Monday May 28, 2012 - 11:17 PM

I’ve tried several times to write about this, to explain the events of the evening, and every time I try, I keep tripping on the words, keep getting ahead of myself.
I’ve decided to make a forced effort not to rush the events of the evening but to try to roll through them in the manner in which they happened -- because every time I get ahead of myself, I trip up and it’s a big ball of madness in my head and not a clean, straightforward narrative that I’m trying to map out for myself, to properly deal with it.
So here’s what happened, right from my last post during the early evening of May 13th.
Robbie came around the corner of a pillar near Starbucks and was heading toward me with two cups of coffee. I can’t remember if they’re called Verte or Grande or Lardass or whatever the hell Starbucks calls them, just that they were the large size.
He handed one over to me just as I was pushing the “publish” button for this blog on the Internet Café computer. I tried blocking the screen with my body as much as possible, as if I was preventing Robbie from seeing porn or something on the screen. (Although I’m sure that a public computer like this or maybe even one at the library wouldn’t allow people to browse through porn on it)
“What are you doing?” Robbie asked.
“Ah, just checking some email,” I said, thumbing the computer monitor off and then hitting the reset button that shut down the computer and ended my session. I thought back to the time he’d told me how he was an expert at reading people and wondered if the bemused look on his face meant that he knew I was lying.
“What next?” I said, sipping the coffee. It had an Irish cream taste to it.
Robbie smiled. “I had them add a shot of Irish cream flavour to the coffee. But then I also added a nip of Irish cream to it as well.” He lifted the flap off the laptop bag that he carried around on his shoulder everywhere, revealing the neck of a bottle of Bailey’s. He took a sip from his own coffee and then added: “Okay, maybe more than just a little nip.”
I laughed. “This is awesome, I’m having a great time.”
We then spent the next hour or so browsing through the store, Robbie pointing out countless titles to me that he’d read and loved. To be honest, if the rest of what happened that night and early into the next morning hadn’t occurred, then I imagine I would be writing a great deal about that conversation, because I remember it being so riveting. Like the best of the stuff that Robbie shared with us in class, but it was just me there. Just me he was talking to, sharing with, just me asking the questions that drew out more fascinating anecdotes and jokes.
I remember at one time, as we wandered past the graphic novel and local author section over to the wall of horror books, that Robbie pointed to a particular title by Bentley Little called The Store. He first mused about how Little’s titles were all so simplistic in nature, with titles such as The Mailman, The Walking, The Revelation, The House and The Town. He pointed out that Little’s short story collection itself was titled The Collection, as if Little was not above making fun of his own method of title creation.
“Titles seem to be really important for a book,” Robbie said. “But Little is a good example where you shouldn’t judge a book by its title. He keeps the titles simple, but invests his time and energy into writing memorable characters, plots and prose.
“For example, the first book of his that I read was The Store, and it’s the one that has stuck with me the longest.” Robbie went on the explain the premise of The Store, comparing the supernatural force that brings the store to a small town to the manner in which big box stores like Wal-Mart move in and completely take over. He explained that he often thought it would make a wonderful Hollywood movie, and if that were to happen, a deluge of movies based on Little’s novels would likely come out.
“But the problem with that,” he cautioned. “Is that they’d probably translate into schlocky horror movies that wouldn’t be produced properly and instead just be ‘straight to video’ quality. Laymon’s books fall into that same category. Great to read, and would seem to make a great transition onto the screen, but so easy to mess up, focus on the shock, on the gore, and completely miss out on the elements of cinema that could make the truly great films.”
By that time, we’d finished our coffees, and Robbie had found a quiet spot where nobody could see what he was doing to top up our coffee cups with Baileys. As we drank down the creamy alcohol, he started telling me about the screenplay he had been working on for several years now which had been based on and inspired by Bentley’s The Store. He’d given it the title “The Night Managers” and had focused less on the store itself, and more on the evil entities that ran the empire. His goal was much that the way the movie The Running Man was based on King’s novella, pretty might a high level concept with nothing other than a basic premise and some character names being used, his screenplay would also divert to a different path.
He was explaining the basic idea for the main character’s intense fear of big box stores, of the childhood trauma of being locked in a Canadian Tire store overnight when he was a child, having fallen asleep in one of the pup tent displays and not waking up until well after the store had closed. He diverted from that telling to explain that it was based on something that had actually occurred to him.
We were laughing about the story of how his father had been searching all over for him, thinking he’d run away from home due to a fight they’d had earlier in the day when this creepy looking man approached Robbie from behind.
I remember the odd leering look on the man’s face, (it specifically reminded me of the look on the face of the original Nosferatu in that old black and white German film) and the way in which he’d started walking towards us purposefully. And then, just as Robbie turned in the recanting of the fight between him and his father over the desired purchase of a basketball, the man quickly shifted, ducked behind some tall shelves, and was gone from view.
If I’d known the trouble this man was going to cause, I would have tried to get us out of the store sooner, before he came back.
But I, of course, had no idea, back then, what was going to happen.
Okay, I’m starting to get ahead of myself. But rather than just delete this and trying to start over, like I’ve done so many times, I’m going to stop here, take a break in the telling, and get the rest of my thoughts together.