Nightmare Alley (2021) | Transcript

An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.
Nightmare Alley (2021)

An ambitious carny (Bradley Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, David Strathairn

* * *

(WIND WHISTLING)

(GRUNTING AND PANTING)

(SIGHS)

(MELANCHOLY MUSIC PLAYING)

(INSECTS CHIRPING)

(SNIFFS)

(MELANCHOLY MUSIC CONTINUES)

(RIDE PASSENGERS SCREAMING IN DISTANCE)

(BUS BRAKES SQUEAL)

(DOOR HISSES OPEN)

BUS DRIVER: All right, folks. Last stop. End of the line.

Grab your belongings and head off the bus.

Thank you.

(BELL JINGLES)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

BARKER: (ON LOUDSPEAKER) Welcome, ladies and gentlemen,

to the greatest carnival in the world.

Spine-chilling attractions, fun for all ages.

Hurry! Hurry, hurry.

Behold, the beauties of the Orient,

reenacting forbidden dances for your education

and pleasure.

(CROWD APPLAUDS)

Games of chance, games of skill.

MAN: Molly, look what I got for you. Chocolates.

You ready to go? You got the sandwiches?

BARKER: One last chance to witness this supreme oddity.

I must ask you, however, to remember that this exhibit

is being presented solely in the interest of science and education.

Where did it come from? Is it a beast or is it a man?

Come on in. Come on in and find out.

(CROWD CHATTERING)

This creature has been examined by the foremost scientists

of both Europe and the Americas, and pronounced a man.

Unequivocally, a man.

(MUMBLES INCOHERENTLY)

He can go for weeks with neither food nor drink

and live entirely on the atmosphere.

But you’re in luck because tonight we’re going to feed him one last time.

Peach.

(CHICKEN CLUCKING)

There will be a slight additional charge for this attraction,

but it’s not a dollar, not 50 cent, but a quarter.

One fourth of a dollar, and you will see him feed.

(WINGS FLAP)

Suckle on the blood

of reptiles and birds…

(CHICKEN CLUCKING)

Like a babe feeding on its mother’s milk.

(CHICKEN CLUCKS)

(CROWD EXCLAIMS)

(CLUCKING)

(GRUNTS)

(GROWLS)

(CHICKEN YELPS)

(CROWD EXCLAIMS)

(GRUNTS)

(CROWD GASPING)

(GEEK GROWLS)

MAN: Bite it! Come on!

(SHOUTS OF ENCOURAGEMENT)

(CHICKEN CLUCKING)

(GASPING HOARSELY)

No.

(MUMBLES INCOHERENTLY)

(INHALES SHARPLY, PANTS)

(GRUNTS)

(CHICKEN YELPS)

(WOMEN SCREAM)

(LAUGHTER)

(PEOPLE APPLAUDING)

(GRUNTS)

(CROWD CHEERS)

(WOMEN SHRIEK)

WOMAN: Come on. Fourth of a dollar.

25 cents. Pay up.

(CROWD SCREAMS, APPLAUDS)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

BARKER: (ON LOUDSPEAKER) Step right up and get a prize!

MAN: Hey, mack.

You can’t be back here.

You.

You’re the cluck from the bus stop.

You followed me here, didn’t ya?

Why?

What’s your pitch, pal?

You on the level? You need work?

He’s jus peddling applesauce.

Major. Major. Give me a minute.

All right, we got a storm coming through.

I gotta load out fast. I’m short a few guys.

It’s hard work.

You get a dollar, you move on. No mooching around.

Savvy?

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(WORKERS SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

All right, fellas, on the count of three.

Ready?

One, two, three.

(WORKERS SHOUT INDISTINCTLY)

Let her down.

WORKER: Take the post down! Take the post down!

(THUNDER RUMBLES)

Want I should help you count it, Rockefeller?

It was a dollar minus the till for the Geek Show.

That’s right. I clocked you, cluck.

Hey! Hey!

I’ll give you five for the radio.

Tell you what, we’re joining another carnival about 20 miles down the road.

I’ll give you the five, plus a nice hot meal when we get there.

(SOFT MUSIC PLAYING)

(PLAYING GENTLE MELODY)

(INDISTINCT CONVERSATION)

(WHISTLE BLOWING)

(CLAMORING)

BARKER: Come on, fellas. I need help. Chop chop.

Hey, you. Radio Flyer, come here.

The Geek, he got loose.

If you see him, don’t take him on your own.

Let’s get this fucker.

Look under the truck.

No, keep going. To the funhouse.

MAN: Hurry!

(THUNDER RUMBLES)

I’ll let you in.

(DOOR WHIRS)

You go in there.

If you see him, push him through.

I’ll meet you on the other side.

(MACHINERY WHIRRING)

(MACHINERY WHOOSHES)

(GASPS)

(WHIRRING STOPS)

(MUFFLED YELLING)

(METAL CREAKS)

(DOOR CLANGS AND HISSES)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(SOFT WHIMPERING)

(PANTING WEAKLY)

Hey, pal, everybody’s looking for ya.

(GEEK MUTTERS)

Well, I’m not gonna blow the whistle. You didn’t do nothing against me.

Why don’t you come on out?

Come on, I’m not gonna hurt you.

(GEEK MUTTERING)

I am not like… I’m not like this.

(BOTH GRUNT)

Easy.

Easy.

(GRUNTS)

(BOTH GRUNT)

(GEEK GROANS)

Hey!

Hey!

Hey, you’re gonna kill him. Jesus, kid!

Aw, jeez, is he dead?

I don’t need no shooflies in here, Clem. Get him out of here.

CLEM: In the back.

The cage in the back.

Hell.

(CHICKENS CLUCKING)

Jesus.

(GRUNTS)

Out, out! Go, go, go.

(GEEK GROWLS)

Back!

Back, back, back!

(GROANS)

Step right up and behold, one of the unexplained mysteries of the universe.

Is he man or beast?

(MUTTERS INDISTINCTLY)

GEEK: (WEAKLY) I’m not like this.

(GEEK CRIES)

CLEM: Folks will pay good money just to make themselves feel better.

(CONTINUES CRYING)

Look down on this fucker, grind some chicken gristle.

How’s your head?

Hmm.

Turn.

Oh.

(CLEM CHUCKLES)

You can find a mattress over there behind those jars.

You can sleep there tonight.

Stay out of the rain.

(CHICKENS CLUCKING)

Go on, go on, around the corner.

Would a steady job be of interest to you, young buck?

Folks here, they don’t make no never mind who you are, or what you done.

(LOW, UNEASY MUSIC PLAYING)

(METALLIC TICKING)

(IMPERCEPTIBLE)

(SOFT METALLIC CLACKING)

(GENTLE GUITAR MUSIC PLAYING)

(RHYTHMIC TAPPING)

Hey!

(VOCALIZES)

(CHUCKLES) Yeah.

(SHOES CLATTER)

(GUITAR MUSIC ENDS)

(TRADITIONAL POP MUSIC PLAYING ON RADIO)

Mornin’.

Mornin’.

You got a tub?

Certainly do.

Just arrived last night, so I thought…

Of course you did.

Well, it’ll be a dime to use it, and you get a cake of soap, and, uh, hot water.

Leave the door open?

Sure. But put that dime on the table.

Sorry to wake you, sugar. I’m just getting a soak.

MAN: I gotta go into town anyway.

Morning.

And, uh, I’m going to see about getting some breakfast.

Now, sweetie, make sure it’s breakfast, okay?

Promise Zeena you won’t go into some blind pig.

Are you familiar with those cards?

Mm-hmm.

And, uh, tarot.

Very powerful stuff.

Well, maybe Zeena will read your fortune, uh, if you’re lucky, after your bath.

You could take all your things off and hang ’em over the chair there, nice and neat.

MAN: I’ll have eggs a la Benedict, a croissant, jus d’orange, cafe au lait, and, uh, ba-bum.

Au revoir, ma cherie.

(MATCH STRIKES)

Gonna be helping Clem out a bit.

Clem, huh?

(MOANS)

(ZEENA SIGHS)

Say, maybe you can hawk for me.

You know, work the audience.

We got a little mind reading show.

What would I have to do?

ZEENA: Ah, ain’t nothin’ to it. Carny speak’s like a song.

We sound Southern to Southerners and Western to Westerners.

You got a sweet little lilt.

Just gotta lean on it. Talk of the soil.

You drawl slow, but all the while, you’re hustling fast.

Yeah, you can peddle for me.

And on your down time, maybe Pete can show you a trick or two.

You’re gonna do just fine, honey.

You got panache.

(CHUCKLES)

What is that?

Well, you’re easy on the eyes, honey.

(ZEENA CHUCKLES)

Oh, you’re trouble, ain’t you, pup?

No, ma’am, I’m absolutely no trouble at all.

Oh, yes, you are.

Yes, you are. You’re a “maybe.”

And “maybes”…

(SIGHS)

they’re real bad for me.

Well, ain’t you one.

I better go.

Yeah.

Just try and get away, you dope.

(CARNIVAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(GRUNTING)

(CHEERING)

Take over for me. My knees are shot to shit.

Always with the knees.

I am The Major!

The tiniest man on record, master of the nami-jitsu, the secret technique from the Orient.

And $20 says I can beat any of you yahoos in a wrestling match.

Don’t be bashful, folks.

If there’s any of you that have a question for me, Mr. Carlisle will now be collecting your cards and envelopes.

Make sure to write your questions and your name on a card inside the envelope.

All right, don’t look at anybody else’s.

WOMAN: Thank you.

Let’s just all just mind our manners, and we’ll stay out of trouble, now.

There are five senses we all possess.

Miss Molly, you have a question for us?

No.

All right. Well, you’re not gonna get an answer then.

ZEENA: We all can hear, see, touch, smell, and taste.

ZEENA: However, I have been blessed with a sixth one.

A natural connection, if you will, to the ether.

Thank you for the envelopes, Mr. Carlisle.

(CROWD APPLAUDING)

Choose your fate or the color of your curtains…

Zeena’s cooking up a good crowd out there, Pete.

You sauced? Come on, Pete.

Oh…

Pete, Zeena’s on.

Oh?

(ZEENA TALKING INDISTINCTLY)

I’ll read the first card.

(PETE MUMBLES)

She gonna need it soon.

Okay, Abigail. Write it down.

Where’s the chalk?

Right here.

People always ask me if I have spirit aid.

Well, folks, the only spirits I control are the ones in this bottle.

(CROWD LAUGHS)

The spirits of alcohol.

Worried about her mother. Gonna be looking soon.

And every card after that, you understand?

I know it, I know it.

(CROWD EXCLAIMS)

(APPLAUDING)

The questions are now in the ether.

I’ve never touched them. Never read them.

I don’t need to, ’cause I get an impression right here.

PETE: There you go, Zeenee.

There’s a woman worried about her mother.

“Will mother get better?”

(WHISPERS) Pete’s sauced.

I’ll go.

ZEENA: Wait, I’m getting a letter.

Yes. It’s an “A”.

That’s me.

Abigail? Is that your name, dear?

(CROWD GASPS IN AWE)

I’d say your mother had a lot of hard work…

(SLURRING) Molly.

Which envelope is it, Pete?

It’s… I don’t know.

This one?

I can’t remember.

I’m sorry, Molly.

ZEENA: Now, I will attempt to read the next question.

(MOUTHING) I don’t know which one it is.

ABIGAIL: Madam Zeena.

Tell me more.

Please.

WOMAN: Tell her, Madam Zeena. If you can.

You have a couple of brothers, or sisters, haven’t you?

No, I don’t, ma’am.

(CROWD MURMURING)

Only one sister.

My brother passed away.

Ah, yes.

But I see him.

That’s what threw me.

Your brother is right here this very minute.

His hand is on your shoulder.

(SOFT MUSIC PLAYING)

Can you feel it?

Yes.

(PEOPLE GASP)

Yes, I felt something.

I felt his hand.

Oh, God! Harry!

(CROWD APPLAUDS, CHEERS)

(SOFT MUSIC CONTINUES)

(MUSIC PLAYING ON RADIO)

Are you okay?

Oh, the poor woman, she wanted to know more.

Of course she did.

(SIGHS)

What did you tell her?

Well, the truth.

We missed a cue and I had to use a trick to ease the crowd.

It was just a trick.

It hurt.

PETE: Well, it’s good. It’s good that you did that.

Yeah, well, I gave her an amulet.

PETE: I’m sorry I missed the cue.

I don’t know why you don’t keep it going for her.

Never do a spook show.

Oh. (PUFFS)

PETE: No good comes out of a spook show.

Is it so bad to give her hope?

It ain’t hope if it’s a lie, Stan.

(SIGHS)

All right, well, what are those cards then?

Hmm? Tarot?

Well, honey, it ain’t the same thing.

No, I even run ’em over for myself. And Pete.

You always get some kind of answer.

I bought those for you in Paris.

We stayed at the Ritz.

Ah. Held over four weeks.

Ah… (SPEAKS FRENCH)

(ZEENA CHUCKLES)

I wrote most of the word system on that tour.

That’s where we perfected the act.

Didn’t we, George?

Can you still do it?

Eh…

All right.

Stanton… give Zeena an article. Any article.

(SWITCHES OFF RADIO)

(WATCH TICKING)

ZEENA: Please concentrate on this object I have in my hand, Professor.

What can you tell me?

Wristwatch.

Leather band.

Brass, not gold.

Oh. Old and worn down.

Ah…

But it’s full of meaning…

Ah, it wasn’t yours originally, was it?

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

You took it, or…

You stole it, didn’t you?

Oh, I see an older man.

Oh, the boy hates him.

Oh, the boy would love to be loved, but he hates that man…

(PETE GRUNTS)

(SHUDDERS)

Death.

Death and the wish of death.

He loved that watch.

That was his pride, my father.

Was it now?

No, no, no.

That’s it. That’s it.

(SNAPS FINGERS)

That’s it. (GRUNTS)

(PETE SIGHS)

It’s, uh…

It’s all there.

(MUMBLES)

Now, you see, each word has a number, and that number leads you to a different word.

Ba-bum!

Zeena feeds them to me.

“Please concentrate on the object I have in my hand, Professor.”

“Please”, “an object”, 21.

Emphasis on “concentrate” means that it is old and worn down.

Cheap.

Ba-bum.

But… you gotta know how to read the mark.

How they move and talk, dress.

People are desperate to tell you who they are.

Desperate to be seen.

Ain’t that the truth?

Yeah, but how do you know if you got ’em hooked?

Well, you pause.

ZEENA: That’s right.

You take a moment.

“Would you excuse me, please? I need a glass of water.”

Yeah, or you faint.

Weakened by the effort.

(PETE CHUCKLES)

How’d you know about my father, though?

That’s a stock reading.

It’s a “Black Rainbow.”

One size fits all.

(SLURRING)

Thrifty but generous, private but friendly, and… and you, you hated him but loved him.

Now, everybody’s had some trouble.

Somebody they’ve hated.

Shadow from their past.

And usually for a boy, it’s the old man.

Now, if the mark is older, you say you had, uh, some present loss.

But younger?

It’s the father.

There’s always a father.

Well, I will take this to Clem.

We had a good day today.

A great day.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(DOOR CLOSES)

Oh, my sweet Pete.

(CHUCKLES DRYLY) He breaks my heart.

No, no, no. No more belting the grape for you, Pete.

I promised Zeena.

PETE: Oh, Zeena’s not gonna know, Clem.

Just one bottle, that’s all.

Okay. Last time.

Just go.

PETE: Bless you, Clem. Bless you.

(SOMBER MUSIC CONTINUES)

(THUNDER RUMBLES)

(JARS RATTLING)

These are my little angels.

Set it down here. That’s his home.

Uh, no.

Face him the other way, he’s shy.

Got to keep my beauties pickled fresh.

“Begotten by the same lust and threat that got us all walkin’ on this earth, but gone wrong somehow in the maternal womb.

“Not fit for livin’.”

Most of ’em die right at childbirth, or even inside the mother.

Now, this one is a rare one.

(SWITCH CLICKS)

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

Enoch.

I named him on account of the Bible.

Little fucker killed his mother right at childbirth.

Flopped around for a couple of days, brayin’ like a calf.

Eye follows you around like ’em portraits.

Red box, wood alcohol.

Good for picklin’, bad for drinkin’.

Poison, real poison.

Blue box, sweet sugarcane, double-cooked.

Christ almighty, throat’s sore as a bull’s ass in fly time.

(MUSIC PLAYING FAINTLY ON RADIO)

Folks know to come to me for it.

Half a plug a quart.

Never cop a quart.

You gotta make the tin cling, same as everybody else.

I never touch the stuff.

Ain’t we virtuous?

Just say you understand.

I understand.

What do you understand?

Never cop a quart.

That’s right.

Toe the line, don’t fuck with me.

That’s the lesson.

(MUSIC PLAYING ON RADIO)

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

Entrez.

Clem asked me to deliver this to you.

Six quarts of wood alcohol for the show.

Oh, yeah, for the show.

(CHUCKLES) That’s a pity, isn’t it?

You can just put ’em there.

(COINS CLINKING)

Here you go.

Hey, Pete.

I’d love to learn anything that you’d wanna teach me.

Teach you?

I understand if you don’t wanna give away your secrets. (CHUCKLES)

Uh, no. It’s not that, my boy. It’s, uh…

Well, it’s just that it’s been some time since anybody’s asked me to teach them anything.

Thank you.

Yeah.

You know where to find me.

Yes, I do.

Have a good day.

(PEOPLE SCREAMING IN DISTANCE)

Never court the sins of lust or pride.

I was turned into this sorrowful shape, for I disobeyed my parents.

They wanted only my well-being…

MOLLY: Born during an electrical storm, the atmosphere charged with electrostatic power.

I am now able to withstand thousands…

(ELECTRICITY CRACKLES)

(CROWD EXCLAIMS)

…upon thousands of volts as they will course through my body.

But you must be warned to keep your distance, for this entertainment carries with it the danger of electrocution, even for those in close proximity.

(CROWD SCREAMS)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUDING)

(SOFT MUSIC PLAYING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(GEEK MOANS)

(GEEK MUTTERS)

GEEK: (SOFTLY) I’m not like this.

Not like this, I am not like this.

(GEEK BREATHES RAGGEDLY)

(ORNAMENTS JINGLING)

Molly.

I wanna show you something. You have a second?

I just got a couple of minutes before Zeena starts.

MOLLY: Mm-hmm.

So, uh, I saw your show, and I think it’s real good, but I got an idea for your act.

Now, in your show, you just…

You know, you tell a little story.

But what if you showed them something?

What do you think of that?

An electric chair, and they put you in it.

Manacles in, and the audience is going, “What’s going on here?”

All of a sudden, little guy comes shufflin’ out with an executioner’s hood.

He pulls this lever, and they get real scared.

They think maybe you’re gonna die, and boom, you got them, they’re back on their heels.

What do you say?

You wanna execute me?

Just for a second.

Then you come back to life.

You drew me?

Yeah, I draw what’s on my mind.

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

You could make a living at this.

My mama used to put me in these contests when I was a kid.

I used to win all of them, but I don’t know, I just…

Just something I’ve always done. Helps me think.

You do know this is the Ragtag Opera, right?

Nothing’s really the best of anything around here.

Well, you’re better than this place.

Maybe you think I’m special, but I’m not.

Well, maybe I see something in you you don’t see.

You do?

I mean, it’s possible.

Maybe all this is good enough for me.

I don’t believe you.

If it’s not good enough for me, sure ain’t good enough for you.

What do you think?

You look good.

Think about it.

(ROMANTIC MUSIC PLAYING)

Okay, you got steps.

Ready?

Voila.

Looks just like the sketch, don’t it?

No, sit in the chair.

You made this? When did you make this?

And put your hands in there.

Like that?

Yeah.

(METAL CLACKS)

Oh!

See that? Major. That’s drama.

Now your job over here is gonna pull this lever. Okay?

Don’t bend down to talk to me.

No, I’m not bending down. I’m trying to show you.

You’re gonna pull this lever back.

No, you gotta do it with some force, with some drama.

Put your back into it, two hands. You got it.

(DRAMATICALLY) Ahh! And the electricity is flying, everybody’s horrified.

Is she gonna live or die? It’s going back and forth.

And then you’re gonna save the day, and you’re gonna push it forward, two hands.

Really put some… And that’s it!

Manacles come off, smoke’s coming out.

I haven’t rigged this yet, but these two areas are gonna have sparks.

I don’t know about all your gobbledygook, but I am not wearing this, I tell you that.

Oh, but it’s so good.

What are you all of a sudden, an engineer?

It’s the same rubber mat as before, same electrical current.

Just a better show, that’s all.

What does this wheel thing do?

That’s bullshit.

(STAN CHUCKLES)

Tell you what.

I’ll think about it.

I’ll do it.

I think he’s onto something.

Sure.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(ENGINE TURNS OVER)

You going someplace special?

Just driving Pete and Zeena into town.

You want us to pick up something for you?

Nah, I’m good.

What’s it to you?

BRUNO: Nothin’.

You been bumpin’ gums with Molly a little too often.

Just so happens I knew her old man.

I knew him really good.

Old-time grifter.

My guess, he wouldn’t have liked you at all.

I promised him I’d take care of the girl, and I’m gonna.

I still got five good pounds of meat and bone right here.

Hurt that girl, you get ’em all.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

STAN: What are you still doing up out here?

I had a dream. I couldn’t go back to sleep.

Wanna tell me about it?

It was about my dad.

Did he pass?

He was alive and smiling in the dream.

I’ll bet you he was handsome, wasn’t he?

Girls always take after their daddies.

MOLLY: Hmm.

“Mary Margaret Cahill, don’t forget to smile,” he said.

I don’t really like to smile, but I’d sure as hell smile for him.

He could charm his way out of anything.

A man after my own heart.

Tell me more.

About him?

Sure, about you.

What about me?

I know that, uh, you like chocolates, and you like to read.

And dancing.

(CHUCKLES)

When was the last time you did?

A while.

Yeah?

We gonna fix that.

You ready?

(CAROUSEL POWERS UP)

Giddy up.

(CAROUSEL MUSIC PLAYING ON SPEAKER)

(STAN HUMS ALONG TO MUSIC)

(MOLLY CHUCKLES)

I’ve been thinking about what you said, Stan.

What did I say?

(MOLLY GRUNTS)

(BOTH LAUGH)

I remember.

And where would we go?

What if I told you I can get my hands on a two person act for us?

What are you talking about?

I’m talking about an act that would get us headlining in the biggest hotels and showrooms from the East Coast to the West Coast.

You’re dreaming.

No, Molly. You’re bigger than this place.

If you let me, I wanna give you the world and everything in it.

Molly.

(CAROUSEL MUSIC CONTINUES)

(CURTAIN CLINKING)

(ROMANTIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(STAN PANTING)

Come on. I need a hand.

Wound on his head went bad.

Flies got to it.

Fever won’t come down.

Is he dead?

No. But he’s bound to be.

You heard?

That little Kraut, the one that looks like Chaplin, he just invaded Poland!

The balls on him. Put him here.

(DOORBELL RINGING)

Come on!

You gonna wait?

And answer questions? No!

They’ll take him, they’ll care for him.

Put him under the…

I said leave him be!

Can’t leave him in the rain.

Don’t pretend you give a shit with me.

You hungry? I’m starving!

Come on! Steak and eggs, on me.

Sweetie, uh, salt and pepper, please.

How do you ever get a guy to geek?

Oh, I ain’t gonna crap you up. It ain’t easy.

You gotta pick up a broken drunk.

A real alkie, a two bottle-a-day fool, see?

Pick him up from where?

Nightmare alleys, train tracks, flophouses, you name it.

Lot of folks came back from the war addicted to the poppy, to booze.

Now, opium really sinks its claws, but you reel ’em in with booze.

You tell ’em, “I got a little job for you. It’s a temporary job.”

Make sure you emphasize that.

“Just temporary, until we get ourselves another geek.”

You spike it with that opium tincture.

One drop per bottle, that’s all.

But, oh… oh, now, this is what he thinks is heaven.

So, you say to him like this, you say to him, “Well, I gotta get me a real geek.”

He says, “Ain’t I doing okay?”

You say, “Like crap you’re doing okay.

“You can’t draw a real crowd faking a geek.

“You’re through.”

And you walk off.

Now, that night, you drag out the lecture, you lay it on thick.

All the while you’re talking, he’s thinking about sobering up, getting the crawling shakes, the screaming, the terrors.

You give him time to think that over while you’re talking.

Then, you throw him the chicken.

He’ll geek.

Jesus.

Poor soul.

Like this.

Index, middle finger, half bent, parallel to your thumb.

As if you’re going to pluck something out of the air.

Left hand on your temple.

This means you’re asking for color, texture, specifics.

That’s it.

STAN: You got quite a gift.

I don’t know how you do it, Pete.

Keep all that in your head, at the same time entertaining all these folks.

(PETE CHUCKLES)

You know, if, um…

If you’re good at reading people, it’s mostly because you learned as a child, trying to stay one step ahead of whatever tormented you.

Now, if they really did a number on you, then that crack, it’s a hollow.

And there’ll never be enough.

There’s no filling that in.

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING IN DISTANCE)

(PETE GRUNTS)

Uh…

Clem is breaking in a new geek.

Holding out on him.

Poor bastard.

He’s gotta be half out of his mind by now.

I think George and I will sleep below tonight.

Stan, my boy.

Would you be so kind as to… as to procure me a pint of the sugarcane?

Pete, close your eyes and go to bed.

I need an incentive, son.

Hmm.

I’ll see what I can do.

Attaboy.

(OPERATIC MUSIC PLAYING ON RADIO)

(JAR RATTLING SOFTLY)

(METAL BANGING)

(CHICKEN CLUCKING)

(GEEK GRUNTS)

(GRUNTS)

(OPERATIC MUSIC CONTINUES)

(WOMAN LAUGHING)

WOMAN: Jesus.

You got no rhythm.

(OPERATIC MUSIC CONTINUES)

(COIN CLATTERS)

(PANTING)

(SNORING SOFTLY)

(SOFT SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

What are you doing?

Uh… I didn’t mean any harm by it, Pete. I was just curious.

Stan, this book, it can be misused.

Do you understand?

It’s why I stopped doing the act.

I got shuteye.

When a man believes his own lies, starts believing that he has the power, he’s got shuteye.

Because now he believes it’s all true.

And people get hurt. Good, God-fearing people.

And then you lie. You lie.

And when the lies end, there it is.

The face of God, staring at you straight.

No matter where you turn.

No man can outrun God, Stan.

Yes, sir.

(TRAPDOOR CLOSES)

(FOOTSTEPS OVERHEAD)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(SIGHS)

(SMACKS LIPS)

(WHISPERING) Middle and index finger bent, parallel to the thumb.

Raise your left hand to your temple, middle and index finger bent.

Parallel to your thumb.

Raise your hand to your temple.

Asking for something specific.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

ZEENA: No! No! Where is he? Where is he?

Pete! Come on!

BRUNO: Zeena!

Hey, Clem, we got a problem!

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(PEOPLE CLAMORING)

It’s Pete. He finally did it to himself.

He ain’t moving.

ZEENA: (SOBBING) Pete. Oh, my… Pete.

(CONTINUES SOBBING)

Pete!

(CONTINUES SOBBING) Pete! Pete!

BARKER: Sin and salvation. Heaven and Hell.

Find out what it feels like right here on Earth.

Let the mirrors show you who you are and who you shall be.

Hurry, hurry, hurry!

CLEM: (ON LOUDSPEAKER) Spine-chilling rides!

Fun for all ages!

The sensation of the century!

Ten attractions for a single ticket.

(SIRENS APPROACHING)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

Hurry, hurry, hurry.

Step right up and get a prize.

Clem!

CLEM: Yeah.

Clem!

Yeah.

Shooflies. I saw four cop cars coming up the South.

Oh, shit.

They see the geek, we’re all wet.

I’ll stash him.

You drop the banner, chisel them a bit, buy me some time.

Round up all the carnies and take them over to that stage over there.

CLEM: Whoopsie daisy. (GRUNTS)

Move it, move them! Move them!

STAN: Officer, what seems to be happening?

Join the others.

Is that a warrant? What’s that for?

Don’t try to pull that legal stuff.

We’re gonna close this whole joint down one way or another.

STAN: Yes, sir.

OFFICER: …that you are carrying around…

(MUTTERS INDISTINCTLY)

…an illegal performance emphasizing cruelty to both animal and man.

And you, young lady.

We have got wives and daughters in this town.

You are under arrest for indecency. Get her down!

No, stop! Stop! Get down off there!

OFFICER: I’ll club you down.

The wheel is turning.

The electrical current’s gotta go somewhere.

Major, please!

If you just permit us, sir, you can judge in a fair manner like the good King Solomon.

(CROWD EXCLAIMS)

Everybody, back off!

(ELECTRICITY SURGING)

(ELECTRICITY POPPING)

(CROWD SCREAMING)

(GRUNTS)

(CRACKLING STOPS)

That’s why she’s forced to wear the brief as a covering, sir.

She purges the current.

Molly?

Molly? You okay?

(CROWD MURMURING)

BRUNO: Make way.

She just saved your deputies’ lives.

Molly, Molly.

I am closing you down.

I ain’t none of your thieving southern police kissing a priest’s toe on Sundays and raking in graft six days a week.

STAN: Is your name Jeremiah?

Jeremiah, Jeremiah… J… Jer… J… J…

Jedediah Judd.

Yeah.

(BREATHES HEAVILY)

A matter of the utmost importance has arisen, sir.

If I could just have a minute of your time.

A message has come through.

And I think you’re gonna wanna hear it, but not in front of these kind folks.

Please, sir.

(SIGHS)

Nobody leaves.

Thank you. Thank you.

My name is Stanton Carlisle, Marshal Judd, and my family’s Scot.

Scots are gifted with what the old folks used to call “second sight.”

Now, it’s clear to me, for example, that you are a man who is generally distrustful, but also fiercely loyal.

I’d say that’s a fair description.

And, uh, this is none of my business because I know that you are capable of handling your own affairs and anything else liable to come along, but I do sense a childhood marred in disease.

And it makes you, uh, feel hemmed in by it, trapped, even to this day.

And I sense a curio of some kind.

An amulet, a memento.

You carry it on your person, you had it for a long time.

Who’s Mary?

A saintly woman.

(GASPS SOFTLY)

My… My mother.

May I see it?

May I see it, sir?

Yes.

She wants you to know that your ailment has not shunned you from greatness, quite the contrary.

Your community loves you and feels protected by you, sir.

And yes, you couldn’t serve your country on foreign soil, but you protect us here at home.

And this medal, this medal should be a reminder of her love for you.

And as long as you just keep it here, close to your heart, where our Lord Jesus Christ resides, it’s gonna protect you in the future.

And she wants you to know this, sir.

It’s only by being merciful to others that a man has true power.

(JUDD BREATHES DEEPLY)

(CROWD APPLAUDING AND CHEERING)

But once I copped the warrant off that deputy, I saw the marshal’s name.

I knew it was a lead-pipe cinch.

(ALL LAUGHING)

You know what’s funny? Pete used to always say, “It’s not the clothes, but the shoes that could tell you everything you need to know about a man.”

Right.

And he had a lift in his right shoe.

And I bet you he had polio or something as a kid.

You know, the military never letting him in, mama’s boy.

I could tell by the look in his eyes.

That’s good.

Well, it takes one to know one.

(CHUCKLES)

He tried to railroad us, Clem, with that fancy moustache.

I saw that chain around his neck, I got it out of him, Saint Christopher medal, all that Bible talk.

I thought, well, he must know somebody named Mary.

Right.

And lo and behold, the Lord blessed us.

His mother’s name’s Mary.

You had him!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(PANTING) Molly, I was looking for you.

You all right?

I’m ready, Stan.

Ready for what?

To leave all this behind, go with you.

We are ready, aren’t we?

(LAUGHS)

You saw me out there.

I sure did.

My whole life I’ve been looking for something,

something that I’m good at. And I think I found it, Molly.

I think I’m ready.

I know you are, Stan. (CHUCKLES)

(SOFT MUSIC PLAYING)

STAN: Hmm.

And I know you’ll always look after me, right?

I will if you let me.

What about Zeena?

Because of Pete?

Well, I don’t wanna hurt her.

Oh, you won’t.

Zeena’s lived. She’s, uh… She knows what’s what.

Everybody knows you’re the one I’ve been pining after.

Molly, you’re the reason I’ve stuck around.

(LIVELY CHATTER)

You seen Molly?

(LIVELY JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

Hmm?

Stan?

(KISSING)

Stan?

I never let any man do it to me all the way before.

None who I agreed to, anyway.

You got nothing to worry about with me, rabbit.

(PEOPLE CHATTERING EXCITEDLY)

Hey. Let’s go. Get your stuff.

BRUNO: Hey!

(BOTH GRUNT)

MOLLY: Bruno!

THE MAJOR: Molly! No. Come with me.

MOLLY: Leave him alone!

You goddamn crumb.

MOLLY: No! Let go!

I warned you, didn’t I?

Bruno, you’re gonna kill him!

BRUNO: Come here!

(GRUNTING)

MOLLY: Stop it! Let him go!

I’m gonna kill him!

Leave him alone.

Get away! I love him! I’m leaving!

Don’t you understand? I’m leaving with him!

(BOTH BREATHING HEAVILY)

(JAR RATTLING SOFTLY)

(CAGE RATTLING)

(DEEP RUMBLING)

(CONTINUES RATTLING)

(RATTLING CONTINUES)

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

(SIGHS)

(SIGHS)

You want the book back?

No.

Mm-mmm.

You earned it.

You worked hard for it.

(ENGINE STARTS)

You ready?

Ready for what?

The world and everything in it, rabbit. (CHUCKLES)

MOLLY: One, “will.” Four, “tell.”

“Will you tell this lady what she’s thinking about?”

Eight, “trust.”

“Do not trust anyone involved.”

Nine, “lost.”

Nine, “complete,” the loss of everything.

Seven, “loneliness.”

Four, “tell.” Nine, “complete.”

“I want to tell you about absolute loneliness.”

(ECHOING AND MUFFLING) Eight, “trust.”

Six, “negative.”

(FLAME RUMBLING)

(RUMBLING FADING OFF)

(WHISPERING) Father.

You’re going now.

I need you…

(STAN CLEARS THROAT)

Stan, are you okay?

Yeah. Keep going. We got two shows tomorrow.

MOLLY: “Loneliness.”

Two, “fear.”

“Emphasis on detail.”

Circle. “A prophecy fulfilled.”

(APPLAUSE)

Wait.

A woman.

MOLLY: Can you be more specific?

Initials “R” or “S.”

(NERVOUSLY) “R.”

Yes.

Yes, “R.”

I believe you know to whom I’m speaking now, do you not?

You’re correct again.

(APPLAUSE)

(JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

STAN: You messed up.

MOLLY: Stan.

Stan.

ANNOUNCER: Next show’s in 30 minutes. Thanks, everyone.

All we do is rehearse it, and you still fluff it.

Out there by myself. What happened?

MOLLY: I’m sorry. I guess I was tired.

STAN: Let’s see how many people stay for the second show.

(MUFFLED, INAUDIBLE CONVERSATION)

(JAZZ MUSIC CONTINUES)

(CROWD APPLAUDING)

STAN: A pocket watch.

Gold.

MOLLY: Concentrate.

Do any other details come to you?

There is an inscription.

Letters, am I correct?

You are.

Master Stanton, can you kindly name them…

May I?

MOLLY: Yes, please give me the object.

No, thank you. I’ll hold it.

Very well.

Master Stanton, what is the object being held by this lady?

Well, it seems it’s a night of gold.

A golden handbag.

(APPLAUSE)

Be quiet, child.

Let me ask the questions.

What is inside the bag?

Madam.

What is the meaning of this?

You say you’re genuine and I say you use verbal signals of some sort to communicate between the two of you.

(CROWD MURMURING)

There are no tricks involved, madam.

There’s no deception whatsoever.

Then answer me.

What is inside the bag?

The usual’s inside that bag.

Lipstick, a handkerchief.

Oh, well, that is easy enough, is it not?

(PEOPLE CHUCKLE)

(TUTS)

Ladies and gentlemen, I have never met this woman before.

Nor have I any prior knowledge to the contents of that purse, and yet… yet, there is something very interesting in there.

A small pistol.

(CROWD GASPS)

Nickel plated, ivory handle.

May I?

(CROWD EXCLAIMING)

(APPLAUSE)

You claim to carry it to defend yourself, but… (SMACKS LIPS)

I think you do it because you like it.

I think you do it because it makes you feel powerful.

Well, madam, you are not powerful.

Not powerful enough.

(APPLAUSE)

You are an only child, are you not?

Your mother died when you were young?

Her shadow looms large and close, too close for comfort.

Hardly a day went by in which she didn’t crush you down in small ways.

And that gun, that gun in your purse, well, sometimes you have dark thoughts about yourself, don’t you?

(CROWD MURMURS)

(SOFT SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(WHISPERS) Well, don’t you?

Are your initials “CK”?

Yes.

Have you suffered a loss? A dear one, not long ago?

Oh, God. Julian?

(STAN SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY)

MAN: Go on.

STAN: He’s…

He’s right beside you.

(GASPS)

His hand is resting on your right shoulder.

Can you feel it?

Yes. He wants you to know something.

He wants you to know how proud he is of you. And how…

(CLATTERING)

(CROWD EXCLAIMS)

(CROWD MURMURING)

(APPLAUSE)

(JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(EXHALES DEEPLY, SNIFFLES)

What was that about?

I do not know.

That was something else.

See the way that woman came after me?

I saw the way you went after her and then the man.

What are you talking about?

We were behind the eight. I got us out.

And why did you keep on her, then?

Well, I had to. Crowd would’ve turned on us.

Once she came after me, I had to take her down.

Why are you so concerned?

I gave you the initials of that watch and you turned it into a goddamn spook show.

Molly, did you see the same show that I did?

That crowd was on its feet.

When was the last time that happened?

I mean, we give them mentalism and they treat it like it’s a dog walking on its hind legs, but that, that was different.

We should leave that in the show.

Stan, that woman was sitting at the same table as that poor, old man and I’ve seen her here before.

When?

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

Hey, hepcat.

You have a request. An after show meet.

Uh, thank you.

It’s them.

Oh, how do you know?

Of course it’s them.

Then I won’t see them.

Oh, yes, you will.

You’re gonna go see that poor, old man you spooked.

Let him off the hook. Tell him the truth.

All right. Truth.

And an out.

And an out. You happy?

It was a good show. You ought to give me that.

Sorry to keep you waiting.

Mr. Carlisle, I don’t mind waiting.

I’m Charles Kimball.

Judge Kimball.

I was hoping to engage you for a private consultation.

STAN: Charles, may I?

Uh… (SMACKS LIPS)

Charles…

(SIGHS DEEPLY)

What you experienced tonight…

I will double your nightly rate.

Well, that’s not the point.

The thing is…

Is she with you?

Charles wanted my opinion before engaging you.

MOLLY: Well, we don’t do private consultations.

Molly, please.

I think Mr. Carlisle wants an apology.

STAN: Why would I want that?

You provided us with quite a show here tonight, so thank you.

(STAN SIGHS)

You seek solace?

CHARLES: Yes.

I believe we can provide that for you.

Stan…

(CHARLES SIGHS IN RELIEF)

I’ll do it.

Just this once.

CHARLES: Thank you. Mr. Carlisle, thank you.

(CHARLES SIGHS IN RELIEF)

WOMAN: Here, Charles.

Have one of mine.

CHARLES: This is my home.

4:30 pm, Wednesday.

I’ll be there.

CHARLES: Thank you, Mr. Carlisle. Miss.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

“Doctor Lilith Ritter. Consulting psychologist.”

A doctor. How about that?

MOLLY: Evening, Joseph. Can I have some change, please?

Yes.

Thank you.

STAN: I know you’re angry with me.

MOLLY: Of course, you do.

You can read minds. You talk to the dead, remember?

Oh, come on, Molly.

Why would you say yes?

You saw how desperate he was.

What do you want me to say to him?

MOLLY: Say no!

STAN: Where you going?

I have to make a phone call.

Make a phone call up in the room.

Go away.

I’m gonna run a bath. You better hurry up before it gets cold.

(SOFT DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(BELLS JINGLING)

Hostilities exist.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our…

I was thinking you and I can make a dent in this town.

You and I can make a pretty big dent in this town.

I was thinking you and I can make a pretty big dent in this town.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

(MUFFLED MUSIC PLAYING)

(SOFT CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING ON SPEAKER)

LILITH: Mr. Carlisle, come in.

STAN: Slow day?

Have you not heard?

We’re at war.

I’m aware.

How did you know it was me?

What brings you here?

You left me your card, didn’t you?

So, here we are.

Oh, not me. I never drink.

Microphones.

That’s right. Wire recorder.

Are you recording this?

No.

My office is wired to record all analysis sessions.

You got a smoother line, but you run a racket.

Same as me.

Is that what this is?

(KEYCHAIN CLINKING)

How did you know I had a pistol?

STAN: I can read a mark quick.

Find out what they want.

(MUSIC STOPS)

And I’m a mark, am I?

What do I want?

To be found out. Same as everybody else.

Is that it?

Think out things that most people want, hit ’em where they live… health, wealth, love.

Find out what they’re afraid of and sell it back to them.

STAN: As long as you don’t oversell it.

You wanna know how I knew about the gun?

I removed the blindfold both for dramatic effect and to get a rise out of the audience, but also to see the way you held your clutch.

Elbow bent forward, clutch was heavy.

And you lifted it with your left, no wedding ring.

No tan mark, unmarried.

So, you like to go out at night, you were at the Copa so you got the bees, but I assume you like to go to lower places, too, don’t you?

If I want mud on my skirt, I can find it.

(CHUCKLES LIGHTLY)

Well, you live alone.

No man in the house.

Gotta have a gun at home, but you assume yourself to be a lady, so not a big pipe.

Something small, portable, .22, .25, four, six shot, maybe.

And since you like pretty things, nickel plated, ivory handle.

But you talked about my mother.

Why?

Well, dames like you always have mommy issues.

Daddy issues, too.

I see.

An Electra complex, is it?

I wouldn’t know about that.

But you’re not as hard to read as you think, lady.

(SOFT SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

If I’m so easy to read, why come see me then?

That judge, he’s a pretty big deal in this town, is he?

Judge Kimball. Doesn’t get much bigger.

He a patient of yours?

Friend of my father’s.

Y’all jazzy together?

(LAUGHS DRYLY)

Now, why would you ask that?

Because you have a handle on him.

His wife is a patient of mine.

Mmm.

Interesting woman, Felicia.

Have you ever been in analysis?

I wouldn’t know what to talk about.

Simple. What are you thinking about?

Now?

Now.

You.

Me?

Mm-hmm.

What about me?

That you come a little closer so I can get a better look at you.

Is that why you’re here?

To look at me?

No, I’m just thinking that if you help me, we can make quite a big dent in this town.

We?

Mm-hmm.

You give me something on that judge, any of the other higher ups, I’ll make it worth your while.

You think you got something big enough or interesting enough for me?

Well, nothing matters in this goddamn world but dough, and you get that raw.

All right.

I’ll give you something.

In exchange for the truth.

Truth about what?

Yourself.

I give you a little information and you tell me the truth.

And don’t lie.

I’ll know if you’re lying.

That it?

Shoot.

Kimball lost a son.

An only child.

Julian.

23 years old.

Don’t write anything down.

This is not a carnival trick.

You are to leave no trace.

No writing. Understood.

(SOFT SENTIMENTAL CONTINUES)

Julian enlisted against Felicia’s wishes and died in No Man’s Land.

I can work with that.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.

Miss Cahill.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(PHONE LINE RINGING)

MOLLY: I’m sorry it took this long to call you.

BRUNO: Yeah. You know, when you didn’t call in the fall, I thought…

I know, I’m sorry.

Do you think you all might come to visit us before you close for the winter?

Hey, Molly?

You all right? It’s all I wanna know.

I’m fine. Really, I am. Everything’s Jake, Bruno.

I have to go, but I miss you all.

Send my love to The Major and to Zeena?

And to everybody?

Anytime.

(SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

So, how’s this gonna work, lady?

Doctor.

Doctor.

Lay down, please.

I think I’ll just sit, if that’s okay.

We can go much deeper if you do.

Why don’t we just start with sitting?

When I offered you a drink, you said you never drank.

Because I don’t.

But you made it a point of pride.

You could’ve taken the glass and not drunk.

You could’ve said, “Not right now,” and set it aside.

But you said, “No. Not me. I never drink.”

You can’t do mentalism and drink.

You gotta be on your toes all the time.

When you’re on, you’re on.

And you’re on now?

I’m always on, Doctor.

Did your father drink?

He went White Ribbon when I was 10.

But before?

Clearly, before, he did, if you knew what White Ribbon meant.

When I poured the whiskey, you winced.

Why?

Did I?

Yes.

That’s not something I need to talk to you about.

The truth. We shook on it.

(SIGHS)

I didn’t like the way it smelled, was all.

You were 12 feet away.

Stuff smelled off to me.

How so?

Smelled like wood alcohol.

You drank wood alcohol?

No. Not me. Never.

“Never.”

It’s that word again.

Please lie down.

Please.

I, uh…

It’s a guy that I knew.

He tanked up on wood alky and he kicked off.

What are you thinking about now?

(CHUCKLES) It makes no sense.

Take your time.

Pianos. (LAUGHING)

Elaborate.

(STAN BREATHES DEEPLY)

My mother.

Did she play the piano?

What’s that have to do with anything?

Did she drink?

Now and again, like everybody else.

Not you.

You never drink.

She was beautiful, your mother.

To me.

(FAINT, MUFFLED MUSIC PLAYS)

Who played the piano, Mr. Carlisle?

Guy named Humphries.

He was a friend of my folks. He was in Vaudeville.

How old was the man at the carnival? The one who died?

What did you say his name was?

I didn’t say. I didn’t think I said…

Pete.

Pete.

How did Pete get the alcohol?

(LOW, UNEASY MUSIC PLAYING)

I gave it to him.

(FAINT RUMBLING)

(JAR RATTLES)

But it was a mistake.

Mistake?

What was he to you?

Did you admire him?

Parts of him.

I think you pitied him.

I don’t know.

He had his fair shake, he just blew it.

Did Pete teach you things?

Yes.

He was older, wasn’t he?

He was old enough to be your father.

(WINDOW THUDS)

(GRUNTS)

I think we’ve done enough.

Did you ever stutter as a child?

(SNIFFS) No.

Because you have a slight movement. Compulsory movement.

Your head moves up and down, ever so slightly.

(SIGHS)

And Humphries.

Was he ever inappropriate or abusive to you as a child?

Shut your mouth. Shut your mouth.

It’s all right, Stanton. Answer me.

Humphries took my mother away because my father wasn’t man enough to hold on to her, all right?

Bible spouting hypocrite.

Always selling his tall tales about Jesus and a happy afterlife.

(SIGHS)

(WHISPERS) And what do you sell?

I’m a hustler and I know it.

I’m on the make and I know it. Get it?

I am nothing like my old man, and I never will be.

LILITH: “Never.”

That word again.

We’re going to work on that.

(ELEVATOR BELL DINGS)

(BELL DINGS)

(FAINT, MUFFLED JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(LAUGHTER)

(JAZZ MUSIC CONTINUES)

BRUNO: He’s working on his disappearing act right now.

ZEENA: He can’t stop.

He cannot stop himself.

BRUNO: Gonna be a headliner.

Something for the road.

I invited them. Are you mad?

STAN: Why would I be?

(JAZZ MUSIC CONTINUES ON SPEAKER)

Hello, Stan.

We’re on our way to Gibtown, thought we’d visit a while like old pals.

(SMACKS LIPS, BREATHES DEEPLY)

Oh, George.

You guys get something to eat?

THE MAJOR: Just drinks.

Should order some food?

Sure.

How long you staying?

Uh, not long.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

Mmm.

Okay. Ready?

(LAUGHTER)

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC CONTINUES)

That’s right.

There you go!

(MOUTHING)

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

(THE MAJOR AND MOLLY LAUGHING)

You’re doing well.

Well, it’s the same grift, just different threads.

And…

(BOTH LAUGH)

ZEENA: (SOFTLY) Don’t do the spook show.

Don’t do the spook show.

Is that why she called you?

What? No. She didn’t tell me. No. It’s all in the cards.

Well, save it for the chumps, Zeena.

THE MAJOR: Hah!

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Fine. Then you do it.

Three card question, it’ll take two seconds.

I’ll oblige.

Downfall.

Impending danger.

An urgent choice.

Now, Stanton, this is the last card.

It’s a decree.

You turn it, you’re gonna find out what’s coming to you.

(SOFT OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS)

The Hanged Man.

It’s upside down.

(ZEENA GRUNTS)

But you can still choose, Stan.

Well, you said so yourself, “There’s no such thing as bad cards,” remember?

Just depends on what you do with it. Look.

(OMINOUS MUSIC CONTINUES)

I fixed it.

I fixed it.

Keep that image in your mind.

Okay.

He loved you so very, very much.

I can sense that so clearly.

Even though you didn’t see eye to eye from time to time.

Oh.

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

No, that is true. We did not. (CHUCKLES)

May I touch that photograph?

Is that okay?

Yes, yes.

That could give me a deeper line to him.

(SNIFFLES, CLEARS THROAT)

(INHALES DEEPLY)

He died suddenly.

(SWALLOWS)

But he wants you to know that he was in no pain.

(GASPS)

He wants you to know that it hurts him so very, very much to know that you miss him because… well, he says that he…

He says that you should know with absolute certainty that you will all be together again in time.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Is he here?

Is he here? Can I speak to him?

(BOTH GASPING)

Speak to him. (SNIFFS)

When you left…

(SMACKS LIPS, INHALES SHARPLY)

…you took all life with you.

(SIGHS)

(SOMBER MUSIC CONTINUES)

Your father wanted you to enlist, I did not.

(SHUDDERS)

(VOICE BREAKING) But I’m the one who’s left with nothing.

(SHUDDERS)

(SOFTLY) Yes.

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

Your 5:00 is here.

I don’t have a 5:00.

(ON INTERCOM) He’s here.

Doctor.

Mr. Carlisle.

What’s that?

Your half. That’s a split. 50-50.

Not interested. I got what I wanted.

But you should’ve seen ’em.

My God.

I think they’ll be talking about that the rest of his life.

And I think every time they tell it, it’ll just get better and better, bigger and bigger.

A toast, then. To your success.

(SMACKS LIPS) Uh, he asked me to, uh, see one of his friends.

And who might that be?

He didn’t say, but I’m considering it.

I’ll tell you what, you got a safe?

(UNEASY MUSIC PLAYS)

I do.

Why don’t you keep this for me?

I don’t want Molly to know about it anyway.

Why don’t you keep it for a few days?

If you change your mind, we’ll spilt it 50-50.

And if not, I’ll keep it.

You barely know me.

(SMACKS LIPS)

Oh, I know you well.

(UNEASY MUSIC CONTINUES)

I know… you’re no good.

And I know that ’cause… neither am I.

Is that so?

Yes.

(MUFFLED JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

MOLLY: You’re asking for the shape.

What if I do two?

Color.

That’s good.

I’m too hard on us.

No, you’re right about it.

You need a break.

Whatever you wanna do, we’ll do.

Can we go dancing?

Absolutely.

ANNOUNCER: (ON PA) Call for Stanton Carlisle.

(IMITATES ANNOUNCER MOCKINGLY)

Whatever you want.

ANNOUNCER: You can pick it up on house phone.

We’ll go tonight after the show.

I’m dying in here, Stan.

I love you.

Yeah.

LILITH: The man Kimball wants to introduce you to is Ezra Grindle.

Grindle was a patient of mine for a brief time.

He’s unstable. Unpredictable.

How is he fixed for dough?

Oh, he’s very rich. Very powerful.

And intensely private.

Dealings with Grindle have consequences.

Permanent ones.

Well, you better give me an angle.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Coat, hat, and gloves on the counter.

And empty your pockets.

No pencils, no pens, no keys, no cigarettes, or lighter.

Hands up.

Turn around.

I need your watch and your ring.

Manners, friend.

What was that?

You should say “please.”

Please.

Mr. Carlisle.

I’m Ezra Grindle.

(DOOR SHUTS)

Let me take your jacket.

Please.

I’m very wary of appearing in public, so I want to thank you for coming to see me.

A man of your talents.

Well, that’s very kind of you.

Wouldn’t count on that. (CHUCKLES)

Take a seat.

What is this?

This is our version of a polygraph.

You familiar with the term?

You call it a lie detector.

You’d like to perform this on me?

That’s the general idea, yeah.

(LAUGHS)

MAN: We will measure your blood pressure, respiration, involuntary muscle contractions.

Not sure how comfortable I am with this.

Well, we’ve had our share of snake charmers in the past.

We deal with them.

Raise your arms, please.

I don’t think this is necessary.

Can you watch my tie, please?

I’ll watch it.

Thank you.

And what happens if I fail?

One thing at a time, hmm?

MAN: I will ask you simple questions to establish our baseline.

You will answer in short sentences, only what you believe to be absolute truth.

(POLYGRAPH POWERS UP)

“Absolute truth.”

(SNIFFS) I can do that.

Now, brief as you can, what is your name?

STAN: Stanton Carlisle.

MAN: What year are we in?

(SNIFFS) 1941.

MAN: Good.

What day is today?

(STAN LAUGHS)

Wednesday, I think.

Who is the president of the United States?

Roosevelt.

Very well. Now, as briefly as you can, are you a true medium?

Yes, I am.

Can you read minds?

Yes, I can. Under the right circumstances.

Brief.

Keep your answers brief, please.

Now, are you in contact with the beyond?

Before we go on, there’s a…

There is a presence in this room.

Right now.

It’s a female presence.

(SOFT SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

She’s just insisting, she’s insisting that this… that she communicate with somebody.

Is it me? Do you wanna communicate with me?

Is it him?

Oh, it’s you, Mr. Grindle.

I don’t… I don’t…

Oh. She… She passed away many years ago.

Oh, but there was…

Yeah, there was a life extinguished with it.

And it… it…

Oh, it was a child. It was a baby.

You forced her to miscarry, did you not?

(SOMBER MUSIC CONTINUES)

Shall I go on?

No.

There’s no need.

A word in my office, gentlemen.

You said you were gonna fine-tune it.

MAN: Yes, sir.

GRINDLE: You fine-tuned it incorrectly?

MAN: No, no, no.

CHARLES: Ezra…

GRINDLE: You had two and two.

(DOOR CLOSES)

Two wrong, two right.

(MUFFLED CONVERSATION)

(STAN SIGHS)

Stop, stop!

Answer me this, you brought him straight from the club.

How could he know that? How?

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

Well, got him hooked real good.

Despite all that.

He’s got quite an operation.

And he’s gonna call back?

Oh, yeah, he’s gonna call back.

I left real money on the table.

Gotta leave money to get money.

You’re gonna have to give me some real information on him now.

No. Not me.

(STAN SMACKS LIPS)

I figured.

I’m the only one who could’ve given you that information.

If your foot slips, we both fall.

Don’t worry. I’ll figure it out.

I mean, this guy’s, uh, he’s real deep on the spook dodge.

(KEYCHAIN CLINKS SOFTLY)

I don’t think you have a problem.

I’d say he’s very desperate.

Don’t worry. They’ll never trace it back to you.

(KEYCHAIN CLINKING SOFTLY)

The thing you need to know is, if you displease the right people, the world closes in on you very, very fast.

(SOFT SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

What happened to you?

Life.

Life happened to me.

(KISSING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

LILITH: (ON RECORDING) Patient Ezra Grindle.

Therapy session number four.

GRINDLE: I am alone.

Lost.

I feel lost.

Everything I earn feels hollow.

LILITH: Would you elaborate, please?

GRINDLE: May, 1901.

The last time I saw her alive.

I didn’t… I…

“Doris Mae Cable.”

GRINDLE: I couldn’t claim her body.

…property for register number 28030.

GRINDLE: Because I would’ve been ruined.

So my love went to a commoners’ grave.

Thank you kindly.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC CONTINUES)

There you are.

(SIGHS)

(WIND WHISTLING)

(GRINDLE GRUNTS)

(WHISPERS INDISTINCTLY)

GRINDLE: So I wanted to know what impression you got from her.

The girl that, uh, you sensed during the test.

I didn’t see her.

She didn’t materialize.

GRINDLE: But by that, you mean she could?

STAN: Well, it was very brief, uh, Mr. Grindle.

GRINDLE: Uh, Ezra, please.

STAN: I sensed profound sadness and regret.

She loved you.

And that boy. That baby boy.

It was a boy?

Is she with me?

She’s never far.

This place important to you? This garden?

Yes. I built it, uh, to honor her.

The paths and the benches, you see?

She would’ve loved it.

She does.

I can sense it.

Brother Ezra, she… she’s trying to tell me something.

It doesn’t make any sense.

Sometimes they communicate like that. It gets jumbled.

The letter “D.”

Dorrie? Dorrie, is it?

(SHUDDERS)

(GRINDLE PANTING)

I wanna see… (VOICE BREAKS)

Oh, I have to see her again.

Whatever it takes.

I want you to… (SNIFFLES) Uh…

Materialize her?

Yeah.

Do you have any idea what would be required for something like that to occur?

(GRUNTS) I’ll commit $10,000 for every session we have.

Mr. Grindle.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Your sins are grave.

You would have to work hard, spiritually, if you even wanna have the chance to see or sense her.

Listen, I have more money than I will ever need.

(VOICE BREAKS) But I have no hope.

And you think you could buy that?

(SNIFFLES) Well… not to be crude… (SNIFFLES) but I know I can.

(CHUCKLES)

(PANTING)

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

Are you sure that she can play the lady in question?

Molly?

(LOCK CLICKS)

She’s tougher than I am.

I’ll stage it at night.

Keep Ezra on his knees, make him pray or something.

He’ll stay put.

Blood. She’ll need blood on her hands and dress.

More shocking the image, the less inclined Ezra will be to examine it.

Nothing can hold you back.

(SOFT SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(GULPS) To us.

MOLLY: “Dear Mom and all, I’m sending this from the fairgrounds. A boy named Ezra took me. He had my picture taken as you can see. Tell Pop and all I wish I was with you and hug little Jennie for me. Will write soon. Fondly, Dorrie.”

She never mailed this.

STAN: What are you talking about?

Well, she died a few days later.

This is the last thing she wrote, and she never mailed it.

Yeah, but that’s not why I showed it to you.

Her family never got to see.

STAN: Look. Who does that look like?

Look at her face.

It’s you.

I could materialize you in a seance.

Not me, Stan.

We can buy a costume, we can get a long black wig, and we can cut it, we can style it just like that.

He can unburden his soul and he can forgive himself.

As far as I can tell, that’s what a preacher does every other Sunday.

And it worked with Judge Kimball.

I believe it saved their marriage.

I think he really loved her, Stan.

You can see that, can’t you?

All that suffering that he had, we can deliver him some hope.

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

Close it, yeah…

He wants to see you.

I’m sure that he does.

Come on in. Have a cup of coffee first.

Are you gonna sit out in the snow?

I won’t bite.

You take, uh, cream in your coffee?

No, thanks.

Yeah, neither do I.

(STAN CLEARS THROAT)

I don’t know why he bothers with you.

You’re cheap, pal.

Just phony.

But I’ll tell you this, I care for that man.

Mmm.

I owe him a lot.

And if you’re smart, that should scare you.

STAN: She says you… lied to her.

You gave a false name and you left her body behind.

Ezra, you have to keep the circle.

GRINDLE: I wanna see her now, I wanna talk to her.

Don’t break the circle. This takes patience.

I’ve given you a fortune!

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Now it’s time that you delivered to me something other than guilt.

Because I’m done hearing this endless fucking recitation of what I did.

I know what the fuck…

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

I did.

And what I’m going to do if this goes on much longer.

What does that mean?

Come on.

You’ll just have to find out.

You gonna stay here and practice.

Can you ask for more time?

No.

I’m not sure about this, Stan.

I am sure. We are out of time.

Just go put on the wig and the dress.

And that’s the position.

Hands down by your side, with your palms open.

Okay?

Where are you going?

I gotta go get everything ready.

I love you. (KISSES)

(DOOR OPENS)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(DOOR CLOSES)

(CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING SOFTLY)

Charles.

I’ve been thinking about what Mr. Carlisle said, about us being reunited with Julian.

Do you remember?

I do, my love.

(CHARLES GRUNTS)

Oh, Julian. (INHALES DEEPLY)

Julian.

(GUN COCKS)

Molly?

MOLLY: Dear Stan.

Molly?

MOLLY: By the time you read this, I’ll be eastbound.

I won’t do what you want me to.

I can’t.

I’ve loved you the best I can, as much as I can, and I know now it’ll never be enough.

Whatever is missing in you, it sure is not me.

It’s hard to accept it, but as much as the truth hurts, I need it.

And maybe in time you’ll need it too.

Molly.

Fuck.

(BRAKES SCREECH)

(CAR HORN HONKING)

(INDISTINCT ANNOUNCEMENT ON PA)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(SHOESHINER SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

Molly.

It’s me.

I thought you already left.

Leave me alone, Stan.

Hold on. Let’s just…

Leave me alone.

Molly.

Where you going?

I don’t wanna talk to you.

Just hold on one second.

I read your letter, I understand.

I just wanna talk about it for a second, okay?

Oh, you read it? Good.

Listen…

You smell like booze. Leave me alone.

Molly, you can’t leave now, we are in too deep.

MAN: Hey, hey!

STAN: Molly.

MOLLY: There’s no “we” anymore.

There hasn’t been for a long time.

I don’t know who you’re seeing on the side, but you’re certainly not fucking me anymore!

I bet it’s that frozen-faced bitch you were so impressed with.

I bet she seems like class to you.

Well, she’s not and neither are you.

Molly.

Molly, I was just trying to get the inside track on her because you didn’t want me to do the spook show.

That’s why I was sneaking around on you!

Hey, what’s the big idea?

Just mind your own business!

This is the last time, I promise.

And every day is Christmas after that.

Oh, sure, the whole world and everything in it.

I’m scared, Stan.

STAN: I’m scared, too, Molly.

I’m scared every day of my life.

(PANTING)

I’m so scared sometimes I can’t even breathe.

But I fight it, Molly, I fight it.

That’s the only way I’ve survived.

Sometimes you don’t see the line until you cross it.

I crossed it, I know that now.

Molly, everybody’s left me in my life.

Don’t leave me, please.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(SOFTLY) Please.

(DOOR LATCH OPENS)

(WIND WHISTLING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Can I see your watch?

(TICKING)

When I get rid of Anderson, I’m gonna bring Ezra to the park bench.

Just up from that open gate.

At 8:00, Molly.

No earlier, no later.

You’re gonna go through that gate and you’re gonna walk 20 paces.

Okay?

When he sees you, I’m gonna put him on his knees, and I’m gonna make him pray.

And when he closes his eyes, you get to go away and then we’re done.

Simple.

I understand.

Good.

Do you remember the old gag?

The current, when it would run through my body?

Mm-hmm.

You know how I could take it?

First few times I did it, my muscles would cramp for days.

It really hurt bad.

But I’d just try and tell myself not to feel it, you know?

Try and make myself go numb.

But it was always really clear to me when I couldn’t take it anymore.

When I’d had enough.

I’ve had enough.

I’ll be there at 8:00 and I’ll do what you need me to do.

(SLOW SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(GRINDLE GRUNTS)

(SMACKS LIPS) Now, perhaps because of the nature of what we’re doing tonight, we’d benefit from being alone.

Will you leave us?

Sir, are you sure about this?

Yeah, I’m sure. It’s fine.

(SNIFFLES) You have to have faith.

Let’s walk the path.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC CONTINUES)

MAN: (ON RADIO) In view of Prime Minister Churchill’s recent pledge that a British declaration of war on Japan would follow almost immediately upon the outbreak of war between Japan and the United States, a British announcement is expected soon.

(WIND WHISTLING)

I place no blame on you and I want you to know that.

But I think we should go back inside.

You asked me to purge my soul from sin?

That’s right.

I haven’t done that.

You’re gonna do it now.

You’re gonna purge your soul and invoke her forgiveness.

I’ve done things that I’ve never told anyone about.

And you’re gonna tell her now.

No, I can’t.

Close your eyes.

I can’t.

Be still.

Don’t. Don’t make me, please.

And tell her.

Dorrie.

Dorrie…

That’s it.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Through the years… I have hurt many young women.

I don’t know why.

I was seeking… I was seeking you in them, or I was seeking to rid my soul of this anger.

I… (SIGHS) I don’t know.

What did you do?

I don’t know.

I hurt them.

(SNIFFS)

I hurt them.

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

Dorrie.

(SLOW DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

Oh, my God. She’s there. (GASPS)

She’s there.

RADIO ANNOUNCER: This is WWKB Studios in Buffalo.

We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin.

Judge Charles Kimball and his wife, Felicia Kimball, died today of gunshot wounds.

An apparent murder-suicide that has baffled the town.

Ezra, you did the work. Now, that’s far enough.

Let’s get on our knees, let’s pray with our eyes closed.

We’re gonna ask…

(GRINDLE GRUNTS)

Let go of me. Dorrie.

No, Ezra!

Dorrie. Oh, Dorrie…

MOLLY: Stan, I can’t.

I can’t. I can’t!

GRINDLE: No, Dorrie!

Let go!

Dorrie. (SNIFFLES)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

Sorry.

What?

Who are you?

All right.

Now, let go of her hand.

Who is…

Let go of her hand.

You dirty motherfucker.

(CRYING) You motherfucker.

I’m gonna… I’m gonna destroy you.

You and this bitch!

(MOLLY GRUNTS)

Anderson!

Anderson! Anderson!

(STAN GRUNTING)

Stan.

Stan!

(STAN GRUNTS)

Stan!

Stan!

(GRUNTS)

(PANTING)

MOLLY: Oh, God. Oh, God.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

Go to the car.

Now!

(PANTING)

(ENGINE TURNS OVER)

(GUNSHOT)

(GASPS)

(GUNSHOT)

Sir.

(ENGINE STARTS)

Move over!

MOLLY: Stan, what are you doing?

(ANDERSON YELPS)

(WHEEZING)

Oh, God! What did you do, Stan?

Why did you do that? Stan!

Stan! Stan!

(GROANING)

(TENSE MUSIC CONTINUES)

Molly, get out of the car.

(GRUNTING)

(CROWBAR CLATTERS)

They’ll think that, uh, someone stole the car.

Can’t go back to the hotel.

Shut up.

Shut up.

Molly, they were trying to kill us.

Molly.

(MELANCHOLY MUSIC PLAYING)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

Molly!

I don’t need you!

I don’t need you, Molly!

Did anyone see you come here?

STAN: No.

You didn’t catch a cab, did you?

No, cabbies remember faces. I walked.

Ah, she blew it. That goddamn tomato.

I was so close. (SNIFFLES)

It’s all here.

Take it.

(STAN BREATHING HEAVILY)

Do you have a few hours?

Don’t panic.

(COUGHS)

No.

I better be on my way.

(GRUNTS) Okay.

Mmm. (EXHALES HEAVILY)

(SNIFFLES)

(PANTING)

I do love you, Stan.

What did you say?

(SOFT MUSIC PLAYING)

Did I oversell it?

(BUTTON CLICKS)

Patient Stanton Carlisle. Final therapy session.

(SLURRING) What are you doing?

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

They’re all singles.

Where’s the dough?

What are you referring to, Mr. Carlisle?

The money! You took it!

Try to understand.

These delusions are becoming part of your condition.

You crazy fucking bitch.

I’ll tell them everything we did.

Did what? Tell me.

We did it together.

I’m sorry, Mr. Carlisle, but have we met anywhere other than this office?

Cut it out. What are you doing?

You came unannounced.

My secretary allowed you in.

I did everything I could, but it seems you’ve made a transference to me.

Both as your mistress and your mother.

I had tried to avert a serious upset.

It seems that I have failed.

The symbolism is quite obvious, Mr. Carlisle.

You have a very peculiar relationship to older men.

Ezra Grindle, for example.

But also the man you claimed to have killed at the carnival.

Why?

Why are you doing this?

You don’t even care about the money.

(BUTTON CLICKS, MACHINE WHIRS)

(LAUGHS)

You’re such a disappointment.

No, you’re right. Money doesn’t matter to me.

But it means everything to you, doesn’t it?

You’re a small, small man.

You don’t fool people, Stan.

They fool themselves.

You think you stand high above the common man?

You’re nothing but an Okie with straight teeth.

You think you could take me, Stan?

You’re so blind, aren’t you?

You can’t read the signs.

Didn’t you notice my clutch was heavy?

(STAN GRUNTS)

(GASPS)

(GRUNTING)

Am I powerful enough for you now, Stan?

(STIFLED GRUNTING)

(RECEIVER CLICKS, DIAL WHIRRING)

(BREATHLESSLY) Yes, yes, security. I need help.

There’s a man.

A patient of mine.

Come immediately!

(BOTH GRUNTING)

(GLASS SHATTERS)

(LILITH CHOKING)

Come on, Stan.

You think you can take my breath away?

(LILITH CACKLING)

(DIAL TONE BEEPING)

(STAN GASPS)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(PANTING)

(GASPS FOR AIR)

You all right, Doctor?

(HOARSELY) I’ll live.

(TENSE MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SIRENS WAILING)

(GASPING)

(SHUDDERING)

(TRAIN BELL CLANGING)

(SIRENS CONTINUE WAILING)

(PANTING AND GRUNTING)

(TRAIN HORN BLOWS)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

(MEN CLAMORING)

(CHICKENS CLUCKING)

(GRUNTING)

(WHISTLE BLOWING)

(OFFICERS CLAMORING)

OFFICER: I gotta move it out.

(CHICKENS CONTINUE CLUCKING)

(TRAIN BELL CLANGING)

Okay. Close it!

(TRAIN THUDS)

(TRAIN CHUGGING)

(GRUNTS)

(PANTING WEAKLY)

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYS)

(WHISPERS) I always hated you.

(WIND WHISTLING)

(MAN GROANS)

(COUGHS)

(GASPS)

(COUGHING)

(WIND CONTINUES WHISTLING)

(WATCH TICKING)

(GROANING)

(SHUDDERS)

(GASPS)

(SNIFFLES)

Hey! No more mooching.

You either pay your suds or beat it.

(WATCH TICKING)

(MELANCHOLY MUSIC PLAYING)

(HORSE WHINNIES)

(WIND WHISTLING)

(METAL TINKLING)

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

(TRADITIONAL POP MUSIC PLAYING ON RADIO)

Yes?

Make it brief, I’m busy.

Oh, you like that?

Bought it off an old ten-in-one that’s folded.

Got the radio, too.

(MUTTERS)

He killed… He killed… He killed his mother at birth.

Enoch.

Say, that’s a nice angle.

Enoch.

So, what do you need?

I would like to apologize for my appearance.

I’ve, uh, fallen onto some hard times of late.

But I do have an act that I know would be of great value to you.

You were a carny, huh?

Well, I top-lined a mentalism act for two years.

Two shows a day.

Sold out.

Oh, mentalism.

Yes, sir.

Sorry, brother.

Some other outfit, maybe. But not us.

Well, if I may, I would love to demonstrate for you.

Jesus! You smell like you pissed your pants.

I don’t hire no boozers. Now beat it.

Go on, beat it.

Oh, Christ, wait. You know what?

One carny to another, let’s have a snort.

Come on, sit.

(GLASSES CLINK)

(MUSIC STOPS)

I don’t like mentalism.

It’s too old-timey.

Always gotta have something new these days.

Sensational.

(GULPING)

(STAN EXHALES HEAVILY)

I just happened to think of something.

I might have one job that you could take a crack at.

It ain’t much and I’m not begging you to take it, but it’s a job.

It’ll keep you in coffee and cakes.

Dry place to sleep. Shot now and then.

What do you say?

Oh, yes, sir.

It ain’t much, but it’s a job, right?

Of course, it’s only temporary.

Just until we get a real geek.

You know what a geek is?

So what do you say?

You think you could handle it?

(GULPS, BREATHES SHAKILY)

Mister, uh…

(SOBBING)

(TEARFULLY) I was born for it.

(LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY)

(CONTINUES LAUGHING)

(SOBBING)

(OLD JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

♪ Sometimes I wonder ♪

♪ Why I spend the lonely night ♪

♪ Dreaming of a song ♪

♪ The melody haunts my reverie ♪

♪ And I am once again with you ♪

♪ When our love was new ♪

♪ And each kiss an inspiration ♪

♪ Oh, but that was long ago ♪

♪ Now my consolation is in the stardust of a song ♪

♪ Beside the garden wall ♪

♪ When stars are bright, you are in my arms ♪

♪ The nightingale tells his fairy tale ♪

♪ Of paradise where roses grew ♪

♪ Though I dream in vain ♪

♪ In my heart it will remain ♪

♪ My stardust melody ♪

♪ The memory of love’s refrain ♪

(WHISTLING)

♪ Though I dream in vain ♪

♪ In my heart it will remain ♪

♪ My stardust melody ♪

♪ The memory of love’s refrain ♪

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