The Case of Sydney Barringer


The Case Of Sydney Barringer is based on a vignette from Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia.



The year was 1958
Los Angeles the cityscape
Seventeen was Sydney’s age,
the motive was a quick escape
he simply hated
his parents Arthur and Faye,
could hardly wait to get away
whatever way the wind would take him.

Mr. and Mrs. Barringer
were simplistic bickering characters
disinterested in its bearing on
their kid, they’d hardly cared for him.
Tight budgets and too tight quarters
might cut their fuses’ light’s shorter,

tense, turbulence, tend towards testy cursing fits
that steadily worsen to render the term
“domestic disturbance” to “tender attempts at encouragement”

Arthur, was a worthless lush,
Mother, was a termagant,
her words would rush and work him up
to, sure enough, a hurtful drunk,
he’d redden quick, clench his fists,
leave her eyes with purple lumps,
she’d threaten him, a deadly risk,
her screams aside, preferred a gun.
So said Syd’ “this settles it”
he devised a terminal jump.

He felt like a lost son,
beaten down more than brought up,
seemed slaughter was all that they want done in the long run,
then Arthur cut his chore funds off just
to afford more gut rot?

That was the last straw,
plucked from a haystack
whose needle is Mom’s love.
These thoughts rush on while
he’s loading the shotgun.
Then scrawled a note describing
why he’d climb to the 9 story
tall roof he’d choose to take
that fatal fall from.

Not even a week elapsed
the bonds that were weak collapsed,
we could ask “why?”
we’ve seen the classic “good and evil” clashing
inner demons battle inner peace in eons past
if only powder kegs
that sparked the heated flash
arguments in that apartment
would thaw the frigid shoulders
their titanic seething madness
would inevitably be crashing
perhaps the tragedy
wouldn’t have even happened.

The Barringers bicker back and forth,
tit for tat of course, this and that endured,
“bitch” and “bastard” roared,
pissing match procured,
brick-a-brak has soared,
Syd just grabbed his mournful
disturbing note and fled,
a whisper out the door,
enraged from that violent portal,
meditating he’d preferred to go
ascend to the diving board roof,
fight escalated as he’s curling toes,
in no way is this child support!
trembling vertigo,
never saw down that 9 before,
his place just a third below,
despite his suicidal thoughts
terrified to build courage to go,
but when he heard them both,
this pushed him over the edge,

as he stepped off the ledge,
his father’s back was pressed
against the wall on the same side
from which his son just stepped,
Fending off Faye’s firing squad impression,
an unprecedented accident,
the gun kicked back and by awful chance
the bullet missed Arthur and
hit Syd, ripped apart his chest
as his body plummeted,
this was the cause of death,
since in a believe Ripley or not event,
had it not been for the shot connecting
Sydney would have fallen yes,
but been safely dropped into a window washers’ net.

Since he loaded the shotgun you’d guess
“the suicide was a success”
forensics figured it Fayes’ fault and said
Sydney an accomplice in his own end.