After hearing so much about the place for so many years, it’s hard to approach a Dark Hole in the Ground with fresh eyes. One can’t help comparing it to all those on-screen appearances: Alice in Wonderland, Holes, Sadaam Heusein’s capture video. Now several eons old, a Dark Hole in the Ground is smaller and rounder than I imagined, with a graying wisp of grass hanging at its entrance, but you can still make out something of its former charm in the sulfer smell that meets you as you crawl inside.
Without asking me if I want anything to drink, a Dark Hole in the Ground gives me a puddle of water, which in my nervousness I walk right through. D.H. doesn’t mention it, and I’m reminded of what Katherine Hepburn once said about his manners: “He had a kind of old world charm, which of course made all us girls absolutely gooey-eyed for him. But Hole was never interested in us in that way.” Though the rumor has never been confirmed, many suspect that a Hole in the Ground maintained a long-term affair with a Ditch by the Road, who enjoyed a celebrated career of its own (Fargo, Blood Simple, Sadaam’s retreat from Kuwait). Their secrecy was of course warranted in an era of Hollywood when to be found in a hole-on-hole relationship could spell the end of a leading hole’s career. It was Ditch that got D.H. interested in meditation, and in later life the two were often pictured together near the caves of Gharapuri.
Hepburn and Ditch have been gone for several years now, and I’m hoping to ask Ground how it feels to have outlived so many of his friends, but my question is met by a distant scurrying noise followed by a clang. Everyone warned me he might be this way: recent interviews have been filled with similar outbursts. Last May, Hole got in hot water when, asked about his thoughts on the presidential election, he made an insensitive dripping noise.
Some have argued that it’s unfair to expect a Dark Hole in the Ground to meet our modern standards of discourse — after all, we must remember that Hole was formed in an era when it was still acceptable to refer to velociraptors “featherbacks.” But admiration is the vanishing twin of resentment; the bigger the admiration, the bigger the feast. Today the same friends of mine who used to smear themselves in dirt on Halloween so they’d look like D.H. now run him through the mud on Twitter.
Through all this, D.H. remains unmoved. The world has changed, and that’s fine with him. He’s seen it change before. There have been talks of an Alice in Wonderland 2: Madder & Hatterer, but in this new era of safety, most studios view it as a liability to have Dark Holes lying around on set. In all likelihood he’ll be buried soon, just like Ditch, whom the road crews filled up last June. Though he’d never say so, I’ve overstayed my welcome. I thank him for the puddle and crawl out. As the exit becomes visible, I hear him begin to meditate. “Om,” he says. “Om.”