(9 February 1997)
The entry for 3 December in Another Almanac of Words at Play is a quasi-story called "What They Did," by Freddy Bosco, consisting of selected book titles beginning with "They." That piece was in the back of my mind one day when I heard Arthur reading aloud a series of movie titles from a movies-on-video book. These short works of fiction and drama resulted.
They came by night. (They only come out at night; they live by night.) They came from outer space; they came from beyond space; they came from within. They drive by night; they caught the ferry; they flew alone. They came in khaki. They came to a city: they had to see Paris. They came to Cordura. They met in a taxi. They met in Argentina. They met in Bombay. They met in Moscow. They met on skis. They met in the dark; they never slept. They rode west. They came to rob Las Vegas. They came to blow up America. They've taken our children. They're coming to get me. They're coming to get you.
Clovis (harshly): It happened in Athens. It happened at the World's Fair. It happened in New York: it happened in Brooklyn, it happened in Flatbush, it happened on 5th Avenue. It happened in Hollywood. It happened in Honolulu. It happened in Paris. It happened out West. It happened here.
Dana (sadly): It couldn't happen here.
Clovis (unrelenting): It happened here again. It happens every spring. It happens every Thursday. It couldn't have happenedbut it did. It might happen to you. It could happen to you.
Dana (angrily): It should happen to you.
Clovis: It shouldn't happen to a dog. It shouldn't happen to a vet.
Dana: It happened to Jane.
Clovis (stiffly): It is not surprising.
Dana (wistfully): It started in Naples...
Clovis (remembering): It started in paradise!
Dana: It started with Eve.
Clovis: ...It started with a kiss.
Dana: It must be love...
Clovis (savagely): It ain't love. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Dana: It was 20 years ago today. It rained all night the day I left.
Clovis: It isn't being done this season.
Dana: It is never too late to mend. ...It's you I want.
Clovis (softening): ...It takes two.
It's hard to be good.
It's good to be alive.
I, Claudius; I stand accused. I stand condemned. I confess: I did it.
I was a teenage werewolf. I was a teenage Frankenstein. I was a teenage sex mutant. I was a teenage TV terrorist. I accuse my parents.
I walked with a zombie. I bought a vampire motorcycle. I was a Jewish sex worker. I was a Communist for the FBI. I was a male war bride. I was a spyI was an American spy. I was Stalin's bodyguard. I survived certain death. I met a murderer; I met him in Paris. I was a shoplifter; I became a criminal. I am a criminal. I am a thief. I was a convict. I was a prisoner on Devil's Island. I escaped from Devil's Island; I escaped from the Gestapo; I feel free. I cheated the law; I am a fugitive from a chain gang.
I deal in danger. I live on danger. I love trouble. I killed Rasputin; I shot Billy the Kid; I shot Jesse James; I killed Geronimo. I shot Andy Warhol. I shot a man in Vegas; I killed that man. I killed the Count. I bury the living. I am not afraid. I drink your blood, I eat your skin, I spit on your corpse, I spit on your grave. I died a thousand times.
I ought to be in pictures. I dream too much; I dreamt I woke up. I see something you can't see. I know why the caged bird sings; I heard the owl call my name.
I sent a letter to my love. I love N.Y.; I love Vienna; I love a man in uniform. I love a parade. I love a soldier. I love you. I love you again. I love you to death. I love you, I hate you. I can make you love me. I love my wife. I married a centerfold; I married a monster from outer space. I married an angel; I married a witch. I married a woman.
I hate women. I want what I want: to be a woman. I wish I had wings. I want to forget. I want to scream. I wake up screaming.
I remember Mama.
I remember too.
I sailed to Tahiti with an all girl crew.
To wrap up, I have to mention the best movie title I encountered while composing these pieces: Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?
Runner-up: I Could Never Have Sex With a Man Who Has So Little Respect for My Husband.
I'll print the best movie-title stories I receive on the reader comments page. You don't have to stick to movie titles that all start with the same word. Wording on all movie titles should be exact, though you may add punctuation, emphasis, and (in dialogue) occasional brief stage directions. You may also make up a title for your story.