Further Tales of the Plumber #2 (the movies)
by Vince D’Amato
Kodek loved the movies. In fact, he was thinking about one right that second as he stared through the drivers side window of the 2004 Mini Cooper that was parked at the edge of the mountain road. He was staring off at the water over the edge of the cliff on his left side, while at the right, he knew the side of the Cooper was parked so close to the rock that he’d dent the passenger door if he tried to open it. This whole set-up reminded him of The Italian Job (the one with Michael Caine, not that anemic redo from a couple of years back). He glanced out through the windshield and saw the dark mouth of the tunnel a few meters in front of him. The funny thing was, as the movies went, he wasn’t even thinking about The Italian Job (either one of them). He’d actually been thinking about The Hudsucker Proxy, that old Coen Brothers movie from the nineties that had starred Tim Robbins as a toymaker who’d invented the hula-hoop. Kodek had just caught a rerun of the old seventies show M*A*S*H* on late-nite cable a couple of nights back and had been floored to see that the plot of The Hudsucker Proxy had played out in the half-hour single-camera sitcom format right in front of his eyes, only with Jamie Farr as Corporal Klinger inventing the hula-hoop, much to the mockery of his friends. At the end of the show, Jamie Farr had abandoned the idea for the much-mocked hula-hoop in favor a far more clever device: the Frisbee. Kodek wondered briefly if the Coen Brothers, or Sam Raimi, for that matter, who had helped his friends the Coens write the screenplay for The Hudsucker Proxy, had figured that nobody really gave two shits about old reruns of M*A*S*H and wouldn’t bother to call them out on their plagiarism. At any rate, that was not really his problem. What was in fact Kodek’s problem was that in about three and a half minutes he’d have to try and navigate his Mini Cooper through the tunnel a few meters in front of him and up into the back trailer of an eighteen-wheeler truck. Why? Well, he didn’t rightly know. He didn’t like to ask questions.
If the cash is there, we do not care.
What he did know was that Larry the Brain had set this whole operation (heist?) in motion and his orders were to follow the orders of Larry the Brain – for the time being, at any rate. Kodek checked his watch. Thirty seconds to go.
Shit, that was fast.
He revved the car up and pulled away from the rock wall on the right side of the road and steered into the tunnel. Hitting the mouth of darkness, Kodek pressed his foot on the accelerator and began a verbal mantra regarding something about not hitting the tunnel walls while rounding the curves. The tunnel was long, long and windy, one of humankind’s clever resolves to carving roads into the side of mountains. The opening scene to The Italian Job did then make its way into the front of Kodek’s mind when he overtook the last sharp curve at sixty kliks – and he expelled a great breath of relief when he saw the open back of a truck-trailer and a wide ramp (or wide for the Cooper, anyway) waiting for him, instead of something else – like the business-end of a bulldozer. Kodek shot the Mini Cooper up and into the truck-trailer and someone he couldn’t make out slammed the back door shut, while even inside the Cooper Kodek could hear the rattling of the latch and lock on the trailer door, followed by the metallic crashing of the ramp being dumped onto the cement outside as the truck already began to move forward. Kodek killed the engine and yanked on the driver’s door – which only banged against the inner wall of the trailer.
Kodek knew he could just climb up and out through the window and over the roof of the car if he had too, but he decided just to chill. This ride in the back of the truck, according to Larry the Brain’s plan, was only supposed to last a few minutes, half an hour tops. Kodek began thinking about movies again. He thought about all sorts of films, and soon he began to think about James Bond, 007. Super-spy. The spy who never died. Sure, 007 might’ve been played by a few actors over the last few decades, and in Kodek’s opinion the series had pretty much been shot after they stopped using Timothy Dalton (well, maybe after Goldeneye), and then Kodek began to think about the social influences of films like the 007 series. In particular, movies where the hero was bulletproof. Sure, that gave the audience and undeniable cathartic experience, but at the end of the day, didn’t characters like these — bigger than life and completely indestructible,– contribute to society’s view of itself as immortal. Especially considering these types of films were designed to have the audience identify with these indestructible heroes. And if society was walking around with this false sense of immortality all the time, then where, really, was the motivation to live their own lives with the though that death could claim them at any moment? Well really, there was then no motivation to live life that way. Kodek decided this was a bigger issue that deserved further consideration, and the place for that was not likely stuck in the drivers seat of a Mini Cooper in the back of a speeding eighteen-wheeler while he was waiting to put the hit on someone he’d never even met before. Not very Zen at all. Kodek wondered if they were almost at their destination. He lifted his wrist to check his watch when suddenly he was receiving a call through it. He flicked the button on the side of the com-watch with his thumb.
“Kodek, this is Brain.”
“What do you want?” Kodek was trying to whisper.
“Why are you whispering?”
“I’m in the back of the truck.”
“Do you seriously thing the drivers can here you?”
“Don’t know. That’s why I’m whispering.”
“Oh. Well, if you really are in the back of the truck, then you fucked up,” Brain told him.
Kodek took a second to let that one sink in. “Come again?”
“You fucked up. You didn’t check your Email. The set-up’s been moved to tomorrow. Looks like you’re the one who’d been set-up now, Kodek.”
Brain disconnected. Fuck, Kodek thought, and cursed the Morimoto Corporation for not manufacturing a com-watch that he could check his Email on. In fact, he was so pissed about it he removed the watch and cracked it against the steering wheel of the Mini Cooper until it smashed, then he threw it against the windshield, causing the windshield to crack into a thin spider-web from the bottom edge near the left windshield wiper. “Fuck”.
And then the truck stopped.
Kodek had waited for exactly twenty minutes, sitting cross-legged on the hood of the Mini Cooper, before climbing up over the roof of it and down the back, then using his silenced pistol to shoot the bolts securing the latch to the bottom of the rolling trailer door. No matter how beefy the lock was, it was only going to be as strong as the rusty bolts holding the actual latch in place. It came off easy enough, and despite the silencer on his gun, had made a hell of a lot of noise. Kodek waited again, but apparently the noise had either alerted no one, or no one really cared that he was about to escape from the back of their trailer truck after all. He rolled the door up, lifting it from the bottom, and just enough for him to squeeze through by lying on his back and pulling himself out – and that’s when he saw the waves lapping around the tires of the truck.
What the hell?
When he pulled himself completely out and was standing on the back ledge of the trailer, he saw that the truck was completely surrounded by saltwater. Instead of getting a righteous soaker, Kodek pulled himself up the back of the truck and onto the roof, crawling the length of the trailer on his belly, making his way to the driver’s cab at the front end. His sniper rifle was still secured around his shoulder and his silenced hand pistol was still gripped in his right hand. He could see the deserted beach now, over on his right side, stretching all the way to the vanishing point, and far up a grassy/rocky hillside beyond the sand and rocks was the road he could only assume they had been driving on at one point, but how they were down here in the water now he couldn’t rightly figure for the life of him. But over there, on the beach, he could see why the shooting of the trailer latch had gone unheeded. The two drivers, a young couple, a man and a woman, both of Latin decent, were in some kind of heated argument on the beach. It was that and the nearly deafening sound of the crashing waves, he supposed was the reason his escape hadn’t been heard. Kodek Could barely hear his own thoughts over the waves, and he removed the sniper rifle from around his shoulder and used the scope mounted at the top of it to spy on the lovers in the midst of their quarrel – which was escalating to physical proportions.
As Kodek watched, he understood several things. First, with his scope pointed at them, he could take either one of them (or both of them) out at any given moment. They had still not come to the realization that he’d escaped the trailer. The male was beginning to physically overpower the female now, though they were both obliviously feeding off some kind of rage, the source of which Kodek couldn’t even venture a guess at. The man grabbed the woman’s wrist, twisted it, and Kodek could see the pain in her face. Her long black hair was wet, obviously they’d gotten into it in the water, too, before ending up on the sand. Was their tiff something to do with the fact that the truck he was currently on top of was also currently in the middle of the Atlantic ocean? He found he couldn’t venture a guess at that one, either. He watched as the physicality of the argument descended into further violence, and both of them began to be hit by each others hands, and very quickly the woman’s nose exploded in blood. He found he was rooting for her, likely by some deeper psychologically-imprinted reasons unbeknownst to him, and he smiled a little when she stabbed the man in the eye with her fingernails. Kodek also realized the side-taking wasn’t very zen. He could shoot the man down right now, and his right index finger danced lightly over the trigger of the rifle…. But he knew nothing of the background that let up to the confrontation he was witnessing. Taking sides was fundamentally futile. Yes, in the end, it might help the woman…. but for all he knew the woman was some devil that had pulled the man’s world inside out. Still, his thoughts would not pull him from siding with her, but they did keep in finger from tapping too heavily on the rifle trigger, at least. And for a while, it didn’t even look like the woman really needed help. She was sorting her own shit out now, and at one point the man was hopping around on the sand screaming and holding his bleeding eye shut. But in the end, he had killed her with a rock. Not just killed, her, smashed her face into a meaty pulp of hamburger and shattered bone and rage, and then he just knelt there on the beach in silence as the seagulls began to feast on her bloody flesh. The tide pulled out, eventually, and Kodek put the rifle back over his shoulder. The mas was still on the beach.
When the tide had pulled way out and away from the truck, Kodek drove the Cooper back out of the trailer, using speed in place of the ramp, and thanked Karma when the Cooper landed on all four wheels in the sand. Now all Kodek had to do was negotiate the car through the wet sand and somehow find his way back to the road.
He’d been in the car for nearly forty-five minutes before he got T-boned, the back of the Cooper spinning and smashing into the stone barriers guarding the side of the road from the edge of the cliff…