Monday, December 31, 2012

THE SHINING (1980)


Color Me Kubrick Month: Final Installment

The Kubricking

9PM
The distinct clanging of the food tray signaled the writer’s wife’s entrance into the living room. The writer shot up from the keyboard of his computer and closed the program he had been on.

“How’s it coming along, honey?,” she asked him.

“Oh, it’s moving along just fine,” he said as he stretched his arms.

“I hope I didn't interrupt...I brought you a sandwich and some milk”

“No. No. That’s fine. Most thoughtful of you. Thank you, dear.” The writer took the plate from his wife and took a bite of the grilled cheese.

“Mmmm. Good stuff,” he said.

The wife looked around the room at the pictures on the wall.

“Honey…how long are you going to keep these photographs taped up on the wall? I mean…if you need them, it’s okay. I was just wondering,” she said.

The writer wiped his mouth. “Now, dearest. You know I need these pictures on the wall to inspire me to finish my Stanley Kubrick book. A picture of Kubrick at the helm of every one of his films and...” He paused long enough to point to the picture hung on the wall next to the stairs. "This one of the young Kubrick with his camera, the one taken of him when he was at Look magazine! That’s my favorite.”

His wife nodded. She had heard this explanation several times already, but was too tired to call him on it.

Noticing her quiet demeanor, he became less animated. “I’m sorry, dear. You know with this house being built directly above an old Chickasaw Indian burial ground, I just feel the spirit rise within me at times.”

“I know you do,” she said. “But I was wondering how much more do you have left to do on this book?”

“I’m almost finished,’ the writer said. I’m on page 237, which is going to be the last page. This is truly going to be the best book on Kubrick yet. I know there have been others, many others, but my point of view is going to be unique.”

“Of course it is dear. But don’t you think it’s time for you to go to bed?”

“No, I’ve got to think a little bit more. I’ve still got to come up with a good way to end it.”

The writer stood up and began to pace around. He picked up his baseball bat and rubber ball and tossed the ball against the side wall and gently poked at it with the bat when it returned to him. When he picked up the ball to do it again, his wife interrupted him.

“Please don’t play ball in the house. I’ve told you not to do that.”

“But I was just bunting! I wasn’t swinging for the fences or anything.”

The writer’s wife didn't answer him but gave him the stare that he had seen  many times before and knew better than to argue with.

“All right. You’re the boss.” The writer said laughing. “I think I’ll go in the kitchen and fix myself a glass of milk from the bar before bed.”


10PM
The writer went into his kitchen, the door from the living room swinging behind him as he entered. The glow from the fluorescent light above him seemed brighter than normal. He stopped at the front of the kitchen bar and sat down for a moment, remembering all the times when the refrigerator had been stocked with sustenance a lot more exciting than milk. As he sat down on the stool, he got the odd feeling it was like old times. The writer grabbed a glass from the bar and looked at the empty contents within before staring into the mirror ahead. ”Set 'em up, Joe” he said.

“My name’s not Joe,” a voice from behind the bar said and would certainly would have caused the writer to do a spit take if he had been drinking at the time.

The man that stood behind the bar was a tall, impressive figure who wore an army officer’s uniform. The man was chomping on a cigar, his craggy features and slightly graying hair making him look like there was nothing in this world he hadn't ever seen or experienced. The writer looked at the man’s nametag, which read General Jack D. Ripper.

The writer breathed a sigh of relief as a snap of recognition sank in. He rocked back from his stool.

“Jack! Old Jack! I didn’t know you did any bartending.”

Jack took out the unlit cigar from his mouth to speak. “Just because I’m probably the most vital cog in the machinery of the United States Army doesn't mean I can’t also be a certified mixologist”

The writer nodded in agreement and couldn't suppress a smile as he noticed that behind Jack, the bar seemed to now be fully stocked with liquor. He rubbed his hands together. “So.”

“You want a drink? You sure wifey will let you have one?”

The smile disappeared from the writer’s face.

“She has no say so on this issue, Jack and yes, I could use a beer if it’s not troubling you too much.”

Jack shook his head.

“I think you need something a little stronger. Here you go. Bourbon and water." He placed the drink in front of the writer who stared at it for a minute before smiling and picking it up.

“Hair of the dog that bit me, Jack,” he said as he brought it to his mouth. “Hair of the dog that bit me.” The writer paused for a moment. “You didn't use that fluoridated water did you.”

“You know better than that. All my water comes from Norway springs. Nobody does water like the Norwegians in the search for preservation of our precious bodily fluids.”

The writer smiled again. “That’s good. Because there’s nothing wrong with my fluids. And another thing, Whatever I do with my said precious bodily fluids is my business and my business only.” He downed the drink in one long gulp. He stood up and put his right arm under his left armpit and began flapping his left arm. “Nyuck. Nyuck Nyuck Hoooo! That’s some good stuff Jack. Think I’ll have another.”

The writer sat back down and noticed the next drink was already waiting for him. “My wife,” the writer began. “I always had this childhood dream about becoming a ballerina before she squashed those ambitions…”

Ripper slapped the writer across the face.

“What’s wrong with you, man?” Ripper said. “That wasn't your ambition! That was the dream of those twin girls that grew up down the street from you. You know the ones that were…”

“Murdered.” The writer finished the general’s sentence as he rubbed the side of his face. “I wonder why I said that about being a ballerina?”

“Your wires are just crossed, man! I tell you what. Let’s play a game of chess. That should clear your mind up.”

“I don’t have a chessboard handy. I think I sold the last one in the house at a yard…”

Before the writer could complete his sentence, he noticed a new chess board on the bar next to him ready for playing.

“Your move,” General Ripper said.

After a few moments of silence during the first moves of the game, the writer finally spoke.

“I had forgotten what a great combination bourbon and chess were.”

“Absolutely.” Ripper said. “We need to stay sharp on the chessboard to keep up with the Ruskies. Now that your head has cleared, tell me what you were saying about your wife.”

“Well, you know about her and that navy officer don’t you?”

Jack shook his head. “Damn Navy men!”

“Well, two can play at his game, eh Jack?” The writer leaned over the bar and gave Ripper an lighthearted tap on the shoulder.

“Speaking of your wife,” Ripper said as he poured the next drink. “There is something about her that I think you may not be aware of.”

The writer looked at Ripper but didn't say anything.

Ripper leaned over the bar and looked around the room before whispering in the writer’s ear. “She’s a red.”

The writer looked confused. “She’s red?”

“No, she’s a red. A pinko. A subversive. A Commie!”

“What? Come on. The Cold War is over. We won, Jack!”

Ripper whispered to him again. That’s just what the Ruskies want us to think and while our guards down…Fluoridation! Or maybe something even worse.”

“Or something even worse,” the writer echoed before taking another drink.

Ripper placed something to the side of the chessboard. “You know what this is?” he asked.

“It looks like an old dueling pistol.”

“That’s right. A Queen Mary Dueling Pistol manufactured during the seventh year of The Seven Years War if you believe the legend behind it. But you better believe it is loaded and fully functional. You think you know how to use it?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t fired a gun in….”

“We can’t have any hesitation soldier. Do you know how to use it or not?”

When the writer still didn’t answer, Jack cleared his throat and began singing the German folk ballad La Troeyer Hussar to the writer. When the song of a man’s love for a young maiden was completed, the overwhelmed writer was on his feet with tears streaming down his face.

“Yes, I know how to use it,” the writer said. “And use it I shall.”

11PM
The writer’s wife was about to go see what was keeping her husband for so long in the kitchen when curiosity overcame her. She looked around to see if he was coming before turning on his computer screen. She knew his password, which was the password he used for everything, HAL9000. She went into his Word documents and pulled up the file that said Kubrick Book.

Kubrick Book 237 pages.

The first page contained nothing but the repeated sentence

Kubrick is God.
Kubrick is God.
Kubrick is God.


The second page had only a caps variation.

KUBRICK IS GOD.
KUBRICK IS GOD.
KUBRICK IS GOD.


The third page had the same phrase alternating between upper and lower case

KuBrIcK iS gOd
KuBrIcK iS gOd
KuBrIcK iS gOd


The fourth page had the same three words all in lower case

kubrick is god
kubrick is god
kubrick is god


And so forth. And so forth. And so forth.

The text ran for 237 pages, all with those same three words.

The writer’s wife felt faint as she struggled with the keyboard and log out of the computer. She turned around quickly to make sure her husband hadn't seen what she had been up to…but it was too late. He was only a few feet away from her with a shit-eating grin on his face.

“You like it?” he asked as he raised the pistol in her direction.

“One…” he began counting as he pointed the weapon in her direction.

His wife began hyperventilating while at the same time desperately seeking out something to defend herself.

“Two!” he continued a little louder.

“Three!” The gun went off but the bullet pounded into the floor. The writer’s wife had grabbed her husband’s baseball bat and smashed it against his right wrist just as the gun fired. The writer grimaced as he held tightly to his broken wrist.

“That really hurt. You could kill somebody doing that!” he said.

He reached slowly in an attempt to pick up his pistol with his one good hand, but noticed her ready to strike again with the baseball bat.

“I wouldn't do that if I were you, Dave,” he said robotically as he continued to reach for the pistol before being thwacked again by his own baseball bat. She had swung wildly this time and hit the writer on his left ankle, but it was effective. The writer moaned in agony as he lunged at his wife, knocking the bat out of her hand as he plowed into her.

Both of them were knocked to the floor, but the uninjured but frightened wife got up first and managed to run up the steps away from him.

The writer struggled to get up, balancing himself on his one working hand. He smiled manically as he made his way to the hall closet door and went inside. On the top shelf was an army helmet that had BORN TO KILL inscribed on it. He pulled it down and put it on. He began to make his way up the stairs slowly, dragging his bad leg methodically up the stairs. He tried to think about where she might be hiding and put his hand up to his ear. He smiled as he heard a rustle from the guest room.

Then he began warbling,

I’m singin in the rain. Just singing in the rain.

What a glorious feeling. I’m…happy again.


As he got to the top of the stairs, he turned in front of the closed guest room door.

He cleared his throat and began talking to her in a calm voice, “Oh, Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Please open up the goddamn door, my dearest angel!”

When he didn't hear a response, his face contorted.

“We can play it your way then. You want to see my war face dear? Ahhhhhh!

He let out a rebel yell as he crashed his head into the door. His entire upper torso smashed through the top part of the door.

He raised his one good hand on the other side of the door in a triumphant fist, “I AM SPARTACUS!”

But as he turned his gaze to her, a Doc Marten came crashing down on his head. The helmet protected part of the impact of his wife’s blow, but the force of it knocked him down. He tumbled over just enough for him to land on the top step where he continued rolling down ten steps all the way to the first floor and crashed hard onto the landing. As he lay on his side, the writer realized he couldn't move his body. He began fading from consciousness as he looked at that picture on the wall of Kubrick with his camera from Look magazine. The writer swore he could hear Beethoven’s Ninth gently playing in the background. He looked intently at the photograph and noticed something astonishing. The picture of Kubrick with the camera wasn't Kubrick after all. It was the writer. It had been the writer all along.




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