Category Archives: drama

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.

littlebarefeetblog.com

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

The Alienated Stranger.

Obsessive Compulsion is a marauding demon.

The Interweb consolidates. “Many investigators have contributed to the hypothesis that OCD involves dysfunction in a neuronal loop running from the orbital frontal cortex to the cingulate gyrus, striatum (cuadate nucleus and putamen), globus pallidus, thalamus and back to the frontal cortex.” You’ll get this search result at the top of Google.

Happy looping!

There’s more. “Research suggests that OCD involves problems in communication between the front part of the brain and deeper structures of the brain. These brain structures use a neurotransmitter (basically, a chemical messenger) called serotonin.” Yep. That old, familiar, feel good goodie, wrecked by one nasty migraine med, Imitrex, taken for far too many years unawares.

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors are being prescribed, to treat OCD. But, Imitrex is a triptan, which interacts with serotonin (probably causing the OCD, long term.) You got it. Ya cain’t mix duh meds.

Even more currently (2011, these things move slowly) “Recent evidence suggests that the ubiquitous excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate is dysregulated in OCD, and that this dysregulation may contribute to the pathophysiology of the disorder.” Glutamate > Gluten. Sure enough. Gluten intolerance > drug dysregulated neurotransmission > OCD.

Anyhoo…….

So, my hapless grieving partner, alone at home – weeks after his mother’s death – making dinner and drowning his sorrows ends his convo with me on the Messenger phone App. Only, he thinks he can just hang up a Phone call, and leaves the Messenger line open.

For the next twenty odd minutes I listen in, picking up kitchen utensil sound effects and an increasingly persistent, if garbled, female voice continuously talking with no audible response from another vocal source. This could be the TV, but the demon thinks it hears his name spoken. Then, his voice, clearer, making a declarative vulgarity into a complete sentence, and I am captured. Captured, by the devil in the details.

By the time he finally discovers his phone status, our satan in the eaves has created the whole scenario: he’s having another female over for tacos, she’s on her phone until he proclaims the Italian classic: “Let’s eat!”, and they plan their intimate hours directly following dinner. My hollering to Hang Up The Phone! finally draws her attention, he asks What are you doing?, silence ensues, he frets This Is Bad and the phoneline cuts out, me with my conclusion in tablet stone.

But, the demon is tenacious. (They all are; categorically doomed, they persist in the pathetic hope that hanging on will somehow alter their fate. ) My mind now in its full control, the hell’s minion’s story must play out; I must pummel him with decision based texts, including the announcement that all his things will be in a bag at an undisclosed location, and ending with a prophetic Bible verse from the Book of Proverbs about dogs, vomit, and fools.

The clincher: way beyond the normal pale, OCD sends its victims into the realm of the stranger. I contact Suspect #1, a woman with whom my partner has history and who has recently surfaced on his birthday to call him Babe and post a telling salutation. She and I are not acquainted. Devils don’t care who’s been introduced.

I tell her she can have him. I pass judgment on her character. I condemn her to the rubble.

By the time the demon scuttles off, content to have ravaged all reality, she – neither suspect, nor person of interest, according to him – has blocked me. And, given her higher than my level of social intelligence, already gathering her covy of girlfriends to further condemn me to the pit of the Hades by which I have already been entertained.

OCD is a killer. All demons are. They don’t care how many Friends you have on Facebook, or see out, or hoard in, or keep in your pandemic bubble. By the time you’ve been wreaked with the havoc, you’ll lose friends you’ve never even met.

Get thee behind me, Lucifer. You may be son of the morning, but that sky is as red as a sailor’s warning. I’m staying out front, on my wire, scoping you out. My life, and the diminishing few humans who remain in my real and/or imagined realm, depend on such vigilance.

Selah.

Obsess on that.

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Copyright 12/16/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, the afflicted, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted. Sharing only by blog link, exclusively and directly; no RSS, either. Thank you for hanging on.

littlebarefeetblog.com