The well-dressed man in the black and white film says, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”
Maybe then, it’s a good life if you don’t weaken much and an okay life if you don’t weaken a lot and an unsatisfactory life if all you do is weaken.
But that’s the thing about film heroes. They get the line off and it’s on to the next scene. Parsing the words through various applications is not important to our man, not at the moment and not even in light of the previous episode when he was tested and failed to keep a stiff upper lip. He shouldn’t worry too much about being caught out by the boy or making his lover cry __ it’s early yet. We’re only in act one.
And he has said the line with such aplomb. It lingers, hangs in billboard-sized text, the words written in quicksilver. We will try not to forget them because we like this man, his kindness to the boy, his mirthful eyes and the moment. We like the real world feel of the language and the sentiment. He says it from a lofty place, the top of a grand Belgravian embassy house, where he is one of the help, the major domo maybe, but still one of the help.
He’s standing in the open air, on a veranda, looking down on an early morning London street, the everyday goings on below: the milk wagon, the people bustling to work, the neighbor’s cat, languid and looking for a handout. He says it to the boy, who is his charge, and for that moment, we are the boy. That’s right, we are the boy and we are looking up to him to show us how not to weaken. To learn that lesson, we are willing to follow him anywhere.
About the writer:
Wayne Cresser lives on an island in Narragansett Bay with his wife and dog. His work has appeared in six print anthologies, most recently The Four Seasons (Kind of a Hurricane Press), online at Gravel, Shark Reef Literary Magazine, Jerry Jazz Musician and Story and in such print journals as The Ocean State Review and SLAB. He was co-creator and managing editor of shaking like a mountain (later Shaking) from 2007-2011 and a contributing editor at the Ocean State Review from 2014-2017.
Image: Cyril Larvor (Black bird BLB) is a self-taught French street artist from Paris. He has exhibited in several galleries including Lavo Matik, an urban gallery of Paris.