Home > Everything Leads to You(3)

Everything Leads to You(3)
Author: Nina LaCour

Charlotte cocks her head. “You’re choosing a belt buckle?”

“It’s for Toby,” I say, and Charlotte blushes because she’s been in love with my brother forever. Reminded, I check my phone and see that we’re supposed to meet up with him in just under two hours.

Charlotte’s flipping through records. She pulls out a Patsy Cline album.

“I can’t get over this,” she says. “Clyde Jones used to sit on these chairs and listen to this record.”

We find Ginger signing a credit card slip for over twenty thousand dollars, which might explain why, when we show the estate sale man the belt buckle and Patsy Cline record, he beams at us and says, “My gift to you.”

“Charlotte, will you get Harrison on the phone?”

Charlotte does, and hands the phone to the man to arrange a pickup, and then we are back in Clyde’s hot driveway, out of his house forever.


Toby lives in a classic LA courtyard apartment, like the one in David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive, which chooses to focus on the darker side of the movie business, and also the one in Melrose Place, which was a nineties TV show set in West Hollywood that my dad lectures about in his Pop Culture of Los Angeles course at UCLA. Toby’s courtyard has a tidy green lawn and a pretty fountain, and from the side of his cottage you can see a tiny strip of the ocean. We walk in, and there is his stuff, packed, waiting by the door. A set of matching suitcases that look so grown up.

He hugs us both. Me first and long, Charlotte next and quicker. Then he stands and faces us, my tan brother with his crooked smile and black hair that’s always in his eyes. I feel sad, and then I push the sadness away because of what we have to tell him.

“Toby,” I say. “We spent the afternoon in Clyde Jones’s house.”

“You’re shitting me,” he says, his eyes wide.

“No,” Charlotte says. “Not at all.”

“His house was full of the most amazing—” I start, but Toby puts his hands over his ears.

“Dont’tellmedon’ttellmedon’ttellme,” he says.

“Okay,” I say.

“The collapse of the fantasy,” he says.

I know, I mouth, all exaggerated so he can read my lips.

“I love Clyde Jones,” he says, dropping his hands.

I nod. “Not another word on the subject,” I say. “But I do have something for you. Close your eyes.”

My brother does as told and holds out his hands. I pretend I don’t notice Charlotte staring at him, and place the belt buckle in his cupped palms. He opens his eyes. Doesn’t say anything. I wonder whether I chose the wrong object, and then I realize that tears are starting.

“Oh, please,” I say.

“Holy. Shit.” He blinks rapidly to compose himself. Then he rushes to his bookshelf of DVDs and pulls one out. He’s mumbling to himself as he turns on his TV and waits for the chapter selection to appear on the screen. “Saloon door . . . I’m a man of the law but that don’t make me honest . . . Round these parts . . . Yes!”

He’s found the scene, and we all squeeze onto my parents’ old sofa, me in the middle acting as a buffer for the sexual tension between my brother and my best friend.

Toby presses play and turns up the volume. I recognize it as The Strangers, but I’ve only seen it a couple times so I’ve forgotten a lot of what’s happening. The scene begins with a shot of a saloon door. We hear the voices of the people inside but the camera doesn’t turn to them. When one person matters so much, all you can do is wait for his arrival. And then boots appear at the bottom of the door, a hat above it. The doors burst open and there stands Clyde Jones.

The screen fills with a close-up of his young, knowing face, shaded by a cowboy hat. He scans the saloon until he sees the sheriff, drinking at a table with one of the bad guys. The camera shifts to his cowboy boots as they stomp across the worn wooden floor toward the sheriff and his buddy, who both spring up from the table and draw their guns as soon as they see Clyde.

Unfazed, Clyde deadpans, “I thought you were a man of the law.”

Sheriff: “I’m a man of the law but that don’t make me honest.”

The bad cowboy doesn’t say anything, but looks borderline maniacal as he points the gun at Clyde.

Then Clyde says, “Round these parts, lawlessness is a disease. I have a funny suspicion I know how to cure it.”

The camera moves down to his holster, and Toby shouts, “Look!” and presses pause. There’s the belt buckle: the horse, that hill, the moon.

Charlotte says, “That’s amazing!”

I say, “Toby. I am seriously worried about you. Of all the Clyde Jones movies and all the belt buckles, how did you know that this buckle was in this scene of this movie?”

But Toby is doing a dance around his living room, ignoring me, reveling in the glory of his new possession.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he chants.

After a while Toby calms down enough that we can watch the rest of the movie, which goes by quickly. Clyde kills all the bad guys. Gets the girl. The end.

“Okay,” Toby says. “I asked you both here for a reason. Come to the table.”

I’m trying to hold on to the good feeling of the last hour, but the truth is I’m getting sad again. Toby is about to leave for two months to scout around Europe for this film that starts shooting soon. It’s stupid of me—it’s only two months, and it’s a huge promotion for him—but Toby and I spend a lot of time together so it feels like a big deal. Plus he’s going to miss my graduation, which I shouldn’t care about because I’ve been over high school for a long time. But I do care just a little bit.

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