NIGHT GALLERY – THEY’RE TEARING DOWN TIM RILEY’S BAR
So bear with me; this might be a lot.
I’ve had an obsession with changing the past or going back and reliving it without changing it or just… I’m not happy with the way things have turned out.
This was reflected in two episodes of The Twilight Zone that I watched this year: “Walking Distance” and “A Stop at Willoughby”. Both of these were adapted into prose in The Twilight Zone collections by Rod Serling. I watched them. Then read them. Then watched them again. Always having an emotional response, more for “Willoughby.”
Then there was an adaption by Serling in a collection of Night Gallery short stories of “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar.” Come October, having bought the Night Gallery complete series on DVD, I watched the episode. Then went into the bathroom and balled my eyes out.
I’ve gotten to the point in my life where retrospection has replaced any kind of future vision. I’ve realized a great many things about myself — not many of them very good, some downright toxic. I wasn’t a good person. At times, I was a shit. A shit with a smile. I hate people like I was. But I’ve tried to change.
Stories like “Tim Riley’s Bar” resonate with me in a way I can’t really describe, except to say “Watch it. You’ll understand.” But you wouldn’t.
Randy Lane, the protagonist in “Tim Riley’s Bar” is a good guy — stated by his secretary who’s affection for him can’t be held back anymore. He’s lonely, check. He’s on his way down, check. But people like him. That’s where the similarity ends.
I think it’s funny that in both “Walking Distance” and “A Stop at Willoughby,” the main character works in advertising. In “Tim Riley’s Bar,” he’s a plastics director of sales with 25 years at the company. Plastics. Advertising. Yep, that’s me.
I was raised in a middle-class family. I’m white, male, thin, tall, blonde, blue-eyed, intelligent, funny… The world was laid out for my taking. In 5th grade, I applied to work in the snack room at lunch. My teacher suggested me for manager, which I got (privilege I took as expected) and was eventually fired when I didn’t manage appropriately.
But that’s how it’s been.
I always expected things to go my way because I was the “STAR.” I belittled people because it was funny. I was a fucking bully. I hate people like I was, but I was like that because it was all I knew. I thought I was the star of this… whatever. If only I’d realized I was character actor at best, things would have been different. Good or bad, I don’t know, but different.
What’s the point of this? Who fucking knows.
I’m not happy. My life is a joke. I did it all wrong and regret it and wish I could make it right.
But I can’t. How could I?
Go back an not make fun of the people I made fun of, not bully them, not be a fucking asshole? Not even with a time machine would that be possible. Maybe a Flatliners-kind of redemption, but, yeah, that’s fiction.
I am alone and sad and basically just waiting to die. For heaven? Don’t believe in it. Reincarnation? Don’t believe in that either. So I’m just waiting for this particular story to end, like many Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes: abruptly and without satisfactory resolution.
I fucked up.