“What?” John Biebe casually asked, swirling the beer mug so that the foam nearly formed a wave. His legs were languidly stretched onto another chair he had placed beside his seat in the booth, and as far as he was concerned, for once, he was not ‘the sheriff,’ he was not the ‘conciliator,’ he was not the ‘Father Confessor.’ He was simply another Point resident, attempting to enjoy himself at the Tavern.
“Titanic,” Andy repeated, as he squeezed his slender form into the side opposite John, forcing Jeffrey Wigand to scoot over. “She’s going to do Titanic, isn’t she?”
“Titan…No, I…I don’t really think…Well, I don’t know what she’s going to do.”
“But I thought she loved that movie.” It was Dominic’s turn to chime in as he strolled over, bored with the conversation between Max Skinner, Arthur and Johnny (it had something to do with the subtle art of seduction, but after listening to years of suggestions, he doubted there was anything he had not heard before). “Doesn’t she like Titanic anymore?”
John finished the sip from the glass before he responded. “I’m not saying she doesn’t. She still likes it, but it’s just not in her top 10 or 12 anymore as far as I know, and Titanic was what – fifteen years ago? A person does have a right to change their minds, boys, even when it comes to movies,” and he tried not to chuckle.
Andy was grinning. “It’s so 1990’s anyway, Dom.”
But Dom frowned. “What the hell does that mean? I’ll bet she still likes Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption, doesn’t she John?”
“And don’t forget my movie,” came Wigand’s quiet voice. “It was released in ’99.”
“So was mine,” Biebe laughingly added.
“Fuck you guys. If she’s going to have a favorite movie from the Nineties, it’ll be mine.” Bud White had now joined them after fetching another beer.
“All right, all right, let’s leave all of the Creator’s movies out of it then.” Andy felt as though the conversation was spinning out of control. “So…you don’t think she’s doing Titanic?” and he returned his attention to John.
“I didn’t say she…” John sighed. “Look…I just said it’s not a top 10 favorite anymore. I don’t know that she’ll necessarily consider it – she might. She didn’t say one way or the other.” Honestly, he only remembered the twinkle in her eyes when Savannah threw down the gauntlet and the challenge was in the open.
“So what are her top ten favorites right now?”
Biebe rolled his eyes. “Andy…good Lord…do you have a bet with somebody?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” and he scowled at Dominic. “Just narrowing my odds, that’s all. So…” and now he pulled a chair closer, sitting backwards when it was in place. “…what are they, Big Brother?”
“She has them on her blog and on her Amazon personal page.” But when that didn’t seem to satisfy them, John exhaled loudly and took another drink. “Okay – I’m going to be a really good Big Brother, and give you her top twelve. How’s that? And if you ask me what her top twenty-five are, I’ll disown your asses here and now. Got it?” The younger men nodded and sat forward, and John unceremoniously recited, “Numbers 1 through 12: Master and Commander, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Ten Commandments, Gladiator, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (and before you say anything, she counts them as one, and as far as she’s concerned, Godfather Part III never happened).”
Dom grinned over at Andy. “She hates that damn Godfather III, you know.”
Andy now rolled his eyes. “I know.”
“Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Gone with the Wind, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers (she counts them as one movie too, just like with The Godfather), The Right Stuff, Ben-Hur, and…” He just loved building up the suspense with these boys, and to make them even more eager, he took yet another sip before announcing, “Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.”
“I’ll bet she counts those as two, too! Bonzer!” Andy exclaimed. “Thanks mate.”
“Now watch it be something he didn’t mention,” Bud teased, watching to see their reaction when that suddenly sunk in.
“Hey, Bud’s right,” Dom realized. “She loves all those movies with the subtitles and…and…and…” He looked at Biebe, who shook his head.
“Nope. I ain’t giving you another hint. Go figure it out for yourselves. It’s your bet.”
“You’re right Dom. Watch it be something with subtitles or some old silent movie,” Andy groaned. “Oh well, thanks John.”
The two younger men now put their heads together, mulling over the information and wishing they had a laptop in order to check Tina’s blog or her Amazon profile, causing Wigand to chuckle and lean towards John. “I think they’re wondering if she’ll work one of them in as Frodo and Sam.” The comment made Biebe and Bud let go with a familiar giggle, but Dominic tried to appear indignant.
“As long as I’m not that damn Gollum,” and with a slap to the back, he said, “Come on Andy. Let’s go see what the others think; get our bets finalized.”
“Right. Thanks again John.”
“You’re welcome again.”
“She’ll choose something you didn’t mention,” Wigand said.
John shrugged. “I have no idea, and it’s not for me to help them win their bets. I wouldn’t even bet on this one and she’s my wife.”
“What’s so funny?” Jeffrey asked when Bud suddenly laughed.
“I don’t know. I was just thinking,” and he nodded towards the small group of gamblers now surrounding a table and sorting out their choices. Jack Corbett was scribbling names and movie titles on a flip chart normally used for other games, and the cash was flying, exchanging hands so quickly it was nearly dizzying. “Just imagining which one of them thinks he’s going to be the new version of Jack Aubrey or Maximus.”
The three laughed, but John narrowed his eyes as he saw what was being written beside Sid’s name. “Son of a bitch. He’s got his nerve,” which caught the attention of his company and caused them to also pay closer attention.
Wigand rubbed his chin. “Sorry, but I sort of see him more as Charles Foster Kane myself.”
“Funny – I was thinking Ivan the Terrible,” John admitted, and Bud and Wigand both stared at him. “Shit. I forgot to tell Andy and Dom about that one. It’s one of those movies with the subtitles they were talking about. Didn’t think I was going to like it much, but it actually wasn’t bad. Kind of weird looking, but I liked it after I got used to it.”
“Eisenstein?” Wigand asked, and John – after a second’s hesitation – nodded. “Heard of it, but I’ve never seen it. I caught the restored Battleship Potemkin on Turner Classics a few months back.”
“Who the…? What the hell is…? Okay…that…that one just went over my head,” White confessed. “Your wife and her movies, John. I just hope she picks something everybody can relate to.”
The Alaskan gave a gentle smile. “I’m sure she will. Remember her Beauty and the Beast?”
The confusion on Bud’s face now faded. “Now that was a great story.” And it made him recall happier memories, when his mother – during the few quiet moments of his childhood – would sit beside him in bed and read him fairy tales, or tell him of little Dorothy in Oz, or Alice and her adventures, or the Darling children in Never-Never-Land, and they both would imagine they were in those far off, make-believe worlds, away from their reality.
“Trust me. She’ll go with something that’s not too…” but he was interrupted when the head chef, Adalia, and part of her crew, emerged from the kitchen, loaded down with trays and pots and other dishes, causing those that noticed to break into a round of applause. “Nothing like food to get this bunch excited.”
It was the perfect accompaniment to a midweek evening with temperatures below freezing and several inches of snow layering most of the Point. There were no lurkers – it wasn’t the usual day for them at any rate, meaning that all of those at the Tavern were either regulars snowed in from the weekend, or the residents that decided to venture out, so that they all felt completely at ease with one another. But after several hours of sports on satellite TV and the usual dancing and occasional Karaoke, it was for Savannah to announce that she had an idea that she hoped would get some of their brains into gear.
It was a challenge. She knew this group loved challenges.
It would be movie related. She knew that most of them loved movies.
And it could be as complicated or as simple as they liked: Using those you know among the regulars, take one of your favorite movies, cast them in it, and tell us the redone story.
That was when John had noticed the gleam in his wife’s dark brown eyes; knew that a series of movie titles were flickering through her mind, realized that she was discounting one, then another, and considering another and another. No, she would not choose some slightly obscure Russian epic, no matter how famous, or some silent flick unfamiliar to most of those present. She would think of all the movies that had touched her in some very special way; something that was on her list of favorites, and something that would appeal to everyone. Then, with only a quick “Be back in a few” to him, she disappeared into the Fireplace Room, accompanied by Savannah and Chloe, whom she had nearly pulled from their seats.
“You’re not gonna make me into Indiana Jones,” Cort called after Chloe. She paused long enough in the doorway to consider, then flashed him a brilliant smile, as if the idea just occurred to her.
“That’s not a question,” Cort continued, his own eyes glinting with a challenge of his own. The Brothers near him began chuckling.
“It won’t be Indiana Jones,” she promised sweetly, and disappeared after Tina. A few seconds later, she reappeared, her features puckered in a questioning look.
“I do wonder how you’d look in knee breeches, though…” She never got to explain, because a roar of laughter went up as Cort dropped his head onto his folded arms on the table. With a wink and a wicked grin, she left again, this time to consult with Tina.
A few minutes after the arrival of the chili, hot wings, shrimp and ribs, and many of the plates and bowls were filled over loud conversation – and a bit of playful jostling by some of the younger brothers – Tina and her friends returned to the room, hardly noticed. It was only when Deidre saw them and announced, “They’re back!” did the rest of the group burst into another round of applause as Chloe and Savannah returned to where they had been, and Tina went to the booth that everyone considered hers and John’s.
“Did you come up with something?” Biebe asked as she eased beside him.
“Any hints?” Wigand asked.
Her response was to coyly smile.
“She’s got a good one,” John declared. “I know that smile.”
“Anything up there on the chart?”
At Jeffrey’s inquiry, she strained her neck to look at what had been written as part of the bets, and she simply shook her head. “Nope.”
“Good,” her fellow Louisvillian declared. “Wonder how they’ll work this one out?”
“Why do they always have to bet on everything?” Tina wondered, although she knew the answer before her question was even asked.
“Because you know how we are, darlin’. We’d bet on a damn cockroach race…”
“If we had cockroaches,” Wigand added.
But now their attention was drawn to what was roughly considered the front of the room, as Savannah climbed on top of a chair while calling out, “Okay…if everybody’s ready…and you all have your food and your beer…” There were some cheers from the Aussies. “We have the first of our challenges ready to go….You’re ready, aren’t you, Tina?”
Quickly finishing the hot wing she had snatched from her husband’s plate, she wiped her hands and mouth on a napkin and said, “Uh…yeah…ready. I’m ready!”
“Break a leg,” John softly told her, and she smiled in return as she hurried to where Savannah waited, the latter now clapping and saying, “Let’s give her a big hand!”
“Give us a good one, Tina!” came one shout.
“Make us proud, little Sheila!”
“Just give me one that I bet on!”
“You want to get up here?” Savannah asked, and Tina shook her head. “Okay…you’ve got it. Ladies and gentlemen the first of our movie adaptation challenges comes from Tina.”
Again there were applause, which gave Tina an opportunity to catch her breath and form her thoughts before the room grew quiet again.
“Thanks Boo. Um…all right, my movie,” and she began to gently fold her hands over and over within one another. Why she felt nervous when these were all her friends and yes, brothers-in-law and husband she was uncertain, except that she was afraid they might not like her selection. But when she discussed it with Chloe and Savannah, they loved the idea, had agreed to their appearances in it, only now – looking out at the eager faces…. Well, sink or swim she supposed.
“This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the first time I saw it, I was struck by how stunning it was and intelligent and filled with this great storyline and this wonderful dialogue…”
“It’s not Titanic then!” someone said, causing everyone to laugh and Tina to blush.
“I never said Titanic had wonderful dialogue,” she countered, then “Anyway…I decided to go with this as my choice. It’s called…”
“Here it comes,” Andy whispered, crossing his fingers.
“Fuck! Sorry,” Johnny Ryan apologized as the laughter started up again.
“What is it about, Tina?” Jack Aubrey asked. Thankfully, he had not placed a gamble on this game, for he was still unfamiliar with many of these motion pictures, except for those of the Creator and the ones introduced to him by Tina or a few of the others.
“It’s from 1944; it was directed by Otto Preminger; and it starred Gene Tierney…”
“Oh God…I love Gene Tierney,” Lachlan muttered, causing some of the brothers to give him a questioning stare. “Hey, I do! It’s the overbite. God…I love her overbite!”
“Fuck me – he’s in love with an overbite,” Johnny teased.
Tina continued: “…Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson and Vincent Price.”
“Horror movie?” Bud asked.
Tina shook her head. “No, it’s before Vincent Price became famous for his horror movies….No, Laura…Laura is a movie about…about…love and jealousy, loyalty and greed…obsession…and murder. A brutal…horrific murder.”
“My kind of movie,” Sid said under his breath.
John Biebe knew the movie very well; had watched it with her any number of times, and looking across at Wigand he said, “This is going to be good.”
“And I would like to thank Savannah for giving me permission to use her name for my version of the movie.” Everyone clapped, and the Vancouverite took a bow. “Okay…let me set the movie up for you all,” and removing an I-Pod from her pocket, she walked over to where a dock had been set up with speakers. Moments later, an orchestral suite began to play, and Tina explained, “I managed to get this downloaded. That’s the main theme from Laura, written by David Raskin, and you hear variations of it all through the movie because this was her song…Laura’s song, only now we’ll think of it as being Savannah’s song.
“Anyway…the movie begins in 1941…and it’s the summer of that year, in New York City….The Second World War is not quite that yet because the United States hasn’t entered it; Pearl Harbor is still months away. It is still the Second War in Europe, and the aggression of the Japanese Empire in the Pacific….For most Americans, the war is far, far away, something they only see in newsreels at the movies, and life is just going along as it always has….”