talking, or rather the man is speaking, his voice too low to understand.
She simply stands there, head down. What kind of relationship is it?
Friends? Familial? The man's movements hold the languor of age, and
here he is placing a paternal hand on Annie's shoulder. Paternal?
Mr. Chen? Something out of a cheap film noir, but Allen had
predicted as much.
The man is explaining something to her. C.J. is now flat on his stomach,
crawling through the minefield of trash, inch by inch. The sand is
wet and it sticks to his elbows and knees. Other debris clinging now
too -- he doesn't want to guess what it is. The couple is about ten
feet away. The man's left arm is about Annie's shoulders and they
are perfectly still, their backs to him, her head nestled in the crook
of his arm. Not father? Lover? Who can say? What divides such things?
He can smell the river now -- it reeks of gas. Or is it him? He has
brought the gas with him. They have separated and the man is speaking
again, both of them still facing the river.
C.J. hears fugitive words: …won't be long. You don't have to …
With an abrupt shake of the head -- Fear? Sadness? Anger? -- Annie
whirls around and stomps away from the man, back towards the disco.
It is only through dumb luck that she does not see C.J. -- she has
turned to her left to escape, rather than to her right. C.J. watches
her depart, her legs exaggerated in their up-and-down movements as
she makes her way up the riverbank. The man watches her leave, only
calling out once: Annie! An older man, no question about it.
His voice has gravel in it. The distant searchlight reaches out feebly
once again, and C.J. lifts his head, his lips pulled back from his
teeth and his eyes narrowed to slits as he peers at the man's face,
ready to settle this once and for all --