I wrote the following after reading a profile about Bruce Dern in Rolling Stone magazine. After sending it to him, I got the usual Hollywood reply: "Don't call us, we'll call you." So consider this the first part of a story I'll never get around to writing. If you're curious about the direction I was heading, check out the classic Academy Award winning movie "Marty," with Ernest Borgnaine (?). And if anybody can send me the zip code to Bruce Dern's PO Box in Santa Monica, California, I would appreciate it.
It's dark and it's beautiful.
Somewhere in the blackness, a door opens and closes.
Now there's just a sliver of light on the horizon, but just a sliver. No more than a razor slice of light, really.
And now someone running toward it.
It's morning now. A pretty blonde lady, Laura, is busy. She's preparing breakfast in her kitchen. Her husband, Henry, walks in, and, after a kiss good morning, sits at the kitchen counter where the newspaper waits for him.
"Would you look at this?" Henry tells his wife, acting surprised. "The newspaper."
She looks back over her shoulder and smiles.
No sooner does she turn her head back forward than the same door we heard earlier opens and closes again.
"Good morning, dad," Laura says as her father walks into the kitchen.
"Good morning, Mac," Henry says to his father-in-law.
Mac grunts a kind of reply and takes the seat next to Henry, and then takes the newspaper from him as well for good measure.
Laura comes over with two cups of coffee. A look passes between her and her husband. She places the cups down in front of the two men in her life as close to the same time as possible. It's a fine line she walks, and she walks it well.
"How far did you run?" Henry says, trying to be polite.
"I don't play attention to that shit," Mac answers, showing no such pretense for politeness. He begins reading the newspaper.
Later that day, Mac is sitting in the great room and watching a baseball game on the big-screen TV. He's also fiddling with his running shoes. Tying them, untying them, and then re-tying them all over again.
Henry and Laura are sitting at the kitchen table, both sipping their coffee. Either they take their time with it, or they drink an awful lot of it. Who am I to judge?
"You know," Henry tells his wife, "when I retired, I thought I'd be the one sitting in front of the TV watching sports."
"I know, honey. I know," his wife says, but she doesn't. Not really.
She looks over to her father. Watches him fuss a bit.
"What's wrong, pop?" she asks.
"My shoe-laces," her father complains, frustrated. "They always keep coming undone. They never used to."
"Maybe you need to tie them tighter," she suggests.
"They never used to," her father continues, dismissing her suggestion. "The last pair of running shoes I had, the laces never came untied."
"You want me to buy you new laces, dad?"
"You want me to buy you new laces?"
"I don't want new laces. I want my old laces." He pauses. "And feet. I want my old feet back, too."
He looks over at his daughter and her husband. It looks like somewhere along the line they've stopped paying attention.
"They hurt," he says. "They never used to hurt. Damn shoes."
"They don't hurt because he has new shoes," Henry teasingly whispers to his wife. "They hurt because he has old feet."
"My old ears hear just fine," Mac says, a bit indignant.
"I'll get you some new laces, dad."
Later, at Heebie-Jeebies, a super-grocery store, Laura and Henry are looking at shoe-laces in the shoe department. Their cart is filled with healthy foods and items. Laura likes to cook from scratch. A rare preference these days.
"It's not the shoe-laces," Henry tells Laura.
"I know," she says. And she does.
A lady walks by with her four-year-old toddler toddling along. His laces are untied.
"Remember when April was a toddler?" she asks. "We were always having to tie her shoes. They were always coming undone." Thoughtful pause. "My dad's like having another toddler."
"One who steals my newspaper," Henry says.
Back home, Laura enters the house and walks over to her father, who is still watching baseball, while Henry brings in the groceries.
"I bought you laces, dad," she tells him.
"Just leave them there," he tells her, indicating no place in particular. "I'll put them one later."
"I don't mind," and she doesn't.
"No, really. I can do it," he says, but makes no attempt to stop her.
Like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, she takes the running shoes off of his feet, replaces the laces, and then puts them back on.
Henry brings in the last bag.
"Who's playing," he asks his father-in-law.
"If it's not Detroit, I don't really care," his father-in-law replies.
Mac has a talent for making you regret asking him anything.
After awhile, Mac gets up. Laura is still putting away the groceries.
"I'm going for a run," he tells no one in particular.
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is."
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is. Henry, tell him."
"Yes, it is," Henry tells him.
"No, it's not," Mac insists.
"Dad," his daughter tells him, "trust us, we were just outside. It's hot"
"Where I'm going, it's hot. This is nothing."
He leaves. the front door opening and shutting once again. Laura looks at Henry.
"What?" Henry says.
"Stop him," she tells her husband.
Henry looks in the direction of his father-in-law, and then back at his wife.
"Honey," he tells her, "I would have to break his legs to stop him. You know that."
Yeah. She knows.
A very pretty older lady is sitting on a bench at a park. Sometimes, when you get older, you have nothing to do, and that's just what she's doing.
Mac comes jogging up. He stops and plops himself down next to her. He starts fiddling with his running shoes.
"My laces," he tells her, for some reason feeling like he needs to give her some kind of an explanation. "They're always coming untied."
She apprises the situation.
"Maybe you should double-knot them," she says.
Mac stops what he's doing and turns his head. Apprising her.
"Maybe you should double-knot your shoe-laces. That way they won't come undone.."
"You know," he says, running an old wrinkly hand through his grey, thinning hair, "that's the first time anybody's ever given me a solution to a problem."
"My kids... all they want to do is throw money at a problem, buy their way out of a jam, you would think they were politicians."
"Yeah, they have money, but they never have solutions."
"I'm Diane," she tells him, offering her hand.
"Call me Mac."