FAR DOWN IN THE
How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re
Anywhere at All — Firesign Theatre Album Title, July, 1969.
The first time he saw himself
on the big screen, at least he thought it was the first time he saw
himself on the big screen, Robbie Connor was seated in his local theater,
nursing a soda.
The movie was a new release, a
Western, and the scene was taking place in a saloon. The bartender was
polishing a beer glass and talking to a gunslinger about how the new sheriff
had recently cleaned up the town.
“Ain’t that right, Archie?” he
said to an old man who was pushing a broom.
“Yessiree, he sure did,” Archie
said, grabbing the chance for a break. He nodded sagely and leaned on his
When the bartender turned his
attention back to the gunslinger, Archie shrugged, went back to sweeping, and swept
his way right out of the scene.
Robbie gaped and choked on his
soda. That had been him up there on the screen.
The guy next to Archie looked
over at him when he’d started choking.
“You okay…” The man stopped and looked more closely
He’d seen him up there too.
Robbie smiled and shrugged. “I’m
okay. Just swallowed wrong.”
His neighbor nodded and went
back to the movie.
The sweeper, Archie, didn’t
have another scene, and when the movie ended, Robbie waited for the credits to
unwind. He usually left when the movie was over, but this time he had a reason
He watched as the cast of
characters rolled down the screen. At the end of the characters, just before
the listing of the technicians started — best boys, key grips, and such — he
……… ADAM CONNOR
The guy next to him also had
waited for the credits. For the same reason. When he saw that listing, he said,
“That you? The sweeper?”
Robbie cleared his throat
before answering. “Why, yes, it is,” he said. “Thanks for noticing.”
He didn’t trust himself to say
anything else. And he didn’t know why he’d said what he’d said. He wasn’t Adam
Connor, was he?
For years, dreams and being in
a dream-like state had been the norm for Robbie. But this little episode had
thrown him. He was pretty sure this had been real.
Back home in his efficiency
apartment, Robbie did an Internet search using “Adam Connor, Actor”, and came
up with a few hits. There was no Wikipedia hit, but other sites mentioned bit
parts Adam Connor had had in two older movies.
Intrigued, and more than a
little bit weirded out, Robbie wrote down the names of the movies with him
listed as having roles in them. He did find Wikipedia hits for those movies,
but the cast only included the more major characters and who played them. None listed
Adam Connor for his small parts.
Netflix and HBO had pretty much
killed video rental stores, but Robbie easily found the movies on eBay. He
ordered them and also found a small used television with a built-in VHS tape
player. He ordered that too and then sat back to wait for everything to be
Normally, Robbie only went to a
movie in the theater once a month or so. But the following Friday night found
him back at The Bijou. Feeling that this was maybe some kind of supernatural
experience, he chose the same day of the week, the same soda, and the same
Before taking his seat, he
stood looking at the screen, lost in thought:
Had that dream again last
night. I was running from somebody. Running. Running. Maybe from the police. Why
was I running? What had I done?
The woman in the seat behind
him whispered to him to sit down and he did.
Just before the movie was going
to start, somebody excused themselves, stepped in front of him, and sat down in
the seat next to him. It was the same man who had interacted with him last Friday.
“You in this one too?” the man
asked. “I’m Bill,” he said offering his hand.
Robbie shook hands with the man
and said, “Adam. I don’t know if I’m in this one. It just came out.”
The man named Bill stared at Robbie.
He was going to say something more, but then the movie started.
After the numerous screen shots
with the name of the production company and the various directors and assistant
directors had played out, the three name-brand stars were listed and the movie
The reviews had said it was a
murder mystery taking place in a small town in the Midwest. The first scene
opened in 1991. The main character appeared to be in high school and was
hanging out with friends in the cafeteria. Presumedly, the murder would take
place in the past, and then the story would move forward to the present.
“Hey,” Bill whispered, elbowing
Robbie. “There you are.”
“Back by that group of kids in
the corner. You’re holding a broom, and it looks like you’re joking around with
Robbie stared at the screen. It
was him. Two movies on two Fridays. How could this be?
Then, for a few seconds, his
mind was not his own. It was like he was reading for a part:
I’ve never even
been to a movie shoot, have I? Wait, I have. The memory’s fuzzy, but I remember
people asking me where I’ve been. I didn’t know I’d been anywhere. They called me
He came out of the daydream,
hoping he hadn’t been speaking aloud. What Robbie did know was that he was
a sweeper. He worked as a custodian at St. Mary’s Hospital, and he did a lot of
sweeping on any given day. He had for years.
He held onto that piece of
reality for dear life.
“Ya know,” said Bill. “If ya
don’t get some parts other than sweeping, you’re gonna get, ya know,
Robbie managed to smile at the
guy and said, “It’s a living, right?”
The two watched the movie
without any more chatter. When the movie ended and the credits started to roll,
they both remained in their seats. Watching. And then, there it was.
……… ADAM CONNOR
“See ya next Friday?” Bill
asked, standing and stretching.
“Maybe,” said Robbie. “Maybe.”
“I don’t know why, but you seem
like you’re not quite sure what’s goin’ on here. I know I don’t. But I’m
bettin’ you’ll be here next Friday.”
Saturday morning’s mail brought
the first movie he’d ordered on eBay. It was one of those teenage
horror/slasher movies from the early 1980s.
After looking at the cover and
reading the text, Robbie set it aside. He’d need to wait for the television
before he could play it.
Tuesday brought the second
video and also the television set.
The second film was the sequel
to the horror movie he’d already received.
When he’d first seen the Internet
references to them, he remembered when this type of movie had been popular. These
were movies that had lots of scenes where kids ran around doing risky stuff
while making really dumb decisions when trying to avoid getting killed off one
by one by the movie’s crazed psychopath.
Some of those movies had
countless sequels and had gone on to be classics. These two weren’t in that
category. If they were ever to have any claim to fame, it would be as
low-budget, B movies.
Robbie settled in to watch the
movies. About fifteen minutes into the first one, he saw himself. His younger
self. Dressed in filthy blue coveralls and wearing an old gimme baseball cap,
he was leaning on a broom outside a dilapidated gas station listening to some
kids asking for directions.
“This must have been when I got
the reputation for being a sweeper,” he said to himself.
A stray thought interrupted:
Those snotty kids. Think
they’re better than me. We’ll just see about that.
The second movie had come out
five years after the first one, and had a different group of kids out in the
same boonies looking for wild times.
Robbie played the same role. He
looked a little older, but seemed to be wearing the same coveralls. Once again,
he directed the kids down a dirt road to their doom.
Two bit parts in two movies in
the eighties. Then there appeared to be a thirty-five year break in his movie
career until the next time he’d parts. At least there had been no other mention
of Adam Connor on the Internet for the time period between then and now.
Where’ve ya been hidin’ for
so long, Connor? We missed ya.
Robbie decided to take the two
tapes with him to The Bijou. He’d offer them to Bill, and if Bill didn’t have
access to a VHS player, they could at least talk about them. Robbie didn’t have
any close friends in his life, not really any friends at all, and he liked the
idea of having someone to share a common interest with. Even if neither of them
was sure what that interest entailed.
When the lights dimmed and Bill
hadn’t shown, Robbie was disappointed. But he’d watch the movie, and if he had
a cameo sweeper part, he’d tell Bill about it the following Friday.
The movie was about a wealthy
New York City businessman who’d bought a dude ranch in Montana. Grant Thompson
was well-liked by his staff, all of whom were local folks who appreciated the
wages he paid. When he was found bludgeoned to death in one of the stables,
everyone was shocked.
The local police were called in
to investigate, and they met with staff in the stable. As the officers
interviewed the staff, the forensics team and the coroner went about their
Robbie watched as an older man
who had been in the background leaning on a broom slipped out the back door. It
was Adam Connor.
The scene cut from the stable
to a room in a bunkhouse. And there Adam was, throwing clothes into a duffel
“Going somewhere, Mr. Stubbs?”
Two police officers stood in
the doorway with their guns drawn. They had followed Stubbs to his room.
They escorted him out and
walked him to a waiting squad car.
Robbie left the movie that was
playing on the screen, and watched a parallel continue in his mind:
One of the officers was
about to put the cuffs on Stubbs when he turned to see a horse and rider
barreling down on them.
It was Bill! He
was dressed in Western garb and had a big grin on his face. He rode his horse
between Stubbs and the officers, and without slowing a bit, grabbed Stubbs and
pulled him up onto the horse.
The two officers
pulled their pistols and both went to one knee in a shooter’s stance ….
Someone was shaking his
“Wake up, sir. Are you Adam
Robbie turned to face two
sheriff deputies, a man and a woman, who stood in the aisle next to his seat.
“I don’t know,” he stammered.
“So, you’re back in the movie
business,” said the woman, Deputy Sheriff Liz Avery. “Where’ve ya been all
these years? You disappeared about the same time some kids in the hills of
Eastern Kentucky did.”
“I don’t know,” Robbie
“Ya already said that,” said
Deputy Sheriff Don Fuller. “Come on. Let’s go outside and talk.”
The three of them walked to the
curb outside the theater. Before anyone had a chance to say anything, they
turned in the direction where the roar of a Harley Davidson was coming from.
Robbie stared into the distance
and mentally stepped out for a few seconds. Reality and fantasy warred for his
The vintage cycle
was driven by Bill, and it was equipped with a sidecar. It pulled up close
enough to the curb so that Robbie was able to jump in as it passed.
drew their weapons and pointed them at the retreating motorcycle.
“Why didn’t ya
shoot?” asked Sheriff Avery.
“I don’t know,”
said Sheriff Fuller. “Why didn’t you?”
“I don’t know,”
“I already said
that,” said Fuller.
“We sound like
we’re in a some frickin’ B movie,” said Avery.
“I think that’s
real close to what’s goin’ on here,” said Fuller. “Real close. I’ve got this
feeling we might not see Adam Connor again for a long, long time.”
Now cuffed, Robbie Connor drowsed
in the backseat of the squad car. He was thinking about how he’d once thought
he’d make it big in the movies. He’d chosen Adam Connor as his stage name
because he thought Adam sounded more masculine than Robbie. He wanted to play
In real life, early in his
movie career, he’d also been a serial killer for a few years. He’d been good at
that. He’d never been caught. But as an actor, he’d been type-cast as a
sweeper, and was always way down on the list of credits.
“With better parts, I coulda
been a famous actor,” Robbie said to the deputies in the front seat.
Fuller was driving, and he
looked over at Avery. She shrugged.
“Hell, with good parts, we
coulda been famous actors,” she said.
“And some decent dialog…...”
“You got somethin’ against the
way I talk?” asked Fuller.
“We talk like cops,” said
“And just how do cops talk?”
“Like we’re talkin’ now. Like
Joe Friday on that old Dragnet TV show.”
Avery started laughing. “Or
Broderick Crawford. Remember him? 10-4.” She said the 10-4 in a deep voice. “Now,
those guys could talk like cops.”
“How old are you, anyway, Avery?”
“Old as dirt, Fuller,” said
Avery. “Old as dirt.”
Fuller stopped at a red alight.
From out of nowhere a werewolf leaped onto the hood of the car and stared
menacingly through the windshield.
Though the makeup was well
done, it was easy to see who the werewolf was.
“Fuckin’ Bill,” grumbled Robbie,
staring at Bill. “He doesn’t seem to be having any trouble getting good
The light changed and Fuller
took off. “What’s our buddy goin’ on about now?” he asked Avery.
“Oh, he’s still complaining
about never getting any good parts.”
“Hell, maybe he’ll get lucky
and prison will have a theater group.”
Roy Dorman, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Madison, WI, who
wrote BP #90’s “The Return of the Ferryman” (+ BP #89’s “Orphans at the Dark
Door”; BP #88’s “Blood on the Riviera”; BP #87’s “The Sepia
Photograph”; BP #86’s “New Orleans
Take-Out” & “Not This Time”; BP #85’s “Door County Getaway” & “The
Gift”; BP #84’s “Goodbye to Nowhere Land” & “Nobody Should Be at 1610 Maple
St.”; BP #83’s “Door #2”; BP #82’s “A Nowhere Friend” & “Foundling”;
#81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land” & “The Box with Pearl Inlay”; BP #80’s
“Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates” &
“Get Some Shelter”; BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be”; BP #77’s “Essence of
Andrew”; BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley”; BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy…”;
BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others”; BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a
Flower”; BP #72’s “The Beach House”; BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites”; BP #70’s
“Borrowing Some Love”; and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”),
is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has
been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high
school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious
writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled
Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows,
Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction,
Flash Fiction Magazine,
Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed
Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights,
Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun
Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme
of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story
Shack, & Yellow Mama.