I was watching "The Viscous Kind", one of those indie movies you watch on Netflix because you know that one actor. This time around, that one actor who caught my attention was Adam Scott, since I loved him in Parks & Recreation. I watched the beginning of the movie, and the negativity he personifies struck a chord with me. He was so very angry and frustrated when it came to his family, and I felt it congeal with my post-teenage angst. It was oddly pacifying to see someone act the ridiculousness I feel into a character.
I finished the movie, and immediately went upstairs to fall asleep (I was a tired boy by midnight, probably from my long day of getting high and watching television). As I lay in bed, my thoughts are racing. At first I thought I was just recreating the movie in my head. It turned out to be a new idea from both the movie and the the very real emotions that I struggle with daily. So I grab my lyric book and write this story until exhaustion kicks me down ...
[Meet me at the Wheel][Hello, Snoopy][A Tale of Loves and Lovers]
Stricken by his inability to make peace with his over-protective parents, Shannon Fitzgerald decides to leave his home in Portland, Maine to pursue his dreams of becoming an indie musician. He moves out at the age of 20, leaving behind his mother and his sister who is 7 years his junior. He loses contact with his family soon after and moves to Seattle to finally become a singer/songwriter.
7 years pass since he's seen or heard from anyone in his family. One night, early in the evening after finishing up a particularly lame & empty bar gig, he heads over to one of his favorite cafes. While Shannon is getting comfortable and greeting the barista with his usual familial tone, he hears his name being called out rather loudly. He turns to find his younger sister Heidi sitting at that very cafe, accompanied by a girl he somewhat recognizes. This girl turns out to be Ariel Silva, a friend of Heidi's since childhood and a witness to the debacle 7 years ago where Shannon left his family.
Heidi absolutely loathes Shannon for what he did to her and her mother all those years ago. He left his mother to fend for herself when they needed him for support. He was supposed to get a job and help in any way he could, but instead decided to follow his dreams. Their dad had died the year before Shannon left from a car crash, leaving the family in disarray. It had been a hard road from then on for Heidi and her mother, notwithstanding Shannon's disappearance. The hatred and frustration from Heidi's troubled life comes directed straight at the brother who abandoned her.
When Shannon approaches Heidi at the cafe, he is received with disdain and the misplaced apathy of a troubled youth. She speaks in heated circles, but is obviously flustered by the fact that her brother is standing right in front of her.Ariel, however, stays quiet, stealing sheepish glances and catching Shannon's eye for brief moments at a time. Heidi grabs Ariel to pull her away from the cafe and her pitiful excuse of a brother. Heidi walks away furiously, while Ariel looks back at Shannon and says "Bye, Snoopy".
That struck a chord in Shannon. He hadn't been called Snoopy since he first showed the girls Charlie Brown almost 12 years earlier. It was endearing, refreshing, and of course nostalgic. They called him Snoopy because of the way he would sit on the shed at home and sing. Shannon got to his tiny studio apartment and cried. He cried for the memories he had once cherished but had soon forgotten. He leaves his apartment to take a walk.
It was about 3 a.m. when he received a text: Meet me at the Wheel. The phone number was anonymous. Thoughts are racing through his head: "Is my sister playing some trick on me? -- Am I in some sort of danger? -- What could be happening?" Shannon grabs his bike and rides in the wee hours of the morning, headed toward the Seattle Great Wheel.
He approaches the wheel with a skeptical caution. In the dim after-hours lighting, Shannon spots Ariel wearing an old Charlie Brown hoodie that she's owned since she was a little kid. It was clearly 2 sizes too small, so naturally Shannon notices the sweatshirt and asks why Ariel kept it all of these years. She explains that once when she wore it as a kid, Shannon smiled at her and said Mr. Charlie Brown would be lucky to see such a pretty girl around his parts.
Ariel had been in love with Shannon ever since.
Shannon sees this girl he used to know. She grew from being the quiet child who always hung around his sister, into this wildfire beauty with a sheepish smile and mysterious eyes like pools of silvery satin. Shannon thinks of his sister and how betrayed she already feels since his moving out. He grabs Ariel. As if to bring her closer. As if to hold her in his arms and fatefully kiss her dreams into reality. But reality kicks in. He looks at her deeply, but let's go of her, now settling his emotions. So, he leaves abruptly to a sleepless night in his tiny studio apartment.
He gets up the next morning and calls his sister's hotel. Shannon reaches her just before she was about to leave with Ariel for a guided tour of the city. Shannon offers to give them the tour himself; partially out of guilt for his sister, partially out of his sudden infatuation with Ariel. Shannon has lived in Seattle for years, and happens to have a show that night that he wants the girls to see. Heidi has her apprehension, but even over the phone Shannon can hear Ariel goading Heidi to make sure that this personalized tour happens.
Shannon rides his bike over to the hotel and meets them out front. Once there, the three of them get on a bus. Heidi tells Shannon that this is their last day in the city. Ariel keeps up appearances, but between the awkward half-glances she seems afflicted. He invites the girls to come to his show that night, as their one last hoorah before going. Along goes the tour, and they reach the Wheel. While Heidi is bewildered by the attraction, Ariel and Shannon lock eyes passionately for some brief, fleeting moments.
It is mid-afternoon of that day as Shannon drops the girls off back at their hotel. He rides home quickly and earnestly with a new vision. A new passion fills his soul: love. He is compelled to write a new song. He begins to write a song about forbidden love, but quickly throws that one away. That won't do. He instead writes about an unlikely love, and the path that two lovers take to find each other. He titles the song "Walks by the Sea", implying Ariel as the beautiful mermaid who entraps his heart despite their barriers to love. He just hoped she would understand.
He reaches the venue for his show and sits at the bar nervously, waiting to perform for the only audience he ever cared to impress. Shannon had always been calm before shows, so this was out of character and showed how much he wanted this performance to work. He readies his guitar and hums a few notes. He begins playing his set, while his eyes dart around the room in a fruitless search for Ariel & Heidi. Shannon reaches the last song of his set, the one he wanted to sing for Ariel. He had a backup song to play in the case they wouldn't show, but did not think he would need to play it. He was about to begin this alternative song, when he hears an obnoxious ringtone in the audience. But wait, the ringtone happens to be "Linus & Lucy" from Charlie Brown. It's coming from Ariel's phone. She smiles embarrassingly and apologizes profusely to the audience. While the crowd boos Ariel for her interruption, Shannon quickly shuts them up with the start of "Walks by the Sea".
Shannon departs the stage and approaches Ariel, who asks if the song is about her. She has a natural confidence about her when she asks the question, sensing that she already knows the answer. Shannon smiles wide and asks where his sister is. Ariel says it doesn't matter.
The two spend the night wandering the city of Seattle like vagrants with no purpose or humility. They sit by the water. They goof around on the streets. They spend an amazing evening together, and eventually reach Shannon's tiny studio apartment. They finally kiss, and go on to spend a night of passion.
When the two of them wake up the next morning, they are in each other's loving embrace. Ariel checks her phone to see a string of texts & missed calls from Heidi. Suddenly, they are faced with the fact that the girls' flight leaves in 2 hours. Shannon and Heidi scramble, run and find a cab to make their way to the airport.
At the airport, they find a disgruntled and clearly hungover Heidi waiting impatiently in line at customs. Apparently Heidi got too drunk too early the night before and never made it out of the Hotel room. It is at customs that Shannon tries to convince Ariel not to go, but upon learning of this new relationship, Heidi is furious. Heidi beckons for Ariel. She is soon forced onto the plane with the small Charlie Brown hoodie sticking out from her carry-on.
A month goes by. Then a year. Then two years. Shannon was never going to give up on Ariel. Neither had neglected each other, and for the entirety of the two years they were apart,they wrote each other letters. These letters were full of loving nothings and romantic passages which all alluded to the same message. They wanted to see each other. Shannon wanted to hold Ariel in his arms more than anything he ever wanted in his life. Even his music was suffering. But Shannon didn't want to risk going over to Portland during the summers for fear of approaching his family again. Ariel was always in school most of the year, getting her degree in art at RISD. It also didn't help that Shannon was dirt poor, living as an indie musician.
Shannon finally musters up the money to go to Rhode Island and visit Ariel during her last spring break, where she is staying at school and not in Portland. Heidi makes a surprise appearance just as Shannon arrives to hang out with Ariel. After some tense arguments and heated struggles, Heidi has her breakdown. All she wanted was for her brother to be there for her, but he left too fast and without saying a word of goodbye. Shannon realized how much he hurt his sister and wants to do anything he can from now on. Heidi and Shannon cry together in a moment of long overdue epiphany.
Shannon spend the week at Ariel's apartment with both Ariel & Heidi, lounging in bed and checking out the local Providence scene. The three of them are finally merry. Finally at peace.
Shannon receives a call from a small record company in Seattle. The night when he played "Walks by the Sea", a producer happened to be in the audience and was truly moved by the passion in his music. Shannon gets an offer to sign on with this label. With this crazy wave of excitement over his supposedly increasing fame & demand, he asks Ariel to move with him to Seattle once she graduates. He recounts to her his dreams of touring the U.S. with her. She is filled with happiness and is equally excited about the news for Shannon, but has a condition for this move. They must revisit Shannon's old home in Portland.
Shannon is of course apprehensive, but after resolving things with Heidi, family matters no longer seems to dark. It was a small price to pay for future happiness.
All 3 of them get out of the airport in Portland and eventually reach the house. Shannon is uneasy at first on the ride over, but with Ariel's hand in his, he felt calm. He was ready. At the doorstep, Shannon squeezes Ariel's hand and smiles out of the corner of his mouth. The door opens. "Hi, mom", Shannon says calmly in his warm, loving smile. Mrs. Fitzgerald bursts into tears and tightly embraces her estranged son.
Roger Rafael Romero