Fear, Comfort, and Tarantino

1

Fear was my best friend long before Callum was. Callum knows how to beat fear, he knows how to break out of a comfort zone. I’d never admit it to him, but he knows a lot – he’s a pretty knowledgeable guy. For example, Callum knows that Jules Winfield uses a verse from the bible in his iconic Pulp Fiction monologue. He knows that it was Ezekiel 25, 17. He knows that Jules delivers the verse perfectly, with confidence and control. And as of right now, he knows that I’m about to deliver the trembling-lipped rendition to an isolated section of indigo books.

12 people in total, unsuspecting. 17 if you include the workers.

My comfort Zone feels like it’s on the other side of the earth, so I make an effort to go there.

            You’re watching balloons in Cappadocia

                        You’re walking through Kyoto

Fear is the loudest voice within your head. Fear screams over top of everyone else, it tells you to live within the tight constrains of a comfort zone. I’ve lost too many times to think that you can argue with fear, it overpowers anything you will have to say. If you try to break out of your comfort zone, fear will argue that you shouldn’t. It will shout every possible repercussion deep into your temples, long before they ever happen. The more that you contest fear, the louder it will yell.

Right now, it’s yelling like the Chinese girl from Kill Bill.

                        You’re viewing architecture in Tuscany

You’re driving through Bryce Canyon

“There’s a passage I got memorized, seems appropriate for this situation.” I stammer. It takes me all of a few seconds to realize that I didn’t speak loud enough. The only person that might have heard me was Callum, and he was acting like he didn’t. A baseball bat noise erupts from the hallway, time to go.

You’re gazing upon El Giza

You’re jogging through Santorini

“Ezekiel 25, 17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men!” This time it was loud enough to hear, 5 people turn to face me. My medulla sends two shaky messages down my neural pathways, both my legs and lips begin to tremble. A monarch butterfly settles into a bath within the acids of my stomach.

You’re at a resort in St. Lucia

You’re reading in the Benagil Sea Cave

The lines fade in and out of my memory.

“Blessed is he… who in the name of charity and good will.” Total system failure. Shutdown imminent. Hallway check. The Bear Jew is coming, run away.

“Uh… Shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness!” My chest almost concaves from the pressure as 5 more people turn to face me. Fear bellows pessimism deep into my eardrums. There are now new reasons I should stop. There was too much emphasis in my voice; I’m not cut out for this level of boldness. I look so stupid.

You’re petting turtles in Galapagos

You’re riding boats through Venice

“For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children!” All 17 people are looking now, 2 from the mall walkway look in. The Bear Jew walks out of the shadows. Fear shrieks like a banshee into my face so loud that I can’t hear myself think. Far too loud for me to try to argue back.

My vision Blurs as I turn to Callum, who seems shocked for the first time in his life. I feel my legs lose all of their strength, and the butterfly takes this opportunity to exit my stomach, fluttering upwards through my esophagus. My ears twist and distort the comments of disbelief as I descend towards the floor, until my vision fades to blackness.

“Did you get that from killing Jews?”

“Sure as hell wasn’t bravery.”

You’re smelling Lavender fields in Provence

You’re painting sunsets in Arizona

You’re gazing upon mirror pools in Denizli

You’re walking through a misty Casablanca night

2

I see Jules Winfield stopping a diner robbery using philosophy and conversation instead of a 9-millimeter pistol, even when Vincent didn’t.

I see a caterpillar willingly crawl into a dark abyss to its apparent death, only to fly out a day later, more alive than it’s ever been.

I see a weary traveler bare-knuckle boxing in a gypsy camp where he has chosen to stay the night instead of the inn.

I see a longhaired kid lying down in the frozen aisle of a grocery store feeling more relaxed than he is in his own bed.

And I awake.

                        You’re on a bench outside of the store

You’re sitting next to Callum

“How are you doing sir?” Asks Callum. “You fell harder than Gwen Stacy against that shelf.” Not the time.

He sits leaned back with his legs spread apart, titling his head to the ceiling for a moment. I glare intently at the floor, as if I had X Ray vision; I’m able to see pipe configurations and electrical on the subterranean level of the mall.

I don’t respond to anything Callum says; I need time to process what just happened. Callum acknowledges this by leaning forward and running his hands through his hair. Best friends remember? I know him, he’s about to start a speech. He always did that before a speech.

“Listen Jare, I’ve seem to have made a crucial error in my timing with you. This is wholeheartedly my fault, despite my still firm beliefs in your boundless potential, I pushed you too hard, too…” My mind blurs out Callum’s words and becomes clouded with my own thoughts. The Reservoir Dogs occupy my cognition, attempting to sort out the recent turn of events.

“Hey, why am I Mr. Pink?”

I’m burning, my face and head have been set ablaze. The pain I feel pulsates, becomes amplified through every thundering heartbeat. Aristocratic mothers will say they’ve “never felt so embarrassed in their lives,” when a dinner party goes sour. That in mind, I feel like my damn marriage proposal was just suicide bombed by Al Qaeda rouges.

I’m embarrassed by the fact that the entire bookstore now imagines me as an uncourageous teenage delinquent. I’m embarrassed by the fact that I just took a head dive into a book display filled with up and comers that will never really make it to the up and up. I’m mortified by that fact that I stood out enough for everyone in that store to remember me. I can’t go back.

I’m embarrassed that I was a display for people to make nasty conversation about around their dinner tables tonight. I cringe at the fact that I was probably the star of a 200 view snapchat from some bystander. Now a whole grade in some high school knows who I am. Any time I attempt to go out in public after this I’ll be harassed by a group of girls with picket signs and pictures of me passed out. They’ll shout into megaphones about how I’m as out of place as Jules and Vincent drinking coffee in Jimmy’s house. They’ll stand outside of my bedroom into the late hours in the night and return in the early morning. They’ll chase me around with bowie knives trying to carve symbols into my head. More than anything else though, I’m embarrassed that Callum was right. I’m embarrassed that I care.

“Who cares what your name is?”

“Easy for you to say, you’re Mr. White. You’ve got a cool sounding name.”

I have to stop watching these movies.

For some reason, a quote comes into mind, “I am not what I think I am, I am not what you think I am, I am what I think you think I am.” Where was that from? Ah that’s right. Grade 12, Introduction to sociology, symbolic Interactionism, the looking glass self, Charles Horton Cooley.

Eat your heart out Callum, I guess I know a bit too.

I think for another moment about that brilliantly applicable quote. A flood of anxiety begins welling up inside of my head, and right before Professor Cooley is completely drowned out, I have one last thought: That everyone I have ever come across in my short life is exactly as that quote would describe. That is, everyone but… well, Callum.

And suddenly, something clicks. Something that benevolent bastard has told me time and time again. I always took his words at face value, but I wholeheartedly understand them now. The second time I ever hung out with Callum he faked a grandiose magic trick in a Tim Hortons. He stormed out when he supposedly didn’t get the trick right, making a massive scene. The whole restaurant burst out laughing when he walked back in, to triumphantly pick up the cards. He couldn’t do magic, he didn’t know even one trick. But he owned that fact, because why the hell not.

And it doesn’t have to be just Callum, because why the hell not. So now, I am Mr. Pink. And I will own that name, for the exact same reason. I am the one that will make it out alive. I’m the one that doesn’t tip even when everyone else at the table does. I only need one more shot at this task, I’ll be a fucking professional. I’ll lock down an entire theatre full of Germans and burn it to the ground.

“On my mother’s eternal soul.” I really need to stop watching these movies.

I regain focus as Callum finishes his apology.

“I’m sorry kiddo, about everything that just happened. You’ve got to understand that I only pushed as hard as I did because of my premonitions of your capabilities. You’re an exceptional human being, but I suppose physical harm is a degree too severe for our trivial pursuit. That is, unless you wanted to brawl up the food court. Heh, all jokes aside though, nothing like this will ever happen again.” He says, I masquerade anger, because I have no real reason not to.

“Just take me home.” I mutter.

My comfort zone feels like it is on the other side of the earth, so I make an effort not to go there.

You’re wearing a strait jacket in a mental asylum

You’re lying on a bed of nails

“Woah chief, are you sure you don’t wanna shop a bit longer? You could do with some tight camouflage pants. Besides, we still have a couple more…” Callum begins.

“We are leaving now, through the south exit. Start walking.” I retort. My tone throws a jab at Callum, he flinches at the statement.

‘The south exit? But man, we’ve gotta go to the parking…”

“The south motherfucking exit. That’s final.” Sam Jackson homage. I am almost yelling now. Callum’s gaze flips between concern, curiosity and calculation. We begin walking.

You’ve fallen through a frozen lake

You’re waterless in the Sahara Desert

Fear was my best friend, long before Callum was. Fear is the loudest voice within your head. Fear screams over everyone else, it can erode the souls of people who think too much; who listen too intently. You can try beating fear with your own voice, but that is a battle not so easily won. Sometimes, fear is beaten by not even listening or speaking at all. By pushing all the noise to the side for a moment to take a leap of faith through silence.

My head goes quiet as I walk towards the always packed Apple store, near the south exit of the mall. Fear starts to scream at me from across a table as we grow close, I ignore it.

You’re sandal walking through magma

            You’re naked in a packed opera house

“What are you doing?” Callum asks as I walk in past the newest make of IPhone. Pointless question, because Callum is, after all – a pretty knowledgeable guy. For example, Callum knows how to beat fear, he knows how to break out of a comfort zone.  Callum knows that Lt. Aldo Raine Delivers a speech to his Jewish military regiment in the film Inglorious Basterds. He knows that it was meant to set a fire within their hearts. He knows that Aldo delivers the speech perfectly, with confidence and control. And as of right now, Callum knows exactly what I am doing. He knows that I’m about to deliver it, in the same fashion to a crowd of middle class Christmas shoppers.

52 people in total, unsuspecting. 64 if you include the workers.

            You’re chewing Carolina reapers

                        You’re taking hooks to the kidneys

“My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I’m putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers!” I begin. Just about everyone can hear me, most turn. I take the first bat swing into the side of my head, it feels spectacular.

I glance quickly at Callum who looks at me with prideful eyes and a smug smile. I turn back into my speech as fear’s loudness fades into the background of the song I have playing in my head.

Stuck in the Middle with You, by Stealers Wheel. I’ll never stop watching these movies.

You’re sitting in absolute darkness

You’re getting a hug from a reticulated python

You’re chained to the bottom of the ocean

You’re 30,000 meters above the ground

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