Written By: John Tellegen
It must have been 3 or 4 in the morning when I awoke with a jolt, like someone had zapped me with a Taser. I sat up, soaked with sweat and panting. I wasn’t used to panting in bed; I rarely lasted long enough in the throes of passion to warrant extra breaths.
I glanced over at Shelby, hoping I hadn’t woken her. She was still sleeping like an angel, her hair fanned across her back. It was a beautiful sight but I was still shaken from the nightmare. Two blood-soaked young girls, twins perhaps, were standing in a hallway of blood–a hallway that resembled the hallway just outside the hotel room Shelby and I were sharing.
I had surprised her with an overnight trip to a Chateau in yet another attempt at romance, but when the Magnum-sized condom I brought slipped off at my moment of triumph, I had destroyed our little dance in one failed oops. Now I was left to wonder if the blood-soaked twin toddlers from my nightmare were really just a vision of my future in nine short months, a future neither Shelby nor I were ready for.
I climbed out of bed and whispered my way to the bathroom for a glass of water. I wasn’t thirsty but I couldn’t fall back asleep, and in the movies a glass of water always seemed to wash away the night terrors. I removed the paper covering on the glass and while I was filling it from the faucet, I heard the distinct sound of an old-fashioned typewriter clicking away. At first I figured the sound was coming from another room because the old walls of the Chateau were thin but then I recalled we had been bumped up to a suite at the end of the hall because I lied and told the old woman in reception it was our wedding anniversary. Shelby later joked that it was bad karma to lie to an old lady and if we were ever to marry we were destined for divorce. I reminded Shelby that I had complimented the old lady’s hairstyle, a hideous nest of purple twigs, so karmically we were about even.
I followed the typing sounds and made my way into the living room of the suite where I found a bearded man sitting at the desk in a green parka and frantically hammering away at the keys.
“Shhh,” I shushed, “you’re gonna wake Shelby. And what are you doing in our suite?”
“What’s it look like?” he fired back, “I’m typing.”
He kept on typing like he was afraid if he stopped he might lose his momentum. As I stared at him, the imagery was all coming together. The Chateau. The bloody twin girls in the hallway. A man frantically typing. It all started to make sense. I had watched “The Shining” a few weeks before during the Halloween Haunt Movie Marathon on the Syfy channel; that was probably where the idea of bringing Shelby to the Chateau subconsciously originated. But this man in the green parka was certainly not Jack Nicholson from the movie.
“Who are you?” I asked, my voice cracking a bit.
“My friends call me Stanley.”
That’s when it hit me like a Drill Sergeant with a knack for putdowns. “Kubrick?” I uttered.
“Just Stanley. Let me ask you something. Do you think stories of the supernatural are always optimistic?”
While I stood in my boxer shorts talking to Stanley Kubrick in this creepy Chateau, I was certainly hoping so. “I guess…”
He continued, “Because I figure that all ghost stories assume that we survive death and that seems pretty optimistic to me.”
“Well, I’m not really afraid of surviving death, Mr. Kubrick, I’m afraid of surviving life.”
“Interesting paradox…and not a bad line.” Stanley quickly scribbled a note to himself then promptly scratched it out, “Actually it’s a horrible line. Why are you so concerned with your life? You have a beautiful girl who looks to be way out of your league sleeping like an angel in the next room. Her brown hair gently resting on her naked back…”
“Hey,” I cut him off, obstructing his view.
“Sorry, I’m a stickler for details,” he said with a smile.
“Well stop drooling over Shelby’s details.”
“You never answered the question. Why are you so concerned with your life?”
“I ruined everything.” I explained, “I’ve played out our entire love story in my head from the moment I met Shelby to the time we’re old and wrinkled and sitting on a porch swing sipping lemonade and watching our grandkids dance in the sprinklers.”
“How did you ruin it?” he asked.
“I wanted to impress her with a condom fit for a donkey but as it turns out, I’m just a jackass.”
“You mean, it—“ Kubrick made a motion with his hand.
“Slipped off,” I said as I dipped my chin.
“And now you think with your luck she’s pregnant with twins.”
“Don’t say twins!”
Kubrick pushed himself back from the desk and placed his hands on his knees. “I pride myself on my problem solving skills,” he said as he tilted his head. “I never went to college but by teaching myself photography I learned many life lessons.”
“I’m not following,” I muttered.
“Maybe you should pick up a camera and learn something. Be proactive and don’t watch your life like it’s a movie.”
I nodded, “Oh, I see what you mean.” But I didn’t really.
“Why would a baby be so bad?” Kubrick asked. “I’m sure you love her. Procreation is an important step in populating the planet. Maybe you two will make great parents, or at least not screw it up completely.”
Kubrick had a way of talking that was both intelligent and wry but with a heart.
“I do love her, but it’s not how the story is supposed to go,” I almost pleaded, hoping the cosmos would take pity on me and make sure my sperm never made it to the promised land. “We’re supposed to date, then get married, then have kids, then have grandkids, then sit on the porch swing.”
“I hate predictable stories,” he interjected as he furrowed his brow. “Stories should play out in different ways. It doesn’t always have to be, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. These days it can be: boy meets girl, boy loses girl when she runs off with another girl, girl and girl get married, have kids, and move to the country to raise alpacas.”
“I suppose,” I unconvincingly agreed.
“Didn’t you see ‘Eyes Wide Shut’? In a deleted scene I had a girl making it with a masked house plant…talk about unconventional.”
I wasn’t in the mood to laugh but I forced a smirk.
“Alright, all kidding aside, I’ve spent my career telling unconventional stories and looking to change the form. Looking at story from different perspectives and points of view. So what if she’s pregnant? It’s a complication to your journey not an ending. There’s no reason why your story can’t continue and who’s to say the actual ending won’t be happy?”
“Happy before or after her father removes my manhood with a gardening spade? Look, I’m not ready to shoulder the responsibilities of parenting; the only benefit I get from my job is 10% off electronics. How am I supposed to raise a family?” I started to pace and wave my arms wildly like my dad used to do when my mother would spend too much money at the mall. “When Shelby finds out she’s pregnant she’ll drop me like the deuce that I am! She’ll realize that she needs someone who can provide for her and the baby. She’ll want someone… else! I don’t know what to do.”
Shelby stirred in the bed. I looked over my shoulder, eyes wide open, afraid she would be startled by Stanley sitting in the living room.
“Listen, Mr. Kubrick—’’
“Call me Stanley,” he interrupted.
“…Stanley. I really think you should go before Shelby wakes up and sees us talking.”
“I have a better idea,” he said with a smirk, “let’s wake her up and see how she wants the story to end.”
Stanley rose and walked toward the bedroom. I jumped in front of him.
“No!” I shouted. “Just please let me try to figure out what to do. Our story doesn’t need anymore complications.”
Stanley arched an eyebrow, “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”
At that moment, Shelby came around the corner to see what all the commotion was about.
“What are you doing?” she asked, half asleep and standing in the doorway.
I turned and not knowing what else to say blurted out, “Why do you ask?”
“Then why don’t you come back to bed, it’s late.” Even with her hair a mess and wearing a sleep face, Shelby was the most gorgeous girl I had ever seen.
“I think we should talk first, alone.” I looked back toward Stanley but he and his typewriter were gone. For a moment I wasn’t sure if I was still in my nightmare. I shook it off.
“We are alone, Kyle.”
“Right. I just want you to know that I’m really sorry about what happened earlier and if you are…I mean, ya know…with child, I’ll do whatever it takes to provide for you and the baby, or babies, because, well, I choose you.” I stammered a bit, “I mean, I love you.”
I was almost in tears and not because of the heartfelt sentiment I just dropped on my half-asleep girlfriend but because I was truly terrified that she might already be growing my blood-soaked twins in her womb.
“That’s really sweet, Kyle,” Shelby said as she gave me a peck on the cheek, “but I’m on the Pill so the odds of me being pregnant are pretty slim.” She smiled through a yawn then lightly swatted me on the butt. “Now come to bed.”
“Wait…we never talked about that. Why are you on the Pill if I’m using rubbers?”
“Because you’re a guy and guys like to buy extra large condoms because it makes them feel better about themselves. I’m a girl who isn’t ready to be a mom. Now come back to bed and if you want we can do it again, this time without Mr. Magnum.”
My spirit started to smile long before it hit my lips. She was such an incredible girl, knew me better than I knew myself. My biggest hope in life was that I would never do anything to alienate her.
“Wait!” I said with a hitch in my jaw, “There’s not a severed horse head in the bed, is there?”
“Oh, never mind, I think that was Coppola.”