Issue #129: The Tornado Bandit by Anne Corbitt

Jason Bourne, after murdering a bad guy with a paper clip.

Jason Bourne, after murdering a bad guy with a paper clip.

I’m turning the reins over, once again, to Marie-Helene Bertino, who edited our wonderful new story, “The Tornado Bandit.” Enjoy, and Happy New Year!–Hannah

Along with the montage and the moment two people first catch eyes across an aquarium, the chase scene is a time honored movie archetype with its own set of characteristics and properties.

The Movie Chase Scene is normally conducted on a crowded city street at lunchtime, when every single one of the city’s workers have emerged blinking into the sun to run errands, push baby carriages, transport improbable, multi-tiered wedding cakes, wait in lines, or simply stand in front of storefronts and gape. The Movie Chase Scene’s participants are one or two rogueish thugs who are not as eloquent or dashing as Our Hero. Our Hero is normally in hot pursuit or, in the case of movies where he or she is being Accused of A Crime They Did Not Commit, being chased by these thugs. Our Hero has among his varied set of talents an ability to dodge large groups of tourists, leap enormous gaps in the asphalt that appear due to sudden and improperly thought out construction, stun problematic school girls into silence with his razor sharp chin.

In 2002, the Bourne movies took the chase scene to new levels by spreading it out over several neighborhoods in European cities and involving varied means of transportation. At any point during a Bourne chase, Jason could abandon a Porsche for a tractor trailer, ditch that for a helicopter until, at the chase’s conclusion, he is paddling after his man on a gondola. Albeit the fastest damn gondola in Europe. The Bourne movies widened even the way in which bad guys are killed. In one scene I still don’t entirely understand, Jason Bourne killed a Swedish operative via fax.

However, someone has to live in the apartment where Our Hero has dispatched his enemies. So, who cleans up? Who vacuums up the glass after the window shatters under the weight of propelled bad guys? In the case of “The Tornado Bandit,” the Miltons do.

Carl and Mitty Milton, characters lovingly created by Anne Corbitt, are your basic, aging married couple. They have a well-maintained house and a far away, disapproving daughter until one day, Everything Changes. Returning from a vacation during which they collected “every kind of rock candy the gift shop sold,” the Miltons find that the Tornado Bandit, an unknown Bourne-esque hero, has conducted a neighborhood-wide chase, resulting in a dead body in Mitty’s heretofore meticulously maintained bathroom.

From there, the Miltons experience a surge in passion as their lives begin to intertwine with the other families whose houses have also been damaged.

At its heart, “The Tornado Bandit” is a quick-humored story about what can be the malaise of middle life in married, suburban America. As the Bandit has romped through the neighborhood, the Miltons begin to romp through their lives; racing cars, having sex outside, gambling. They’ve woken up.

If I was a screenwriter and you were a board of action-seeking movie execs, I would pitch “The Tornado Bandit” this way: “TB” has everything, see? It has your love story, your sad story, your chase scene, and your heart rendering conclusion. It even has (wait for it) Oprah. I see Shia LeBeouf for the sequel.

Anne Corbitt, who cops (!) to being inspired by the Bourne movies in her Q&A, has deftly picked up where most movies leave off: After The Chase. Working with Anne on this story was a joy. She has a filmic sensibility and a great sense of play, all of which she bestows on her characters, who she obviously cares about deeply. Anne expertly develops the supporting cast (or “extras”) in “The Tornado Bandit,” crafting the hilarious Agent Crum, the Billings family and Leah Finkelstein, whose strange, movie-inspired arc triggers the climax of the story.

Will the Bandit return? Will The Miltons continue to enjoy their re-energized love and life or will they slide back into their old ways? Hey buddy, we’re not running a charity here. You have to pay to see! ($21 annually – 18 issues a year.) I know you will love it.

8 thoughts on “Issue #129: The Tornado Bandit by Anne Corbitt

  1. Wow, what a brilliant premise! Wish I’d thought of it! Can’t wait to read this when I come home to my latest issue of OS. And Marie as an editor, well, that’s just the icing on this blood-spattered cake.

  2. I loved this piece. So quirky and arresting and *fun* to read. I have to say I didn’t see the ending as all that sad (see the Q&A). The Miltons struck me as people who will, through the sheer force of their stolid averageness, see their short-lived liberation for what it was and settle back into normal life without wasting a lot of time mourning. My two cents. Kudos to Anne Corbitt.

  3. Argh! I left my issue at my friend’s house and she threw it out! Anyone want to swap an issue for Tornado Bandit so I can read it?

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