Category Archives: creative writing

The Horror of Armie Hammer.

My parathyroids were having a fit.

A cascade of alarming symptoms had followed me since September beginning with the second of two kidney stones, roiling its way south to exit, followed by uncontrollable OCD, crushing anxiety and, per the secondary results of the CT scan nearly culminating in that most reviled of all diagnostics, the colonoscopy. BUT!

The second of two 24 hour urine captures told that tale. Calcium levels were the kicker. Not to be outdone by actual medical professionals, I pored over the interwebs until, honing in, I’d settled on the glands in my throat. Seems at least one of them was throwing out hormone like gangbusters; and, who knew? My endocrinologist, a Peruvian with a penchant for the latest peer reviewed papers, called me from two hours outside Lima to discuss the whole thing.

At such a juncture, one needs diversion.

The Bachelor season wouldn’t commence for another, unendurable week, and the guy who’d played boyfriend on the flat screen of my fantasy was AWOL again; so, if succour was the craving of the hour the most available (and, delectable) appeared to be an Oscar nom’d film, Call Me By Your Name. Unaware of its actual theme, I was drawn in by what had always turned my head: ineffably. pretty. boys.

And, this was a twofer: the most heavily promoted ingenue, Tim-O-Tay Chalamet – and, one Armand Douglas Hammer.

The story played out as a heady, Indy-European hybrid, flavoured with English subtitles whenever our Elio preferred les Francais and steeped in languid, sun swathed Italian countryside. We followed the young musician and his scholarly Oliver, as they stepped out their bee dance toward coupling, predictably enough; yet, what carried this old girl was the sight, sound, even perceptible scent of perfectly lovely men.

But, reverberating in the back of my refractive lens was the distant undertow of what used to be termed the society page story – on Hammer. As I watched his godlike, Aryan body travel across the frame, I noted a distinctive impetus that seemed almost borne of compulsion. Unlike his convincingly thoughtful counterpart, Chalamet, he didn’t muse to move; Hammer, as Oliver, almost vaulted forward, suddenly, as a cat might pounce.

Could the nature of the man have informed the character he portrayed? Even when the two were in rapt embrace, I was never warmed toward Oliver by any notion of authentic sentiment. He seemed rather to be calculating, to the end, loosely referencing discretion as some sort of caveat for deliberate restraint. At times, he toyed with lovesick Elio, even taunting, then cold. While performing therapeutic foot massage, he appeared to be inflicting authentic pain. In their final scene, departing by train toward a life of alleged responsibility he was ever in his head, as if always having known the end from its beginning.

Is this not the mark of the predator?

I decided that both, as actors, were effortless, immersed in their story. But, what of Hammer, in his?

Born into a family dynasty marked by both industrial megafortune and some alarming, dark demons, “Armie” appeared to have it all – beauty; physique; intellect; and, sexual magnetism. But, too much evidence had mounted, far more often than he would in occasional infidelity, and of a kind which made even a rebel startle; multiple women were testifying to relentless, physical brutality.

In my recent, protracted attempt at relationship I’d become accustomed to giving latitude where likely undeserved, forgiveness where none could otherwise be found. But, my brain stretched, on this one; what, or who, had poisoned the mind of this young man toward an established pattern of relational violence? Was it genetic weakness, true affliction? Or, had he grown to expect absolute dominance over all, both those haplessly appearing in his path as well as selected prey?

I’d sought mindless entertainment, of the evening. I tried valiantly to submit to escape. But, reality encroached – and, won. This wasn’t just a movie about two gay guys falling in love; this was a study in the strength of suspension of disbelief. And, regarding any ability to relax into a story played by actors, even viewing it twice I’d failed. All I could see, or feel, were the raw edges of biting teeth and the tearing flesh of penetrating assault.

Current reports indicate Hammer is financially destitute, in debt, foundering in a menial job as timeshare concierge. The shadows cast by his persistent past still follow him, a true diagnosis for the disease haunting him elusive.

In a matter of days, I will likely reach the point of definitive diagnosis, for my own: Hyperparathyroidism. Four tiny glands, set in the hyoid bone hammock of the human throat, and capable – with the advent of just one, benign lesion – of wreaking havoc over the entire physiological constitution, at its most pathological achieving psychosis.

Maybe Armie Hammer could use a pursuant blood test, of his own. Whence the darkest deeds of man, anyway? The heart may be deceitful, desperately wicked; but, perhaps the source of all bad human behavior can at last be found, couched in the tantrum of one, small handful of rogue cells.

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  • Please find “HOUSE OF HAMMER” on Amazon Prime or Discovery+

Copyright 1/24/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who has consumed four double chocolate chip cookies in cocoa flour and whose story it is. No copying, pasting, editing, transcribing, or translating permitted; sharing by blog link, exclusively, and that not via RSS. Thank you for visiting, and remembering, and subscribing.

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The Recipe Card.

CHAPTER 50.

His was a gourmet’s gift. The slurries, alone, always subtley balanced. The rubs, same. You never wanted for naming a dominant spice; rather, the synergy.

And, he loved the prospect of a new “dish.” Let the plan gel, and then heartily get to it.

Yet, the scenario this time was different. A certain clarity pervaded the usually hazy atmosphere. The house had been cleaned, recently, reorganized too. No longer the customary chaos usually accompanying his binges when she rang the doorbell, unannounced, on a night he’d learned to expect her to be otherwise occupied giving private music lessons.

She’d lost count how many times over the years there’d been, oh, two bowls instead of one, an odd wine glass, fried chicken all but gone in the skillet. Then there was the bright yellow stethoscope draped hastily over the livingroom chair, as if somebody other than she had entered via the rarely used front door.

No; this time, the pizza stone nearly empty of more slices than even a fat man could consume, the large, antique China salad bowl oddly cleaned of its contents but, what was this?

A recipe card. For “Linguini Salad”.

Sitting alone, on the opposite counter. Handwritten, in rather large, round, legible script and clean, as if just penned that very day. Not a speck of cooking grease, not a corner turned, fresh as morning. And she, with her annoying visual memory, immediately identifying the writing as unrecognizable.

It had come from his ex-wife, he slurred. Oh; really. All those thirty odd years ago, still untouched by so much as a drop of oil.

And, calling for artichokes and “Paul Newman’s Own” dressing, the latter underscored with proud emphasis.

Why a natural chef would choose a salad recipe from the ex-wife which called for pasta and bottled dressing, to accompany a mammoth flatbread homemade pizza. Why, indeed.

Moving through the livingroom to the bathroom ( in search of the stash of Ivermectin ) and, re-emerging sooner than he was ready, she caught him stuffing something under the sofa cushion and then, spying her, deftly acting to smooth its surface.

Ah. What had we here, then. Black Nike workout pants, far too narrow for his overdeveloped calves. They were his, were they. Would he put them on, to see if they fit? No; he would not. Nor would he tell her how he’d spent the afternoon. He owed her nothing. In nearly six years of endless forgiveness for countless infractions, she had earned no explanations of any kind.

Two degrees of separation, and swift resolution: No; the ex-wife had never used Paul Newman’s Own dressing. On anything.

(Sorry, Paul.)

They say the secret is always in the sauce.

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Thus endeth the lesson.

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Copyright 1/18/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or by translation, permitted; sharing by blog link, exclusively, and not via RSS. Thank you for being honorable in a sea of filth.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Do I Want To Live Forever?

Do you want to live forever?

*Author’s Note: After 800+ essays and poems, WordPress asks this old girl the question – to prompt her reply, we assume. As if, after 800……but, you know the tune.

******

Last Sunday, in the second row of the Unitarian congregation of Girard, Blossom McBrier announced her latest impending venture: she, having just turned 99, would celebrate her 100th year by traveling to the North Pole. Seems there had always been thousands of tiny lights in her firmament, and Blossom would seek their source in the Aurora Borealis – even if, as she declared, she froze to death en route.

When I was a kid we, in our family, were raised to face eternity. The sectarian fundamentalists, Christian variety, were into that. Still are, in fact. Life everlasting, after all.

Not to sound glib, the reality was: from birth, the dogma were clear; know that your soul was infinite, and the direction of its path open to the power of free will.

The Bible taught us that God the Father had provided, for lost mankind – gripped by original sin and enmity from its Creator – a way, toward redemption. The source was Jesus the Son, Christ, whose sacrifice on Calvary’s cross paved the way for total forgiveness. Just by confession and acceptance: personal absolution.

And, beyond mere verdict, the reward: eternal life – with God, and the Saviour Jesus, in the Heaven of holy provision. The body would return to the dust whence it had arisen but the soul would continue, forever. World, without end. Amen.

I remember trying to wrap my head around this inaccessible phenomenon, as a toddler. The concept, and my attempt at grasping it, actually made me nauseous. Physically discomfited, I became acutely disturbed by the idea. Comprehending endlessness left me frightened by something even more foreboding: utter powerlessness. Things which had a beginning, a middle, and an end were familiar and comforting and, to a degree, subject to control. Beyond end was a chasm, a black void. I was averted.

Yes. At that particular stage of, for lack of a better word, growth…from that which had no end, I recoiled.

Perhaps growth, mental/emotional let alone physical, would account for a shift in the affect of that perspective. Now, in the “twilight years” or, if the psychics are both real and accurate, the final third of my presence on this planet I can say that my sense and view of eternity has definitely evolved. Everlasting life? Yeah. I can dig it.

Why?

Always driven by creative curiosity, this spirit derives joy from seeking out and finding the new and different. New ideas. New flavors. New places. New experiences. If left to the familiar, I quickly stagnate, even regress. Decompensation, swiftly enacted by the body, even attacks the mind; soon, I am but a slug, repeating tasks like a robot with an excretory system just because it’s handy. Being alive becomes redundant.

But, moving forward allows me reach. Searching yields a banquet of possibility; and, possibilities, they say, are endless. So, why not? Like Blossom McBrier, driven by her teeming need to know, turning in the direction of the North Pole and thermally clad I press on. If life is the absence of decay, or decay just a phase on the brink of rebirth, then being born again – and, again – sounds like a plan.

Yeah. Live forever. Ever, something new, right around the next corner.

Can you dig it? Then, everybody sing!

Hallelujah!

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Copyright 1/10/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose thoughts appear and whose name likewise, above this line. No copying, in part or whole including translation, permitted. Sharing by blog link, exclusively, and not by RSS. Thank you for accepting and respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com