Oxford Town: A Weekly Magazine

November 20, 2019

Lessons Learned in Dreamy Green Pastures

Or How to Get Your Movie Made in Oxford

By Brian Olivas

Dalton Kimbrough walks into The Roadhouse Bar & Grill, and people rise as if he is one of the Divine, calling them to some hip clergy. They feel the call of his ambition in their drunken souls. They stretch out their palms for a handshake, some recognition.

Smiling man with dark hair and dark beard and mustacheBut he's only here to pay the bar tab he skipped out on, in a fit of spirits and inspiration, the previous night.

"You'd think he was Marty Scorsese, the way these broke jackasses act," says the scowling bartender as Kimbrough ambles out, a girl obscured on the sidewalk waiting to take his arm.

A self-taught, self-described genius, Kimbrough has ruffled the oil-slicked feathers of too many turkeys in this town; he has lured them away from the booze troughs toward the shade of his brilliance. He claims to be making a movie, the one art form in which this town has shown zero interest or promise.

Those who have sat with him, talked with him, read with him say this will all change. They say his name is alive; his word is truth. They say he is making a masterpiece, and they will follow him.

A Human Verb

Depending on who you ask, Kimbrough is "cool," "gifted," "rapacious," "talentless," "maladjusted," "sagacious," "twerpish," "indecent" or "sanguine."

No matter the adjectives — he is a verb.

"The people in this town need to realize one thing," Kimbrough says via email. "Slackdom is the leading cause of atrophy. I've known people to literally melt away from lack of ambition."

Yes, but aren't you a walking contradiction?

Trifled amusements

When Kimbrough first arrived in Oxford, he was cited as a reversed heretic, touched by definite madness and rolling in nothing. He claimed to have killed men and ravished women. He wailed in back alleys, tussling with the curs and rodents for a patch of slimed asphalt on which to sleep. Stories of his tom-peepery and open self-flagellation continue to haunt his reputation.

"Fictions," he claims on my voicemail. "Trifled amusements. But they're my business, so how can I condemn them?"

To actually meet with Kimbrough and sit down for a proper interview, you must first prove there is something in it for him. As I had nothing tangible to offer, I disguised my voice and called him, expressed my interest in helping him create his cinematic masterpiece, and arranged a lunch date at Bottletree Bakery.

In the interim before the meeting, I spoke to several vanquished souls who had already met with the auteur. How was it? I asked. What did you learn about yourself?

One sad fleck with a bruised jaw was perched in a high chair at the Roadhouse. He told me that Kimbrough had challenged him to a duel, an old-fashioned swapping of sabers, though instead of actual swords, they agreed to use pool cues from Duffy's Bar & Grill. "He had a bunch he was getting rid of," said the bar fool.

Why a duel? I inquired.

"I guess because my teeth weren't pearly white enough to be in his pretty-boy movie," the guy returned, sounding as if he had a chaw of cotton wedged in his purpled cheek.

A witness later told me that the bar fool had forgotten to attend an audition, and Kimbrough, after waiting several hours, found the truant actor and berated the poor lush's existence in an eloquent string of profane metaphors for nigh 30 minutes. Kimbrough then offered his challenge and proceeded to drag the young scruff from his perch, then into the alley where the pool cues were waiting. Hardly a minute had passed before our friend Kimbrough had cracked the young man across the face, demolishing the pool cue and creating such a racket that the witness "heard the boy forget his own name." One final note: Kimbrough picked up the loser's tab.

Another youngster, a pretty high school girl who aspired to work as a production assistant on Kimbrough's film, was rushed to the family's psychotherapist following the harsh tirade Kimbrough delivered to her upon discovering that she had neither heard of nor seen Apocalypse Now. Apparently, he convinced her that there was no God and that every individual becomes the devil, one day at a time, over the course of their entire life.

I must admit, these stories of pain and prejudice tainted my enthusiasm for our meeting at Bottletree. What mental or bodily harm would come my way if Kimbrough found out I was a Mickey Rourke fan, or that I'd never seen a Michelangelo Antonioni film?

Meeting the auteur

The fateful hour arrived, and I assumed the identity of an aggressive, wet-behind-the-ears dreamer. He appeared, bundled in logger's flannel with sawdust and Skittles in his beard; I refused to let him pay for my latté, though I saw him gesture to the waitress to put it on his check. He asked me what my interest in his film was, and I told him I wanted to act. Miraculously, he saw through my ruse and accused me of being "that reporter."

"It's okay," he said. "Better to hear it from the horse's mouth, I suppose."

My secret self revealed, I was refused certain details about the script, which he wrote while isolated in a log cabin, deep in the county woods. The film is slated to be called Death to the Revelers, and in Kimbrough's words, "It's about a cult whose members commit suicide of the spirit."

The events in the film "come from a part of me where danger rests, someplace I thought I had left a long time ago," according to the director.

How will you pay for it all? I inquired.

"It's a sure-thing for investors. This film will be celebrated far and wide, I assure you that. Only the finest and most dedicated people in Oxford are working on this. Our collaboration, and the terrific results, will be a testament to this town's potential."

I sighed, then asked him about his interest in film. He professed the highest esteem for Errol Morris, Orson Welles, David Lynch, Mike Leigh, William Eggleston, Akira Kurosawa, Nicholas Roeg, Peter Greenaway, Samuel Fuller. He went on, but my memory did not.

"I love to wander the country roads and sit in pastures," he confessed, my ears pricking up. "I study the cows as they stand around, living their stationary lives. Their stasis feeds my momentum."

Kimbrough is fantastically, nonsensically quotable, but I don't buy it. I tell him this, part of me trying to incite his renowned fury, part of me allowing the acrid espresso to purge my own self-loathing.

He answered, somewhat passively. "You know, sir, there are a number of parasites like yourself in this world. I've often encountered them when I walk through rain puddles with bare feet. Whether you find me genuine or full of pissy steam makes no difference. In the end, we all return to the feces of the earth. What lingering minerals will you choose to deposit on your way down? What nutrients will you use to sweeten the life of those you've left accountable?"

He stood up, gave a strange curtsy, and walked out. The jerk left me with the check.

 

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