Scene 6

carny copy

Outside, day. Two days before the Carnival opens. Everyone is feeling the pressure of the upcoming deadline. Ready or not the show must go on. It would be Buster’ butt if it weren’t ready.

Today Lobo works as Henry’s “assistant”. He is struggling to repair the neglected attractions. Greasy and sweaty. Stripped gears. Worn down. Buster comes by to check on them. Lobo explains the gear must be replaced, “It’s stripped. It’s going to slip off and cause an accident.” Buster blows him off, “Just to best you can. What else is going on?” Henry reports, “Well the cam shaft here and at the Rocket are rusted out. The bearings need to be replaced on the Twister…” Lobo interrupts, “The shit around here is all falling apart. But these stripped gears are the worst! This problem is serious, people could get hurt! We must have them replace ASAP!”  Lobo and Buster argue. “Listen, the Boss says no new parts… period. You’ll just have to make do.” Lobo insists, “But I’ve told you, it’s going to break!” Buster, angry and defensive that his authority is being challenged by this new guy, “Listen, you aren’t the boss around here… back off or else!” Buster’ threat is noneffectual to move Lobo to cease and desist. However, he sees that Buster is not going to give in so he shakes his head and walks away to get back to work. Buster would have taken it further but the Confrontation causes attention from passersby. He doesn’t like the loud talk of accidents and liability. Therefore, Buster leaves in order to avoid a scene. He’ll get him some other way.

Meanwhile, back inside the trailer. Butch & Agnes. Agnes looks lustfully (careful to do it secretly & subtly) at Lobo, who is working in the distance with no shirt on . She admires his lanky, toned, tattooed physique. She takes long, deep drags off her cigarette. In the background, Butch is complaining about all kinds of shit as he reads the paper. A special feature, the year in review. 1969. Woodstock. Hippies. Vietnam. My Lai. Moon Landing. Manson. Anti-war demonstrations everywhere. Inflation, sky rocketing prices. People are fixated, engaged, entertained. “All the commotion is taking away business. They just all sit at home and are glued to the fuckin’ T.V. set. Nobody wants to go to Carnivals anymore.” Sporadically Agnes parrots numb consent or feigns interest while she continues to ponder Lobo and smoke.

Butch continues his steady stream of mumbling. “For a while it was at least a place to bring the kids. Now the parents just stick them in front of Sesame Street, or Captain Kangaroo or Bozo. Kid shows are on all the time.”

Butch’ constant complaining finally reaches a threshold of frustration, Agnes is tired of the whining. She gives him a contemptuous, impatient look. Butch notices and changes tone. “I just don’t see how we’re going to pull it off, maybe the accountant was right. Maybe it is time to let it go.”

Butch is in one of his dark moods again. It seems like every few weeks, usually after a wild several day binge of drinking and carousing, Butch hits one of his ‘the sky is falling, there’s nothing I can do, what’s the use, I don’t want to do this anymore’ trips.

It is then Agnes’ job to encourage and exhort him back into hope and vision. She doesn’t mind it really. It used to cause quite a bit of friction when she took it seriously. Now, she understands that it’s just part of the script. In fact, sometimes it’s rather endearing. In these moods, she gets to play “Mommy” and put all things right. Sees an almost tender side of Butch… if you look past the bitching and sulking. It could be worse, he might want to fuck a new whore every week, that she wouldn’t take. So anyway, it was her cue…

Agnes suggests, “Why don’t we give the Carnival a face lift. Bring it into modern times… No one’s into 50’s & 60’s anymore. We’re in the 70’s now! It’s a new world. Paint is cheap. Lobo’s cheap. Let him go at it.” Agnes continues to peer out the window at Lobo. Butch lethargically rises from his perch and mutters reluctantly, “I don’t trust him. There’s something about him…” Agnes shrugs apathetically, “So, what’s to trust? It will just cost paint and brushes.”

Buster arrives to give an updated status report. This time, instead of offering to let Buster in, Butch exits the trailer and pulls the door shut behind him… to keep Agnes out of it and maintain a front. “So how are things going?” Buster gives an account of progress. Then turning his attention to the recent confrontation with Lobo, begins to get miffed, “ That ½ breed Lobo started arguing with me, and causing quite a stir. I don’t know where he gets off…” Butch concerned,  “He’s complaining, hassling you!? I’m not surprised. I could tell he was going to be trouble the first time I saw him.” He pauses briefly. Lobo really got to him.

“So, what are you planning to do about it?” tests Butch. Buster confidently, “Nothing, I can’t handle, boss.” Buster goes on to explain the progress in other areas. “I think we’ll make it. It’ll be close… but we’ll make it.” Butch nods, “You’re great! I knew you could handle it!” Butch gleams. Buster confesses, “However, there is one problem. I hate to admit it, but Lobo might have point. The gears on the Carousel are stripped real bad… it could be dangerous… ” Butch, “Gears? That’s bull shit. Nah, the Carousel will hold up. It’s been just fine for over 30 years! Henry can handle it.” Changes subject.

Butch thoughtfully, “Yea, I knew he’d be a problem… as far as Lobo is concerned, we’ll pull him off… Buster is puzzled, “ What about… Henry really needs someone to…” Butch cuts him off, “Put Hank in to give Henry a hand, “I’ve got other plans for Lobo. We need to upgrade the image around here. Modernize. It’s the 70’s now. I’m going to turn Lobo loose on paintin’ new graphics… space age stuff, sexy babes, karate fighting… all that shit. Buster starts to object, “But Boss!” “Butch reassures him, “Yea, I know Lobo’s a jerk, but we’ll use him… like a cigarette, (takes a drag) then we’ll toss him away like the garbage that he is…”

Takes his empty cigarette pack out of his shirt pocket, crumbles it up and tosses it over to the nearby trash receptacle. “Still, I want you to keep an eye on him though, Butch warns. “I don’t trust that Mother fucker farther than I can throw him. Buster is sullen, he doesn’t like giving Lobo a break. He is somewhat comforted by Butch’ apparent disdain and distrust at least. Butch commends, “Buster, you’re my sergeant. I can really depend upon you. And I really appreciate that.” Butch slaps Buster affectionately on the back like a proud father. Buster lightens up a bit. “Don’t bother yourself with Lobo, I’ll take care him.” Butch glances over to Lobo, still at work on the Carousel. He heads over.

Butch & Lobo talk. Lobo is suspicious at first, but Butch appears sincere and open. They have a friendly exchange. Butch offers, “I just want to tell you, You’re doing a great job. We were very impressed by your art. In fact, we’d like to give you a chance to use it…” adding a little dramatic suspense through the brief pause… “We want you to repaint the Carnival facades. Give the place a face lift. You know, the whole place redone in the spirit of the age… Rock & Roll. Space Missions. Star Trek. Sexy Hippie chicks. Psychedelic, Drug culture art… Stuff like that. Think you can handle it?” Butch with a big magnanimous smile.

Lobo is truly excited about the opportunity. Drawing and painting dramatic scenes is definitely preferable to fixing shit. He didn’t allow himself the hope that it would ever really happen for him. It’s really too good to be true. They continue to talk about their ideas. Butch seems open to hear Lobo’ ideas, “ I just need paint and a few brushes. I can create the rest.” Long pause. Butch nods, “Well, go for it.”

Lobo, suddenly becomes concerned, his suspicious nature, rather developed intuition tells him something is amiss. “How about rides? Buster said…” Butch puts his hand gently on Lobo’s forearm, Don’t worry, we’re taking care of the problems. I appreciate you pointing out the dangerous situation to Buster. He just felt a little put down is all. He’ll get over it. Thanks for helping out… Lobo lets it go. Hmmm. Maybe Butch is on the level after all. Well there’s no harm in trying it out anyway.

Butch suggests, ‘Now, go tell Clyde, over at the utility trailer, what you need. He’ll take care of you. Remember, we only got two days until opening. I don’t expect everything to get done by then of course. Just try to get a couple of the main attractions by then. But I would like the majority of it finished by the time we hit the road two weeks from now. Do you think you can pull it off?

Lobo thinks a minute, gives a long look at the enormity of the task ahead of him. Grateful for the opportunity and the challenge. Prison was so routine and oppressive in that way. No real chance to expand and stretch out. “I’ll do my best… I promise.” Lobo looks sincere and grateful. “Yea, I believe you will”. Butch says under his breath as Lobo heads off. Lobo turns back while his feet still carry him forward several paces, to catch a look at Butch, “Don’t forget about the Carousel, it’s really dangerous,” Lobo urges him. You’ve got to repair it right away.” Butch sternly but still with residual warmth, “I said we’ll take care of it, promise.” Lobo leaves, a new spring in his step. “And… thanks! I appreciate the opportunity.”

Butch watches him go, nodding to himself. That was easy.  Now for the next task. Locating Henry, he lets him know about Lobo’ reassignment as well as his replacement, Hank. “I’m sorry to lose him, he really knew his stuff.” Henry says mournfully. “Well, you can put your new assistant on it,” Butch suggests. Henry regretful. “He can’t do the job, Boss. He doesn’t know half… and it’s only two days before we open… Butch reassuringly. “Well, do the best you can. I have every confidence in you.” Henry doesn’t seem to hear him. “I’m afraid Lobo’s right boss! This gear is in real bad shape.” Henry wipes his greasy hand across his forehead. He just stares at the gear and shakes his head. “She’s given all she can… she just doesn’t have another season in her.”

Butch takes a moment to study it out. It does look pretty bad. Just don’t have the money for it right now. “Henry, you worked for my father for over 20 years. You almost single-handedly kept this old whore held together all that time, without a hitch…” Henry looks doubtful in spite of the compliment. Butch upbeat. “It’ll hold together for years to come!” “But Boss!” objects Henry. Butch, “That Lobo is just over zealous. He doesn’t know equipment like you (still flattering). Henry shakes his head.

Butch gets a little perturbed. Flattery didn’t do it, well fuck him. After all who is boss around here. This isn’t a fucking democracy. He’s not asking for votes.  “Now, I said don’t worry about it. And stay away from Lobo too, he’s a trouble maker.” Henry backs off. Shuts down.

Butch back in the drivers seat relaxes a bit. Becomes gentler. Seductive.  He pulls a bottle of Scotch from his hip pocket, making sure no one is looking, offers it to Henry, “Here, I got you something. Just a little appreciation for all your hard work. You were loyal to my father all those years, through some really rough times… and well, I’m real glad to have you working for me as well.” Henry studies the bottle a moment, licks his lips thirstily, then opens the lid and takes a long satisfying gulp. Carnival troubles and potential dangers will soon begin to float down the river of intoxication. A better land ahead. Butch smiles smugly.

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