As this site is gradually filled out, you’ll begin to see videos I’ll be doing on book reviews, boxing (I’m a huge fan), and other things that strike my fancy. Also, there’ll be a page added for my editing business.
Monthly Archives: June 2012
Dusty needed a hit. She didn’t of care what, but anything to get her through the rest of this day would’ve suited her. The way Arlene just charged into the kitchen with that ill look on her face, she knew the girl was about to go home. Arlene was driven, focused, and had a gameplan for the rest of her life, in effect, the exact opposite of Dusty. She’d been just like her—well, kind of—once upon a time. All shiny with a future and whatnot. But fuck that, Dusty had decided to blaze her own path—or rather, to not blaze her own path. She was kind of… sputtering in place..
She mumbled to the couple at the booth she’d meandered over to and the man said something over a mouthful of food in return. The woman nodded and smiled politely while jabbing at a salad coated in a gallon of ranch, cucumber, tomatoes, and croutons held. Dusty about-faced and saw a man settling onto a stool two seats away from the older couple.
Hm. From the back he almost looked like Evil Motherfucker. She shrugged. If Dusty was going to be here any longer than absolutely necessary, she was going to need to get high. Sooner than later too. She spotted a group of four biker types heading in and considering there were no more than three barstools available in a row, she was about to get another table.
Hopefully, Fred had something on him. She’d blow him again if she had to. Dusty saw the weirdo guy in the motorcycle helmet look left, right, then abruptly get up, spin around and head for the door. She turned her head to see the bikers eyeball the much smaller man, but the big one took a big step back, sweeping the two behind to the side as well, creating a wide enough berth motorcycle helmet a to walk out with his arms spread had he wanted.
As she strode into the kitchen, looking for Fred, Arlene breezed past her, a ghostly look on her face. What had happened her? If anyone had ever appeared unflappable to Dusty, it was Arlene. She half didn’t care, but could help but ask.
“The fuck is wrong with you?” Dusty momentarily forgot about Fred. She didn’t expect Arlene to turn around, but surprisingly, the girl did. Arlene cast a single blue eye down, then up the length of her. Her hair hung around her face in stringy clumps; she’d run water over her head, leaving only a column of face exposed.
“Don’t,” Arlene said. She shook her head once and for a moment, Dusty thought she wasn’t about to say anything more. “Don’t go near him.” She turned and headed out. Dusty followed her, curious for some reason. She wasn’t wondering who the girl was talking about, that was obvious. Weirdo motorcycle guy. Didn’t need a rocket scientist to figure that one—he was wearing a motorcycle helmet inside a restaurant on an eighty degree plus day. And until those bikers had come in, there weren’t any motorcycles in the parking lot.
The skirt at the counter snatched up her purse and cut in front of Arlene, heading to the door a few steps ahead. The bikers remained parted for the two to pass. Arlene pulled out a cell phone while the business woman dug in her purse for something, not presumably keys because she had them clutched in her other hand. Her head came up and aimed toward the street and then something happened.
Dusty didn’t know what it was and blinked several times before she realized the woman in the brown business skirt was gone. In her place was a great cloud of dust as if a vehicle had just done a donut across the unpaved lot, but she hadn’t seen anything.
Arlene pressed her back against the glass and began slapping at her face as if she were being stung by bees. Dusty had felt that way once after some really funky meth. All meth was funky as far as she knew, though. She’d only tried it the once. But just as quickly as Arlene had begun hitting herself, she stopped, turned to the door and came back in.
She was saying something really low. Dusty couldn’t make it out at first, but she could hear enough to tell it was the same thing over and over. Dusty noticed for the first time the bikers had not sat in her section. They’d disbursed throughout the restaurant, two sitting at the counter, one hovering in the back in her section, one who had ducked into the men’s room, and the big one leaning against the glass window in the front, watching a red-spattered Arlene walk in with particular interest.
Dusty finally heard what Arlene was saying a couple seconds after realizing the bikers had come here to rob the place.
“Shit,” she said again, wishing she hadn’t bothered following Arlene out of the kitchen. “I shouldda gotten high while I had the chance.”
“What are you goin’ on about, Dusty?” Gladys asked. To tell the truth, she didn’t so much care at the moment. That man had left and that squeeze-feeling was just starting to let up on her chest. With the giant horse of a pill her doctor had prescribed for her heart, the last thing she needed was anything constricting in that whole area. Arlene sat down at the counter, her eyes large as a cat’s. Something else about her looked different, but Gladys didn’t see it at first.
“You okay, girl?” That’s what young ladies called each other when they were trying to connect on a feminine level. Arlene was saying something and Gladys took a step closer to hear. That also served the purpose of bringing the girl close enough in focus for her to see exactly why she looked different. She looked like someone had taken one of those spray-paint majiggers and sprayed her with read paint.
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” Arlene was saying low over and over again.
“Arlene, girl, what is that all over you?” Gladys was starting to get more than a little worried.
“C’mon, Gladys,” Dusty chimed in, “it’s blood.” Gladys turned to her in the way that wouldn’t aggravate the disc in her neck. That was the way she thought of the herniated disc somewhere along her spine. The disc, as if her spine weren’t comprised of many more discs. Doctors hadn’t found it, but she’d been sure to hound them all until they’d given her pain medication. She fixed the other girl with a disapproving stare and Dusty took a step back and shoved her hands into the big pocket on the front of her pink apron. “Well, it is.”
“You all right little lady?” one of the bikers who’d sat down at the counter just moments before asked. Arlene didn’t answer him, either, just kept repeating those same three words. Dusty leaned closer to Arlene and plucked something out of her hair right at her hairline.
“Gross, it’s a piece of bone.” Lord, but the girl was so morbid. As if the dark make-up and the green hair weren’t enough—Gladys had spoken on her behalf when Fred had warbled on hiring her and there was hardly a day when Dusty didn’t make her regret it. She slapped the little scrap of something out of the girl’s hand.
“Sweetie, you feelin’ sick?” Gladys asked Arlene with another cup of coffee for the other biker. She made sure she served all people the same. Why back in ’72 she’d served two colored fellas herself just as promptly as anybody else. Not that she hadn’t served more than a handful in the years since, sure she had. But back then Afro-Americans were just on the TV and hardly ever then. No, Gladys didn’t see color. She saw people as people first. Gladys had already set a cup in front of the man who had spoken to Arlene and was in the process of filling another for the other man farther down with the whole side of his face pierced with rings. She went to give it to him and Dusty stopped her.
“Don’t give him coffee,” Dusty said and went to picking more bits of white stuff off Arlene. Gladys gave an even more confused look. Obviously, she wasn’t as evolved as Gladys, which was weird considerin’ they were both Goths when you really thought about it. Dusty was a smart girl, misapplied, but smart. Did she think she knew something Gladys didn’t? As if exasperated, Dusty rolled her eyes and huffed at her. “They’re here to rob the Spoon.”
“What?” Gladys drew back. How ridiculous. Gladys was for certain a good judge of character and she’d served many people who’d looked just like these and they’d all left as paying customers. Except for that one time in ’83 and those two times in ’94. She turned to the biker who already had the steaming cup in front of him and smiled. “She does drugs,” Gladys said right in front of her.
“S’alright,” the biker said and flashed a straight-toothed smile beneath a thick black mustache. He actually was a weird one. It was the clothes. They didn’t look right on him. Despite the mustache, he seemed the type who’d be a lot more comfortable in a sport jacket and a pair of pressed jeans with an open-collared button-up shirt. His eyes were a deep, soulful blue. He slid his steaming coffee over in front of Arlene who snatched it up and gulped it down. “She ain’t right.” He pulled out a huge gun out of a holster beneath the leather vest and set it on the counter, his finger on top of the guard. Dusty yelped and jumped back. “But she ain’t wrong, either.” For a moment, she was just as stunned by his poor grammar as the silver hand cannon a few feet away from her. She hadn’t seen one of those in person since Phillip had called her into the living room to have her witness him blow his brains out in his E-Z chair.
The biker’s brilliant blue eyes danced back and forth between Gladys’ until she shook herself out of her semi-stunned state and understood she was in the middle of something bad. “Get this little lady another cup, wouldja… Gladys? I think she’s in shock or something?”
“How’d you—” she began dumbly.
He tapped an index on his chest, reminding Gladys she had a nametag on.
“What do you want?” A chill poured over her.
“We want to speak with the proprietor.”
“Well, Mrs.—she’s ill,” Gladys forced herself into focus. “Very ill. Her nephew—” She cut off, feeling like she had ‘thrown him under the bus’ as the kids said these days.
“Fred, I believe his name is. He here?”
“I’ll… I’ll go get him.” Gladys saw no other recourse. She was about to turn to go into the kitchen when the double doors swung open.
“No need,” a man behind her said. She turned to see Fred, arms half raised, the lip of a plate pinched between thumb and forefinger, a cheeseburger atop it. A skinny man about half a head shorter than Fred stepped out from behind him and plucked the burger off the plate and took a bite out of it. The man with the gun at the counter slapped the stool next to him and cheeseburger man ushered him over.
“Folks,” the first man said, raising his voice. He stood. “This is a simple transaction that should take no more than a few minutes of your time. Sorry about this minor inconvenience.” He sat again and eyed Fred. Fred looked back, wide-eyed, for what felt like five minutes.
“So where’s your aunt?” the man asked, crossing his leg. His hand was far away from the gun on the counter, but Gladys wasn’t going to touch it. She hated guns. Instead, she rolled her head slowly over to Dusty and inclined her head slightly to the counter. Dusty’s eyes followed her invisible line and then jumped back to Gladys.
Hell no, those eyes said.
Gladys looked over at the biker who came out of the kitchen with Fred. He had a mouthful of burger tucked into his cheek and was giving Dusty the up and down with a smirk on his face.
“How you doin’, girl?”
Dusty glanced at him and locked eyes with Gladys for a moment. The older woman didn’t know what to say and turned back to the conversation between Fred and the biker with the gun.
“You want me to freshen that for you, dear?” Gladys’ hand shook. She knew she shouldn’t be talking to the man. Her instinct told her so, but it went against her nature just the same. He was just sitting there, had been just sitting there for the last twenty-three minutes. Not moving, not talking, not even taking a sip of the now tepid cup setting uselessly between his leather-clad forearms, quietly anchored to the edge of the counter.
She’d given him the coffee out of reflex. Everyone who made it way out here wanted coffee. In fact, it was the only halfway decent thing on the menu. But the man had made no attempt to thank her or even acknowledge she’d set the cup down in front of him.
After a few minutes of awkward quiet, Arnie had politely folded up the Classified section of his newspaper and moved away from the stool next to the man all the way down to the next-to-last one at the counter, surreptitiously eyeing him the whole time. Arlene, the new girl, on one of her vigilant patrols through her section, had spotted Arnie’s abandoned pie, furrowed her brow as she swooped down on it and retreated to the kitchen. Neither the man on the stool nor Arnie had complained.
So Gladys had gone back to her other customers, which consisted of a woman in a power suit, Arnie, whom she’d refreshed with a new wedge of blueberry pie, and an older couple on the opposite end of the L of the counter. After Arnie’s pie, no one needed anything and Fred had abandoned the kitchen to have a smoke in the alley, so she’d busied herself with cleaning imaginary crumbs off the counter to keep herself from dwelling too much on the man with the coffee.
At least, she supposed he was a man. Gladys didn’t know anything for certain. He’d bellied up to the counter while she was serving the couple their shared plate of ham omelette and hash browns and thus, hadn’t been able to gauge ‘him’ by his walk. He must have had a motorcycle or else why would he be wearing the helmet?
Why would he still be wearing the helmet? Was a more likely question. It had gone beyond plain old rudeness and had crossed squarely into the territory of weird. But Gladys had taken on all customers falling in the wide expanse between annoying and strange and despite the fact she could feel the constant weight of him no matter what she was doing—currently sweeping up the imaginary crumbs she’d brushed onto the floor while wiping the counter—she could bear it. At the end of the day, she’d prop her toesies up and watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta with a nice cold beer and Doyle curled up tightly at her side.
It had been Arlene’s bright idea to divide the floor up into sections. She’d explained to Gladys, the Spoon’s matriarchal waitress, how it was fairer. She’d divised a simple seating system that would distribute patrons throughout the restaurant that wouldn’t require them to run like racehorses to make sure everybody was served. Besides, the Seat Yourself sign wasn’t very welcoming and they should all have a hand in greeting the customers as they came in.
It had been slow-going at first. Nobody likes change, especially customers, but Arlene had been persistent, gently reminding the folks who had seated themselves that they should wait by the door until someone could usher them to a table or booth. Always with a smile—on her face and in her voice and always in a sing-songy tone of voice followed up with a ‘it’s not a big deal’ and a small wrist wave-off.
But it was a big deal. Despite the tone she’d used with these people, Arlene had been militant in enforcement and had given her speech to people regardless of whether or not they’d been coming in for years or they were first timers and even after the other waitresses had already begun waiting on them.
She was set to begin her first semester at the community college in the fall, using her summer to earn extra cash to save up for the car she would inevitably need to carry her to the job she would have to work to pay for everything else scholarship and student aid couldn’t pay for. Arlene had known Dusty would fall into step with her right away and with little explanation and she’d enlisted her before going to Gladys to tell her of the changes she’d made.
The much older woman had eyed her from above her considerable breasts, but known she’d already been defeated even without the help of timid little Dusty. Arlene had a not-so-secret weapon that she never hesitated to use to her advantage: she was pretty. Blonde and blue-eyed, full-lipped, and round-hipped, Arlene was used to getting what she wanted ever since Bobby Ferguson had given her his entire lunch in the seventh grade simply because she’d asked. He’d gotten a blank lust-look in his eyes when she’d spoken to him that she’d realized a short while later most boys and some men got when she spoke to them, and thus had created a habit of asking in her most pleasant voice for things that she didn’t necessarily always want; simply to build upon a newly realized muscle.
Women, for the most part, were immune to Arlene’s Pretty, and she supposed that included Gladys, but that was also part of the fun to changing things around at the Spoon. On those rare occasions when she couldn’t bat her eyes and smile to get her way, she circumvented that person and took even more joy in crushing the stalwart. This was fun for her in two ways: she got what she wanted and she got to show whomever the speed bump was on the path to her way that she got what she wanted.
There were other girls who no doubt could and did do what Arlene did, but for one keen difference. Those other girls had to rely on their Pretty because they were completely inept at doing anything for themselves. Girls who were pampered by mommy and daddy and never told no for anything up unto the point of murder. Arlene had had the benefit of being an ugly duckling until she was twelve added to the fact her daddy had gone rogue and shacked up with some sweet thing in Maine of all places. After he’d left and was decidedly not coming back, Arlene had vowed to be something so significant, so powerful that the next time her daddy heard anything from her that it wouldn’t be from her directly. She would do something so significant she would reach him by reputation alone. Someday, a by-product of her fame would be her daddy knocking on her door.
But Arlene would have to make sure Gladys first.
Sure, she’d come at the older woman with Dusty in tow, wielding the threat of ‘But Fred said it was okay’. Fred was chief cook and the owner of the Spoon’s nephew. Gladys had been waitressing here for a hundred years or so and needed to be brought down a peg in Arlene’s opinion. Besides, the system was to her benefit, really. She got to stay behind the counter instead of swooping all over the floor to wait tables. Under Arlene’s system, waitress A opened and handled the whole floor for two hours until waitress B came in. Waitress A rotated to the back, while B took the front and waitress C ‘floated’, coming in an hour before the lunch rush. Gladys was always waitress C in Arlene’s scenario and rather than floating she manned the counter. It was really for her own good because she had really bad feet and had to wear orthopedic shoes.
If there had been an actual dinner rush then Arlene would have devised a system for that too. But as it stood, by the time lunch was done the Spoon had probably seen at least eighty percent of its patrons for the day and A and B, or rather, Arlene and Dusty would leave around one o’clock and three, respectively. The system worked perfectly with the three other part-time waitresses. The only hold-out had been Gladys. But hold-out was the wrong word—agitator was more like it.
Arlene was vigilant about keeping the floor as tidy as possible. She had a personal philosophy of no table remaining unbussed for more than five minutes after a customer had left. But she was hesitant in enforcing such a rule because Dusty was as slow as molasses and if anything, when her dirty tables piled up that meant her having to shuttle her overflow of customers to Arlene’s section.
And Dusty had almost always asked Arlene to take the front section, expecting it to be just too much for her and Arlene would either accept or deny the switch depending on whether or not she felt like it while keeping her own shift, which meant she still left first and had the better section for the rush.
Arlene had just passed by the man in the leather jacket with the little plate of half-eaten pie. She hadn’t known whose it was and had spotted Gladys glowering at her for some reason. The man in the leather jacket was weird. She’d seen him just sitting in the exact same position a half dozen times with the cup of coffee Gladys always insisted on pouring for people before they even ordered it. She reminded herself to speak to Fred later. But the man in the leather jacket still hadn’t taken off his helmet. And worse still was the leather. It had to be at least eighty-five outside and not only was the jacket zipped all the way up, but he had on leather gloves to boot.
When she came out of the kitchen her mind was already made up to use her Pretty to get the man to leave. If he were creeping her out, what must he be doing to the other customers?
“Excuse me, sir?” she slid up alongside him, not touching but clearly a few inches inside of his personal space. The coffee must have been ice cold because all she could smell was the leather material of his jacket and the copper of the metal zipper. “Any minute now we’re going to start getting a flood of customers coming in and maybe I might be able to get you cashed out so you can go ahead and go before we get too busy for ya?
He didn’t answer. He didn’t even turn his head to look at her. Another man sat at the counter a few stools down.
Maybe he hadn’t heard under that helmet. Maybe he’d fallen asleep? Arlene didn’t know, she’d never ridden on anything requiring a helmet. Didn’t you wear those things with motorcycles? Arlene stole a peek outside before looking at the man again. Nothing in the parking lot but cars.
She chanced a step closer and reached to tap him on the shoulder to get his attention when Gladys in her peripheral vision caught her eye.
The old woman shook her head, pulling a towel taut between her hands as if she could vanish her considerable bulk behind it or she was anticipating a charging bull any moment. Whatever she wanted, it seemed urgent. Arlene was hesitant at first, but seeing Gladys wanted something immediately—wanted her for something immediately—all the more reason for Arlene to ignore her and continue her current course of action. “Excuse me,” she said again with a little more force. The man continued ignoring her and Arlene saw Gladys gesticulating from the corner of her eye.
Arlene relished a challenge and this particular customer had just been upgraded to one rather than a fish to be catalogued and abruptly ignored from the ocean of the annoying Arlene dealt with on a daily basis. In moments like these, she became even more charming. She leaned in, opened the floodgates of Pretty, batting her eyes as she laid a hand on a leather-clad shoulder.
Arlene immediately pulled back, swiping her hand on her apron. Something was wrong. She frowned, looking down at her palm at something wriggling there, but was so far invisible.
“I’m sorry,” she said to no one in particular, for reasons she didn’t know and retreated. A wave of nausea passed through her and her bowels clenched. She felt decidedly unpretty at the moment. She glanced up briefly at Gladys whose worried look had a decidedly different tone to it suddenly.
“I think I need… I think I need to go home.” Arlene’s brain had configured the words and she’d made conscious effort to speak them, but they were foreign constructs coming out of her mouth. She had a detached, miles away feeling, the smell of a burger on the grill growing closer as she weaved behind the counter and pushed through the double doors to the kitchen. She studied the scent in a curious manner, not because she didn’t know what it was, but because she found herself able to focus in on it with complete clarity.
“You okay?” Gladys asked, stopping her just inside the kitchen with a hand hooked into the crook of her arm, turning her a hundred eighty degrees. It took Arlene a moment to focus on the words and the woman in front of her. Again the words were familiar, but she found herself working to translate them into something she understood. Arlene nodded slowly.
“I just… wanna go home.” Gladys nodded.
Arlene realized with utter certainty she was in shock. She’d never been in shock before, but knew it in the same way might recognize the word ‘ubiquitous’ upon first reading it. Now that that was out of the way, she turned away from Gladys, sliding her arm easily out of the older woman’s loose grasp and looked at the burger Fred was currently mashing down to a fine patty. Smoke squirted out of the sides and the scent of it blossomed even greater in her nose. He turned to grab a bun to and Arlene had to resist the urge to reach out with her bare hand and scoop it off the grill and eat it.
“I wanna go home.” Arlene fled to the breakroom.
I wrote this back on September 10, 2010, but decided not to publish it as at the time, I thought I might have been besmirching an actual publisher and didn’t want to unfairly sully someone’s name and in turn, get blackballed by other publishers.
I have a bone to pick with LDP, but I’ve tried to keep a lid on it up until now. My story, “Goner” appeared in volume 6 of the Dead Worlds anthology. Up front, I’ll say my story needed editing. But it didn’t need what the editor did to it. It was the literal equivalent of a dentist sneezing while he’s drilling into a patient’s tooth.
Even before I had my deal with Severed for my novel I’ve had stuff published. I know rewording and reworking are part of the process, but there are changes and then there are changes. Rejection can be a great thing. I had a story that was rejected by Alien Skin Magazine and why they rejected it helped me rewrite the weak parts, I resubmitted it and they published it. I appreciate rejection. I can still respect an editor and maybe resubmit something another time. Hell, I got rejected for Dead Bait 2 (again, another rushed story and it probably showed to the editor).
But I had things taken out, like a mallet because, (I’m paraphrasing as the conversation took place in February or March) “Nobody knows what a mallet is.” My main character was a scavenger, hell EVERYONE in the story was. That’s why the bad guys were on mopeds. But those were changed to motorcycles. Y’know, because the bad guys always ride around in style.
And again, some things needed changing. Like my main character breaking through bricked up windows. I don’t know why boards over the windows didn’t cross my mind, but it was a good change. But there was PROSE changed, y’know the stuff that shows your own personality? And things added THAT I WOULD NEVER WRITE. I have to check my contract again, but if I could I would love to post my whole story, as I’d submitted it and invite anyone to read the two side-by-side and decide for themselves which was better. You’ll more than likely be doing the same thing as me and asking yourself over and over again, “Why was that changed?” To this day I haven’t been able to finish reading it.
But hey, I thought, maybe I’m the crazy one. So I read the story the editor wrote, a couple stories ahead of mine. I forget the title, but if you’ve seen the movie Zombieland you already know the story. It was completely derivative, down to the characters being named after states and using the whole “Kill of the Week” bit. All they did was walk into a grocery store, get attacked by zombies, shoot a bunch of them, and leave.
I have never trashed another writer, but by the way I was rudely handled over the phone and the end-product that showed up in the antho I feel like I’ve been mistreated. Right now I’m working my way through “Love Prevails” and it’s by far better written and plotted than the editor’s story.
I wrote for the antho as a way of getting good press for my novel, but I got 0 traction. You know what would have made up for that? Getting paid for the 6,000 or however many word story I wrote. I’m officially done with writing for free unless it’s something that benefits me or something I believe in.
As an aside, a month or two after this was published I attempted to have this added to my list of books (authors will understand) I had contributed to on Amazon.
I am proud to announce that The Zombie Show will have an exclusive excerpt of Mark Tufo’s upcoming novel, The Ravin. Tufo is also the author of the smash hit Zombie Fallout series and you can read the first ten pages of it after you finish The Zombie Show. I’ll be interviewing Mark here and on Razorline Press about this and upcoming stuff.
I loved the simple aspect of this story. A loner and two other guys discover a meteor that imbues them with superhuman powers. It covers all the aspects of the emergence of a person with sudden power. Learning how to use the power, keeping it hidden from people who wouldn’t understand, having fun with said power. I found the dialogue and interplay between the characters entertaining. When Andrew, who’s decided to chronicle every moment of his life with his camera after being abused by his father yet again, he acts out of character and not only goes to a party with his cousin, but trusts the popular kid enough to go into a cave with the two of them. They are quickly overcome after coming in contact with a glowing meteor with something living inside it. After they recover, they’ve already realized they have powers. I like this skip. They’re having fun with their power and over the course of the next 20 minutes, we find them exploring what they can do. Things really pick up once Steve figures out how to fly. But while their bond is strengthened during this period, we also learn more about Andrew’s home life and why he’s so cut off from people. His mother is dying from the worst case of asthma EVER and his father is highly stressed in caring for her. I really liked how his father wasn’t just some angry guy who beat up on his son for the hell of it. His father was beyond stressed and just didn’t know how to relieve that pressure. But here’s where there’s a kink. There is only one scene where we truly see Andrew interact with his mother. I imagine he loved her and she loved him, but it’s the same as a movie where there’s a man and a woman and suddenly their kissing. There’s no build-up to show how mother and son cared for each other, although the father’s anger and how he expressed it was bordering on heavy-handed. So when a pivotal moment occurs at a party and Andrew explodes with anger, I get why he was so detached, but when Andrew’s mother (SPOILER ALERT) dies and then the movie completely spirals out of control, I understand why, but I don’t think the story comes to that point honestly. But the ending goes way beyond anything that could keep me rooted in the story. All I wanted was for Andrew to die. And when that happens, I find myself not really caring about anyone else left in the movie. The ending squeezed out any emotion I could have had for anyone. But for the first 2/3rds of the movie, it still gets 3 stars.