“The editor of Analecta, the official literary and arts journal of the University of Texas at Austin, was flipping through some old volumes when she came across the writings of former UT student and current filmmaker Wes Anderson. Published in the Analecta in 1989, Anderson’s short story, ‘The Ballad of Reading Milton’, isn’t as good as some of the screenplays he has co-written since but it is certainly full of the quirky charm that has inspired so many people to become fans of his work.” – slashfilm.com
“What are you doing?”
Jason Schwartzman closed the volume of _Paradise Lost_ he had been reading and placed it squarely on the table in front of him. The woman was framed precisely in the doorway of his study, as though placed there by a director with a masterful sense of aesthetics. A cigarette smouldered in the corner of her mouth. Her face showed no clear signs of emotion, and Jason Schwartzman took great care in ensuring that his did the same.
“How did you get in here?” he said.
“Your Indian butler let me in,” she said.
“I will have to fire him,” said Jason. “His Indian son will be devastated.” Jason Schwartzman took off his reading glasses to get a better look at the woman in front of him. She wore a peacoat, and her hair fell over her eyes in such a way as to look both accidental and entirely deliberate. She looked weary, but her weariness made her pretty. As he watched her, she flicked her cigarette onto the bearskin rug and put it out with her foot. Jason Schwartzman’s eyes followed the arc of the cigarette, and as she spoke again, he stared at the burnt patch on his rug.
“I am here to seduce you,” she said. “There is something about your gawky features I find inexplicably irresistible.”
Bill Murray stood in front of the tiny motorcycle and regarded it.
“What’s wrong?” said Owen Wilson.
“I can’t ride this,” said Bill Murray, “I’d look ridiculous. This motorcycle is so tiny.”
“Well, I could drive it, and you could ride in the tiny side car,” said Owen Wilson.
Bill Murray shook his head. They stood in the cool fall air, the pale blue sky behind them, the early afternoon lighting just so.
“I know you’re down on your luck, Bill Murray,” said Owen Wilson. “These days, you look desperate and haggard. You drink quite a bit, and you don’t crack jokes like you used to.”
“I have felt like I’ve been playing a very different person than I’m used to,” admitted Bill Murray.
“Riding this tiny motorcycle might be good for you. It could put what you’ve been going through into perspective. Small moments like this can have a cathartic impact, especially when you are in the depths of your despair.” Bill Murray turned to Owen Wilson, a hangdog look on his face.
“Can it play music?”
Owen Wilson didn’t move his feet, but leaned forward and flipped a switch on the tiny motorcycle. A chirping French cover of a Buddy Holly song played through the speakers, and it seemed to surround them, coming from everywhere at once. Together, they stood and stared at the tiny motorcycle for a long while.
“I think you know who you ought to be,” said Owen Wilson finally.
What does that mean, wondered Bill Murray.
That afternoon, Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson finally found Jason Schwartzman inside of the pantry. There was a large bandage across his forehead, and his glasses were broken. In contrast with his disheveled state, everything in the pantry was perfectly arranged. Luke Wilson took a moment to wonder why the pantry was full of products which exemplified the muted tones of 1950s packaging, and whether they’d expired. Jason Schwartzman did not rise to meet them, but straightened his tie and smiled ruefully.
“I was seduced,” said Jason Schwartzman, “By Anjelica Huston.”
“How do you spell that?” said Owen Wilson.
“With a ‘j,’” said Jason Schwartzman. “It is an interesting name. She is an interesting woman. I believe she was using me to have an affair.”
“That would make sense,” said Luke Wilson. “People seem to be having a lot of affairs these days.”
It was true. In fact, unbeknownst to the other two, Luke Wilson was having an affair with a reclusive opera singer who lived in the ornately constructed and lavishly decorated mansion which, as a boy, he had walked past on his way to and from school. Luke Wilson also knew that Owen Wilson was having an affair with Bill Murray’s wife, a chain smoker and sculptor who spoke no English, but he did not know that Owen Wilson was also having an affair with Bill Murray.
“Where’s Andrew Wilson?” said Jason Schwartzman.
“Who?” said Luke Wilson.
Bill Murray pushed his way through the crowd, which seemed to part in front of him. He heard the party guests whispering all around him, holding their high balls and martini glasses, but as he caught Anjelica Huston’s eye, they faded from his attention. He moved forward and opened his mouth to speak, but his words caught in his throat. Anjelica Huston stepped back to reveal another man, wearing a red velvet suit and bow tie, his hair slicked into the best approximation of a comb-over that it could reasonably achieve.
“Who is this?” said Bill Murray.
“Bill Murray, this is Barnabas Honeysuckle,” said Anjelica Huston. “He’s an architect. He’s just come back from Europe.” Barnabas Honeysuckle smiled and offered a hopeful wave.
“Barnabas Honeysuckle?” said Bill Murray. “Did your parents name you by playing darts? Did you get rejected from a Pynchon novel? You are ridiculous and unrealistic. Get out of here, Barnabas Honeysuckle.” They both watched him leave.
“Anjelica, I love you,” said Bill Murray. “I didn’t know it until today, when I rode a tiny motorcycle. It was as though everything had gone into slow motion, and for the first time I realized what really mattered.”
“I pity you, Bill Murray. I really do,” said Anjelica Huston. “You don’t know what love is, but you wish you did, and you just won’t stop trying.” She flicked her cigarette. It bounced off of Bill Murray’s forehead, but he didn’t flinch. With that, she was gone.
Why do people keep summing up my complex personal problems in pithy platitudes, wondered Bill Murray.