INT. ALTON PSYCHIATRIC WARD—THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS 2007

Light through the window.  Gray light shines on Marcus’s bed.  His feet poking out from the blanket.  Willie’s bed is still in the darkness.  The room is cold and Marcus shivers under his covers.  Marcus awoke before the light not knowing what time it was, not knowing if he should try to sleep more, but he can’t do it.  He can’t make himself sleep and he’s been waiting for the light to come into the window.  You see his eyes his face not looking over Willie’s bed to the window but at his feet and it’s like he’s tuned in to a waking dream that was never his but he’s dreaming it like he’s the director of some other mind movie and he’s called action the camera focused on his feet his toes curling in the shadows of a gray dawn and you see pictures from this other movie, a movie already made like he saw it in some matinee long ago and in his mind he hears the call of reveille and you see the image of a lighthouse adjacent to the Mississippi Sound as if you’re looking up the moon a pale orb but in the colors of Marcus’s dawn.  He’s dreaming someone else’s dream as if in an ancestral vision though the connection faint as if he knows this is the last day of his story, a story that always was someone else’s story like he’s fifteen again hearing his Grandma Gabby speak of a childhood and a man a father who stood at the bottom of tree house watching his children remembering a trip to Mississippi and then another trip and you see faces flash before the camera and disappear in the spectral light focused on Marcus’s feet poking out of the blanket of his bed.  A psychiatric ward patient seeing the faces of people he’s never met.  Popovitch’s face.  And Nina and Johnny Tribout.  A portrait of a marijuana leaf over a brass bed.  Rosie Soledad sweating and nude the contours of a white sheet tight around her body in this bed and then just an indiscriminate black man sitting playing a guitar, an old man for you see how the back is hunched after so many years sitting slouched over his instrument.  You see the gnarled hands.  You hear the haunting slide and electric feedback.  And then the hum of slot machines inside a casino.  A picture of an album cover passes over into view spinning and you see a name along with the pages torn from Marcus’s bible—the image of Tantalus and David Threnody’s name.  And then a lone tree standing at a crossroads in this same dawn light Marcus sees with his eyes open and a bird making a nest in one of the branches and it doesn’t come down to where Marcus stands casting pieces of stale bread.  A highway sign at the crossroads that comes into focus—a road sign that reads Highway 61…  Marcus doesn’t know how much time has passed, but now the light from the window fills the whole room and doesn’t just illuminate his feet poking out.  He rolls over and looks at Willie still sleeping.

MARCUS

Willie!  Wake up!

WILLIE

(stirring)

Huh?

MARCUS

Wake up!  I need to tell you something…

WILLIE

What?  Is my wife here?

MARCUS

No… but I need to tell you something.  I didn’t tell you the whole story.  I need to tell ya like you ain’t a white man.  I need to tell ya about my bible.

WILLIE

Is it still Christmas?

MARCUS

No… that was yesterday.  I need to tell ya about the girl.  The girl without a name.  I need to tell you a lie.  One of those beautiful lies people want to believe because people are fools.  I want to tell you and I want you to believe me.

Then you see it like in a B movie.  Like in one of those movies they play every Halloween with unknown actors and bad lighting.  Bad scripting.  But you watch it every year and you almost see how it could have been done to make it good.  How the camera angles really weren’t that bad and the casting was as good as it could be for people who die at the hands of a monster—their death scenes almost really scary almost believable.  How the music is the best part.  How it builds as the character turns to face the knife.  Its quiet refrains.  The melody of the villain…  You’re inside the Gran Torino again.  Marcus and the girl are pulling away from the curb.  You see the girl looking out the window looking up to see the Swisher Sweets cigar box waiting there again on the window sill for the next customer.

THE GIRL

Are you hurt?

MARCUS

I’ll live…

THE GIRL

Do you want more?  I can give you more…

MARCUS

No…

THE GIRL

It could be worse.  You gotta take it.  Take it raw…

MARCUS

Where do you want me to take you?

THE GIRL

It gets worse.  What do want me to say?  You want me to say I didn’t like it?  I liked having you watch.  You feel like a nigger now?  Here… let me help you.

And she laughs.  She laughs as she takes a part of her shirt that’s torn and rips off a piece to wipe his eye. She dabs it with her tongue.  The blood hasn’t congealed yet and his right eye is beginning to swell shut.

THE GIRL

You poor thing…  You want your momma? Don’t be such a pussy!  You want me to take care of you now?

She reaches between his legs while he’s driving.  She leans over and purrs in his ear.

What’s the matter?  Can’t you get it up?  I still love you, baby.  Someday I won’t love you no more…  Bark like a dog for me!  Come on! Bark!  Say:  Woof!  Woof!

MARCUS

Woof!  Woof!

She unzips his fly and begins jerking him off.  He doesn’t get hard, but she keeps playing with him and purring in his ear.

THE GIRL

You thinkin’ about it?  You thinking about what you just saw?  You like that?  Yeah!  Come on!  Bark!  Say:  Woof!  Woof!

MARCUS

Woof!  Woof!

It only takes three blocks before Marcus comes.  He never gets completely hard.   The girl laughs.  She smears her hand on his bloody shirt.  She leans back in her seat and puts her leg up in the window.  And that’s how it plays out.  Like a bad B movie.  You see her in profile with her leg up leaning back and laughing as she looks out the window.  They’re still on Bond Street.  It’s East St. Louis, August 2005.  Passing the pawn shop again where a TV is in the window.  A news report—the Doppler map of weather patterns over Louisiana and the Gulf.  The music the best part.  The leading melody.  That faint and always recognizable melody of the villain.  And this is the story.  What Marcus wants to tell Willie.  One of those beautiful lies.  This is the story of Marcus’s bible.

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