f o r r e s t    r o t h

Gary Oldman Is a Building We Must Walk Through


On instinct tonight I keep talking to your sister as though I were Gary Oldman, aberrantly, instructively, but not anecdotally, a plate-glass door I keep trying to walk into and being escorted out by security men at the Gehry Museum because the Gehry Museum is too good for me despite that it doesn't exist. I keep trying to walk into it because I know she will be gone by morning. Because your parents want the best for all of us, which is not the Gehry Museum. Your parents want for us the building made by Maurice Blanchot which does not have plate-glass windows but ten thousand eyebrows instead. Which doesn't have your sister. Your sister who, like, met Gary Oldman

you were, like, oh my god, like, no fucking way

but yes it was the fucking way which always meets you returning home, yes. Like, I was, like, your famous sister who went through Los Angeles and moved back in with us for only a single night. Everywhere I am meant to be. Everywhere I keep trying to walk through with you because you mean well despite that your sister keeps walking into plate-glass doors at buildings that are not the Gehry Museum, because before you and her were discharged it was, like, her dream to walk through a plate-glass door at the Gehry Museum in Los Angeles like she was, like, Sid Vicious even though Sid Vicious never went to the Gehry Museum because Gary Oldman is composed of ten thousand eyebrows which cannot get past security and, like, Los Angeles, no fucking way, and you were like

oh my god

oh my god

your famous sister always tries meeting you in a building meant to cause an accident

me sleeping through your imitation of her Gary Oldman

sharing with me the anecdotes of all the famous actors your sister worked with in the 1980s before you were discharged and I see their faces as you see them always meeting you in the hallway, sitting down to dinner with you in the dinner place as you share food with them, utensils with them, and you tell them, like, Gary Oldman really was Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy and that really was a plate-glass door your sister walked through just like the instructive Sid Vicious because she thought he was aberrant in real life but this is now aberrant in Gary Oldman's way, the door she walked through and her blood that brushed her hand to the floor before security arrived and put her with all the famous actors she worked with in the 1980s before you were discharged, including the ones who worked with Maurice Blanchot while he designed the Gehry Building to infuriate your parents and let your sister move out, like she was always meeting you in the hallway with the women who didn't know your sister before she walked through the plate-glass door at the Gehry Museum which does not exist because she met the Gary Oldman who wasn't you, because I wake up with you on me and I'm, like

no fucking way, I know

I did something. I know I had said to you we should do something about her, go somewhere other than the Los Angeles of your mind where all the famous actors of the 1980s are not, which would be in Gary Oldman's mind where your sister does not reside with her countless city ur-friends with endless anecdotes, not stories, wishing I could find a cup of coffee somewhere with you, without anyone I know or donít know so I could pull up to someone and say, This is her story—

and the story, the story goes, like, your sister said hey to Gary Oldman on the sidewalk while her hand was bleeding from putting it through a plate-glass window at the Gehry Museum and while waiting for security to show which Gary Oldman was not but he asked all the same if she was all right and had someone called an ambulance like they did for Sid Vicious which she thought was really sweet of him and she was falling in love with the Gary Oldman circa Sid and Nancy even though that day Gary Oldman had a moustache and his Sid Vicious had been relatively hair-free with the exception of his head hair, but he talked to her calmly, gently, even instructively, telling her how to control the bleeding as if he forgot who he was even though she didn't and would've bled all over the sidewalk to continue gazing at Gary Oldman and him talking to her and him signing her autograph book, which she had thought would make a fine story but not an anecdote, other than the security men arriving before the ambulance, and by then Gary Oldman was long gone, pushed along by another person with him, an ur-friend, probably his agent, who had no facial hair and very little head hair and didn't bother with ambulances in Los Angeles because they were only anecdotal devices, forever to be mistrusted and avoided with the seething intensity of Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious when he kills Nancy Spungen with a knife which Gary Oldman left as either an intentional act or a complete accident which struck your sister as rather sublime when she watched Sid and Nancy at sixteen, romantic, instructive, but not anecdotal, not Gary Oldman saying nothing to her as he blithely walks by without helping her on the sidewalk, bleeding.

Tonight your sister shows us her autograph book. We all stare at what could be the signature of the Gary Oldman she says she met in Los Angeles, who stopped to help and talk to her. It is more clean, determined than we would expect of someone who captured the essence of Sid Vicious to be, particularly the expansive O, playful, inviting, contrasting that to the secured, mature masculinity of a refined, well-aged Gary Oldman. Sid Vicious had the signature of a third grader. Most likely though we have never seen it for ourselves, as likely no one else ever did. I am one of those people who put much stock in signatures as a designator of an intelligence quotient relative to the signer's appreciation of general aesthetics. I'm embarrassed for the person who signs a weak signature in front of me. I had spent countless hours in high school working on mine instead of calculus. When I saw your famous sister's signature in front of me for the first time, signing a receipt for dinner, I wondered how she became so famous to begin with, though before I said something about it I caught myself, thinking it was only slightly worse than yours. I'm embarrassed being in your company when you sign such a signature. I admit it. I don't care that your writing in general is not terribly interesting, as is your sister's, but only that there wasn't an upper case O like Gary Oldman's which I could slip myself through and see the other side of you. But your last name doesn't begin with O. In fact, there are no o's in your name whatsoever, but your sister has not one but two of them in her first name, which likely helps explain the easiness of her popularity when she is not walking through plate-glass doors. Why did your civil servant parents give you a name with no o's but then give your sister two of them. My name has two o's, one in my first name, one in my second name, neither of them upper case. When I sign them out, I think of Gary Oldman and the flair he must put into his O while he's signing and whether it's the same as when he acts. And when he feels like a scene's not happening, perhaps he goes to his dressing room in between takes and writes all these upper case Os over and over until he realizes what a beautiful signature he has.



FORREST ROTH received his English Ph.D. in Creative Writing from University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His novella Line and Pause is available from BlazeVOX Books, and a prose poem chapbook, The Sullen Pages, was recently published by Little Red Leaves. His work has appeared in NOON, Denver Quarterly, Juked, Caketrain, Sleepingfish, NANO Fiction, and other journals, as well as previously in alice blue.

I S S N     1 5 5 9 - 6 5 6 7