Bob Thurber

In sweltering city heat Boy cannot sleep so Boy watch movie, old black and white adventure film. He watch on wall-sized plasma TV Jane buy Tarzan for wedding anniversary and later take back then give Boy to keep in rented one-room studio, rent paid with alimony and child support sucked each month from Tarzan's bank account.
     Boy have MFA from hot shot university but no taste in movies. Film on giant TV is crap. Monkey could do better. The interior monologue voice-over (performed by respected African American actor who played super-villain in Star Wars) so draining, within minutes Boy bored with plot, having no interest in hero (played by former Olympic Gold Medal Winner) who slightly resembles Boy's father. Film's storyline simply that worn-out hero dreams about sleep, but can not close eyes without room swirling, ceiling spiraling in cheap CGI effect stolen from Hitchcock.
     Movie is a disgrace, two-thumbs down, straight to video production. Hero is a schmuck, a clown, a chimp -- overly concerned with personal development and self-actualization, with natural increase in serotonin levels, and effortless redirection of superior brain cells, all of which hero believes will make him a better man. Hero so focused on all this drivel that his body refuses all food, all substance. He loses thirty pounds in eighteen-day montage of flipping calendar. Hero's arms and legs become so puny he could not swim across a narrow shallow river never mind fight a healthy crocodile. Yet in dream sequence hero is growing at such a phenomenal rate that the covers (i.e. Two woolen blankets and one hand-stitched quilt and one cool satin over-sheet that his American wife has been so thoughtful in supplying) these covers appear no bigger than swatches from a fancy tailor's book, and our hero is freezing, lost in his shivering nightmare of sleeplessness.
     Boy yawn and blink as on screen hero twitches and jerks, Both trying to readjust themselves because Boy is tired of being Tarzan's son, and hero is tired of playing movie idol, each weary of dreaming a frequent false dream in which the covers no bigger than swatches continue to shrink until they become as microscopic in size as the neurotransmitters Boy and hero have put all their faith in.
     Boy find it embarrassing watching hero lying bone naked in sleeplessness, and he becomes convinced ending will make him cry. The actor is such a sad case, no champion, just an antihero trapped in a cinematic hell, unaware that the best director in the modern movie-making world, utilizing state-of-the-art visual effects, is already fed up, millions over budget and weeks behind his shooting schedule. Despite numerous previous successes director is doomed with this dog of a movie, this frequent false dream where our hero lingers on the brink of physical collapse, every brain cell shivering beneath a micro-swatch of comfort.
     Boy thrilled when director screams Cut! Cut! and camera pulls back to show the camera pulling back, revealing a whole crew of movie-making professionals, eyes glazed over, jaws drooping, Boy's father among them, everyone unnerved by the unfit conclusion of this doomed dog of a movie (work is so hard to come by when you've just come off a dog). The director storms toward his dressing room, waving his hand like a cavalry leader, indicating all should follow. But each crew member remains frozen, frowning at the hero, that pathetic soon-to-be out of work actor imitating sleeplessness by grinding his hips like Boy against soft lumpy mattress in  rented one-room flat his big shot mother pays for with Tarzan's money.
     The best selling book on which this movie is based reveals the sordid ending to our hero's dilemma. Jane buy book for Boy but Boy doesn't read it. Full of angst, with no patience, no interest. Yet at moments like these each crewmember refers to that section of their own worn paperback copy (pages dog-eared or yellow highlighted). They seek comfort in the eventual conclusion, holding to the hope that perhaps as soon as tomorrow the director will reschedule filming of this final scene, the last ghastly chapter where hero sits up, notices the world isn't watching, and sneaks back to jungle, putting the brakes on Boy dreaming dreams he can never have, not in this city, not in this life, Boy being who he is, son of the mighty Tarzan.







First drafted in 1990, this short piece was based on a recurrent dream of mine, and was originally titled "A Frequent False Dream." It's dedicated to my son, Samuel.