Scene 20

carny copy

Mid afternoon the following day. Brian, Jackie and Sweetie are huddled in their tent. Brian is rehearsing the events that led up to the confrontation between Lobo and the authorities.  Jackie contemptuously spouts, “You’re such a fool Brian. They’re just using you. Like they do everyone else around here.” Brian objects, “Yea, but I saw…” Jackie interrupts, “You saw shit.” Sweetie is downhearted.  Jackie fumes out the door. Sweetie mournfully Looks up at Brian. Her dejected expression seems like a silent accusation. Brian whines defensively, “But I was only doing what I thought was right!” Sweetie quietly corrects him, with eyes that display her deep hurt, “Sometimes you’re so right, you miss the point altogether.” Brian issues an exasperated sigh and slumps depressingly onto his bed. Looks dejected. He really didn’t mean to cause any hurt. He just got railroaded into it. No matter what they thought, it really did look weird.

Jackie marches up to Buster and boys. They’re all goofing around and laughing like their relishing some private joke. Buster keeps checking his watch. It’s almost 3:00 now. The gang quells their revelry as Jackie approaches. Peter gives her a resentful, arrogant stare. She ignores him and questions Buster, “What’s going on?” Buster answers smugly as he rechecks his watch again, “Wait and see.” The guys smirk and giggle.  Buster teases her with his hidden knowledge, “Almost 3:00 now! I think today is going to be a real special day.” Jackie is puzzled by Busters’ cryptic reply. One of the gang, Gus observes, “Hey look, here they come!”

In the distance, conspicuously cruising down the main road, come two police cars. They pull the Fair grounds’ gate and park side by side in front of Butch and Agnes’ trailer. Three officers emerge. Two confidently make their way to the trailer while the other lingers, reporting in to headquarters. Butch opens the door and invites them in. He also makes a motion to fetch Buster, who is ever attentive to his call. His gang wish him luck as he trots off. Jackie is worried. She knows something awful is brewing. Storm clouds are gathering fast. Looks like a twister is on its’ way. The three guys hang by the fence.  Peter remarks haphazardly, “They’re going to nail his ass now!” The other two echo Peter’s sentiments, “You bet!”

Butch and Agnes pull up two chairs and talk candidly to the two policemen who are seated, official looking, in the cramped living room.

Butch begins, “Well you probably heard about the accident we had… and the recent newspaper report…” Officers nod somberly but restrain from comment. The younger officer opens his steel clipboard and begins taking notes. “Well most of that stuff was just bunk… but, lately several alarming things have happened… clued us that we may have some problems… problems that we can’t handle.” The cops look at one another perplexed. One mutters, “What kind of problems?” Agnes and Butch exchange pensive glances as he continues, “We found out this guy we hired a few months- Lobo.” Agnes spits bitterly from the sidelines, “The ½ breed chink bastard.” Butch attempts to calm her by patting her thigh.

Picked him up back in Texas. Handy at fixing things. Also has a talent for art and painting and shit. Real quiet. I always knew he was hiding something. But I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I even suspected he had a record.”

Officers appear fairly disinterested. What has all this got to do with anything? Butch accelerates his discourse before loosing them, “After that terrible accident…” Agnes again interjects, “If it was an accident!” Butch is disturbed, “The inspector cleared us of any wrong doing but said that the maintenance records looked as if they’d been forged.” One of the cops grunts, “Hummmm. Go on.”

Agnes remembers, “Well, there were also reports from time to time of things missing. Never anything of consequence.” Butch includes, “I told Buster to keep an eye out for any questionable activities or anything out of the ordinary. …” Butch hands off to Buster who takes his clue, “several times I’ve suspected he was high… which isn’t that big of a deal unless he’s on duty… But then a while back a couple of the guys said they thought they saw him sell drugs…” The older cop is irritated and breaks in, “At that point, why didn’t you call us?” Butch explains their policy, “We try to take care of things ourselves. If we called you about every little thing… . Besides that we didn’t have any real proof of anything… until a couple of days ago!” The Carnival trio become visible nervous as they launch into the next phase of their exposé. They look at each other gravely. The two cops straighten as they brace themselves for the anticipated report.

Butch leans forward and locks on, “Two very upsetting things happened… First was that we found out that Lobo was indeed an ex-con. In fact he just got out of the pen… Did 13 years after murdering three folks; including stabbing a woman after raping her 13 year old daughter!” The cops looks very concerned and unsettled… even shocked.

The journalistic officer scribbles frantically as they proceed. The senior cops asks, “Where did you get this information?” Butch is a little uneasy. “When Buster started getting suspicious, he checked him out…” Buster offers, “Our runner, who takes the mail in to town and picks up supplies noticed Lobo sending a letter to friend in a Texas prison… On a hunch, I called them up and followed my nose.” Butch pulls out a folder containing the information about Lobo and hands it to them. They spend a couple of minutes looking through it. Agnes is impatient. “Butch, why don’t you tell them?” Butch reassures her, “In a minute, Hon.” The officers are distressed by the articles and files. The senior cop comments without looking up, “This is very serious.”

Agnes is very agitated and finally arrests their concentration by blasting, “Now the perverted cock sucker has been messing with my son.” She starts crying. Butch puts his arm around her. “That’s the other thing… just yesterday we found Lobo mistreating Lindsay, our 13 year old son. The police look in dismay at one another.  The younger returns to his writing while the senior continues the questioning. “What exactly do you mean?”

Butch again motions to Buster. Buster begins hesitantly seeing Agnes so upset. “Well yesterday I sent one of the kids to fetch a ladder out of the utility shed…” Everyone’s eyes are glued upon him. Butch urges, “Go ahead Buster, tell the officers here what happened.” Buster chokes out, “Well he saw them… you know Lobo and Lindsay alone together in there. Lindsay was crying pretty badly and well… they were real close– hugging and stuff… in sort of an unnatural kind of way…” Agnes becomes more upset as the trauma of the last days events are retold, and cries louder.  Buster looks down awkwardly.

Butch breaks in. As soon as they told us we ran over to the she. When we got there. Lobo had his hands all over the boy. Lindsay was on his knees, with his head laying in Lobos’ lap sobbing… Like he had been forced to do something against his will.” Agnes bellows, “I ran over there and caught that cock sucker with my son… I could kill him.” The senior officer questioned Butch further, “Then what did you do?” Butch answered, “Some of the boys wanted to do him in, right then and there. I told them to back off… what with Lobos’ prison record everything… and called you. As I said, usually we handle our own problems. This time it seemed like we were in a little over our heads.” Buster remarks additionally, “He’s picked a couple of fights with the guys around here. Beat up one guy bad. He’s a pretty mean character.”

The clerical officer stops writing for a minute. The older cop assures, “You did the right thing calling us. Not taking matters in your own hands.”

The younger cop notes the potential challenge. He’s ready for a fight and would delight in putting this punk convict in his place. The senior cop continues, “However, it doesn’t appear that he has actually done anything against the law, that can be proven…” Agnes is dumbfounded. Buster surprised. Before they can get into a tizzy, the officer adds, “You mentioned you discovered several items missing… If these articles were identified and found to be in his possession, then we might have a case.”

Agnes pulls her self together as she tries to sort out the “missing” items. “There was some jewelry, a tape player, a wallet with a couple hundred bucks in it…” Then she halts and boldly objects pointing at the papers in the officers’ hands, “Those papers say he was in prison for robbery and drugs as well as murder and molestation… my God! What further proof do you need?!”  Butch tries to calm her unsuccessfully. The officer defends, “I’m sorry ma’am but unless we can prove…” Agnes breaks Butchs’ hold and bolts out of the room. Butch apologizes for her. “I’m sorry officer, she’s just real upset over Lindsay.” The officer nods, “I understand, really. We’re just trying to do our job.”

The senior officer queries, “You’all handle a great deal of cash don’t you? Butch affirms, “Yea, in a good week we will pull in close to a $100,000… before expenses. In fact, last weekend we did over $60,000. Officer returns. “Where do you keep it? Any cash missing lately?” Butch looks troubled as he considers the question. He hesitates as he looks at them and Buster then volunteers, “We stash it all in a closet hidden in back. Keep daily receipts in a canvas sack locked in the cash drawer and then transfer the money over to the safe at the end of each day… after we count it, bundle it and prepare it for the weekly bank deposit.” Butch is struck with a terrible thought and mumbles out loud, “’cept that I don’t think we moved last weekends cash over to the safe yet, because of all the trouble…” Butch stands up joined by Buster. “Come to think of it, we haven’t checked it since…”

The police take the cue and follow Butch back through the tight hall to the back bedroom. He enters without knocking into their shared bedroom where Agnes is laying tearfully on the bed. She is startled. “Sorry, we have to check something out. The officers maneuver best they can betwen the bed and the thin veneer covered tin walls. Buster is forced to wait further down the hall because of the lack of space. Butch steps over a pile of clothes laying on the floor blocking his path. The senior officer follows. Butch pulls back the double doors to the closet to reveal another door… a closet within a closet. “Oh Fuck!” he yells immediately. The lock on the inner door has been obviously tampered with. Agnes sits up and takes immediate notice, “What!?” The police officers crowd in to see.

Butch jerks the damaged door opened, “Someone’s been in here and broken the door!” Agnes gasps. Butch yanks the heavy cash box from its perch on the lower shelf and throws it on the bed. Before he can reach for his key, the lid pops open automatically revealing a broken flange where it has been forced. The weightlessness of he box betrays it’s empty contents even before it swings open to confirm his suspicion. “Oh my God!” Agnes shakes her head in shock, “Nooo, I don’t believe it!” the officer examines the hollow box briefly.

Butch returns his attention to the closet . He gives a gentle tug on the handle to the safe. It yields effortlessly to his pull. Sliding on its well lubricated intricately manufactured hinges. Butch yells, “Goddamn it!” Agnes anxiously looks up. The policemen turn their attention to the safe. “It’s empty!” Agnes  shrieks, “How is that possible?” Butch is irate, “Are you sure you locked it yesterday!” Agnes searches her memory, “Yesterday, we were … We didn’t do it yesterday… We started to do the count but then Lindsay and Lobo…” Butch smashes the wall with his hand. “Fuck it! I can’t believe this. I’m going to shoot that bastard myself.”

The police officers step back a couple of paces. The senior holds up his hands to keep Butch back. “Just a minute, sir. Let us handle this…  When was the last time you checked the contents?” Butch and Agnes try to setle down enough to think. Agnes is the first to speak, “Ahhh, it was.. let’s see. It was Saturday night… About 6:00 or 7:00.” Butch remembers, “Yea, we were going to do the count but it was so late… you said we could to it in the morning…” Butch digresses into a tirade of blame, “Damn it Agnes, I told you we should have counted it Saturday!” The younger officer steps in, “Please sir, let’s keep to the facts of the story. Now ma’am, do you know how much there was, total?”

Agnes searches her memory. “Well it must have been between $93,000 and $97,000… ‘cause I was thinkin’ that we did a little better than last year, but not that much. We can get an accurate figure from the ticket sequence and the vender logs… But the safe!” Agnes shakes her head in sadness and horror. “That was all our savings! There was over $120,000 in there! Damn Butch, I told you a dozen times that we should deposit that!” Butch retorts, “And I told you that we can’t because the fucking bankers could get at it that way!” The elder policeman intervenes with authority, “Hey, this isn’t going to help!” They are jarred into immediate compliance. Agnes worriedly asks, “But what are we going to do? That was all our savings, the money for payroll, operations… we can’t even…” The officer stops her, “First, things first ma’am.” First off we got to check out this Lobo fellow.” Butch puts his arm around Agnes, “He’s right, Agnes.”

The officers take the lead. They head back to the living room. Buster scurries to get out of their way. They gather in the front of the trailer awaiting orders. “Now, where did you say this Lobo bunks?” Buster responds, “Down at the far end of the midway, behind the trucks. He’s in the yellow tent on the left. His bunk is in back of the tent on the right.”

The younger officer jots notes down as they talk. The older one speaks to Agnes, “I want you’all to stay put down here, in case there’s trouble. In fact…” swinging back around to Butch and Buster, “You better tell all your people to stay away from that area altogether.” Buster volunteers, “I’ll go put the word out.” Butch agrees. Buster leaves in a froth to warn everyone.

Butch warns sternly, “You’d best be careful officers. Remember, this guy killed three people already… that’s why we backed off. The files there says he’s a real mean character.” The police look mildly offended by his implication that they may not be equipped to deal with Lobo. Butch raises his eye brows, “Buster didn’t mentioned this earlier, about the brawl they had with Lobo… it took 4 of our toughest guys to put him down… They say he’s some kind of karate expert… I’m just sayin’ to be careful.” The Officer looks at his comrade, “Better go tell Buddy to call for back-up. Tell them we got a potential #1543 and #104. Proceed immediately with extreme caution. The subject could be armed and is extremely dangerous. The youthful officer races off to notify the remaining policeman of the situation.

The elder thanks them for the information and excuses himself. The policemen hang by the car reporting to their headquarters, discussing their options and awaiting to hear recommended course of action.

Buster quickly briefs his gang regarding the circumstances. Jackie busies herself a short distance away, acting nonchalant. Even though she overhears a good bit of the conversation between Buster and his gang as well as among the deliberating policemen, she acts bored and disinterested. As soon as Jackie collects enough information to realize what’s coming down, she sighs and stalks off as if she could care less. Busters’ emissaries go forth to dispatch the words of solemn warning among the carny folk.

Buster sees her slinking away and inquires, “Where are you going?” Jackie sarcastically jabs, “I’m going back to my trailer. Find something interesting to do. You guys are boring and stupid. I’ve got better things to do than watch you make fools of yourselves.” Buster looks suspicious. Jackie saunters slowly off. Although everything inside her feels like running wildly off as fast as she can, she paces herself to walk excruciatingly slow. Buster scrutinizes her, like a hawk to a rabbit, until she rounds the corner of the main tent. Quickly glancing over her shoulder to make sure no one is watching or following, she dashes full speed to Lobo’s tent to warn him.

Butch and Agnes watch from the doorway. Butch looks smug and happy as his plot begins to spin itself forward with vengeful pace. Ahhh, the wheels of justice grind slow but sure. Well in this particular case, it looks as if they’re grinding fast. They’re hang him. Butch is contented with the thought.  Agnes is tense and spent from conflicting emotion. She wipes her eyes from the dust and debris that the strong gusts of wind stir-up and toss to and frow. Deep purple clouds surround their encampment… Yep, a major storm is hatching.

It’s 3:20. Lobo is slowing packing up. He had packed and unpacked three times already that day. He didn’t like to admit defeat. But there were no more cards to play. Butch was right, he was beaten. No possible way to win. The only reason for staying was because of Lindsay. But Lindsay had betrayed him. Jackie bursts in. She spies him at the back of the tent. Lobo sure doesn’t look very anxious to leave.

She fires a barrage of staccato statements at him, “Lobo, you got to get out of here. The police are here. They’re sending for more cops. They’re going to arrest you. They say you molested Lindsay. Stole a bunch of money. They know everything about you. Your whole history. They say you got out of prison, murdered three guys and raped a young girl. They say you heisted the cash box and tired to sell drugs to Buster’s guys… They’re coming for you… You got to get out of here!”

Lobo is worried and scared. “How do you know all this?” Jackie is still trying to get her breath. “I overheard them say all this stuff.” Lobo shakes his head, “I just can’t figure. Why would Lindsay tell them?” Jackie doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She goes back up front to check outside. Lobo throws a bunch of shit together in his ragged suitcase. He had trusted and confided in Lindsay. He grumbles under his breath as eh continues to pack at a faster pace, “The damn kid! I should have known better.” He had figured it was his duty to help. Somebody’s got to try to put the shit straight. He hesitates as he stops to think it through again.

Jackie urges him to hurry, “You can’t stay. You’ll go back to jail. Didn’t you hear me? They’re coming to get you!” As if Jackie can see into his mind and read his hesitation she insists, “What good would you be to anybody in jail? You got to hurry!” She looks out the tent again. Lobo comes along side her to scan outside as well. Jackie grimaces and implores him, “Please, go now! I can see them coming!” 2 cops approach cautiously from behind the trucks with guns drawn. She ducks back inside the tent and whispers, “You GOT to GO, NOW!!!” Lobo reaches down and kisses her forehead tenderly, grabs his stuff and escapes out the back. He turns to her as he leaves and mouths the words thank you and makes hand gestures that signify ‘good-bye’ and ‘I love you’ in one quick sweep of his free hand from head to heart. Jackie is sad to see him go but relieved that he will keep his freedom. I wish I could go with him she thinks as he hastens away.

Lobo stealthily darts between equipment and vehicles as he heads the nearby rural neighborhood in route for the cover of the surrounding forest. The angry flashing of multiple police cars- marked and unmarked descend upon the fair grounds. Supported by a dozen law enforcement vehicles, and almost 20 officers they creep toward the yellow tent. They take up strategic positions. In the front and sides of Lobo’s abode. Four members of the ‘swat’ team storm the tent, two at a time, while the rest cover them. The excitement of Lobo’s get away has dissipated and Jackie sits quietly in the dark corner terrified. They check the premises quickly, motioning for her to remain crouched down.

The front two swat guys proceed to search the tent, while the supporting duo pull Jackie from the area of danger. Other police men quickly swarm over the area.  A plain clothes detective asks Jackie about Lobo, “Kid, you seen the guy they call Lobo?” Jackie timidly replies, “Yea, yea. I was walking back by the trucks. I saw him take off in that direction a while ago… toward the highway.” She points in the opposite direction of real his escape. “He was in a real hurry. Carrying a suitcase and bag.” The detective suspends the conversation to order an immediate pursuit. After which he asks, “What were you doing in the tent?” I saw all police cars and guys with guns, so I went to hide in the tent.” The detective is satisfied with the reply. He makes to leave. Jackie asks, “Why? What’s going on? Did he do something wrong?” The detective waves her off as he answers a question from nipping at his heals. Several cop cars take off down the highway, in pursuit of the phantom escapee.

Appeased that the Carnival grounds had been searched and secured, the carnies were free to roam and investigate the commotion. Buster converges with his gang of three on Lobo’s tent. Seeing Jackie conspicuously lingering among a small cluster of cops, he comes up behind her and grabs her arm. She responds to his annoying advance by wrenching her arm away. He stares at Jackie angrily and hisses, “You little whore. You warned the fucker, didn’t you?” She ignores him the best she can. An officer motions for Buster to follow him into the tent. Several cops are thoroughly scrutinizing the premises for evidence. The detective in charge of the investigation grunts, “This his bunk?” Buster responds in kind, “Yea.” Detective continues, “This is his locker?” Buster nods, “Uh Huh.” Even as he speaks, several of the officers literally tear apart the bedding and search adjoining beds and lockers. As one turns over Lobo’s mattress, he discovers an extensive stash of child pornography. He also finds a shoe box lid with drug paraphernalia scattered on it. Much like bugs scurrying out from under a large rock that is over turned in the forest. The detective is handed the various evidence as it is uncovered. “Well, what do we have here? He fingers through a couple of the magazines. “Jesus, this is sick shit!” Several cops gather to get a closer look. The detective throws the stack down and examines the drug supplies. They hand him a baggy full of several dozen pills. “Yea, I definitely say this guy was dirty.. and then some. Looks like a mix… a little mesc, acid and speed. A vice officer beside him confirms his findings. They hand him another bag with some grass and a pipe.

Another cop lifts up the locker and uncovers a beige canvas bag underneath. “You recognize this? Buster snorts, Yea. That’s the cash bag all right.” He mechanically hands it off to the detective who digs within it and turns it inside out over the bed. Several receipts spill out as well as several thousand in cash. “Looks like he must have left in a hurry! Left his calling cards behind.” Motions to two cops waiting attentively nearby. “You guys search every inch of this place and make sure there’s nothing else. You, tag this and take it down to headquarters for evidence.”

Butch and Agnes enter during the end of their hunt to witness their discoveries. The detective acknowledges them without comment. Agnes sees the cash bag at shouts excitedly, “Theirs the cash bag!” Butch acts disgusted and aghast by the pile, “Christ, that guy was a real bull shit artist… I always likes him, too. He sure had us all fooled.” As the policemen start to take away the evidence Butch jumps in, “Hey, that’s our money! Where are you taking it?” The detective interjects, “Sorry, it’s Policy. You have to go down and file a report. Make a claim. Butch can’t believe his ears. “For our own money!” That’s ridiculous. How long will that all take?” The detective reassures him, “Just a formality, Given the circumstances, you should have it back within 48 to 72 hours.” We just have to file our report…” Butch begrudgingly accepts the statement without additional complaint.

Jackie stares at the entourage as they exit and go their separate ways. She laughs silently to herself. She really sent them on a wild goose chase. God, were they dumb. She was sure Lobo was safe. If he could best Buster and his gang and even Butch, he would have no problem with the cops.

Lobo races to beat the waves police cars scanning the surrounding areas. Once he is in the forest he feels relatively secure. He quickly makes his way down to the river bank. He brushes his trail swerving in and out of the water. If they had hunt dogs, that would throw them. He would follow the river west. Keep hidden ‘till he could figure his next move. The river wound its way through the trees. High overhead a parallel set of railroad tracks winded their way as well. He thinks fondly back on Jackie. If it weren’t for her help he’d be on his way back to the joint. Or dead.

Lindsay remains locked in his room in forced exile. Crying on his bed, refusing to eat for the last three days. Agnes gently taps on his door. After obtaining by oath that Butch was nowhere around, Lindsay finally yields and gives access to his mother. She brings in a platter of food; soup, sandwich, juice and assorted snacks. She sits by his bed. For a long time she doesn’t say anything. Just strokes his head while he cries.

After 20 minutes or so she eventually speaks. “Lindsay, I know you don’t believe it right now, but Lobo was a very bad man. It’s a fact. He killed people. Killed an innocent woman in cold blood. I’ll bet you he never told you that part did he? He hurt and used kids… like you. He’s a thief and a drug addict. They found horrible sex magazines with kids in them. He was a sick and evil man, Lindsay. I know you trusted him and thought he was you friend. That was part of his game. That’s the way those kind of people work..”

Lindsay tries to resist her words. But amidst the confusion, hurt, hunger, loneliness and upheaval of the last several days, he just didn’t know anymore what or who he believed.

Agnes gets up. “Please try to eat something, Lindsay. It will make you feel better. Before she shuts the door, while her hand is on the knob, her mind returns to her personal bitterness surrounding the previous several days. “Lobo stole all our money. Money right out of the pockets of everyone here. He crippled this carnival… Worst than that, he’s turned my own child against me.” Feeling sorry for herself. She starts to tear up. “Now you reject me and chose to believe a stranger you’ve known for a couple of months… a murderer, rapist, thief, child molester… I just can’t understand what I’ve ever done to make you hate me… to drive you away.”

She hangs by the door and starts to weep. Lindsay stops his sulking and guiltily shuffles over to the doorway as her body droops in sorrow. He wraps his arms around her to comfort her, like he had done so many times in his life. He put aside his personal confusion and grief temporarily. His mother needed him again. He would help her. The remorseful pair stumble back to Lindsay’s bed and cling to each other. They lie down beside each other and fight away the darkness together. Lindsay feels lighter and happier.

After a few minutes Agnes quietly slips out as Lindsay pretends to fall asleep in her arms. She softly shuts the door. Lindsay waits several seconds then rises and gulps down the food left for him beside the bed. He wonders how he ever let himself fall into Lobo’s deceitful snare. Now that Lobo was gone. He and his mom would be close again… like before.

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