Listen Up Philip (2014) Script

'He had been living in the city for nine years, 'and was only now coming to think of it as home.

'Characteristically not in a hurry, 'but perpetually enraged by slow foot traffic before him, 'Philip was on this day meeting for lunch with Mona, his ex-girlfriend, 'whom he had dated throughout a portion of college.

'As with any punctual individual, Philip loathed when people ran late, 'which Mona typically was.

'By the time Mona made her way to Philip, 'he was in a state of rage and on the verge of storming out...

'a reaction he was known to often have

'towards the end of their two-year relationship.

'During the arguments that led to their breakup, 'Mona repeatedly emphasised Philip's short fuse and poor temper

'as key factors in no longer being capable of tolerating his company.'

It's just crazy that you're late to me. Can we stop talking about it?

25 minutes I'm waiting, almost 30. It's an insult.

Also, I have a really busy day, so now I have less than an hour.

Probably not even enough time to eat anything.

Maybe a grilled cheese for me.

I had that the other day. It's disgusting.

So I'll ask you how you are, right? Things are good?

Things are good with me.

Allie and I just finally found a new roommate.

Oh, what's-her-ass moved?

She got married, like, two years ago. Figures.

Is that the new book? Er... yeah.

I wasn't sure you'd noticed, or heard.

OK. I'm just getting ready.

Things are gonna be pretty crazy for me after the release.

In fact, this might be the last time I'm home for more than a week at a time for the next eight or possibly nine months.

Actually, yeah, definitely. It's just busy.

Los Angeles in January, San Francisco...

Powell's in Portland, the whole West Coast thing, really.

I'm told to expect big things out there.

You sound like you're bragging. That's because I am bragging.

And you're doing a really hurtful job of sounding unfazed.

And do you know why that is? Because you're not pretending.

You're not interested in this or me, not even a little.

Why would you say that? Because you never believed in me.

And you don't now. Well, good for you.

No, not good for me. Great for me.

You know, you told me many times, now that I think about it, actually, that my goals were unreasonable and foolhardy.

Am I recalling this correctly?

That my dream, the only dream I've had since I was 14 years old, to write and publish a novel of my own, wasn't something I could just reach out and have.

Hard work, you tell me. Years of working up from the bottom, you tell me.

Well, you know something? You were wrong.

Dead wrong, actually. About me and everything.

This was for you. It's an advance copy.

I'd even written a little note on the dedication page and everything.

But you know something? You don't support me and you never did.

So you don't get this gift from me.

Not today, not ever. Forever.

You were unkind, and you tried to stray me from my path.

And had I listened to you, I'd be nothing right now.

'Philip had never been one for speaking his mind, 'preferring instead to bottle up his emotions, 'eventually forgetting or utilising them for creative inspiration.

'However, this outpouring resulted in Philip feeling more satisfied and content

'than he had in some time, 'and it was for this reason that he immediately telephoned

'his college roommate, Parker, 'with the intention of delivering to him an equally robust dressing down.'

You blew people's minds, man.

Now look at you. You're just a combination of strange fucking colours.

It was gonna be you and me, man. Ring a bell?

Sophomore year, creative writing seminar, it was us versus them.

What the fuck happened? I...

Apparently not everybody's cut out for life in the fast lane.

You make me want back every minute of time I wasted with you, dreaming of a future we could share.

Our declaration of principles.

Remember this?

Worthless now.

I was so stupid to think you wanted it.

I wanted it, you fucking asshole!

I did want it. I wanted it more than you could know.

It's not so easy for everybody, OK?

We can't all be as lucky and talented as the great Philip Lewis Friedman.

You know what, though? I'm glad, I'm glad.

Because if both of our goals had come true, then I'd be just as much of an insufferable piece of shit as you, you fuckin' Jew bastard!

This could have been us.

Instead, I'm all alone.

'Returning home to the apartment he shared with Ashley Kane, 'his girlfriend of two years, 'Philip found himself gripped by uncontrollable lust, 'temporarily forgetting the ambivalence and negligence towards him

'that she was increasingly incapable of concealing, 'as her success as a photographer in the art world

'led to consistent and lucrative commercial work.'

Hello? Ashley?


Come out. I have a surprise for you.

'For the past year, they had been living together, 'one advantage of which was added stability, 'and a clear head space for writing.'

'Philip would credit this with allowing him to finish his second novel, 'which he previously believed himself unable to complete.'

...Parker, and I smoked him too. I don't know what happened.

Parker too? Yeah, so...

Two nemesi in one day. Yes.

That's pretty hot.

I'm really proud of you. Thank you very much.

I, er... I feel... No, it's insane.

It's very hot. What is? The champagne?

You being mean. Oh.

Not hot when you stand like that.

It's not hot? Not hot.

You ruined it. Go back to your story.

'Despite these recent events, 'Philip was incapable of experiencing happiness.

'He counterbalanced his feelings of love and productivity

'with periods of extreme isolation, 'sometimes finding that days on end had passed

'since last leaving the house.

'Shortly after the rush of severing ties

'with those he believed to be poisonous to his mental health, 'Philip was too crippled with anxiety and dread

'to go outside for the better part of a week.

'Philip had harboured increasingly romantic notions

'about what this period in his life would mean, 'until one day, a few months before the publication of his second novel, 'he abruptly became confidently disenfranchised

'to the point of despondency.'

You know this should be your job.

So sorry about the wait. Ah, it's ridiculous.

30 minutes I'm out here, 40 maybe. I'm five away from leaving.

I'm sorry. What do you want me to say? Nothing. I'd prefer you to say nothing.

Riley, don't hold my calls.

I've got some bad news, two items of good news.

Give 'em to me in that order.

Bad news is you're not looking at a good review in the Times.

What? How do we know so soon? Who's doing it?

Some new woman.

She's new. So what's the problem?

She doesn't like your book.

Fuck, I really needed that.

I'll take the good news now. Well, two things.

First, you're going to be in the "35 Under 35" issue of the New York Literary Review.

Nobody reads that anymore. This is something.

It is not uncompetitive. Don't be a baby.


Other thing is, Ike Zimmerman got back to me.

He liked your book, wants to meet you. That's huge.

'Ike Zimmerman was one of the most prolific American authors

'of the 1970s and '80s.

'His breakthrough novel, Madness & Women, 'sold over three million copies in hardback alone.

'Lesser returns and failed genre experiments

'gave way to the triumphant comeback Audit in 1982.

'Since then he published infrequently.

'He had not completed a novel in six years.'

Do you wanna look in our wardrobe area?

We can probably find you a lighter-weight jacket.

Let's just keep this jacket on me and take the photograph sooner rather than later.

We actually wanted to get a picture of you in front of the printing press, and then the portrait.

Is that from the 1920s? Yeah.

Well, I'm not, so let's skip it and move on over to this yellow thing, all right?

I know. "What an asshole."

Would you mind standing?

What is this for?

Could you open it as though you're reading, then look at me again?

I don't wanna do that.

Why? It's a poor idea.

Why would I be standing up with my jacket buttoned, reading?

It's just a prop. I can see that.

But I think it presents a very false depiction of me.

I'd much rather this picture at least seem honest.

You know, Tolkien wouldn't allow himself to be photographed writing, because he didn't allow anybody to watch him work.

Same idea here. Just slightly modified to suit me.


I hope that wasn't too bad.

It's always bad. There's just degrees of bad.

Oh, hey. How's it going?

Mmh... good.

We met before.

Er... I don't think we have.

You sure about that?

Um... I wanted to tell you I really liked your book.

Those advance copies really get around, huh?

Anyway, the first one's better.

Um, I haven't read it.

I'm not some weird groupie or anything.

No, if you were a groupie, you likely would have read both my books.

Are there book groupies? Author groupies?

Not many, but yeah.

Hey! Quick thought I just had.

I'm not doing any press for the book at all. Readings, interviews. Nothing.

You cannot be serious. Oh, quite.

That's a horrible, horrible idea.

I don't like the idea of being on display.

My mind is made up. I wanna be left alone.

Hi, Riley.

I think the tie is a bit much.

I'm invited to his home. I don't wanna look like a schmo.

Then maybe lose the jacket.

You know, it's 80 degrees out.

It looks like you don't own a more seasonally-appropriate jacket.

I don't know, I think it looks nice.

Yeah. Nice, just kind of sweaty.

Philip Lewis Friedman. Go get 'em.

OK, bye. Bye.

Pleasure. Good luck.

Thank you. Fix your collar.

Huh? Your collar.

Oh. Thank you.

I'd seriously consider having a better answer to that question if I were you.

I'm filling up notebooks, but it's nothing but worthless garbage.

Don't tell people that.

Makes you look lazy and stupid.

Got it.

That probably came out a lot crueller than I intended.

But don't make being lackadaisical and disorganised your thing.

It sends out a message that you'll regret. I see.

Do you have a nice place to write?

I mean, that's important.

You'll find that, if you haven't already.

I rented a small studio.

Does it work for you?

No, not really. In fact, I rarely go.


I probably wouldn't have wanted to hear this either when I was your age, but...

The city.

You can't get anything done here.

It has a creative energy, but not a productive energy.

Quiet does not exist, and I find that difficult.

Do you know, I've not written a single page within the city limits these past 30 years?

You'll need a country retreat, if you can afford one.

I can't.


Of course, I had achieved considerably more than you by now.

Not to be insulting. Of course.

But if I can be of any assistance, if I can help in any way, just ask outright.

Don't be shy.

I loved your book.

Yeah, it was OK. Don't denigrate yourself.

It's really, really good, and it would be a shame for me not to read another one.


It's a filthy system, the way it's structured. You can trust me on this.

I'm not sorry if this kills any of your illusions about anything.

I feel like it's my job to tell you the honesty.

Nobody else has.

Nobody else can.

It's rare to find these things out, and also upsetting.

These little glasses. Let me see these things.

Oh, yeah, we have the exact same affectation.


Ah... Emily.


Seems like a less than ideal place to carry on.

Is it 'cause you have a girlfriend?

You mentioned her in an interview.

It's because it's gauche to grope and kiss in public.

You really don't remember meeting me, do you?

I had a photo shoot in that same place when my first book came out.

I gave you a copy of it.

You acted like you were better than some first-time author nobody had ever heard of, even though you were probably still in college.

I wrote my number in it, twice.

I really honestly don't remember meeting you.

Sorry, but I remember you now.

Oh, of course you do.

OK. I'll call you.

Where were you?


So, my meeting with Ike today...

Oh, so he's Ike now?

With Zimmerman. How's your gin? How was he?

He has a quality that can only be described as... chrome.

And? He seems to wanna help me.

How can he help you?

He didn't say.

He's got great stories. I'd love to hang out with him again.

Do we have plans?

Do we have plans when? Whenever.

Yes, Philip, I'd say sometime in the indeterminate future, we may have plans.

Good shoot today?

Can you just leave me alone?

I have to do this.

You're fucking with other people's money here.

Money, money, money. What about my integrity?

You know, I can think of a few other important writers who also took a firm no-press position.

I just wanna know that you've thought it through thoroughly.

I haven't.

It's a very impulsive decision, and I'm very pleased with myself for that.

Philip, this is Josh Fawn.

Josh, this is Philip, who's being a baby and an asshole.

Ciao. Yes, we've met before. We've done some panels together.

Er... I remember one of them.

Phil, Josh is going on a promotional tour for his new book.

That's what responsible authors do.

It helps them sell copies and benefits all parties involved.

Noted. We're wanting you to cover this as a feature for one of several magazines, that we're currently negotiating with.

I just like the new book, and this idea came up, and I kind of suggested you.

Thanks, Josh. Interest?


You'll take whatever we can get you.

It'll be two to three weeks.

I assume we can get you something like 5,000 to 8,000 depending on where we ultimately sell it to.

Right in my pocket. Sounds great.

See, when I slam a door, life opens a window. When do we leave?

You gonna be speaking in little turns of phrase like that the whole time?

I might. I don't know.

I think this is gonna be fun.

You wanna go sit somewhere and talk more about it?

I think we're pretty much on the same page.

Hey, thanks for doing this, by the way.

You don't seem to give a shit about this at all.

Sure, I do.

I'm a nice guy.

Read an article about me. I'm self-deprecating.

No, I'm not thrilled you're going away for over a month.

That is why I'm acting like this.

Can we please not talk about this in public?

It strikes me as unlikely, as you supported ideas like this when I still could have turned them down. I need the money.

What I said was, it would be good for your career.

I thought you meant "career" with a dollar sign.

I think we need more.

Fireworks, shooting guns.

Maybe we need to get arrested.

Yeah, that might be a little bit problematic for some of my younger, more impressionable fans.

I have a lot of those, I'm told.



Oh, my God. Hi.

Josh. Josh.


Wow. How are you? I'm good. How you doin'?

It was...

Beth's wedding? Beth's wedding, right.

Wow. Was a fun night.

I'm foggy.

Good to see you. Yeah, nice to see you as well.

You guys know each other.

Yeah, we fucking live together.


How you take a punch, Josh?

Excuse me? I think we should get into a fight.

For the article. I think it'd be a neat idea.

Stand up, Josh. OK.

I'm gonna show you how to take a punch. I know how to take a punch.

I'm gonna show you the right way to take a punch.

OK, hit me.

Where? Right in my stomach.

Hit me as hard as you can, just at my stomach.

That wasn't as hard as I can.

I know. I hope not.

Hit me again. Harder. Seriously.

Yeah, OK. Go.

You ready? Yeah.

Harder? Go. Harder.

I'm fine.

What I did was essentially, breathing is key.

Think of it as, like... Just hit me.

All right, you ready? OK. Yeah.



It's cancelled. I'm fired, if you can believe that.

The whole damn time, he had another guy and was talking to another magazine, and just goes with that.

It's sociopathic, is what it is. Fucking snake.

Feel like a real fat loser right now.

You should use the time doing something equally as productive.

Well, I was actually planning to stay home and suffer quietly as I can no longer afford to do much else.

Come to my country house. Stay with me.

Rub two sticks together.

Make a fire.

I know most people expect surprising and generous offers to be politely refused, but I might have to call your bluff and emphatically accept.

How does Memorial Day sound?

That's next week.

Yeah. Sooner the better.

I have a girl, Melanie, up there.

She looks after the place.

I'll mention it to her.

Thank you.


'Philip had begun to feel that the city was rejecting him, 'and Ike's sudden offer of solitude and respite was immediately appealing.

'So much so that Philip even requested that the invitation be open-ended, 'and that he be allowed to stay until he felt emotionally capable of returning to the city.

'To Philip's surprise, Ike considered this a terrific idea, 'and even said so.'

Actually, that's a terrific idea.

I admire you for being so bold as to come right out and ask.

I know that sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not.

'Ike had begun to lose his passion for being alone all the time, 'and was eager to have an impressionable young mind on which to impart his wisdom.

'It was under these circumstances that Philip agreed

'to spend a portion of his summer upstate with Ike, 'rather than in the city with Ashley.

'Ashley had not been the first to notice

'Philip's increasingly marginal role in her life.

'It was talked about often by friends and colleagues, 'none of whom ever had a relationship with Philip, 'but grew used to hearing about him much more than they had been lately.

'It had been months since Ashley felt any real connection to Philip.

'He began to drift away while applying the finishing touches to his new book

'and had never come back.

'She tried her best to ignore the mounting signs, 'but the more often they were brought to her attention, 'the harder it became.

'The most difficult part of which was her own increasing ambivalence

'regarding her role in Philip's life, or his in hers.

'She wanted him to want her, 'and the slowly dawning realisation that he might not

'was enough to push her into emotionally unprecedented levels

'of doubt and misdirected anger.'

So it's cancelled, and you're suddenly leaving again?

Looks like it.

God, you'd do anything to get away from me.

You see, it's remarks like that that tell me I'm doing the right thing.

Can we please talk?



Kind of figured you would say something.


Actually, I do have something to say, and I imagine you'll not care to hear it, and it is this.

I'm not going to Ike's for just the week. He invited me to stay for longer.

Wait, longer? Yeah.

I don't understand.

Honestly, I don't see myself returning till July or so.

So, you're basically leaving me for the whole summer.

Not if you look at it like that.

How am I supposed to look at it? Look at it like this.

I was supposed to be gone most of June anyway, right?

I don't see how this is any different.

I can't breathe here, and you seem to resent my presence. Thus I'm unable to work.

It's ugly. It's loud. It's always moving.

I never feel still long enough to hold a thought.

I feel sick out there among the people.

I need to remedy this, and an opportunity has presented itself.

I'm gonna take it. I've got no money and no hope of another advance.

I'm doing what's best for me.

Yeah, you're doing what you're best at.

You're looking out for your own self interests without thinking about how it might affect me or anybody else. Typical!

You're hardly around anyway. You won't even notice.

Hey, don't tell me I'm not gonna notice that I'm alone all of a sudden.

Why can't you do something that involves me?

Why can't we go somewhere together? You know, alone or...

Is it the money? Because I don't mind if you need to borrow some again...

Put your money away, all right?

I'm not taking any money from you.

Those days are behind me. Forever, I told myself.

I hope this will be good for us.

But especially for me.

You are selfish and unsentimental.

Everyone knows this about you. You say that like it's a bad thing.

On the contrary.

An admirable trait, if you ask me.

I come from an unsupportive background.

Yeah, I do, too, but don't cling to it.

It'll make you lazy and angry.

Your work will suffer. I'll keep that in mind.

And I don't believe you need to exacerbate these instincts in yourself more than you already do.

You got it.

Ah... now, your room's out the back.

I, erm...

I have to go to the city for a couple of days.

Do you think you'll be all right here? Yes, I do.

I thought so.




Are you that kid?

You're the caretaker, Melanie?

Dad mentioned you might be here.

So, this comes as no surprise.

Not to me, no.


Beautiful sunset.

Productive day? Not particularly.

I'm glad that he's replaced himself with a younger surrogate to handle the forlorn moping.

I'm glad it pleases you.

He'll be back in a few days.

I know.

I wasn't sure if you cared about me being here and him not.

I do not. Right.

Because you are a guest.

And this is probably your summer home.

He used to bring other women here so he could cheat on my mother.

So, no family vacations.

Only horrible, traumatic ones.

You never smell cut grass in the city.

I don't find you charming.

You are just like him, and I hope you learn to take responsibility for yourself before you destroy the lives of people who care about you.

This is really nice.

Thanks, Dad.

So, how's it been up here?

It's been good.

I've really enjoyed all the alone time.

I'm sorry about the scheduling problem.

Will you admit that you made a mistake?

I don't think that's necessary.

It was a simple misunderstanding.

Could happen to anyone.

Was anybody speaking to you?

I thought I was part of the conversation. Well, you weren't supposed to be.

In fact, you're not even supposed to be here.

I am. Does that make sense?

You are the scheduling problem I was referring to.

I thought you were talking about how your father had to go back to the city.

Yeah, I thought so too. Well, I wasn't.

You didn't make that clear, sweetheart.

I can't process how grossly dissatisfied I find myself feeling.

Things I've coveted for years are mine now, and all I feel is miserable.

That is so cliché.

But you know that, so I won't bother reminding you of how silly you sound.

Didn't you say you, erm... you placed on some silly list of young so-and-so's?

35 under 35.

That's it. Yeah.

Yeah, we didn't have crap like that when I was your age.

You're ahead of the game.

Yeah, but when you were 32, didn't you win the National Book Award?

That's true.

But you are not me.

How would you like to accept a gracious favour I've done for you?

Depends on what it is.

That answer is at once both arrogant and correct.

Don't accept too readily something you might want.

In any event, a friend of mine from Lambert College got in touch.

They're looking for an adjunct creative writing instructor for the fall semester.

I teach there occasionally, as you know, but usually more advanced seminars, so...

I find this to be beneath me, but it's a good opportunity for you.

He'd like to interview you tomorrow.

You can take my car. What does it pay?

At that level, I have no idea.

But, hey, you haven't got the position yet.

I've merely placed you on their radar.

But you're notable now, and that helps.

We're so excited you accepted.

The new book is really terrific.

Oh, boy.

I wish somebody here would say something mean.

Mean? Or honest.

It's unlikely that everybody here has nothing but praise.

It's not real. I don't like how this is starting.

These are decent people.

They just want to be your friend.

I know, that's the problem.

Sorry to bother you again.

Is there trash in here? Yes, I'm right here.


It's Philip.

You look like you're asleep with your eyes open.

I didn't even see you there.

You were looking right at me.

You were right. This place is beautiful.

You sure you don't want any of these?

Brought you a whole box.

I'd rather just look around and stare at people.

I was surprised you called me.

I didn't see any way that I couldn't.

Things are pretty hectic with my new book and everything.

That's pretty cool.

No, it's not cool. It's fucking amazing.

Do you know how few people reach this level?

You seem to not care.

I really don't.

Did you ask me here so you could talk about yourself?

Next question.

Does talking about this stuff make you feel happy?


I find thinking about it all to be unfulfilling and exhausting.

Does nothing for me.

Well, that's how the rest of your life is gonna be.

Unfulfilling and exhausting.

I think success has made you ugly.

I think you've gotten far too in touch with your selfish instincts, and it's not healthy.

But I still think about you.

I think the guy I used to know would have made a really great boyfriend.

I want to take that cupcake out of your hand right now and throw it so fucking far away from you.

Goddamn it, you make me sick. You're just a big baby.

Babies wanna be around sugar all the time. No wonder you're a baker.

You're the worst.

I'm not successful, I'm notable. There's a difference.

Besides, I'm not notable, either.

Noteworthy at best.

I once considered you my favourite ex-girlfriend.

That's very sweet of you.

Let's... let's turn this day around, do something fun.

Maybe, I don't know, break into a bank, or rob a car or something.

All right, let's do it. Let's do it.

Got some wire hangers at my place.

Oh, great, well, let's steal a car, go to your place, get the wire hangers, come back, steal another car, and just drive off.


I feel like it wouldn't be weird for you to kiss me right now.

Every girl's so beautiful to me. I don't wanna think about her at all anymore.

You should have followed her. She wouldn't have me.

And besides, she's moved on.

And in a way, so have I.

Just not actually, of course.

Well, I speak from experience when I say that it is horrible... to be treated in a way that only points out how meaningless you are.

Never thought of it that way.

He's here.

Yeah, he just walked into your bedroom.

Oh, hey, how's it goin'?

You're a monster.

I hate you.

Then I doubt you'll mind me being gone through December.

I don't even know how to respond to that.

I've been offered a position teaching creative writing at Lambert College.

I'm moving there for the semester.

You stood in my way when I had so many opportunities.

I guess that's why I'm telling you about this after I agreed to it.

So you decided to sneak back in the middle of the night?

It's not the middle of the night, Ashley. It's 10:00pm.

Besides, I had some meetings in the city that ran late, and I considered just buying new clothes, but I needed to get some books I wanted to re-read.

Also, I want my car.

Oh, shit, I forgot about the car.

You haven't been moving it for street cleaning?

I've been gone for three weeks. Do you know how many tickets I must have?

I kind of would have thought this to be beneath you.

You know, at one time I would have as well, but look at me now.

You're a man of contradictions. No, I'm not.

Who are all these assholes?

They're my friends.

"They're my friends."


I got this job, this...

This national ad campaign, so...

We're celebrating.

That's great.

'Philip wished Ashley had not reminded him

'of how great it felt to be proud of her.

'His own relationship with success had forced him

'to grow out of feeling resentful towards her accomplishments.

'He was not prepared to lose that constant stream of enthusiasm.'

You see? You don't even need me.

God, you really believe that, don't you?

I'm not sure how to answer that without making things worse.

I supported you when nobody gave a shit about you.

I want you to know I regret that now.


I don't wanna talk to you anymore.

So you can just... you can be somebody else's charity case.

Maybe Zimmerman will take care of you. He already has, and he will gladly continue.

Get out of my house.

My house too.

No. It was never your house. You just lived here.

You know, I'd like to hope that in a few months' time, we'll both have some perspective on this and be able to move somewhere, like forward.

This feels irreparable.

You accusing me of indifference?

You don't seem to be struggling.

I am.

Just not in the ways that you notice.

You need a haircut.

I know.

I'm pretty sure I'm missing a brush.

I'll bet one of those models yoinked it.

You got any plans tonight?

Just gonna stay in, or are you going out?

We were together for almost three years.

Do you want to come over? We were just gonna make dinner at home.

You should come.

No, thanks. I don't want to be a burden.

You're not being a burden.

I couldn't tell him anything without him getting depressed and jealous.

Now he's gone.

He owes me a lot of money.

You know, when he was writing and had no income.

Thousands of dollars.

I don't mean to bring you into it. I just...

I don't think dinner tonight's a good idea.

No, it's not a good idea at all.

I'm allergic to cats.

Can we just, like, put them down until you're ready?

No, 'cause then they're likely to run away.

And then where are we? Stuck with no cats.

Is everything OK?

What is this cat's name?

This little guy is called Prescott.

That was my grandfather's name.

'For the first time in years, Ashley found herself feeling truly alone.

'Despite being surrounded by people most of every day, 'she was unable to connect to them in a way she considered meaningful

'and found herself passing through their lives, and her own, 'in a state of total isolation.

What size are these shirts?

I don't know. Small or medium. Try it on.

I'll give you an ill-fitting discount.

They seem expensive.

Sold to the highest bidder.

This too. Yeah, why not?

This? Throw this in.

It's not very good, but you can use it as a coaster or something.

No good. Naw.

Take the jacket too. Two for one.

Look at that.

You would date that man, right?


Congratulations. Thank you.

You're late. Yeah.

It's OK. Yeah.

You lost? Goddamn it.

Well, at least there's one pinball player in the family.

That's a triple take. Yeah?

Is that with the spin?

You do that... Wait, let me try.

You missed mine. Let me see it again.

I was... We were both double-taking at the same time.

Hey, that was three. That was pretty good. That was good.


What do you get if you cut a bra in half?

What? A yarmulke with a chin strap.

Can you guys keep it down, please? What?

Can you please keep it down?

How dare you tell me to keep it down? I'm here with my better half here.

Go fuck yourself!

You can't come into my place where I'm with my friends, drinking, playing pinball, having a fun time, celebrating.

You're not welcome. Get out of here.

Get the fuck out of here!

I'm not kidding you. Get the fuck out of here right now.

I hate that man.

Hey, sweetheart.


What are you staring at?


Nothing? Thought I smelled gasoline.

That's me.

You look lost. I'm not.

Wanna come hang out?

You want something to drink? Sure.

All right, sit down.

'When she had first spoken to the lowlife at the bar, 'it was the first time in four days Ashley heard her own voice out loud.

'She became devastatingly aware of her own desperation, loneliness and torment.

'Quickly she could take no more and went home.'

Nobody here is in pain.

This is a no-kill shelter.

We have plenty of available foster parents who are able to take care of them for as long as necessary to find a home.

Do you have any cats? What?

Cats! Do you have any cats?

This guy is really friendly. Loving.

Do you have any black and white ones?

Like, that resemble a panda? Or a raccoon?

You really care about the colour.

Yeah, kind of.

He chooses you.

You want a snack? Do you want a snack?

This is your new home.

What do you think?

There we go. Get familiar.

OK, come on. Ready?

Ready to find your bed?

What do you think?

Hey! Hey!

Hey, you're here. I'm here.

How was your trip? Ugh, I feel sick.

You feel sick? Yeah. Oh, it's a beautiful day.


Place looks good.

I'm excited you finally get to see our renovations.

Can't believe that excites you.

God, you sound like a brat who lives in a dump in New York.

Don't be shitty. My house is not a dump.

Wouldn't know. I've never been.

Lots of fights happened in this room.

Only with you.

We're going out.

Get yourself dressed up.

It's gonna be a big night.

OK, could you stop doing that? It's really annoying.

I planned on going away for a week.

You know this is important to me. I know, but it wasn't supposed to start for 10 days.

They changed it. I don't know what to tell you.

You're not being really supportive right now.

You know this is an amazing opportunity for me.

Tell me the good version of this conversation.

"You got the job?

"Congratulations, Ashley. I'm so happy for you.

"Although I admit to being a little disappointed, "I understand that these things happen.

"I'm so proud of you, baby."

That's basically what I said.

I would never say that.

I am proud of you.

Come here.

I wish you wanted to go out.

I am out. I don't live here.

Oh, I adopted a cat.

I know. You send me pictures.

I send them or I sent them once?

Oh, more than once. I think I'm going to name my cat Gadzookey.

You have a little situation there. With your...


I love him.

You should love a human.

I just don't want him to be one of those exes I have to see every few years.

You know?

He's making it really easy.

I hate that you think this is easy.

That's nice.

Should I do anything? No, no, no, just look that way.

There you go. Smile.

Think of something funny.


There you go.

It's me.

Work it. Work it.

Classic, but not a comedy.

And he got 'em all!

You want another one? Not another banana joke.

Can I take one of you?

So, you pull the thing back? Oh, it looks nice, yeah.

Did it click? Yeah. Smile a little.

I don't feel like smiling.

Focus up there. You all right? I'm getting addicted to this.

It's gonna be a bit fuzzy, I have a feeling.

There you go. Turn that thing, don't be shy. They're art house.

That sun.

Baby, I love you both night and day

Baby, you throw me so as I can't think what I should say

Seeing you, I feel weak And I can hardly speak

'Cause you are making me nervous Making me nervous Every time I see you on a Sunday night, I get a fright

The way I talk, behave and act, it don't come out right

I'm no kind of freak But I can hardly speak

'Cause you are making me nervous Making me nervous

Like an actor in the wings

Like a man before he sings You know you're gonna make it if you try

'Cause you are making me nervous Making me nervous

You know they're gonna like you if you try...

'Philip had returned for his winter clothes the third week of July.

'By early September, Ashley had at last begun to feel

'as though her life was her own again.

'All signs of Philip had been erased, save for a few irrelevant boxes, 'allowing her to go hours, occasionally days, 'without being preoccupied by thoughts of him.

'Once, when she failed to keep him out of her mind, 'Ashley decided to uncover and finally read

'the short stories Philip had written while in college and shortly thereafter, 'before they had met.

'She was sad to discover that the stories were, 'as Philip had always promised, 'not of any remarkable quality.

'Ashley felt her final remaining vestiges of admiration for Philip slipping away, 'although she respected his progression from these to his recent work.

'Ashley wondered if Philip's first novel would have excited her as much as it once did

'if she had read these stories when they first met.

'Following this episode, 'Ashley put the stories and Philip away for as long as she could manage.

'By this point, the truth was

'that she had no idea of what he had been doing all summer, 'nor was it of any pressing concern to her.

'Ashley's dedication to carrying on with early autumn traditions, 'ones formerly enjoyed with Philip, 'did much to distract her from the shifting of seasons

'and all the connected feelings that could come along with it.

'Her dedication to normalcy allowed Ashley to stave off

'a seasonally-augmented sense of melancholy, 'which prevented her from regressing back to the darkness

'she had completely left behind.

'Yearning for intimate interaction detached from her work

'and regular circle of friends, 'and needing to spend an evening away from Gadzookey the cat, 'to whom she had discovered she was mildly allergic, 'Ashley made social plans with her ex-boyfriend Peter.

'They had dated for just under two years prior to her meeting Philip, 'and seldom saw one another, 'so the invitation came to him as something of a surprise.

'The ease with which their conversation flowed

'made her further disdain Philip for not only the void he had left in her life, 'but also the energy she had decided he routinely drained from it, 'which she now felt being slowly breathed back in.'

You didn't talk about him at all.

Got nothing to say.

How is he?

I did so well. Can you not ask?


Thank you.

I feel him weighing on me more in his absence, than I did when he was around.

Where is he?

He's just gone.

It's like he was a figment of my imagination.

I'm fairly certain I'm not welcome here.


It's late. I've been sitting here waiting to make a scene for hours.

What do you want?

I'm very lonely.

That's unfortunate.

I don't like teaching creative writing as much as I assumed I would.

Well, you're a cruel, miserable person, so it makes sense you'd end up in a miserable situation.

What happened to my desk?

That's my bonus desk.

Nobody at the school likes me. Nobody here likes you.

I think I might resign and come home.

You don't live here.

You live upstate.

No, I don't want that to be my home.

It's lonely and sad and the faculty have turned on me.

Boo-hoo! The last few weeks have been so hard for you.

Whose cat is this?

It's my cat.

We don't have a cat. Apparently I do.

Oh, look, see? There it is.

Come here, big boy.

This is Gadzookey.

Gadzookey, meet Philip.

Don't get attached. He was just leaving.

Do you ever make a decision that at the time seems sound, but quickly reveals itself to be empty?

Good-bye, Philip. I don't like you.

He's kind of an asshole.

What a strange feeling.

So off... it's like my head is a car, but I can't drive fast because there's too much traffic.

So instead I'm just moving very, very slowly.

It's so hard, what I do.

I mean, it's not at all, and that is the joke, right?

God, this is so boring. A big joke.

Ashley's so bored right now.

Just go back where you came from.

I'm getting angry at myself, do you understand?

Because it doesn't even upset me to see you like this.

I want you to leave and leave me alone.

I don't know why you are here, but I'm not interested, so don't tell me.

God, do you remember there was a time when we just...

We wanted to go to sleep together and wake up together, every day, indefinitely.

Now I don't even give a shit if I ever see you again.

I want you to leave, and just don't come back and stop hurting me.

I got asked to write a short story about photography.

By who?

Oh, God, you'd be so mad if I told you.

Isn't that what you want?

I don't know what you want me to say.

You used to be so exciting.

Now you're just pitiful.

I'm afraid you've seen the last of me for a long, long time.

Hey. I know you.

Do you know where he is?

I don't.

Do you, like, live here now?

I still have the keys.

No, now I live in a depressing faculty apartment.

How is the college?

It's fine.

I assumed he'd be here.

Seems I was mistaken. Yeah, that makes two of us.

Hey, you can stay if you want to.

That won't be necessary.

'For reasons unclear to him, 'the exchange with Melanie caused overwhelming anxiety in Philip, 'who had driven through the night to get here.

'In the weeks he had spent living with Ike, when Melanie was not around, 'she was never brought up in conversation.

'Philip would have forgotten about her, 'had it not been for the smattering of photographs

'that still remained in the guest room where he slept.

'Sitting meekly on the couch, 'Melanie embodied the high cost of isolation and detachment from loved ones.

'Unable to stand it any longer, 'Philip excused himself and returned to his pitiful life at the college.'

Tell him I was here.

Your little protégé stopped by yesterday.

He's not a protégé, he's a... He's a friend.

I still haven't read his book. I couldn't find it anywhere.

My copy is in the city.

Should I read it?

Well, it is remarkable.

He suffers a little from being too arrogant, both in his writing and as a person.

Oh. Match made in heaven.

I don't know if I can continue to accommodate you here.

Why is that?

Because you're a pain in the ass.

I have to go to the city today.

What for?

See my agent.

Henry? Henry? No.

Henry's not been with me for 10 years.

Why not?

Because he's a cocksucker and a little piece of shit.

Oh, fuck!

Jesus, God Almighty. Fucking thing. Look at this.

Is this a meeting about something new?

Hmm? Well, potentially.

It's complicated.

We're hoping for some money from a sale of movie rights.

Is that woman still your editor?

No. She's an asshole with no loyalty as well.

What about... Are you here only to put me on the spot?

None of this is worth revisiting to me.

I've been betrayed by a lot of small-minded and worthless people.

Do I need them to accomplish anything?

The answer is no. They are altogether nothing.

Having once known me will always be the most interesting thing about them.

Those fucking vultures have fed off me longer than any sane man would have allowed.

That sounds like a horrible example to set for your little student.

So what? He's not my kid.

'Ike's time with Philip had been rejuvenating, 'restoring a sense of pride and vitality

'that the man at one point subsided solely upon.

'The adoration and attention was something he'd not felt in years

'and, during the summer months, resulted in Ike feeling stronger

'and more productive than he had been in some time.

'When Philip departed in late August for the college, 'Ike was remiss to find himself backsliding

'into a familiar pattern of boredom and tedium.

'His friendship with Philip eventually served

'as little other than a reminder of the absences in his life, 'and of their increasing presence and volume.

'Seeing Philip during the previous weekend

'had left Ike in an even lower state of self-pity, 'as he found himself unable to produce a worthwhile thought.

'So consumed was he with the solitude and self-imposed exile

'he had once coveted and manufactured for himself so meticulously

'but now experienced only as an infinitely replenishing prism of regret.

'The companionship of Melanie was, at best, diverting

'and, at worst, a constant reminder of the multitudes of relationships

'Ike had gleefully sabotaged over the years, 'all in the name of preserving and feeding his increasingly insatiable ego.

'When she asked, he would refuse to be open or honest

'about the past several years of his life, 'neglecting to satisfy her curiosity about what had become

'of his many friends, acquaintances and colleagues.'

Nobody's seen her since she was a teenager.

Well, she stopped visiting right about then.

Which is just as well. She's a pain in the ass.

How so?

She asks too many questions.

She used to have all those cute friends.

Have any of them been by? I'm...

I'm not here all the time.

I used to be a lion.

We all did.

I think we've become pathetic.

Want to hear a funny idea?

Come on up, come on. Hey, come on.

Here, take your coat off. Here you are.


This is my place. My humble home.

I know.

You want to take your coat off? Oh, thank you.

Yeah, I'll set it right here.

So, er... drinks? Sure, of course.

We have some wine, red wine, white wine.

Erm... red. Red?

Norm? Prosecco.

Ah... Prosecco!

That's fancy, Norm.

You know, I love movies.

So here's a line from a movie. You have to guess.

She says to a younger man who's trying to woo her, to flirt with her...

And she says to him, "You don't want me. You want somebody young and fresh."

And she goes, "Armies have marched over me."

All right, guess that one. Right away.

Thank you.

Are we supposed to guess who said that?

Well, maybe. Yeah. What movie?

What was your name again? Thank you. Flo.

Flow gently, sweet Afton.

It is spoken by Rita Hayworth.

Do you remember Rita Hayworth? Of course.

Yes! They don't remember Rita Hayworth.

In a movie called Fire Down Below.

Hey, you know that?

There's snow on the roof, but there's fire down below.

Santé! Santé! You're French, right?

Come here. It's more cosy.

Yeah, come on. Is there anyone else coming tonight?

Well, I'm younger than Norm.

Oh, I thought you said there was a party happening.

Oh, I'm sorry, I... Maybe I...

I have a secret weapon.

Oh! I'll go get it.

Just hold it right there.

Yeah, he's young.

He's not tall, but he's young.

Philip. Philip, get over here.

No, now, as quick as you can.

Get here now.

So there was these two old men sitting in deck chairs on the beach, and one of them turns to the other and he says, "It's nice out today," and the other one says, "Sure, I'll get mine out in a minute."

Hey, let's hope it's a boy! Huh?


Come on, stand up. Oh, you are standing.

Come in, come in. Hey.

Hey. Hey.

Oh! In you come.

We will be social with these women tonight.

Son, you're young. Come on.

Huh? What are you?

Old. Yeah?


And also rich, which helps.

Yeah, one day you'll be old, wise and rich. Now get in there.

Come on. Enjoy yourself!

Call me son, yeah? Hi, I'm Philip.

My name is Philip.

Hello. Hi.

I know who you are, but it's a real pleasure.

An old friend of Ike's. How do you know each other?

Well, I've never met him personally, but, um...

You've heard of me. I've read. I've read who I think you are.

Wow. Yeah, he's... you know who he is, correct?

No, should we know who he is?

Yeah, he's one of the... I don't know whether you should...

I... I write. He's what they call essential.

A writer. Like the profession.

This guy is like, they teach this guy.

You know... Oh, really?

Yeah, I'm gonna just go check really quickly on the lord of the manor.

Oh! Well, get yourself a drink. You need a drink.

Well, I shouldn't, probably.

I've already taken, like, all kinds of strange things before coming over here, so I don't know.

Good, you'll be able... You look very put together.

You handle your things well.

I do handle them well, but...

I'm speaking of allergy medicine in this case, 'cause upstate really fucks with me.

All right, have yourself...

All right, have yourself a merry little Christmas. I'll be right back.

Good to see you. It's an honour.

Sit down. Thank you.

Sit down.

What are you doing in here?

They said they want you to come back. You fucked up.

Huh? Get back in there.

I could have made that transaction in two minutes when I was your age.

Twice a week. Fucking get back in there.

Well, it's my understanding that was a different time.

Women were, you know... looser then.

Also much more impressed by authors.

Yeah, authors like me.

Get in!

You wrote that book?

Well, no. No, no, no. Listen. Oh, my god.

Can we have an autograph? You wanted to know about Joseph Conrad.

And we're back.

Hey, hey, how about you give us a little tune on the piano, huh?

Uh... Come on, come on.

You want a little song? A song from Philip?

Georgia on My Mind.

More upbeat. Upbeat.

Let's dance. Let's dance.

Oh, that's it.

Melanie! Hey, hey, hey!

Look who's here! Hey!

Hey. Hi.

That's my daughter, huh?

I hate you both.

I have nothing to do with this. Oh, didn't you?

Go fuck yourself.

You've ruined this night for me.

OK, OK, OK. No, no.

It's over, it's over.

OK, you should go.

Go, go, go!

Thanks for coming.

Bye. Bye.

Ike. What just happened?

I told you what she's like.

I didn't think it was that... Yeah.

I'd completely forgotten she was here.

Oh, she can be such a bitch sometimes.

To hell with her.

Norm? Yes, sir.

Little drink for the road.

Thank you. Huh?

Here. Oh, thank you.

Smell that? '25.

All right, the good stuff.

Philip, I've, er...

I got something special for you.

I don't talk to her mother anymore. Did I tell you that?

I guess I just sort of assumed it.

She asked me about it the other day. I didn't know what to say to her.

Oh, God.

She can be such a pain in the ass.

Anyway, here's to us.

Cheers. Philip.

Seems like it's just you and me left now, Norm, huh?

Oh, hey.

I forgot to tell you.

I saw this the other day.


The guy you were supposed to do the journalism piece on, that snake?

It seems he took his own life.

Jesus. Who is it? Who's that?

What's he called?

Josh Fawn, the writer.

I mean, I'm glad he's dead and all, but...

Doing that interview would have been a really great opportunity for me.

Last interviews are hard to get, because you never know.

I know this guy. I like his work.

I had lunch with him recently. You did?

I did. You had lunch with him?

Yes. Lunch, and, whoo!

Oh, well.

Erm... you know, I'm looking forward to reading your work.

Hey, hey, hey, don't buy a copy. I got plenty here.

You can have one of mine.

Anyway, listen...

I gotta go to bed, OK?

Old Ikey has got to get some rest.

Why don't you stay here tonight?

I've got a meeting at the college tomorrow. You can drive me there.

Erm... Is that good?

Yeah. OK.

I didn't bring a toothbrush. Good night, everybody.

Good night.

Night. Good night to you.

Norm. Take care.

Was a pleasure.

Take care.

And... Be well.

I can, I will be. Oh, well, don't look at that.

Jesus Christ.

You dick.

Good one? Good enough.

Even looking at the girls here brings on a cascade of conflicting emotions.

They're always gonna want more than you're prepared to offer.

You remember that. You'll learn it yourself one day, if you haven't already.

What are you thinking about? Are you thinking about what I just told you?

This place looks unforgiving.

Suffers in comparison to the guest room.

Well, the offer's still on the table.

Don't sit on the car.

Listen, this isn't the city.

They're a different breed of snob up here.

It's academia.

Academia nuts.

I fail to understand the distinction.

Yeah, I do, too, sometimes.

It's been really awful.

I consider you my good friend.

I appreciate that.

But you'll soon find how little that counts for.

I'm not referring to myself, but there's a lot of assholes out there.

Less up here than in the city, but it's all relative.

You say it yourself. You don't see anybody. You have no friendships.

And you have ruined every relationship in which you ever could have found meaning.


Huh? Associates? Sycophants?

Who the fuck needs pissants like that? Good riddance.

Me. Mom.

You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, as usual.

Why do you assume that she never talked to me?

Oh, I'm sure she was only too eager to fill your head with some inane, fictitious bullshit.

But one thing I know for a fact, you only got one version of events told from the perspective of a very sad, very lonely, pathetic woman.

You insult again.

This is my mother you're talking about.

And? Go on.

You talk about her like she's some leech that sucked you dry.

Yeah, well, she would have done, given half the chance.

Her and everyone else.

You know, she is my biggest regret, hmm?

The strongest and saddest proof that you cannot change anyone, and that your first instinct about them will always be right.

Yeah, well, that just proves that you yourself can't be changed, either.

Yeah, well, much to my chagrin, I prove my own point.

I always try to lead by example...

To show everyone how I can put aside preconceptions and find new feelings, new ideas.

But the innate ineffability of human disappointment overcomes my faith every time.

So, when you belittle me... "Belittle you"?

I didn't even fucking say anything to you. Yes!

What are you talking about? "Belittle me"!

For my self-made disconnect from those who want nothing from me but to further their own petty feelings of self-delusion.

Then you reinforce the degree to which I saved myself from future disappointment by cutting myself off to the extent that I did!

Do you hear yourself?

'The emotions which arose

'from the spectacular confrontation with his daughter

'enraged and excited Ike in such a way as he no longer felt possible.

'Philip's unbridled respect and reverence for his idol, 'compounded with his youthful sense of rage and entitlement, 'had forced unwanted introspection upon Ike.

'And what he saw was a shamefully complacent old man, 'who had long since given up the forcefulness

'that had once motivated him to create some of his best work.

'The autumn months had brought about an overwhelming sense of shame in Ike, 'as he tried and failed to put out of his mind

'the vigour and dissatisfaction that once drove him to succeed, 'replaced with frustration, self-pity and disappointment.'

And of course, the frustrating thing is to want to focus your energies on something that, well, at this point in my life, should be something of an opus.

A culmination. Right.

Could we swap seats? I don't feel right sitting here.

I'd rather not sit in a pupil's chair in my own office.

We can both sit over there, or we can both stand.

I've had years of this shit.

How long did yours take?

Something like two years apiece.

Oh, God, I used to be faster than that.

Two years would be humiliating for me.

Well, for anyone.

I... I didn't mean it like that, but you get the idea.

This could be so big for me.

Instead, I... I'm suffering here.

More than you could know or I could possibly explain.

I just don't see anything clearly.

I'm trying to do my best here.

Oh, fuck it.

I should have this figured out by now.

Well, thank you for listening to the sentimental and frustrated ramblings of an old man.

You've done a lot for me. I didn't do much.

No. But your work did.

That's true.

Bonjour, Yvette. Ça va?

She's Yvette? Yeah.

'Yvette Dussart was entering her third year on the faculty

'when she was informed that a young, newly successful author from the city

'would be joining the English department, 'which she took as a personal attack on her territory, 'as it relieved her of the title of youngest faculty member, 'a distinction from which she derived no small amount of satisfaction.

'Philip and Yvette were only about three years apart in age.'

'Prior to his arrival and introduction, 'Yvette had decided to act unkind towards him, 'and was able to convince several other faculty members

'that, in fact, a novelist with no teaching experience

'did not belong among their ranks, 'a cunning move that created an environment of tension and hostility

'before Philip appeared for what became an increasingly painful, 'and humiliating orientation process.

'The result of her scheming was immediate and total isolation for Philip, 'who routinely found himself with nothing more to do

'than retreat to his small, sad apartment every night, 'where he made a concerted effort to devote himself fully to his writing, 'and to doing as good a job teaching as possible.'

I wonder what type of style we should be working on for these exercises.

I'm not sure I can answer that question.

In fact, I'm certain I cannot.

I don't have a very academic relationship with form or style.

So... what is your advice?

The best thing I can offer is what I do, which is to kinda goof around until you find what works.

Besides, in my experience, more than half of you will probably abandon writing, creative or the other kind, very shortly after graduating.

If you haven't already.

I'm thinking of a few of you specifically when I say that last part.

Hey, hey.

Are you at all qualified to be teachin'?

I never use the word "teach". I always say "instruct".

Nice try.

You've made it a point to turn others against me, and I don't understand why.

I've not.

You have.

And as a result, I'm sad and alone...

I don't like it here.

Hello. Hi.

I read Obidant. I really liked it.

I didn't realise it had come out already. About two weeks ago.


Listen, it's nothing personal, but...

I'm really trying to do my best up here, and part of that means not getting involved with anybody in, er... say, a human way.

So if you'd like, you could come visit me at my office.

This is not my office.

Please don't act like somebody who doesn't know how to handle themselves.

I don't know what you mean.

Act as though you attend these things all the time.


Feel like you don't want to be here. Like me.

See how little I wanna be here?

But I very much want to be here.

Oh, Jonathan.

Are you proud of me?

In what way?

Never mind.

You seem to have a decent situation here.

This place is just fine. Yeah.

You do not need to look away every time you see me.

Was it your father I saw you with earlier?

He's my uncle. Mon oncle. Like the film.

You look sad with him.

I don't think you're saying what you think you are.

I meant to say...

When with him, it makes you look as though you are not happy.

Oh. I guess that's pretty much what you said the first time.

Why is this?

Your own family makes you unhappy?

I don't feel comfortable talking to you like this.

Why? Because we don't like each other.

Or you don't like me.

It's not like that. I mean...

OK, it's true that I am upset that I study for years to obtain a teaching degree, and you...

You just publish two slim novels and get a job many would murder for.

I, however, think it is possible we could be friendly together.

You encouraged the faculty to turn on me.

Nobody likes me here.

Nobody ever talks to me.

We like it here. We have family and community.

And you've just come here with your new novel and turned them against yourself with your arrogance and ego.

You're to blame nobody but yourself for these things.

I don't know how to process that.

I'm not sure how quickly I can absolve you of wrongdoing and shoulder the blame myself.

I'd like to go elsewhere and talk.

Speak with you more.

Just not standing here, outside.


Just not back in there.


I thought it best if my students don't ever see me out of class.

So, what do you do at night?

I stay home, I read, and I think.

It'll make my life harder if people see me differently.

Does that make sense?

And you only want to be thought of as a talented writer and not as a real person?

Hmm, yeah.

Yeah. That's probably about right.

In fact, that's exactly right.

Thank you.

All right.

Be a good boy. Give me a call, OK?


I never had a weekend on campus where I went to school.

I can't really quite adjust.

Last night your uncle and then me...

It's your first real conversation since you arrived here?

Conversation that took place on or around campus and was substantial? Yes.

Wow. You must be really lonely.

Can't see your eyes in that hat.

That's better. Where are you going?

Are your office hours over? For the time being.

Also they're for people in classes I teach. That's not you, is it?

No, but I was hoping... No, it's urgent.

So, today we'll be learning about the Romantic period, and the impact of the French Revolution, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and...

Erm... William Godwin and...

Erm... did anyone read it?

Er... we'll be also talking about the... romantic themes.

Sorry, the cult of sensibility, emphasising...

Sorry, what were we talking about?

Well, this is the most amount of visitors I've ever seen during a single session.

And on a Friday, no less.

What a world.

One second.

Come right in.

When I was in school, I never went to these things, so I tend to forget about them. That's OK.

I was hoping we could discuss my story.

Right. Which I read.

I think the perspective was very clear.

Erm... and, also, I should say that...

What was the title of it again?

I'll be honest. That's not the main reason I'm here.

Thank God, because honestly, I don't even think I've read yours yet.

Or any of them, for that matter, so don't be offended.

I was hoping you could provide me with a letter of recommendation for an internship I'm pursuing at Paragon Press.

OK. Is that not possible?

Look, I'll say this, and then we can proceed accordingly.

Number one, internships are a waste of time, so you shouldn't bother.

Two, that company sucks, and you wouldn't gain any worthwhile experience there.

And three, I don't actually think that I know you very well.

Or at all, now that I think about it.

So, I wouldn't be the best person to sing your praises.

Where does that leave us on the whole letter of recommendation tip?

I think they can be somewhat generic.

It's kind of a formality anyway.


Does your publisher have an internship programme?

To be honest with you, I have no idea.

I'm not thinking about this right now.

Here's a piece of paper with some staples in it.

Wish I could be of more help.

'The semester drew to a close, 'and an impending sense of melancholy and longing developed within Philip, 'as the promise of facing Ashley again

'became less of an abstraction and more of a looming certainty.

'Anticipating this, and unable to process his feelings verbally, 'Philip wrote and mailed her a letter, which read...'

"I find myself alone again and again, "and I've abandoned hope that this is something that can or will change.

"I would extend my apologies for neglecting to phone, "were I not certain that they would be rejected.

"I offer the honest yet invented-sounding explanation

"that hearing your voice or anything about your current life

"would compound my already overwhelming sense of isolation and regret

"in a way I would consider crippling.

"My return date is set for December the 15th.

"I look forward to seeing what type of person I feel like by then."

'The letter was signed simply, "P".

'She threw it away without ever opening the envelope.

'Just under four weeks had passed

'since Philip had last attempted to contact Ashley, 'and his letters had started being returned.

'The period following his collection of midterm assignments

'and leading up to Thanksgiving, 'found Philip at long last adjusting to his temporary life at the college.

'No longer fighting against his situation and finally at peace with it, 'he had noticed himself making friends where there before had been none, 'and experiencing feelings and emotions

'he had studiously blocked out from August through late October.

'The result of which was his transformation into a tolerable person

'for whom the faculty began to care, 'to say nothing of the added benefit of winning Yvette's affections, 'a goal of his since he first convinced himself of the extent to which she disliked him.'

I don't know what you want me to tell you.

You know what I want you to tell me.

Oh, the situation is becoming really irritating.

I have a life somewhere. Or had one.

I'm not sure which. It's probably not even there anymore.

Then forget it. And come back home with me for the holiday break.

I've nothing to do when I get back. Also, I've nowhere to live.

I don't work here permanently. Only you do.

I'm sure you can get one more semester of work.

Hang on while I put my head in this sweater.

Keep going.

It is possible.

A lot that would need to change for that to happen.

Are we still going to Ike's for Thanksgiving? What are we bringing?

Really? Yeah.

You know what? Why don't you stay at your own apartment tonight?

My apartment is sad and has improper heating, which you know because we're standing in it right now.


So, you don't want to be trapped by academia.

There are some people over there who I wish I could still call my colleagues.

They didn't want this life for themselves.

I told this to our boy here.

You know, you have to be very careful.

Don't believe too strongly the structures they put in front of you.

This is good advice.

For you more so than him, though.

Excuse me.

You seem ill-equipped to deal with someone like that.

We began by hating one another.

I think we're coming back down the other side now.

That's a very potent image.

You should write it down and use it.

I came up with it on the silent, excruciating drive over here.

I'm glad you approve. Oh, I do, indeed.

I should go check on her.

Excuse me.

I think you're being rude to Ike.

I'm glad his feelings are so important.

I think I need to leave.

You said you wanted to meet him.

Besides we just got here.

Why don't you leave me alone?

My uncle, who you saw in passing, raised me because both of my parents were killed in a car accident.

Why are you telling me this?

Because I want you to contextualise my sadness.

Put whatever you're going through into perspective.

My mom was pregnant at the time.

Seven months.

I was on the news.

I'm telling you this to hurt you right now, because you're trying to make me feel bad, horrible even, which I don't appreciate.

But I never will...

Because nothing ever feels bad once you learn what that emotion is capable of.

Now let's not make a big deal about it.

I usually don't.

But you really forced my hand on this.

Do you know that expression?

"Forced my hand"?

It's one of my favourites.

She seems difficult. She is. Very.

Well, you're putting her in an ugly situation.

What with you trying to have two girlfriends.

That's a tawdry way to phrase it.

You... You have one living in a house that you share with her in the city and another one up here that you're living with.

Yeah, I can see the appeal.

I practically invented it.

But I did it better than you.

Nobody hated me then.

I could enjoy it. Until later, of course, when it all came crashing down.

But by then, I had my escape all planned.

You see, you haven't put enough thought into something as delicate as this.

Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to fall in love with a French girl.

I'm proud of you, boy.

You'll find yourself referring to this experience often when you opt to pull your head out of your own ass and get back to work.

Can you offer any suggestions about what I should do until then?

Well, I could.

But this really belongs to you.

You'll find a solution.

I gave you the '25, by the way.

Oh, thank you.

The way I see it, you have two possible scenarios.

Either you abscond to France with a girl you just met three months ago, thus becoming a cliché, leaving the city in disgrace and your former life in shambles, or you'll return to your kind, successful, tolerant, and probably very attractive girlfriend in the city.

Immerse yourself in work, and become miserable for eternity.

Two fine options, as far as you're concerned.

You're lucky to have them already, at your age.

You're a good friend, Ike.

It's an honour to say that I know you.

Don't make yourself any more miserable than you need to be.

Leave that to the women you love.

That's what they're pretty much there for.

In my experience.

I believe that I'll need to return home to the city at some point.

It's highly likely that I'll realise I made a huge error, at which point I might try to return to this place to see if you'd ever still care about me.

I'm fairly certain that what I just said is exactly what's gonna happen.

I can't believe you still think that's your decision to make.

Just trying stuff out to see what the right thing to do is.

Thank you.

'Philip left the college much as he arrived, 'alone and devoid of meaningful connections with anybody else.

'His time spent there would come to be regarded as adequate by the administration, 'who subsequently invited him back, 'an offer which he would repeatedly decline, 'until he heard several years later

'that Yvette had gotten a tenure job at another school further north.

'He eventually returned to teach several more semesters

'at increasingly-irregular intervals as the publication of his work allowed.'

My key is broken.

'He returned home to the city and was refused decency by Ashley, 'who had made the decision that Philip would not be allowed

'to re-enter either her home or her life, 'having come to the realisation that she would no longer invest in somebody

'who would routinely cause her to feel terrible.

'Without so much as noticing, 'Philip had lapsed into his usual pattern of destructiveness and self-sabotage, 'forever ruining yet another relationship, 'while Ashley explained all the reasons he was no longer welcome to Philip, 'he found himself thinking back on a quotation, 'which he had hoped to one day use as the opening of a novel, 'or perhaps just a chapter.

"'Nothing lasts forever," he thought, "and we both know hearts can change."'

You're wrong. I know what you need.

Open the door. Let me show you. Let me show you that you're wrong.

It's OK.

I'm not angry with you anymore.

'Philip's thoughts then turned to Ike, 'alone in his isolated home in the woods, 'a lifetime of enemies and scorched earth

'forcing him into a quasi-involuntarily self-imposed exile.'

'He recalled the lessons learned from Ike's novels about character, 'sense of place and dialogue, 'before realising that his hero and new friend had imparted Philip

'with more than either of them had realised, 'for better or worse.

'Staring down at the small creature, 'Ashley's emotions were at last completely hers to control.

'Gadzookey had a home, food, and one very good friend, 'who cared more about him than anything or anyone else.

'He needed nothing more to be content.

'Rejected by both Ashley and Yvette, Philip walked off on his own, 'with only the faintest notion of where to move forward from this, 'the low point of his adult life.

'And while he would remain close with Ike, 'a friendship that proved essential

'to the eventual completion and publication of several more novels, 'and later achieve an enviable level of wealth and success, 'from this day forward, Philip would never invest so much of himself in anybody else, 'instead living the rest of his life unwilling to so much as consider emotional honesty, 'and deeply wary of those who attempted to get close to him, 'a pattern of behaviour that ultimately left him an isolated and emotionless spectre, 'forever remaining a mystery, even to himself.'

You've given me a true love And every day I thank you, love For a feeling that's so new So inviting, so exciting Whenever you're near, I hear a symphony A tender melody Pulling me closer Closer to your arms Then suddenly Ooh, your lips are touching mine A feeling so divine Till I leave the past behind I'm lost in a world Made for you and me

Whenever you're near I hear a symphony Play sweet and tenderly Every time your lips meet mine Now, baby, baby, baby You bring much joy within Don't let this feeling end Let it go on and on and on Now, baby, baby, baby Those tears that seem my eyes I cry not for myself But for those who never felt the joy we felt Whenever you're near I hear a symphony Each time you speak to me I hear a tender rhapsody of love Now, baby, baby As you stand holding me Whispering how much you care A thousand violins fill the air Now, baby, baby Don't let this moment end Keep standing close to me Ooh, so close to me Baby, baby, baby, baby I hear a symphony A tender melody