Friday, April 23, 2010

9: Finley

This story is the 9th part of the Griffin filmmaker series. It follows Eight by Eight.

Griffin writes down the facts of Finley, the character of the eponymous film, the director’s ninth. Growing up, trouble in school—bad grades, poor attendance, disciplinary problems—then trouble with the law, parents divorcing when he was a teen. The actor needs to have a thin, wiry physique, an almost jagged line presence that wears black well. This is character driven, he writes, this is shot in black and white. Strip it down from the excess of Eight by Eight. Make people forget that one ever happened.

Helena sees his notes, says, you ever considered starring yourself? You could be like Orson Welles. What do you mean, he asked. This character you’ve sketched—it’s you. Why don’t you add in precocious son, charming and lovely wife who hangs over your shoulder, gives critical bits of advice even when not asked?

She walks away and he’s left with white sheet of paper, the thin line scribble of his handwriting. He thinks then writes, wife meets untimely end, car accident, terminal illness. Later that night, he’ll wake up, Helena motionless by his side, her breath the sparsest of whistles, go to his desk, cross that line out. A cheap shot, humor too dark.

Six years later, when she does die from a terminal illness, he’ll have forgotten about this scribble that existed for a handful of hours. Months after she dies, he’ll wake up in the middle of the night and remember, think, was I that callous, flick on a light in the early morning hours, comb through his papers. He’ll see the words crossed out, letters dangling on a long black line. I’m sorry, he’ll say, then he’ll cry, he’ll turn off the white light, he’ll lie awake in darkness.

The day after he writes those crossed-out words, he’s at his desk, thinking, visualizing. She’s right: Finley is me. I’ll fast forward. I’ll make him me, older. He calls his casting director, tells her, look for thin, wiry, line-like. Find me in fifteen years. Also, a female, to be his wife. Charming and lovely. Stark eyes that see deep.

The film plays in his mind before a shot is ever taken. The world returned to black and white. A man that will be him, alone. Right now, this man is a hollow, two-dimensional shell, unrealized, no brain, muscles, blood, soul, organs. A scant line of existence.


  1. a head scratcher..hmm where is the food??

  2. How about ribs and red zinfandel? Try not to get BBQ sauce on your mouse.

  3. I see something stark and ephemeral in this writing, and you two guys joke about wine and bbq? Oh, to have the necessary y hormone....

    Christian, you never disappoint; I look forward to stopping by and reading. Someday, though, I'd like this whole story in one set of combined pages and in order (chronological or ???).

    BTW, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I always look forward to your thoughts.

  4. I don't know what you are planning to do with this series, but I remain a huge fan. This installment just makes me ache for Griffin, imprisoned by these haunting things.

    (Also-I'm feelin' ya Peggy)

  5. I agree with peggy - stark and ephemeral. I ache for this man, so adrift.

  6. I am enjoying this series so much - the character revealed piece by piece, layer by layer. Very well done.

  7. Another great installment. And ephemeral is the perfect word for it. Poor Griffin.

    Lovely writing, thoroughly enjoyable.

  8. I love your stuff. It just speaks in the right tone and frame of mind that I devour it. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

  9. I landed back here and realized I meant 'chromosone'. Ah well, typos rule my life.

    I was so afraid I missed one of your stories, I had to double-check. Enjoyed again.

  10. I agree the whole Griffin series is great stuff. He's like a ghost here, almost crossed out himself, hovering between his art, his imagination, his memories and the real world. Very rich.