I don't own the characters, I just play with them. No copyright infringement intended.
Okay, a quick note :o)
The following is a product of a splitting post-New Year headache combined with several aspirins and countless cups of coffee. It just sort of came to be, and therefore, I have no idea where it's headed, but I'm kind of curious to see where it might take me, because really, all I have in my head for now are random snapshots of some potentially interesting scenes. Anyway, consider yourselves warned, and if you're still willing, you're welcome to join the ride :o)
Oh, and yeah - Happy New Year!
Ultimately, Jess suspects it's the silence that will drive him insane.
At first, Luke's snoring drowned it out somewhat, but it's been a few days and now that he's gotten used to it, he doesn't really hear it anymore, and the silence is back in full force. This impossible, picture-perfect town just drops dead right after the evening news, and even the smallest sign of life disappears - there are no cars to be heard outside, no neighbors screaming at each other, no drunken voices hollering incoherently in the street, there's just the damn silence and he stares into it, eyes wide open, wondering if he'll ever learn to sleep surrounded by this irritating peace and quiet. Probably not, and he'd gladly give up a kidney to hear a distant wail of a police siren, or a taxi driver swearing in some obscure language.
He didn't think places like this existed, with their perfectly trimmed lawns and white picket fences, neat little parks and un-dented trashcans, colorful flowerbeds and freshly painted benches… He thought such places only appeared in dreams (no, not dreams – nightmares, he corrects himself quickly), or on vintage postcards… and occasionally, in some misdirected educational tv programs that have nothing to do with real life. And as if the fluffy setting itself isn't sickening enough, there is another nauseous dimension to it all – the people. In his entire life, he hasn't seen as many smiling faces as he has since he stepped off the bus in this Stepford incarnation. It's like the entire town had at some point suffered a collective stroke that has forever clenched everyone's face in the same annoying expression – the everlasting smile. It was everywhere, closely followed by suffocating kindness, and usually by late afternoon, the combination would freak him out to the point that he felt he would either jump out of his skin or simply floor the next person who uttered the phrase 'have a nice day.'
There are, however, exceptions; no, there is one exception, singular, he corrects himself again, and it is snoring a few feet away. It's not surprising, really; given all the smothering cordiality, there has to be someone channeling the communal ill-temper. However, this one concession aside, it is still hell – but apparently, for the time being, it is also home.
Home, home, home… the word drums in his head in a dull rhythm but holds no meaning. It's an alien concept, and has been ever since he became old enough to realize that it's not synonymous with a place to sleep or an address on a police record. There's more to it, but this is something he knows from books, not experience; it's just as well, he'd always thought, because when you don't belong anywhere, you can't really ever feel out of place wherever you might end up. This philosophy worked flawlessly until he found himself here - in the last week, he'd watched it crumble down in pieces as he realized he probably couldn't feel more alien in this fairy-tale town if he had tentacles sprouting from his forehead.
Half-expecting to find them there, he runs his hands over his hair and curses the silence again. Pulling a pillow over his head, he feels the darkness thicken as he does his best to evoke a mental image of New York at night, alive and loud and kicking and familiar… For a brief moment, it stays with him, but it vanishes much too quickly, and as it fades to black behind his eyelids, a restless impulse to move propels him to his feet and he escapes the bed and the apartment in a heartbeat, pulling on his pants on his way down the stairs.
Unsurprisingly, the streets are empty and quiet, and only a stray cat crosses his path as he makes his way to the park. His footsteps echo hollow and dull against the wood planks of the bridge, and he can feel it vibrate under his feet; the subtle shudder carries for a while even after he sits down and hangs his legs over the side. He lights a cigarette and stares at his reflection in the water, but finds nothing new in the face that looks back, so he stretches out on his back and looks at the sky instead, blowing lazy hoops of smoke towards the stars.
It's his seventh night here in the middle of nowhere, and as such, it's a decent occasion to look back and single out the first few memorable moments - and even though the word 'memorable' seems much too grandiose to apply here, nothing better comes to mind at the moment, so he just runs with it.
Being shoved into the lake somehow stands out the most, and an involuntary chuckle escapes him at the memory; at first, he tries to stifle it on reflex, telling himself he shouldn't be amused. He should be annoyed, irritated, pissed off – any or all of these would make more sense, but somehow all escape him, and he can't help finding the whole thing funny on some twisted level. Well, if nothing else, that particular communication method was something new; it definitely came as a surprise, to say the least, and he grudgingly admits to the stars that it was more effective than any speech or sermon Luke could have delivered instead. Finally, he laughs out loud, his only regret being that he didn't have enough presence of mind to pull Luke in as well.
Of course, the twilight-zone dinner party also warrants a thought, and he thinks it's safe to say he'd made quite an impression – on Lorelai, at least. She really just ran straight into it, into all the pent-up anger and frustration over being stuck in this impossible town with its sickeningly cheerful well-meaning residents. Why couldn't she just let him be, just take away the bloody beer and swallow the whole motivational speech? Of all the buttons to push, she just had to go for the you're-actually-so-lucky-to-be-here-you-just-don't-know-it one, the one that instantly made him fly off the handle and bite her head off. Well, maybe he would have been just as derisive regardless of what she said – after all, she's a parent, and that particular breed never held a high standing in his book.
And then, there was the little bookworm… In a weird way, it bothers him that he'd saved her for last in this little tally, like something to be savored, like sugar-coating or a hidden bonus track on an otherwise lousy album. Admittedly, she did come as an unexpected (pleasant?) surprise – he'd never come face to face with anyone who owned a Ginsberg copy that looked even more battered than his own. Or anyone who even owned a copy, period. Or anyone who would reference Oliver Twist outside of a classroom…and coming across the first such person here and now, well, it's just plain ridiculous. That book on her shelf, and all the others around it, they somehow made her inherent small-town sweetness… bearable. This didn't, however, change the fact that she is a good little girl – she is, and it's painfully obvious, but there is a mind behind the facade that might be interesting to poke around. And the facade is cute, an uncalled inner voice points out casually, and he smiles at the stars briefly before he dismisses it; good little girls are really not his thing. But corrupting one of them might be, the voice returns, and this time, the smile is more of a smirk and somehow, it lingers.
He stretches and sits back up, then sends the cigarette flying into the water; he stands up slowly and lazily walks back in the general direction of the diner and the silence that awaits between the new sheets. Pushing his hands into his pockets, he finds a piece a chalk there and frowns; for a moment he wonders where it came from but quickly remembers writing out the new breakfast special on the diner board and immediately looks forward to the inevitable fit Luke will throw when the first unsuspecting person actually tries to order quiche Lorraine for breakfast.
Just as he gets ready to ditch the chalk, a better use for it springs to mind; he smirks and chooses a new destination, wondering if the little bookworm has a sense of humor to match her taste in literature.
About half-way into Taylor's rant, Rory feels her lips begin to twitch into an involuntary little smile; catching herself just in time, she manages to stifle the giggle in the making as she looks over the police tape and the chalk outline of a decidedly cartoonish nature on the sidewalk, and makes a quick mental note to laugh about it all with Lorelai later. She glances around inquisitively in search of Luke, feeling sorry he's missing such a classic Taylor freak-out that he would definitely enjoy; unfortunately, he's not around, but her eyes soon come across a different collection of the Danes genes that seem to share the sentiment, leaning against a lamp-post across the street. She notes the impossible smirk and smug expression, but her gaze quickly locks on the eyes - there's something perturbing and cryptic there, an unspoken challenge, and the impulse to laugh is gone in an instant.
...who wandered around and around at midnight in the railway yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts... She has no idea why it happens, but whenever she sees him, her mind quotes random Howl passages ever since he handed the book back to her; no, ever since she reread it, margin notes included, she corrects herself carefully. It's an annoying little quirk, and one she can't make heads or tails of, although this is probably because she deliberately chose to dismiss it on all prior occasions, somehow unwilling to search for reasons behind the phenomenon, surreptitiously hoping it will eventually go away. So far, no such luck, and it slowly becomes apparent that some introspection might be necessary – but not now, it's not the time or the place, she reminds herself sternly, squirming slightly under the unwavering stare across the street.
It's the whole rebellious misfit thing, her mind offers in an instant, and she groans inwardly – it figures, the moment you tell yourself not to think about flying pink elephants, flying pink elephants are suddenly all you can think about. But the idea has merits, she concedes, it might be the rebellious misfit thing, although the reason why it pokes at her on such unexpected levels still wavers slightly beyond comprehension. Ah, well, because in this case, it's real, her mind flashes... it's not a matter or pose or presentation adopted out of trend or ulterior motives, it's a genuine fact like his height or hair color. It's just who he really is, and suddenly all the random Howl references make sense when she realizes that many (hopefully, not all!) thoughts and feelings and experiences laid out in the poem might be standing materialized a few feet away. Okay, yeah, that would explain some of this ridiculous fascination, she admits weakly, carefully sidestepping the implication the term 'some' raises and leaving it for some future soul-searching session.
As it all sinks in, she half-expects some undetermined feeling of closure to settle in, the sort that follows after solving a somewhat challenging puzzle or completing a crossword, but it doesn't quite happen; in some weird way, this new-found truth provides more questions than it does answers. She huffs at this new development exasperatedly and sternly directs her mind to several different truths that are much less fascinating but still very true - he's arrogant, inconsiderate and annoying, he was a royal jackass to her mother and seems hell-bent on driving Luke insane.
Somewhat surprisingly, she finds the last item on the list to be the best source of righteous anger and the most effective safeguard against the dark gaze that's making her squirm, and just as she gets ready to launch this new-found defiance in a withering stare across the street, something in his eyes changes – the challenge disappears and there's a flash of subdued satisfaction that catches her completely off guard. Before she has time to give this new development a second thought, the smirk widens; another cryptic glance and he's walking away. She blinks, confused, and looks at the chalk outline on the pavement again, unable to shake a weird feeling that she's just taken some elusive test, the results of which she may never know.
All writers love reviews, good or bad. They are precious insights into our reader's minds. They usually make us try harder. They often make us get better at what we do. They always motivate us to keep going. They show us what we've done well, what we've done badly and what we could have done differently. Ultimately, they make us happy.
Just something to think about :)