Scene 25

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Mid-morning inside Agnes and Butchs’ Trailer. They are very hung over from the night before. Both moving slowly and painfully through the bleakness of a new day.  The tailer is totally disheveled. They look like they had been through war. Articles of clothes thrown everywhere. Dirty dishes in and around the sink. Agnes’ hair matted and tangled. Butch looking particularly bloated from over drinking. Like brand new hatchlings emerging from a hens’ roost, they sit in a glazed stupor around the tiny kitchen table. Trying to muster forces for a new day.

Agnes’ morning ritual includes chain smoking 3 to 4 cigarettes in rapid succession with some doubly strong black coffee. Mid day she will grab a couple pieces of white bread and jelly and some luke warm vodka straight. Butch’s breakfast consists of 2 raw eggs cracked into a morning beer.  Buster walking around mourning. This morning they feel and look especially old and ugly. Like a bath in bad breath and B.O. Butch stares wordlessly into nothingness vigorously scratching his crotch from leftover dried stickiness. Agnes’s otherwise perky breasts droop toward her belly button as she slouches over to pull yet another cig form the pack.

Buster is also having difficulty navigating the morning. New responsibilities and elevated position also mean doubling his work load. First up and last to bed. Still quite disturbed by the events he witnessed. Worried about Jackie. Sad about Wolf. As he maneuvers through his routines, everyone’s giving him dirty looks and mumbling behind his back. Catches Gus’ eye as he passes and stops to check things out. Gus gives him curt reply and hurries away under the guise of needing to get things prepared.

Buster looks dumbfounded but continues on his duties. He is relieved to see Peter and the boys. Now he’ll find out what the problem is. “What’s wrong with everybody around here? They look like they’ve seen a ghost or something.” The guys looks down, avoiding eye contact. Buster demands, “Come on! What gives!” Peter speaks up rather timidly, “Everyone here upset ‘bout beatin’ Wolf and drovin’ off Jackie.” Buster can’t believe his ears. “What the hell? That’s bullshit!” Peter justifies, “Well boss, you were always sayin’ how you was goin’ a kill him and all. And everyone knows you had it in for Jackie too… YOU been riding everyone pretty hard since…” Buster won’t tolerate any more, “That’s ridiculous! You guys know I wouldn’t…” Buster starts defending himself to them. He cant tell from their listless shrugs, shit face glances and wandering eyes that they don’t believe a word he’s saying. “Fuck you! Fuck you all…”  Buster rushes off is a disgruntled huff.

A solitary police car appears in the distance and dutifully makes it’s way toward the fair grounds.

***

As the morning mental freeze begins to thaw, Butch becomes verbal, “You know, I was thinking… the insurance money could pay off all our debts but… then I thinkin’ about what I was saying to that detective. I’m so sick and fucking tired of those blood sucking banks. We’ll never get out from underneath their thumb.” Agnes observes Butch with critical apathy.

Butch starts to get inspired. “Then I thought, what the hell, let them have the goddamned Carnival. Let’s get out of the business altogether.” Agnes snorts, “Yea, right.” Butch rises and paces around the kitchen as he thinks out loud, “No really. By the time they went through all legal proceedings. If we do some clever bobbing and weaving… (Butch motions like a boxer in the ring.) …we could walk away with $250 to $300,000. Maybe more if we’re lucky!”

Agnes reminds him, “Even if you could. You’re the one who’se always telling everybody how this Carnival has been in your family for three generations!?” Butch stops, takes a deep breath, and nods several times. “The accountant was right, we aren’t making it. Times have changed… They aren’t the way they used to be… Hell, even when things were great, never made that kind of money! Shit Agnes, We could make more money by walking away right now then by sticking it out for another 10 years. If we put all the money back into the business and it folds, we got nothing!”

Agnes begins to catch the vision. There is a twisted logic to what Butch is saying. “You know my sister’s out in Hollywood. Worked as an actress in a couple of “B” movies. Just bit parts but she always telling me how it’s really ‘Hot’ out there… real estate’s booming. Lot’s of money to be made in the movies. Says big businesses are all moving out there.”

Butch is glad she’s adopting his point of view. He moves over to her for the final sell, “You and the boy would be happier out there then in this flea trap.” Agnes has a lapse of suspicion, “So why the sudden change of heart?” Butch’s face reveals hidden anxiety and guilt as he reminisces about the pervious nights debauchery. He turns away and walks over to the sink. He pours himself a sizable tumbler of room temperature whiskey and downs half the glass. “It’s time to get out, that’s all.”

Agnes can tell he’s upset about something. She quietly gets up and embraces him from behind in a gesture of consolation. She tries to guess the subject of his concealed angst. “How about all the carnival people? Your friends? The kids? She nuzzles close to him, rubbing his chest. Butch sulks and comments sullenly, “They don’t give a shit. About me or this Carnival, not really. They’d the same thing if they had a chance. Besides, they’ll land on their feet. They’re survivors.” Butch finishes off the reminder of his whiskey and grimaces as the bitter dregs pass his palate. “You got to learn to take care of yourself in this world. The Bible even says it. “God helps them who help themselves”  Butch turns to face Agnes and soak up her warm comfort against his body. He hugs her to himself. Agnes tenderly leans her head against his chest and strokes him maternally. She comments warmly, “That’s what I like about you… your moments of brilliance within piles and piles of Bullshit.” She breaks his somber mood. They tease each other and play a bit. Butch tickles her and feigns threats and antagonism.

***

The detective and an accompanying officer come out of the car. Carnival take notice. The uniform begins to ask questions. He jots down notes as he goes. Buster is informed of their presence and quickly comes to investigate. They ask him a couple of questions.  When he last saw Jackie. Butch’s whereabouts. Buster counters with some probing abrasive inquiries of his own, like what they want this time. They inform him of the reason for their visit. Buster looks horrified. He stumbles back in disbelief. He just keeps shaking his head. His face goes pale in shock.

Curious carnies start gathering. The hubbub and murmur spreads among the crowd as the revelation spreads among them. From the officer’s original questions and what they are able to over hear, rumors swiftly coalesce into fact… Several people run off in various directions to dispense the news. Tommy waddles briskly over to Sweetie and Brian’s tent. Lindsay hears the turmoil outside and piers through the hall window to verify it’s nature and origin. Can’t really tell what’s going on but is disturbed to see the detective returning. Better not be more questioning.

Lindsay shamefully emerges from behind the hall curtains. He tries to avoid eye contact with Butch and Agnes. Making his way over to the cabinet for a bowl and cereal he catches Butch’s eye and gives him a scowl. Butch frowns in return. His glare reveals a reservoir of anger and demeaning cruelty. His cheery, affectionate tone conceals his intent. Like pretty glaze over a mud pot. “Come on over kid!  We got some good news for you. But you’re going to have to keep your trap shut about it!” Agnes goes over to stand beside Butch arm in arm and chirps in. “We’ve been talking… and decided we’re going to Hollywood!” Lindsay’s brooding, doubtful reply oozes out as he pours his cereal. “That not on our route.” Agnes clarifies, “No, I mean just us three, without the carnival. Kind of an adventure… move there… the three of us.” Lindsay is alarmed and puzzled, “What do you mean? Who is going to take care of the Carnival?” Butch addresses Lindsay for Agnes’ benefit, “I was thinking it would be best for you and me and Agnes… well, to settle down, put down some roots. Make a home for ourselves. Maybe, well… get things a little more permanent between us.” Agnes screeches exuberantly. “Butch! Is that an engagement? She throws herself upon him and kisses him     passionately right in front of Lindsay. Butch pries her off of him backtracking, “I didn’t mean marriage or anything.” Agnes’s coy effervesce is undaunted. Teases him. “Buuuutch! I heard you…” Butch is caught. Backed into an awkward corner. He stammers trying to look stern and believable, “I I I didn’t say…”

Agnes is happy, affectionate and gleaming. She interrupts him, reaching up and pouring kisses all over his face and neck. She reiterates his statements, parroting his own words in a light hearted, sing-song, teasing way. “Settle down, get a home, put down roots, make it permanent between us… Hmmmm!” Butch tries a last ditch effort to save himself.

“Now Agnes, I never said marriage.” Agnes gives him a ribbing glower. Butch recounts again, “Well, I didn’t! I never used the word ‘marriage.’” Agnes pats his chest condescendingly, “O.K. honey, whatever you say.”

Lindsay drops the bowl of cereal and milk on the floor. It smashes with a thunderous crash. He is clearly appalled by the news. Agnes mood is not so easily broken, “Now Lindsay, don’t be that way! Your aunt’s there. You’ve got a couple of cousins near your age. You’ve never even seen them in 8 years!” Lindsay reacts bitterly. “I don’t want to go to L.A.!” Agnes is perplexed, “Lindsay, you never liked the Carnival. This would be a good change for all of us.” Lindsay is defiant. “I said, I don’t want to go!” Agnes is exasperated, unable to fathom the reason for his resistance. “Lindsay!?”

Butch, who has been checking out the disturbance outside, joins the conversation. “What the hell is going on?” Agnes crosses her arms in frustration. Butch snaps, “I told you… You just can’t please the kid.” Lindsay pleads with his Mom, “Why cant we stay here? It’s bad enough already… It’s just going to get worse there!” Agnes tries to debate the point. “Lindsay, you don’t know that. They’ll be good schools there… We’ll be settled. Won’t have to travel. We’ll have a home!” She puts her arm around his shoulder and looks warmly at Butch. “We’ll be more like a family.” Lindsay wrests from her hold and spouts angrily, “Sure.  You and him going at it all the time. Me locked up with nowhere to go. Having to go to school with a bunch of weird kids.”

Butch grows intolerant of Lindsay’s negative, argumentative attitude. “Listen kid…”

***

Buster is beside himself. He is shaken and stirred. He grimly and numbly leads the two policemen over to the trailer. He wipes the emerging tears from his eyes and tries to bolster himself. Carnies dart randomly throughout the midway with a mixture of panic and grief. Sweetie and Brian falteringly exit their tent with Tommy in tow. Sweetie is clutching Brian side balling her eyes out. She refuses his meager attempts to comfort her. She is pained to the point of hysteria. Brian austerely stumbles forward, shocked and overwhelmed. Tommy looks nervous and sad.

***

In the trailer, the dispute becomes heated. Lindsay reasons passionately, “How are you going to leave, anyway? You can’t quit the carnival. How about everyone else? You just going to take off?” Butch counters defensively, “That’s none of your business. I’ll take care of things.” Agnes intercedes, “Lindsay, we’d be a family again. Butch would be like your dad… and in L.A. we could…” Lindsay protests waving his arms dramatically, “I don’t want to be a family. I hate it here already. I would hate it there even more.” Butch glares at Lindsay and starts to assert his authority. Lindsay intensifies his argument before Butch can begin. He glares at Butch with spite and repulsion, “He’s not my dad!”

Agnes temper flares. She grabs Lindsay’s arm.  “Lindsay! Butch has always been good to you!” Lindsay screams at her, “Why won’t you listen to me… I don’t want to go there with you. I don’t want to go there with him. I hate him. I hate you both.” Butch’s rage simmers. “Listen you little fuck! We’re going to leave. With you or without you. You can…” Lindsay responds like a trapped, wounded animal. He jerks loose from Agnes and backs up toward the door. Butch continues, “You can stay here and be buried with all these losers… or go with us to Hollywood.” Lindsay forgets his fear momentarily and screams. “I’ll never go with you, never! I hate you, I hate you both!” Agnes demands, “Lindsay stop that, NOW!” Butch grips Lindsay’s arm and shakes him abruptly. “Listen you little shit, your problem is your mother let you get away with too much!” If you were my son, I’d…”

Lindsay spits out, glaring at Butch, “You’d what? Hit me? Threaten to go away? Say ‘fuck you’, like you’re planning to do to everyone else around here?” Butch bolts at Lindsay threateningly and yells sarcastically in his face, “Yea… that’s what I’m going to do… so what? If you don’t like it, then ‘fuck you’ too…” Butch looks at Agnes and shakes his head doubtfully, “I swear Agnes, if I this were my kid…” Lindsay taunts sardonically from behind his back, “You’d fuck me like you do everyone else… like you did Jackie!”

Butch whirls around and smacks Lindsay hard across the face, sending him sprawling against the door with a loud thump.

Agnes is stupefied and furious. Butch grunts as he looks down on Lindsay’s crumpled body, “Stupid kid.” Lindsay wipes the blood out of the corner of his mouth. His bottom lip is cut from the force of Butchs’ blow. Butch sneers at him, “O.K., stay with these fuckers then. And when they come to close this place down, you’ll be out on the streets like everyone else. And we’ll be in California, living the good life. You’ve fucked yourself this time, Lindsay!” Agnes silently agrees.

***

Buster, flanked by the officers, stops at door. He and the policemen overhear the last several moments of the raging conflict. ‘Like you fucked Jackie… We’re going to California… Fuck everyone here…’ And Lindsays’ body thrown against the door. Adding insult to injury, Buster is heartbroken. He hides his feelings from the cops and dutifully knocks on the door. He has to repeat it several times before drawing the attention of the inhabitants. Butch is annoyed. Yanks the curtains aside to see what the source of the intrusion is. He yells through the door, “What is it!?”

The detective dons a sad, but official demeanor. “We’re sorry to disturb you but we have to talk with you.” Butch mutters, “Shit! Now what do these fucking cops want.” He kicks at Lindsay curled up to the side of the door. “You… get in your goddamned room, and stay there!” Agnes reiterates, “Go on, Lindsay. Get out of here.” Lindsay begrudgingly complies and makes his way back down the hall.

Butch impatiently throws open the door. “Yea, what is it this time…” Buster gives him an angry, betrayed, hurt look. The detective refuses to answer but simply leads the grave procession inside.

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