The Dream That Nobody Sees but You: an Appreciation For Million Dollar Baby

There’s an authenticity to how Eddie ”Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman), the narrator of “Million Dollar Baby,” speaks about the sport of boxing, and the physical and emotional torment that comes with it. That’s because many of his words come straight from F.X. Toole, the author of the original short-story collection “Rope Burns,” on which this film was based. Having been a boxing trainer himself, he understood more than anyone the psychology of the fighter.

The unnaturalness of moving into a fight instead of turning away from it. The madness that’s necessary to willingly get inside the ring and receive a vicious beating and then do it all over again. There is nothing pretty about the sport and the consequences can be devastating, as one can see early on, just by looking at the sole milky eye of Scrap.
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Morgan Freeman as Scrap, the broken-down boxer. 

Boxers are a bunch of dreamers and most of them don’t get the glory they dream about. Some of them, like Scrap himself, must live with the permanent damage the sports has caused them – in the case of Scrap, it’s the loss of sight in one of his eyes. But there’s magic too, as Scrap states so beautifully: ”The magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.”

Dupris is a broken down fighter and he speaks like one. He tells this story to the estranged daughter of his friend Frankie Dunn (Eastwood). Dunn sends a letter to his daughter every week, but she returns them every time. The film never clarifies why his daughter refuses to speak to him, but we know it must have been due to something terrible – and knowing Dunn’s profession, it probably had something to do with his fist. Dunn can be cocky, even cruel sometimes. But don’t be fooled by this – he cares about people even if he has trouble showing it.

It comes out the in the most peculiar of ways, such as how he keeps stopping his prize fighter, Willie (Mike Colton), from seizing the championship belt because he’s afraid that he’ll get hurt, despite the fact that Willie has been more than ready for some time now. He goes to Mass every week to make fun of the priest, but deep down inside, he wants forgiveness for something terrible. He’s a man of serious regret and who, by the end of the film, gives away his soul so to help the woman he loves.
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Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn, a man of serious regret. 

This woman is Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a poor, trailer-trash waitress who insists that Dunn be his trainer. Since Dunn hates the idea of training girls, he refuses this without question. But Scrap sees something in her, and with Scrap’s help, Dunn eventually takes her on. In time he begins to see that she’s a real fighter, and in spite of her age and upbringing, that boxing was something she was made to do. Together with Scrap, the threesome becomes a family, with Maggie becoming Dunn’s surrogate daughter.
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Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald, the woman who is willing to risk everything for a dream that nobody sees but her. 

The third act of the film is heartbreaking. You know something bad will happen, but when it does, it’s like getting hit by a prize fighter: you’re knocked down and it’s hard to get back up again, but you have to. But it will take time to pace your breath and get your act together. The wounds will hurt for a while but now you have to live with it.
This doesn’t mean the film is never fun; there’s great verbal and sometimes humorous dialog between the three perfectly cast leads. The subplot involving Scrap’s final fight as he’s defending a mentally slow boxer calling himself ‘Danger’ (Jay Baruchel) is especially crowd-pleasing.

Danger is the epitome of the hopeless dreamer. A fighter with nothing but heart, which, as Frank would say to Scrap, is a man ”waiting for a beating.”
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Jay Baruchel as Danger, a fighter with all heart. 

As Eastwood’s Charlie Parker biopic “Bird” is filled with dark scenes in smoky jazz clubs, so this film is mostly filmed in the dark training rooms or dressing rooms where the fighters prepare themselves for the arena. Eastwood enters this strange world, as he has done so with countless others in his previous films, seamlessly,  using great source material (perfectly adapted by Paul Haggis) to make this world so believable.

“Million Dollar Baby” is simply a perfect movie. While some might criticize the actions of Dunn as though Eastwood was making some sort of ethical statement regarding the value of paraplegics, it doesn’t take away the effectiveness of his drama.
The actions of Dunn’s character had nothing to do with making a political or ethical statement on the whole of this issue. These cases differ in their individual complexities and Eastwood was never interested in generalizing them in this film. Eastwood is not interesting in preaching to you, he’s interesting in telling a story. The story of Million Dollar Baby being the long and painful journey for the dream that nobody sees but you- the dream that might possibly never come to fruition- and the story of what people are willing to do for love.
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We must watch this in the context of Maggie and Dunn’s character instead of putting it in the context of our political bias. It’s hard for many people to distance Eastwood from his political statements, which is a shame because you would be missing out on some incredible works of art. Million Dollar Baby is one of his greatest films. It’s a film that will  stick with you like a deep internal wound, the kind we get from the greatest fights of our lives.
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Lunch on Saturday

”Look I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where I’m supposed to go. I haven’t known these things for so many years, I can’t even count them anymore. It used to be simple, everything seemed so simple. But that was never meant to last…
Sometimes I wonder if we were ever supposed to get this old. All we are doing is passing time. That’s it. I don’t care where we eat. You decide.”

Picture taken in Groningen, Holland.


The Bit-parts

We honor those who never stopped chasing their dreams,
but we forget about those who get lost along the way.
We don’t think about all the ways they see while they are going the wrong way,
when they make the wrong friends,
when they fall in love with the wrong people.
There come the vultures, there comes the hunger.
Soon enough, we fail to even to recognize them on the streets,
we ignore them when they beg for change, we mock them when we see them talking to themselves.
The best thing to do, in order to protect our own delicate feelings, is to pretend they don’t exist.
When they make their presence known, don’t perceive them to be human beings. Instead, see them as decorations, like department store dolls.
They look like human, their eyes speak of a troubling history,
but that’s just how they made them.
They market them as ‘quality craftmanship of an uncaring God.’

They aren’t hungry, they want to be here.
Sometimes they entertain us and we throw pennies in their hats
and they thank us.
There are here to add to the atmosphere, to make your life,
the only one that matters, more urgent.
To inspire you to make the best of life.
You are the star, the rest of the cast are just bit parts of your greater story.

And when you can’t help but wonder and feel sorry for them,
just tell yourself:
”don’t worry,
They won’t die there alone,
the light will find them one day.”
Don’t question the logic, just move on, don’t look back.
Before you know it, it seems like they were there in the first place.
Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania street photography homelessness
Photo: Gabrielle Lurie


Our Disease 21 (ending)

    A Brave New World 

A man in an overcoat was chasing a naked man to the sea. They stepped on sharp sea-shells, blood would seep from the naked man’s feet. The naked man’s clothes were behind him, a trail to follow. There was a high-wind, there seemed to be a hurricane on the horizon. The overcoat flapped into the wind, its long collar would flap against the man’s determined face. Particles of sand would be blown away, its eolian effect seemed like an elegant dance. The naked had a crazed smile into his face, but there was no fear. He stood upright as he headed to the water. The water would be cold, the naked would freeze to death. There was high-tide, waves kept crashing in on each other, a soapy puddle on the shore. They were the only two people on the beach.
”You know this what they always wanted,” screamed the naked man through the howling wind, his head turning back as he walked forward ”this was their mission all along. It was all about me, it was never about me. You were were just weak enough to do their bidding.”
The man in the overcoat said nothing. He just walked forward, like a sheepherder moving his sheep towards the edge of the cliff.
”You’ll never get away with this. Once you do this there’s nowhere you can hide. I matter in this world! People will look for me! It’s not that they miss me, it’s that they depend on me!”
The naked man saw the water coming closer, a streak of fear touched his heart. ”I was your friend you know. I only wanted the best for you. Nobody understood why I bothered for you! But I did! For some fucking reason I cared!”
He stopped then, just an inch from the water. He took a deep breath.
”Move,” said the man in the overcoat.
”It’s cold out there Harry, please don’t make me do this.”
The man in the overcoat pointed his revolver to the back of his head. The naked man, Stone, turned around. They looked into each other, Stone tried to see doubt in his eyes but he could see it; this man, this old friend, was about to kill him.

A day before, they were in Dale’s apartment. It was a small yet modest apartment, it was filled with photographs and posters of the wall of all the greatest musicians of history. It showed Dale’s sophisticated and diverse taste. A poster of Frank Zappa’s Tinseltown Rebellion album cover, a enlarged photograph of Frank Sinatra taken by Anton Corbijn, a poster of Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic, B.B. King, they stemmed from the time when music meant something, when albums were appreciated. When people laid down to listen to the whole album, in sequence of each song, appreciate the flow of each song, sometimes a story or a message would be found there. His music ranged beyond the American plains, there were foreign albums covers Harry had never heard about. He had never been inside Dale’s apartment and he was certainly impressed.
”I’m glad to see you man. Tell you the truth I missed you, this Reilly dude is a fucking nutjob,” said Dale sitting on a chair infront of Harry and Stone who were sitting on his couch.
”I missed you too Dale,” said Harry.
Stone was a little annoyed by the camaraderie. He sensed there was something wrong with Harry, he was silent most of the way. He felt belittled somehow. He knew Harry always considered himself morally superior but now it was something different, almost as if he considered himself a higher human being.
”I love your place. You surround yourself with icons. True believers.”
”My mom used to debate Sean Reilly. She always said he was a creep. Can’t say I was surprised after the scandal broke out.”
”Shit man, he’s a moody motherfucker. Heard his meltdown on the internet?”
”We will do it live! Fuck it!” yelled Dale animating Reilly, which annoyed Stone deeply. Dale and Harry were laughing.
Stone took a big gulp and started to talk: ”You are old-school, aren’t you,” said Stone.
”I listen the modern day music too. I just like the culture of when this music came out. It was much more special then. There’s so much now. So many movies, so much music. We got hardly time to appreciate it all.”
Dale’s hair was shorter, there were a few wrinkles but apart from that, he looked the same.
”I would still like to hear some of your music though.”
”You can probably find it Online,” said a sighing Dale as he licked the joint shut. This surprised Harvey as he remembered that he always wanted the music to remain with him.
”Really?” said Stone, a bit too theatrically, ”I thought you were all about the authenticity of your art?”
The TV was on, it was mute. TAXI DRIVER was playing. Travis just shot the pimp played by Harvey Keitel.
”I am but someone hacked my laptop, stole some of my music,” he lit the joint, took a deep puff.
Harvey looked at Stone, enraged.
”Yeah, it nearly destroyed me man. I mean, most of my music I got tucked away safely but some of the stuff was good man. My babies. I didn’t think people would steal it. Nobody’s ever heard of me.”
”Well I’m sorry dude, that’s really a shame. Did you see any reactions of your music?”

”Yeah, people were raving.”
”Well that’s good. That must have felt good.”
”I don’t care. It was mine. It was my music…”
A silence, Dale passed the joint to Stone, ”you know nothing about that do you?”
”Off course not!” said Stone, smiling, ”I resent the accusation.”
”I remember you were so adamant about hearing my music.”
”You can’t blame a guy for being curious.”
Dale said nothing, he still didn’t trust him.
”You know Dale is dating Tara,” said Stone turning to Harry, ”you remember her? She was the hooker that was with me a few times last year? Apparently she quit her job and is now seeking an honest living. Would you believe that?”
Dale turned away, becoming angry for Stone’s words about his lover, ”You made her an honest woman! You should be proud of that Dale!”
”That’s enough Stone,” said Harry, ”leave her out of it.”
”What? I’m happy for him,” said Stone taking a deep puff, looking into Dale’s eyes, ”though it’s a shame though. She was really good at her job.”
Dale got up from the chair, walked up to him angrily, as if he was about to pounce him. Stone laughed at his effort.
”Oh what? Am I supposed to be threatened.”
”You can leave now Stone, I don’t want you here.”
”You are the one that started it. I come here in good faith. I bring you drugs and alcohol, even a friend you thought was dead. And this is how you thank me?”
”Please get out of here Stone.”
”Nah, I don’t feel like it.”
Dale stood there, he didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t a fighter. He knew there was a force inside Stone that he could not beat. It was not his strength, or his ability to fight, it was something else. It was the lack of mercy, his deadly seriousness. The casualty of bloodletting. The will to win no matter what.
Harry got up, ”let’s go Stone.”
”You know I could make a call and make you disappear. Your girlfriend could call to the police and they wouldn’t do a thing. You know why? They would get word from their captain by me, that they shouldn’t bother and they wouldn’t. Cos I’m the man. I’m the man that has ruled this country since its inception. And you don’t fuck with the man!”
Harry lifted up Stone from his collar, looked at him with ferociousness that surprised Stone, ”l said let’s go!”
Stone smiled, nodded, ”fine, fuck this little hipster pad.”
Stone moved to the front door, yelled back, ”say Dale, if your girlfriend can’t find a job, she can always come and ask me for money. I have things for her to do.”
He opened the door and left. Dale took a deep breath, he almost felt like crying.
”What are you doing with him Harry? You return from the fucking dead with him?”
”Don’t worry about him. I’ll make sure he won’t bother you again.”

”Where did you go Harry? What’s up with you? There’s something up with you. You aren’t the same.”
”I’m better Dale, I swear, I haven’t been this happy for a long time.”
Dale looked at him skeptically, ”it’s a crazy world out there, people can get lost. People can find them in places and never come back. Even when they think they’ve escaped, there still really there.”
”Dale, one day I’ll tell you what I’ve seen, one day you will see the world as I saw it. One day I will take you with me.”
”Take me with you? Where?”
”I can’t tell you yet but you will see. We will make you see.”
Harry suddenly hugged Dale then. He hugged him for nearly a minute. Dale didn’t know what to do. The hug was an intimate one, almost like a goodbye.
”I followed the music Dale, just as you said. And it was beautiful, it was so beautiful…”

They were on their way to Stone’s rented beach house. Stone was driving, smoking a joint as he did. Harry was looking out the window, it was nearing the night. He could see a storm coming.
”Would you believe that guy?” Laughed Stone, ”unbelievable. The arrogance of some people really astounds me.”
”Did you steal his music?” asked Harry.
Stone said nothing for a while but handed him the joint, Harry took it but didn’t smoke it, he just looked at him and asked again: ”did you?”
”That little fucker was so arrogant about it, I just had to know if it was any good. And you know what? It wasn’t. It fucking sucked.”
”You shouldn’t have done that Stone. It wasn’t for you to listen or to judge.”
”Oh please. He put it on his computer. His own fault. If it’s on your computer it belongs to everyone. If he wanted it to remain private, he should have made an effort.”
”Doesn’t matter Stone and you know it.”
”You gonna smoke that joint?”
”You can have it.”
Stone angrily grabbed the joint, ”what’s up with you anyway? I don’t like this new version of you. You’re too quiet. You were always in your head but now you’ve been spacing out all day. You didn’t smoke and had barely anything to drink so somethings up.”
”I’m fine.”
”Oh yeah, you’re fine. Sure. Well I hope you appreciate what I’ve been doing for you. I’m trying to show you a good time and you’re acting like a fucking zombie.”
”Thank you Stone.”
”That’s more like it. Wait till you see this house I rented. It’s too cold and windy to swim now but it’s a sight, it’s such a beautiful sight.”
”I bet it is,” said Harry fondling his revolver in his overcoat.

They finally got there. He parked next to a delicate little wooden beach house. The sky was turning gray, the night was coming. Stone got out of the car, ran towards the beach, stopped, lifted up his hands and yelped as he look towards the beach, the high-waves crashing and turning.
”Isn’t this beautiful Harry? Surely this is something you and I can share. Doesn’t that make you feel peaceful listening to that? Doesn’t the waves center everything in your head? I could listen to this forever. We might be able to swim but I’ve got a jacuzzi and…” He saw Harry pointing the revolver then. He laughed at first, ”what the fuck is this Harry? You getting a sense of humor?”
”Walk to the sea and get undressed while you do so.”
”What to sea and get undressed while you do so.”
”Oh go fuck yourself Harry, stop playing…”
Harry pointed the gun to the sky and pulled a trigger. The gunshot echoed and shook both Harry and Stone. The sound, its loudness, changed everything. Harry had to pause before he pointed the revolver to Stone again and said: ”this is really happening Stone. Do as I tell you…”
”I’m not getting undressed…”
”I want to see the emperor without clothes. I want to see wolf without sheep’s clothing. The demon without a disguise…”
”Harry come on…”
He shot another warning to the sky, the sound made Stone shiver.
”Come on,” said Harry, a smile coming to his face now, ”let’s take a walk together. This is something we can both enjoy…”

A man in an overcoat was chasing a naked man to the sea….
”I don’t want to die. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to die. I thought about death, I accepted that it could come sooner or later but no, not like this. Not here. People like me aren’t supposed to die like this. We are supposed to die old, in our sleep. We never get punished.”
”There has to be some accountability. There has to be some justice.”
”For what? The boy?”
”For the boy, for all the boys and girls in the world. You all get away with it. Everyone of you. We fuck up and we pay for life. You guys fuck up and everyone suffers and you get another clean break. It’s not fair. There has to be some consequences…”
”We make things happen. We make the engine run because you guys have no idea what to do with this world. So we take a little extra for ourselves. We deserve it! We aren’t like you guys who can only bitch and moan about how things are not good enough! We actually make a difference! The only way you can make a difference is by killing me! That’s why they go crazy out there, because they can’t make a difference, they can’t change the world. So they go around shooting people, hoping to kill the right person. And it doesn’t solve anything. It’s just another senseless tragedy. Life moves on…
The adrenaline stopped Stone from freezing, but he felt panic going through him, he refused to show it, ”you people just want to be coddled, want everything for free. You want the roads fixed, you want free health-care, an affordable car. None of you has the vision, none of you has what it takes to make this country great! We even give you a vote and look what you do with it? You still complain even when you get what you want! This country is the way it is because of you guys! Not us! You outnumber us!”
Harry said nothing, just stared him down, panic became overpowering, ”You kill me, you end your life too. You’ll be in Mexico somewhere and someone will hit you over the head and you will die alone. If you have a girlfriend there, they will kill her too. Cos this world is shit. It’s all shit. It’s like my daddy always said: it never changes, the people will always be shit. It’s always supposed to go like this. It’s destiny! A period of relative sanity until we go fucking ape-shit again. We’ve passed the Rubicon now. The end is nigh. Maybe a few centuries more and that’s it. We won’t live to see it, but we can see the machines taking over. We can see it! You can see it too, can’t you Harry?”
Harry’s hand was trembling, there was a fear he couldn’t do it. He had to remind himself:
”I’ve had this dream, that they will one day take me there. They were angels. They were with me all the way. I was never alone. They would stay with me. I just had to go all the way. I just have to be prepared to do what is necessary.”
”It’s just a dream Harry, it’s not real. They were just using you. They were just fucking with your head…”
”It has to be real Stone, if it isn’t real then there is no point…”
”Harry we can find a solution together. I know I’m a piece of shit. I know I’m an evil motherfucker but if you give me a chance than we can make a difference. We can make it a better world! Old America and new America. We could combine the two. We could make a world full of dreamers again!”
”I’m sorry Stone.” Harry stepped forward and Stone stepped back, he felt the water now, it was so cold, he yelped.
”Fuck it’s so cold Harry please, please…” he ran to the side away from the water, ”please don’t make me go into the water, please…”
”I just want the bugs to go away. I want to cure us. You are the disease, you’ve been festering into our consciousness for millions of years now. I don’t want to do this but I have to. In order to make a change, we have to be prepared to do what’s necessary, to lose something of ourselves…”
”This is fucking murder Harry! You can’t do this please!”
”…You thought that by killing the boy, Alan, that you took away my innocence. But no that blood is on you. This blood will be on me, but it will be necessary. You’ve helped them for far too long. The world is changing. The revolution is coming. And this is your guillotine, the blade is coming down…”
”I’m your friend Harry! I’m your friend! We’ve known each other for years! Please, I don’t want to die. There are things I want to make right! I just need another chance please…” Stone was on his knees now, begging. Harry pointed the gun to his temple, his hand trembling again.
”You can’t help the way you are. You are a parasite, you are programmed to act this way. In a way I know you think you are doing the right thing. I know that…” Tears were streaming down his eyes, ”I just want to go to that place. I want to go back to mom. She is proud of me you know? She is waiting for me.”
”She’ll be proud of you if you put the gun down Harry!” He then turned his head, seeking any soul to save him, ”help! Please for the love of God help!!”
”My dreams will come true. I will be a hero. They will reward me, I will fall in love again. I can be an angel too, guiding the next person…”
”She’s proud of me. She forgives me. She told me that, this is what I need to do…” His hand steady now, Stone saw the glare in his eyes. Stone got up and ran, tripped and ran in desperation, crying as he did so. Harry closed his eyes when he aimed and pulled the trigger, Stone’s right shoulder exploded in gore, he cried in pain, tripped but kept running. Harry ran after him. The waves kept on crashing in on each other, the wind kept howling.
Harry shot again, he hit the back of Stone’s leg. Stone felt to the sand, the cold water crashing in on him. He crawled towards his waves, crying for his mother as he did so. The coldness reminded him of death approaching. The end, the nothingness that was upon him. He cried that he was sorry for everything.
Harry looked up at the gray sky for a moment, clothing his eyes, taking a deep breath, smelling he air. Time seemed to stop for a moment.
The waves pushed Stone back to the shore but he crawled right back into the waves, as if it could save him. Harry opened his eyes. When Stone was pushed back again, he turned around, looking at him, a last plea for mercy.
Harry looked back, they said nothing for a while.
”It’s true,” said Harry, ”the waves, they center everything in your head. It’s transcendent. I could listen to this forever.”
Stone smiled bittersweetly, ”I know, I wanted to share this with you.”
”Thank you,” said Harry pointing the revolver at him. Stone didn’t move. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath. He smelled the air.
A hole exploded behind the back of Stone’s head. He was dead instantly. Harry looked at his dead body for a while, the waves pushed him to closed to the shore, as if rejecting him. Harry sat down, looked at him, his lifeless eyes. It was always the most disturbing part, the eyes that said nothing anymore. The eyes locked into the void. Harry reached out and closed his eyes.
”I’m sorry,” Harry said, wiping his tears. He threw the gun into the sea and sat down next to the corpse of an old friend, a sacrifice to the Gods.

He sat there, looking to the coast.  It was night, close to midnight. He was ready, waiting for them. There was the fear that Stone was right: maybe it was all in his head, maybe there was no such place, maybe there are no angels. He couldn’t think like that, you have to believe, keep the faith. He started the revolution, the new world was coming for him.
There was a light far ahead, a boat perhaps. It was coming his way. Harry smiled, he couldn’t wait.
The light flickered, disappeared for a while and then came back. The waves kept crashing in on each other, the wind kept howling. One could listen to this forever.
Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania winslow homer
Art by Winslow Homer

The end

Our Disease 18

The Sad Man in The Coffeeshop 

There was a man that walked into a coffee-shop. He stood in the center of the room, looking around. It was as if he was looking for something. Sometimes he would stare at a corner of a room, the customers were thinking that he was looking at them. There was a sadness in his eyes. He remained standing there for over an half an hour, finally a kindly barista walked up to him, asked him if he was okay, if there was anything she could do for him.
”No thank you,” he said, ”I’ll be leaving soon. I don’t mean to bother anyone.”
”It’s okay,” said the barista, ”would you like to sit down? Did something happen?”
There was a pause before he answered, ”there used to be a playground here. There was a sandpit there. A swing right there. They demolished it long ago. I never really cared. We shouldn’t, we should move on. But I’m looking back at things, even if it might hurt. I think this is a good place to start…” A pause, he looked at the barista who listened intently, she was only a teenager, ”my best friend died about your age. He would have become a great man. We lost touch before it happened. So many could have become great men, so many didn’t get a chance.”
He looked at the teenager, smiled for her, yet his sad eyes remained.
”Thank you for listening, you take care of yourself,” he turned around and headed out the doorway, it was unusually bright outside. The barista would see him leave and disappear into the light. He made one final remark before he left: ”and for god’s sake, take care of each other…”

He was sitting next to Crispin, both on a separate swing, gently moving along with the wind. Crispin, still looking like the sprightly twelve-year old, was sucking on a lollipop. There was darkness above, the rain was coming soon.
”You want a lollipop?” asked Crispin.
”Why not,” said Harry and Crispin handed him a lollipop from his pocket.
”It’s strawberry, your favorite.”
”You remembered.”
”We remember everything here.”
Harry ripped open the plastic and put the lollipop on his mouth. They both sucked on the lollipop for a while, enjoying the silence.
”There are some who fall to deep and were never able to come back up,” said Crispin.
”I know.”
”In the end it’s very simple but not very easy.”
”I’ve seen people who were lost in there. I’ve seen their eyes. It happened to the one of the people I loved the most.”
Crispin turned to Harry, ”you know, she’s very proud of you. I hope you know this.”
”I think you are just telling me that. I don’t think that’s true.”
”I think you are telling yourself the opposite because you have trained your mind to do so. I think that for a man who values the truth, you lie to yourself all the time. This is what we do. This is what we train our minds to do. It’s the disease. The bug is making us lie to ourselves.”
”Well I guess I’ll figure that out. In the end, I’m supposed to realize you are right and I am wrong.”
”This is not a competition. I don’t want win by being right. I want you to be happy.”
”I find it hard to believe that’s possible in this stage.”
”It’s going to take some time.”
”How long?”
”This depends, each person is difficult. You gotta get through your own pace. You’ve already made some pertinent moves, believe it or not. You’ll get there. You just gotta have faith.”
Harry sighed, he could feel him coming closer.
”I’m scared Cris,” said Harry, ”I’m really scared.”
”I know, it’s normal to be scared.”
He could see him coming, his white face and dark eyes.
”It’s going to hurt a lot.”
”Yes, you will have to confront the pain. You will have to wrestle with it. Eventually you’ll be free.”
Harry began to swing forth and Crispin followed his league. He was swinging back and forth, getting higher and higher. He was coming closer, he was so close.
”I never said goodbye,” said Harry, ”I never gave you a proper goodbye.”
”You never have to.”
Suddenly the swing, the cable that held it, disappeared and Harry felt himself falling. He screamed and reached out to the dark skies. It began to rain. There was a strike of thunder. Then everything went silent. Harry couldn’t even hear himself screaming.

Art by Jeff Lemire


Our Disease 4

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a dream at all

Whenever Stone’s around, there’s hardly time for sleep. He always has with him a suitcase full of mysterious chemicals making sure there’s always time for a party. They were spending most of the time in Stone’s luxurious hotel since Harry’s place was a mess and Stone always loves to create havoc in some upper-class hotel. Occasionally there were complaints but nobody in the hotel was as rich or connected as Stone so in the end, it didn’t matter.
Despite their differences, the last few days there was much boisterous laughter, long meaningful talks into the night, a connection that wavered on and of. There were moments when Harry didn’t feel so alone more, felt part of the mad scheme of the universe. But in time, as he suspected in the back of his mind, the high faded away and then the crash happened and then everything felt even worse.
The crash was happening now.
On the leather couch in the living room, Stone was having a dispute about Russia with an high-class escort called Tara. Tara was a busty blond, nearing her thirties, her voice almost that of a child. Harry sat in front of them, smoking a cigarette, wearing a fake smile.
”Listen to me young lady, the Russian people just don’t know any better. We tried to give them more rights in the nineties and look what they did? They gave it all away because they need a strong leader. They want someone to point at people and say: ‘we must annihilate these kind of people.’ That’s what people want deep down. They want to be part of a big good vs. evil story.”
”I have more faith for the Russian people…”
Stone started bawling in laughter, winking at Harry.
”We just have to give the right example. We just have to reach the people somehow. Expose their president for the monster that he is.”
”The people have been brainwashed for centuries now. We can’t penetrate their media and we will lose the information war. He’s got them locked in. You have to understand, when it comes to propaganda, the Russians know what they are doing. They’ve perfected it. It was so good, it has even infected the hearts and minds of Europeans and Americans. It’s over darling.”
”But if we showed the human rights statistics then…”
”They will say it’s fake. Western-Propaganda.”
”But it’s not.”
”They will: how do you know?”
”You want to help them and mean good but they don’t want your help. They think they need to protect themselves from you.”
Tara looked sad, drank a sip of their wine.
”I’m scared about the future of our country. We aren’t there yet, but we are getting close.”
”We are almost there, we just haven’t gone to the acceptance mode yet.”
”It’s going to be alright,” said Harry, his eyes getting watery, knowing deep down, that it won’t be alright.
”You really think so?”
”My friend is just pessimistic. There’s good in us. We will prevail in the end.”
Stone started bawling in laughter.
”Just make sure you keep remembering who the monsters really are,” said Harry, getting up and heading towards the bathroom. In the background, Harry could hear the conversation between Stone and Tara continuing. Harry threw the cigarette in the toilet bowl and dropped to the tile floor, lying there, staring at the ceiling.
He thought about slashing his wrists, about bashing his head against a wall until it was a unrecognizable pulp of gore. He thought about jumping from the window, falling three floors and hopefully dying in front of the bellhop. In the end, it all boiled down to one thing; he missed her, oh a god he missed here.
He knew damn well he shouldn’t. But then he did it anyway. The time alone was egregious but he had to hear her voice.
”Sheryl Palmer speaking.” This was alone felt so painful: she took his last name.
”I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” he began, ”I just don’t who to call. You’re the only person I can turn to.” A barrage of cliches. Sometimes the extent one’s self-loathing has no bounds.
There was a sigh, contemplation. Her voice sounded a little drowsy, she hadn’t been in a deep sleep when he called but she was about too.
”It’s okay,” pause, ”what’s up?” This was a mistake but it was too late now.
There was her coldness, her refusal to express any emotion. She had given him too much already. She was already giving more. There seems to be no end.
”Well…” he didn’t know what to say. Whatever he could say would just aggravate her. But he had to express himself, he had to tell her that he loved her, even if he couldn’t say it outright.
”I had this dream. It was so beautiful.”
”What dream?”
”That’s the most painful thing. I can’t remember. It vanished from the mind. The brain just doesn’t think dreams are important to remember I suppose. But I know it was beautiful. And I know you were in there.”
”Oh Harry, she said, sighing, then: ”it was only a dream.”
It was a reasonable but nevertheless painful statement.
”It doesn’t have to be.”
”Are you drunk?”
”Yes. I’m in a hotel bathroom. Stone is discussing Russian politics with an escort.”
”You be careful with him. He handle the abyss. You can’t.”
”I wouldn’t be doing this if…” if she was still with him, ”if I knew what I was supposed to with my life.”
”Maybe you need to leave that podcast of yours alone. It’s just isolating you.”
”I can’t. It’s my world. It’s the only place that still makes sense.”
”Are you still doing therapy?”
”Not for a while.”
”I know all the answers and I don’t like any of them.”
”You know I care about you Harry, but I can’t help you. I can’t come too close. You know that.”
Harry didn’t say anything, as the happy memories came, so the tears streamed from his eyes.
”I understand, sorry to bother you. I shouldn’t have done this.”
”It’s okay. You should get some sleep Harry.”
He wanted to tell her that he loved her but instead: ”I always hate waking up.”
”Sweet dreams.”
He hung up. The conversation in the living room was still going on. Harry closed his eyes. He imaged himself running in a rye field, trying to catch the shape of his beloved dream. He got close so many times, but the memory kept slipping away.
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Art by David Lynch



Nobody ever wants to wake up, certainly not during a revolution.
Suddenly you’re not lonely anymore, because you have each other.
Suddenly you are not powerless anymore, because there are thousands of you and more and more keep coming.

There was a time when you could only watch while they stole from your people, imprisoned them, silenced them, even made them disappear. Sometimes you would hear a whisper of dissent and you would stifle your ears, wishing not to be infected by something that could get you killed. There was something about those who listened, their feet would take them to the street, they would chant in unison. You admired them but you wanted to live, you didn’t want to rock the boat.
I’m nobody, what can I do?
I’m nobody, please leave me alone.
You could see through their lies, even though you even tried to hide this from yourself.
The same music, the same speeches, the same faces plastered on the walls and government buildings and TV.
It’s all so obvious but they keep telling me to pretend it isn’t.
They have nothing but contempt for me, but I’m supposed to love them.
He’s only a marketing ploy for the party; a dull, heartless, selfish ghoul.
I knew it was happening then, somehow I got the bug:
Leave them alone, they deserve their voice!
Why don’t you feed the children?

Feed the children of the defenders of the motherland!
I know why you are not telling us the truth, but tell us anyway…

Everything makes so much sense when you’re fighting a revolution. It doesn’t matter what they do to stop us. The pain belongs to all of us. If I must die, I won’t be dying alone.
There’s an initial worry about what happens to this country after we tear it all down. Everyone before us seems to to have failed, so why shouldn’t why?
But such a rational voice quickly dies in the mob.
Look at your bloodied comrade, look at him smile. It’s coming true. It’s all coming true.
There’s a long way to go. You can wake up when you get there.

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