Pissing In The Punch Bowl At The 2014 Sundance Film Festival Part 3: Let The Bodies Hit The Floor

TAKEN FROM THE JOURNALS OF UZI SILVERSTEIN

CHAPTER 7: DUMB AND DUMBER.

I've been tailing Craig Christodoulou for three days, waiting for the right chance to catch him off guard without any witnesses around.

Maybe he is the anti Christ. Maybe he isn't. The truth is that I feel kind of bad for the kid. As far as I can tell, he's just another hopeful geek who swimming in the shark tank. But he immediately sank to the bottom and as far as the sharks can tell, he's not even worth taking a nibble at.  The bleeding wounds he's trying to stop came from his brush against the coral reef on his way down.

I've watched him get rejected from just about every screening and party he's tried to get into. I've watched him and his girlfriend buy peanut butter, jelly, and the cheapest sliced bread you can find in park city, making sandwiches on the sidewalk for lunch. I've watched him hang around outside of the entrances to the all of the lodges and cafes throwing the hottest parties, shaking from the cold, pretending to be out there for a cigarette break for hours at time while he desperately tries to network with those walking in and out.

I even attended the screening of his film, Strange Kiss at the neighboring Slamdance film festival. It was a strange little horror film about an urban gypsy woman who lures young men with the promise of casual sex online only to send them to another dimension through a portal in her vagina. As odd as it was, it wasn't half bad, although there were less than a dozen people in attendance for its big premiere.

For someone or something that's supposed to be an all powerful force of demonic power, he really just seems like a bit of a loser.

But I'm a soldier with a mission.

I've brought Rani along for support, and he's relishes at the prospect of having another assassination to carry out this week.  It seems like he's been on vacation for so long that going back to work is a vacation.

But Rani's been stumbling through a major bender the whole way through, drunk on thousand dollar wine. I'm uncomfortable with all of the high powered weaponry that he's now carrying everywhere when he can barely pronounce any vowels.

Right now, Craig and Suzie are standing at the corner of Herber Avenue and Main Street waiting for the public bus to come.

I sent Rani out to purchase some provisions for a potentially long stake out. My goal is to take Craig out quietly, away from the eyes of the public and Suzie.  I've been stalking the two waiting for that chance, but it hasn't come yet.

I haven't slept since I've started the mission and it's been nearly twenty four hours since my last meal. So I asked Rani to get some food. But I also just wanted a break from having to hear him drone on and on about his war stories. That's the thing about reconnecting with old friends, it's always fantastic for the first few hours, but when you attempt to share more than a day with someone you haven't spoken to in thirty years, you quickly learn why you've lost touch.

Rani's been gone for over an hour. I'm scared what condition he'll be in when he returns.  I'm even more scared that he might have botched the mission when I spot the bus wrapping around the corner making its way to the stop.

I can't board that bus and I have no means of transportation to follow it.

Thankfully, Rani finally appears just as the young couple climbs into the vehicle, but none of my fears are put to rest.

Rani left in his 2012 BMW Seven Series Sedan. He has returned drunkenly riding a quad bike while wearing a snow jackal ghillie suit.  

He blows past me at first. When he finally realizes this fifty meters down the way, he attempts to impress me by spinning around in a 180. But he loses control of the ATV and careens off of the road nailing a mailbox causing an eruption of white envelopes that rain down around him.

The Rani who saved me from Eli Atzmon last week is gone.

I walk over to the minor accident just as Rani tips over to the ground, broadly laughing as he struggles to get back up.

Please excuse the insensitivity with my remarks, but as Rani speaks to me; I can't help but imagine a man with Down syndrome.  With the prolonged grunts and primal moans in between words followed by childish chuckling I know that Rani is absolutely sloshed.

I don't expect a legible answer and yet I still feel compelled to ask, "Where were you? Did you get any food?"

He points his finger at the sky drawing invisible pictures as he slurs, "Would you believe that I was robbed by a little old lady in a motorized car?"

I don't answer him, and still, I ask him more questions that he's incapable of providing any coherent response to.

"Where's your BMW? What the fuck is this?"

"It's a QUUAAAADDD."

"I know that. I was being figurative. We can't follow a bus in a god damn quad."

"Sure we can. We're gonna be all stealthy, just like Siberia in 76'. I hope you're wearing your thermals."

I pick Rani up and dump him on the back of the bike as I take control of the handle bar and pursue the bus.

I follow it for over an hour. I'm certain that my cover is blown.  I'm sure everyone on that bus is wondering why a small ATV has been riding behind them for the past sixty miles.

I try to block out the pain of the frostbite that's setting in from riding in an exposed vehicle without the proper gear. I actually experience a fleeting sense of relief when sudden flash of warmth spreads across against my backside, but it subsides the moment I hear Rani's heavy breathing and realize that he's just pissed himself.

Another forty minutes later and we've tracked Craig and Rita all the way to Wolf Mountain, a remote and somewhat desolate ski resort for the middle class. It makes sense that Craig would bring Suzie here. He's broke. He can't afford to take her skiing anywhere else.

Fifteen minutes in, he learns that he can't afford to take her here either.  I watch him argue with an attendant at the rental shop. He doesn't have enough cash for the actual skis.

He yells and curses at the man behind the register about the prices listed online. Even though we're nearly two hours away from Park City, even this bumble fuck ski resort has specifically hiked their prices up for the festival crowd.

When Craig waddles away in self defeat with Suzie, I run in and grab the warmest gear that I can find.

Rani and I watch as Craig buys hot chocolate for his love interest. She doesn't seem too bothered. I can tell by her eyes that she's just happy to be around him.  I have no doubt that she's in love. It doesn't bother me yet that I still have to kill him. But I'm a practical man. I want to do this as cleanly as possible. There's no reason for undue collateral damage.

Craig finally leaves Suzie alone at the lodge lounge.  At first, I assume he must be going to the bathroom.  When he passes it to head outside, I rejoice that I might finally have a chance to move in.

But Craig doesn't wander too far. He heads back to the hot chocolate stand situated in the middle of an outdoor rest area. There are other families and tourists scattered about. Many are either putting their newly rented gear on, or they're taking it off.

I already figure what Craig is planning to do.

There's another couple around the same age as him and Suzie having their picture taken by a stranger in front of the lodge's entrance.  They've left their skis on an unattended bench table about 10 meters away. Nonchalantly, Craig collects them and heads back inside.

This is going to be a long afternoon.

Two hours later, Rani and I are hiding behind a tree nearly half a kilometer away from Craig and Suzie.

Again, Craig couldn't afford any skiing lessons, so the two of them are trying to teach themselves on a small hill a decent distance away from the hustle and bustle of the main lodge.

Neither of them can figure out a way to slide down this small incline, mostly because the fittings on the skis are not the right size. Watching Craig trying to make his way down the small hill on skis that are clearly too large is like watching a classic Charlie Chapman skit.

This is an internet fail video waiting to happen.

Next to me, Rani is enjoying yet another over priced bottle of pinot that he's kept chilled in a small mound of snow.

He's lying on his stomach, trying to blend in with the white in his ghillie suit. In front of him is a Barrett .50 caliber M107 sniper rifle. It's generally regarded as the single most powerful sniper rifle in the world. It's complete overkill.

Then again, Craig might be an indestructible demon. So maybe it's not.

I'm again uncomfortable with the notion of having a drunk man behind the trigger. Rani is acting like a red neck on a hunting trip with his drinking buddies, not a world class assassin.

My partner belches so hard that he actually vomits up a little wine onto the gun's stock nuzzled up against his shoulder.

He turns to me and proclaims, "This is soooo fucking boring. I thought this was gonna be like last week."

There were times in the Kidon where both of us have sat and waited in holes in the ground for over a week, but Rani has lost that type of patience.

Before I can say anything to him, I feel needles being stabbed into my ear drums. It's the type of pain that can only come from having a .50 caliber rifle fired less than a meter away from your face.

Unless you've been in a war, there's no way for you to understand the sound, the awe inspiring terror of it. If guns give you the power to play god, a Barrett m107 will make you feel like the harbinger of the apocalypse.

All of our work towards a stealth kill is now for naught. People three cities over will have heard that shot.

I look into my binoculars ahead and am suddenly grateful that I never got the chance to eat.
Rani shot Suzie. I don't know if it was intentional or not. But she's gone, and I don't mean that figuratively.

A .50 caliber round is over seven inches long and nearly an inch thick. Militaries use them to stop armored cars and bring down helicopters. When one of these hits a person, well, they're just not a person anymore.

Rani has rendered the whole of Suzie into nothing more than a big wet cloud of crimson mist.
Craig is covered in her blood as if he had bathed in it. I don't feel sorry for him, but I do for her.

I lose my cool and scold Rani.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

"Awwww. I told you this was fucking boring."

"You fucking nail Craig right now before he does anything!"

Rani pushes his face back up against the scope on the gun and fires off another round.
It cuts through Craig's torso, splitting him into two.

I jump onto the quad parked a little ways behind us and make my way over to the bodies. We bag up the different parts of Craig but can do little for Suzie with the short amount of time we have before anyone arrives to the scene.

Suzie is hardly more than a big pile of bloody soup.

Rani makes a feeble attempt at covering it up by kicking snow over it, but it's futile.

We take Craig and leave.

Half way back to Rani's place in Park City, the body bag begins thrashing on the rear of the bike. Rani has to plug another four rounds from a .45 holstered on his hip before it stops.

When we finally return, the two pieces that were Craig are now one again. He's alive and conscious, cursing and spitting at us as we tie him to a table in Rani's secret war bunker.

CHAPTER 8: THE WATER BOARD ELECTRIC BAGOOLOO

It was just past sunset when Rani first strapped Craig to a table in his basement armory.  

And now it's nearly dawn and Craig is still alive, but not from a lack of effort on our part.

Bullets obviously didn't work, so Rani took to dismemberment. First he sawed all four of his limbs off,  but they grew back.  He tried to decapitate him, but his head kept finding a way to reattach itself to his neck.

Rani even took a power drill and ran it through Craig's skull to see what would happen after punching a hole through his brain. Nothing did.

The whole time, Rani's been drinking, drinking and laughing like a crazed mad man as he took a blow torch to Craig's bare testicles. They blackened and whithered before exploding like cracked eggs leaking yolk onto a frying pan.

Rani has taken to Craig like a Japanese surgeon conducting medical experiments on a Chinese POW in World War 2. As the night grew darker, Rani became more creative and more perverse.

At one point, it was no longer about destroying our target. For Rani, it was about having a good time; it became masturbation for him.

Periodically, I'd reprimand Rani for shooting Suzie. I'd shout expletives and slap him around.

But it's mostly an act, all in the service of self preservation. For most of the night, Craig has offered little resistance. He hasn't said a word and hardly exhibited any pain when Rani pushed a soldering iron through his side rib and wiggled it around mashing his insides into a steaming stew.

Craig just lied there still staring at us with open eyes. I felt ten tons of hate being bored into me from a thing that I fear can't be killed.

I'm scared of Craig. That's why I try to play good cop. I want him to know that I had nothing to do with Suzie's death; I want him to believe that I feel legitimate sorrow for her needless demise.

It's six in the morning when Rain throws a towel over Craig's head and starts dumping buckets of water on his face in an attempt to water board him.

It's seven in the morning when Craig finally says in a cool and collected manner, "That's enough now. What is it that you want from me?"

Almost speaking in tongues, Rani cackles, "We want you to fucking die!"

Craig doesn't respond.

I've been sitting in a corner for the last two hours, but I stand up and approach the table that our captive has been strapped to and say, "I just want some answers first."

Craig turns his head towards me and asks, "Like what?"

"Who are you really?"

"Craig Christodoulou."

"And who is Greg Christie then?"

"A dead film blogger"

"Did you kill him?"

"No. He killed himself."

"He committed suicide?"

"In a way."

"What does that mean?"

"It's a long story. I could probably write a book about it."

"When did this happen?"

"Back in 2009."

"So who was it that I met at Sundance in 2013 if he died in 2009?"

"You met him at the 2013 Sundance film festival two years ago."

"It's 2014 now, that doesn't make sense. Your math doesn't work."

"I told you, it's a long story."

"Explain it to me."

"Time travel is a bitch to explain."

"Try."

"Greg was my father. My mother's name was Gina. She wasn't human. Neither am I. I'm an only child raised by a single mother, and like most only children raised by single mothers, I was brought up to hate my father. My mother sent Greg back in time to 2009 in order to teach him a lesson in humility. Neither Greg or Gina survived."

"If the 2013 Greg killed the 2009 Greg, that would mean that the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Greg shouldn't exist. And yet, there are online articles written in his name from those years. There's video footage of him at the 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival, 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and 2013 Toronto International Film Festival."

"I was Greg for those years. When he died in 2009, I had nowhere to go. To the world, I didn't exist. I suspect you have an idea of what I am and where I came from. I don't have a social security number, I have no family to rely on, or any history or background to serve as any type of foundation. I was lost. So I took Greg's identity. Soon enough, I forgot who I was. I was so immersed in his life that I truly became him. I developed the same personality, the interests, habits, and vices. I even developed his anger and bitterness.  I started writing under his name. Maybe I even wrote the same articles that he had written, made the same friends and enemies that he made. I don't know anymore. History is cyclical. I don't what differences there were or are between our trajectories.  I ended up working the same jobs as him and attended the same film festivals. I also ended up with the same shit luck as him. Everything he had experienced, so did I.  I even fucked my own mother, became my own father, and I fought with myself.  But unlike Greg, I didn't return to Austin for Fantastic Fest in September. I know what lay ahead. These past four years, I've learned that Greg Christie is cursed name. So I became Craig Christodoulou again. I tried to become my own man. It was almost immediately afterward that I met Suzie."

Rani taunts Craig, "Well, she's just a stain in the snow somewhere now."

I try to interject, "That wasn't what I wanted Craig, I did not intend for that to happen."
Craig looks at Rani and it scares me again. I'm scared that a hole in the floor beneath us might suddenly open up at any moment, releasing those neon flames that move and hunt like wild animals.

Craig continues, "Suzie made me feel whole. She made me feel at peace with who I was and who I could be. She helped me make my film. Just like Greg, all I wanted was an opportunity to tell stories. Suzie loved my stories. She gave me confidence.  She supported me emotionally and financially with coming out here for this festival. I thought my streak of shit luck was coming to end now that I wasn't Greg anymore.  But I guess I still have a little too much of him in me to escape. You fuckers just won't let me get ahead. And Suzie?  She provoked no one and you killed her."

Rani's holding a bottle of wine in one hand and large Bowie hunting knife in the other. This is the type of knife you'd use to field dress an elephant. He raises his arm and brings it down on Craig, plunging the blade into his throat.

Rani takes a swig of the pinot before slurring, "Aw, shut the fuck up."

Unfazed, Craig continues to talk as blood seeps out from his mouth.

"It's OK. I know where Suzie has gone. She's moved to my old home and I'll find her again soon enough. And you two mother fuckers, you'll also be seeing the two of us again in the very near fucking future as well. In fact, everyone in this town is invited to my party. It's going to be a hell of a time."

Rani has sprinted towards the other end of the bunker and is reaching for the blow torch again just as the knife lodged in Craig's throat pulls itself out, levitates in mid air for a moment, and rockets across the room. It plants itself in the rear base of Rani's neck at the top of his spinal cord.  The wound cuts off the ability for Rani's brain to communicate with his central nervous system, dropping him to the ground like a sack of rocks.  

The knife frees itself again as Rani's body turns over on its back. He's still alive when the knife flies straight up before falling back down in his groin. It stabs him there another eleven times.

Rani is screaming so hard that his voice breaks. His body violently convulses as he strains to make a wet wheezing sound until his eyes roll back into their sockets, and he goes still.

When I turn my attention back towards Craig, I find that he's now miraculously freed of his restraints, and the open gash on his throat has sealed itself shut again.

I stand motionless, terrified of him.

Flippantly, Craig tells me, "Obviously, I lied to you earlier this week. We had met last year back when I was still living as Greg. I shot you by accident and left you for dead. To apologize for that, I'm going to spare you for now. Your reckoning will come, but it's your choice whether it's today or tomorrow. "

I glance over at all of the guns on display around me but do nothing. It seems so pointless, just as pointless as Greg and Craig's efforts to secure any footing in the film world.

Craig leaves the bunker saying, "I'm heading into town. You can follow me. But I doubt you'll like what you see."

I make no motion to chase after Craig. Instead, I search the armory looking for anything I could possibly use.

I dress myself with as much Kevlar, armor, and protection that I can find when I remember the nuclear warhead that Rani was so excited to show me last week.

I grab the steel enforced safe holding the doomsday device and drag it out to Rani's garage.
I'm not surprised when I find a military issue Humvee with a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the roof,  but I'm certainly happy when I notice that the keys are already in the ignition.

CHAPTER 9: THIS IS THE END, NO REALLY; IT'S TOTALLY THE END...OF EVERYTHING!


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