I took another long weekend starting this Thursday. I didn’t do a whole lot with it, didn’t go anywhere more exciting than the dry cleaners, but it was nice to have a few days of just hanging out. I watched several episodes of Comedy Bang Bang, which is funny and weird and which my only sporadic listening to the podcast version hadn’t really prepared me for. I also watched a few episodes of Columbo, which, maybe surprisingly, still really holds up.

I also watched Julia, starring Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jason Robards. All three of them were nominated for Oscars for the movie, and it seems a little strange that Fonda is the only one of them who lost. Robards and Redgrave are both good, but they’re each only in the film for a small handful of scenes, and for my money Fonda’s a lot better. (Meryl Streep also pops up; it’s her first film role.) That said, I can’t really claim to have enjoyed it, and it’s a strange duck of a movie, not least of all because it’s quite possibly all untrue.

On Saturday afternoon I drove out to the airport to pick up my parents. They’d been away for a couple of weeks on vacation in France — ah, the joys of retirement — and came back bearing gifts of Belgian chocolates and T-shirts.

Last night, I watched The Last Picture Show, which I’ve had out from Netflix for way too long. Wikipedia informs me, coincidentally enough, that “Julia was the first film to win both supporting actor categories since The Last Picture Show six years earlier in 1971.” (I hadn’t planned my movie-watching that way.) The winners for Last Picture Show were Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman, and they’re both really good. Not a lot to say, but I really liked the movie.

No movies today — I passed up a chance to go see the new Transformers movie, which seemed like the smart play. Instead, I finished putting together the newest issue of Kaleidotrope. I’m really pleased with it, not least of all because of the (triumphant?) return of the horoscopes and fake advice column. There’s also some really great short stories and poems and a cartoon. I hope you’ll check it out.

And with my weekly writing group, I wrote this:

We were supposed to meet Franklin at the mouth of the cave, sometime around noon, but by the time we finally got there at half past, he was already gone. We could see that he’d been there, from the fresh ashes in a nearby circle of stones and the tin coffee cup tossed atop them, but of Franklin himself there was no other sign or note. Still, we weren’t worried — or at least I wasn’t.

“He probably just got impatient and decided go on ahead of us,” I told Sarah. “You know how your brother is.”

“That’s actually the only reason I’m here at all,” she said. “Because I know how my brother is.”

When Franklin had called us a week ago, it had been a surprise, the first time in maybe half a year that we’d heard from him. There’d been semi-regular reports from his doctors, whether or not his progress was any good, and presumably his and Sarah’s mother was still visiting him, if she could ever pull herself from the bottom of a bottle. But we hadn’t spoken to the kid since January, and hadn’t actually been in the same room with him since before Christmas, when he’d started having what had seemed like the worst of the attacks. When he asked us to meet him back at the cave — “you remember, don’t you, Mark?” he asked me — it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we were hesitant.

“You’re out, Frank?” Sarah asked him. “How can you be out?”

I was on the other phone in the den, and I remember thinking we had a bad connection, because they both sounded so distant, like voices in another room, and I could hardly hear her brother talk. I could hardly hear him at all when he said, “We have to go back to the cave.”

“You’re not calling from the hospital?” Sarah asked. “Does Mom know you’re out?”

“I’m going to be there tomorrow,” Franklin said, like that answered anything. “At noon? I need you guys to be there too.”

And with that, he was gone. I let the click echo for a minute, wondering if Sarah was still there, and then I said, “Honey, I’m coming upstairs.”

Now we were here, back where it had started. This was where I’d met them both, six years earlier, and it had been shortly after that that we’d started seeing signs of Franklin’s illness. How long had he been trapped down there in the dark of the cave? It couldn’t have been more than an hour, but the doctors had called it a “precipitating factor,” or something like that. I knew for a fact they wouldn’t have allowed him to come back here.

Not entirely sure what to make of it, and it doesn’t really connect with the prompt I supplied (except maybe in my head), but it’s something at least.

Back to work tomorrow, and back to the office. Though I usually work from home on Mondays, we’re closed on Friday for the holiday, and we don’t get to take the Mondays when that happens.