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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on April 5, 2013

This is Larry Butler.  Larry thought things were going pretty well.  He’d finally gotten over his divorce… that bitch Gloria ran off with an insurance agent.  An insurance agent!  But never mind, he was over it now.  Although he was alone for the moment, he was very fond of his three cats.  He ran a new age bookstore in Los Angeles.  He played bass in a jam band.  It was just for fun, but his cousin knew a roadie for the Doobie Brothers, so maybe after they record a demo, he could slip him a tape.  You never know.  He’d given up jogging, but between the bookstore and the band, he just didn’t have time.  A few extra pounds never killed anybody.  The point is, Larry was doing okay.  Good, even.

And then he saw the lights.  Miraculous, beautiful colored lights in the night sky.  It was the most stunning thing he’d ever seen.  These weren’t just airplanes or kiddie toys.  Others saw it, too.  For a while it was all the buzz.  But gradually people accepted that there was probably some reasonable explanation.  But not Larry.  He couldn’t get it out of his head.  He couldn’t sleep.  He had visions of… a mountain?  With a flat top.  He started sketching it, and sketching it, and sketching it.  He quit going to the bookstore.  The jam band would have to find a new bass player.  It didn’t matter anymore.  This is all that matters.  This is important.  This means something.

A few days later, he got lucky.  He happened to catch a newscast (Larry didn’t usually watch television, but the noise kept him company) and there it was: Devil’s Tower.  Some story about toxic gas.  He had to go.  There was no question about it, this was his mission.  He was born to go there and see whatever it was there waiting for him.  With a little cunning and a lot of blind luck, he made it past the military herding people out of the area.  He was almost there, and then he was caught.

They took him into a trailer.  He was interviewed by two little men.  One of them looked suspiciously like Francois Truffaut.  Larry had seen Day for Night at the San Francisco Film Festival, during that couple of weeks just after the divorce when he went on an acid bender in Berkeley.  “Are you… are you Francois Truffaut?” he asked.  “No, no,” the man said in heavily accented English with a knowing smile.  “I get that all the time.”

They asked him questions, gave him a gas mask, and put him on a helicopter.  Maybe there really is toxic gas, he thought.  Maybe I’m crazy.  And then one of the other fellows on the chopper boldly pulled off his own mask, and took a deep breath.  Nothing happened.  Ecstatic, Larry removed his, and so did the blonde sitting across from him.  She’s kind of cute, he thought.  Nothing like Gloria.  If Larry had been living in a post-American Pie world, he would have called her a MILF.

The three brave souls leapt off the helicopter and raced towards the monument.  The other fella introduced himself as Roy Neary.  Neary and the blonde seemed to have some kind of thing going.  Too bad, Larry thought fleetingly.  But his mind returned to the task at hand: getting to the other side of Devil’s Tower.  This is important.  This means something.

The military were coming after them.  They found hiding spots in the crevices and under rocks.  They worked their way up, but Larry was falling behind.  He’d really let himself go lately.  The other two were in safe cover, he was exposed on a rock, catching his breath.  Just then a helicopter swung round, spraying something.  Funny that they would be crop dusting all the way up here, he thought.

And then he slept.  It was a deep sleep.  Somewhere in the middle of it, a strange music permeated his dreams, frantic electronic sounds and a massive orchestra having a battle.

He woke 6 hours later with a hell of a headache.  He scrambled to his feet and raced to the other side of that imposing, flat-topped mountain, fighting the pain in his skull.  When he got there… there was nothing.  Just a strip of pavement, and a truck pulling away.  In the rear window, he saw the blonde.  No sign of Neary.  The blonde said something to him, shaking her head sadly.  He couldn’t hear her, but it was perfectly clear what words her lips were forming.  “You missed it, Larry.”

Nowadays you can find Larry at the corner bar at just about any hour, telling anyone who will listen about the time he almost saw the aliens.  The regulars have heard it a million times, but they tolerate him out of pity.  You shouldn’t have given up jogging, Larry.  It was important.  It meant something.  You missed it, Larry.  You missed it.

Rating: Great (91)


3 Responses to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind (rewatch)”

  1. Hahaha, this is excellent. Poor Larry, outrun by a skinny lady and Richard Dreyfuss.

  2. […] 42. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, Steven Spielberg) […]

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