I return here after dealing with a rare motor-neuron disease and the suicide of my wife in 2015. Studied with Ernest Leman, Robert Bloch, Tom Gries, James Gross and Edward Anhalt. Actors I filmed (video) or worked with in film school: Gene Wilder, Steve McQueen, Robert DeNiro, Jimmy Stewart... Yeah, I go back to the 1970's, before the digitation, mongralization and bastardization of mass media of a billion twiddling tweets and unctuous YouTube vainglories. Back then filmmakers were real men with hair on their chests... and everywhere sheep were scared!
Hey filmsters! Here's a flash fiction short story I wrote that was recently accepted for publication. It would be a tough bugger to script, as it is internal monologue. The story could be told through symbols probably. In Hawaiian, lanai also means heaven.
MY DOOR TO THE LANAI
by max Keanu
All I have is my door.
I look out my door, morning 'til evening.
Sunrise. Sunset. I've seen them all.
Things happen outside my door. Some days.
Other days, nothing happens but the movement of clouds across my narrow field of vision.
I can see the life before me, but little else. I'd give anything if my eyes could move up or down, right or left... Even for just one day, or just one hour, or just one minute.
My home care worker, for my daylight hours, arrives at seven to elevate me from my bed, take care of the previous night's urine and then place me in my home-within-a -home... my special wheelchair.
My yawing and sleepy-eyed nighttime home care worker lingers a bit, smokes a cigarette on the lanai and then prepares to leave, while chatting over and over, over a long cup of coffee with her morning replacement. I listen to them chat as I suck my bland breakfast through a straw. I can still suck... but just barely.
And, I can still breathe in this life... but just barely.
My daytime home care worker chats about the view out my door as she feeds me and makes certain I don't drowned in my own saliva. Tells her comrade how lucky I am to have this view, own this house-but not- this life. She never makes the mistake of saying I have a lucky life.
I am lucky to have this life?
Evelyn is her name, today, last week her name was, Joan, the week before, Lisa. They wear identical uniforms that are really only company tee shirts and cheap polyester pants and non-skid nursing shoes that squeak on my wooden floors. They talk on-and-on to me about the television shows I am forced to watch when my wheelchair is parked before that idiot box showing dramas about people who can walk and run and skip and love and break down in tears and cry about love affairs gone wrong or the silly and oh-so-amusing mistake the kids made in kindergarten class that day the...
I'd like to have a relationship with any of them, or anyone for that matter. Oh, to fuck again... to fuck and fuck and fuck and.. But I know better than to go there. I stare out my door to avoid thinking about the old days, the wonderful wonder filled days of great sex with the only wife I ever had.
Now, I have only a relationship with my door. We are one. I know every solid object that can be seen through my door for miles around... All the way to the sea and the mountains and my forever waxing and waning daytime moon... And, yet, I can never discuss what I know about my objects, of my life, with anyone ever again.
My door is a sliding glass door that reaches from the floor to the ceiling and all day I listen to the wind whoosh through the spaces between the glass panes. I also hear the birds. I hear the bees. And I hear the indefatigable ants crawling somewhere and everywhere and nowhere.
When my door is completely open to the world outside, the tradewinds enter and cool what is left of my slowly disappearing and shrinking body. Many mornings, the breeze blows in the aroma of frangipani or white ginger or the smell of a beautiful little flower I'll never know the name of.
I can smell life... and that is my life's one redeeming redemption.
I cannot speak about life. I can not ask about life.
I can never ask anyone what the name of that fucking beautiful smelling flower is!!!
I can only grunt.
And when I grunt, the home care workers roll out empathetic and practiced smiles of pseudo-understanding and schooled psychology... but of course, they can never really understand what is going on in the vegetable they call... me.
Bitches! Christ!... Sometimes I hate these mother-fucking home care workers as much as I hate that man with the automatic weapon in that movie theater that night... No, he is the devil and I can only hate him until the day I die.
Out the door is my view and when I begin to think about the man who did this to me I look to the ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the beauty of Hawaii and the beautiful volcanic mountains that have eroded over millions of years into a million-billion grains of sand... Anything to get him, that sound of gunfire and that horrible night out of my brain.
And as I fucking cry over my fate in this immobile, locked down life, I grunt and the home care workers ignore my grunts and wipe the spittle that is constantly drooling down my chin and wipe away the streams of tears from my eyes that they ascribe to my ‘condition'. But only I know they are tears of a life cut down by a mad-man... And the end of a marriage made in heaven. Oh, Christina... Why us! Why us?
It was my younger sister's wedding. We flew to Colorado, to Aurora for her wedding to Mike Johnson the forest ranger. Her great guy! We went to the midnight showing of Batman. I hated Batman, but being the good brother, I went anyway, even though I was dead tired from the flight from Hawaii. I felt like a zombie with jet lag, like a man with a 500-pound gorilla hanging on his back and bar-bell weights weighting down the bags under my eyes.
We sat near the front and I slowly felt myself drifting off to sleep on my dear Christina's arm... which is hard to do in a movie of car crashes and guns blazing and buildings exploding left and right on the screen.
And then I felt a fire in my arm, then another torch of fiery pain in my chest and neck and I opened my eyes to see my wife with a small hole in her forehead with blood slowly flowing out of it. She was smiling, her blue eyes wide-open as if still amazed at something on the screen. I knew she was dead. The light from the silver screen lit her up... Frantic movement all around, chaos and panic everywhere... But I knew! I Knew!
I could not move.
I could not scream.
I could not move a muscle.
I was paralyzed in every sense of the word.
A man I thought was a policeman shot at everything and everyone in the theater.
The smell of feces and the smell of fear, mixed with blood, wafted over me. And still, I could not move or scream. And I knew!
I own two magnificent acres in the rainforest in Maui. Three quarters of the property is lawn with professional landscaping. I have dozens of fruit trees, yet I can never enjoy the taste of the fruit. My paradise of the lost.
Every other week, the Guatemalan gardeners arrive in the early morn to avoid the heat of the tropics. Juan Gries is the head gardener's name. He always walks up the stairs of my big lanai, comes to my open sliding glass door, and places a few very fragrant frangipani flowers on my bone-thin shoulders so I can smell them for the remainder of the day. I can no longer grasp any solid object in this life, not even a fragile and beautiful flower.
He says nothing to me. He has a very poor understanding of the English language. He removes his hat, smiles a full-smile and says a melodious Buenos Dias to my care worker. She sometimes smiles to him, usually with her nose in the air and only with a professional work-a-day, hard-edged smile.
He smiles one last smile to me, touches my hand gently with his weathered, hard-claw of a hand and then goes back to work.
To me his eyes and smile are of a depth of soul in infinite compassion and love for his fellow man.
But to me, his simple and wonderfully dignified manner is a magnificent kindness given freely to me, the true gift of caring beyond measure.
I tell you, I live for those few moments when Juan walks up and puts those flowers on my shoulders. I know he has a son back in Guatemala with a clubfoot and he works his fuckin fingers to the bone in this Goddamned infernal tropical heat to get the boy good medical care, to support three other kids, a grandmother and a handicapped wife.
I have the money. I'm rich. I sued the damned theater chain I was shot in, where my wife was murdered, where my happiness ended. And yet, I cannot help this man, this wonderful simple man, who every two-weeks performs a heartfelt act of kindness, a miracle that makes me so happy and gives me the willpower and strength to live on.
If only I could just tell someone, I could give this man everything I own and more.
Name: Max Keanu
Lives in: Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii
Company: tradewindsweb and nanihoku designs
Unique traits: Great scars from gunshots wounds.
Many publishing credits
Print by head writer writer
University of Hawaii
Starfleet Academy - Fort Baker, California
Sherwood Oaks Experimental College