A new story loosely based on the life of Thomas Manning, freedom fighter and/or domestic terrorist/murderer.
Back then a movie would appear on the TV and then vanish and you’d never see it again. All that remained: a few afterimages like the milky residue of a dream and a longing to find the thing and make sense of it.
I was seven years old, maybe eight, and my father and I were staying at a strange house again.
How long had we been driving? The days spun loose behind us and I didn’t bother counting. I remember his right hand on the wheel, his voice speaking in fragments. I kept falling in and out of sleep. I’d wake up in a new city, a new state. My father would smile and say, “Not much longer.”
This new house—I don’t remember exactly where—smelled of motor oil. It reeked of it. The carpet stained for some reason. A black mark as big as a body. Possibly they had taken an engine apart in the living room. I remember that much. And the movie on the black-and-white TV.
When he and his friend went outside for a cigarette and a talk I found the movie there on the television. The TV rested on a folding chair. So did an arrangement of overfull ashtrays and coffee cups. There were other folding chairs to sit on and a cardboard box as a coffee table and I sat and watched and sometimes reached out to adjust the vertical hold to stop the image flipping.
I found such comfort in plots, in beginnings, middles, and ends. I found them there on the screen.
I remember lips not matching voices, half-dressed bodies slick with sweat. A boatload of seven people shipwrecked on a remote pacific island. Although it was mid-afternoon and sunlight was streaming from the windows across the carpet everything in the movie was shrouded in fog. Something was loose. It was taking people one by one. Shadows everywhere: on the walls, dancing on the forest floor, on the faces of the survivors.
Outside they were talking about the president. If someone put a bullet in his head not even his mother would cry. That’s what my father was saying.
Sarah Jane Moore had just tried it. And Squeaky Fromme. Others would soon follow. He said that all women instinctively hated that man. He was the husband every woman hated, the man falling asleep in a chair on a Sunday afternoon.