A video poem that I wrote, edited and performed in. All photos from pixabay.com
The image above is copyrighted ©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle
I finished four screenplays as a teenager while my grades suffered. The first was called Land of the Lost River. It was a Spielberg-inspired story. It involved heroes fighting Nazis and dinosaurs, looking for the fountain of youth and messiah-like aliens saving the day in the end.
Then there was An Unserialed Surreal Christmas Carol. It took place in a small mid-west city. The main character, who attempted to move to Hollywood to make movies, got stuck in this city on his way there. No need to get into detail. Nearly all other elements resembled Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.
Worn to Perfection was a script that I wrote for Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It was about two aging con-artists bonding together for one last heist.
Finally, there was Abduction. It was about a teenager who abducts the man that he believes molested him.
This is what I see now:
Land of the Lost River was about being saved from myself.
An Unserialed Surreal Christmas Carol was about being lost
Worn to Perfection was actually about the pain of absent grandparents. Elderly relatives that would have put my household’s anxiety in balance had they been present.
Abduction was about anxiety, depression, mental illness and my desire to be diagnosed with one. Because if you were as strange as I believed people saw me, and if you were alienated as I felt, than you’d want a mental illness to explain it too.
But like many teens did with their comic books and baseball cards, I threw out all of those pre-graduation drafts. The only thing I bothered to continue to work on for years was Abduction.
I cringe at the thought of reading a draft of that. And hope that I always will.
34 and Up
by Marc Alexander Valle
At 15, a classmate, Billy Murphy, was shot to death by his half-brother, Jason Roberts. It was the result of an armed, verbal argument. The altercation started over food, but ended with Billy being fire upon as he watched television. The following day, the high school loud speaker said that counseling was available to all students. Two female friends of Billy were crying in my English class. They were sent to the guidance office.
At 34, I found a former classmate, Sara Rodgers, on an online dating website. We met for a few drinks. She was in that same English class as those two grieving girls.
“Was it really true Billy was shot over a pierogi?” I said.
“Yeah it was,” she said.
“Wow. We were only sophomores, so I hadn’t had a class with him yet.”
“Marc, you did have a class with him! He sat in front of you in that English class for two whole marking periods!”
I still can’t remember Billy sitting in front of me at 15, but a thought started to brew in my mind over the next few months: From the time Billy died until that date with Sara, I’d gotten to experience The Matrix Trilogy, Xbox video games, the discovery of over one thousand new planets, two new presidents, the pleasure of reading Shakespeare, the joy of singing karaoke, performing open mic poetry, my older brother’s wedding, saying “I love you” to a woman, earning my degree in English, camera phones, wi-fi, Wikipedia, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube, google, e-mail, apps, skyping, texting, vining, tweeting, eating the best buffalo wings in the county and figuring out what my favorite brand of beer is.
I don’t know how I blocked out Billy Murphy.
Would he have blocked out me?
In high school, I wondered where the dating sign-up sheet was. I had a thought-feeling that there was a system that paired up one person with the other for a few weeks. The worst thought-feeling was the Friday night party. Upon entering this party any notion of Marc’s existence would be erased from people’s mind. They were having too much fun.
My Friday night was spent watching the films of Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese, Kurosawa and writing Tarantino-inspired screenplays. I was going to be the next Spielberg, and it would take me to the top of the dating sign-up sheet. Questions would haunt me those nights, “What are they doing?”, “How does a guy talk to a girl?”, “Are they making out?, “Is the girl I have a crush on there?”
We spend too much time in those years worrying about people that we will never see afterward, and we spend too much time after wondering what we would have done instead of worrying about those people.
I would have read more prose and I would have written more prose. That’s all I can think of. It might or might not have changed my life, but I know now that’s what I should have been doing. Ironically, I struggle to do those things even more so today. The dating sign-up sheet reincarnates again and again.