“The Night Of The Hunter” A Film Reassessment

This last weekend, my friend Jay visited me from Seattle.  It was a pleasant enough visit, filled with reverie, catching up with family, and discussion of Old Times.

Then we went to Kansas City.

George Brett, before his front teeth somehow got wider apart.

First we visited that stadium where the Royals play (the name now escapes me—I could look it up, but then I’d have to Google it, and that seems like a lot of typing).  Not surprisingly, the Royals weren’t playing that day.  In fact almost no one was there.  I later heard that even the janitorial staff said they didn’t feel like coming in.  Some old broad was the tour guide, and there were a bunch of bratty ass kids and a bald dude who may or may not have been their father (a frequent problem I’ve experienced in my life).  The kids were amusing enough, throwing shit and generally making a mess of things, particularly in George Brett’s personal lounge (the 390 Bar & Grill, called that because Brett’s apparently not that bright and someone once told him, “If you really want to knock it out of the park, on the pitch, spin a 390!”  Which he did).  You couldn’t even get a brew there (I did find a joint on the field behind second base, but it had been raining, so it was shitty).  It was a disappointing visit on many levels.

That place where there wasn’t any beer.

 

Finally I said to my friend, “To hell with this bizarre noise.  Let’s go get a drink.”

“Okay,” he agreed.

“Oh, and I left my wallet in my only pair of pants.  You’re going to have to pay for it,” I snake-oiled him.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he acquiesced.

So we went to the BRGR Lounge near our hotel.

The BRGR Kitchen + Bar.

The waiter was some Mexican guy (might have been Cuban, you know how they all look the same with those outfits they make those poor bastards wear).  He was pretty cool, but we got into it a little bit when I asked if he was the “same dickhead I wrote a scathing review about from Regent Bakery in Seattle,” so I’m almost positive that yellow/white stuff I found on my burger was his spit.  I think.

My friend Jay and I are huge film fans.  Jay’s a little slow to liking classic movies, but he’s getting better, and we started talking about the classic Charles Laughton-directed “The Night Of The Hunter” based on some book by some guy I could Google, but don’t feel like it because my tendonitis is acting up and my fingers get tired.  About three cocktails in, I described the plot in detail, which basically consists of Robert Mitchum wearing a cool hat and a preacher’s outfit and having these badass tattoos that say “LOVE” on his right hand.  Which makes me wonder which one he uses when he’s punching the clown, so to speak, but that’s never really directly addressed in the movie.  It was the 50s.  People were super repressed back then.

Jay suddenly exclaimed, “THAT’S SOME SHIT!” which drew the attention of a neighboring pair of diners who had just ordered some odd looking flat steaks and asked to have them sent back.

“What is?” I asked uncomfortably.

“The tattoo thing, man!  We should get tattoos!” he continued.

“Well, as long as you pay for them,” I told him.

“All right, but I’m paying for the whores too!”  He was getting even more excited, so I ordered us a pitcher of Stella Artois.  And a double vodka and cranberry for me.

“Maybe we should just stick to your tattoo thing,” I tried to reason with him, but after I finished my drink, he would have none of it.

“No f’ing way!  Whores, then tattoos!”

“I don’t really have to pay for sex, myself…” I started, then realized that after being married three times and also being a Verizon Wireless customer that wasn’t entirely true.

Short story long:  We got back to the hotel (for propriety’s sake, I’m not going to name it, but it was the Crowne Plaza, and they have an excellent selection of towels).  Jay starts fishing through his Rolodex of prostitutes instead of just going online—Jay is something of a prostitution traditionalist—and calls the girls.  I waited uncomfortably.

“What about the tattoos?!” I asked him.  “I don’t want to sleep with any whores!  I’ve already got some weird disease from my buddy’s ex-wife!”

“Shut your cock holster and have another vodka,” he told me, I assumed in reference to my mouth.  “These girls do tattoos also.”

I wasn’t sure if I believed him, but I had already taken an Ambien and didn’t give a shit anymore.  I was getting sleepy.  It was already a gray and rainy day and the dark was rapidly approaching.  This has always affected my moods.  “Gravity” with Sandra Bullock and that “Ocean’s Eleven” guy* was on.  Yeah, that really helped.

“The Ocean’s 11” Guy I was thinking Of

The girls arrived just as I was thinking a shower might help wake me up or at least get the dead bovine smell from BRGR off me.  My will was fading.  For some reason, I had to have these tattoos.  Plus, paying for prostitutes with Jay’s money was rapidly losing its allure.  I’m already getting over a painful break up.  I don’t think if I’m ready for another commitment.

One was Asian or something (that covers a vast area, including Siberia) and the other was some ditzy blonde bird.

The Blonde

The tension was palpable.  Every nerve ending was standing straight up like a terrified Siamese.  I realize that’s a mixed metaphor and is physically impossible, but keep it to yourself. Jay turned his attention to the Asian girl, while the other girl amazed me with boredom.

The Asian

“I hear you’d like a tattoo!!!” she said, breaking out the necessary equipment.  The tattoo gun too.

“Yes,” I slurred, “and that’s all.”

“What would you like?” she asked, batting her one good eye coquettishly.

“The ones Mitchum has in ‘Night Of The Hunter,'” I was able to croak before passing out to the sound of the tattoo gun starting up.

 

I awoke—hours later.  The women were gone.  A deadly silence prevailed over the hotel suite.  Also, all the ice was gone.

My left hand read “HATE.”  My right now said, “LOVE.”

I looked at Jay, who was naked and lying face down on his bed.  His right hand said, “DUMB,” and his left hand, “ASS.”  His pinky finger had been severed and his wallet was now missing, leaving us in the lurch with the hotel staff.

And “The Night Of The Hunter” was on television, oddly enough.

We tied a series of bedsheets together and rappelled out of the sixth story window.  Jay found his car keys hidden in a very uncomfortable place, which makes me wonder what the rental agency was going to think we were doing that whole time, and we high tailed it out of Dodge.  Which is strange, because through a series of bad GPS directions, we ended up in Dodge City, Kansas.

But we had our friendship, memories, and four really shitty tattoos to last us the rest of our lives.

Oh, and in that movie Robert Mitchum plays a serial killer who finds out that Shelley Winters’ dead ex-husband stashed 10 large somewhere around the house and he kills her to get it.  It’s pretty good, you should check it out.

You’re welcome,

Adam Thomas Huddleston
Augusta, Kansas
November 19, 2014

* Not Sinatra.  That other guy.  I could Google it but I’d prefer just to use Bing.**

** But not really.

“Ah, little lad, you’re staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand/left-hand?”