I inherited a deep chest freezer. The kitchen of my first-floor apartment is small and the chest is large, so there were complications. I considered another part of the apartment – the office, the bedroom, a large closet. I eventually decided to go outside, and put it on a small wooden landing under the kitchen’s only window, at the top of a small stairway that leads to an alley. I ran an extension cord through the screen and into a wall socket for power.
Trips outside to the freezer are pleasant, no matter the temperature or weather. And suddenly, free of the tiny freezer above my fridge, which clogs with icicles and frost, I can store large roasts, homemade pasta, breads, sauces from the sweet tomatoes of late summer, butter and gnocchi.
The trips out also remind me of the final reel of Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid from 1973, when Billy, played by Kris Kristofferson, rises hungry from bed with his lover to “see if old Pete’s got anything out in the cooler.” Billy meets his end moments after peeking into the ice chest on the back porch. His old friend Pat, played with a tired elegance by James Coburn, puts a bullet in his throat.
In an earlier scene, Garrett, wasting time on the frontier and drunk, forces a friend of Billy’s to drink whisky at gunpoint, telling Alias, played by a shyly bespectacled Bob Dylan, to occupy himself reading aloud labels of cans behind the bar. The barman is the iconic Chill Wills, his belly sticking out of his shirt. He wishes a local whore’s tit was “filled with tequila.”
Dylan, slowly and repeatedly saying things like “beans, stewed tomatoes, potatoes etc.,” weaves a strange spoken soundtrack for the scene, which ends in gunfire, slow-motion death and Wills, wheezing under his hat, cursing Garrett - “You just made me have a bowel movement in my britches, Garrett, I ain’t never gonna’ forgive you for that.”
The picture is a flawed and undervalued masterpiece by a fading master. Interior and exterior spaces loom large, and the soundtrack, sad and mournful, is one of Bob Dylan’s finest studio recordings.