Cynthia Hawkins:  Hi Simon Smithson! Here we are again like an ’80s action sequel striving to be bigger and badder than last time. I’d just like to note that for the occasion I’m wearing mirrored sunglasses and just lit a match off my husband’s five o’clock shadow for no reason at all.  In other words, I’m ready to discuss The Expendables.

I’ve been in something of a funk, recently¹.

I’ve been pondering some of the awful life choices that have brought me to my current point in time (did I ever really and truly think my childhood detective agency, The Four Investigators, would solve a single crime of note?), and, I’m sorry to say, it’s brought me down.

I wish I had more money; I wish I had some really, really great shoes. I wish I’d read more serious literary works; surely I had the time?

And so I’ve been sifting through my mental archives, opening my files, shuddering at what I’ve found, and hastily closing them again. Every now and then, a stifled ‘FUCK!’ emerges from the darkened shelves of the Congressional Library of my memory.

It’s been a long, dark, Sunday afternoon of the soul, fitfully illuminated only by the release of the first episode of Season 2 of The Vampire Diaries and Ian Somerhalder at his very finest.

And then… inspiration.

And I realised that my current trajectory can be traced back to a single moment in time, a fulcrum point, when I struck out, horrendously, horribly, and also, kind of humorously, with a French girl who looked just like Milla Jovovich.

I don’t think it’s at all hyperbolic to say If the back-and-forth between us had been a Zeppelin launch, then it would have been the Hindenburg. Which at the time had been on a mercy mission to save orphaned kittens. And everyone who watched the footage would have suddenly caught syphilis.

And yet… I wonder.

What if I’d gotten it right? What if, rather than making an inappropriate observance on the weather, I had come up with the perfect line? The perfect thing to say in that situation to sweep my Milla Jovovich doppelganger off her feet, out of her breath, and into the pleasantly-appointed bedroom I assume her suburban host family had provided for her?

What that line would have been, I don’t know. Something about Napoleon, probably.

Although I would have avoided any references to the Western Front.

Too soon.


*

‘Ow do you feel?’ Laura asks me, her eyes clear and steady, like an ocean, in the soft rain.

‘Like Napoleon when he first set eyes on his beloved horse, Emmanuelle, ma cherie,’ I say, softly – even softer than the rain that damps our faces.

She melts, and I take her in my strong arms.

We make sweet, unconcerned, French love in the night. Already soulmates, we move back to France, where she finds me a job in her father’s boulangerie and boot-resoling store.

With my sudden disappearance, two minor parts are left unfilled in our high school performance of Whistle Down the Wind. Rather than recast any of the understudies, who are even more useless at acting than I, Mr. Ritchie, the director and year 12 drama coach, gives both parts to my friend Ben, who is already a lead. Ben’s performance of three characters is rightly received as magnificent, and he is awarded the title of Australia’s Best And Greatest Actor. He flies to Los Angeles, where the creators of 6 Feet Under swear they will have him as their own. They make David Fisher a much younger part. Michael C. Hall never gets the gig, never comes to the wider attention of the public and thus, Dexter is never created. After Oz, David Zayas cannot find work, and sinks into depression. He contracts syphilis from a prostitute he knew during his time as a New York beat cop, and dies.

I have killed David Zayas.

*

‘Ow do you feel?’ Laura asks me, her eyes open and assured, like a secret agent’s bank vault, in the tender rain.

‘As if I’ve been dosed with arsenic, mi corazon,’ I say, even more tenderly than the rain that falls on our shoulders.

‘That is Spanish,’ she says.

‘Oh.’ I say.

She swoons, and I take her in my strong arms.

We make passionate, stylish, Parisian love in the early evening. Fuelled and impassioned by true love, I write a magnum opus about a traveling Russian pony circus that touches the lives of people everywhere, and becomes a movie starring Michael C. Hall as the head pony. It is translated into dozens of languages, and I am a hero. Everywhere I go, screaming crowds scream my name and throw double handfuls of money at me, because they know that is the only thing that will get my attention these days. Laura and I move to Los Angeles, but the pressures of fame, and my growing flirtation with Milla Jovovich, who looks even more like Milla Jovovich than Laura does, lead to our bitter, acrimonious, and very public divorce. Laura flies back to France, weeping endless hot and bitter tears, her only companions her beloved pet tortoise Stuart and her new and almost totally debilitating cocaine habit.

Milla Jovovich and I go to the New York premiere of my film together. Secretly, I am destroyed by my divorce from Laura, and Milla Jovovich is getting on my nerves. I drive drunk, and I accidentally hit David Zayas, who is directing traffic. When the inevitable press comes out, Luc Besson realises that Milla Jovovich is cheating on him, and throws himself into the ocean.

Damn it.

I’ve killed David Zayas again.

And Luc Besson too.

*

‘Ow do you feel?’ Laura asks me, her eyes black and lacking in even the most basic sparks of intelligence, like her pet tortoise Stuart’s, in the gentle rain.

‘Like the guy who killed Napoleon,’ I say, gently – even more gently than the rain that is ruining our hairstyles.

She blushes, and I take her in my strong arms.

We make foolhardy, art-noveau, Eiffel Tower love in the haze of twilight. Laura reveals her family is secretly rich, and neither one of us will ever have to work again. We drop out of school and travel the world, smoking French cigarettes, wearing denim jackets and striped scarves, and getting fauxhawks before anyone else realised they were fashionable.

We go to a West End play starring Laura’s old family friend, Michael C. Hall. Laura takes me to meet him backstage after the show. Although I have never been attracted to a man before, there is an undeniable spark between the actor and I, and I yearn for him to take me in his strong arms. Laura notices the flirtation between Michael C. Hall and I, and the next week is cold and stilted, and I cannot enjoy the afternoon we spend at the Rockefeller Centre. One night, after too much red wine, she makes several cutting remarks in French. What she does not realise is that in our time together, I have learned to speak French perfectly.

Sobbing, I run from our hotel room to a nearby payphone. There is a storm. As rain pummels the glass box, I call the only person I know in New York – Michael C. Hall.

‘Can I come over?’ I plead. ‘Laura and I… we’ve had a fight.’

Michael C. Hall says of course I can come over. But David Zayas, who has long nursed a crush of his own, sees me going into Michael C. Hall’s apartment.

In a drunken fit of jealousy, David Zayas kicks down the door, and, with his service pistol, shoots me, Michael C. Hall, and then himself.

I have killed us all.

 

 

 

And Laura marries Ian Somerhalder.

 

¹ and while I’d very much like to be the boss, I’m afraid that’s just not a cost I can pay right now.