Scene 18

carny copy

Buster bolts into Butch and Agnes’ trailer mid-afternoon excitedly, “Just got back the information I sent for… from Jackson City Federal Penitentiary. He hands Butch a type written letter, several pages from an official file and copies of newspaper clippings. “Lobo served 13 years of 25 year sentence for murdering 3 people and raping a underage girl! Offed the mother, her boyfriend and his buddy. There was a large stash of drugs and money found too.” Agnes is dumb founded. She always fashioned herself as a good judge of character. Never would have guessed Lobo a killer. Butch raises an eye brow. This is better than he had imagined. “I’m impressed. Lobo’s got more balls than I gave him credit for.” Butch quickly sifts through the documents. “How did you get a hold of this stuff?”

Buster, very proud of himself for his ingenuity boasts, “I tracked him through that letter he sent to his buddy at Jackson… made a couple of calls…” Butch shakes his head in astonishment, “You done good, son. This is just what I need to hang that son-of-a-bitch by the balls.” Agnes interjects, “What are you going to do?”

Before Butch can respond, Buster continues with the details of his story, “Got the basics from the office. Then they referred me to the guard in charge of the cell block… officer Bailey. I promised to pay him $100 for the full scoop. Now he gets to buy his fat wife that new vacuum cleaner she’s been begging for years.” Butch smiles, “I’m sure she’ll be eternally grateful.” Buster hesitates gauging Agnes potential reaction to his forthcoming comment but decides it would be cool. Besides he’s on a roll. ”Probably even gave him head.” Butch chuckles at Buster’s joke as adds, “A suck for a suck.” They both crack up. Agnes feigns a scolding glare then grins.

Buster is overflowing with information, “I called him a little while ago, when I got the letter… couple of things he dug up that aren’t in there…” Pointing to the stack of papers. Agnes pulls the pile of information from Butchs’ grip and looks it over. “Seems this Lobo character was quite the wild card when he was young… Always fighting and getting in trouble.” Butch nods, “Not surprising.”

Buster is anxious to tell the rest, “During the trial he kept insisting he killed the guys in self defense.” Agnes stops reading briefly. She looks alarmed. “How about the girl and her mother?” Buster motions for them to hold their comments, “Yea, I was coming to that… like I said, he accused of child abuse… molesting and raping a thirteen year old! When he was caught by the mother’s boyfriend, he killed him. Then to cover his tracks, he had to take care of the other two… probably would have done the little girl too but some folks heard the disturbance and came over to investigate.” Butch is stunned by the new revelation. “Shit! No wonder he’s been so evasive. I knew I smelled shit! Why didn’t they fry the bastard? How did he ever let him out of the pen? Agnes lays the pile of papers down on the table, deeply concerned about what the implications could be concerning Lobo and Lindsay budding relationship. “What else?”

Buster shrugs his shoulders, “Problem was, the Prosecution couldn’t make it stick… toward the end of the trial there was a real ruckus in the court room. The DA put the girl on the stand… She flipped out in the middle of the deal and changed her whole story… Defended Lobo and said he didn’t rape her. Past that there was just a lot of rumors and stories. Defense plea bargained two counts of second degree murder for the two guys. Prosecution dropped the rape charge and third murder charge.”

Agnes sits down hard under the weight of this newly discovered information. “Oh my God! Lindsay has been hanging around him all this time. She puts her hand to her mouth in shock. Butch, on the other hand, is extremely happy… even ecstatic. His gears are grinding fast as he adds these new pieces of information to his developing plan. “Buster, great fucking job!  Amazing!”

Buster beams. “Oh by the way, Bailey also told me that Lobo had a nigger friend, named Mohammed… they call him ‘MO’. Some black panther or something.  Anyway, he’s scheduled to get out in about a week or so. Him and Lobo supposed to be great buddies. Mo stuck up for him in a gang fight… Saved his ass but Lobo got cut bad.” Butch reminds himself, “So that’s where he got that scar on his face.” Agnes is half listening to them while she pours through the papers for additional details.

Buster is gloating. He is proud of himself for his cunning and stealth. He was glad that he waited until he gathered all the information before he presented it to Butch. One big package made for a more dramatic show versus little drops of news. He congratulated himself for his decision to keep his investigation a secret until now. He knows Butch will cherish this last tidbit. “Boss! The Best thing!” Butch is intrigued. How could it get better than this? “More?!” Buster sneers deviously, “Yea… seems as if this Lobo’s still on probation…” Butch listens intently. Agnes too perks up her ears to attend to this final announcement. He preserves. “One false move and Lobo is thrown back to the pen for at least 9 more years! Anything so much as a traffic violation.” Butch realizes the fulfillment of his intuition. “So that’s it! I knew it! Damn, I’m good.” Agnes is momentarily puzzled by his proclamation, as is Buster. Butch slowly nods in complete self satisfaction. He glares into the distance, rearranging the intricate web of his mysterious, hidden design. His eyes are swimming with pure evil delight. Buster interrupts his revelry, “So what do you want me to do Boss? Fire his ass? Let me and the boys take care of this piece of shit for you… no problem.” Butch puts one hand on Busters’ shoulder while signaling for Buster to stand down with the other, “No, you’ve done more than enough already. I’ve got better plans for Lobo… much better. This is all shaping up quite wonderfully. Buster, you’re great. A true captain.” Butch pauses briefly before delivering a special present, “I think it’s about time you got your own trailer. It just won’t do for the manager of the whole carnival to be bunking with a bunch of clowns… Of course they’ll be other perks involved” Butch winks at him.

Buster is overjoyed. “Boss, you’re kidding!” Buster can’t believe it. He’d never heard tell of anyone running a carnival at his age. Especially not family. In fact, in was unheard of. The whole thing under his control. Manager. I guess it made sense. After all he pretty much ran the thing now. Been head supervisor for over a year. It will be nice to have it publicly demonstrated. He had been looking forward to having his own place for a long time. Your own trailer and a name meant he really belonged. He was “in”. For the first time in his life, Buster felt he really fit in somewhere… that he was important.

Butch enjoys being magnanimous. “I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout it for sometime anyway. This just sealed it up. Truth is you’ve been pretty much taking care of things for a while now.” Pats his back affectionately. “I couldn’t get along near as good without you here.” In recollection that was the closest thing to humility, gratitude and appreciation that either of them had ever heard from Butch. Buster is overwhelmed, almost teary eyed. He chokes out, “Gee, thanks boss. I… Well I…” Buster is loss for words. Butch guides him gently out the door. He walks out with him, pulling the door softly closed behind him.

Butch proceeds down the stairs and over several paces to the rear of the trailer. He whispers instructions to Buster out of ear shot of Agnes. Buster affirms his understanding… nodding and grinning. Butch augments the description his subversive plot with hand gestures; explaining, pointing, hiding something. Buster laughs. Butch is enraptured in sinister glee. Agnes peeks out through the curtain. Although she can’t tell exactly what Butch is saying, she knows he’s talking ‘set-up’. She’s never seen him quite as taken with himself. He must be up to something quite devilish. Butch and Buster part company.

Butch waves him off and returns to the trailer. When he comes back in Agnes interrogates him, “What are you so smug about?” Butch replies, “Like I said before, I think Lobo’s going to be our salvation…” Butch’ forehead wrinkles, “Isn’t there a clause in our insurance policy that covers robbery? You know a provision that reimburses us in the event of theft? I’m sure there is in fact…” Agnes absently obeys his implied command and pulls up the seat cushion, pulls out a black file box and starts to rummage through papers. Butch is calculating. “The other thing… Check and see if we’re current on the insurance?”

Agnes instantly answers while continuing her search, “Overdue, but not canceled… yet.  Here it is, ‘Great Western Commercial.” Pulls it out. She leafs through the premium, scanning the fine print.  Butch reports, “it should be good up to $100 or $150,000 if I remember right.” “$200,000 actually!” Agnes corrects him as she finally locates the clause. “So what? We don’t have enough cash to tempt a thief, even if we advertised. Jesus Butch, you threw away over $100,000 in the stocks. At best, we only take in $100,000 in a good week, before expenses.” Agnes returns to the sore, over talked subject of Butchs’ irresponsible spending. Usually he would take offense but not today. Nothing could spoil his jubilant mood. Or put a kink in his brilliant, master plan.

Butch growls back, “Agnes, shut up. Just tell me… What does it say?” Agnes complies and summarizes as she mentally collates the information.  “It’s a $5,000 deductible. Police report must be filed. Invalid if not substantiated by appropriate receipts. Must have been kept in a secured location. Blah, blah, blah…” Agnes recites impatiently, “Reimbursement may be withheld at the discretion of the Insurer, pending completion of a police investigation or if documentary evidence is presented that would indicate fraud or other criminal activities…”  She stops reading. “I still don’t… Wait a minute.”

In a flash the realization suddenly dawns upon her. “I know… You’re going to…” Butch vainglorious confirms her suspicions, “Yea, so now you know… This last piece on Lobo is all I needed. Agnes is gradually catching up on his plan, “O.K. But, how are you going to substantiate that kind of cash? Forge documents?” Butch is one step ahead, “No problem. We’re a cash business. Stock purchases were all cash. We got records of ticket sales, cash in. We just loose the ones of cash out. Who’s to know. They can’t prove otherwise.” Agnes follows the logic. Butch weaves the yarn further, “We tear apart the back room to make it look gone through real good, rip apart the cabinet, and pry open the safe. After a good weeks run, we should have close to $100 G’s. We stash the cash, collect the insurance money, pay off all the bills, and still have $150,000 to boot.”

Even Agnes with her skeptical nature is becoming convinced. Butch unveils the ‘coup de’ gras’, “We pin it on Lobo. Given his record, no one will ever doubt. If he runs, he proves our story If he stays, we have witnesses.” Agnes questions, “What witnesses?” Butch smiles broadly,  “Why… Buster and the boys.” Agnes persists, “But how do you know they’ll cooperate?” Butch is amazed that she isn’t getting the picture. She is usually several steps ahead of him. Not on this one. He’s way ahead of her. He’s way ahead of everyone. “A keg of beer and a few bucks will secure their loyalty and testimony. And the new trailer and title will more than compensate Buster for his cooperation.” Agnes protests, “Yea, I got it… But I still think Lobo could be a problem.”

Butch struts over beside her. He puts his arms around her. Dislodges her from her perch against the kitchen counter. “You worry too much. I told you. He’ll either stay… and it’s his word against ours. Or he’ll run… which is even better because it proves his guilt.” Agnes feels the heat of his body against hers. She begins to feel the urges stirring in her groin. She leans her head against his chest and lazily fondles his shirt button. She purrs coyly, “How are your going to get him to go?” Butch is starting to consider other things. Like how to appropriately celebrate his genius. He teases. “I have my ways. I’ve told you enough already.” Agnes concedes but refuses to allow him absolute victory, “I don’t know. It sounds good but…” Agnes plants that little doubt in Butchs’ mind. A woman has got to keep some leverage.

Butch is bothered by Agnes’ nagging, lingering statement. He demands, “But what?” Agnes brushes it off haphazardly, “Oh nothing…” Her intuitive aim succeeded in scratching his inflated ego. Now she can move on to more immediate concerns. “I have to admit, you have your moments… You ARE good when the heats on. When the shit comes down, you really do shine.” Butch is savoring his victory and Agnes’ acknowledgment.  He nuzzles her, “And… what else?” Fishing for more. Agnes toys with him sensuously. A prelude to a frolic. “Oh, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders… and elsewhere too…” Agnes puts her hands on the bulge in Butchs’ pants. He lets her rub him, basking in the tactile pleasure. Yes, this is a great way to celebrate his superiority. The idea of putting Lobo’s face in the shit feeds Butch’s passion. Lobo thought he was so much better then they were. He could sense Lobos’ contempt for him from the very start. He realized now that that was the reason he wanted to keep Lobo around until now. So that he could break him, crush his arrogance… show him he was shit. He grabbed Agnes. He poured his violent passion upon her. She grappled with him desperately, mingling her own dark urges to his.

***

Lobo is sweating in the glaring hot sun painting bathrooms. ‘God this stinks.’ He thinks to himself as he finishes up. Literally and figuratively stinks. Busters’ idea of pushing or punishing me for some weird trip or another. Said since I was such an artist, I could beautify the shit hole. Lobo knows they’re just trying to get at him. Even though he knows that, It does get to him. Since the new assignments came out everyone’s been working overtime plus. It’s been pure hell. They’ve been especially tough on him. It’s been a rare occasion to get 4 or 5 hours sleep. Many days just 2 or 3 with a 30 minute cat nap if he was lucky.

It was starting to wear on his patience and his resolve. That and the isolation he felt since Buster pronounced him ‘persona non grata’. Now what little connection he had with the carnies was strained. Mostly they just tried to stay away from him, fearing the wrath of Buster and his cronies. Many times he considered leaving, but pride if nothing else kept him going. He just refused to let them best him. Plus, he still hoped that somehow he could make a difference. Felt that God had put him here and he wanted to see it through. He had seen a few gentle sparks burning in the kids, especially Lindsay. If there was anything he could do to save Lindsay the pain he had experienced the last two decades of his life, well… that thought kept him going.

Lindsay carefully creeps up behind the portable bathrooms. He checks around to make sure no one is near. Lobo, spies him out of the corner of his eye. Lindsay looks worried. “What is it kid, what’s wrong?” Lindsay continues to scan for intruders as he crouches between the outdoor stalls.  He speaks in hushed tones. “Well, I don’t know exactly… But I think you better be careful…” Lobo relaxes, relieved that Lindsay is in no new danger, “Why? I don’t know what more could happen to me. I’ve been beaten… cut off from the people around me… worked to death… and now they got me painting these shit cans.” Lobo appears unaffected. He picks up his supplies and moves over to the next can.

Lindsay reiterates, “It’s just that I heard Butch talking.” Lobo snorts under his breath, “Yea, so? He’s always talking… that’s what he does best.”  Lindsay grins, “Yea, right. But I think he’s planning something against you.”  Lobo sets his can aside and squats down a moment to talk. “Well kid, I’ve been through all kinds of scheming. In prison they had all sorts of politics and hierarchies going on. Black gangs, White gangs, Spanish gangs… corrupt guards, bullies, perverts and down right evil people… and I got through it.” A strain of deep bitterness flavors his words, I can’t see how some cheap Carnival ass hole is going do me in. He finishes up painting the last panel. Cleans up his paraphernalia and head back to the utility shed to put the cans away before reporting to his next assignment.

He motions for Lindsay to follow. They walk around the back of the tent as to avoid detection. Lindsay is nervous. Lobo accommodates his sensibilities. He doesn’t want to get Lindsay in trouble. They make their way stealthily into the utility trailer. Safer in here. Not as much risk of someone seeing. Lobo sits over on the work bench. Lindsay follows. Lobo senses there is something deeper disturbing Lindsay, “What’s wrong? Looks like something is really eating at you?”  Lindsay looks real scared. He falters. “I’m just scared for you… cause I know… Butch can be, well… Butch is very persuasive.” Lindsay shakes his head, “No one ever fucks with him and gets away with it… no one.”

Lobo can see that there’s more to the story. He decides to drop it. No use pushing too hard. Lindsay changes subject. “I have something to tell you though. Lindsay looks down at his feet and stutters, “I, well before you…” Lobo puts his hand across Lindsay’s shoulders and remarks empathetically, “You got somethin’ to confess, huh kid?” Lindsay nods. Without additional comment Lindsay pulls the necklace out of his pocket and hands it back to Lobo. He feels ashamed but had determined that no matter how he felt he was going to do this.

Lobo enthusiastically responds, “Well Lindsay, thanks! I thought I’d lost this for sure. I’m so glad you found it. It was a very special gift from a good friend of mine in prison. I just couldn’t figure what I had done with it. Thanks so much!” Lobo pats his shoulder. Lindsay looks shit faced. Beet red from embarrassment. He shakes his head from side to side, “No, I didn’t find it… I stole it!” He bursts the last phrase out and sobs. Lobo reassures him, “Stolen is only when you don’t intend to return it… I always knew you’d return it.” Lindsay looks up through his tears and mutters, “You Knew! How?” Lobo shrugs his shoulders, “It doesn’t matter. My friend gave it to me when I needed it most. I was happy to loan it to you for a while… my friend.”

Lindsay falls onto Lobo’s chest and sobs deeply. Great spasms of pain gush forth. Wave after wave of pent-up fear, loneliness, sadness are exorcised within the embrace of Lobo’s compassion and care. Lindsay sense a safety and presence he had never felt in his life… except perhaps once while Enid and Clyde had prayed for him that time. It felt similar. He had cried then a little. But never like this. Lindsay clings to Lobo as he weeps from a seemingly endless well of sorrow. Lobo holds him quietly. Occasionally stroking his head, hugging him. Mostly Lobo just wordless sits beside his little lost friend as he struggles to make his way back home… to himself.

Lobo whispers softly as he cradles Lindsay in his arms and gently rocks, “Mei-you Guan-xi, Wo-de Xiao Peng-you… Mei-you Guan-xi.

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