Turns Out It’s My Fault
“It’s my fault,” he had laid his head back on the deck chair beside the pool and closed his eyes behind his sunglasses. “My god, I’m to blame for this!”
The younger and nearest of the two women with him looked up from where she dangled her feet into the cool blue water and asked, “What’s that, darlin’?”
“My fault,” he shook his head and had real lament in his voice. “I just didn’t realize.” This caught the attention of the older woman working a crossword puzzle at a small table with a large, sun-blocking umbrella sprouting from the center of it. She was just slightly more than half the age of the man in the recliner’s nearly 80 years and, between the two women, came closest to constituting his partner.
“What’s your fault, dear?” she asked.
He said, “Ever since stuff like the ‘X-Files’, all the scripts of government conspiracies, surveillance, secret programs, black helicopters and drones, corrupt police; I never thought anyone would actually believe that crap!” he fidgeted and jerked his arms.
The older woman had been with him in one role or another for a dozen years and knew him well enough to see when he was truly agitated and right now was one of those times. She looked to the younger woman, leaning back on her arms, long dark hair tossing with the wind, topless, bottomless but for a few strings, barely 25, who said, “People are stupid, darlin’, it’s not your fault.”
No, no,” his voice was rising, “I put ideas in their heads, I’m to blame!”
“Baby,” the older woman rose from her table and walked to him, “Let’s get out of the sun.” She looked to the younger one and said, “Put a shirt on and help me get him in the house,” then again to the man, “Baby, let’s get inside where it’s cool and have something to drink.”
They each took an arm – the younger one had pulled on an oversized T-shirt – and steered him towards the sliding doors into the mansion. He didn’t fight them. The cool, filtered air rushed over them as they left the bright, Beverly Hills sun, and they wadded into it, past the study where the man displayed a score of Emmy’s attained by decades producing television shows, many about just the things he was describing. Half dozen Oscars for producing movies were also on the shelves, plus a smattering of Golden Globes, People’s Choice Awards, Bafta’s and other sundry hardware. The older woman called for staff to bring him a large pineapple juice on ice. They got him into the drawing room with the big, north-facing windows, dark woods and cool stone, and sat him in a fluffy armchair. They sat on the couch to his right. The pineapple juice was brought. He still seemed agitated. The older woman reached over and took his hand, looked kindly at him with her soft, brown eyes. He seemed grateful for her affection and seemed to smile slightly at her but was still trembling.
“I just didn’t know,” he said. “The Cold War was over, so couldn’t blame things on the Russians. Cowboys and Indians hadn’t worked for decades. War movies were passé. Gangsters were overdone; there can only be so many Soprano’s. There were no clear villains. Viewers need villains, they need a clear sense of right and wrong, good and bad. Blaming things on the Arabs seemed racist, plus we were getting so much money from them. Horror movies worked, but only with a certain audience. Thank god for zombies. So for everything else we made stuff up. Alien bodies hidden in a warehouse, classified government plots, mass murderers sneaking over the border, exploitive corporations. Any institution of any kind we could make into a heartless autocracy out to get the little guy. It worked! Hell, we even had the Vatican hiding the Holy Grail! Plus, conspiracies are fun! Everybody loves to get lost in an imaginative conspiracy story, especially when it draws from silly superstitions or fears. It was so easy; it was like printing money!
“But people actually bought into it! That fake, supposedly unscripted reality TV stuff didn’t help, it made people gullible and believe what was on TV must be real. Thank god I didn’t produce any of that crap! Those dumb asses that stormed the Capital, they actually believed they were overthrowing the government and that asshole was going to march in with an army and take over. They believed it even as that asshole was abandoning them! They STILL believe it!”
The older woman had taken his hand in both of hers by then, and was squeezing it and shaking it lightly, “Baby, Baby,” she spoke softly, trying to pull him out of his anxiety. She brought his hand to her mouth and kissed it. “Baby,” she said again.
He said, “We thought we were giving them an hour or so to escape their troubles. We ended up creating alternate realities, alternate ways of thought that let them rationalize every stereotype and prejudice hiding in their souls. I created all this. It’s all my fault!”
“There, there, my love” the older woman stroked his arm, half out of the couch so she could be closer to him, fairly certain and worried she wasn’t getting through to him. “It’s not your fault. It’s not! You’ve brought people so much happiness with your stories.”
He shook his head.
The younger woman, watching and listening to a scene far too serious for her, said, “I know what you mean, darlin’. I meet so many guys who think I’m like I am in my porn movies. I mean, how dumb do they have to be?”
And he looked at her with wide, horror filled eyes, understanding full well, even if she didn’t, that he was one of those guys; that’s why she was there. “Oh, dear holy god,” he cried, “What have I done!”
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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations and rarely have anything to do with each other. Duality and such …
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.