One final instrumental to segue us into the finale! Like Coyotes, in the first draft this was a Benji-centric dream. Realizing that chapter needed to focus on L opened the door for C’s starring turn here.
Way back in Tight Tee Shirt, C conveniently said “I had a dream last night too. A dream about a girl” from the very first draft. It was time to use the gifts I gave myself.
In many ways this book was C’s story as much as it was Benji & L’s. More than just a third wheel, he’s been a helpful (though sometimes annoying) voice of reason truly invested in reuniting the star-crossed couple. I needed to pay off his offer to help by allowing him to be the ultimate answer, mirroring how DJ was the solution to L’s quest at the end of Ladies On Parade.
The two preceding chapter endings tease C’s upcoming revelation:
“This might take a real long time for him to complete….But when he does, he’ll be the only one who can connect how this started with how it ends.”
And right before this “dream” starts:
“With that, C woke up.”
- This has become my go-to chapter for live (or live-streamed) readings, which is sort of insane because this chapter is off the rails nuts and not necessarily representative of the (also nuts) rest of the novel. People still seem to dig it, even without a lot of context.
- “Two words. Both with three letters” is a very C way to start a chapter. It’s also intended to call attention to the chapter’s song title, splitting LYEGUE into LYE & GUE in the key of the SAL & MON three letter doors from earlier. Where might these doors be?
- “Never lose your stride” is something my college friend Ben Wood used to say. He was the partial inspiration for Local Boy in Timely Persuasion, and here C channels his famous line.
- Didicur’s and/or Willicur’s nearly became something else (Shalicur’s? Hadicur’s? Shudicur’s?) here but I couldn’t decide, thus C says he doesn’t know the name of the place. I also liked it better as a “big box” store, playing on how the whole story has more or less taken place in a “big box” of sorts.
- This being a C chapter, there’s a running gag of counting increments increasing as the chapter progresses. Two words. Three letters. Four possible stores. Five of those credit cards. Six containers of cleaning supplies, season six of Quantum Leap plus six seasoned henchpeople (intentionally sticking with six for a bad 666 joke). MI7 (intentionally wrong-ish). Count of eight. Nine coins. And finally the aisle changing from 19-25.
- After college I wrote a script called The Customer Is Always Wrong that channeled my old retail experience at The Christmas Tree Shop in Avon, MA. The same fictional store also had a brief appearance in an earlier screenplay called Wasted Days in a Wasted Daze. One or both of those stories included a scene where a customer insists an employee “go check in the back” for an item—a fairly common request in the world of retail. C as in customer explores that old thread a little further here.
- “I don’t need anymore trouble. I’ve got plenty already. More than my share.” These are paraphrased lines from the song “Taxi” off A Lovers Extreme.
- “I didn’t know there was a jazz store until recently” references the B-Side to “Freaky Feedback Blues” called “Jazz x 10”
- Realizing I could integrate the word Lye into nearly every James Bond movie title was an oddly giddy moment of things aligning in mysterious ways.
- Early drafts revealed Jessica to be a soap maker during the Jessica & L stopped by bit from I Went With Some Friends To See The Flaming Lips, but as Benji says in Vibe So Hot I decided not to be so oblique about it here. C acknowledges he doesn’t know how he knows this, and the Haywood Park Soap provides enough dream logic to latch onto.
- No sacrilege is intended by using the Dalai Lama as a stand-in for a James Bond Villain here, but a guilty conscience might be why his shot missed. It’s mainly a callback to his brief appearance in the first chapter, which was inspired after I read an article about how the Dalai Lama is reincarnated as a dog prior to regaining human form, and the Lhasa Apso breed reminded me of an A Love Extreme era promotional photo of Benji Hughes.
- The golden helicopter references “Let’s Not Ever Die,” a song previously alluded to towards the end of Where Do Old Lovers Go? Jan-Michael Vincent flies the helicopter as his old Airwolf character, tying in another Donald Bellisario show along with the time Benji Hughes jokingly said in an interview that Jan-Michael Vincent narrated LILILIL instead of Jeff Bridges.
- “Evilon is too dangerous to be left in unenlightened hands. Finding him is your first priority” paraphrases the opening narration to Airwolf, mirroring the parody Quantum Leap saga cell narration that closed out Cornfields.
- From the air, the island hotel is meant to invoke the timeshare Kenny & L visited, intentionally blurring the lines between dream and reality.
- Amusing line from an earlier draft: “Didn’t Evilon surrender with devotion and love?”
- “Sometimes all you need is what you have. That’s a topic for another day.” references a Roy Harper tribute album produced by Jonathan Wilson that includes a cover song by Benji.
- Critics often compare Benji Hughes to Ween, hence the tiny Chocolate and Cheese nod here.
- “Wishing well is gonna run dry…”
- All of the callbacks to previous scenes from the book culminate in C meeting L, just like the dream he mentioned when we first met him. This is that dream he forgot; this time he’ll remember.
- Did you know an octopus has multiple hearts and multiple brains?
In the Benji-centric draft, he sees himself wearing clown makeup in the mirror behind L as a tribute to the clown chase scene in Octopussy plus a Sam Beckett style mirror gag. Switching to C—whose full name is Count and has been lightly teased as a possible vampire throughout—made me cut that bit in favor of not seeing his reflection at all. But it also opened the door for him to get especially excited about who he does see enter the room via the mirror…
I found a random reference to a brother and sister duo covering this song on America’s Got Talent in 2013—but it’s a 30 second instrumental so I don’t think it could possibly be true. If I find out otherwise the video will go below; for now here’s the original.