good to the last drop
(originally posted 6/14/2019)
No good deed goes unpunished. No bad deed goes unpunished. Let’s face it, no deed goes unpunished. I really should have just started off by saying that.
Case in point, a deed that was both good and bad, and interesting and dumb when you really think about it, ended up punishing everyone involved.
A gift from a man to his girlfriend following a tour of the prison where they filmed Shawshank Redemption.
Not as simple gift like a t-shirt. Oh no, this gift was far more thoughtful and thoughtless. I give two opinions on it because that’s how many people were involved in assessing the nature and motivations of the gift. Although to be fair, each of them thought it was both thoughtful and thoughtless.
Until one of them had trouble thinking about it all.
That last sentence was foreshadowing. I’d ask you to imagine spooky music in your head as you read it except the subject matter is paranormal so it might be a little bit of overkill.
What happens when someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts and/or the supernatural acquires something that someone who does believe in ghosts would find creepy? Is it thoughtful or thoughtless of that person to present it to their partner as a gift?
The man in question barreled through the gift shop at the end of the tour of the Ohio State Reformatory without even pausing to look at the t-shirts because he had already taken something that didn’t belong to him. In his pocket sat a chunk of paint.
What girl wouldn’t melt at the thought of her boyfriend arriving home with a large chunk of paint for her? Let’s be honest, a t-shirt from the prison where they filmed Shawshank isn’t that hot either.
I should point out that the last two sentences were also foreshadowing but you probably wouldn’t have ever noticed if I didn’t take the time to point them out now. They were more like subconscious foreshadowing.
How many writers treat their readers to that?
Not many, I’ll tell you that.
The paint that sat in his pocket as he made his escape from the Ohio State Reformatory, describing it as an escape shows that I’m really in the zone right now, was released, ok, that felt a bit forced, from the very cell wall where decades ago a desperate young man had dosed himself in kerosene and lit himself on fire. He burned to death right there as that very paint looked on.
To revisit the subconscious foreshadowing I mentioned earlier, note I used the words ‘melt’ and ‘hot’ to set up the reveal. I’m not sure you fully appreciate this kind of effervescent prose but I wanted to give you the chance to momentarily bask in it.
Especially since I originally spelled effervescent with a V instead of two F’s. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may I always say.
Anyway, you don’t have to be an expert in ghosts and possessions and such to realize that any time an unwitting person scoops up anything at the scene of a grisly death bad things are sure to follow. His girlfriend, someone who believed that she was an expert in ghosts and possessions and such, reacted poorly when he presented her with her ‘gift.’
There was screaming and cursing and if she’d have had access to kerosene he had little doubt she would have dosed him and set him on fire. “Why would you do this to me?” she shrieked at least half a dozen times.
Finally, spent, she stormed out of the room. Whatever she meant by “this” had been done.
The trouble was, he was left to admit to himself that he hadn’t exactly been an unwitting person. He was totally witting. He knew it would freak her out and he couldn’t figure out why he’d done it in the first place. While there was nothing mystical about it, bringing the paint into his relationship had created the very dire consequences that she was worried about.
Was he being controlled by forces from the beyond the grave? Inside the walls of Shawshank? Or, even worse, between his own ears?
He couldn’t remember being in the cell and making the decision to steal some of the paint. What had possessed him?
If you are hearing spooky music in your head right now it’s completely understandable.
So he did the only thing that a man does in stories such as these, he laughed and did something rash that made no sense whatsoever. When she finally returned to the house he told her that he’d thrown away the paint when actually he’d ground it up and put it in the big steaming cup of coffee he presented to her as a peace offering.
Hours later she experienced a little abdominal pain and, sure, there was a little tingling in the extremities, but nothing that she would later remember. Mostly because of the massive memory loss she experienced by consuming so much lead.
Eventually she felt much more comfortable sleeping in the closet.
He was, predictably, haunted by his poor decision.