|[Editors Note: You have landed amidst the wreckage of the American Dream. It's a novel called Big American. |
How did this start?The squid is on the road, people. Keep up. Want to catch up with past chapters? Check out the Archive.
Want to know what happens next? Read on!]
Sang here. Our time in Georgia is coming quickly to a close. Thomas has edited these sequences, but I have broken them up into manageable chunks for your consumption. Next week will be the last of the Georgia material, and then on to Ancestors Only Know Where.
Not true, not true . . . Ancestors may perhaps know where, and may perhaps not, but Sang . . . Sang knows. I grow coy? Never. I am but your humble narrator, as separate from the proceedings as Nick Caraway or Ishmael.
Or does that make sense, properly? Should I find myself in love with Daisy? That is, Lisa? Or perhaps I shall be the lone survivor of these tales, adrift in the shark infested waters of the South Indian Sea with nothing but corkboard to keep me afloat.
Oh, Queequeg, can you not guide me with your simple tribal wisdom?
And perhaps, as we flow down Her Lady Mississippi and onto the great ribbon of Route 66 to Sunset Boulevard, the Pacific, and all points beyond, Queequeg might advise us as such: Watch out for the Dauphin and his crooked friends. And beware giant spiders.
Giant spiders? Oh my, have I revealed too much?
Our scene opens with a still shot of the gates to the Okeefenokee National Wilderness Area. The gate is closed. The sign says "Summer is our off season. Sorry for the inconvenience."
Motion. Our point-of-view rushes towards fences and bounds over. Leaps it again. Loop of leaping. Then over.
Look back. Freeze frame. The white Buick LeSabre lurks low and old on the other side of the gate. Next to it is an old Jeep.
It is twilight in the swamp. We get a looped track of the sound of Thomas walking down the gravel road.
Scrape of claws through gravel.
Flutter of wings.
Shoes on gravel.
Still shot of eyes in amongst the undergrowth.
Motion Picture: A black form trundling across the road ahead. It is long and arched, the legs short and scurrying. The picture is repeated into a loop, closer and closer. The grain increases. What is it?
A tail swooping through the dirt in the distance. Black and long.
The throaty grumble of a monster.
Pig like snorts.
Scurrying claws in the dirt.
Still image of a guard house, closed and dark.
Cabins hidden in the woods.
Paddles in water far off.
Flapping wings.Moving Image: Two more arched forms, very close, long snouts, snorting, running quick across the path. Throaty, snorting, gone.
THOMAS: (calling out louder) Lisa! I...
Moving Image: A gaping maw. The shot is through undergrowth into dark waters. Repeat, slowed-motion. First the eyes rise up through the water. Then the snout. There is a bullfrog rumbling on a rock. Then the maw gaps and snaps. Even in slowed-motion it is quick. The bullfrog, rock and all, devoured.
THOMAS: DAMMIT, LISA!
Still Image: Open area of ground. Trees have been cut away. There is a dark welcome center, several docks along a river, a museum in the distance, several animal pens, boardwalks that lead away into the swamp. The moon is up and the whole clearing is silvery-clear.
Tracking through the still shot from right to left: Welcome center, distant docks, boardwalk, museum, pens, boardwalk, pens, narrow form leaning against fence, pens, boardwalk, tall tree, restrooms.
Close up of form. Grainy. Long flannel shirt. Long pale legs. Hiking boots.
LISA: (very close now) Thing about gators is that while they have tremendous power when biting down, you can hold the jaws together with a single rubber band. No muscle for opening. Absolutely weak as a baby.
Frozen image of Lisa while Thomas approaches. She leans forward on a split-rail fence, arms crossed, looking down into an animal pen where an alligator gazes back up at her. The split-rail is backed by heavy duty horse fencing.
THOMAS: Yeah, but who can get close enough to get the damn rubber band on in the first place.
LISA: (wistful) Mystery of the ages, I suppose. A regular Gordian Knot.
THOMAS: Well, now, we don't want to cut the baby up with the bathwater, do we?
LISA: That doesn't even make sense.
THOMAS: I blame the uranium deep beneath the surface of the earth.
LISA: Cut it out, Tom.
(the sound of bullfrogs rising in the air, and of flapping wings, and owls)
Shot of Lisa facing away from the pen. She's leaning back, elbows slung over the edge of the fence. Moonlight illuminates her face as she looks away into the encroaching night.
LISA: Why am I here?
THOMAS: Mr. Brando needed a lawyer.
LISA: We just run from the law anyway. But that isn't even the point. Why am I here?
THOMAS: Because I asked for you.
LISA: You. Why me. And what does Mr. Brando want?
THOMAS: What is going on here? Are you going to come back or what? We missed dinner.
LISA: I'm sure it's being saved. I'm sure by now Aunt Becky has seduced Marlon out of the car with peach cobbler and Southern Hospitality and all of this will be moot.
THOMAS: All of what? And I am sure that Marlon will stay right in the car like he's supposed to.
LISA: What is going on between you two, Tom? You have got that poor man on such a short leash . . . I just don't understand. Who are you protecting?
THOMAS: I'm not protecting anyone. Mr. Brando has very . . . particular needs.
LISA: I'm not blind you know. He never leaves that car.
THOMAS: He's fine.
LISA: Uncle Fred isn't Becky's first husband you know.
LISA: She married a guy named Martin first. That's Rick's dad. Martin Trumbull. Didn't let Becky own a car. Gave her a goddamn allowance. If Rick hadn't become a hairdresser he would probably have never left. I think Rick went gay to get back at him.
THOMAS: What are you saying?
LISA: Becky's my dad's sister. They came from a big family in Kentucky. Old time Democrats. That's how dad ended up in Chicago and Becky . . . how she ended up with Martin, the good old boy.
THOMAS: Lisa . . .
LISA: Shut up. We used to call a lot. Dad was worried about Becky. He'd call and Martin would answer the phone. Martin always answered the phone. Dad would ask how Becky was. "She's fine," Martin would say. And then Martin would put Becky on the phone and Dad would ask again. "I'm fair to middling," she would say, just like grandma. And then she would sort of stiffen up her voice and say to my dad, "I'm fine, Peter. Really. Just fine." And that would be it.
THOMAS: This is totally different. Marlon Brando is fine. He's good. He's happy. Not only does he not want to be anywhere else, he physically could not be anywhere else.
LISA: There is something you are not saying. Do you know how many corporate sharks, CEOs, CFOs, and professional liars I stare down in a day? I'm not some big-haired pair of tits from Kalamazoo, Tom. I'm Yale law. And you are lying. The back doors of the Escalade are welded shut, Tom. It's subtle. A good job. Barely visible at all. But those door don't open. Can't open.
(crickets and frogs sing)
LISA: Are you alright, Tom? You look like you swallowed a rat. (sharply) Now are you going to be straight with me?
THOMAS: Lisa . . . Look . . .
LISA: And did you know that we are being fucking followed? Probably there's a bug in the car somewhere, too.
(The gator grumbles a low and throaty rumbling grumble)
LISA: (quietly) You're in over your head, aren't you? You don't even know about all of this . . . shit, Tom. What is going on with you?
THOMAS: I . . . Lisa . . . I am so sorry.
LISA: Oh, Tom (muffled breathing, as though the microphone were entirely covered.) Shhhhhhh . . . It's okay, Tom.
THOMAS: (whispering, muffled) I'm sorry.
I have regained my composure. It is difficult, I think, only being the frame to another's tale. I did not realize, until now, how strong my ego could be. I suppose I truly am an American.
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