Scene 28

carny copy

Lindsay in Agnes (and Butch’s) Trailer. Alone in his room. Lindsay is dutifully packing up his most essential shit in a knap-sack. Several pairs of pants, three or four pairs of underwear and socks and a half dozen shirts. He also has a large black plastic trash bag and a doubled brown paper grocery sack. He sorts through his special “toys” and magazines. Pauses sentimentally at his small collection of Playboys and two Penthouses. Out they go into the trash sack. Most of his special toys get loaded into the grocery sack for give away.

As he carefully sorts through all his earthly belongings, he dumps everything in one of the three sacks. Keepers, give away or trash. His lingers longest over his treasure of carnival rides, people and animals. Probably his favorite things. Too much to take. No one would really want it or appreciate it’s significance… so out it goes. He feels a tinge of sadness as he sees it lay in the plastic bag amidst the other garbage. The hamster. Hmmm. Bet Tommy would like that.

Agnes disturbs Lindsay’s solitary revelry. He senses her before he hears anything. He turns to see her hanging by door, smoking. She mutters dreamily. “What are you doing?” Lindsay recognizes the distant, detached sounding intonation indicating that his mother was already well on her way… through the day’s bottle that is. He pensively mumbles under his voice, “Just sorting through stuff.” Agnes takes another drag. She is having some difficulty readily finding her mouth to such on the cig. Lindsay knows the mood. Agnes is lonely. Want to make small talk. Commiserate over good times or lost opportunities. Tell stories he’s heard hundreds of times.

She reflects, “I’ve been thinking… It’s going to be good for us to get out of here, go to Hollywood. My sister can put us up ‘till we get on our own feet.” Agnes stumbles. Feels for the door. “Too many bad memories around here.” Lindsay pauses soberly. He knew this moment would come. May as well be now. He doesn’t face her though. “I won’t be going with you, Mom.” Agnes is puzzled and confused. “What do you mean, not going? We’re a team, especially now. We have to stick together… like we always have.” Agnes staggers over to the bed and puts her arm around him. Her persona and sense of her touch is a strange mix of affection, sexual seduction and desperate need.

Lindsay sits down on the bed guiding his mother to sit beside him. He’s terrified but has a transcending calm resolve. He holds her hand. Looks into her glazed eyes. “Mom, I’m not going with you. I’m taking off… Going out on my own.” Agnes reels back in disbelief. “Don’t be silly! You’re way too young to be running off!” Lindsay argues, “You told me that you we’re on your own at 15!” Agnes peers into his eyes in an effort to see if he is just making some kind of joke. She reflects suspiciously while she examines him. “Yea sure, but times were different then.” She finally concludes that he’s on the level. Takes several deep cigarettes as she attempts to drunkenly contemplate the meaning of this new factor.  Thick clouds of smoke drift softly around them.

Wrinkles seem to emerge from her face. Her skin is so thin, as if you could see though it. She looks nervous, afraid, small… She starts sweating. As if she were about to cry she whines, “Besides, I… I… need you.” She runs her hands through her thin dish water blonde hair. He’s never seen her look so fragile… so broken before. She pleads. “Lindsay, please don’t go. I don’t want to be alone. Who will take care of me? Butch, well… he’s gone now.” Agnes starts to cry. They hug. Lindsay cradles her in his arms as she sniffles between sobs. She mourns, “I don’t know what I’ll do if you go too… Please Lindsay!” Lindsay sits on his bed next to her, trying to comfort her as an adult would a terrified child.

Lindsay is really touched by her vulnerability and pain. He never imagined it would be this difficult. He starts giving in. Then he remembers Lobo’s sad face as he was being hauled away to prison. No, the price paid was too high to give in now. “Mom… I need to do this. I have to make my own way.” He strokes her head tenderly. “You’ll be O.K. Hollywood will be good for you. You and your sister will do fine.” Agnes sulks and pouts. She does her best to look pitiful and helpless. Lindsay feels like the worst shit in the world. Making her feel this way. Causing her this much pain. He tries to sound cheerful. “I’ll come visit… Promise.”

Agnes senses his condescending pity and becomes instantly embittered. Her demeanor hardens. Her vulnerable, ‘I need you’ persona failed. Now it’s time for a ploy. Not that any of Agnes’ ploys were calculated or malicious. They were more instinctual. Survival techniques handed down and evolved through generations. She stoically gathers herself and rises to her feet. She decides to put her foot down. “Listen Lindsay, you’re still my son. This is stupid, you’re only 14  You’ll get in trouble out there…” she paces over to the door. “You’ll end up in jail or worse! Some guy is apt to pick you up and rape you or something…” She grimaces as she thinks back to the scene of Butch laying sideways, dead in the mud. Her voice falters. “I couldn’t stand to loose you too!”

Lindsay continues to fearfully, mechanically pack his belongings. She becomes insistent. “Lindsay, I told you. You can’t go!” Lindsay pleads for her understanding. “Mom, I have to!” She reasons, “Why? You don’t have to do anything. You have to stay with me… I’m your mother. We’ve always been together. Where will you go? How will you support yourself?” She turns away considering her personal pain over the loss of Butch. “I think you’re just upset because of Butch.”

Lindsay attempts to confront her with the truth. “Mother… Butch is not who you think he was. He did things mom. To me. To the other kids. You think he was…” Agnes brushes it off and takes a fidgety drag off her cigarette. She is agitated and uncomfortable. She rehearses to herself, “I know he wasn’t perfect. He had his little faults… Everybody does. I know he was a little strict with you sometimes. Fly off the handle…” She is clearly not registering what he is saying. Lindsay tries to be more specific. “I don’t mean that Mom. Butch was mol…”

Agnes refuses to hear him out. She flies into a vicious fury and yells. “I don’t want to hear it! That Lobo has just turned you against us… against me. He put you in his spell.” She throws down her cigarette. Her face is full of rage and meanness. “Probably queering off together. That what this is all about… Why you’re trying to make up stories about Butch.  You two fagots were queering off, weren’t you?” Her accusations are reminiscent of Butch in full demonic dress. She spits out her words full of venom and spite as she mocks him further. “That’s it isn’t it? Your a little pervert, aren’t you? Butch warned me about you. He said you tried to seduce him. That you were mad and wanted all his affection. That you were jealous of me and him.”

Lindsay is deeply hurt and angry but clams up instead of exploding. He silently goes back to packing. He finishes up resolutely and lifelessly. Like his heart has been torn from him. Scooped out of his body. There was nothing left to hurt. Agnes is infuriated by Lindsay’s cool apathy and lack of response. She screams, “Go ahead and go. I’ll be better off without you. You’re just a drag on me anyway. Always holding me back.” Lindsay falters a minute and pleads with her. “Mom! Please! It doesn’t have to be this way!” She gloats at him. Her face rigid, icy, mean. She snorts, “And don’t think you can just come to L.A. when you run out of money or get in trouble… I won’t be bailing you out!”

She shakes another cigarette tentatively from her pack and struggles to light in up. Forcing herself to vigilantly maintain her cruel, confident exterior. She lights up and takes a desperate drag. She reflects with a sarcastic laugh, “Let’s see how far you get! I doubt if you’ll last one week. You’ll come crawling back, sniveling and whining.” Lindsay remains calm on the outside although he feels hollow and fragile inside. He throws the knap sack over one shoulder, tucks the grocery sack under his arm and tows the heavy garbage bag along the floor. Precariously, he grabs his final burden, the hamster cage with a few spare fingers.

His mother moves out of the way as he hauls it all down the hall, headed silently towards the door. Agnes stalks angrily behind him. Whipping him with her sharp words as he goes. “Go then! Get out of here. I don’t want you. I never did…” Agnes takes a fistful of money, wads it up and throws it at him. “All you think about is yourself. You never cared about me. Only about you, you, you. Your pleasure. Your needs. Your wants…” Agnes rants wildly, “Well, fuck you then! I hate you. You hear me Lindsay? I hate you!” Lindsay’s hand is on the door knob. Agnes is crying and yelling hysterically at the same time. She is near the breaking point. “Get of my sight you repulsive pervert! Never come back, ever!”

Lindsay opens the door and walks out. She follow him out. He is really going. Leaving her all alone. Agnes just sinks down onto the metal stairs, as if she were melting. Looks hopelessly and pitifully broken beyond repair. She is quiet. He turns back to face her.  Lindsay words are emotionless. His face without expression. “Mom?”  Agnes stares up at him through her frazzled and deranged panic. She hisses quietly. “What?! What do you want?” He peers intensely and deeply into her eyes for a last time and whispers gently. “Good-bye Mom, I love you…”

Lindsay sets his booty down temporarily. Focusing his efforts on the largest item, he lugs the bulging bag of possessions over to the huge square metal trash receptacle. Using no small amount of effort he hoists the load up and into the side door. Brushing his hands on his pants. There, it’s done. He returns to reclaim the rest of his pile. He is able to redistribute them more easily now that the heaviest burden is discarded.

Continuing on his journey, Lindsay stops by Enid’s place. Spotting him across the midway drawing near, they come out to meet him. Tommy bounds out of the door first. “Where you going?” Lindsay shrugs, “Don’t know… Just going.” Clyde is next. He is quick to size up the situation.

“Good luck, son and God will be with you!” Lindsay smiles, “Thanks sir.” He shakes hands vigorously with Clyde. Enid is last out of the trailer. She is carrying a bundle in her arms as she pushes open the door. It’s Wolf. Bandaged and weak, but very much alive.

Lindsay exclaims excitedly. “Wolf! I don’t believe it, you’re alive?!” Lindsay drops his belongings and runs over to carefully embrace his canine friend. He pets him affectionately. “Goodbye old friend. I’ll miss you.” Lindsay is flabbergasted. “How is it possible? Everyone thought he was dead.” Enid offers cheerfully. “Well he was! Just about. I just bandaged him up and tended his wounds… and the Good Lord above saw fit to heal him!” Lindsay is happy.

He motions to Tommy. “Here, I got something for you.” He walks Tommy over to the Hamster cage and hands it over to him. He timidly remarks, “I want you to have him. He needs a good home.” Tommy is overjoyed. He lifts up the cage to get a better look inside. “Gee, thanks Lindsay. Cool!” He looks over his shoulder to check with his mom and dad. “Can I keep him? Please?” They nod their approval. Clyde reminds him. “As long as you will be responsible to take care of him.”

Enid looks over Lindsay’s gear. She is concerned but understands the situation. “So, where you heading to, boy?” Lindsay grimaces doubtfully, “Don’t rightly know ma’am.  Whatever way my feet head I guess.” Enid puts her arm around his shoulder and reassures. “The good Lord will watch over you. You don’t worry about nothing. I’ll be right back.” Enid scurries back into the kitchen and throws together a substantial bag of provisions for Lindsay’s trip. “Here take this. A boy’s bound to get mighty hungry travelin’ down the road.” Clyde inconspicuously slips a small wad of cash into Lindsay’s hand. He is surprised and touched by their generosity. Lindsay thanks them all heartily and says good-bye. He had never known before what really good friends they were. Now that he was leaving.

Next on the route is Sweetie and Brian’s tent. He peeps in and says hello. Sweetie runs over and hugs Lindsay. “I’m sorry we didn’t get to be better friends, Lindsay.” Lindsay is embarrassed yet appreciative of her affection, “Yea, me too.” Lindsay is sad thinking of all the lonely years without friends. Why now, in the face of tragedy and his leaving would he finally find connection. Why not before. “I guess it’s nobodies fault, really.” Brian comes over and gently touches his arm, “So you’re taking off, huh? You know where yet?” Now the third time Lindsay is forced to consider his destination, he offers a different slant. “I don’t know. Been thinking Texas might be a good place to settle. Maybe Dallas or something.” Lindsay is mildly surprised by his own spontaneous answer.

Lindsay questions, “How ‘bout you guys? You got any plans?” Sweetie looks to Brian who answers on their behalf. “Well they got a social worker assigned to our case. They’re trying to work something out… You know with a nice family and a foster home and all.” Brian is obviously hedging. He feels guilty for their good fortune in light of Lindsay situation. Sweetie pokes Brian in the ribs with her elbow. “Go ahead and tell him! It’s O.K.” Brian swallows hard. “Well, remember that Judge Lobo knew, Judge Brainard?” Lindsay nods his head affirmatively. Brian continues. “He and his wife found out we were orphaned. They never had kids of their own… Well anyway, they want us to come live with them!” Lindsay is shocked. Sweetie’s broad smile gleams as Brian tells Lindsay their good news. “It’s all kind of scary. But exciting! His wife, Mary is a math teacher. They’re even talking about adopting us eventually” Lindsay is sincerely glad for them but also sad for himself. His thoughts are transparent to Sweetie.  “Maybe the social worker could help you…” Lindsay shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so…” He smiles in return. “But I’m really happy for you guys.” Lindsay leads them out of the tent into the warm sunlight as he readies himself to leave them.

Sweetie presses Lindsay out of legitimate concern for his welfare.

“What are you going to do when you get to Texas?” Lindsay fondles his cross necklace. “I’m not sure… One thing Lobo taught me is that even when you don’t have all the answers, you have to follow what you believe is right way… and things will open up for you.” They listen intently as Lindsay mimics Lobo’s familiar words. “He used to say that God would be with us… Show us the way. Lead us along the right path.”

Lindsay was strengthened and encouraged to remember Lobo’s frequent exhortations. Sweetie comments sadlly, “Yea, I’m sure going to miss him.” There is a long pause. Lindsay, still playing with necklace agrees, “Me too…” He gestures at the scattered array of Carnival equipment and attractions. “Are you going to miss all this?” They ponder the surroundings together for several seconds. Then they look at each other and burst out as one, “Naaaaaaa!” They start giggling and laughing together. Brian shakes Lindsay hand and then hugs him (rather clumsily) Good bye. “Good luck to you Lindsay… And God bless!”

Lindsay hugs Sweetie warmly good bye as well. He puts the necklace around her neck. “Here, I want you to have this.” Brian is taken back. Sweetie graciously accepts Lindsay’s generous gift. She reaches up on her tip toes and kisses Lindsay on the check. Lindsay reaches down, lifts up his grocery sack of special things and hands it over to Brian. “I won’t be needing these things on the road and thought you might like them.” Brian’s initial response is to refuse but with some gentle prodding from Sweetie, relents. “Thanks a lot.” He waves at them as he turns to go.

He walks to the edge of the midway and nears the fair grounds gate when he is interrupted. Buster runs at him madly from behind. He yells at Lindsay. “Hey Lindsay, wait up!” Lindsay stares at him pensively. Wondering if Agnes sent Buster to retrieve him forcibly. He prepares himself for an anticipated altercation. Buster demands, “Where do you think your going?” Lindsay is scared. Buster’s demeanor is threatening. Then, much to Lindsay’s astonishment, Buster smiles kindly and slaps back in a friendly manner. “You cant’ leave… Who’s going to keep an eye on us, make us stay honest?” Lindsay relaxes. Buster discloses, “I heard you were leaving. I just wanted to say goodbye. And well… I’m sorry for being such a prick to you before.” Lindsay is shocked and amazed. Buster digs into his pocket and hands Lindsay a significant bundle of cash. “Here, take this. You’ll need it to make a new start.”

Lindsay hesitates. He doesn’t know what to say. Buster is insistent, “Go ahead, take it! You know what Lobo would say, ‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth… even if it comes from a horse’s ass!” They both laugh. Lindsay corrects him, “Lobo never said that!” Buster shrugs his shoulders. “Well something like that.” Lindsay accepts Buster’s donation gratefully. Buster motions a farewell as he heads back to the Midway. “See you kid… Stay out of trouble!” Lindsay waves good-bye.

Lindsay exits the fair grounds gate and is startled by the appearance of Mo, sitting on the ground, leaning up against the fence post. He appears to be oblivious to Lindsay’s arrival, preoccupied with whittling some small icon. Although he’s never talked to Mo before, Lindsay feels like he already respects and knows him to a degree because of Lobo. Mo is a curious, if huge fellow. Lindsay just stands there watching Mo for a couple of moments.

Mo comments without looking up. “You must be Lindsay?” Lindsay nods even though Mo isn’t looking his way. He creeps closer. Mo puts the finishing touches on his workmanship and looks up at Lindsay. He extends his hand. Lindsay small white hand in dwarfed in Mo’s tremendous paw as they greet each other. Mo remarks casually, “I guess we’ve never actually met… I’ve heard a lot about you.” Lindsay affirms, “Yea, me too… about you.”

Mo rises and shakes himself off. He towers over Lindsay. An enormous teddy bear. He gives Lindsay the once over. Figures that Lindsay’s on his way out. He proposes an idea. “Tell you what… I can see you’re heading off on a big adventure, and are antsy to get going…” Mo motions up the road. “What do you say? I’ll walk with you a spell… maybe up to the highway. The ramp is about two or three miles up.” Lindsay readily consents. They head down the road, walking side by side. A fourteen year old boy, embarking on a personal quest for meaning and his place in the world… And a giant of man, twenty years his senior, searching for somewhere to call home.

A fair duration of silence passes between them. Lindsay finally asks, “You and Lobo were cell mates for lots of years, right?” Mo moseys along casually, “Yea, Guess you could say I knew him pretty good.” Another long pause. Lindsay reflects sadly, “I’m going to miss him. I didn’t have much time to get to know him… Would you tell me about him. When you guys were together.” Mo grins pleasantly. “Sure kid. Lobo was somethin’ else! He’d would never let the system get to him… never! Always fight back. He wouldn’t let them break his spirit.” Lindsay is relishing Mo’s story. “How did you guys get to be friends?” Mo enjoys telling the tale. “One time he saved by ass. Jumped in to help me when three or four guys had the best of me… That’s how he got those scars on his face.” Lindsay is stumped, “Hmmm. That’s weird. Lobo mentioned the same story ‘cept I thought he said that you jumped in and helped him out!” Mo snickers. “Well, I guess it’s all how you look at it. We both see it a little different.”

Although it’s an uncomfortable issue, Lindsay feels he needs to know. “How about what they say about him murdering those people and raping a kid.” Mo takes a deep breath and thinks a while before he answers, “Well he didn’t like to speak much about that… But one thing I do know. I can size a man up pretty fast. Spot bull shit a mile away… and I trust him.” Lindsay considers Mo’s opinion.

Mo looks down the long stretch of road before them. The freeway overpass is barely visible in the distance.  He wonders aloud. “Some say circumstances or destiny determines our character and the choices we make. Others think our character; who we really are in our deepest heart, fashions our destiny… Maybe our choices reflect our character.” Lindsay is confused. He doesn’t see how Mo’s contemplation’s relate to his question. Nevertheless, he decides to remain quiet.

Mo continues to search for an answer. “The Judge back there said that sometimes there’s a big difference between the Truth and just a bunch of facts. Lots of times the facts can mislead you. There’s lots of ways to look at somethin’. It’s a matter of perspective. Reality can be different things to different people…” Lindsay wonders what the fuck Mo is talking about. But to ask any other questions might lead to further abstraction and philosophical rambling.

Mo eventually discerns that he has waxed verbose and tries to return to the particulars of Lindsay’s inquiry. “Lobo would have gotten the chair for sure if that girl hadn’t of intervened and defended him. The town wanted him to fry. They needed someone to blame, to take out their rage upon.  The girl’s unexpected testimony kind of messed up their nice, tidy package… She said Lobo was innocent. That he didn’t rape her or kill her Mom… that he tried to save them.” Lindsay is baffled. “Then why didn’t they believe her?” Mo rubs his chin ponderously. “It’s complicated. People thought she was crazy. Two head doctors certified that she was suffering from emotional distress, so they ruled that he testimony was inadmissible… Hell, Lobo spoke up and accused the town’s favored son of child molestation and wife battering! And the guy’s best friend of murder. Their families were both well connected and had been in the community for several generations.”

Lindsay objects, “Yea but fact was that he saved the child’s life!” Mo stops Lindsay and points out, “That’s what I was saying about facts… Fact is: Lobo was a transient, half breed chink a small, white, southern town in the fifties. Fact is: They had three corpses and Lobo’s finger prints all over the murder weapon. Fact is: Several witnesses arrived on the scene just as Lobo was finishing one of the guys off, in a bloody violent frenzy… those are the facts.” Lindsay is disturbed and angered by the injustice of it all. Lobo was innocent. They set him up, just like Butch tried to. He was happy that Butch was dead. But now Lobo was back in prison again. What was going to happen?

Mo fills in the rest of the picture. “Lobo used to have quite a ‘fuck you, in your face attitude that got him and the people around him into shit loads of trouble. He was trying to get all their goats by dating a white girl. The girlfriend wanted to humiliate her ex-husband. Lobo was young, stupid, angry. They flaunted their romance in front of everyone. Created quite a scandal. The ex-husband came over that night with a friend to deal with Lobo but he wasn’t there. They had been drinking quite a bit. Unfortunately, the mother and little girl got caught in the cross fire.

Mohammed sums up the story. “In the end, the jury had to decide who to believe. Who was really to blame? Who was responsible for all that violence. In a way they choose to believe in themselves, in their town and own people. That was a lot safer and saner to them than trusting the story of an outsider, a stranger, a half breed. The town needed to put the matter to bed. Lobo’s public defender was able to squeeze a deal out of them to keep him from the chair… two counts of second degree murder.”

Lindsay is disturbed. Things weren’t as easy as black and white, good and bad. The gray zone was an uncomfortable place to live. Mo knows that his time is short with Lindsay. Therefore, he changes the course of the conversation to the present. “So, that’s the deal, kid. I don’t know. What do you think?” He doesn’t wait for a response. “It’s really not that important. Whatever the truth was… We both know who Lobo is today…  All we got is today. The past is gone forever.  Water traveling on down to the ocean. We just move on with it, and do the best we can… today.  That’s all there is.” They walk past the carcass of a medium sized dead animal that is being pecked by a swarm of crows. They casually flutter away for a few moments to let the two intruders past. Mo observes. “Trying to figure out much more than that will drive you crazy… Got to learn to stop ourselves from picking apart what’s dead and gone. It’ll steal your serenity and eat way at your days.” On cue the crows return en masse, swooping down on the carnage again.

Mo stops at the entrance ramp to the freeway. “Well, looks like were here.” They turn to each other. The first time they really look one another in the eyes. Lindsay feels a tinge of sadness and fear mixed with the excitement of beginning a new adventure. Now begins his solitary journey. Mo sense his ambiguity. He gives Lindsay the icon he has been whittling. A small ebony figure of a man child with a spear. “I want you to have this. I hope it helps you to find your place in the world… and that when do finally find it, that you’ll recognize you’re there.” Mo smiles and puts his enormous arm around Lindsay’s shoulder. “Ha Mook Ah Ma… (Says in some native African language) Go with God.”

Lindsay stares sentimentally at Mo’s gift, turning it over in his hand. Mo explains the significance of the token. “This a symbol of your vision quest. Your search for your true nature or manhood. It is a tradition in the Yubangi tribe of central Zaire… that when a young boy comes of age—usually between 13 or 14 years old—He is kidnapped and blindfolded by the elders and deposited deep into the jungle… alone to fend for himself.

The women folk cry and moan, believing he will be ravaged by wild animals, be lost forever, or die of starvation. They rant and rave that the men are cruel to abandon the child to the wilderness… that it is far too dangerous.”

Lindsay listens intently to the rest of Mo’s story. “Sometimes they are right, the child is lost… Most of the time, however, the boy somehow finds his way back to the tribe. Bruised, hungry, exhausted… Having done whatever has been necessary for survival… Eating leaves and bugs, sleeping in the cold dirt, terrified and lonely. But the truth is; he leaves the tribe as a little boy and is welcomed back a man. Everyone celebrates his accomplishment in an inaugural ritual. There is a festive dance and meal. The young man is honored as a legal adult member of the tribe, with all the same rights and responsibilities. He is now a man.” Mo points to the object in Lindsay’s hand. “They gave him that as a symbol of his passage.”

Mo gazes deep into Lindsay’s soul, wanting to inscribe a final message. “You’ve already made that journey Lindsay…” he gestures down the highway into the distance. “Now you go forth into the world, not as a boy, but as a man. You have something to give… something to offer others. Not just taking and grabbing. Or expecting to be taken care of. Your presence will be a gift, a blessing… Yah Ma Su Go Shantie… (African pronouncement of blessing. Also conjuring a name that bespeaks of his identity, gift and purpose.) Warrior and Son of the Sunlight.”

Mo salutes and says good-bye to Lindsay. Right fist covered with his left, opened palm… extended respectfully toward Lindsay. Without further word, Mo turns and walks away. And never looks back.

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