Sunday, February 11, 2007

Harry Callahan visits Madison County

(Many thanks/blame to Gwynne of The Shallow End, whose pictures of her husband's and her own movie collections inspired this post. Her responsibility ends there, she'll be relieved to know.)

If Caroline and Michael had only kept reading their mother Francesca's journal . . . they would have found, tucked away in a sidepocket of the book, written notes she had made of another affair after Robert Kinkaid and his truck had moved on, this one with a very different man. Even so, her encounters with him were not without their very strong sense of déjà vu--not to mention some apparent thoughts about possibly making this a screenplay.

I first saw him at the same bridge where I had gone with Robert--seeing him there in silhouette against the setting sun, taking pictures, I thought it was him . . . that is, until I heard him talking . . .
Harry (looking through the viewfinder and stroking the camera's shutter button, to himself): I know what you're thinking. "Did he take twenty-four shots or only twenty-three?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement of framing this bridge through the viewfinder I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a Leica M-6, one of the quietest cameras in the world, and whose picture quality would blow your head clean off when you see the prints, you've got to ask yourself a question as you're looking at this one shot, the light real perfect and just about gone: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
And in that moment, everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like yet another woman, yet I was more myself, once again, than ever before.


Still, it seemed to me that throughout so much of our time together, I'd be saying things that sounded so oddly familiar to me . . . but, Harry being so different a man, his responses would leave me gasping for the words to say back to him. As I am wont to do when I see strangers with chiseled, world-weary faces, I fell in love with Harry, and he with me--so much so that he wanted to take me back with him to his city by the bay. But I just couldn't leave Iowa . . .
Francesca: Harry, please. You don't understand, no-one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you're expected move again only you don't remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you. What I'm saying is that I have rights to those details!
Harry: Well, I'm all broken up over your rights!
Francesca: But I want to keep our love forever. I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don't you understand... we'll lose it if we leave. I can't make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold onto to both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you.
Harry: If I tried that your head would be splattered all over this field.
Strangely like Robert though he was, I couldn't figure him out--it was like he cared about me on the inside, but on the outside he was still the tough-talking former detective thinking he was getting the shit end of the stick every time, from everyone.

So you see, this had to end as well so our affair could remain pure and unsullied enough that even women who disapprove of adultery in their own lives could read this and still find it a beautiful and inspiring love story. So, that last morning we were together . . .
Francesca: So, do you want more eggs or should we just fuck on the linoleum one last time?

He walked across to where I was standing by the refrigerator, unbelting his slacks. When he reached me, I eagerly slipped them down his sinewy hips.
Harry: What are you going to do with those?
Francesca: Just toss them on the floor.
Harry: No. I'll hang 'em high . . . er, I'll drape them over the chair back here.
Francesca: What'll it hurt?.
Harry: $29.50, it'll hurt.

It was in that moment, as I watched him match the seams of his slacks before placing them on the chair, that I knew Harry, having lovingly exposed the film in his camera to the bridges hereabouts, had just as lovingly folded his memories of me into himself, too.


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2 comments:

Gwynne said...

"Did he take twenty-four shots or only twenty-three?"

Heh. ;-)

But the thought of Francesca having a second affair is devastating. And the thought of Dirty Harry romantically involved with anybody is inconceivable. ;-)

Will Lindauer said...

You've made mmy day.