The Fable of Greebey Vather, Time Traveler Extraordinaire
I see a screenplay blooming. Dealing with a favorite theme: time travel. You now think you'll steal this zeitgeisty gem from me, but you cannot because in the future, I have already finished it, and am mailing it to myself yesterday in a walnut sealed in Presidential earwax and pressurized to resist even election-year terror alerts.
OUR TALE BEGINS with a man who desperately seeks an answer to his deepest, heart-sprung questions, headed up by the quintessential and Googlicious How Do I Get Rid of the Mexicans? You see, our protagonist feels his very nation is under dire attack by the filthy mongrel hordes from the South, those who bark that most Arrogant and Sickening of Languages—Español, those who dare to settle into his beautiful nation, hellbent on storming the kitchens and fields and meatpacking plants and canning plants and steel factories or to otherwise seek to implement that most foul of Mexican behaviors: the trading of work for pay.
Let's call our protagonist "Greebey." Let's call him "Greebey Vather." Let's pronounce that "Vay-thur." Let's make his middle initial "N" and then let's give him two rags in his back pockets, one on each side. One is the confederate flag, which he never uses to blow his nose. The other is the one he uses to blow his nose. But he always carries both. No, make that confederate flag a stars N stripes. but with the circle of stars, not the rows. No, make it a Budweiser eagle bandanna, yeah, bleached from too many days in the sunlight falling upon his cracked dashboard, where it usually rests. Render Vather's bandanna Made in China. We don't need a label. Wait, make it a bleached-out watermark on the bandanna. Only Vather never looks close enough to see it.
Okay, so Greebey N. Vather, being an amateur culture-healer, has diagnosed the trouble with his nation. It's not greed, it's not war, it's not ignoring the sick and the weak and the poor, no, it's nothing like that. In fact, Vather has a name for it, and he calls it "Immigration-Stress Syndrome." To tell you the truth, Vather is pretty proud of himself. After all, he comes up with the name after simmering on the couch in a chunky stew of flatus barely penetrable by the hyper-acidic rays of TV punditry and a well-aimed onslaught of advertisements that urge him endlessly to Please Check With His Physician if he suspects he is coming down with "Thoughty Head Syndrome." (Which he scoffs at, of course.)
Vather has waited in agony for someone else to address the dire disaster that threatens the very existence of his nation, but nobody is picking up the slack. Vather hoped he would see some noticeable housecleaning results from Bicyclists Picketing in Affluent Areas, an anti-immigration-rights group of folks which was supposed to "force change faster," by preaching in nicer and whiter parts of town but was surprised to note that their brave actions only resulted in a slight uptick in business at the local NeufChatel Luncheonette.
Our protagonist, himself, lives in Errol, New Hampshire (which is 2000 miles from the Mexican border), but the 3 out of 300 people who are Hispanic is still far too many for his liking. After all (at least in my screenplay), the English language has been a part of Vather's fantabulous nation since the Framers shat America forth in a bloody ball of maize-peppered stool after seven days of parchment-smoking rituals in the aftermath of the Great Boston TeaBagging Party, and thus—it is a divinely-ordained language. In fact, Vather is often complimented on his love of all things English and how fiercely he protects the purity of the beloved language.
"What can I say?" He'll proudly rhyme. "It's my for-tay." And then he'll reach for his eagle-rag.
We watch our hero in a series of "Rocky Training Sequences" (minus the Rocky and plus a TV and bag of chips) as he reads the paper, or listens to the tube, and cheers on the efforts in some states to punish businesses that hire the Aliens. At one point, a neighbor of his observes that some of these businesses are simply outsourcing to Mexico now, or gradually going out of business entirely and thus hurting America's economy, but Vather only gets a patriotic twinkle in his dusty, scar-colored eyes.
"Good!" He says, relishing a strawberry from the bunch he just bought, off-season, in the local supermarket-plex. He sucks his teeth earnestly and eagerly for a noisy moment, as if they are disappearing cinnamon candies he has just discovered jammed into his gums.
"To make this nation great, we need to rid ourselves of this scourge," he muses between sucklings of his molars, and eerily, almost in exact tandem with the voice of Lou Dobbs (whose audio runs under all the scenes Vather is in like a burbling brook...if said burbling brook has a scummy green film on top of it, that is.) Dobbs will echo from Vather's TV and through his empty home like the hectic rant of an empassioned but whiny preacher, bouncing off of the bare walls like angsty anti-mexican gnats.
But to Vather, Dobbs irritated voice is like the brass in an anthem. As we listen, Vather looks to the horizon with a deep reverence misting his eyes. "I simply understand what the Framers understood. That this great land is beset on all sides by savages. And we need to protect our American culture from them." He looks up then, the fire of sunset begrudgingly illuminating his rheumy eyes. "Anyway, the only people who need to worry about the pressure on Illegals and those who hire them are those who have something to hide!"
Vather looks over suddenly at this reporter (Did I say "screenplay"? I'm reporting a screenplay, that is, the author travels through time, too, it's all very Castenada-meets-Kar Wai-meets-Godard-trips-with-Burroughs-y-Gasset-while-Waiting-on-the-border-For-Fuentes) and whispers And I have something that will help us Clean the Scourge for once and all.
I follow Vather to the shed, where he furtively checks over all shoulders before reaching down to lift a tarp, which exposes to our view a small, shellacked and black box. It has colorful flowers painted across it in random and fluid patterns. He holds it out to me, his gnarled and yellowing nails suddenly almost touching my cheek, and I stagger back quickly. But then I compose myself, and step to it again, to get a bit of a closer look.
Vather continues to glance about us, as if in great fear of discovery.
"It's...pretty?" I offer, wondering if I should mention the MADE IN CHINA sticker, probably once-white, but now blending in to the ebon tone rather well, undoubtedly from countless secret fondlings by Vather.
He pops the box open. And inside is what looks like a little grain of corn. And that grain of corn seems to be glowing, though nibbled off in very tiny chunks.
And that's when Greebey N. Vather lays out the whole story for me. It seems that he can go back in time when he nibbles this piece of corn. He doesn't know where it came from, he was walking behind someone one day and they dropped it. Greebey sort of lagged behind until the woman was out of sight, and then he scooped up what he thought was a piece of gold maybe, and kept it between his hot fingers until he got home, worrying it like a rosary bead in the hidden darkness of his lint-stuffed pocket.
Whetever the magical grain's origin, Vather doesn't care, except to note that he can go backward in time. The larger a chunk he swallows, the further back he goes. So he has decided, after four very small jumps which he used to calculate the ratio of size:span of time traveled, that he will go back far enough to make an important change in American history and see how it plays out. He imagines it will have a huge effect on today's "INVASION OF ILLEGAL ALIENS." In fact, by the time he is done thinking it out, he is sure of it.
How does he become sure? Well, Vather doesn't read up on any history. He doesn't research the Bracero program, or the railroads' recruitment, he doesn't investigate law, he doesn't bone up on Polk and Slidell, or the history of America and Mexico, or America and Russia, or America and Japan, or America and China, or America and Africa. That wouldn't fit in with Vather's character.
Let's give him the idea from TV. Let's go back to his ubiquitous harmonizer, Lou Dobbs. And of course, we won't actually call him "Lou Dobbs." Let's call him "Dimulous Vox," or "Populous Nodds" or maybe "Peor del Mobbs." [Clearly, I'll have to sketch this part out, the details are not so much a Macguffin but rather an important element. As a placeholder, let's just say he hatches a plan and decides on a particular juncture where he can make a crucial change. Puro Sci-Fi stuff, even room for a lot of comedy in how he comes up with this.] And we'll need a catalyzing event, so let's make it something like The Illegal Immigrant being named Texan of the Year. This would really set Greebey off.
Before Vather leaves his home in high spirits for his final, world-changing aventura, he hangs up a banner in his living room anticipating his own successful return. The banner spells out, in crudely-cut letters reminiscent of ransom-note typography: WELCOME TO A LAND WITHOUT HUMAN FILTH! GOOD JOB REMOVING THE SKURGE!!1!" (The "1" is actually cut out and glued in along with the regular punctuation. Touches like this will imbue the film with some kind of Coen Brothers feel, or so I tell myself, I could easily overreach here and end up with more of a Farrelly Brothers vibe...which would be interesting for such a topic.)
Cue surreal time-travel sound effects as Greebey eats the whole piece! Sequence of travel/experience like the Lizard King in the desert under the peyote sun! Flashes of Oliver Stone editing directed with a Michel Gondry flair and scored by Bernard Hermann!
And BOoOm, Vather is in the past.
Have you guessd the end by now? Do you grin anyway?
Vather lands at his Important Temporal and Historical Junction. Let's start the clock, because he only has as long as his body retains the cornmatter to change history and thus rearrange his "real" time Present. If he does not make his changes by then, he reverts back to his time period, and all will be just as he left it. So of course, when Vather lands in the Past, he does not eat and at all costs, avoids using the toilet. [Good opportunities for humor here, awkward social situations, although, again the specter of the Farrelly Brothers lurks nearby.]
But Vather does make the change in time. He manages to interfere with a certain message being delivered on time by a seemingly insignificant person, a person never noted in history books, but whose small action made possible the crux that underpinned a series of events alllowing millions of immigrants coming to America. [research immigration history here for some plausible creative nonfiction type historically-rooted event, this is important to solidify narratively.]
And thus, the entirety of the present is shifted, Vather is successful!
...In a sense.
Because he doesn't actually manage to stem, or slow, the tide of Mexicans, who, in the new (changed) Present reality, currently outnumber all other ethnicities in Mexerica, write most of the books, and make most of the movies.
Greebey was wrong about what his actions would mean, and what the course of the future would turn out to be, because, of course, he is blind to realities of cause and effect and contribution and consequence in the first place. [A major point of the film, clearly.]
The good part is that his house (originally built by "illegal" construction crews) remains where it always stood! However, inside the house—alone in the thick silence—is a dusty and yellowed banner that still awaits the return of a man...who (now) never existed in America.
The banner reads
WELCOME TO A LAND WITHOUT HUMAN FILTH! GOOD JOB REMOVING THE SKURGE!!1!
And may I say—with a friendly smile and delicious breakfast burrito especially prepared for you—welcome America, to an era where not only your voters, but your media makers will be increasingly of a mind to challenge what has long been a dominant framework of perception, uncontested, and unexplored, grown fat and malodorous and lazy and malignant in the absence of challenge and fresh air. Those Greebey N. Vathers of today will fight these changes, and new voices, for they are of a twilight that threatens to overshadow the good of the whole, the health of la gente, the dissemination of news and worldly views through any lens but their own. And they fear change, because they understand exactly what changes would benefit the rest of us, and what that would mean to the lock they have on so many powers today.
But dawn will rise, is rising, will continue to rise—with the brilliance and luminance and insistence and inexorability that powers the hearts of all people today who insist upon scraping away the hypocrisy which poisonously festers in the gap between the words in our anthems and the deeds of our nation; who need to hear stories not recited in a self-hypnotic and lulling tone by the well-oiled cash machine, or by the prison-camp overlords, or by the fearful, apathy-glazed mainstream media horde.
Can you feel it? It's a new day breaking all across the land, and we really oughtta get out in the sun. Because we don't just need more light, and we don't just need more heat. We need lots of both, and at once. Ignorance and pain and rot bloom in those rooms kept gloomy sans la luz, and if we're gonna make our way to rationality and humanity, we'll need to burn down and away the fungal rot of much of yesterday's hate.
treatment © 2007 XOLAGRAFIK Media