Part of me inherently knows that the death of Danny Archer was inevitable (perhaps because Leonardo DiCaprio has quite a knack for dying). However, another part of me longed for some sort of justification for the obvious feelings between Maddy and Archer. I realize that the film is a beautifully depicted, albeit tragic, cliffhanger (in terms of love), but I had to answer the question of 'what if' in my own way. I know all of you were wondering as well, so hopefully this does our characters justice. I hope you enjoy this, as I have enjoyed composing it.
What might have been…
From the second I saw him across that bar, I knew that he was that missing void. Sure, I see plenty of excitement- that's why I do what I do. Even when I was a kid, though, I was still the same hopeless romantic that my adventurous spirit masks so well. I'm around men all day long, many of them tall, strong and appealing…with accents…but before he even spoke I knew that he was different. Even when he did speak (and of course, with that exotic lilt) he had an air of cynicism, but, given his 'Rhodesian' state of mind, I came to the conclusion that anyone born and raised in one of many African war zones would be just the same. That was what drew me to him. I once told him he was a hard case; he shrugged me off and kept his reasons buried until I pried at his heart. He opened up to me, and now I know.
Now, safe under my supervision, I catch glimpses of his lost childhood every day as he becomes more and more the love of my life. Although he lies asleep much of the time (I don't blame him…plus, it's become a hobby of mine to admire him as he doses), I adore watching him dress when he decides to get out of bed. The man cannot manage to get a shirt buttoned up without missing one…or two. When I bring the mismatch to his macho attention, his little tantrum is priceless, and I get the best end of the deal; he'll just give up and leave it unbuttoned all day. With such quirks, I sometimes forget that the man has such precision with a machine gun.
For now, I just like to forget about all that. He's here with me, and he's safe…his wounds will heal. Now that it's just us, we have to start all over again without all the 'T.I.A.' nonsense. As much as both of our lives have been bound to the local humanity, we both agree that if we're going to work something out, we need to get away and just be bound to each other for a while. Neither of us can complain about that. Maybe it's selfish in terms of the moral backdrop I've created for myself, but I dare say that I love this man, and that taking care of him is worth all the effort and tenderness that I put into the job.
Maybe that's why I'm here writing about him- writing is the only way I know how to gather substantial thoughts. I know that soon he won't be dependent on my care. He's a quick healer and a stubborn one at that. It's as though he wants desperately to return my tenderness, but he hasn't a clue of how. He's an orphan; he has no memory of ever being held or comforted, so returning the sentiment is a lesson that I'll have to teach him along the way. Sometimes he wakes up in the night and calls for me fearfully. "I just had a bad dream. I'm sorry I woke you, Maddy" he'll whisper back, his tone somewhat hard and embarrassed. "It's alright, everything's ok. Come here," I whisper, and after searching my eyes for a moment, he'll cling to me with all the strength in him, like a child frightened by the thunder. I can see in his eyes that he wonders if he even deserves my love. I tell him through words and actions that, "Yes, I love you, and I will not stop loving you." He's changed; a moment of love, as Benjamin told him, even in a bad man can be redeeming. We talk about this when we sit out on the balcony. He asks me if God will forgive him. All I can do is tell him that I know there is goodness in him. Solomon knows it, and God knows his family does too. I say, "God has an awful lot of witnesses on your side, Archer." (He's only 'Danny' when I find him curled up in my arms during the night). "I'm sure he'd listen to us all." He seems satisfied with my answer, and I squeeze his hand that has been virtually attached to mine since the day we got him off the hill.
The turbulent sea in his eyes subsides, and he looks over to me and asks, "What's New York like, Maddy?" This little bit of innocence is beautiful. I tell him, "You'll find out for yourself. I'll show you everything." Again, he is satisfied, and he begins the tale of all the dreams he had as a boy…before he was forced to grow up and leave all hope of a future behind. "I always knew I'd be a soldier, but I never thought it would come to this. Really, I don't know if I'm good at anything but knocking out R.U.F. and getting caught smuggling rocks, huh?"
You're very good at driving me absolutely insane…in a good way, I muse as he gazes out at the enigmatic meeting of the Atlantic and the Indian. From our elevated bungalow vantage, the two come together in a fury, one a deep turquoise and the other a lighter gray hue. Where they meet, the colors intertwine brilliantly forming a spectacularly fierce blue. It reminds me so much of his eyes. I can't imagine being here alone, not being able to see those eyes again. He almost became a lost memory, a photograph enclosed by my words in a silly magazine. Somehow, and thank God, stubborn Archer managed to hold on until I got to him…