Sunday, January 27, 2008

Turn The Page

Locked up in the Salem PD safe house together, EJ and Sami enter the residence’s living room after putting down the twins for the night.

Sami (pleased): “Well, EJ, they’re both asleep for now. Hopefully they’ll stay that way for a while.”

EJ (putting his hands behind his back): “And as we agreed, now that you don’t currently need me to help with the twins, I will be staying as far away from you as possible.”

Sami (eyeing him): “You better. There’s half an army waiting outside if you don’t.”

EJ (turning his head slightly): “I said I won’t try anything, and I’m a man of my word.”

Sami (challenging): “No, you’re not. And you need me to amuse you.”

EJ (standing his ground): “Actually, sweetheart, I’m perfectly capable of amusing myself. In fact, I brought a novel for just that purpose.”

Sami (disbelieving): “Sure you did. Go in your room, and stay there, EJ.”

EJ (turning to leave): “Certainly. Good night, Samantha.”

Sami (making a noise): “Night, EJ.”

EJ and Sami leave to their respective rooms. Once in her room, Sami sits down on her bed, turns on the television, and flips through the channels. Finding nothing interesting, she turns it off and rifles through her belongings in order to find her copy of Bazaar. Unfortunately for her a couple of minutes into the first article, Sami realizes that she’s already read it because she accidentally grabbed last month’s copy. She throws the magazine across the room in disgust and lies back on her bed. Needing something to distract her from the present situation, five full minutes pass before she groans, gets up, leaves her room, and barges into EJ’s without knocking.

Sami (bluntly): “So what’s this book of yours?”

Hiding his satisfaction at being interrupted, EJ sits up on his bed and holds up his book so that Sami can read its title, The Brothers Karamazov.

EJ (flippantly): “It was either that or The Cherry Orchard.”

Sami (squinting): “The Brothers Karamazov…that sounds familiar, but I can’t place it.”

EJ (shrugging): “Russian 19th century.”

Sami (unconvinced as she eyes the beaten copy): “You actually read this stuff.”

EJ (plainly): “Not as much I’d like to, of course, but yes.”

Sami (reasoning): “Stef-your father, he made you read these kind of things?”

EJ (mildly amused): “Originally, yes, but I am an adult, after all. Now I choose to read ‘these kind of things.’”

Sami (questioning): “No offense, EJ, but why? I mean, you’re hardly in school anymore. Why waste your time? Why not read something, you know, fun? There’s got to be a car magazine you’d like out of the hundreds out there.”

EJ (explaining): “I enjoy my subscription to Motor Trend very much, Samantha, but I don’t always read for pleasure. Sometimes I read to challenge myself. That’s the attraction of classic literature. I may not understand all of a work, and I may not even like it, but because it’s held up as some sort of standard, there’s something of value there that has stood the test of time. Take Hemingway, for example. Now For Whom The Bell Tolls is a considered a great work, yet I found it insufferingly boring and repetitive. The Spanish Civil War was horrible-I get it already. Yet A Farwell to Arms deserves all the acclaim it is given, in my opinion. Particularly the last couple of pages where…”

As EJ describes how he was moved by the end of the novel, Sami flashes back to the last time she was in a safe house and how she and the man she was with ended up watching a “Flavor of Love” marathon on VH1.

EJ (noticing Sami isn’t listening to him): “Samantha? Am I boring you, my dear?”

Sami (comparing the two experiences): “No, I’m fine, EJ. Better than fine, actually. I had no idea you were so interested in expanding your mind.”

EJ (encouraged): “I think everyone should be. Unfortunately, English classes in school tend to turn people off to reading these kinds of books or just plain reading in general. Too many teachers present the material as stuffy as or only meant for chosen people or some such when truly great literature is intended for all.”

Sami (nodding): “I see. Sounds good to me. So do I need to know anything beforehand?”

EJ (surprised): “You want to read it?”

Sami (taken aback): “Is there some reason I shouldn’t?”

EJ (trying to explain): “It’s really not your kind of book, sweetheart.”

Sami (insulted): “What, you don’t think I can handle it? That I’m too stupid to understand it? That you’re so smart because you’re reading it?”

EJ (apologizing as he holds up his hands): “No, no, Samantha, that isn’t what I meant at all. I meant that you aren’t going to like that it’s not finished. Dostoevsky had intended this to be part of a series, but he died before any more volumes could be completed. It’s very much an incomplete work.”

Sami (considering): “Oh, is that all. I can handle that.”

Sami (muttering under her breath): “It wouldn’t be the first time that something I enjoyed got cut off before it even got started.”

EJ (nodding): “Okay then. Here you go.”

EJ smiles as he extends his right arm and presents the book to Sami.

Sami (surprised): “Wait-what?”

EJ (confused): “You said that you wanted to read it. You need the book to do that, darling.”

Sami (trying not to sound eager): “I do, but that wouldn’t be fair to you. It’s your book. You’re the one who brought it. We should share it.”

EJ (not following): “Share it?”

Sami (continuing as she sits down on his bed): “Yes, exactly. We both need something to do, so we can both read the book. You start.”

EJ (happily accepting): “All right.”

Sami (nodding): “Good. It’s decided then.”

Sami (unconsciously edging closer to EJ as she eyes the book): “How many pages is this thing, anyway?”

EJ (hiding his excitement): “Depending on the typeface, over a thousand, usually. I figured it was an appropriate choice since we don’t know how long we’re going to be stuck here.”

Sami (eyes widening): “A thousand, huh? We better get going then.”

EJ (suppressing a smile): “Indeed, darling.”

With his Samantha listening at his side, EJ contently opens the novel and begins to read aloud.

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