They walked through Denver; one carrying a beer, the other wearing blue sunglasses. The city was absent, dry.
“Why aren’t laundromats open in St. Louis on Sundays?”
“This ain’t St. Louis.”
They went down a street, found a couch, and sat.
“So what I’m saying is, there’s nothing out there, beyond us, I mean.”
“What about the laundromats?”
“The laundromats, in St. Louis?”
“Shit, you haven’t heard a word…”
A crowd passed the alley, unknowing and free. Red signs, cowboy boots. The air was sweet and thin, the light was flat.
“It’s just a weird mountain town.”
“With mass shootings.”
The cousins watched The Thing together, almost obsessively. Some days, they’d watch the film more than once, their record for continuous viewing being nine.
They owned many copies of the film, each one slightly different: a second-hand VHS cassette, a collector’s LaserDisc, a cable-access taping dubbed in Japanese. Some versions had been edited, rearranged; an entirely silent version held new meaning, hypnotic without dialogue or soundtrack. One tape held traces of other films underneath its recorded layer.
Later, the cousins could only share thoughts on the film through letters, as they were both incarcerated in different parts of the world. Some letters explored the psychology of paranoia that imbued the film, others touched on the innovative special effects. A favorite topic was the film’s eerie, minimalist score.
At some point, the letters simplified to mere lines of dialogue. Their relationship had crystallized and an essential form of communication emerged.
“How will we make it?”
“Maybe we shouldn’t.”
It was all they would need.
The cat’s following me; I’m upstairs in the kitchen, she’s out on the porch. I’m back downstairs, she’s out in the garden. It’s a game without end. Silent neighbors. She’s the gardener, I’m the caretaker. Cat can’t come in though. I’m supposed to be invisible, and a cat in the house is not good. She’ll tip me off. So we keep the glass between us for now.