Après le Blob

by Mark Stein


 

The Blob
Paramount Pictures (1958)

After teenagers Steve Andrews and his girlfriend Jane Martin see a meteorite crash nearby… they come across an old man who [has]… some type of gelatinous matter stuck to his hand. They take him to Dr. Hallen… Steve becomes convinced it’s a monster of some sort after both the old man and the doctor vanish… [but] he can’t get anyone to believe him… The creature finally reaches a size that it cannot be missed and everyone wonders how they will possibly stop it.

–garykmcd, imdb.com

 
Steve Andrews………………… Steve McQueen
Jane Martin……………………… Aneta Corsaut
Lt. Dave…………………………… Earl Rowe
Old Man…………………………… Olin Howland
Dr. Hallen………………………… Stephen Chase
Sgt. Jim Bert…………………… John Benson
Mr. Andrews…………………… Hugh Graham
Mr. Martin……………………… Elbert Smith
Tony…………………………………… Robert Fields
Mooch………………………………… James Bonnet
Al………………………………………… Anthony Franke
Teenager…………………………… Molly Ann Bourne

 

––––––––––

JANE
Only the French cared
though not to be compared
to their love of Jerry Lewis.
To Americans it was just another
cosmic calamity
the kind ballyhooed again and again
INDESTRUCTIBLE!
NOTHING CAN STOP IT!
But Steve did.

*   *   *

MR. ANDREWS
My son is not in the habit of telling lies
I told the lieutenant
tomorrow he might tell us more
help straighten this out.
Next morning, of course, we knew more
but not from Steve
who seemed normal
weekends at the store
his usual at school
home at night on time
most times
that girl Jane we guessed
the two of them maybe talked
the wife and I decided
not to worry.

*   *   *

i am consumed
all of us
i believe
possess a soft center
that becomes all-consuming
unless we find a way
to freeze it

*   *   *

MOLLY ANN
What’s the matter, you Jello?
And other such stuff
from Tony, Mooch, and Al
forever after.
Or as long as forever
turned out to be.
That was their way
I remember hearing Jane say to Steve
of freezing it.

How I hated her that day.

*   *   *

LIEUTENANT DAVE
Bert was a good cop.
Basically a good cop.
Like a good cop he took it pretty hard
when it turned out the kids
were not kidding.
He let up on them after that.
What drove him nuts now
were thefts of the monument
erected to those lost that night
stolen as well its replacement
and the third but Bert this time
staked out the place
and gave chase
to the curve of Main and Church
where a vehicle illegally parked
tried to swerve.
Kids necking
end of date
you know how they do.
Tony something
I’d have to check the record.
In and out of here a lot.
Not a bad kid, really
confused
too young to be a war hero
and Bert, always hauling him in,
never returned from the war in a way.
DOA.
The girl was okay.
Cuts. Abrasions.
Mol, I think, they called her
maybe a play on gun mol?
being Tony’s girl?
pretty face
such a shame.
Bert left the force.
Left town.
Where to we never heard.

*   *   *

REDACTION
Near the North Pole
at a base where a group of American scientists
are investigating Arctic phenomena
[…]
a mysterious spaceship crashe[d] nearby.
The scientists radio[ed]
the Air Force field at Anchorage, Alaska.
[…]
The spaceship
[was]
accidentally destroyed
but one of its “crew”
[was]
rescued
and taken to the base
[…where]
a conflict
[has developed]
between
[Dr. Arthur Carrington and his]
scientific group
who wish to study
the fearsome “Thing”
and
[Air Force Capt. Patrick Hendry]
who
[claims]
it poses
a terrible threat
to all civilization
and wants to destroy it
while there is yet time.
–Benton, Texas Record-Chronicle
September 2, 1951

*   *   *

JANE
The last time I saw Steve
was Spring Break, junior year
a quick trip home from college
before a visit to New York.
He was working in his father’s store
which irked my dad
Where’s this boy headed?

The last time I saw Steve
we went again to our spot
on the old north road
true love
in truth, his blue convertible
a Plymouth he’d rehabilitated
into a powerhouse for girls.
I knew.

The last time I saw Steve
I read from a book I’d been assigned
Just because I’m so horribly conditioned to
accept everybody else’s values, and just
because I like applause and people to rave
about me, doesn’t make it right. I’m ashamed
of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the
courage to be an absolute nobody. I’m sick of
myself and everybody that wants me to
make some kind of splash.
He took the book and tore the page
crumpled it
screeched us away
from the old north road.

*   *   *

[NAME WITHHELD]
We had no idea
how much that monument weighed.
Just to pry it from the ground
we had to come back and sledge it.
I got the top.
Not any names but says
“the blob”
which I keep well hidden
to this day
the statue of limitations
which I have no idea why
they call it that
won’t apply
if others knew
I’d be pursued
mobbed by eyes
the rest of my life.

*   *   *

if i could relax
so completely
my teeth
would fall from the gums
swirl down my throat
plop into my insides
which
being completely relaxed
liquefied
leaving me little more than a puddle
of sticky stuff

*   *   *

MR. ANDREWS
Steve wanted to drive stock cars.
His mother and I tried
to understand
to reason
to explain
people need to eat
there’ll always be money to be made
in groceries.
Racing is risky.
Steve was unfazed.
Nothing fazed him.
That part of him
his mother thinks
he swallowed
the night.

*   *   *

REDACTION
Noted news commentators
Drew Pearson
Gabriel Heatter
H. V. Kaltenborn
and Elmer Davis
[…]
report[ed] to the world
the arrival
[…]
in Washington, D.C.
of a strange space ship
bearing two visitors
from another planet:
“Klaatu”
[…]
gifted with special powers
and his giant robot
“Gort.”
Together they threaten the Earth
with total destruction
[…]
[Helen Benson]
a tall, curvaceous war widow
who understands
the space visitor’s motives
[proceeded]
to assist him
in his mission.
Rocky Mount Telegram (NC),
March 23, 1952

*   *   *

SCRAPBOOK
just because I like applause and people to
ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of
courage to be an absolute nobody.
–scrap torn from Franny and Zooey
by J. D. Salinger

*   *   *

MR. MARTIN
Look, I admire what that boy did.
I myself, don’t forget, joined in
when word went out for CO2
breaking into the school
with those troublemakers
me, the principal,
(having forgotten my keys)
to fetch fire extinguishers.
I knew he wasn’t like the others.
Even before this thing.
Anyone could see he was a good kid
but limited.
Much in the same way as
this town.
But a job is a job
so I took it.
I stayed.
But Jane
though I think I could sense
what she saw in him
and applauded her for it
what, I asked,
is Act Two?

*   *   *

MOLLY ANN
We like Daytona.
Well enough, anyway.
We miss family
but our thinking was
they’d retire hereabouts
in time
but time
I’ve learned…

We’re happy here.
Happy enough.
Steve’s at NASCAR
office stuff but what would he do
had he stayed?
Take over the grocery?
That got squashed by shopping centers
built with the houses out Route 23
around the time
the movie theater closed its doors
from which
that night poured…

Junior likes it here, too.
Seems to.
Loved the beach as a kid
and still as a teen
goes there weekends
sometimes
more often nights
to do what kids do.
We’ve never told him.
Never came up.
Never saw a reason.
Why would we
whatever it would do to tell
do that?
He drives too fast
like his dad.

Knowing won’t help.

*   *   *

SCRAPBOOK
nd Mrs. Henry Martin announc
aughter, Jane, to Andrew Tayl
rth Carolina. Prior to her marriag
school teacher. Mr. Taylor
sheriff
–item torn from
unidentified newspaper

*   *   *

MOOCH
What happened here?
It’s like it was nothing.
Steve’s gone
with Mol.
Tony
thanks to that asshole Bert.
Jane I’m not surprised
she was never really about here.
Al enlisted
saying goodbye at the bus
was like we were already dead to him.
Even the monument they gave up on.

I’m here.
My name is James.
No one knows me anymore
as Mooch.

*   *   *

LA SOCIÉTÉ INTERNATIONALE
DE LA RÉALITÉ EXTRAORDINAIRE
will be hosting a conference in Paris
on events extraterrestrial
October 5-7, 1984.
On behalf of the governing board
we invite you to join
a discourse by a panel
of those exposed
to experience beyond belief.
We are hoping as well for the follow peoples:
* Robert “Bobby” Benson
son of departed Helen Benson
whose ordeal you may recall
from the day yet recollected by many
the earth stood still.
* Dr. Arthur Carrington
though unfortunately we are informed
dementia has plagued him
in these his later years
but are told his memories
remain vivant of his encounter
with what back then was known only as
the thing.
* Mme. Ronnie Neary
with whom I am personally acquainted
from our own
Type 3 Close Encounter.
* And, still on occasion in the news
due to his recent experience
with, as now we say, an E.T.,
the boy Elliott whose surname
we agree not to use
so as not to further encumbrate his youth.
Costs will be paid.
Yours most cordially,
Claude Lacombe, Ph.D.

*   *   *

JANE
I attended.
And found it profoundly salubrious.
Forgive me, ever the teacher.
(Show of hands—can anyone tell me
the meaning of salubrious?)
Especially the private sessions
participants only
And, yes, the recognition
from the public
plus I’d never been to France
plus I’d hoped to see Steve
for reasons maybe best left inside
but was told
he never replied.

*   *   *

REDACTION
[…]
tested the hypothesis
that the attainment of fame
leads to chronic self-consciousness,
and the relationship of
self-consciousness with
self-destructive behavior.

For those who have experienced fame
the urge to find a
[…]
more perfect self
creates the possibility
of uncovering
a worse
more misshapen one.
–Mark Schaller, “The Psychological
Consequences of Fame,” Journal of Personality,
65:2 (June 1997): 291-309.

*   *   *

JUNIOR
The last time I saw Dad
he had tubes in his nose
and a scrapbook on his lap
that
I’d never seen before.

The last time I saw Dad
his voice
though he’d always been a quiet man
was gone.
Gone too
the doctors warned
was his resistance.

I’d never known what drove him
what went on under his hood
until the last time I saw Dad
voice and resistance gone
his insides began seeping out
as he handed me
that scrapbook.

The last time I saw Dad
was our beginning
at the end.
Same as a racetrack.

*   *   *

i meant no harm
but have needs too
i know i’m feared
for reasons i well understand
but can’t control
any more than you yours
it isn’t that
it’s the disgust
the assumption i’m the one
misshapen
it’s the utter blindness
to pain
and, yes, bigotry
being blamed for being me
okay
okay
i wont even ask you to understand
i’ll just say
fuck you
fuck you consumes me
and i you

 


Mark Stein’s poetry has appeared in appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Madison Review, Confrontation, Nimrod, Moment, and elsewhere. He wrote the screenplay for Housesitter, starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and plays that have been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, Actors’ Theater of Louisville, South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Manitoba Theatre Centre, George Street Playhouse, L.A.’s Fountain Theatre, and most recently an award-winning production of Direct from Death Row the Scottsboro Boys at Chicago’s Raven Theater. His non-fiction includes the New York Times Best-Seller, How the States Got Their Shapes, which became the basis for the History Channel series by the same name, American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why, and Vice Capades: Sex, Drugs, and Bowling from the Pilgrims to the Present.

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