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"Just Another Movie" by Troy H. Cheek on Aug 07, 2006
(It was just another movie. Just another song and dance. Another poor sucker who never had a chance. -with thanks and apologies to Timbuk3)
Here's the latest weird movie dream. I really need to get more sleep.
Jenny and Richard (played by Dharma and Greg in my dream) are heading up a mountain road to a vacation home on Mirror Lake. They've rented it for two months. Jenny is a high-octane New York lawyer rapidly approaching burnout, while Richard is a one-time New York Best Seller List author suffering from writer's block. They figure this time away together will let Jenny decompress and let Richard finish his latest novel.
Mirror Lake is so named because it's fairly regular, almost symmetrical, and has twin vacation homes situated across from each other on one inlet, almost like mirror images. The homes were originally built by two brothers who used them as hunting lodges, but were eventually rebuilt as high-class vacation homes. They are supplied with gas stoves and fireplaces, a solar water heater, gravity-fed indoor plumbing, and a solar panel/battery system big enough to handle a few lights and Richard's laptop. They've also brought along a small portable DVD player and some of their favorite movies in case they get bored.
Upon arrival, they note that it takes nearly an hour to drive from the nearest town to the house. They also notice that the twin house across the inlet doesn't appear to be occupied. They don't understand that as the view is beautiful, the houses are perfect, and the lease was dirt cheap. Jenny thinks she sees something in a upstairs window, but birds flutter by a second later, so she thinks she just saw their reflection. Momentary camera view of Jenny from inside the window. They unpack and settle in.
While Richard is upstairs, Jenny is approached by Ranger Smith, who expresses surprise that someone has rented the house. They hadn't been rented for years and he thought the owners would have warned him that someone was coming. Now that he's aware of the renters, he promises to come by and check on them every week or so. There's a ranger station about an hour's walk North of the cabin if they need anything. It's a shorter drive, but you need a real truck and not a "sports activity hybrid" to cover the roads.
Jenny has trouble sleeping because she's used to the noise of the Big City. She also has trouble staying alert during the day because she agreed they would not pack any coffee or soft drinks in an effort to detoxify. Richard, however, sleeps great and sets his laptop up on the partly-roofed front deck, the place he will spend much of each day. There are several trails behind the house and Richard will also spend time exploring them. Finally, there is a dock and a small rowboat, which Richard will use once or twice. Jenny avoids the dock and the rowboat because she is a poor swimmer ("I can keep from drowning. That's about it.") and fears water over her head.
Three days of rain mean no solar-heated hot water, though the batteries in Richard's laptop are holding out, so Jenny heats water on the gas stove for a hot bath in a huge iron clawfoot tub. After a while, Richard joins her. Jenny snuggles up next to Richard, speaking of their love and how much this time together means to her.
"Jenny, who are you talking to?" asks Richard from the door. A fully clothed, dry, and dirty Richard who has obviously not bathed recently. Jenny finds that she's actually snuggled into the corner of the tub. She tells Richard that she must have dozed off and she really needs coffee. She tells herself that she must have drifted off and Richard left her sleeping while he walked a trail or something.
There are a few more instances over the next few days when Jenny is talking to Richard but turns her head and finds that he's not there. She becomes firmly convinced that her lack of sleep is causing her to drift off throughout the day and Richard is simply going back to his writing when she does so.
While Richard is out back somewhere, Jenny is approached by Ranger Jones, who expresses surprise that someone has rented the house. They hadn't been rented for years and he thought the owners would have warned him that someone was coming. Now that he's aware of the renters, he promises to come by and check on them every week or so. There's a ranger station about an hour's walk North of the cabin if they need anything. It's a shorter drive, but you need a real truck and not a "sports activity hybrid" to cover the roads. Oh, and he's never heard of Ranger Smith.
Jenny notices lights on at the twin house across the inlet. They are out by the time that she can fetch Richard. She notices them off and on over the next few days.
Richard heads to town early one morning to get supplies. He returns around noon with coffee! He puts the novel he's working on aside and spends the afternoon chatting and walking with Jenny until the rain starts. Jenny is getting ready for bed, the storm is howling, when someone starts pounding on the door. Unable to find Richard, Jenny eventually screws up her courage and opens the door. It is Richard, shivering with cold and wet, carrying a couple of boxes of supplies. Richard explains that the bridge they crossed on the way up had washed out, probably from the rain they had the first few days after their arrival, and he'd had to search up and down the creek for hours to find a place their little car could cross. The feeling of desolation and isolation this gave him has really inspired him, so don't wait up.
Jenny puts away the supplies, noting that there is no coffee. But when she fetches the mugs from the bedroom, she finds cold coffee in one of them.
Jenny encounters Ranger Brown. Ranger Brown hasn't heard of Ranger Smith or Jones, but did think that it was the other twin house that was occupied, not theirs. He points out lights and movement at the other house, but Jenny doesn't see it.
One night Jenny dreams, and knows that she's dreaming, of being on the boat with Richard in the middle of the lake. She wakes to find Richard watching her sleep. They talk and caress. They make love, but in the middle of it Jenny opens her eyes and wakes to find Richard watching her sleep. They talk, make love, and Jenny wakes. Eventually, she spurns Richard's advances because she can't convince herself that she's awake.
Jenny is outside trying to teach herself how to chop wood when she's approached by a couple. Lenny and Saffron. Lenny is an oily older guy played by the guy who played Squiggie from Laverne&Shirley, while Saffron is played by someone who could be an adult film star. They are the couple renting the other house. Lenny brought a huge-screen TV and a satellite dish, so they don't have enough power to run lights every night. Jenny calls Richard out and introduces them. Jenny is visibly upset at the interest Richard shows Saffron.
Jenny and Richard fight over his reaction to Saffron, Jenny believing that he is attracted to her porn star looks. Richard denies that he finds that kind of woman attracted or that he was ever all that interested in porn anyway.
Ranger Johnson drops by. He looks at her strangely when she tells him what he's going to say before he can say it.
Jenny digs deep in the DVD collection and finds porn. More importantly, she finds porn featuring Saffron, who apparently travels the country with her producer husband looking for regular guys to have sex on camera with.
Richard disappears several more times while Jenny is talking to him. Jenny begins to suspect that he is quiety slipping away on purpose just to avoid spending time with her.
Lenny drops by to invite Richard and Jenny over to their house for dinner the following night. Jenny at first doesn't tell Richard, but after spending an hour tracking him down after he slips off again, she angrily tells him about it. Richard professes confusion and claims not to have met Lenny and Saffron. He also claims that he had walked over to the other house just a few days before and found it boarded up and obviously unoccupied. He's never met any Ranger or heard Jenny say that she has. Confronted about his slipping off from Jenny, Richard explains that he couldn't possibly have engaged in most of the conversations with Jenny as he'd spent almost every waking hour either working on his novel or walking the trails, sometimes circling the lake, which is a five hour hike.
To prove to Richard that he knows who Saffron is, Jenny drags him back to the DVD player to show him the movies. The movie in the player is some comedy, and when she digs into the box, Jenny can't find any adult films. Jenny breaks down and Richard offers to cut short the vacation and return to New York. Jenny forbids him from doing so. Richard allows that he packed some of Jenny's sleeping pills and gives her a couple. She has her first good sleep in months.
The next day, Jenny wakes refreshed and alert. She checks for Richard and finds him typing on the deck. He promises not to go hiking again without letting her know first. She goes to the kitchen and starts making breakfast, confident that her little breakdown is behind her. Her daughter Sarah comes in and chides Jenny for missing breakfast. Jenny replies that she'll make it up to her by making her favorite meal for lunch and starts gathering ingredients. Jenny and Sarah chat away as Jenny cooks. Halfway through some motherly advice about boys, she hears Richard say "Jenny, who are you talking to?"
"I'm talking to our dau..." But, of course, she is alone in the kitchen. "Just talking to myself. Lunch will be ready in a minute."
Jenny is forcefully cheerful during lunch. Afterwards, she sees movement over at the twin house but ignores it. She also pretends she can neither see nor hear Ranger Lawson when he drops by. Later, in the den, she ignores Richard until he shakes her. "Sorry, honey. Just trying to tune out the world and find my inner peace."
Richard goes to town for supplies. Jenny can't remember if the bridge is really out or not. She ignores finding Richard and Jenny playing on the dock and throughout the house later that day. She ignores Saffron when she comes by with muffins "as a peace offering." Richard returns late that night and compliments Jenny on the muffins. They were delicious.
Jenny is getting good at chopping wood. Physical activity makes the hallucinations stop. Until Ranger Rogers walks up. Jenny sidles up to him, then gets his gun and shoots him in the chest. As the Ranger falls to the ground and screams for someone to help him, Jenny runs to fetch Richard. The Ranger is gone when she gets back, with no evidence that he was ever there, so Jenny tells Richard that what she wanted to show him was all the wood she'd chopped and how horny it made her, so make love to me here on the woodpile.
Jenny kills Saffron the next day with the ax. She wraps the body in a tarp, weights it down with rocks, rows to the middle of the lake, and dumps it. Richard later comments on the blood stains, but Jenny says they look much worse than they are, and she just cut her finger on the ax.
The next day, Richard and Jenny are eating breakfast on the deck when Lenny drives up. He claims that he just arrived that morning and was looking for his wife, Saffron, who had come ahead the day before. He found her car and belongings at the other house, but can't find her. Jenny and Richard help Ranger Bates search the area. When Jenny is alone, Saffron appears and talks to her, but Jenny dismisses her as not real, and dead besides.
Richard goes to town for supplies, saying as he has each time that this is the first time he's gone for them and doesn't know how long it will take for him to get back. Jenny hears a knock on the front door and opens it to find Saffron, mutilated from the ax blows, and Lenny, bloated and covered in weeds. Lenny had seen Jenny in the boat the other day, figured out what had happened, had tried to retrieve Saffron's body, and had drowned in the attempt. But they don't seem to be too upset about it so Jenny invites them in for dinner. Richard comes in with supplies, sees the dead people, and freaks. He runs back outside. Jenny chases him, but can't find him. Returning to the dinner table, she finds it only set for one and no dead people.
A few days later, Richard comments that having Jenny right in his hip pocket all the time is cramping his writing ability, and if she didn't drink all that coffee all day she wouldn't need sleeping pills at night. Jenny mouths something about just wanting to be near him. Richard wants to be near Jenny, too, but would feel better if she didn't keep clutching at his sleeve like that.
Lenny and Saffron pull up in their car. Ranger Lewis introduces them to Richard and Jenny. They've just rented the house across the lake. Jenny smiles and nods.
Major thunderstorm that night. Jenny awakes alone and goes looking for Richard. She can't find him or any of his stuff. Pictures she had of them together now just show her. Her driver's license has her maiden name. She notices that there are lights and movement over at the other house and starts out towards it on foot after the car won't start. An hour later, storm still blowing, she arrives at the house to find it boarded up and abandoned. Struggling back, she finds her own rental house boarded up and abandoned. She tells herself that this means she got turned around in the storm. After a few more attempts, she realizes that she can't find her way through the woods and tries the rowboat.
Halfway across the lake, her eyes fixed on the house lights she's aiming for, the boat starts taking on water and in a panic Jenny goes overboard. She might have been able to swim back to the surface, but Saffron and Lenny grab at her ankles. She struggles and starts to drown...
Only to jerk awake in a car pulling up to the rental house. She and the Richard have a conversation duplicating the one in the first few minutes of the movie. Getting out of the car, Jenny thinks she sees movement in an upstairs window, but decides it was the reflection from a flock of birds. Momentary camera view from inside the window watching Jenny and Richard unpack.
Outside view of the same window. We see Jenny silently pounding on the window and screaming. Camera pulls back to see Jenny walking up the steps to the door.
Roll closing credits.
Copyright 2006 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to
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|This page last updated on Aug 07, 2006 by Troy H. Cheek|