Scene 27

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Rain gradually dissipates, then stops altogether. The huge autumn sun beams over the horizon. The cold, damp chill of the evening begins to wane. The ground is drenched with night’s outpour, thick with mud. A crowd of soggy carnies congregate near the epicenter of police activity. At least 20 officers, several in plain clothes. At least 8 vehicles including 2 ambulances and a fire truck. The place is a busy swarm. Lieutenant  Alvarez descends upon the scene in an dirty, chocolate brown Ford Galaxie 500.

Lobo is hand cuffed and sitting on a bench near the main tent. He is surrounded by men in blue. They stand ready, peering at him like birds of prey, hoping for a chance to swoop down and devour at the first sign of resistance or escape. Two EMT’s indifferently tend his major injuries… three puncture or slice wounds from the switchblade and a couple of significant cuts to the face from Butch’s hammering fists. He looks swollen, bruised and beaten badly. His physical pain serves only as background landscape to an overwhelming sense of sorrow and weariness.

Agnes is seated on the cold, steel trailer steps with her knees pulled up, trying to keep warm while nervously giving testimony to three police officers clustered beside her. She looks oddly numbed and detached as she reports her experience. As if she were describing something she had read in the newspapers. Sweetie and Brian huddle together around Lindsay who appears disoriented and confused. They don’t speak much, just offering the support of their presence. Sweetie brings him a blanket to insulate him from the chill of the morning air. He is still very wet and muddy. Like a stray dog left out in the weather.

Mo is pressed against a police car, also handcuffed. His size and quiet, superior attitude incensing the officers near him. They try to provoke a fight, pushing and taunting him. He just stares down at them. The carnies are still trying to piece together what facts they can from each other and the police drones. Most are still groggy from too little sleep and no coffee. This dismal, wet morning was no time to be traipsing around in the mud.  way too early to be dealing with a crisis.

Butch’s body lie covered up with a dark, gray plastic sheet in the mud. Instructions were to leave the body lying until the inspector arrived to properly check it out. It looked rather morbid and surreal. Death, so common an event in the macrocosm of human experience, always appears an abstract and unreal occurrence when it’s up close and personal.

Starting with the senior officer, Alvarez checks in with several groups of policemen, to catch up on the known facts. He carefully studies the corpse for clues. The angle of the fatal stab wound. He conscientiously picks up the weapon by the edges of the steel and ebony handle. Handing off to the forensic duty cop beside him who puts it into a plastic bag and zips it shut. Two hefty EMT (Emergency Medical Technicians) lift the body and deposit it into a black body bag and swiftly zip it shut.

The gruesome activities surrounding the investigation and extraction are intentionally blocked from the view of spectator by a wall of policemen. Butch’s limp body is hauled away, tossed through the double rear doors of the white and red Ambulance. It’s revolving bank of lights scattering flashes of solemn and ominous danger throughout the assemblage. They slowly extricate Butch from the Carnival he spent his life in. Like a bad tooth out of an old mouth.

No one actually saw Butch’s leave. Nevertheless, there was a sense of passing and loss as they watched the ambulance pull away. Everyone knew he was in there. That he was leaving forever. What that would portend for their future, no one knew just yet. Some felt strangely relieved. Others felt lost and scared. Regardless of their emotional response, everyone knew things would be different.

Lieutenant Alvarez receives a summary briefing from the officer in charge, Sergeant Murphy. “Presumably the oriental guy must have come back to retrieve the cash he stole… hidden somewhere on the premises. Maybe pick-up the boy as well.  We think he may have had an accomplice. According to the three guys over there (motioning over to Peter and gang) they say that the carnival manager, Buster, was in cahoots with Lobo all along. Saw him and Lobo consulting with each other and making some sort of deal. They caught with Buster as he was attempting to make his escape.” Alvarez looks them over. They’re all mangled and beat up. “What happened to them? Buster do that to them?” He says puzzled and surprised. He’s seen Buster and can’t imagine how he could get the best of the trio.

Murphy takes the point and smirks. He clarifies. “No. The big black fellow over there… (checks his notes) named, ah… Mohammed, came to his rescue. Helped him escape. (says with emphasis) Just happened to be Lobo’s cell buddies in Jackson!” Alvarez gives Mo the once over and ponders, “Hmmm. You think he had anything to do with the robbery?” Murphy shakes his head, “Couldn’t… didn’t get out of prison ‘till after the whole thing. But his showing up has got to be more than just coincidence.”

Alvarez agrees and continues his inquiry. “Yea, I’ll bet. So, we got any lead on Buster’s whereabouts? Murphy shrugs negatively, “Not yet. Several witnesses saw him take off north. We put out an APB about an hour ago. Haven’t heard anything back… Can’t get far though.” Murphy assures confidently. Alvarez takes a moment to review the crime scene again. They walked over to the spot where Butch’s body had lain. Murphy points out logically. “One of the guys that got beat up reported trouble, saying he saw Lobo. Sent out a couple of patrol cars to investigate. Hank and Gus there were the first ones on the scene. Heard screaming and yelling. Arrived just after the guy got bought it. We figure Butch caught him snooping around and tried to restrain him. A fight ensued and oriental guy stabbed him to death…”

Alvarez assents to the reasonable explanation of events but remains perplexed. Something isn’t adding up quite yet. He has lingering questions he needs to verify, “So did anybody actually see Lobo murder Butch?” Murphy defensively back peddles. “Well, I hear… apparently the lady and the kid discovered them fighting, right as Lobo was finishing him off.” Alvarez restates, “You hear?” “Murphy explains, “Apparently they both saw the murder, although I haven’t actually talked to ‘em. As you can tell, they’re still pretty upset. I thought I would leave you with the fun job.” Alvarez grunts, “Yea, thanks…” Murphy motions over to Lindsay. “The kid still ain’t much taking yet. Taking it real hard.”

Having extracted every drop of information from the powers that be, Alvarez excuses himself to pursue his investigation further. He slaps the Sergeant on the back lightly, “Yea, Thanks Joe. Check with you later.”

Walks deliberately over to Agnes. The other officers give him respectable distance. He squats to get down more to her level. Agnes’ hand is shaking as she clings to her cigarette. Alvarez tries to find a neutral starting point, knowing from past experience that the encounter was likely to be a volatile one. “Seems like you folks get nothing but trouble around here.”

Agnes stares up at him bitterly, “You back again? Maybe this time you want to blame me or Lindsay for the murder…” Alvarez pursues diplomacy with patience. “No Ma’am, I’m sorry about all this. I know it’s been pretty disturbing… Agnes interrupts and glares at him angrily (her first show of emotion). “How would you know?! I watched that monster over there stab Butch to death right in front of my eyes! Right in front of Lindsay!” She jitters uncontrollably as she continues to puff desperately on her smokes.

Alvarez glances over at Lindsay who remains silently distraught. Well no use beating around the bush anymore. Whatever her complaint or response, he needed to get her testimony. He proceeded as gently but firmly as possible. “Ma’am, if you could fill me in on just what happened here and everything you saw, it would help us along a great deal.”

Agnes surrenders either out of emotional exhaustion or simply out of a need to have a cathartic release for her angst and pain. Alvarez was about the most sympathetic, concerned around. Atypically she becomes quiet, compliant and childlike. She tearfully fills him in on the events of the stormy night. After she finishes, Alvarez cordially dismisses himself. “Thank you. If there’s anything we can do…” Agnes breaks down in a mixture of rage and sorrow. She point accusingly in Lobo’s direction. “You can get that murdering monster the fuck out of here! Our lives were just starting to get better… We were almost out of here. Away from all this. And now…” She hangs her head in her hands and mutters softly. “I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it…”

Alvarez continues to make his necessary rounds. Now to Lobo. Alvarez is grateful to meet up with this reportedly notorious villain… purported murderer, rapist, thief, all around tough guy. He sure didn’t look all that ominous. Kind of scrawny and meek. Something just didn’t figure. Being a good cop and quasi sleuth, he was more than a little curious.  Maybe he would dig out some answers.

He waves off a couple of the guards and sits down beside Lobo. “Seems like you got yourself in way over your head this time, boy.” Lobo doesn’t answer. Stares blankly ahead. Alvarez prods further. “One thing I just can’t figure out is… how Butch let you get the best of him. Being an ex-boxer and all.” Lobo comments disinterestedly, “Yea? Oh well…” Alvarez goes on. “The other thing is… Why, if you’re as damn cunning and dangerous as everyone seems to think you are… Why in hell’s name would you come back here? You had already gotten away. Some say it was to get the money you left behind or the boy… Somehow, I don’t quite buy that.” Lobo’s interest is pricked. This detective’s on the ball.  At least he uses his head to see beyond the obvious. Lobo takes note. Alvarez remarks “So what’s your side of the story? Tell me. What’s the real truth, anyway? Lobo is impressed enough by Lieutenant Alvarez to give him a shot. He figures, what’s he got to loose?

The crowd has thinned considerably over an hour or so. Agnes is still sitting on the metal stairs somberly chain smoking, looking totally self consumed. Lindsay is quieter now. Primarily still in a state of general shock and disorientation. Occasionally exchanging pleasantries with the other kids; Tommy, Sweetie and Brian. Lieutenant Alvarez chooses not to interview Lindsay. There would be plenty of time to do that later. He has gotten all he needs to proceed. Just about time to wrap things up.

He talks briefly to the Sergeant and other officers. They disperse to their assigned tasks. Several begin directing Mohammed to a vehicle for transport to the county jail. No reason to get his statement until they got to the station. They had three witnesses. Peter and the two others had vowed that he had attacked them with a 2X4. Booking him for assault with a deadly weapon. That would violate his parole and send him back to prison for sure.

Four officers take charge of Lobo. As they drag him off, one comments sarcastically for the sake of taunting him, “This time I think the Chink will get the chair for sure.” Lindsay and the other kids overhear as he passes. Lindsay is jarred from his despondency and stupor. He jumps up and runs toward Lobo yelling, “No! He didn’t do it!” Several cops snap into alert mode, ready for trouble. Two grab Lindsay to prevent his progress. Lobo turns and struggles to get to Lindsay but is restrained by the policemen. The cops keep them away from each other but cannot prevent them from exchanging glances of loyalty and love. Lobo smile warmly at Lindsay. Lindsay eyes are grief stricken, desperate and fearful but very much alive.

The four officers continue to force Lobo toward the police transport.

Suddenly, a dirty pick-up truck pulls bolts through the fair ground gate and recklessly storms up to the scene. The officers are suspicious and ready themselves for a fight. Several put their hands on their guns or unsnap their holsters. It’s Judge Brainard and Buster. The sergeant notices, “That’s strange. Isn’t that the truck we put out a APB on?” His companion draws his weapon pensively. Peter and the gang look anxious. Alvarez emerges from the pack and takes the lead. He raises his hand to calm his troops. “Hold on a minute. Take it easy.”

Nevertheless, as soon as the truck comes to a complete stop, several officers rush the vehicle and force Buster out roughly. Though the Judge and his wife had speedily administered some on the spot first aid, Buster still looked very badly beaten. He vehemently objects to their treatment and yells, “What’s going on!” Without missing a beat one of the officers spits out with contempt as he throws Buster across the hood and forces his hands behind his back, “You should know, seeing how you and that black guy were in cahoots… Your partner, Lobo there, done killed your boss!” Buster refuses to believe it.  “What? That’s bullshit!”

Similarly they also started to manhandle Judge Brianard despite his very vocal objections. Alvarez recognizes the Judge and intercedes. “Hey, I know him. That’s Judge Brainard, let him go!” The reluctantly and doubtfully comply with the lieutenants wishes. He and the Judge privately discuss the situation. Everyone else is perplexed and nervously awaiting the implication of this latest turn of events.

Alvarez gestures to the two cops to release Buster. Buster joins them and describes the circumstances that immediately preceded his mad flight to retrieve the Judge. “So I was on my way to get the Judge… Lobo told me he could trust him to do the right thing… when those three guys jumped me.” Buster points over at the guilt ridden trio several feet away, who concede their shame by their embarrassed reactions. “I think they would have beaten me to death except that Lobo’s friend, Mo came in and saved my ass. I drove as fast as I could to get Judge Brainard like Lobo had asked.”

Alvarez considers the situation. “Hmmm. That casts quite a different light on things I would say.” The Judge instructs him, Sometimes ‘The Truth’ and ‘The Facts’ are different animals entirely…” Seeing Mo still shackled and held by the police officers, the Judge reminds. “I can t fathom how three against one can be interpreted as ‘assault’… by any stretch of the imagination or definition I know of… can you?

Lieutenant Alvarez shrugs in agreement, a little embarrassed by his previous haste and oversight. He looks sternly over at the other cops, gesturing for them to uncuff Mo. He concedes, “Let him go.” They hesitate, looking at each other dumb founded by the lieutenants impulsive reversal. Seeing them faltering, he demands urgently, “I said, let him go!” This time, Alvarez’s chastisement snaps them into compliance. Mo rubs his wrists aching from the tight steel confinement. Alvarez orders Peter and his two buddies taken in for questioning.

Lindsay breaks free and runs to Lobo. The cops attempt to prevent him but Alvarez motions for them back off. Lobo bends down and hugs Lindsay as best as he can with his hands shackled together. Lindsay asks him, “Why did you come back?” Lobo just shrugs. Lindsay can’t belie his concern, “But what’s going to happen to you, now?” Lobo consoles him, trying to be optimistic and humorous in a horrific situation. “I’ll be O.K. kid… I guess I wasn’t destined for life outside the pen… too much space can drive a person crazy.” Lindsay doesn’t pick up on the humor. Neither does Lobo really. He’s been beaten to one inch of his life and is facing life in prison or execution. Not the best spot to develop stand up comedy.

Lobo drops to one knee to say converse intimately with his friend. The cops reluctantly make room. Lobo is sober and concerned. “My fate is already determined… Yours isn’t. So, the question is… What are you going to do?” He tosses his head in the direction of Agnes. Then looks around the Carnival. Then back to Lindsay.  Lindsay understands the import of Lobo’s question but doesn’t have the answer. Instead he confesses, “I want you to know I never told them about…” Lobo holds up his cuffed hands, “I know kid, I know. It’s O.K.”

Lobo reaches in back of his head to pull off his cross-dao necklace and gives it to Lindsay. “I want you to have this…” Lindsay takes symbol. He implores. “What am I going to do? I need you to help me.” Lobo is torn. Nothing would give him more pleasure than to stay, but he knows that’s impossible. “You’ll be O.K. God will look over you… He already has.” The police officers beside him are growing impatient. They urge him up. “Come on, we got to go! We can’t hang around here all day!”

Lobo appeals, “Give me a minute, will you?” The policemen begin to take issue but are withstood by the lieutenant. They huff begrudgingly, “Yea, O.K. Just hurry up, will you?” Lindsay gives him an impassioned, tearful hug and says, “I love you!” Lobo closes his eyes deeply to soak in and squeeze out every drop of love between them. He would need this memory for the journey ahead. The dark, harsh routine of prison life. Lobo whispers, “I know.” One of the cops sensitively leads Lindsay away, crying softly. Sweetie and Brian huddle around him to offer what comfort they can. Agnes looks on in quiet contempt. Maintaining her self absorbed smoking liturgy and melancholy. Her apathetic isolation insulating her from the devastating impact of the loss.

Judge Brainard and Buster intersect Lobo before he is placed in the police car. Out of respect for the judge’s authority, the officers back away. Buster humbly offers, “I’m really sorry for everything.” Lobo graciously responds, “Thanks. No apology needed. You did what you did. It was the best you could do… back then.” Lobo emphasizes his meaning with his eyes gestures. “I don’t hold anything against you for it.” He can tell Lobo really means it. Lobo’s forgiveness affects him deeply. Buster presents a solemn and heartfelt vow. “I promise you, things will be different around here… if I have anything to do with it.” Buster vigorously shakes hands, then departs.

Judge Brainard puts his arm across Lobo’s shoulder’s in a fatherly gesture. “Well, appears as if you jumped clear out of the frying pan and into the fire…” Lobo sighs. Strangely he feels a sense of surrender and serenity. “Seems like that’s where I’m destined to be.” Judge lightly and reprimands him with a sympathetic smile, “Maybe our choices have something to do with it as well… humm?” He pats him on the shoulder and extends a generous offer. “You’re going to need a good lawyer.” Lobo shakes his head doubtfully, “You know where I could get one?” Judge grins smugly, “Some say… I was one of the best before I became a judge.” Judge Brainard reflects sentimentally. “I guess I could come out of retirement.. for this one case.” Lobo reminds him. “I don’t have any money, or any way to pay you.” Judge waves it off. “Noooo. I figure I owe you anyway, seeing as how I’m the one who put you away for all those years. I wouldn’t want this on my conscience!” Lobo is sincerely grateful. “Thanks! See you in court I guess.” The Judge offers a closing thought. “Truth is like a double edged sword… it can cut you down or set you free.  Be an agent of injury as well as healing…. Or even both at the same time…” They usher him into the car and shut the door.

Lobo rolls down the window several inches before it is restrained by the standard mechanical governing device installed in police vehicles. Mo strolls over to the car and talks to his friend through the tiny opening.  They exchange knowing looks. Mo shakes head in a mock display of being stern and scolding “I told you!” Lobo rolls his eyes, “Yea, whatever! Mo admonishes him, “Sure enough I told lily white ass. You’re nose would get you into shit!” Lobo feigns sarcastic irritation. “You told me? Taught me different, right?” They briefly laugh together. A few seconds silence.

Lobo is hurt and sad to leave. He gazes over to Lindsay and the kids. “Look after things, will ya?” Mo attests. “No need to ask buddy… take care, will you?” Mo is having difficulty keeping a brave front knowing far to well the detestable life Lobo is returning to. As if reading Mo’s thoughts Lobo reflects somberly, “Prison life’s a lot easier and simpler. It’s far to confusing and complex out here anyway…” The car slowly begins to pull away. Lobo stares blankly ahead with a look of resignation and defeat. Mo watches the car until in vanishes in the distance.

Thereafter, within minutes, most of the cops leave to resume their duties elsewhere. Police cars speedily disperse. Lindsay follows Sweetie and Brian back to their tent. Buster sits contemplatively on the step in front of his trailer looking over the carnival grounds. Agnes lifelessly retires to the sanctuary of her trailer for an extended holiday from her despair via the vodka bottle.

Carnies wander aimlessly throughout the midway, acting purposeful and busy. Like a chicken dashes around the farm yard after having it’s head severed from it’s body. Clyde, Enid and Tommy sit in faded green lawn chairs in front of their abode discussing the future. Lieutenant Alvarez and Judge Brainard walk together around the periphery of the carnival, in an extended, confidential consideration of things.

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