Owen Treadwell is lazy, vain, a coward made a millionaire by a one-off act of brilliance in his childhood, who reaches thirty-four years old to find that he has never made a firm decision in his life. Guided by chance, he flies to a remote Pacific island to escape his living room, his limitations, and, most of all, his high-flying corporate lawyer girlfriend.
Once there, he dabbles in the island’s paradise, and then he is drawn to the island’s other visitors – people just like him: deluded, idealistic, self absorbed - who frustrate and fascinate him until he snaps. A local family on the island take a shine to him. They invite him into their home to share in a bereavement they have suffered, and Owen cannot fathom why. Perplexing him also is the agenda of the promiscuous and athletic alpha male, Ledley, who claims that he will be joining a Benedictine monastery on his return home. Throw in the Girl in the Green Bikini, and Megan, who can pull off the best impression of a German duck (“Qvark”) and Owen finds his fidelity increasingly tested.
Music is also beginning to have an effect on him; music that is inexplicable yet somehow deeply moving. His girlfriend’s twin brother Malakye has a score to settle with him as soon as he gets back home. His inheritance is dwindling. He wants to remain just where he is but feels the urge to make a terrible mistake. And then there is the issue of the killer sea creature patrolling the island’s waters. Will he have to remain on the island indefinitely because of the creature’s threat, or can he simply up and leave, a different person, completely of his own accord?
Bulldog is a tale of trading on your former glories, of embracing life’s complexities and learning finally how to confront what’s right in front of you. It’s a tale of growing up, of facing your imperfections, and of learning how to live outside yourself. It’s about the self imposed difficulties of travelling from A to B and it is a tale about those who refuse to accept the simple, recommended path in life.
Coincidence or not, when Sylvia Browne, that fraudulent psychic from The Montel Williams Show, walked on to give a reading of two Puerto Rican former lovers who were squabbling over the paternity of their daughter, vibrations sent my phone in second-long repeated fits across the coffee table. I saw Melody’s name and number clearly. She was touching base, a phrase she’d made unbearable from overuse. Never mind. I’d already seen this episode of Montel anyway. It had been repeated in the early nineteen nineties, when the influx of American networks raised the picture temperatures on gloomy English screens, and all those gaudy reds and oranges of Hollywood had me California dreaming of a world I really thought existed. That was the summer when our satellite dish arrived, when every night revolved around the adult channel fifteen minute previews that I’d stay awake to watch till midnight, bug-eyed and bristling with adolescent sexual intent.
“Hello my little chicken foot.”
“Owen? Owen, are you at home right now?”
“I’m watching TV. You after something?”
“Just touching base.” Traffic in the background, both human and mechanical, betrayed a brimming urgency. “Well, actually…” The line was bad – the price for all this prodding and swiping in place of good old fashioned analogue communication. “Have you got access to a computer?”
When facing Melody, a liar fights a losing battle. Answer honestly and you’ll confirm what she already knows, and she already knew, through periodic speculation, guesswork, cynicism, and the time she caught me, Kleenex at the ready, perched on top of the grab bar in the bathtub, that I’d have my hummus encrusted MacBook cooling by the window following a matinée of Ebony Betrayal.
“Give me a second to fire it up,” I said. “Right, what was it you wanted?”
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