Walking Distance - Recap
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Ad agency executive Martin Sloan pulls into a gas station and honks for service. As the gas station attendant works on his car, Martin notices that Homewood is a mile up the road. He grew up in Homewood and hasn’t been back there in over 20 years. Martin talks about how he had to get out of New York City after another series of board meetings. He decides to walk to Homewood while the attendant finishes work on his car.
Martin arrives at a drug store in Homewood and asks the counterman for an old-fashioned chocolate soda, the kind they used to make for a dime. Martin thinks the counterman looks familiar and talks about how he’s been away so long. The counterman charges him a dime for the soda and is surprised when Martin claims no one ever charges that any more. Martin talks about his memories of the place and how nothing seems to have changed. He remembers how Mr. Wilson was in the office in the back before he died, and how Wilson always slept in his chair. Martin tips the counterman a dollar and leaves. Puzzled the counterman goes into the back… and tells Mr. Wilson they’re running low on chocolate syrup.
Martin walks down the streets of the neighborhood and sees a mother trying to get her son down out of a tree. Martin helps the woman get her son down and talks about the park in summer and the merry-go-rounds and the band concerts. He talks about how he lived a few blocks away, played baseball, and carved his name on a post in the bandstand when he was 11. He looks over… and sees a boy carving his name in the post. He approaches the boy who is carving the name “Martin Sloan.” Young Martin apologizes but when Martin recognizes him, the boy runs away.
Martin goes to his childhood home and rings the doorbell. His mother and father, 20 years younger, answer the door and can’t understand how they can be there. He says that he’s Martin and they react in shock, closing the door on him. As Martin walks away, he sees a teenager with a new 1934 roadster with a rumble seat next door in the driveway. He begins to realize what has happened.
That night, Martin walks the streets and finds his younger self’s baseball glove and bike. His father comes out and Martin explains that it’s his house and his glove, and that he belongs there. Martin’s father thinks he’s delusional and warns him that he’ll be in trouble if he stays. Martin’s mother comes out and Martin tries to convince her he’s who he says he is. Martin tries to show her the cards in his wallet but she knocks it to the ground and slaps him before going inside. Martin hears the merry-go-round music and realizes where his younger self is. He runs to the park and finds Young Martin on the ride. Martin leaps on and tries to tell him of his future. Young Martin runs past the other riders and falls off the side, and catches his leg beneath the ride. Martin collapses in pain, clutching at his leg, then looks on and talks of how he just wanted to tell his younger self to enjoy his childhood while he can.
As Martin sits on the merry-go-round, his father arrives and tells him that Young Martin will limp but he’ll be all right. He then shows Martin the discarded wallet and realizes that he’s telling the truth. Martin’s father wonders what he knows of the future, and then says there’s no room for him there. He wonders what’s so bad about Martin’s future and Martin talks of how he’s been doing everything at a dead run, and he’s tired. Martin’s father tells him that perhaps he needs to look to the future instead of the past, and there are merry-go-rounds and band concerts in the present. They say their farewells and Martin gets on the turning merry-go-round. When it comes around again, Martin is gone.
In the present, Martin returns to the Homewood drugstore to find that it’s changed. They no longer make sodas for a dime and Mr. Wilson is long dead. As Martin gets up to go, he stumbles over his bum leg and remembers how he fell off a merry-go-round when he was a kid. Martin limps away and goes back to get his car to drive away.