Scene 21

carny copy

Several days later detective Chuck Alvarez returns to conduct a follow-up interview with Butch and Agnes. They congregate around the crampled kitchen table. Even though Agnes is sporting a bra, in an effort to look respectable for the occasion, still looks very whorish. Inspector Alvarez is squeezed behind the counter side. Butch and Agnes have grown used to the tight quarters. New comers take a while to adjust. He rehearses the information he already has on ownership and general background. Occasionally noting corrections. “So how long did he work for you.” Butch reports. “4 to 5 months.” Detective queries, “And his duties included… maintaining equipment… like rides as such?” Butch answers, “Yea. Just before the accident we had moved him to painting though. Give the place a face lift.”

Detective checks his notes, “He worked under… let’s see… Henry?” Butch continues, “Yes, then Henry left… he felt real bad about the accident. Couldn’t stop blaming himself. We even thought Henry might be partly to blame… cause we had given him some money to buy new parts that come to find out, never got purchased. We figured he must have gotten drunk or something.  The way we figure it now is that it must have been Lobo who made up lies about Henry… forged the maintenance logs and equipment receipts… took the cash and pocketed it.” Detective studies his notes, “I have here that you took Henry down to the bus station, that right? Do you know how we would contact him?” Butch sits back defensively, “No clue at all. I just dropped him off as a favor. Said he might go back to his roots in Canada, but I wouldn’t know for sure. I thought you were chasing Lobo?”

Detective retorts, “Just asking. You didn’t know Lobo was a ex-con?”

Butch waxes reflective, “No… He seemed weird all right, quiet, holding things back… but I never suspected… I feel so sorry for those children that got hurt— I should have taken a closer look at the rides. Butch recites regretfully.  Agnes chimes in, “Butch there is just no way you could have known… You can’t check out everything that everyone does.” Butch somberly responds, “Yes, I know… It’s just that I wish so much that I could have prevented it, somehow. I get into trouble trusting people.” Butch looks to be getting teary eyed. Agnes thinks, god he’s a good actor. This sap of an inspector is swallowing it all too.

The Detective agrees with Agnes’ assessment. “I’m sure you did your very best. It’s really no one’s fault. Things like that just happen sometimes… That’s just the way life is…” If you don’t mind?” Butch rearranges his position in the chair beside and refocuses his attention on the interview. “No, I’m sorry… go ahead.” The detective proceeds through his notes, “The officers found 3 oz. Grass and a bag of pills of various sorts in Lobo’s tent. Did you suspect at all that he may have used or sold drugs?” Butch insists strongly, “No, not a clue… Well, not until my manager Buster told me that one of the guys spotted him trying to sell an ounce of grass to one of the town ‘marks’, carnival goers, several days ago. That was the first I’d heard of it. We were still looking into story when the other things happened.”  The detective prods, If you had reports of Lobo trafficking in illegal substances, why didn’t you report him immediately?”

Butch gets slightly resistant, “Like I told the other officers, We have ways of dealing with things like that… Don’t get me wrong. We don’t allow drugs around here period. It’s bad for business and it’s illegal. We don’t need any more troubles or complications than we have all ready. If we catch somebody using or selling drugs, they’re out. No second chances. I know some of the guys probably smoke grass or whatever when they’re not working… Jesus, almost everybody does it now a days… I can’t control what anybody does when they’re off. But, my rule is: Never sell it. Never bring it here. Never work high. They get themselves into trouble, they’re out on their own.” Detective is mildly irritated by Butchs’ lengthy defense. “Ah huh, I see.”

Scrolling down the next page of his notes, Mr. Alvarez comes to the robbery portion. “Now, about the cash box… How do you suppose he knew where it was and when to hit it?” Agnes, being the chief money handler answers the question, “My guess he staked us out over the last several months. Maybe asked around some. Kept his eyes and ears opened and hunted around a bit. As far as the when is concerned, I figure he noticed that we normally bank the cash at the end of every week…  in between moves. As far as the safe being opened, he just got lucky.” Butch disagrees, “The way I figure it is maybe he even created the diversion with Lindsay to shake everybody up, get them off center.”

The detective shakes his head in disbelief, “It’s just that it seems strange that he picked THE perfect time. You all were completely flush with money and…” Butch interrupts, “You don’t get it. Everybody around here knows we’re a cash business. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine that the best time to hit is Sunday… after the weekend and before the bank opens Monday. Holiday week-ends are always the best. Sunday afternoons are paydays. Everybody gets paid in cash, so there’s goin’ to be a lot of it laying around… So what’s so hard to figure?” Detective ponders Butchs’ curt reply. “Well, I see your point. But let me ask… Have you ever considered that Lobo may have had an accomplice working with him to pull this whole thing off?” Butch dismisses the idea too quickly, “No, that’s impossible. I…” He falters. Agnes looks worried and covers, “ What he means is that we can’t imagine anyone would betray us like that around here.”

The Detective halts the questioning and writes for a while about some thought that occurred to him during Butchs’ last statement. Something about the whole thing struck the detective as a little fishy. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He decides to probe further. “I hope you folks have insurance. A big loss like this could put you out of business… ‘specially in hard times like these.” Agnes perks up, “Yes, thank God… we were fortunate. It has been rough couple of years… we were just starting to get ahead again.”

The detective resumes, “Yes, I did some checking… seems as if the banks were set to put a lien on you… planning to close you down in 30- 90 days. I guess now though, with what you’ll get out of the insurance you’ll be able to get them off your backs. Works out kind off nice really. Lucky, I guess.” Agnes falls for the ploy and shakes her head affirmatively. Butch is perplexed and angered, “How is it that you figure things worked out so nicely for us? We get robbed, our business is in a wringer and people are hounding us all the time… so tell me again, how we’re so goddamned lucky?”

Detective retreats, “I just meant that it was fortunate that you were insured and all. You stand to collect over $200,000. That’s a pretty hefty sum. I wish I had money like that. I know a lot of people who would kill for that kind of money.” Butch is becoming suspicious, “Then I’d suggest you start hanging around a different class of friend… Listen are we about done here because I’ve got things to do…”

Detective apologizes, “Sorry, I just need to get a couple of more things straight for my boss and everything. They’re sticklers for detail. Originally you reported you usually took in about $50,000 to $60,000 per weekend. Yet here I read you calculated your revenue as 0ver $96,000!” Butch barks, “No big mystery… Ask around other carnivals. Holiday weekends usually pull in about 50% above normal take.”

Detective nods, “Ahh. Yes, that makes sense.” He flips a page writes a couple of sentences and flips to the next one. “And tell me again, if you would… Why is it, that if you had over $100,000 in savings sitting in the safe all this time, you let you lenders push you to the brink of bankruptcy… jeopardize your credit rating, create tension between you and your financiers… when all along you could have paid them off!”

Butch gets pissed, “Listen, I don’t know what you’re trying to get at… Our business is none of your business…” Agnes pipes up, “Please Butch, he’s only trying to do his job.” Butch backs down a degree, “O.K… I thought I could negotiate better with my creditors if made them think we were in real trouble… about to go out of business, right on the brink. Then I waltz in with cash in hand and talk ‘deal’. I expect they’d change their tune real quick… Those fucking vultures are charging 17% interest on a 12% loan I got a couple of years ago. Variable interest adjustments according to inflation and all that shit… All I know is that several years ago they were begging me to let them loan me money…now they’re demanding advanced payments, slapping penalties and extra fees on me and threatening to shut me down for good, if I don’t kiss their ass. They’re blood sucking leaches, all of them… But I was going to live by the golden rule… I got the gold now, sucka’—I make the rule—take it or leave it. You really think they want to take this carnival away? What the fuck would a bunch of pansy ass bankers going to do with a Carnival?” Butch laughs out loud, “Haaa. Let them try to run things for a week!” Agnes smirks.

Inspector writes a few more lines then closes his book. “Thank you very much. I know it’s been difficult on you both. I think I have all the information I need to submit my report… except for one last area.” Butch and Agnes are dumbfounded. What could he possibly want more? Agnes challenges, “What’s that?”

The detective appears rather squeamish. “This is a little awkward. It’s about the boy… I’m sorry but I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ask your son, Lindsay a few questions as well.” Butch sits back on his haunches ready to launch a barrage but is beat out by Agnes, “Why in God’s name would you have to talk to Lindsay… after all he’s been through?” Inspector Alvarez concedes, “I know that ma’am, and I am truly sorry… but you see there have been some very serious allegations regarding… well molestation and all.”

Agnes flares, “Allegations!? Did you know that cock sucker was put in jail for raping a kid!” Alvarez clarifies, “Well actually Ma’am he was never actually convicted of that charge…” Looks down at his file to double check “Says here he was… Butch interrupts him and blasts him, “Listen, who’s side are you on? You should be trying to find and punish that pervert who stole our money and fucked with us, not interrogating us like we’re the criminals. Yes sir, I understand, but I just trying to get the story straight.” Butch jumps to his feet, “The story here is that Lobo is a drug addicted, murdering mother fucker who tried to rape my kid, stole our money, sold drugs to the kids, beat the shit out of one of our guys to the point that he still limps… now he’s God knows where… and you’re sitting here shooting the bull with us… trying to make us feel like the criminals!”

The detective absorbs their hostility with grace. He waits until they are finished and let’s silence predominate for several moments. “I understand how you feel. Actually, I’m on your side.” Agnes and Butch are sulking and making sarcastic faces but hear him out. He perseveres, “If I can report that this Lobo fellow is not only a prime suspect in a robbery and drug related case… but is also wanted for sexual molestation of a minor… that will shake out authorities from a lot of surrounding counties and even the state troopers as well. Truth is, there’s a lots of drug taking thieves on the loose out there. This Lobo character is likely to be just another average criminal added to a long list…” Butch is starting to catch hold of the concept. “I think I follow you.” Detective Alvarez lays it on the line, “However, I think there’s a lot of law enforcement officers who are also fathers out there… who would just as soon string up a bastard like that as look at him… if you catch my drift.” Agnes doesn’t like the idea but perceives the logic. “I understand what you’re saying …” They stare at each other a few seconds. Agnes breaks the silence, “Well, I guess I’ll go get him then. She pauses to upend a stale glass of warm vodka to fortify herself with. She is unusually calm behind the cops back. As if she were presenting an upset Mommy persona just for show.

Agnes leads Lindsay into the living room. He is terrified. He is surrounded by adults all staring at him expectantly. Agnes introduces the inspector. “Lindsay, this is officer Alvarez. He’s going to ask you a couple of questions.” Lindsay eyes beg his mother to release him from this obligation. Agnes remains steadfast. The detective begins. “I’m sorry Lindsay. I know things have been very stressful, lately.” Agnes rolls her eyes sarcastically. Gee, this guy really knows how to relate to kids. Alvarez summarizes. “I just have to couple of questions to ask you… It will only take a few minutes, I promise. Is that O.K.?” Lindsay is pensive and wary. He pulls up his feet onto the couch and assumes an upright fetal position.

Detective Alvarez proceeds as gently as possible in a very delicate ad hurtful subject. “Did Lobo… well, did he touch you?” Lindsay is perplexed and confused. Alvarez reframes his question slightly, “In an unusual fashion? Out of the ordinary?” Butch tries to help in his own particular clumsy style. “Brian saw them in the utility shed.” Lindsay gets defensive and frightened. Agnes gives Butch a dirty look. The officer attempts to gain ground, “Lindsay, you haven’t done anything wrong. I understand this Lobo was you’re friend. Is that right?” Lindsay nods. Alvarez proceeds cautiously, “You guys were pretty tight… Huh?” LIndsay nods again sorrowfully. A solitary tear rolls down his cheek. The detective speaks slowly and in a quiet voice. “I know this is hard for you Lindsay… Did you know he was… an ex-con?” Lindsay glances nervously over to Agnes. He hesitates, but then with a guilty grimace assents. Butch spurts out, “I knew It!” He glares at Agnes.

“Please!” Alvarez intercedes and motions for Butch to calm down and remain silent, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” Lindsay shrugs. Alvarez creeps along, “You wanted to protect Lobo because he was your friend…” Lindsay nods again. Detective remarks, “Sometimes the people we trust as friends do wrong things… But if we’re friends, we trust them anyway. We don’t want to do anything that would hurt them or get them into trouble… And sometimes we’re afraid that if we tell the truth, it will hurt them… We think.” Butch and Agnes are confused about what Detective Alvarez is driving at. What is the main point. They aren’t following very well. Alvarez reconnects with the issue, “Lindsay, are you afraid of hurting Lobo?” Lindsay hangs his head and cries quietly.

Alvarez presses in, “Did Lobo touch you, Lindsay?” Lindsay looks up through his tears confused and scared. He winces at the presence of Butch who is squirming to pounce into the scene. Officer Alvarez notices Lindsays’ discomfort and calmly requests that Butch leave for a few minutes. Butch reluctantly complies but hovers in the kitchen area with his arms crossed defiantly. Agnes puts her arm around Lindsay in support.

Alvarez leans in close to Lindsay and speaks in low, hushed tones. ”Did he hug you?” Lindsay utters a barely distinguishable. “Yes…” Detective resumes, “Did he put his arms around you?” Lindsay nods. The officers voice is monotonous, comforting, hypnotizing. “Did you lay in his lap? Lindsay nods routinely. Then he awakens to the course of the questions and tries to object, “But we didn’t… I didn’t do anything wrong…” Alvarez quickly reassures him, “Lindsay, you didn’t do anything wrong. He did!”

Detective Alvarez becomes more stern and insistent, “He touched you where he shouldn’t… didn’t he Lindsay?” More an accusation or statement of fact than a question. Butch is glaring at Lindsay from the sidelines. His mother is whispering in his ear, “Come on Lindsay, it’s O.K. you can tell us.”

Lindsay goes into an altered state of consciousness. Everything is fuzzy and in slow motion. Everyone’s words are garbled and distorted. Sounds drone on. He notices the movements of peoples mouths and the guttural sounds separately, abstractly disengaged from the meaning of the words themselves. He understands numbly only fragments of the sentences that seem to fly around his head amidst the dull roar and buzzing all around. ‘Did he put his mouth… did he touch you between… did you touch his… Did he put your mouth on…’ Just words floating by. They wouldn’t stick in his mind long enough for him make sense of their meaning or put them all together.

Almost like a nightmare or being trapped in a haunted house full of distorted mirrors. Everything began looking sinister and threatening. Butch’ face looming over him from the kitchen… coming closer and closer. Glimpses of Butch glaring, sadistic eyes and thick hands. Lindsay has a string of flashbacks of earlier sexual trauma flooding into his memory. He finally breaks down. Weeping wildly and babbling incoherently he breaks free from Agnes’ embrace and runs from the scene. He slams the door to his room and locks it tight.

Agnes leaps to her feet and accuses Butch, “I told you, see what you did? Butch protests, “Me!? What did I do? That’s bull shit. Blame him!” Butch wags his hand in the direction of Alvarez in exasperation. The detective somberly picks up his clip board and gathers his coat and hat. “I’m sorry that your boy got so upset. I was just trying to do my job… I had to be sure.” He takes several paces toward the door, pausing momentarily before them. He stares seriously into their faces and proclaims, “Don’t worry, we’ll get him… I promise you… and when we do he’ll never get out of jail again… Ever!  I’ll personally see to it that he never gets the opportunity to hurt another child… like your son.” Butch reaches out and heartily shakes the Detectives hand. Inspector Alvarezs’ final words before exiting into the night seal his intent, “That is if he doesn’t die trying to escape… if you know what I mean.” The detective winks. Butch smirks and nods. A knowing gleam flashes between them as they part. Butch thanks the officer.

Lindsay overhears the solemn oath of the officer to capture or kill Lobo. He can’t stop sobbing. He has betrayed his friend, his only friend. Lindsay wishes he could die. As he weeps his mind races to ways he could successfully end his own life without incurring more pain.

Butch shakes out a cigarette from her pack and hands it to Agnes. She clutches it with trembling hands. He lights it for her. She takes a desperately long drag, followed by a slow, exhausted exhale. She imagines blowing her tension away. She is very disturbed but also relieved that the interview is finally over. Butch curtsies to her and smiles broadly, “Thank you ma’am. You did just wonderfully!” Agnes simply studies him as she continues to devour her smoke. Butch continues to pour accolades upon her, “Best supporting actress… and I, of course win the best actor award.” He bows deeply. The best she can offer is a request, “Just pour me a drink, O.K.?” She still has a lot of mixed emotions about the whole thing. However, Butch is delighted. He can almost taste the nectar of victory it is so real to him. He offers a tinge of compassion, “Don’t worry, the kid will be O. K. He’ll get over it…” Butch plays the clown, making exaggerated expressions of glee. “And best of all, my dear, we’re going to be RICH!” R-I-C-H. Rich!”

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