Where Fear Still Holds Lease

Arthur Danin Adler - Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Arthur Danín Adler

Bill Rodman was a prize-winning journalist and newspaperman. He spent most of his career writing about people making a futile mess of their lives. This is one of the last stories he ever wrote.

"I sat with a lit cigarette between my fingers and another still smoldering in the ashtray. I sat watching the rain slather against the windows of the empty newsroom at the newspaper where I worked. It was after midnight and insomnia wasn't alone in keeping me awake. A blank sheet of paper in the typewriter in front of me... I couldn't use a computer anymore since I left the big time in a big city for the small time in a small town. I couldn't write when the office was full of other workers and I couldn't write in my room. Dank and musty... that was what I saw of myself in the mirror that was in my room where I kept my other suit, my other shirt, my other pair of shoes. I had gone earlier to a bar for a drink instead of dinner. I didn't drink anymore, but I liked to have a shot of whiskey in front of me to smell it, to stare at it. I didn't talk to anyone, I seldom did. I went to the bar as a remembrance of other times and other people.

Finally, as my mouth went dry and my eyes blurred, I left, out the back door to walk across the fields to my room. I stepped into the parking lot and into a bizarre scene. Two women, one young, one old, were facing each other, one with a gun in her hand. The older one was sweating and with a falsetto laugh yelled:

    All I have to say is... look around you, what do we got? The whole god damned country is shot to hell. And you know why? I'll tell you why... it started when they shot Jack Kennedy. You know that? You know where I was, I was sitting in a psychologist's office taking an interview-test for a new job, of all places and suddenly this guy gets a phone call and slams down the phone and says: 'They just shot Kennedy!' I tell you, I ran out into the street and everything stopped moving, all the buses and cars. Everybody was wandering around like in a daze, you know? And that's the way it's been ever since. They killed King and Bobby and then the oil embargo and that shit war and that shit Nixon, and now what do we got? Hey, that was 1976, we were supposed to be celebrating the anniversary of our great country. And now what do we got... same old shit, same, same except for one thing: us, family. That's what goes on, that's what keeps it all together, that's what abides! I love that word.

Then she shot the younger woman, twice in the chest. Then she shot herself, once in the head.

I was a witness, the only one until the shots rang out. I saw it all, heard it all. I had seen it all and heard it all before. It wasn't part of any remembrance. This was now and I was a witness. This was now and I had to write about it.

The rain had stopped, the glass of the windows dried and cleared. I sat staring at the blank windows in front of me. My mouth was still dry but my eyes didn't hurt anymore. My eyes saw nothing, My ears heard nothing. There was only the blank sheet of paper in my typewriter and my fading memory. I waited for that memory to fade out so I could go home, to the room where I couldn't sleep."


Rodman was killed hitting a deer as he sped his Triumph roadster down a mountain on his way to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That is part of an ironic remembrance for the people who think about him from time to time.

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Arthur Danin Adler - Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com
Arthur Danín Adler is a playwright, writer and the founding Editor of Scene4. He is the author of Medea Noir, directs the Talos Ensemble and produces for Aemagefilms. More at Darcy-Kane. His latest book,
The Lyriana Nocturnes, will be published this year.
For more of his commentary and articles,
check the Archives.

©2020 Arthur Danín Adler
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