The End

He’d never seen the movie, “Unforgiven.” He explained to incredulous friends that his wife, rest in peace, didn’t like television, and disliked Clint Eastwood. He was Squint Eastwood to her, spoken with disparaging smugness. “He can’t act,” she said. “I don’t know why people like him.”

Nor had he seen “Reservoir Dogs.” “Too violent,” she said, scowling. Same with Al Pacino in “Scarface,” and Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan,” and other movies.

After a year of mourning her death, his friends convinced him that he should rent and watch them. It took that long to feel like he wasn’t betraying his wife’s principles and tastes. He intellectually recognized that silliness, but that didn’t stop him from apologizing to her spirit on his first movie night. Filling a growler with an IPA from a local station – something he’d never done while she was alive – and buying and baking a Papa Murphy pizza, he settled in for the first one, “Unforgiven.” His friends had really enjoyed it. They thought he would, too.

But he was old. He’d had a long day, what, with walking, laundry, and house-cleaning. Pizza and beer added its weight. Despite his desire to see justice meted out against the cruel Little Bill (played superbly by Gene Hackman), he fell asleep as Little Bill tortured Logan (Morgan Freeman). Instead, he awoke, somehow in his bed and night clothes, an alternately alarming, bemusing, amusing turn. But going out to start the day, he discovered the laundry washed the day before was accumulated in the basket as though it hadn’t been done. The toilet and sink would benefit from cleaning, and he needed to run the vacuum. The grass needed to be cut.

Walking around and seeing the state of things, he worried about his sanity.  There wasn’t any leftover pizza, although he’d only eaten two slices. No beer in a growler. No sign of “Unforgiven” on DVD. Alarm rising, he rushed through activities, confirming he was reliving the day before, as Bill Murray had done in “Groundhog Day.”

Getting in the car and driving down to Redbox to pick up “Unforgiven,” he remembered that “Groundhog Day” had been one of his wife’s favorite movies (although she would tell people it was “Three Coins In A Fountain”).

He watched “Unforgiven” earlier and saw the ending, but couldn’t remember it the next day, when he again awoke in his bed without knowing how he got there. This, he believed, was a departure from “Groundhog Day.” Bill Murray had been able to learn to play the piano and help people, hadn’t he? He would need to watch it again.

Maybe. He suspected his version of “Groundhog Day” was different. He thought it would be a long time before he would remember and know the end of “Unforgiven,” even though he was forced to order and pick it up every day. Apparently, some things could not be altered.

On the other hand, he could eat and drink whatever he wanted, and not gain any weight, and never had to worry about money again.

He’d always been a glass half-full sort of person.


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