Quiet Cool

INT. A DIMLY LIT ROOM

GLEN, 15, sits at a desk looking down at an algebra textbook, his forehead resting on his left hand. Scowling, he takes both hands and slams the book closed, stands up, and paces back and forth next to his bed.

GLEN is fairly thin and his 6 foot 3 frame makes him look emaciated at times. He is not muscular. His feet move in short choppy steps as he makes his way towards his aquarium, then turns and goes back to his desk.

GLEN finally goes back to sit at his desk, opens the top drawer, and pulls out a blue folder with scribblings, drawings, and short quotes on it. The drawings are rough and unrefined, like those of a kindergartener, intertwined with images of maniacal character faces. As GLEN opens the folder, he looks back at his bedroom door to make sure that his mother is not peering in on him.

Carefully, GLEN stands up and slowly creeps towards the door to avoid making too much noise. He clicks on his overhead light, walks to the doorknob, and locks it. He slowly creeps back towards his desk, sits down, then proceeds to look at the contents of the folder.

EXT. (DAY) GLEN WALKS DOWN THE STREET WITH GARRY

GLEN walks down a leaf-cluttered street with his backpack on. He is wearing a Kansas City Royals windbreaker, collared shirt, and khaki pants. His friend, GARRY, shuffles alongside GLEN, but has trouble keeping up with GLEN’s pace. GARRY is dressed in a bright orange pumpkin sweater. The sweaters looks like something he may have received as a present from an elderly relative. He has on black slacks and black dress shoes which persistently ‘clickety-clack’ as he is trying to keep up with GLEN.

Occasionally GLEN stops or slows his pace, seemingly not realizing that he is walking faster than his friend. Suddenly, GLEN abruptly stops as if he had an epiphany. GARRY, not realizing how slick his shoes are and how fast he is walking, slides past GLEN into a tree.

GLEN runs over to help his friend, grabs him by the shoulders, holds him back a bit to examine if GARRY is injured, then slaps GARRY on the back and grins.

GLEN pulls his backpack off, lays it down on the curb, opens it, and pulls out the blue, drawing-covered folder he was studying the night before. Rapidly waving his left hand, GLEN summons GARRY over as if has found a major historical artifact.

GARRY approaches GLEN. Peering over GLEN’s shoulder, Garry examines the precious cargo GLEN is wanting to reveal.

GLEN slowly opens the folder to reveal a picture of a pro wrestler. The man in the picture is enormous and muscle bound. The image is shot from the waist up to reveal a strong torso, bulging biceps and triceps, and a scar the runs across his right shoulder. Across his chest is an eagle tattoo. The eagle’s wings are outstretched and its head is pointed to the right, beak open, demonstrating the bird’s immense power. His face is painted into three segments: around the right eye and half the beak is the color red; around the left eyes and other half of its beak is the color blue; around the tip of the beak is the color white.

Towards the middle of the page, in bold lightning-bolt font, the name “STRANGLER” runs across his mid-section like a belt.

GARRY’s eyes grow large. GLEN nods affirmatively to his friend. They high-five and continue nodding with approval.

——————–1996———————

Lots of hatred dwelled behind those eyes. The constant expression of fear and doubt scarred her forehead. The lines frozen in a space below her bangs and slightly above the auburn eyebrows.

Hate. Fear. It all went away when they were together.

Her laugh. He called it an “evil laugh,” like the “cackle of a happy witch.”

The semi-high pitched cackle sounded like cats screeching or brakes being slammed upon asphalt in mid-July. Her laugh made hairs rise on the back of his neck. The same laugh heard romping between the sheets.

Heartfelt laughs. Whether responding to a smartass remark or to one of those jokes that is so bad that it is really supposed to be stupid but people ended up laughing anyway because it makes no sense, she laughed.

“What is life without laughter?”

She lifted her shoulders in synchronicity with her question.

“There is so much superficiality based on image in this world,” she said. “If we don’t laugh at it, then we shall perish in depression.”

It was hard not to notice when she was faking it. He saw right through “those” laughs.

“I don’t feel like this would be the right thing to do right now,” Carrie said, clearing her throat. “You dropped off the face of the earth then magically pop back up in my life. I moved on. I don’t need ‘us’ right now.”

She wasn’t sure why she was saying this. She wanted to go over for dinner, but she didn’t want anything else.

“Well, then, to hell with dinner,” Glen said. “Let’s go back and get naked. Yes? No?”

“No.”

Apprehension heard in the repeated clearing of her throat.

“Besides,” she looked down and grinned, “we…are…at your hose already!”

“Of COURSE we are,” Glen replied, his eyes red as if someone had rubbed them with sandpaper. “Damn, you are correct. That is why I was going to cook your dinner in the first place. Ok.”

She looked up.

“Do you have any beer?”

“Beer?”

Glen looked around the room. An empty Michelob 12-pack box sat on the counter.

“Hold on,” Glen said as he walked towards the refrigerator.

Opening up the door, the only items aligning the inside of the refrigerator were standard condiments – ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish. Each one of them could have easily been outdated if he considered checking, but he didn’t.

On the shelves, other solids (bologna, cheese, tomato, lettuce; a can of Manwich covered with foil; two oranges; a baggy of celery; and a small plastic bowl of tuna salad) and liquids (milk, water, 7-up, and pineapple juice) provided a glimpse into Glen’s day-to-day diet

“I guess we need to make a run to the liquor store,” Glen said, his head still in the open door of the refrigerator.

He stood up. She had made her way over towards him and was peering over his back. Glen, startled by her presence, hit the back of his head on the door of the attached freezer.

“I guess we do,” she said. “If we want to make up for lost time, I’m gonna need a drink.”

“That’s more like it.”