A Conversation With Christopher Walken

Sometimes, it’s healthy to simply let your zany side off the leash. Let him/her speak, howl, whatever. As it were, this “conversation” formed as I waited in the car outside my kids’ martial arts practice. If there was some hidden or higher inspiration for such a moment, I wouldn’t know where to begin looking.

 

“What if I told you,” Christopher Walken says, dropping into the passenger seat, “that that Kind bar is the last thing you’re ever going to eat?”

“What?” I stammer.

Christopher Walken is in my car. I know it’s him because I’ve seen him a hundred times on the screen. Those eyes and that slightly testy smile with a voice that lets you know, at any second, for any random reason, he might deliver amazing bodily violence–via a henchman, of course. He’s sitting in my car.

I look down at my machine-pressed stick of nuts, chocolate and caramellish glue.

“What would you say?”

“How-how did you get in here?”

“Spare me the trifling details of that, Mister Edison. My aeroplane broke apart leaving Vancouver. Meryl Streep faxed over a fill-in request. I fell out of God’s ass when he evacuated last night’s green curry. A little too hot for the Big Guy.” He leans closer. “Does it matter?” he whispers in that sinister Christopher Walken whisper.

“Well, yeah, it kinda–”

Does it? Really? I’m trying to pass on a little two-bit wisdom, and you’re sitting there like a landlocked frog trying to divine the ins and outs of metaphysics. What’s important to you, Mister Edison?”

“I don’t know,” I mutter. It feels like a confession. “I don’t know, sometimes…”

“Ah, now we’re gettin’ somewhere. You’re spending too much time worrying about cyclones of moss chunks and how the new houses are thirteen right angles with goofy paint choices and Kansan-farm-ancient wood. Rubbish, all of it!”

“Really?”

“My spooge is more impressive, for Christ’s sake!”

Legendary film actor Christopher Walken and his famous glower.

“You’re saying…I’m trying to impress people?”

He leans closer. “You’re failing to impress people. How’s that for a little dose of reality?”

“Great. Even my daydreams are aligned against me.”

“Hey,” he barks with an icy-eyes stare. “No babies here. Don’t be a baby.”

“Y-yes, Sir!”

“That’s better.” He seems to soften when I slump against my window, suddenly tired. “Look,” he says. “If you continue on this path, your destiny is to get backed-over by Granny driving her gold Caddy at two-inches-an-hour. Whump-crunch-crunch. It’s not gonna feel good.”

“How do I change?”

His expression becomes a smug smile. “I like to help people, Mister Edison. That’s who I am. Right now, I’m gonna help you. Ya ready for it?”

“Ready,” I lie.

“Get off your ass! Do something. You wanna help people in Ghana get clean water, then step up, put your hat in the ring. You wanna employ people? Then start your website business, get this circus moving down the road. Just do it!”

“Okay. Okay!”

“And don’t you waste another scintilla of time worrying about how you could’ve done this better, or not shanked that opportunity. You’re too old, now, to die young. Ya understand me?”

“Yes, Sir!”

“All right,” he says. “Time’s a-wastin’. Tick-tock.”

“You’re right.”

“Novelist,” he says, with a smirk towards the darkening city. “Kids these days.”

 

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 3

In Dillingham, a walled village a mile uphill from the boat dock, Marvella and Ibix enter the constable shack. A messenger is waiting for them, holding two sheets of parchment. Ibix, the boss, takes the parchment from the messenger, who calmly ducks out.

Ibix reads the first message while removing his sword belt. “Miss Tammy’s half-blind cat is stuck up the oak tree. Again.”

“Prepare the trumpets,” Marvella says.

Ibix hangs his sword belt with other weapons behind the simple desk. “And we have a pickpocket operating near the Black Dragon pub.”

“Probably the Simmons kid,” Marvella says. “I’ll go.”

At the door, she pauses. “What of this Prince of Endless business?”

“Endless is a hundred miles away. It’s not our affair.”

“Do you think they know?”

“If what that dying Ehara said is true, that must’ve happened last night. They certainly know.”

“And what of this Dirkennion fellow?”

Ibix, feeling tested, says, “Marvella, we can’t get involved. Later today, I’ll take some pubbies down to bury the Ehara. Okay? Now, go save that goddamned cat before Miss Tammy’s heart gives out!”

Marvella lifts her hands, conceding defeat.

Outside, she pauses, looking at pink flowers near the footpath. With a wry grin, she moves on.

A lone pink azalea bloom in October

~~~

Later, far uphill, Marvella comes to a stand set in a clearing. The wooden stand has a large, peculiar horn set on one post. Two brothers are playing catch near the stand. With a bare finger, Marvella’s touching a fresh claw mark on her cheek. In her hand, she holds muffins wrapped in a large, clean leaf.

A boy says, “Constable.” They both come over.

“Young squires,” she says. “I am in need of a griffin. Do you know of anyone brave enough to call for a loyal messenger, perhaps to be rewarded with a treat?”

The boys eye the muffins in her hand. “Aye, Ma’am. We can do it.”

“Very well.”

~~~

 

High above, soaring calmly below the Aviarinelle river, is a griffin. The creature turns its head at a shrill whistle, which is coming from Dillingham. It sounds a second time, and the griffin turns into a swooping descent.

~~~

 

In Greenhump, Dirkennion is helping to mend a fence. The workers pause when a griffin announces itself with a bark. It calmly lands in the field beside them. Dirkennion looks at it and says, “Misha, would you please see if the butcher has anything for our visitor?”

The man named Misha runs off. Dirkennion approaches the creature with calm movements. Attached to its front right leg is a leather thong with a rolled-up parchment. Dirkennion gently goes to the thong, unties the note and takes it. Misha returns with a chunk of meat, and sets it on the fence post while Dirkennion reads. The griffin barks and eats the meat.

“An urgent matter in Dillingham,” Dirkennion says.

 

to be continued…

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A Suspense Novel for the Ages

Okay, guilty: I’d love for someone to think so (and pen those words) about “Tempest Road.”

It’s possible. Maybe.

I could talk about the hours and hours and hours I’ve put into the research, the reading, the actual drafting, wending through pictures in various formats, etc. But I won’t, because that’s boring. All good writers have to do these things.

I will admit to, yes, wanting to write a deep, meaty adventure that grabs readers the way “Presumed Innocent” and “Absolute Power” and “Catch-22” grabbed me. I couldn’t put them down. I lived inside those colorful characters and absurdities and details and moments of violence and moments of even deeper, bewildering question. I wanted to write a book that, when people are finished, they’ll put it down, take a deep breath and say, “Damn.”

Yeah, I’d be good with that.

Justin Edison's Tempest Road covers features a jungle path with bullets, a black panther and a bloody knife in the title.

www.justinedisonnovels.com