and walks away. Jason walks a short distance to his house and enters. He goes to his room, opens a dresser drawer and pulls out a bottle of whiskey. He sits down and pours himself a tall glass. He downs the glass and does this several more times.


Scene 6

Camera fades back in to find Jason sprawled out on his floor, the bottle now empty. He is motionless. There is a knock at the door. Lauren’s voice comes through the door.

Lauren:

Jason?….Jason, are you awake?

The door opens, Lauren comes in. She looks down with a shocked look on her face.

Lauren:

Oh my god! Jason!

She jumps down beside him, shaking him. Trying to get him up.

Lauren:

What did you do to yourself?

She manages to wake him up. He is very groggy.

Jason:

Uhhhh…what the fuck…what the fuck are you doing?

Lauren:

What the fuck am I doing? What the fuck are you doing? What the fuck is this?

She waves the empty bottle in front of him.

Lauren:

What are you trying to do, kill yourself? This isn’t going to help matters.

Jason:

Oh just leave me alone will you. You told me to go looking for answers, well I did. And I didn’t find shit. Now I’m more confused then when I started. At least before I didn’t know I had a problem. You’re the one—

Lauren:

—Hey! Don’t blame me for you being fucked up.

Jason stands up and slowly finds a chair.

Jason:

Well you’re the one that brought all these problems to my attention. I was perfectly happy just living out of my basement, watching Bruce Willis movies, and fucking you after.

Lauren looks as if she is about to cry.

Jason:

So apparently these things are a problem, and thanks for sharing that piece of fucking information with me. Now I’m depressed. Yeah I went out and got shitfaced, just because I needed to get away from all this crap for a while.

Lauren:

Please stop yelling at me.

Jason stands over top of Lauren.

Jason (yelling):

I wasn’t fucking yelling at you! I was fucking talking to you! Now I am fucking yelling at you! Can you see the fucking difference.

Lauren is not crying heavily.

Jason:

Fuck!

Jason sits back down, and now he also begins to cry.

Jason:

I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.

Lauren gets up, wipes her tears and puts her arm around him.

Lauren:

Jason you need some help, and I’m going to help you get it. It’s ok. I forgive you.

Jason:

I can’t go to a shrink.

Lauren:

You need help.

Jason:

No. No I know what I need.

Lauren:

What?

Jason:

I need to see him.

Lauren:

What are you talking about?

Jason:

I need to go meet this man.I need to talk to him. It’s the only way I will know.

Jason stands. Looks determined.

Jason:

I need to find Bruce Willis.

Fade to black.


Scene 7

Cut to Jason and Lauren in the driveway. Jason is throwing luggage in the car. Lauren is frantic.

Lauren:

What the fuck are you doing?

Jason:

Packing.

Lauren:

Packing for what?

Jason:

My trip.

Lauren:

Oh, your not not serious about this stupid quest to find Bruce Willis are you?

Jason:

Yes. Yes I am.

Lauren:

Now I know you are crazy.

Jason:

No, for the first time it all makes sense. I know what I have to do.

Lauren:

You’ve lost your mind. What do you think you’re going to do just walk up to Bruce Willis and say, “hi my name is Jason, by the way, I love you”. What the fuck are you thinking?

Jason ignores her and continues packing. Jason gets in the car and reverses down the driveway and into the street. He stops, rolls down the window.

Jason:

Well…Are you coming or not?

Lauren just stands there for a minute. She shrugs her shoulders and runs and jumps in the passengers side. They drive off down the road. Fade to black.


Scene 8

Cut to inside of car. Camera is in backseat, panning back and forth between them as they talk.

Lauren:

You know this is definitely the craziest thing you have ever done.

Jason:

Crazier than the time we were in Montreal and pretended we were hobos and begged for change while we sang the blues?

Lauren: Oh yeah, way crazier.

They laugh.

Lauren:

Oh shit!

Jason:

What?

Lauren:

I don’t have any clothes, or even a toothbrush.

Jason:

Well, neither do I.

Lauren:

What is in all those bags back there then?

Jason:

Bruce Willis movies.

Lauren:

What? We don’t even have a VCR.

Jason:

I know, I just like having them close to me.

Lauren:

Whatever. But without clean clothes, we will stink.

Jason:

Well, we’ll stink together.

Lauren: Agreed! You know, this trip might not be so bad after all.

They smile and hold hands. Fade to black.


Scene 9

Cut to the outside of a convenience store. The car pulls up. They both get out, Lauren slams her door and is yelling

Lauren:

You fucking psycho!

Jason:

Calm down.

Lauren:

I will not calm down! We are not even out of town yet, and you are already driving me crazy! For Christ sakes, we can still see your house!

Lauren motions to Jason’s house, which is not far in the distance.

Jason:

I’m sorry, ok. Let me go into the store and get some candy. Then we can get back in the car and start over.

Lauren:

Agreed!

Jason goes into the store, Lauren gets back in the car. A moment later he reappears with a bag, gets int he car and drives away. The camera follows the car in the distance. Fade to black.


Scene 10

Cut to car parked on side of the road. It is early morning. The door is flung open. Jason crawls out, stretching. Lauren follows.

Lauren:

I don’t know how much longer I can deal with this.

Jason:

 I know. Don’t worry, we are half way there.

Lauren:

Halfway where?….Where are we going?

Jason:

To LA.

Lauren:

LA? Oh Bruce Willis is there now?

Jason:

I assume. He is a movie star right?

Lauren:

You assume? You assume? We are driving across two fucking countries on your fucking assumption?!

Jason:

Uh, yeah. I guess.

Lauren, very angry, begins to attack Jason frantically. Eventually knocking him to the ground, she continues to beat him.

Lauren:

You guess?! You fucking guess?! You better do better than fucking guess!

Jason tries to restrain her.

Jason:

Calm down….I’m sorry.

Lauren collapses on Jason sobbing.

Lauren:

This is insane. What am I doing.

Jason:

Let’s go get some waffles.

Jason helps her up and into the car. He gets in and they drive away. Fade to black.


Scene 11

Camera fades into the car. Jason is driving. They are playing a game.

Jason:

Last Boy Scout.

Lauren:

Trainspotting.

Jason:

Hmm…Get Shorty.

Lauren:

Uh..Young Guns.

Jason:

Star Wars….A New Hope.

Lauren:

Encino Man.

Jason:

No. I don’t think so.

Lauren:

Why not?

Jason:

Because the category is movies that don’t suck.

Lauren:

Then why does Encino Man suck?

Jason:

Paulie Shore…And Brendan Fraser are in it.

Lauren:

Right…sorry.

Jason:

It’s ok. I’m sick of this game anyway.

Lauren:

So, how far do we have to go?

Jason:

Don’t ask me, your the navigator.

Lauren:

Says who?

Jason:

Says me, when I said “Lauren, you’re the navigator.”

Lauren:

Right….

Jason:

Grab the map out the glove box.

Lauren:

Ok.

Lauren opens the glove box, and retrieves the map. 

Lauren:

We are going to LA?

Jason:

Yeah.

Lauren:

And where are we now?

Jason:

Fuck if I know. Look for the little arrow that says ‘you are here’.

Lauren (sarcastic):

Funny.

Fade to black.


Scene 12

The car is parked on the side of the road. Lauren is inside. Jason is looking under the hood.

Lauren:

What’s wrong with it?

Jason:

How should I know?

Lauren:

Well your the big strong man, who can fix anything, aren’t you?

Jason:

Fuck off.

Jason touches something part under the hood.

Jason:

There, try it now.

Lauren tries the engine, nothing happens.

Lauren:

Still nothing.

Jason:

Hold on.

Jason touches something else.

Jason:

How about now?

She tries again.

Lauren:

Nope.

Jason gets mad, and slams the hood.

Jason:

Fuck!….What are we going to do now?

Lauren gets out of the car.

Lauren:

I dunno. I guess, get a tow truck.

Jason:

Yes, I will now use my Jedi mind powers to bring us a tow truck…we’re in the middle of nowhere Lauren!

Lauren:

Don’t yell at mem

Jason:

Well don’t say stupid things.

Jason sits on the hood and ponders the situation.

Jason:

Ok, look. It’s probably only a few miles to the next town. We’ll just walk there, and get help.

Lauren:

A few miles?

Jason:

Yeah, like three tops.

Fade to black.


Scene 13

Six hours later. They are walking, Lauren collapses. 

Lauren:

Jason, we have to stop, we have been walking forever.

Jason:

It’s only been like fifteen or twenty miles —

Lauren (yelling):

You said three! You said three fucking miles!

Jason:

Calm down, it can’t be much further now.

Lauren:

Oh, can’t it? Do you even know where we are?

Jason:

Somewhere in the southern states.

Lauren:

Gee…thanks for pin pointing it.

Jason:

Ok, we will sit and rest for a while.

Lauren:

Thank you.

Jason:

Stick out your thumb and look desperate, maybe we’ll get a ride.

Lauren:

Yeah right.

After a few minutes they sit on the road, with their thumbs out, looking pathetic.

Fade to black.


Scene 14

They are still sitting on the road, cars are driving by, no one is stopping.

Lauren:

Jason, that is like the 100th car that has past.

Jason:

I know, I know. Somebody will stop.

After a few minutes, a car stops. Jason goes up and talk to the driver.

Jason:

Can you tell me how far it is how far to the next town?

Driver:

Do you see that hill just over there?

Jason:

Yeah.

Driver:

It is just on the other side….Come on, get in, I’ll take you.

They both get in the car. Fade to black.


Scene 15

Jason and Lauren get out of the car. The car drives away and leaves them on the sidewalk.

Lauren:

Well I am glad to be out of there.

Jason:

Yeah I know right, I think I had all the Vietnam stories I could take.

Lauren:

Let’s find out where we are.

They approach a local passing by.

Jason:

Hi there, can you tell us how far it is to LA?

Local:

(laughs)

Jason:

What’s so funny?

Local:

You know LA is on the west coast right?

Jason:

Well, yeah.

Local:

And right now you are on the east coast.

Lauren & Jason:

What?!

Local:

Yeah, so I would say a few thousand miles.

The local laughs and walks away. Jason and Lauren are left stunned and angry.

Lauren:

How the fuck did you manage this one?

Jason:

Me?! You were the fucking navigator!

Lauren:

You were the driver!

Jason:

Yes well, obviously I drove, so that took care of my part. Your part was navigation. So how the fuck did you manage this?

Lauren:

I must have been looking at the map wrong…

Jason:

I fucking guess so!

Lauren:

What are we even doing, this is retarded.

Jason:

Retarded? Your the one who made me face this, and realize that I had to do this.

Lauren:

Well, maybe I was wrong

Jason:

You weren’t wrong. Don’t you see? My life has been leading to this.

Lauren:

How pathetic is that. Your life is leading to meeting a two-bit actor?

Jason:

Shut the fuck up right now! I don’t care how upset you are. If you ever refer to Bruce again as a two-bit actor, I will put your fucking teeth down your throat.

Lauren:

Well, that would at least show that you care.

Jason:

What is the supposed to mean?

Lauren:

It means that you care more about a foolish pipe dream than you do about me!

Jason:

It’s not a —

Lauren:

–Stop. Now, this whole trip has been a choice. You choosing between me and Bruce. You can either have someone that you will probably never meet, and doesn’t give a shit about you. All he is, is just a face on a screen. Or..Or you can have me. Someone who is real. Someone who is with you and loves your more than anything, more than I probably should.

Jason:

I can’t…I can’t —

Lauren:

–No. I’m tired of waiting. You decide now.

Jason:

……

Lauren:

Fine if you’re not sure, I can’t do this anymore.

Jason:

But —

Lauren:

No..I’m going to get a room for the night.  And tomorrow I am getting a plane ticket home. You can stay here and chase your dreams if you want, but I don’t want anything to do with you anymore. I can’t be with someone who loves their fantasy with someone more than their reality with me.

Lauren leans toward him and kisses him on the cheek.

Lauren:

Goodbye Jason.

She turns and walks away into the distance.

Jason:

Goodbye Lauren.

Fade to black.


Scene 16

Fade in. Jason wandering the streets. He is obviously upset. A man runs by, hits Jason and causes him to stumble.

Jason:

Whoa. Watch it!

Man:

Sorry man.

Jason:

What’s the hurry anyway?

Man:

Oh, big autograph signing at the theater downtown.

Jason:

Oh yeah, who’s there?

Man:

Who’s there? Haven’t you heard? It’s Bruce Willis dude! He is promoting Die Hard 4!

Jason:

You are fucking kidding me….?

Man:

No bro, it’s the truth, I swear it.

Jason faints. Fade to black


Scene 17

The man is over top of Jason slapping him in the face.

Man:

Hey, wake up?

Jason:

What?…What is going on?

Man:

You ok? Come on, I’m going to miss him.

Jason:

Miss who?

Man:

The Bruce, of course.

Jason:

That’s real! I wasn’t dreaming!?

Man:

No, No..it’s real.

Jason:

Take me to him.

They get up and start to run. They go through a parking lot, and come upon a large line.

Man:

Wow, that is weird luck. You coming to look for him all the way from Canada. Wow, I thought I was obsessed.

Jason:

Big line. Let’s try and make our way to the front.

They cut in line and eventually make their way near the front.

Man:

We’re really close…can you see him…Jason…can you?

Jason:

Oh my god….there he is….This is finally it.

Man:

What are you talking about?

Jason:

What am I going to say…What am I going to do…

Jason remembers. A voice over of Lauren plays.

Lauren (voice over):

…This whole trip has been about choice…you can have someone real, who is with you and loves you….You have to decide.

Jason:

I’m sorry Bruce.

 Jason steps out of line and walks away. 

Man:

Jay, where ya going? Your going to miss him….What’s more important than Bruce?

Fade to black.


Scene 18

Fade into a hotel room door. A hand appears and knocks. The door opens to find Lauren, who begins to smile.

Lauren:

I didn’t know it was raining.

Camera pans around to find Jason, soaking wet and smiling.

Fade to black.

The End.

Written by: Jason Mailhot

I have written stories since I could hold a crayon and string an amusing thought together. 

At 17 I was given a notebook to contain my lunatic rambling, self described profound thoughts, and ideas the usually should be left as such. I have kept one ever since.

I have had many types over the last 15 years. Moleskin was always my favorite. Maybe it was the history of them, which is convienently provided with every books sold. It could have been the elastic holding it all together, or the ribbon marking my most recent transgression. Most importantly it was how it felt in my hands, and how it seemed to make the silliest of ideas seem like something more substantial.

I have saved them all, for reference, or more often if I am feeling the need to be humbled. Most entries are downright embarrassing. 

Ah, youthful exuberance.

I once read that James Joyce was terrible when he first started out. He would then go on to write Ulyesses (Which I still hate, but heard that it did alright).

Reading through these old stories, notes and poems is at times horrifying, sometimes funny, usually insightful and always an interesting window to the past. 

While I thought these old pages would stay buried, thankfully never seeing the light of day. I have recently decided it might be a fun, humbling and cathartic  experience to share some of these tales.

Over the next while I will be posting them here, unedited, full of flaws and misused, well intentioned literary devices.

No one may read them, but at least I can see I wasn’t afraid to throw myself out there at my ignorant worst.

Come back and enjoy. Try to laugh with me. However, I will forgive you if you end up laughing at me.

Thanks for reading.

– Jason 

Follow on twitter – @FredThePeacock

Death was a confusing time for me.

Well, not the actually death part. That came quite naturally. Not naturally in the sense that I died of natural causes. There is nothing natural about falling down basement stairs while carrying a dehumidifier. My foot slipping on a poorly placed screwdriver was definitely human error. Although, the gravitational force that caused my body to fall forward and down allowing my head to smash into said dehumidifier could be considered natural in a sense.

However, the naturality I am referring to was not the violent combination of human error and fundamental physics. After the damage was done, and my head lay on the cool concrete I watched a stream of blood flow past my eye. Shortly thereafter our black cat nonchalantly strolled past, purring contently as he left paw prints in my fresh warm blood. I felt no pain, and thankfully couldn’t smell what the cat was doing an arm’s length away in his litter box.

My eyelids grew heavy and my body grew cold. It suddenly became very easy, or natural if you will. I simply shut my eyes for what would be the final time in my corporal body.

After I shut my eyes the confusion began.

You see, the thing about being dead, is you don’t know your dead. Someone has to tell you. Would you believe someone if they said you were dead? Of course not, that would be insane. So they have to show you.

I saw myself lying on a cold concrete floor, surrounded by bloody cat prints, a dented dehumidifier and a misplaced screwdriver.

At first I thought, maybe I have a concussion, or am dreaming. Though, before I become too complacent I was ripped out of my hopeful hallucinations by a being that was assumingly my hapless guide.

Next, I found myself to be an unwelcome guest at my own funeral.

Family and friends dressed in black filled the pews. On the altar lay my coffin, half open. My guide stood beside me as I scanned the room. Long forgotten friends sat side by side with grieving family. All heads were bowed in mourning and prayer.

I made my way down the aisle, my guide stayed back and none of the guests paid me any mind. I approached the altar to see the unsettling sight of my body lying in a box. In an odd moment of clarity I realized I, or should I say my corpse was wearing a new suit. She must have picked it out.

She was there of course, kneeling in front of my body. She wore a black dress, also new. She was beautiful. She always was. Her hair was pulled back tight; her mascara ran down her cheeks. She sobbed as her chest heaved. I wanted to hold her still. I wanted her to know I was there. I tried to reach out, but I only grasped air. I looked back at my guide, he simply bowed his head.

My job in life had been to hold her when she was sad, to make her smile when she thought she couldn’t, to take away the pain if only just for a moment. It could be as simple as a stupid joke, a silly dance or a fast drive out of town.

Here I was helpless. No jokes, or dances would do. I knelt beside her. She mumbled prayers in between sobs. I prayed with her, but soon found myself whispering apologies in her ear.

There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see an outstretched hand. It was already time to go. I begged and I pleaded to be able to help her, but my guide stayed stoically still. I sighed and took his hand. As I came to my feet I turned back to her and said:

“I love you…I am sorry I failed you.”

I turned and started to walk down the aisle. I was half way down before I noticed I was alone. I looked back to see my guide standing over her. He stayed with her for a moment before joining me. He offered me his hand again and with the slightest of hesitation I took it.

I closed my eyes and could hear children laughing. I opened my eyes and found myself to be at the beach. Children splashed and ran in the sand and waves while parents lounged sleepily in the shade in a scene of familial bliss.

I turned to ask my guide where we were, but was startled by a teenage boy running past. He leapt in the air to catch an incoming football and came crashing down on a sandcastle. Towers were crushed as sand flew in the air.

The sandcastle had been tended to by a young girl, who abruptly burst into tears. The footballer didn’t even acknowledge her presence. He simply dusted off the sand and ran laughing back to his friends. The resilient girl, in a last ditch effort for retribution threw her pail, which bounced meekly off his leg.

I walked over to the girl. She still cried as she manically pushed the sand around. I passed by her pail, and out of extinct I reached down to pick it up. I grabbed it, and stopped. How did I do that?

I let the thought go and walked up to the girl and crouched down beside her. I held out the pail. I half expected her to run away screaming with the sight of her pail floating in midair. She did not. She sniffled, and wiped away her tears. She took the pail from me and looked me right in the eyes and spoke.

“Thank you mister.” She said as her bottom lip quivered.

“You’re welcome.” I replied and smiled.

“That mean boy destroyed my castle!” She yelled. Then continued in a calmer still annoyed tone. “I worked on it all day to get it just like the one in my favorite princess movie, and he ruined it.”

“I saw your castle before he ruined it. It was very pretty.” I held up a second pail that was lying on the ground. “Can I help you fix it?”

She sniffled again, but the tears were gone. She smiled. “We will have to start aaaallllll over.”

“Well we should get to work then.” I immediately filled my pail with sand and dumped it upside down to make a tower. We worked together pushing sand into piles and I carefully sculpted bricks of sand under my new friend’s direction. She was very serious the whole time, and everything had to be perfect. I followed her instructions to a tee. I got so caught in the simplicity and normalcy of our interaction that I forgot my current circumstances.

Much later when we were both adequately covered in sand the girl yelled out: “Done!” She stood and grabbed my pinky finger, pulling me up. “Over here….” She dragged me a few feet away. “We must look from over here.”

“It’s beautiful.” I said.

“It’s even prettier than the last one.” She giggled and jumped up and down, still holding my pinky. “Thanks mister.”

“Well anytime you need some castle repairs, you can call me.”

“Okay.” She giggled more. “Hey Mister?”

“Yes?”

“What’s your name?”

I told her, then ask hers. As soon as she said it I wondered how I didn’t see it earlier.

The eyes, they were the same. The will, the wit, and the fire; it was all there. Yes, it was definitely her.

“What’s wrong?” She asked sweetly.

I could barely speak. “Uh…..nothing….nothing at all sweetie.” I crouched down and looked deep in her eyes.

There she was.

“You just remind of someone.”

“Who?”

“Someone very special to me. Someone I miss very much.” I held back the tears, but a couple slipped out. Without missing a beat she stood up on her tiptoes and wiped away my tears with her little sand covered hand.

“Why are you sad?” she asked and it broke my heart.

“I’m not sad sweetheart. These are happy tears.” I took her hand off my cheek and brushed away the sand. I clasped my other hand around and held her tight. “I am just so happy to have met you.”

I looked over the girls shoulder to see my guide in the distance. “Sweetheart, I think I have to go now. I want you to know that today was the most fun I have ever had, and thank you very much for letting me help you build your sandcastle.”

She started to frown again. “Will you come back and play with me again sometime?”

I smiled. “I promise.”

Her frown turned into a big toothy grin. “Okay, thanks mister!” She gave me a big happy wave, ran back to her castle and started to play. I watched her as tears rolled down my cheeks.

I smiled as his hand fell on my shoulder.

THE END.

Written by :
Jason Mailhot

 

 

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment

I’m 31 years old. By no means do I consider that old. That is until I compared my 31 year old self to my 21 year old self.

This wasn’t an introspective glance into my soul. I didn’t sit cross legged in a room with a beaded doorway, with sounds of babbling brooks over the stereo, incense smoke drifting through the air, while I hummed rhythmically and peered into my soul.

No that wasn’t the case. Nothing that dramatic or dated.

The comparison came as I had a reunion of sorts. The type of reunion where guys get back together with their old buddies and proceed to act as if no time has passed. We seem to forget that we are 10 or 15 years older and we can longer walk through fire or drink with impunity.

I am lucky enough to have a core group of friends. About 7 guys…sometimes 6, who grew up together. Who at one time spent every day and night together. We have been separated by schools, cities, countries, women and fistfights, but somehow always came back together.

You have probably seen the movie.

It gets harder and harder. Now with wives and kids our adventures are limited to once or twice a year. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

This last adventure was a bachelor party. Which should be (or hopefully) the last one.

You probably saw that movie too.

The plan was two days of: camping, drinking, bonfires and paintball.

Or as we should have called it : sore backs, debilitating hangovers, and near death experiences.

I joked on the first night as beers were pounded and the twentieth wooden palate was thrown on the fire, and blaze kissed the sky at, at least 50 feet…”Wow…we really might die…”

The next day as I crawled out of the back of my van (where I slept) hit the ground and rolled over on my back peering up at the blue sky through one eye and blurred vision, I thought : “Wow…I am actually dying.”

Hours later as I ran through the forest with sweat dripping down my face and paintballs whizzing past my head and cracking off my back like stones I realized: “I’m dead and I am in hell.”

The festivities the second night were a tad bit more tame. Gone was the towering fire, and the beers were merely sipped by broken men sunken in their lawn chairs, heads bowed.

Looking around and seeing the equally pained expressions of a day long hangover holding us in a death grip, I thought to myself :

“This is why we have wives. And this is why our wives leave us to our own devices once or twice a year. To remind us why we need them.”

– Jason

Follow @FredThePeacock

You can also check out articles I have written at:

http://www.newsforshoppers.com/journalist/jason-mailhot/

 

I know, I know….I said I would write one of these blogs each week…and well lets just say I haven’t completely fulfilled that commitment. I never knew this parenting thing would take up so much time.

So really if you want to blame someone, blame my daughter. She is 18 months old, what the hell else does she need from me, right? I’m pretty sure I have already taught her everything I know. Everything.

Then there’s my wife….I barely have time to breath after all the things she expects out of me. Things like, showering, eating actual food and even getting out of bed…The nerve.

Of course don’t forget society…Don’t even get me started on those unrealistic expectations!

Anyway, in between all of the hectic demands on my plate I have been able to write a couple things. I started to write some entertainment articles at the site http://www.newsforshoppers.com . They have tons of insightful articles on a range of topics, plus many features with helpful tips for consumers.

Assuming you can pull yourself away from all of life’s insanity, check out my first article here:

http://www.newsforshoppers.com/superheroes-wage-war-dc-vs-marvel-spills-over-into-tv/36726462/

Thanks for the support – Be back soon….Hopefully. Jay Follow – @FredThePeacock

Picture this : I am hard at work on my “husband to-do-list”, aimlessly moving things from one end of the basement to the other, blaring 90s rock in the background and somehow thinking I am making progress. I think to myself, ‘it’s a little damp down here’. My head spins around and I my eyes catch sight of the dehumidifier in the corner. I think to myself, ‘well, my wife is going to ask my anyway’…so I climb over what was once the pool table (now a home to various boxes, tools, and useless man toys). I make my way over the comic long boxes, still hoping my wife doesn’t really know how many are down here. I am in reach of the dehumidifier when I straddle a dishevelled cat post and stretch my hand past every single item we thought we needed in the moment but ultimately decided it would be best suited to be in a corner of the basement for the past seven years. Once I got past our past discretions and swung my leg over, I had both hands on the dehumidifier and smiled as if I was Indiana Jones replacing an idol with a bag of dirt. That euphoric moment quickly turned into Indy in a pit of snakes as I lifted the machine, took a step, cat ran by, tripped me and the long promised dehumidifier (which had to weigh 50 – 60lbs if I am being realistic, 80-90lbs if I am being hyperbolic). It fell. All of the weight landed directly on my big toe. That toe shattered like the hopes and dreams of all the children who have ever had hopes and dreams. Then was a long moment of disbelief followed by a long silent scream.

Have you ever broke a toe? It leads to the most magical dance, as you call upon the the spirits of the hopping, toe stubbing gods to make the pain go away. When that fails you start breathing like a overly expressive woman in labour, as if you are going to suck the broken bone through your body and spit it out your mouth and grow a new one like an earthworm without a head. Finally, when all else fails you result to little league softball triage as you walk around in circles quoting your coach in your head – “walk it off…walk it off”. Then when you realize your little league coach was an idiot, you walk upstairs and tell your wife that you are also an idiot.

I went three days without medical assistance, because, yes I am that much of a badass. In case you forgot I had a broken frickin’ toe. In this time the toe had filled with blood, nail was black and green, and my ability to put weight on that foot was seriously lacking. So I sucked up my none existent toughness and drove myself to the hospital.

Now before I talk about my hospital experience, let me note that I am in Canada. Being a Canadian I am entitled to free health care. Trust me, I know how lucky I am. When I bitch about my treatment, please forgive my ironic tone as I recount my experience. Regardless of my thoughts of my medical treatment I know am and head and hands above the majority of the world and am grateful for it and do not take it lightly. That being said, it is all I know and while it might make me a worldwide jackass, I still invoke my privileged right to bitch.

I drove to the hospital at 10pm on a weekday, thinking it would be slow. I sat down in triage and noted the sign above me that said the triage nurse will see me within ten minutes of arrival. Forty minutes later I saw the triage nurse. She concurred the blackened toe was broken and they would need to take an x-ray. I was then regulated back to the waiting room. In said room I watched children walk in with heads busted open, rednecks with missing thumbs and elderly ladies who “thought the end was near“. Now I wasn`t sure if she was just talking about her own lifespan, or perhaps she was a prophet and was doing us the kindness of letting us know that we were about to shuffle off this mortal coil. Either way, as I surveyed the room I realized my swollen, discoloured appendage was pretty far down the totem pole. I got up, limped my way out of the land of misfit toys and drove home.

I returned the next morning. Thinking that even injured people must have jobs, my wait would be shorter. I was incorrect. After thirty minutes the triage nurse said I needed x-rays. Thanks. Back to waiting room. One hour. Nurse calls my name and the name of ten other patients. We are taken to a different waiting room called the “green zone“. We were not give an explanation, but I found myself trying to remember the plot of a Matt Damon movie I may or may not have seen. One hour. Nurse calls my name. I am in am in a room! I have traded ten year old magazines for tongue depressors and gauze. One hour. Doctor comes in. He tells me I need an x-ray. Yep, thanks. I am told to wait for nurse to arrange said x-ray. Thirty Minutes. Nurse comes in and asked me to limp to x-ray. Sure. Guess what? X-ray has a waiting room! Thirty Minutes…..Alright this has dragged on long enough, I won`t test your patience as mine was….Lets just say I waited a while longer before I saw a doctor again. Guess what? Toe broken. The doctor then proceeds to drill four holes in the nail of my big toe to drain the blood. Did I mention that the slightest touch to my toe hurt like a blazing branding iron on a sunburn? Cue hyperventilating pregnant woman.

Three days and six hours later I have a diagnosed broken toe that is still as ugly as a toothless hooker on a Sunday morning, and a limp to rival Terry Fox (Yah! Canadian pop culture reference!). One thing has changed. Painkillers. I now had them. And then I had beer. And then……Wait…What was I talking about?

Follow – @FredThePeacock

Image

 

Did you ever end a day thinking, ‘gee, that’s really not how I thought today was going to go’. I had one of those days recently. One of those life altering events happened to me. You know the kind, the ones that always happen to someone else, but never to you. Not as serious as cancer or getting hit by a bus full of choir students doing there best rendition of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. Yes, it wasn’t that bad, but it was worse than farting in a library or calling out the wrong name during sex. So what is left on the list of things that always happen to someone else…how about “being let go”…Yes, I have recently found myself unemployed, by no fault of my own mind you. Apparently I was expendable (and not the cool Stallone badass kind). Now, I have a point of contention with this, as I find myself quite pendable. Though of course, I was not consulted on the decision. You think I would have a say…nope. So after I heard the news,had a few drinks, smoked a few cigarettes (and I was doing so well….) told my wife, had a few more drinks….I sat on the edge of my bed and thought to myself…’gee, that’s really not how I thought today was going to go’.

I now find myself in an interesting position. I find myself in the long line of people who have found themselves unemployed over the last couple years. Everyday previous, I got up kissed my wife and daughter goodbye and left for work. Would you like to know what I did the day after my employment status was deemed expendable? Nothing….Or as close to it as humanly possible (turns out if you actually do nothing, you actually die). I resided myself not to think about the previous days events, and enjoy a nice, relaxing day with my family. It wasn’t easy, and in retrospect I probably failed miserably, but I did my best to let the rage and sadness go, if only for a few hours. I sat on the edge of my bed that night and thought to myself… ‘gee, today was a lot better than yesterday.’

Do you know what I did the day after my nothing day? I freaked the fuck out. I don’t have a job. You know a job…? The thing that keeps lights on, paid for the laptop that is writing this, fed the dog and daughter, (the former who could actually stand to lose a few pounds). The job that gave me somewhere to go everyday, made me responsible for something outside my family and established me as a functional member of the community. Most importantly it was the job that allowed my wife to stay home and do the much more difficult job or raising our child. All those things that were seemingly fine yesterday, are now in jeopardy, because of the job….Or lack thereof.

You know what the really funny thing is…I mean besides the thought of me walking into a dark, decrepit basement doubling as a black market hospital, carrying my own kidney in a styrofoam cooler with a six-pack on top to keep it cold…The REALLY funny thing is I didn’t even like the job to begin with. Actually I hated it. Actually I thought it was sucking out my soul through a crazy straw. But I did it for years. And I did it well. I did it for all the reasons above. It did it because it gave me the ability to take care of the things that were really important. I don’t regret that one bit, it was worth it. If circumstances were different I would still be there, because what it afforded me far outweighed what it took from me.

The circumstances aren’t different. My life has changed, and all elements affected due to the decision of someone I probably have never met.Now what? Another job, that’s the easy answer. Work my way back up. The problem is I tend to take jobs I can do well, but don’t necessarily want to do. That’s life I suppose. I am sure the majority doesn’t get to do what they really want. And I am sure a great number of people do jobs they hate, simply because it is necessary. My problem is that I don’t really know what I want and my fear is there isn’t something I really want. I feel that my professional life will be filled with jobs of necessity rather than personal gratification. That being said, I like to believe that a capable, driven person with reasonable goals can achieve them through will and tenacity. Coming up with the goal is the hard part…Ok maybe the ‘reasonable’ goal is the hard part. I am guessing that a world revered cat burglar with a high moral code, quick wit and a dashing smile is unreasonable? Do you have a better suggestion? I would settle if someone would pay me to do this, but that doesn’t seem to be happening either…Unless you are reading this and you want to pay me to write self indulging, occasional funny, often repetitive dribble…In that case, may I ask, how do you take your coffee?

Maybe I should get used to that question.

I don’t really know where I am going. Remember back in school when they asked you what you wanted to do? Teacher, doctor, lawyer, lion tamer….none of them really seem to fit. I’m 31, I got some time to figure it out…Worst case scenario we can learn to read by candle light…And kids don’t need to eat everyday right? God knows the dog could skip a meal.

 

Thanks for the therapy….the cheque might bounce though.

 

 – Jason

Follow @FredThePeacock 

 

Have you ever dared go back and read what you wrote, oh so many years ago? Ever dust of that journal, try and stick the old faithful 2.5 inch disk into the nonexistent drive, or crack open that old school exercise booklet? You are cringing aren’t you? I can feel the gut punch and the always descriptive groan. But…there is a but…If there wasn’t this would be a fairly short, pointless and downright mean post. If you have the courage to grab that bankers box down off the top shelf in the closet, the one hidden by old sweaters, Anne Rice paperbacks and that hat you bought that was in style long enough for you to drive home from the store. Bring that that box down, and breathe in. You know what that is you are breathing? Dust mites…and humility. One of those can be a very good thing.

Humility is that precious little gift that keeps us all from being ignorant little pricks and pretentious little snobs. It is a vital component in what makes up a decent human being. It is what lets us know that at one point we all… sucked. It is important for our overall growth and definition of our character that we as people sucked at one point in our life, and recognize that we will most likely suck again. Oh, and if you are that person reading this now saying “Nope, not me”. Well…then you are in that point right now. Of course I am talking about writing, since that is what I know and what I have been doing in one form or another for twenty five years. However, you can apply this to anything. A good friend of mine is a very successful competitive runner, guess what? He used to fall down…a lot. It is important, and it gives us perspective to know that everyone was terrible at some point. Accepting that is what makes us better, and lets us grow.

Do you want to know what was in my metaphorical “box on the shelf”? There were some real gems. The first few are illegible. Not because I had such terrible penmanship, but because they are literally just squiggly lines…As I recall, we kept a daily journal in grade one. Our teacher had instructed us that if we didn’t know a word, just put a squiggly line. When we were done we would go over it with her and she would help us with the words we didn’t know. Of course when I walked up with all squiggly lines, and the teacher asks me, “Well, what do they mean?”…My obvious answer is… “I dunno, they just look like a bunch of squiggly lines…” Lesson learned: Don’t depend on the memory / attention span of a five year old.

Let’s skip a few years down the road, to my fondness writing memory…Not my best, but my fondness. In grade five or six (can’t remember…damn glue addiction) I had a teacher who would give me exercise booklets, the ones with the dotted lines between the two solid lines, for students to practices cursive (do they still do that? I can’t remember the last time I saw a kid write cursive? I guess they can just choose whatever font they want on their macbook…). He would give me these books, because he knew I liked to write stories. I remember this time with a smile on my face. When I wrote in those silly little books, I didn’t write for attention, praise, money, or to argue a point…I did it simply to entertain myself. I wasn’t concerned about being original. I just wanted more stories from my favorite characters. When I ran out of things to read, and still wanted more Garfield or Carmen Sandiego, I would just write my own stories about them. It made perfect sense. I didn’t occur to me that for most people the story ended when they put down the book. I saw no reason for endings….I wrote long nonsensical stories starring my favorite characters and filled countless exercise books. I think it may be part of the reason I did well in school at that age. I knew if I did a good job, and got my work done early I would be awarded with more books to write in. Again, reading these stories today, they make no sense. But they are pure and came from the heart and head of a kid who just liked to tell stories.

It is from those heartfelt tells that I stumble across a journal from my university days when I flip to a page containing a drunken manifesto on the beauty and purity of masturbation. Here is the stage where the cringing really starts. Not that it was that bad, but that I thought it was that good. I still remember finishing it and gleefully running out of my dorm room and down the hall. I burst into the room two girls who had known me for a total of two weeks, proclaiming: “You gotta read this!” Their looks should have told me all I would ever need to know. This was me at my pretentious, narcissistic best. University was a great time for writing in theory. I was surrounded by other artistic people trying desperately to find their place. Looking back now, we were all trying too hard. It was here that I entered my “pained artist” stage. Everything was so self-loathing and filled with anguish. It was the self-indulgent bullshit every twenty year old writes, because they have a profound understanding of the world, that the rest of us couldn’t begin to fathom. This is the stage I like the least. I tried too hard to be something I wasn’t, because I didn’t know how to be who I really wanted. I didn’t realize then that I just had to wait.

Then came the drunken writing phase. Like the grade one phase, all works from this period are completely illegible.

Once I realized I could write without booze, I spend about seven years trying to figure out if it was possible to be happy and still write. For the most part it was hard. With considerable effort some good things came out. Eventually I produced something of substance; something I was pleased with (well, almost pleased with). I did this (mostly) sober, but definitely happy. But….there is that but again….It felt like work. I guess it was…I was doing it more because of something I wanted, and less because I actually wanted to do it. At this point, it seemed that I wanted to be a writer more than I actually wanted to write. This “forced” work began to bleed through on the page and I needed a change if I was going to move forward. I looked to the past, because… well, you can’t see the future. For me, lifting the lid of the “box” and dredging through utter embarrassment was insightful. I saw the kid who wrote with a pencil just for the sake of moving it on the page, who just a few years later, was making up stories simply to entertain himself. I want to write like that kid again.

Sometimes I lay awake at night, reliving those painful memories of bad decisions or the awkward moments that always accompany youth. What I take away from those moments now is not the pain, but the intentions; the intentions were always pure and natural.

Dig through your past, you’ll find some cringe worthy things, that I do not doubt. If you look a little deeper at the things you have hidden in the shadows, you might just see something else; something you have been missing. We all sucked…And are better for it.

Think of a picture of yourself you hate from your childhood. A picture you would hide away in a closet or bury in a box. You were ashamed of for how awkward you were. It was always that picture that your parents showed off as your face turned red with rage and you wondered why that we do something as horrible as display that picture. I’ll tell you why, because of what they saw in it. All of the best parts of you now, the things that define and inspire you, were already there in that picture. Take another look.

Thanks for indulging me yet again.

Jason.

Follow – @FredThePeacock

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

The resurgence of 24 is rapidly approaching. May 5th 2014, the clock starts ticking again. Although, whether the clock will still be an intricate thematic device with the new shortened format, is yet to be seen . What is known is that Jack is back. As always, Jack will be accompanied by a plethora of bullets, explosions, chases, double-crosses, triple-crosses and of course the fan favorite exclamation: “Dammit!”

Only one thing about the outcome of the show is certain right now. That is, when it is all said and done, some fans will be angry. It is inevitable. Fans will cry outrage and fire up their laptops or Ipads to vent on their message board of choice. This is not unique to 24. All shows have their outspoken advocates. When a show ends, no matter how the writers choose to wrap up, there will be calls for public execution (think Lost, or more recently How I Met Your Mother). The only show that got away mostly unscathed was Breaking Bad. It got a pass, as it left viewers with a satisfying ending that made sense.

How can 24: Live Another Day, avoid this backlash? It probably can’t. Below are 5 things Jack should do, and 5 he should avoid. If accomplished the writers may get the slightest of reprieve, when the clock hits its final mark.

Jack Should Not…
5. Fall In Love / Have Sex

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

It is just not a good idea Jack.

For one reason, we don’t need to see it. It is not why we watch. It has much more impact to the viewer to see him pine over his long dead wife and know that the real, ruthless Jack Bauer was born when she died.

Speaking of dead wives, lets take at look at his track record: First wife murdered (but not before he had an affair with the woman that would later kill her). Had a fling with the wife of Mexican drug cartel Kingpin, only to have her wind up dead in the back of a pickup truck. Fell in love with a woman who was brave enough to risk her life, crossing the globe to rescue him from a Chinese prison. Only to be mentally tortured to the point that her only relief was falling into a seemingly permanent catatonic state. And what happens when Jack finally has sex? Sniper takes her out right after.

How has Chole survived so long? She kept things strictly platonic, that’s how.

Stay away from the ladies Jack….It doesn’t end well…for them.

4. Assume That The Guy You Got is THE Guy

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Because it never is.

There is a hierarchy to villains in 24. Jack has to work his way up the ladder of baddies before he can confront the big bad. Whether that big bad is the original, Victor Drazen, or the calculating Stephen Saunders or the evilest man on the planet, Charles Logan, Jack will inevitably have to go through a few red herrings to bring them down.

The formula is followed year after year. So why is it when they catch the guy they were originally after they assume the threat is over? How come when the nuke is disarmed and the day is only half over they assume the coast is clear.

It is never entirely clear to Jack or the viewer who the real threat is, but you can be damn sure it isn’t the first or even the second fish caught. Jack needs to keep shaking trees until the big fish falls out. As seen in the past, it could be anyone, remember dear old daddy Phillip Bauer?

Speaking of Dad…

3. Contact Any Family

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Not Aunt Carol, not Josh Bauer, and please not Kim.

For everyone’ s sake, Jack’s family should stay out of it. Sometimes it is beyond Jack’s control when they get involved. Regardless of who brings them in, if there is a Bauer on screen they’re irrevocably a target.

As a viewer it just is not interesting. Kim Bauer was involved in possibly the most ludicrous story line in the history of television as she was stalked by a cougar and held captive in Kevin Dillion’s basement. What did this have to do with the rest of the story? Nothing, so leave it out.

We only have Jack for half the time in this incarnation of the show. We need to maximize his time on the screen and we don’t want it bogged down with pointless melodrama from the rest of the Bauer clan.

2. Trust Michael Wincott

Courtesy of Miramax Films

Courtesy of Miramax Films

Jack should shoot him on first site. He is always a bad guy (although probably not THE bad guy). Wincott is probably most famous for playing the twisted, sister-loving, sword wielding villian Top Dollar in The Crow. Or as the slimy cousin to the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He just looks evil.

Wincott is cast as a character named Adrian Cross. Nothing is known of him at this point, but he is an exciting name that jumps of the cast list as a potential threat to Bauer. Expect him to challenge Bauer more on an intellectual level than a physical one.

If he starts out the show on the “good side”, watch for the turn. It will come.

1. Kill / Cripple His Partners

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Let’s face it. Jack Bauer will not be around forever, in fact this could be the last time we seem him. However, the series doesn’t have die. It could carry on in some medium with the right successor.

The new Jack will need a lot of help to get over with fans. The best way to do that is have the character have an established relationship with the old Jack. They need to try something like they did with Indiana Jones and Shia Labeouf. Except avoid using Shia Labeouf. With the right actor, the concept of using the established star to get over the next generation is a good one. The problem in 24 land is Jack really likes being on top, as demonstrated by his bad habit of maiming or killing the people he works with.

Chase seemed like he was being groomed as a replacement. He was smart, efficient and could take a beating. He also had the quality that makes us love Jack the most, his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Of course any chance Chase had of being an expert field ops leader was lost along with the hand Jack took off with an ax.

Then there was Curtis Manning. He was another agent that seemed to have all the right moves. At first he looked like just another suit, but as soon as he stepped into the field, the ass-kicking began. Curtis even managed to make it a couple seasons. As his character progressed so did his chances of claiming the throne. Of course that was until Jack put a bullet in his neck. Curtis died never realizing his full potential.

If Jack could let someone stick around long enough to learn a few things, 24 could have life beyond 2014.

Jack Should…

5. Eat

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

This might sound silly, irrelevant or something we should be expected to accept due to the suspension of belief we agree to when we turn on the TV. However, it has been something consistently mentioned by fans since season 1. In most shows this is not an issue, but when you are following the same character for 24 hours, you think you would see him grab a snack. Granted, Jack does not appear every scene, so he could be munching away off camera. You would think though that the amount of time we do spend with Jack, seeing him indulge in a granola bar wouldn’t be too much to ask.

In eight seasons (that is 192 hours) we have seen Jack eat three times. In the first episode we see a much more carefree Jack enjoy a pudding cup while playfully arguing with Teri about how to deal with their daughter’s lack of respect. Again in season 1, when Jack is in custody back at CTU we see him finishing up a TV dinner. Finally, Jack gets breakfast in the beginning of season 5 with his new girlfriend and her son. That’s it! Now, it should be noted that Jack by season 8 is a very different guy and it would be hard to picture him with a pudding cup, a protein bar might still be acceptable.

This could be regarded as a non-issue, as it is quite possible for a person to go 24 hours without eating. Is it a good idea, probably not. For an average person it would be uncomfortable. For a guy who spends the entire day running, shooting, fighting and yelling at people it would be near impossible.

Just have a snack Jack.

4. Be Pardoned By The President Of The United States

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

When we last saw Jack he was back on the run. He is wanted for a number of crimes, and rather than be taken and face the hypocrisy he wants worked for, he chose to disappear. If Jack doesn’t want to be found, he is not going to be.

Jack will undoubtedly be working with the authorities again. With Jack in London this time around will it be the British police or MI6 enlisting Jack’s help? Maybe the price of Jack’s help is the British government keeping the Americans off his back.

His crimes are justified by most, but some would still have him brought up on charges, similarly to the beginning of season 7.

It is not a secret that Jack’s old “friend” James Heller will be the President in the upcoming season. Once like father and son, there last meeting saw Jack contemplating shooting him. After what happened to Audrey the two former friends will never be up for a round of golf, but the office Heller now holds owes something to the man that saved the United States from utter disaster on 8 separate days.

Heller pardoning Jack and publicly recognizing Jack’s heroics would not only be a well deserved honor for Jack, it would be a fitting tribute to the deceased President David Palmer. It would be what the always honorable President Palmer would have wanted, to see Jack get what he could never give him.

3. Keep Chloe Alive

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Jack always loses some comrades along the way. People are going to die, and Jack will not be able to save everyone. One person he definitely needs to keep alive is Chloe.

Chloe looks pretty beat up in the trailer and it seems that Jack is pretty  much dragging her along. Hopefully safety isn’t too far off.

We have lost a lot of beloved characters along the way: Michelle, Edgar, Milo, Palmer and every other character that earned the legendary silent clock. Chloe should not be one of them.

Jack needs Chloe, her expert hacker skills aside, she give Jack humanity. At times she is his much needed conscience, other times his only true defender. Chloe has had Jack’s back since season 3. She has put in her time and deserves to see this through to the end.

2. Find Peace

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

Season 3 ends in a whimper. It is subtle, perfect and completely summarizes the character of Jack Bauer. After saving the day again, we find Jack in his car in a rare moment of solitude. He finally has a moment to reflect on everything and comes to terms with what he has done. What does Jack do when he is faced with himself? He cries. Jack shows his humanity, and everyone can emphasize with him. However, his moment of self reflection is short lived. As Jack is breaking down a call comes over the radio. After a few seconds of hesitation, he answers the call, because that is what he does.

Anyone would be hard-pressed to find another character in television who has given more and suffered more. Each season it was harder and harder to watch Jack go through the physical, mental and psychological torture. The viewer was left asking the question, what else can they do to him?

Over the years he has become a shell of his former self, as his actions have become more mechanical and reflex oriented. It would be nice to see some new life be breathed into Jack. We need to see more moments like we saw in the car at the end of season 3. We need to see a more vulnerable Jack processing the journey he has been on. He needs to accept who he is and more importantly he has to forgive himself.

1. Die
jack-bauer

Yes, Jack Bauer should die.

The subtitle ‘Live Another Day’ is less than subtle. We need Jack one more time. We need him to answer that call and save the day again. Then maybe we can finally let him die.

He obviously doesn’t fear death. He has died once, if only for a few minutes. Jack has welcomed death on multiple occasions, always ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good.

As he looks over the cliff at the rocks below at the end of season 6 the viewer knows what he is thinking. What saves him from going over that cliff is the same thing he said at the beginning of the season : “I didn’t want to die for nothing.”

He will gladly give his life for the right reason, for a purpose. In the upcoming 24 swan song, Jack needs to be given that purpose and be given a reason to die that is worthy enough of the life he led.

24 needs to end with one final silent clock mourning the death of Jack Bauer.

And we as the viewer need to let him go.

Other things you do or don’t want to see in the upcoming season of 24? Share in comments.

Thanks for reading,

Jason

Follow – @FredThePeacock