Zuzu's Petals (an excerpt)
FADE IN – INT. BEDFORD FALLS LIBRARY – NIGHT
GEORGE and JULES sit across from each other. Various books and magazines are scattered in front of GEORGE, some open, some closed. In front of JULES is a blank yellow legal pad. JULES holds a pen out as if ready to take notes.
George, I know how it is to forever be
chasing your dreams. For me it’s like
hopelessly sprinting down the tracks after
a train that’s just left the station and
tripping and falling over the railroad
I have my frustrations as well, Jules. I’ve
come to accept that I’ll forever be trapped in
movies like this one. They’re chock full of
clichés. Yet even clichés can be cracked open
to reveal kernels of truth. What are your
My dreams are clichés. I want my loved ones
and myself to be safe and content. Maybe
“content” isn’t the word I’m looking for.
Maybe I mean “fulfilled.”
I want to strike that precarious balance
between meeting my needs and the needs of
those I care for without my own needs taking
over so much, thereby transforming me into
some kind of jackass.
“Real” people like you enjoy characters like
me because we’re closed, complete, finished.
We make mistakes yet tend to resolve them in
the nick of time within two hours or so.
I have to admit that I do envy you your
immortality. And the fact that legions of
people across time and geographical distance
continue to care about you and your doings,
even the most mundane ones, for the simple
reason that they’re preserved on film and
projected onto a screen.
It’s all an illusion, my friend. Shadows
and flickering light.
JULES ruffles through the architectural books and magazines on the table. He holds up an open volume that displays a photograph of a gleaming skyscraper.
Do you ever regret that you were never able
to build one of these?
You and I will never know. I never appeared
in a sequel. But allow me to show you
GEORGE holds up a children’s picture book of assorted animals…
…Do people eat bird seed?
I’m not sure. I’ve never tried it myself. I don’t think so. No.
I firmly press my fingertips against my temples and rub. Something I am having trouble identifying is wreaking havoc on my responses.
I don’t know, really. Because birds are supposed to.
I would love to break an upper window on the front of the abandoned abode at 320 Sycamore with an expertly-aimed rock before George and his wife-to-be Mary take residence there. Maybe after the couple is proud homeowners of the drafty place, I can stoop and feel the worn runner on the staircase, affectionately lift the ornamental wooden ball that caps the end of the balustrade at the bottom stair, bring it to my own lips and kiss it again and again as George has done.
I feel that if it’s possible, George and I can lounge for hours at the Bailey kitchen table, debating the three most exciting sounds in the world: anchor chains, plane motors, train whistles, or some other auditory gem George hasn’t yet imagined. I know I could outthink George’s Uncle Billy on such a topic. A third grader could do that, come to think of it.
Why can’t I break myself from the habit of looking off into the nostalgic distance of my own past, ignoring my present existence?