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canyoncreep.jpg
Art by W. Jack Savage 2015

The Canyon Creep

 

by Tom See

 

 

And up in those hills, Caroline, is where my real dad lives. I’ve never told you that he is one of those names. A big producer. Tons of credits. Gold record wallpaper.

          He knows about me. Not sure if he knows that I know about him.

          “You wanna rob him.”

          You say it like you’re certain that’s why I bring it up. Don’t even ask me, just assume I want to steal from the man.

No, I’m gonna introduce myself, then you, my future wife, then...well, that’s it. I don’t want anything from him.

          “He got any other kids? A wife?”

          Three of each but they’re all grown or gone. He’s all alone up there.

          “Bet he’s got dogs.”

          Again, we’re not stealing. We’re ringing the goddamn bell.

          “What if he don’t let you in?”

          Then he don’t.

          “Maybe he will.”

          Maybe.

“Maybe he thinks about you all the time.”

          Maybe he does.

#

          Is there a word for something bigger than a mansion?

          “Palace.”

          The voice on the intercom is that of a guard.

          “Can I help you?”

          My name is...

          No, that’s no way to start.

          “Please state your business, or turn around and drive back down the Canyon.”

          What the fuck.

          My name is...

          “No, just tell him.”

          I’m Mr. Conley’s son.

          “What did you say?”

          My mother’s name was Betsy...

          “What do you want?”

          I want to see Gordon Conley. I’m his son.

          A long pause.

          And the fucking gate just opens.

#

          Once we’re up there: where do we park?

          “There’s a slot between those Porsches.”  

It’s not a guard the guy comes out of the palace. I’ve seen him before.

          It’s Gerald Conley.

          “Who?”

          The heir.

          “He’s your broth-“

          Gerald seems to glide down the path. Let him come to me. I ain’t moving to him just to get hit.

          “He doesn’t look the type that does the hitting.”

          Gerald says, “What is your name?”

          My name...

          “I know about your mother.” He puts his hands in his pockets. “Well, first do you have ID.”

          Take my whole damn wallet, Young Mr. Conley. Bring it to him, Caroline. Have him stuff it with 50’s before he hands it back.

          “You’re timing is such that I assume that you’ve heard about the accident, that’s why you’ve chosen...”

          Accident...

          “My father has fallen. It was the spiral staircase. He-”

          The fucker’s dead?

          “He’s in a coma. He’s breathing but the brain is...”

          Well, I leaned on a Lamborghini and I set off the alarm. The thing was loud and it talked and it told me to back the fuck away. It told me the authorities were coming.

          Gerald didn’t have the keys. He unlocked a big metal case hung on an old-timey lamppost but he couldn’t find the control would shut the fucking thing off.

          When he found it, he did the point and press. All it did was make the lights flash. Then the door locks came up.

          I took the handle, I climbed inside. Gerald protested. I reached under and I pinched the wire without looking and I pulled and that alarm shut down.

          I got out and he wanted to say thank you but he’d probably never said it before and didn’t know how.

          We stood there.

          “Is he inside?” Caroline asked.

          Gerald’s mouth makes a noise.

          Can I see him?

          “I don’t think so.”

          What does it matter now, Gerald?

          “I thought you had moved to Nebraska, as a child.”

          I did. Came back, though. Been living down the Canyon six years. Right down there.

          “What do you want?”

          You mean, how do I want this to end?

          I read ol’ dad’s biography. I know how he rode the rails, played shithole clubs, discovered raw talent, survived addiction, reinvented himself, again and again – only to have the spiral staircase get him...

          I’m more the heir to the man than you could ever be, Gerald. I lived a life like his. You were trained to be a fucking heir, but I come by it naturally. I am like the man.

          “It took you six years to work out the fear, drive up here. And you came two days too late.”

          My throat made a noise.

          Caroline, get in the car.

          “What?”

          Get in.

          She stands back. Shaking her head.

          I hop in the car. I give it a boost. Hear that fucking thing rev up.

          Gerald did not protest. He moved to Caroline, gently pulling her to safety.

          I hit the clutch. Thing had a shifter and gears I never seen before. Cockpit dials and LEDs.

          I slam in reverse. Under the seat the engine roars and rumbles. Goddamn.

          Wanna drive this thing through that fucking palace.

          Instead I turn, head down the canyon. No protest from Gerald. It was mine if I could steady it. If I could have gotten that thing to the bottom of the Canyon. I could have sailed away.

I get a grip on the road and I let the horses out the gate. I crunch the accelerator. I feel it swell up, in my chest. And that fucking view.

That turn along the Canyon comes and I have not been groomed for it. My grip is untrained. I dominate for only a blink as that view gets immense. Then, I’m just over a cliff.





Tom See is a film lighting technician and director of the Manhattan Short Screenplay Competition. His work has appeared in Crime Factory and Thuglit. Originally from New York, he currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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