INT. SUNSET INN AGAIN—NIGHT 1965

You can’t smell it.  That doesn’t come across in a mind movie.  Sight and sound yes.  Even taste and touch to an extent—they’re easy to imagine.  But smell—no.  You can’t smell what’s in a movie.  You can’t smell grilling onions.  Maybe because it’s primitive and you can’t imagine something primitive.  You only remember it.  It’s not a psychological observation—a maxim if you will—and this movie has been full of maxims.  No, a smell is concrete, a reality.  You either smell it or you don’t.  And once you do you know immediately.  Like a reflex that doesn’t even reach the mind.

Your sense of smell is like a memory of all former lovers.  When it was new and how it became old.  That holding on and letting go.  It becomes your sense of time and how it is lost only to be regained.  A smell is like a dream that takes you back years to what you were and still are because you still dream it and you still remember.  A smell is a broken heart and a heart that learns to love again after it repairs itself.  A relation of yourself to the world and to the people that come into it and then take their leave.  And you go with them only to return to yourself.  A smell is centuries old even if the span of your life is only half over.  You don’t need more time to know your life and what death is in it.  You don’t need more time to remember what a girl’s hair smelled like as you made love to her.  You don’t need more time to know what the death of a loved one smells like.  This is how these mind movies are tied together though spanning different times and a different place, and that love triangle that involved Johnny Tribout and Nina and Popovitch in Biloxi, Mississippi in that time of David Threnody’s youth before the war is seen again in the faces of the children—Bethany’s children— in Gabby and Aaron, in the smell of rain in the air as the wind blows through the branches of a tree, that Texas Mountain Laurel where a tree house was once built only to burn and you will—you will smell that.  How this movie began prostrate as if flat on your back looking up through these branches just as Nina’s dead eyes looked up at that lighthouse adjacent to the Mississippi Sound.  That image of feet poking out of a blanket and what we know feet smell like.  The image of a lone tree at a crossroads in the moonlight—a bird nesting there—and a far off whistle coming from the Sabine and a train bridge.  This the synesthesia.  The denouement. A smell related to a place, a time, seen through the hole of a guitar, the felt texture of the strings and the sound that comes from it, and that span of time of a life half over falls to Marcus, the subconscious narrator of all this in his radioactive ward of pain, the taste of it, in that smell of a hospital where the sick reside.  It falls to him to tell the story in his own mind, the story of the children—David and Bethany’s children—the story of nieces and kissing cousins and the ancestry that befalls him.  For he knows.  He knows what marijuana smells like and remembers the scent of a girl’s lip balm.

But that’s not what you smell now even if you could smell it in a movie.  It’s the smell of grilling onions.  From below.  From the kitchen in the bar.  You are in Sunset Inn Again.  The end of the year 1965.  Below Maddie’s room.  And so now take a look at this place in a span of time in the span of a day and night.  For this too tells the story of passing smells.  See it in time lapse.  The light through the windows and how it moves across the room in the passing of a day.  In the routines of meals.  Breakfast hour, lunchtime and dinner.  In the people that come and go for these repasts.  Almost age specific.  How the old-timers come in for their morning coffee and the reading of newspapers, the teenagers at lunch off school grounds, the families, the fathers and their wives and children after work for dinner.  And then the drinkers at all hours—their stories.  It could almost be a ghost story—all these traveling souls that enter and depart, filling space and then leaving emptiness, chairs pulled out from tables only to be scooted in again and then after last call the busboy wipes them down with that smell of a used wet rag and they’re flipped over and put atop the tables for the floor to be swept clean with Pine-Sol.  The shadows of an empty place of business in the moonlight.  And in the corner like a corner you’ve turned to many times you see it—David’s guitar resting there upright—that old Gibson ES-150—unplugged.

And so now it’s night.  Hemphill, Texas.  The lingering smell of grilled onions.  We are above Sunset Inn Again in Maddie’s room.  And David there with her…

Advertisements