I see myself sitting alone on a park bench, minding my own business, perhaps wondering if the squirrels I’m feeding would as much concede me a grapenut if our roles were reversed. Then here comes L’Erin Ogle carrying a small gift wrapped box. She sits down next to me, smiles and tells me she has something she’d like to give me. Out of the corner of my eye I see that the squirrels aren’t sticking around to see what’s in the box. But, being human, I have to know. And I’m still going to open it even though what she hands me seems awfully warm and quite heavy for its size, and whatever it has inside seems to be moving about in a sloshy sort of way I do not like.
As a story, The Box operates just fine at both the surface and subterranean levels. A paradox arranges itself at the surface level, because that is where the world must make sense, and for it to continue to do so we cannot find ourselves speaking on the phone to a woman who has removed her own heart, wrapped it in a properly ribboned box and paid someone to deliver it to you. At the subterranean level, however, where words and images are flexible and should never be taken at face value, this makes perfect sense. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Paul’s perspective pretty much adheres to the surface level. He’s divorced, fifty, and, to be blunt, looking to get laid. Although such is never stated, he probably doesn’t believe in love anymore, and, in his mind, whatever the female of the species has going for it is probably confined in something that is often crudely referred to as “a box.” Now, Paul isn’t painted as a knuckle-dragger, but there is an element in his personality not far removed from the locker room.
Scarlett is young and almost too alive. Although she most certainly goes all in on every hand, she also seems controlled and extremely aware of Paul’s less than sincere motivations. I get the impression that she is using him at a level he can never understand, and that her seeming histrionics are merely means to greater ends. Scarlett is also an enchanted being of some kind, the term witch is applied, and it may be true, but it feels to me that she is self-enchanted, thus enabled to do anything she damn well pleases.
At the end, where the two disparate levels fuse as one, I got the impression that this wasn’t the first young woman Paul had used, but Scarlett most certainly would be his last. And something tells me that Paul wasn’t the first of his kind for her either; and that there would be and will be more; on and on; forever into forever; each one boxed into a hell composed of his own vanity.
That’s one park bench sitter’s opinion. Go on now, have a look into The Box and see what awaits you.