Chapter 1 - Good Morning, Good Morning
May 13 - 5:45 a.m. - An alarm clock radio sounds off, signaling the beginning of a new day, which sounds like a nice one coming up based on what the on-air meteorologist has to report. It’s supposed to be mostly sunny, in the 70s, with periods of overcast, but all in all a pleasant day. A tall, dark-haired man sits up and squeezes his face, muttering “aw, fucking hell”. He turns to see the time and tosses the covers aside, reaching for a cigarette. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bruce Rhys-Davies, green-card holding native of Manchester, England. He is the son of an Irish mother who settled in England for the sake of work. Presently, he’s a television executive, a Program Director, to be exact, summoned awake for yet another day’s worth of an attempt to create broadcast history.
"Ah...two last names, is it? Rather…uh… unusual - I like it - I like it a lot“.
Bruce sneers at the memory of an attempt at a social engagement the other evening. For yet another makeshift audience, Bruce goes into the story of his Irish emigrant mother marrying a Manchester native. He spits the story out by rote as if he’s sick to death of the recitation. He’s asked periodically if he’s an only child. On some occasions, he’ll say he is. On others, he’ll say he has a sister with whom he hasn’t been in contact for several years. Sometimes it’s a few, sometimes it’s many. Sometimes, he never wants to think of it at all.
These exchanges are often greeted with a slight scoff from Bruce’s right-hand wife-Friday, Vanessa. Pleasantries abated, Vanessa smiles at the person, glides her hand over the hand of the attendee, then takes a long cold look as the schmoozer slithers away to its next victim.
“Oh, darling - you simply must get your story straight. Settle on one and practice it on me from time to time. After all, you almost never speak of your family to me. I’m beginning to doubt they even existed.”
“What the hell do you mean by that?”
“Well, I’ve never met any of them.”
“I’ve very obviously had a mother at one point or another. You don’t think they made me in a fucking test-tube, do you?”
“Sometimes I wonder what the hell you’re made of.”
These constant, rampantly running thoughts suddenly come to a crashing halt as he’s jerked back into the reality of his bedroom: Vanessa unconscious, her drag and under garments strewn about on or nearby her side of the bed; the weatherman on the radio spews off one bad joke after another in a vain attempt to prolong his precious, coveted time slot before going on with what was already obvious - it’s warm and sunny with periods of overcast, that much has been established, so he shuts the radio off.
“Can’t let the mind wander, the show must go on.” It was thoughts of these caustic confabs which jerked Bruce back to the land of the living - even though he doesn’t want to be. He’s contemplated taking his life on numerous occasions. Standing at the window of his 43rd floor office, watching the hustle and bustle of the city streets from on high - thinking how awesome it would be to have a body come crashing down on some poor, unsuspecting soul, in the middle of summer, when the whole world seemed to be out on the streets for the afternoon. He bought a gun once, telling Vanessa it was for her protection. He was about to say “what would happen if someone broke in and took advantage of you”, but he thought better of it - after all, if the intruder was young and hot, she might’ve gone for it. Run away with him, soak me for my millions in a divorce and show him off to the girls at lunch. He also had, on occasion, taken the barrel to his mouth and caressed the outer perimeter of his lips, wondering where went the courage to stick it inside and let loose. It seemed so easy. Like taking a spoonful of medicine - do it fast without thinking. That was his problem. He thought too much. “I won’t give her the satisfaction - she’ll never get her hands on my life insurance. I should name a charity as beneficiary.” He chuckled as he imagined a troop of Salvation Army workers taking out a mob hit on him.
He pondered the day ahead. As a television executive, he would often be bombarded by programming ideas from a mixed bag of folks ranging from secretaries to janitors to the station’s personalities themselves. One item on which he has yet to offer a verdict was the appointment of a host to a new program consisting of showing old films based on literary classics. It was to be imaginatively-enough titled, “Literary Classics”. It would showcase such cinematic fare as “Captains Courageous”, “Kidnapped”, “Robin Hood”. The presenter would have to be photogenic, amenable, affable, amiable, yet with a hint of sophistication in his or her demeanor, to appear as if they know what they’re talking about when they introduce the film of the week. The project was approved, the set was being built, the usual allotment of 22 segments had been scheduled, yet there was no idea who would walk onto the set, pick up the “book” bearing the title, and blather on endlessly about how much the whole family would love this classic.
Bruce walked out of the apartment, took the elevator down to the garage, got in his car and drove three miles to the commuter rail line which would shuttle him right to the front door of the office building. As he drove on this particular day, he put a disc into the car stereo - it contained four pieces of music, out of which one would be selected to be used as the theme for “Literary Classics”. First track sounded off with a drum beat - skip - “nah - nobody’s gonna rock out to something that’s almost 60 years old” - second track sounded off with a Moog synthesizer riff - skip - he chuckled to himself, “God, what shit - sounds like porno music - we’re showing Moby Dick, not Moby’s Dick”. The third track had some promise to it. A delicate rumbling of a kettle drum, slowly fading in, accompanied by what seemed to be a full orchestra, led by a softly sobbing violin. This gave him pause. He listened to the whole track. In fact, he played the track several times while envisioning the opening credits “Literary Classics, with....” That’s when it all stopped. “With whom, for God’s sake?” Hopefully the matter would be taken care of this afternoon. He parked his car in the commuter parking garage, and walked across the way to the train platform.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Vanessa’s eyes opened and she looked at the time on the alarm clock.
“Strange, I slept right through the buzzer”.
She looked about the room and peered into their bathroom, seeing no one there. She then got out of bed, slipped on a dressing gown, pinned up her stark white platinum-blonde hair, applied make-up and nail polish, then sashayed about the apartment, calling out for her “darling” Bruce. Realizing he’d left for the day, she retired to the liquor cabinet and poured herself two fingers of brandy.