Prelude: Untitled

Note from Author: Yesterday I started Story One (of three) for my Writing Program applications. This is merely two pages of what will hopefully soon be a full-fledged story. I have a lot of ideas and hopes for this one.

I read once that a good writer writes to one person. It made me realize that you’ve always been my target audience. Every show I’ve written I had you in mind; somewhere in the back of my subconscious I wondered if you’d like what you saw. Even now I’m rereading everything I type wondering if you’d approve.
But you’ll never read this.
Not like I ever expected you to take me seriously though. I wonder if you’ve seen any of my work, and if you’d like it. You probably wouldn’t. Sitcoms are a little beneath your taste.
I know it’s random of me to be writing you, it’s been over twenty years since we were together. Do you remember that one time we happened upon each other in New York? You would have walked right past me but I called out your name. You stopped, turned around and smiled at me. We caught up some. Some guy was with you. I don’t remember anything about him except that he was with you, and the fact that he didn’t seem to appreciate our friendly encounter. I hope you’re not still with that douchebag.
That was a few years ago. I was a hotshot screenwriter and you were what you always have been—a struggling artist. I was in town for a movie premiere that my buddy Steven starred in and I invited you, but you didn’t come. I guess I didn’t expect you to.
In hindsight, of course you didn’t come. Now that I think about it I specifically remember only offering one ticket to the screening, intentionally excluding the douchebag. I guess that wasn’t very cordial of me. Plus, you never liked all that red carpet affair shit.
I thought about you today, but more than the subconscious awareness thinking. Today I really remembered you, and today is when I realized that I’ve been writing for you all along.
A few days ago I was hospitalized and I thought about you, too, but in passing.
So I have decided that I might as well write directly to you.
I should probably explain the hospital thing before I go further.
I have cancer. It’s located in my dirty, black lungs. I was admitted to the hospital after I started coughing up blood for the third time this week. They haven’t told me the details, but I already know that it’s inoperable and incurable. They’re running more tests; I’ll know the specifics soon.
Steven drove me here. His dad had lung cancer. I have all the symptoms that he had when he was in Stage 3. They found out about his when he was in the first stage, but the chemotherapy didn’t work and he died from it. Steven’s really worried about me. He finally left the hospital little over an hour ago.
A few days ago he admitted me. He insisted on it.
There was a mural over the welcome counter when we came in. It’s this massive scenic painting of a park. There’s a bench with a couple, all we see is their back. Beside them is a slender tree with branches that reach out over the water. The water is reflecting a vague city skyline. A jogger with ear buds has passed the couple; he’s running down the sidewalk towards another couple. This couple is older and they’re throwing chips out for the birds. In the distance a kid flies a kite, a dog chases a Frisbee, a girl does yoga. The painting is done well. It’s detailed but impressionistic, the colors melt into each other and had a calming effect.
When I first saw it I liked it. I thought to myself: “Hey, this is nice.”
Then Steven told the receptionist that I needed a doctor. “This man is coughing up blood!”
Then I thought: “Oh, shit.”
The lady handed Steven a clipboard and we sat down. That’s when I was able to see that the mural stretched around the waiting room. We sat across from the other side. It depicted more scenery, the rolling hills of California with little houses and a big, blue sky with clouds. In the foreground following a road was a beach with small palm trees and teeny tiny surfboards.
It was a nice depiction. And I looked ahead while Steven filled out the paperwork, losing my focus in the landscape.
This is when I thought about you in passing.
I thought: “Casey would hate this.”
Now I hate it.
This morning I wanted to go to the gift shop for some candy and soda. I had to pass through the entrance to get to it and when I saw the giant mural wrapped around the walls I thought: “This is crap! This is bullshit! This is the biggest piece of dodo in the world!”
I have never had a piece of artwork affect me in the way that this one has. It makes me feel things, Casey. It makes me feel all sorts of ways. And that’s when I thought about you.
I remember you always described art as an emotional thing. I never really got your art, and when it came down to it I never really supported it. We both know that, and I’m sorry for that. It’s too late for that.
But I get it now!
I want to pour paint all over that mural and cover it, then slash some more paint over that paint.
That mural is lying to us. It is lying to all the patients here. There is no park.

Note from author: The story will continue as a memoir/letter where our narrator explores his early relationship with the painter, his success and eventual sellout to Hollywood as a comedy screenwriter, and he will use these two to help him process his impending and present death. He will decide to write a novel before his death, wanting to write something of sustenance, but will probably never make it that far. Comedy/tragedy will play a role, and I will explore themes such as Hollywood’s perversion of a story for the sake of entertainment, people’s use of comedy as a defense (and sometimes the only mechanism used to deal with issues), art vs. entertainment, and parallel it with his ex lover’s experience with the art world, and probably other various themes.

Once again, if you took time to read this, thank you thank you thank you. I appreciate all the support.

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