Wednesday, October 21, 2015

OCTOBER 21, 2015

It's today. It's the day every Back to the Future fan knows. It's the day Marty goes into the future.

I am so excited. (The Cubs better win the damn World Series.)

To celebrate, I'm posting a piece of fiction I wrote, in fun, to try and understand the perspective of Biff Tannen, who is up there with Gene Hackman's character in Unforgiven for no-holds-barred villainy. I hope you enjoy it.

Biff Tannen Has Had It with Your Manure-Slinging.

I'm an old man, you know. Nearly eighty. I deserve some respect. Only one time did I ever have anything handed to me, and even that happened in a whaddyacallit, an alternator timeline. The rest of it? 100% Biff.

They used to call me Tan-the-Man, back at Hill Valley High. I can still hear them, yelling it at wrestling matches. I'd have some creepo from the next town over in a headlock, I'd feel him struggling, and they'd all be chanting Tan-the-Man, Tan-the-Man. Could you hear them chanting Klein-the-Man? No. He'd be as useful in the ring as tits on a cow.

And I didn't borrow my wheels from some crazy wild-eyed scientist to take a hot little mama to the dance. I earned the money to buy that Ford. Earned it washing dishes on the weekends and picking beans in the summer. You'd be upset about three hundred bucks' damage, too, if you knew that money was coming from nights of washing my hands until they bled and whole days wasted in Salinas.

Even with all my disadvantages, I made a good life for myself. Auto detailing's a decent business. No one ever noticed, ever cared, that I got married and had a couple kids of my own. Junie wasn't quite a brunette, not such nice skin as Lorraine, but she wasn't bad. I always said that I hated to see her walk away, but I loved to watch her go. That was true every time but the last. I held her hand in a hospital room, like all the old men do in the movies. Butch and Mary Jane there with me. He runs a bar downstate – the girls there dance in bikinis instead of in the buff, so it's pretty upscale – and she does all right at the chicken plant. Assistant supervisor in the plucking room. She's always got little white bits of feathers in her hair, even when she's saying so-long to her mother. No one wanted to say anything about it. Maybe she doesn't even notice anymore when she looks in the mirror.

I just want some respect. I want you to understand what you saw. My Hill Valley was still a nice place to live. You mighta seen it at the wrong time, is all. The police thing was under control, with real arrests starting to happen again, and I was finally turning enough on the casino to put some of that money back into the town. In 1990 the place would've been a regular Las Vegas. Real classy, you know. But that's the way things always happened for me: every time my life started to go good, that little jerk in the life preserver showed up to ruin it. I get the perfect car, he covers it in shit. I get a decent office job where I'm in charge, he makes sure I do auto detailing instead. I get a book that tells the future, he steals it and covers me in shit again. I finally get rich, and he takes all that away from me.

You've got the wrong idea about me all around. Anybody with half a brain would take the opportunity I did with the DeLorean and the almanac. I gave myself the chance to marry the girl I love and give her a really nice life, anything she wanted. It's not my fault if that wasn't enough for her, if that nice life wasn't making her happy. Lorraine, she was never satisfied with anything. Remember? She was only happy this one certain way. Otherwise she was drinking, screwing up her kids' futures, no matter what year it was. And who's to say she was really happy with Mr. Butthead Author? She was barking up the wrong bush with him, if you ask me.

But there's no one willing to listen to my side of the story. The little jerk tells the only story anyone ever hears, and he makes mountains out of anthills. That night in the parking lot, for example, didn't happen the way everyone thinks. I'd explain, but you wouldn't believe me. Nobody wants to listen to an old man, even if he was Tan-the-Man once.

Yeah. Tan-the-Man. That's me. Everything I got, I worked for it. I cared about it. I didn't do nothing wrong, I didn't do nothing halfway. It's them, all the buttheads, and one in particular, who make me look like the bad guy. Hello? I want to say. Hello? Anybody home? Think. Think about the stories everyone tells. If it looks to you like it was all my fault, you've got the wrong end of the microscope.

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