Zapruder Film

by Zum Bobo

Perhaps it had fallen open, splitting perfectly on a forgotten zebra print bar stool—an artifact of some whimsical 1980s shopping spree. But there it was, amid the “junk” set to be thrown out with the rest of his childhood, opened accidentally to the page of his Indiana Jones Action Journal about his winter formal when he was sixteen.  Frank knew as soon as he saw the date.  Before he could read the first word Susan Dalesky's short red dress descended before his eyes like a cascade of red nail polish. His heart longed for those excited leaps, the wild flapping of clumsy and awkward ventricles that only a young person can fully feel, but at least a porthole to that forever perfect night was right in front him.  He clutched the little book and began to read.

  Molly knew something had gone wrong after the second time she went into the basement and saw her husband Frank sitting on a tacky bar stool in a room filled with molded board games boxes, forgotten train sets, and D&D handbooks, reading his old journal from high school. He looked like The Thinker (albeit, chubbier and with more clothes), hunched over holding aloft the book rather than his chin, and he looked no different when she came back down with a beer for him nearly an hour later.  He was squinting, puzzling and scrutinizing those words, gray and troubled. She put the beer down on the concrete next to a half broken Castle Grayskull.  He looked over for just a half a moment, smiled as kindly he could muster and then returned to his reading.

That night while Molly was in bed Frank assembled his old computer from Law School.  On that old Pentium III, with the fan so loud it sounded like a tiny lawn mower, he had saved nearly 8 years of e-mail correspondence from his first day in college to the day he accepted his job at Skadden. He needed to check those e-mails, look back to investigate, and hopefully disprove,  a worrisome hypothesis that was beginning to assert itself.

  He had been too old for an Indiana Jones Journal when his mom bought him it for Christmas when he was 14.  But he found himself reading the little notes in the back about how to say hello in 40 languages, and what the currency of every African country was, and facts about Timbuktu, and by 15 he started using it as it was an intended: a male dairy.  It was art of his daily ritual for what—felt at the time—like the most important year of is life.  He gained a driver's license, lost his virginity, he discovered Tennessee whiskey and the Allman Brothers, and he went to the winter formal with the most luscious of tennis players.  She actually asked him, she showed up in a hot little red dress....