Tina was surprised when her husband, Tim, announced his intention to watch Tron: Legacy on FXM. He was not usually into so-called “hard science fiction,” though he occasionally had traffic with what publishers call “soft/sociological science fiction.” He also liked Star Trek, particularly Deep Space Nine, but that was a different ball of wax, entirely, a genre ghetto within a genre ghetto.
Tina sat beside Tim on the sofa, watching the opening scenes of the movie. A young man rode a sleek motorcycle at illegal speeds in and out of freeway traffic at night. Somehow the filmmakers let Tim know that this was the character with whom to identify, not the motorcycle cop who set off in pursuit.
Tina gave her husband a peck on the cheek, and rose from the sofa.
“Enjoy,” she said, and padded barefooted out of the room.
Tim was a teenager lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, waiting on Sander to call out, “Movie in the Day Room!”
His roommate, lying on his own bed, was talking at length about that night’s movie.
“Pam,” he said, referring to a nurse from Float Pool who was working on their unit that night, “says that tonight’s movie is called Tron. It’s a sci-fi flick.”
Tim was not really into sci-fi, though he’d seen Alien several years before, and had thoroughly enjoyed it, though he considered it more a horror film than sci-fi, despite the futuristic backdrop.
“Who’s in tonight’s movie?” Tim asked.
“No one I know,” answered Mike, the roommate. “Pam showed me the box. Some guy named Box? Box-Lightener? Box somebody.”
“So on the video box was somebody named Box?”
“Movie in the Day Room!” shouted Sander, out in the hallway.
The adolescents all jockeyed for position in the Day Room, grabbing plastic chairs, and positioning them for optimal views on the TV’s large screen. Each teen clutched a small bag of Jay’s popcorn. The bags had been distributed as the teens had entered the Day Room. Little plastic containers of chilled apple juice would be passed out later.
“I hear they’re not letting Lisa see this movie,” said Chip, from somewhere behind Tim, evoking unkind laughter.
“Well,” someone else replied, “I guess Lisa’s hold on reality is tenuous enough as it is. Watching a movie about a guy who becomes literally trapped in his computer wouldn’t help much.”
Tim was an unrepentant bookworm, and had an enormous vocabulary. He was surprised and pleased to hear one of his fellow patients use the word “tenuous.”
Lisa was one of the two active psychotics on the unit. She firmly believed she was God. Tim had come to discover, through personal experience with Lisa, that it was very difficult to carry on a conversation with someone who believed she was God.
“I’m sorry,” said Jennifer Winters, lying naked on the roof of Bushnell Tower, the university’s main classroom building, “but you don’t get to be God if you’re named Lisa Weinstein. Maybe you can be God if your name is Balthazar Warwick, or Gaea Earth Mother, but if your name is Lisa Weinstein, you don’t get to have as your secret identity that of the Lord God Almighty.”
Tim and Jennifer were lovers, classmates, and friends, but their relationship was not exclusive. Tim was not seeing anyone else, but Jennifer was openly seeing a couple of guys in addition to Tim.
They were both aspiring writers, and that somehow made them more eager to share the stories of their lives with one another. Tim had told Jennifer of his epic-length “Boy, Interrupted” hospitalization as a teen.
He’d told the redheaded Jennifer about Lisa Weinstein, the girl who would be Yahweh, and Jennifer had been somehow quite tickled by the juxtaposition of Lisa’s name and her supposed secret identity.
Tina poked her head into the living room, and asked, “Shall we wait until later to call for the pizza?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind waiting. I had never expected a sequel to that movie after more than a quarter century, but I saw the original movie under unusual circumstances, as part of a larger, life-changing experience, and seeing this sequel will provide an odd sort of closure for me.”
Movie Night was a highlight of the week for many patients on the unit, and, while they had no hand in selecting the movies, they usually enjoyed them. That particular movie wasn’t bad, at least in Tim’s estimation. The graphics were okay, certainly better than anything offered by his old Atari set at home. In a way, watching the movie was like being inside a video game being played by someone else.
“With this ring, I thee wed.”
Tim and Tina were married in a United Methodist church, a mutually agreeable alternative. Tim was a lapsed Catholic, but once one was confirmed Catholic, one was forever a Catholic. Tina was Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal Protestant denomination. She wanted a church wedding, and Tim didn’t give a rat’s ass if the Roman Catholic Church approved his marriage to the woman he loved more than any other woman with whom he had ever been. The United Methodist Church was a theologically and socially happy medium.
In addition to having a good physical relationship, Tim and Tina were the best of friends. They could discuss anything with one another, and they each knew the worst that there was to know about the other, and loved each other, anyway.
They shared yet another bond. They were both writers, though neither was fortunate enough for writing to be a primary source of income. Tim wrote a great deal of magic realism, surrealism, and slipstream. Tina wrote mainly fantasy fiction, but occasionally delved into hard science fiction.
During a slow moment in the movie, Tim wondered what Lisa was doing at that moment. He thought that she was probably being allowed to listen to one of the portable stereos in her room. She actually liked the radio station played in the Day Room during Recreation—the station that played the top hits over and over (and over) again. Tim reached the point where he actually believed that if he heard Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon” one more time, the staff would have to call a Code White.
Maybe the staff would allow her an extra shower. She continually complained at Community Meetings that the ten-minute shower time slots were not long enough. Showering was a creature comfort, of course, and cleanliness was next to godliness, or Godliness.
Tron: Legacy featured a nightclub/lounge called End of Line, with a flamboyant, gender-bending host named Castor, clearly based on David Bowie, and played with enormous enthusiasm by Michael Sheen. End of Line featured seductive cocktails in bizarre colors, served in outlandish vessels.
Tim left the Day Room when the movie ended, and the patients briefly formed a bottleneck at the doorway. At the nurses’ station, where there was a T intersection of corridor, Lisa sat in plastic chair. She was conversing with Pam, the Float Pool nurse. Neither Lisa nor Pam paid the slightest bit of attention to the teens spilling out of the Day Room.
Back in the room he shared with Mike, Tim said, “I hope there’s a novelization of the movie. It’d be great if it was written by Ray Bradbury.”
“Dude, Ray Bradbury does not write novelizations. Sometimes he writes novels, and sometimes people make movies out of his novels, but Ray Bradbury does not write novelizations of other people’s movies.”
“Mike, I totally get that. I’m just saying it’d be cool if he would.”
“You know, ‘novelization’ is a crappy word.”
That evening, after the movie was over, Tim and Tina shared a pizza from Marie’s, their regular delivery place. Over dinner, Tim told Tina about the circumstances under which he’d seen the original movie all those years ago, and about Lisa not being allowed to see the movie. He then discussed the sequel he’d just viewed.
“So, did it shake your hold on reality?”
“I’m proud of you, honey,” she said, jokingly. “Do you think there’ll be a novelization by Elizabeth Hand?”
“I don’t think Elizabeth Hand writes novelizations, love.”
“She does do potboilers. She wrote a Millennium tie-in novel.”
After finishing off the pizza, Tim and Tina took a bath together. Then they made love, after which they drifted in the direction of sleep.
Abruptly, Tina kissed her husband on the tip of his nose.
“You’re forgetting one very important possibility,” she said.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Maybe Lisa really was God.” Then she rolled over, and went to sleep.
#Unreal #Fiction #Spirituality #Memory #PsychWard #Psychology #SciFi
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