EXT. HEMPHILL, TEXAS—ALL SAINT’S DAY 1965

You see a soundless fire.  And maybe you need a calendar, but you don’t have one.  A day to refer to to know what day it is now.  A date.  You need that relationship.  You need to know when Benjy first climbed those steps to Maddie’s room.  When David first descended from them.  You need to know when Dulcinea came to Aaron’s window.  To listen to his dream.  That astral projection to a time when Bridgette saw a girl on fire.  The smell.  What haunts the haunted.  And just as Benjy was born on a leap year you need to know the conception which as it takes its course leads to a child born in Sunset.  Not 1965 but 1966.  The birth of Solomon—Dulcinea’s child.  You need to know the horror of incest and what began to end.  You need time’s linearity.  A correlation of tests to verify the functions within your control.  What was before the Devil’s day.  The Devil’s playground.  And if you pause to look at it it’s got you.  The insidiousness.  That time that you work to up to that time when you are paid.  How Friday’s lead to Sunday’s. And the day after.  For the day is Monday.  Are you superstitious?  Maybe it all comes down to a number.  The statistics of such.  This you need to know to know the rules of money, and how to make it.  This the aftermath of what haunts you.  For a camera the motion of pictures with the sound added after only gives you so much.  It doesn’t give you the smell of soundless fire…  You need to know the after to understand the before because if you had a calendar, if you had the date and not some subtitle to what you see what you hear looking at a soundless flame you would know the number…  But all you really see is Bethany walking with David.  The morning after trick or treat and they are preparing to move to take the children to Sunset.  A bonfire the night before.  Outside Bethany’s house—the whole Lebeau clan there.  Even Gabby and Aaron.  And David with his acoustic guitar.  Jonathon Bonnor’s guitar—the one with a bullet hole in it.  They are walking to the tree.  The tree where their children once played, and they are talking not knowing the date.  The date of conception leading to a birth, for no one knows that Dulcinea is with child except them.  David knowing first, in her interruption at the Sunset Inn Again, Maddie at the bar and David on stage.  He knew in the song he could not end that song if you could hear it if it was the sound beneath the soundless flame it would sing You’re such a loser, Dad. You’re such a loser, Dad.  Just enjoy the show…  And that’s why you need a date.  A day to refer to a day.  For if you do the math if you follow the motion of pictures already shown to you you would know the day.  The day Solomon was born.  He was born at six after six in the morning.  The day June 6th, 1966. You would know the day after is but yet still today, and in all these rules you would have to break your one rule.  The candy collected the safe answer to your indigestion.  The talk which follows.  Between a husband and wife of children who are no longer husband and wife.  In that day that follows a day.  Misguided by the rules of time.

BETHANY

You know there are things I still hate about you.  Things I remember being your wife.  I hate the way you brush your teeth.  The way you grind down the bristles…

DAVID

Yes, I know…  And I snored.

BETHANY

I didn’t think I could sleep with you…  You knew.  You knew it was wrong.  What made you feel guilty is you wanted to do it again.  And it was easy which was why it was hard.  I didn’t have to talk you into it…

DAVID

Was it easy?  Easy to fall out of love?  I was tired of being lonely.  You were tired of being someone else’s wife.

They’ve made it to the tree.  Bethany puts her hand up to the etching.  The knife scars on the trunk where Benjy etched Aaron’s and Dulcy’s names.  She follows the lines of the heart with her fingers.

BETHANY

I became your mirror.  You thought it was a lie when I told you.  When we walked along the riverfront.  But I was telling you the truth.  My father… he once told me…  But it was why I crossed it.  The river.  Why I came to you on the West Bank.  I told you the truth, but you didn’t believe me.  Because you felt my coldness… which was only my fear…  You are just as evil.

DAVID

But you are the one that said it… You came from it.  From my innocence.  From my Sodom and Gomorrah…

BETHANY

And you played there.  You played there so I could hear it.  So I would listen…

DAVID

Our firstborn buried there.

Bethany still has her hand up to the etching.  She faces David.  One hand on the tree the other on her hip.  Her figure is still good though she’s past forty by just a couple of years.  She hasn’t taken on that habit of older women.  The over adornment of jewelry and makeup.  Her hair is done up naturally by a brooch, a silver brooch fashioned with the portrait of a flower, a lock of hair encased in it.  A lock of their firstborn’s hair.  She had it made in New Orleans when she was mourning.  It’s what pulls her hair back from her face.  Bethany touches it absentmindedly making sure it’s fixed in place and then she leans against the tree and slowly slides down so that she sits.  She folds her hands over her knees.  Over the simple white dress she’s wearing.  She’s barefoot.  David looks down from her smile, the surety of it fixed by her eyes.  He looks down to her wiggling toes.

BETHANY

You know it’s not always like this.  Seek and destroy.  Is it like that with her?  The woman who lives above the bar?

DAVID

Why don’t you ask our son?  Why not ask Benjy?

BETHANY

Is that what you think?  You think I sent him to her? You still are—you’re still beautiful to me sometimes.  You notice everything except what’s crucial. You read but you don’t comprehend.  It only comes to you alone.  Later.  After.  What you should have noticed while it was happening.  You have the heart of poet.  You do.  Maybe that’s why the man gave you the guitar in Mississippi.  It’s a deal you made long before you met me, but you want me to take the blame.  I just showed you what you are.  I gave you children…

DAVID

You knew the gift before you gave it.  That I did read and it made me lose my faith.  That’s what you gave in order for me to lose it.

Bethany rests her head against the tree and laughs.

BETHANY

You’re alone because you want to be.  You’re hated because you want to be.  It’s the same either way.  The response.  Or lack of it.

DAVID

And you will love yourself either way.  The response is whether I should do the same…  To make some money I’ll go to New Orleans.  I can’t stay with you and the children in Sunset.  There’s a band out of Shreveport.  I’ll tour with them through the winter, but I can come back every other weekend.  I promise to be there when the child is due, and I’ll say what you want me say when you take Benjy and Dulcy back to Hemphill.

BETHANY

You promise?

David reaches over Bethany’s head as she looks up.  He traces the heart etched in the tree with his fingers.

DAVID

I can only promise what you will promise.  You know that.  You know because we’ve both taken that ride.

BETHANY

It wasn’t your first…

DAVID

No… and it won’t be our last.

CHORUS

It began as a mistake. The role is how you play it as you take what you learn from coincidence.  The effects that make you happy what you feel when a lover’s gone. And without a voice you begin to hear the other voices the chorus of the children…  Now you must correct yourself.  But how does this happen?  How are you shown the error of your ways?  Far off a whistle blows.  A train whistle.  The river crossed for unsound wisdom the Sabine.  And a train bridge over it.  This the surface.  The surface of the dream.  The images open to interpretation.  Open to layers that enter in the outer darkness.  Just as a web to the light.  A shadow large or small depending on the angle.  The order of business not done for anything else but to keep the mind sharp.  For what does it mean when the spider eats its own web to regain its strength? This is how the dream feeds itself.  It feeds on your sleep.  The surface but the feathers of your pillow.  Torn and floating like gossip.  And we become the hymn.  To what was done that can’t be done no more.  You must follow it—that far off whistle which leads to the secret.  The self-same secret Popovitch kept from his family to protect and provide in this one dream this one mind movie broken into parts starved by your awakening, by Benjy’s awakening.  The awakening to a father’s mercy, and a past which kills it.  The curse of the firstborn.  A blessing lost.  You the moth seeking transformation.  The light your fire.  And if it burns so are you transformed by the soundless infinite and your wrath and indignation transfigured by beatitudes.  And peace.  Peace coming with the passing of a train.  The culmination of a murder.  This Aaron’s murder by the hands of his cousin.  Because of a conception blessed by God.  Do you hear it?  It is David’s guitar.  In the turnaround of our compiled voices.  Hear it.  Hear it now as it weeps.  And weep with it.  For this contrition is your salvation.  The blisters and blood of an eternal covenant…

EXT. THE SABINE RIVER—THE TRAIN BRIDGE—APRIL 1ST 1966

You see flowers.  Flowers in bloom.  They’re on the trees.  Their roots watered by the river. Focus as if prostrate flat on your back looking up into the rays of sunlight falling through the branches of a tree, a Texas Mountain Laurel.  It is too early for the song of katydids. Now follow up through the branches into the direct sunlight a horizon that pans away from the sunset to the Sabine River flowing in the distance.  The river comes into focus and then a close-up of the water’s threads over submerged rocks like you’re standing on the shore and you hear the water the current over the rocks mixed with the croak of frogs.  You see a bridge in the distance—a train bridge.  You hear a far-off whistle…

Advertisements