I love the doom of men. But I love doomed men even more.
There is a scene in the TV series, ‘Fargo’, the crime-drama. Surely, you must have watched ‘Fargo’. It’s bleak, rolling out in dreary, unending winter, behind foggy windows and the slush of snow. The villainy is astounding. The characters remind you of people you knew from another time. My favourite character is Malvo, played convincingly by Billy Bob Thorton. If death had a face, it would be Malvo. He’s a man of very slight build, but the force of character is a contradiction. His look, the very force of his stare, is enough to fling tables across the room.
Take this scene in Season One, aptly titled ‘The Crocodile’s Dilemma’.
A cop pulls him over; he’s driving a stolen vehicle after he’s killed someone or is on his way to kill someone. Maybe there is a body in the boot, maybe there is none, I won’t spoil it for you. Anyway, this is a small town, which means the cop is a small-town cop who also happens to be a bit green around the ears. Because nothing happens in this small town of Fargo, he kills time murking about with his daughter on his radio while on patrol duty. Like I said, apart from an old lady slipping and breaking her hip on the snow and the occasional skipped stop light, nothing happens there. Until he pulls over this car. Flashlight in hand, he walks over and raps on the driver’s window like they do in the movies because this is a movie. The driver’s window slowly rolls down. And there is Marvo.
“Evening officer,” he says. He has a very sardonic face. His eyes are cold and grey – a dead fish’s eye.
“Licence and registration, please,” the officer says, training his torch on Marvo.
Marvo calmly says, “OK, we could do it that way. You ask for my papers and figure out that this isn’t my car. We could do that. Or you could get into your car and drive away.”
The officer chuckles because he still imagines he has the power. He doesn’t know yet that he’s in way over his head. That he just pulled over hellboy. If you see the Officer and think, hmm, this guy looks a little like Tom Hanks, it’s because he’s Tom Hanks’ son. But now he’s just Officer Grimly, a small-town cop who’s pulled over the wrong cat.
“Now why would I do that?” He asks, and our Marvo [because he’s ours now] says with calm and deadly execution, “Because some roads you shouldn’t go down…” His radio crackles and his daughter’s voice comes on, clear into the dark tense night, “Dad, are you almost coming home?” It’s a dark, desolate road of sorts in a rumbling dilapidated section of the city. Officer Grimly says, “please step out of the vehicle, sir.” His gun is still holstered.
Marvo, very cold, very calmly, asks, “how old is your kid?”
If this doesn’t give you chills then check your insides for a pulse.
Officer Grimly’s hand instinctively goes to his holster as he quickly takes one step back, “I said step out of the car!”
His daughter’s voice on the radio: “Dad? Dad? Over.”
Our Guy says, “Let me tell you what’s going to happen, officer Grimly.” A low ominous soundtrack starts because now shit just got serious and the events about to unfold might mean someone might not make it home tonight.
“I’m gonna roll my window up then I’m gonna drive away,” says Marvo, real low, real cold. The torch is in his face but he ain’t blinking because he who blinks first dies from a marble. [A marble is a bullet, guys].
“I’m gonna drive away and you’re gonna go home to your daughter. In a few years you’re gonna look at her face and you will know that she’s alive because you chose not to go down a certain road on a certain night. You chose to walk into the light instead of into the darkness.” Officer Grimly is shell-shocked and looks at him like, what-the-f*?
They stare at each other, a standoff. By now you know the officer is out of his depth. That he isn’t going to do squat. [Word just suggested that it should be squats and not squat. Why would the officer do squats while holding a torch in the snow?].
Anyway, the flashing red light of the cop’s car dances on Marvo’s dead face. The only sound is the purring of the car and the occasional haunting drawn out sound of a drum. Duuum. Duuuum. Like a deathknell. You wonder what will ensue, will the officer be foolish enough to try and draw his gun and if he does that how fast will he go down with a marble in his throat? Because Malvo is going home. That’s as clear as day. He won’t be wearing those bracelets hanging from Officer Grimly’s waist tonight. The cop, now realising that he isn’t dealing with just a normal chap, is somewhat rooted in fear.
He mumbles, “Sir”
Marvo, still looking him dead in the eye, says, ‘I’m rolling up my window now…”
Still looking at him intensely, the window rolls up slowly. Then the car pulls away. Officer Grimly, terrified, confused, slowly lowers his torch and stands there staring at the snow where the car had been, his heart pounding because he just experienced some diabolic shit. He swallows hard and goes back to his car. You, the viewer, breathe again.
Malvo is doom himself, the very agent of evil. But he’s doomed to die because evil has to be avenged, evil can’t be left to celebrate. Otherwise, the world will be off kilter. It will spin and spin towards destruction and death.
I love the doom that Malvo brings in Season One.
You should watch it. Underneath the dialogue there is dark comedy.
I want to write about a lot of doomed men this year. And by men, here, I mean men and women. And doomed here doesn’t mean men who die, it just means men who find themselves in a pickle and they struggle to find their way out and they encounter slippery paths and astonishing setbacks. They might make it but they might not and either way, we learn something from that dichotomy.
Question is where will I find these men? Answer: The universe. They say you have to send to the universe your requests and it shall deliberate on them.
I like the idea of prison and its content. I dream of interviewing people on death row, people doomed to die. They do nothing but wait in a small shoebox, counting days to be killed by hanging, lethal injection or whatever they do to kill these people. But it’s an exercise in futility because the last person who was hanged was, when, in 1987? Over 30 years ago. There must be thousands of men and women waiting for the hangman who will never come. Waiting for Godot. Won’t it be nice to chat with them? What crimes did they commit? Why? Are they remorseful? How is life waiting for death that isn’t coming? Regrets? How is their day? What possesses their thoughts?
If the universe says, nyet or wait. Then the other thing I will do is attend court proceedings. Never been to court before. [ A kangaroo court doesn’t count.] I imagine that stories just tell themselves in courts. But none of the boring courts are like traffic courts with drivers who negotiated U-turn on highways or reversed into main roads. Or anti-corruption courts. Something emotive, like criminal court. Or Kadhi’s court. Or divorce court. Some place where a judge holds people in contempt and someone weeps in their hands.