Friday, October 9

The (REALLY) Important Briefcase

Robert and Nate are in a room. There is a briefcase.

“Nate, I need you to take care of this briefcase. do not give it to anyone. do not let anyone take it, except for me.”

“what’s in it?”

“i can’t tell you.”

“why not?”

“because you have to trust me that it’s really important that no one takes it from you. no one. do you still have those guns?”

“wait. who’s going to want this case?”

“I don’t know yet. But someone will want that case. And I trust you, and only you, with it. I would take it with me, but I can’t. I need you to hold on to it until I call and tell you where to bring it.”

“i’ve got work in an hour.”

“don’t go. don’t call in sick. do not use your phone. i’ll text you. wait for that text, don’t do anything else.”

“what is this? are you fucking with me?”

“this is real, this is important, and I can’t tell you what it’s about.”

“if you’re fucking with me...”

“no one can have it except you or me. you can’t trust anyone. what’s in this briefcase is too important. you just have to trust me. and wait for my text.”

“when are you going to text me?”

“soon. few hours.”

long pause.

“okay. i got this. on a scale from one to protected, this briefcase is protected.”

“thanks, nate. i always said that if i ever had a really, really important briefcase and I needed someone to trust it with to protect, it’d be you.”

“Aw, thanks.”

“I’ll text you.”

“Cool man. Look forward to it.”

“Lock your doors. Don’t answer if anyone knocks.”

“Really important briefcase. Text. Got it.

Robert exits the room. Nate tries to open the briefcase, but it is locked. sits down on the couch and watches tv.

There is a knock on the door.

Nate looks at the door, thinks a moment, before getting up to answer it. He leaves the briefcase on the couch.

A woman is at the door. Somewhere in her early forties. “Hey,” she says peering past Nate, looking around his house. “I hear you have a briefcase. Can I have it?” She tries pushing past him, but he grabs her and easily places her back on his front stoop.

“Excuse me? Get the fuck out of my house.”

“I’ll pay cash. $50 right now. Please. Just give it to me.” She tries pushing past him again, and Nate shoves her back outside and slams the door.

A man is pressing his face against the sliding glass door looking into the living room. He shouts to someone, “I see it! It’s on the couch!” A trashcan smashes through is front window, shattering glass across the carpet. “Get it! Get the briefcase!”

“Oh shit!” Nate grabs the briefcase and runs to the garage. He jumps into his shiny blue mustang and hits the ignition, the engine roars to life. Taking a deep breath, Nate hits the garage door button. As it opens, he sees that his short driveway is filled with people, shouting and pointing people. Their crazy wide eyes flash in the headlamps, cheekbones sharp, their shouting loud and insistent. His neighbors, their children, dogs growling at him.

A knock at his window. His roommate Sarah. Nate rolls it down halfway. “This is insane! Get in the car!”

Sarah lunges as far as she can through the open window. She screams “Give it to me! AAAHHHHH! Briefcase!”

Nate tries grabbing her wrists, wrestling with her. She has the advantage of a superior angle and crazy flapping arms, screaming in his face. He would have never gotten her out, but the woman from the front door pulls Sarah away, “The Briefcase is mine!” Nate manages to roll the window up before anyone else can lunge in.

Nate’s phone beeps, the screen lights up. A text message: “carrousel.”

His big black boots jam down the chrome clutch, shifts to first, slams the gas. The engine howls, tires screech, drowning out the neighbors as they fly in all different directions.

Nate knows exactly where to go.

* * *

* * *

My friend Nate Niec died on Tuesday. He was the biggest Action Star I ever knew, and I wanted to make a movie he could star in where he could be the cool tough amazing gentle trustworthy guy he is. I've been writing him as the Big Scary Monster for a long time now, but I needed to see his face, write his name, try to capture the way he would say things. I want to see him save the day the way I always imagined he would.

I'm having an impossible time imagining the future without him, I keep thinking of funny things to text him, or making plans to play some music again, convince Bradley to playing a reunion show, a 10 year anniversary. I'm sure it would have happened, even though it might have been the 11th anniversary by then. I want to show him the DVD I'm working on, of concerts we played, movies we made.

I just want so badly for him not to be gone. I want to hang out with him again, talk to him about motorcycles or how good something is. He was always good at talking about why stuff was really good.

Nate was the guy I was always going to be friends with, always going to like being around. A man with dignity and strength, always knew the right thing to say or to do. He was often embarassed by how tactless I could be, how clumsy and unaware. You never wondered if he would be there for you, because he would. We would both survive until we were old, and we'd tell each other funny stories and talk about the fun stuff we did. About how it all worked out well in the end, despite our worrying.

Goodbye Nate. I do hope to see you at the carousel.


Will said...

I am so sorry for your loss, that sucks so much. I never knew the guy but this is such an amazing tribute I feel like I sort of have a small understanding of who he must have been. You are really good at being friends with people and you really care deeply about them which is rare. I know it doesn't make anything better but I will be thinking of you this week, I am just so sorry you are going through this. All my love.

missing. said...

I didn't know Nate very well, but I think he would be so proud of this tribute. It perfectly captures what an awesome guy he was.

I never have the right words--if such a thing exists--for something this shocking. I guess I can only echo Will in saying that I'm thinking of you and that I'm so sorry.


Loretta Paraguassu said...

If we all get together and protest against the fates, maybe we can get him back after all...I just want one more knock on the door and one more hug. That's not asking so much, is it? He shouldn't have been allowed to do this to us. No one else has ever made me cry this much. I loved that boy...He was one of us. He should still be here. I've been listening to the news and hearing about hundreds of people losing their lives and I feel guilty -- I can only have an aching heart right now for one big, sweet, soft spoken guy who we're all going to miss.

Loretta Paraguassu said...

Robert -- Nate would have loved the piece you've written. I do. Only the best friend in the world could write something like that.

iwi said...

nate would have done anything for a friend. i'll miss him like hell.

- sarah

Avid Bookshop said...

Robert, I'm not sure if you remember me--I was ahead of you a couple of years at Milton. Nate and I got to know each other in drama class. We never knew each other well, but it was always great to run into him, get one of those big bear hugs, and catch up. I was so surprised and sad to hear of his death. I hope you're faring well. -Janet Geddis