“THE GAY NINETIES THIS TIME”
“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!”
(We start with a courtyard outside of an elementary school in Hansbay, Vermont in the May 1895. School children in period clothes are skipping rope while chanting a nursery rhyme)
SCHOOL CHILDREN: (Chanting) Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one!
(Pan over to a creepy old man with crazy eyes sitting in a rocking chair wearing a dress)
CREEPY MAN: That’s right, children. I want you to spread that rhyme around, you hear? I made it just for you. Now finish playing so I can take you to my house and we can come up with MORE!
(Harold Donahue walks by, loading an opium pipe. He stops in his tracks, lights the pipe and inhales, then exhales)
HAROLD: Never in all my days would I have guessed that mother goose is just a child molester in a dress.
(He inhales once more and continues walking on his merry way. Cut to Harold sitting in an armchair in his opulent mansion, watching the fire place while smoking his opium pipe and wearing a casual suit. His wife, Victoria, walks in carrying a baby in her arms while wearing a period dress)
TORI: Harold, stop smoking that damned opium and help me feed the baby!
HAROLD: Can’t you see this is my unwinding time, Tori?! I slave at work EVERY SINGLE DAY and what do the goddamned factory workers do?! They unionize and threaten to strike if I don’t give them chairs that have more than three legs! I mean, am I MADE of money all of a sudden?!
TORI: So you can just ignore Nicholas and smoke that filth!
HAROLD: Just have the help feed Nicholas.
TORI: OH WHY NOT?! She does everything for YOU anyway!
(Harold stands up)
HAROLD: Are you implying implications?!
TORI: I know what kind of man you are…
(Nicholas starts giggling)
HAROLD: LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!
TORI: HE’S LAUGHING, YOU PRICK!
HAROLD: BAYLEE, GET YOUR ASS IN HERE!
(Baylee, a maid in a Victorian maid’s get-up, walks in with a feather duster)
BAYLEE: Yes, Mr. Donahue?
HAROLD: The fire’s almost out, get an axe from the garage and chop some fire wood from that stump out there!
BAYLEE: Sir, I am but a dainty woman, I know not the first thing about chopping wood.
HAROLD: LISTEN TO ME, YOU BITCH! DO NOT QUESTION WHAT I SAY, JUST DO IT! Lest I fire you and am forced to hire a negro off skid row, unless you’re unionizing as well.
BAYLEE: Yes sir, sorry sir, I will try my best.
TORI: Please do, also try your best to not FUCK MY HUSBAND YOU WANTON HARLET!
BAYLEE: I did nothing of the sort, Mrs. Donahue.
HAROLD: DO NOT ARGUE WITH MY WIFE! But really, I didn’t fuck her.
TORI: You are a small, small man, Harold Donahue.
BAYLEE: I will go do what I am told.
(Baylee leaves the room and walks into the garage. In there, there is a Benz-Patent Motorwagen, as well as sundry tools and things. Baylee goes into the corner and picks up an axe. She looks very angry. He eye twitches and she turns to a mirror in the garage a picture of Lizzie Borden flickers in the mirror. Baylee then walks outside from the garage, wielding the axe. She sees children, skipping rope outside, chanting the same nursery rhyme)
CHILDREN: (Chanting) Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one!
(Baylee looks even angrier and then she walks back into the house and goes upstairs. She takes a deep breath at the top of the stairs and walks into Tori’s bedroom to see her sitting on the bed, reading)
TORI: Baylee, could you put the axe down and feed the baby? I think-
(Baylee takes the axe and brutally hacks Tori to death nineteen times. Cut to downstairs, Harold is reading the Hansbay Quintessential, which bears the headline “SUPREME COURT RULES 9-0 AGAINST EUGENE DEBS, UPHOLDS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S RIGHT TO CRUSH LABOR STRIKES”. Baylee walks in with the bloodied axe. Harold is reading the newspapers and cannot see Baylee)
HAROLD: Can you believe that jackass Eugene Debs? I’d like to give that socialist a good whack to the-(He puts the newspaper down to see Baylee coming towards him with the axe in the air) HOLY FUCK!
(Baylee brutally hacks away at Harold, striking him eleven straight times, obviously killing him. She backs away from what she has done, in disbelief. She runs out of the room. Cut to Guy Altmire, a private detective sitting in an office building, behind a desk, writing using a ballpoint pin by gaslight)
GUY: Goddamnit, as soon as they install those newfangled light bulbs, I’m going to be over the moon. (Someone knocks on Guy’s door) Come in.
(Harold Donahue walks in holding his opium pipe)
HAROLD: Hello, Guy.
(Guy looks up)
GUY: Harold! (Harold stands up and shakes Guy’s hand) Have a seat.
(Harold has a seat)
HAROLD: Do you have any opium?
GUY: Uh, yes, I do, just got a big shipment from Afghanistan, actually.
GUY: Yeah, the Brits are working the ragheads real hard on the poppy fields, let me tell you. You know the process is fascinating, they remove the poppy seed-
HAROLD: Guy! I don’t need to know where my shit comes from, just give me my goddamn drugs.
GUY: Yes, sorry. (Guy puts a small sack of opium on the desk and Harold puts down money, and they exchange thusly) Thank you.
HAROLD: Thanks. (Harold puts the opium bag in his pocket and guy stuffs the money in a pipe of his) But I also have a case for you.
(He puts the pipe in his mouth)
HAROLD: I have some factory workers and one of them is a chink. He claims to have immigrated here in 1880 before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, but he would’ve had to have been at least eighteen to immigrate here without parents which would mean he was born in 1862, but the thing is, he doesn’t look thirty-three years old, and I think he illegally immigrated here as a stowaway on a ship. But I want to prove that it’s true so I can embarrass the unions to put a damper on the strike, do you understand?
(Guy removes his money pipe from his mouth)
GUY: I do. But are you sure he’s not from another country in the orient?
HAROLD: I suppose some of the oriental laborers could be Cambodian, Vietnamese or Laos.
HAROLD: There’s just this one guy named Laos. He’s actually the one I’m suspicious of. Regardless, I want you to do some digging.
GUY: I will. But it’s going to have a price.
HAROLD: …You don’t mean Oscar Wilde stuff, do you?
GUY: Ugh! No, disgusting! I meant money!
HAROLD: Oh, okay.
(Harold hands Guy some cash and he takes it)
GUY: Alright, I’ll do this for you. I supposed I can risk conversing with chinamen if it makes me this much dough.
HAROLD: Well, it serves all of them! I give them everything and they still strike! Chairs with three legs, bathroom breaks every other Sunday morning, religious holidays off if they don’t mind not working there anymore, but no, they just tell me to piss of and they run off Eugene Debs style. Thank God President Cleveland is there to lay down the law to these ingrates.
GUY: Well, I will begin my investigation.
HAROLD: And I will stroll past the courtyard, go home and enjoy my opium. Hell, I might enjoy it on the way!
(Guy and Harold laugh, get up and shake hands. Cut to a picket line outside of a factory. Workers are lined up outside the factory holding signs reading “WE DEMAND TO BE PAID REGULARLY!” and “I DON’T LIKE COUGHING UP ASH IN THE MORNING” and “SOMETIMES I FORGET I’M HUMAN” Cut to an Asian man holding up a sign reading “MY HOUSE IS A TIN CAN ON THE BEACH”. They’re all chanting “LABOR STRIKE”. Guy walks up to the Asian man)
GUY: Sorry, are you guys just chanting “labor strike”?
ORIENTAL MAN: (Asian accent) What’s it to you?!
GUY: Are you Laos?
LAOS: That is my name, yes.
GUY: I’m Guy Altmire. But you can call me Guy.
LAOS: I will.
GUY: Can I speak to you in a more private setting?
LAOS: Do you want to come to my tin can on the beach? I have small napkins!
GUY: Adorable. How tall are you?
LAOS: Tall enough. I’ll hail a buggy. (He screams something in mandarin and a small carriage drawn by two Shetland ponies comes on by. Cut to Laos and Guy sitting across at a table, across from each other in a giant tin can. Guy places a pipe in his mouth and strikes a match and lights his pipe and puffs on it periodically) Try to keep your smoking down. We’re technically violating the fire code.
GUY: Your maximum occupancy is one? Jesus.
LAOS: Anyway, what you want?
GUY: Laos, I work for the Philadelphia Phillies, and I would like to sign you on immediately as our star pitcher.
GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: Upon reflection, it probably wasn’t the best idea to try to convince a gook that I was trying to make him a baseball player.
LAOS: …I do not understand.
GUY: Here’s what you will understand. 15,000 dollars a year.
LAOS: My God, fifteen thousand dollars a year?
GUY: Yes. It could happen. You could get a bigger tin can on a nicer beach. The view of Lake Champlain may seem nice from here, but it’s hard to see when you haven’t any windows.
LAOS: But I’ve never played baseball in my entire life.
GUY: Um…no one has. It was just invented. So we’re just, you know, picking at random! It’s a lottery system! You won! Anyway, all I need now is some of your information.
LAOS: So, baseball is new sport like basketball?
GUY: What the hell is basketball? Just tell me some information. (He takes out a piece of paper and a pen) Where were you born?
LAOS: Peking, China.
GUY: Okay, and when was that?
GUY: …Excuse me?
GUY: You were born 2500 years from now?
LAOS: No! Chinese year 4500.
GUY: Oh, of course. What was the year in the…American calendar?
LAOS: Gregorian calendar.
GUY: Hey! Don’t tell me about my own calendar! Now what was the year?
LAOS: Eighteen hundred and sixty-four.
GUY: …Interesting. When did you immigrate to the United States, and remember, if you are caught lying, you will not get your 15,000 dollars a year.
LAOS: …Eighteen hundred and eighty-two.
GUY: What month, pray tell?
LAOS: …I do not remember.
(Cut to Guy’s face. His eye is quivering with raging disappointment. Cut to the Ohio Governor’s office in Columbus, Ohio. Governor William McKinley is sitting behind his desk, speaking with his advisor Mark Hanna and a 33-year old Jeffrey Sarandon)
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: I am sick and tired of sitting behind this desk, utterly powerless! I do not even have VETO powers over the Ohio legislature! And I have these smug sons of guns with their toothy grins at state dinners pat me on the back and suggest I run for President in ’96, I say, why not? Why not?
MARK HANNA: Governor, if you want to run for President, I think that would be splendid. You’re the Governor of Ohio, so that’s already a good start, Hayes was the Governor of Ohio for a time.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Ah, yes. Rutherford B. Hayes, we all know that man was a steamroller for progress. What did he do? Besides require facial hair as a prerequisite for the Presidency?
MARK: You’re going to want to get a goatee or something, by the way.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: No. Who would I run against potentially?
MARK: Um, well it’s somewhat early to begin speculating, but, for the primaries, probably Speaker Reed, Governor Morton, Charles Guiteau, the usual assholes.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Wasn’t Charles Guiteau the lunatic who killed President Garfield?
MARK: Yeah, but he said he wanted to run in ’84, so who knows if he’s ready to return to the scene?
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: He’s dead, how do you not know that?
MARK: …I was high through most of my mid-forties.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Who are my likely Democratic opponents?
MARK: Governor Pattison, Senator Blackburn, the newspaper publisher, John McLean.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: He’s the one who called me a “lily-livered, yellow-bellied charlatan” who suggested I “marry the gold standard” if I “liked it so much”. As if such a preposterous thing were possible! I would have to divorce Ida and then I don’t know any state where you can legally marry a concept. I-
(Ida McKinley enters while crocheting slippers)
IDA: Who wants slippers?
MARK: You know I want slippers, Ida.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: How are you, dear?
(Ida walks over and sits by William)
IDA: I’m fantastic, William. I saw a passenger pigeon in my window today, how queer is that? You rarely see those anymore.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Very seldomly indeed.
IDA: It spoke to me.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Did it?
IDA: Why yes, it lambasted me for not doing enough to prevent the death of our two daughters KATHERINE AND IDA!
(She begins having a seizure as Mark and Jeffrey look on in grave concern and William obscures her contorting face with a cloth and waits patiently for the seizure to pass. Once it does, William removes the cloth and puts it down)
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: So, any other opponents?
JEFFREY SARANDON: Well sir, I’m not sure if it’s my place, but-
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: How is it not your place, you’re my advisor, Mr. Sarandon.
JEFFREY: Of course, but-
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Unless you’re going to talk about my wife! Are you going to talk about my wife?!
IDA: Don’t talk about his wife!
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: That’s you, dear.
IDA: Of course.
JEFRREY: Sir, I assure you I am not going to talk about your wife. What I will say is that I see a potential dark horse candidate that could zoom past you to the finish line in this whole presidential thing, you won’t even see him coming!
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Who?
JEFFREY: A former Democratic Congressman by the name of William Jennings Bryan, he represented Nebraska’s first district up until two months ago.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: So what? The guy represented a few ears of corn, what’s the big deal?
JEFFREY: Well, he’s only thirty-five and he is a gifted orator, I listened to some of his house speeches when I was a House intern, he ALMOST convinced me to give a shit about the plight of farmers.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: And you think this guy’s a real threat?
JEFFREY: He could be. He’s barely old enough to be President, but he has a real swagger about him.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Please, no one has more swagger than William McKinley!
JEFFREY: I know it’s not my place, but a 35-year old man with booming voice could look preferable to a 52-year old geezer with a stoic countenance.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Okay, now it’s not your place.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: But I see your point. Although I’m not sure how serious this Bryan guy is-
JEFFREY: Oh, he’s ambitious. Make no mistake. I once saw him loading himself into a cannon, lighting the fuse and attempting to shoot himself into the Nebraska Governor’s office.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: I’m more surprised by the fact that Nebraska has a Governor, but if this kid is serious, then I want you to dig up dirt on him, as an early offensive strike. What’s his weakness?
JEFFREY: Well, he engages in speaking tours all across the nation. From the crab fisheries in Maine to the sandy deserts of the Arizona territory.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Why would he visit the territories?
JEFFREY: This slimy bastard always thinks one step ahead, he knows manifest destiny will swallow its latest victim eventually, and those are the Arizona, New Mexico and Utah territories, along with, of course, that place where the Indians use every part of their children’s scalp meat.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Oklahoma territory.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Alright then. I want you to follow Bryan on his speaking tours, pretend to be a reporter and I want you to see if there’s anything about him that would present him as a nihilist, an atheist, an agnostic, hell, even him being a Lutheran would work as cannon fodder. A lot of these Democrats are closet anti-religious and their entire existence is an affront to God. Mark, I want you to dig up dirt on the other potential candidates.
JEFFREY: Yes sir.
MARK: No problem, Bill.
IDA: In the meantime, please take my slippers! I’ve crocheted them all day!
(Ida throws a torrent of a dozen slippers at them all at the same time. Afterwards, she has another seizure and William covers her face again while Jeff and Mark look on in horror)
JEFF: She has the falling sickness, does she not?
MARK: It’s called epilepsy, Brutus.
(Cut to old-timey police officers with mustaches and button-up blue coats and boots and strange hats, looking at the bluntly mutilated body of Harold Donahue while Baylee is seen crying in the background, being comforted by another police officer)
POLICE OFFICER: How strange, Arthur. Blunt force trauma all across his body just as dinner’s being set.
ARTHUR: How rude of him, he could not wait until, perhaps later?
(Another police officer comes downstairs)
POLICE OFFICER 3: The mother’s body is also upstairs, Rufus. Does this remind anybody of anything?
RUFUS: Not particularly, Finis. No.
FINIS: Really? Take a wild guess.
ARTHUR: …Is it a food?
RUFUS Is it an animal?
FINIS: No, this isn’t twenty questions, guys!
ARTHUR: Is it George Johnson?
RUFUS: It’s George Johnson, isn’t it? God, my wife loves that coon.
FINIS: Guys, this is Lizzie Borden all over again! Wife and husband both brutally killed in their home in the middle of the day, the wife upstairs, the husband downstairs!
(Rufus, Arthur and Finis turn to Baylee, who looks up from crying)
BAYLEE: What? No! This is-I’m their housekeeper! Lizzie Borden were those people’s daughter!
ATHUR: Ma’am, we’re going to need to ask you a few questions.
BAYLEE: What?! Are you really suspecting me of this awful crime?! Well I refuse to go! I know my rights! I demand a lawyer!
(Arthur walks up to Baylee and slaps her straight across the face, causing her to cry)
ARTHUR: YOU WILL ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS!
FINIS: Whoa, Arthur! She does have rights!
ARTHUR: Come in and be bad cop, Rufus.
RUFUS: How are you not bad cop?!
ARTHUR: Because you’re going to have your way with her!
(A knock is heard at the door)
FINIS: I’ll get it.
(Finis walks over and opens the door to see Guy Altmire)
GUY: Um…hello? Who are you?
FINIS: I’m Finis McGann, the Detective and a half assigned to this case.
ARTHUR: Don’t listen to him, he’s a beat cop, just like the rest of us.
RUFUS: Did someone say bear cop?
FINIS: Nobody said bear cop.
RUFUS: That’s my next short story.
GUY: Shut your mouths up! Why does it smell like shit in here?! (Finis moves out of the way to reveal Harold’s corpse, much to Guy’s shock. He gasps and puts his hands over his mouth) HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!
ARTHUR: Who’s asking?
BAYLEE: That’s the fiend who supplied Harold with opium! He’s a snake oil salesman I tell you!
GUY: I’m actually an opium salesman, and opium ain’t illegal, sweetheart.
RUFUS: I smoke it myself. But the fact remains is that Mr. Donahue is dead and we need to get to the bottom of it.
GUY: It’s an absolute tragedy, Harold was a good man.
BAYLEE: How do you know this charlatan wasn’t the culprit?
GUY: Whoa! Why would I have committed this heinous act? He was my biggest customer!
BAYLEE: Maybe he was BEHIND ON HIS DRUG PAYMENTS!
GUY: Have you SEEN his house?! It looks like Boss Tweed passed a stone on Ludlow Avenue here.
RUFUS: We’ll take you both in. This is worth investigating. Let’s go, the both of you.
GUY: Jesus Christ.
(Rufus handcuffs Guy and Arthur handcuffs Baylee. Cut to Guy sitting in an interrogation room with Finis sitting across from him)
FINIS: I’m not your friend, asshole.
GUY: I never said you were my friend.
FINIS: Good. Because I want answers, not a friendship.
GUY: I had nothing to do with his murder, he was actually a friend of mine.
FINIS: Oh, so he’s your friend now?
GUY: You seem to be hung up on the friend, thing.
(Finis gets up)
FINIS: He wasn’t a friend. If he was a friend, you’d be distraught right now.
GUY: I don’t like to get emotional in public.
FINIS: Oh, but you want to. You sold him hop. You’ve lost a loyal customer, that’s the only reason you care at all.
GUY: He had a medical condition, that’s what the tar was for.
FINIS: What medical condition?
GUY: It was a medical condition, I can’t tell you, that’s the Hippocratic oath!
(Finis walks over and kneels down, speaking right into the side of his face)
FINIS: YOU’RE NOT A DOCTOR!
GUY: I would not embarrass him-
FINIS: HE’S DEAD! And you will be to if you get convicted! That electric chair calls out for you!
GUY: No, because I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!
FINIS: COME ON! (Finis pushes Guy out of his seat and onto the ground) I WANT REAL ANSWERS!
GUY: I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! PLEASE!
FINIS: THEN WHY IS HAROLD DONAHUE DEAD?!
GUY: HOW IS THAT A RELEVANT QUESTION?! JUST BECAUSE HE’S DEAD DOESN’T MEAN I DID IT!
(Finis kicks him in the ribs, making him scream)
FINIS: YOU DO REALIZE THEIR BABY’S GOING TO AN ORPHANAGE NOW?!
GUY: I THOUGHT YOU WERE JUST A BEAT COP!
FINIS: NO SIR! I’M A BEAR COP!
(Finis kicks him in the ribs once more. Cut to Arthur and Rufus interviewing Baylee in another interrogation room)
ARTHUR: So what’s the story, sweetheart? Did they take you for granted? Did Harold reject an advance you made? Or did they just forget to say “thank you” one afternoon?
BAYLEE: How thin-skinned do you think I am?! I didn’t murder these people! They paid me, they gave me my life! I am not Lizzie Borden, sorry about that.
RUFUS: One distinction. Lizzie Borden was acquitted.
BAYLEE: Another distinction, she was there DAUGHTER! And she hacked them forty times! These people were hacked, what? Eleven times? Nineteen times?
ARTHUR: Actually, the forty times thing was invented for the nursery rhyme, the real number was much lower.
BAYLEE: What was it?
ARTHUR: Eleven times for the daddy, nineteen times for the mommy.
RUFUS: Nice guesswork, Baylee.
BAYLEE: You can’t pin this on me!
ARTHUR: Trust me, if we wanted to “pin” this on somebody, we’d corral a nigger off a golf course.
BAYLEE: Why a golf course?
RUFUS: Because what the fuck is a jigaboo doing on a golf course? He needs to learn his place!
BAYLEE: Now that we’re done lambasting a fictional negro, can you present any actual evidence against me? At all?
ARTHUR: Well, right now you’re a person of interest. I did not intend to say that flirtatiously.
BAYLEE: I didn’t think that.
ARTHUR: Good. Now shut your mouth up and watch us gather evidence!
BAYLEE: …Like, literally, watch you?
RUFUS: Yes, we’re going to sit here and do it, if you don’t mind.
BAYLEE: I do mind, I definitely mind!
ARTHUR: We don’t mind.
BAYLEE: Of course you don’t mind, you’re not being accused of murder! I am well within my rights to leave, you have not charged me with jack shit.
RUFUS: Fine, Ms. Cogswell. But be warned, by the time you get home, I will have called my good friend William Randolph Hearst, who owns the San Francisco Examiner and just bought the New York Morning Journal, he will make you INFAMOUS!
BAYLEE: I’m not afraid of Hearst’s yellow journalism. (Baylee stands up) I am who I am, and I haven’t known the public to be a rash and easily manipulated group of people.
(Cut to Guy sitting in his office, reading the New York Morning Journal. It reads “CRAZY PSYCHO HOUSEKEEPER ACCUSED OF MURDER IN DEATHS OF WEALTHY HANSBAY COUPLE, ALSO, WE SHOULD TOTALLY DECLARE WAR ON SPAIN”. Guy puts the newspaper down)
GUY: It’s a damned tragedy, you know that?
(Pan to reveal Laos is sitting across from him)
LAOS: Yes, it is.
GUY: But listen, that whole thing with the baseball and all that, we’ve decided against it.
LAOS: I signed a contract that did not expire until 1901. Six years! 15,000 dollars a year! You PROMISED ME!
GUY: Right, but Mr. Donahue’s death has interrupted things.
LAOS: What does he have to do with this?
GUY: He’s a third party.
LAOS: That doesn’t tell me anything! Either the deal goes ahead or you pay me 90,000 dollars, or I SUE you for 90,000 dollars!
GUY: HA! You’re not even supposed to be HERE! How the fuck can you sue?!
LAOS: I am supposed to be here, you imbecile!
GUY: Shit, did you actually get here before the Chinese Exclusion Act went into effect?
LAOS: Yes, in April of ’82.
GUY: Ah, April of ’82. I got a lot of measles that spring.
LAOS: Why are you remembering that fondly?
GUY: Regardless of whether you immigrated here legally or not, you’re still a goddamn slant and no jury of white men would side with you. You have to be at peace with that, it’ll never change.
LAOS: You son of a bitch. I won’t forget this.
GUY: I’m quaking in my frock coat! What are you going to do?
LAOS: You’ll see. Just watch your back.
GUY: I’ll just hire a chinaman like you to do that for me, Laos. Now get out.
(Laos gets up and walks out. Cut to Guy sitting in the audience at a minstrel show, along with many others. On stage is a white man in black face wearing dandy striped clothing and holding papers while jauntily dancing to a piano tune)
MINSTREL: (Singing) I wanted to take my lady out for a trot, but the landlord said it was pay day four our share crop, so I pleaded and I begged and I scrimped and I saved, I went with no shoes, and we rarely bathed, I was so damn hungry, GOD save me now! I milked ever last chicken and every last cow, but I missed the taste of a wing on my tongue, all the juices from which it could be rung, every last bite would be so savory, oh WHY did I give up slavery? Oh COME ON!
(The audience laughs, as does Guy. Then, an eighteen-year old kid with a mustache and a suit walks over and sits next to Guy)
GUY: Sorry, can I help you?
KID: Can I buy you a drink?
GUY: Are you a queer?
KID: No, I’m not in any financial trouble. What I am in, is swimming in cash…in.
GUY: Should’ve worded that better.
GUY: Who are you?
KID: I’m Justin Donahue, Harold’s oldest son.
GUY: Oh my God, of course, he talked about you all the time. I’m so sorry for your loss.
JUSTIN: He was a son of a bitch, don’t worry about it.
GUY: You might want to be careful about saying that, considering they haven’t charged anyone yet.
JUSTIN: Don’t worry, I inherited all of his money AND his company!
GUY: Wow, I’m surprised you’re not in an interrogation room right now.
JUSTIN: Hey! I also inherited that little shit Nicholas Donahue and why would I want that?
GUY: Aren’t you a little young to be owning and operating a factory?
JUSTIN: I’m eighteen, but hell, Harold probably thought I was going to be much older when he died.
GUY: How is your head not under a guillotine’s blade right now?
JUSTIN: C’mon, I should not be under that much suspicion.
GUY: Regardless, what do you want?
JUSTIN: I want you to thwart the strike that has ravaged my father’s company. I will not have my father’s memory sullied by these, these obstreperous chinks, negros and Italians! No way! No how!
GUY: You just said you thought your father was a son of a bitch.
JUSTIN: And I stand by that. But YOU have to sabotage the strike.
GUY: How so?
JUSTIN: By planting some trouble makers in the crowd so violence can erupt, so we can secure a military injunction from President Cleveland.
GUY: …That’s genius! How much are you willing to pay me?
JUSTIN: 36,000 dollars.
GUY: Holy shit! Deal! (Justin and Guy shake hands) I suppose I’ll have to do (singing) auditions!
(Justin lets go)
JUSTIN: Don’t do that.
JUSTIN: So do you have my number?
GUY: You mean like, your age?
JUSTIN: No, my telephone number.
GUY: I don’t have a telephone.
JUSTIN: Oh, of course. Well, how about you purchase a telephone with your newfound wealth?
GUY: I suppose I could, but they just scare me. What if the telephone becomes sentient, and alters my words in some way? You know, to gain something?
JUSTIN: Don’t worry, that sort of callous manipulation is my job. My telephone number is 14. Got it?
GUY: I will not be able to remember that, could you write it down?
JUSTIN: Oh my God, fine. COULD I GET A PEN OVER HERE?!
(Cut to William Jennings Bryan speaking behind a podium at some ball room. A banner behind him says the “THE 15TH ANNUAL PRECURSOR TO POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SYMPOSIUM AND CASINO, BROUGHT TO YOU BY COCA-COLA”)
WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN: The farmers are the BACKBONE of our MAGNIFICENT country! They work the fields, day in, day out, scrimping and saving, not only their money but our very LIVELIHOODS! One hundred and nineteen years ago our FOUNDERS envisioned a country of FARMERS, not gold-hoarding tycoons! If we burnt down your cities tonight, which we might do depending on how dark it is outside, they would SPRING UP ONCE AGAIN as if by magic! However, light a flame to OUR farms and GRASS WILL GROW IN THE STREETS OF YOUR CITIES!
(People applaud. Cut to Jeffrey Sarandon sitting in the press box, next to reporters from the New York Morning Journal, The New York Times and the Columbus Dispatch. Sarandon claims to be from the Hansbay Quintessential)
JEFFREY: He’s good. Too good.
TIMES REPORTER: Who cares about him? He’s some bitter ex-Congressman grousing about the Gold Standard, any aspirations to the Presidency is fiction.
JEFFREY: Well, we’re newspaper reporters, so fiction should kind of be our thing, right?
(They look at each other and then start furiously writing things down. Cut to William Jennings Bryan walking back stage while applause roars in the background. Jeffrey Sarandon walks up to him)
CONGRESSMAN BRYAN: My God, what is the meaning of this? This is highly unorthodox!
JEFFREY: So you’re a Jew, that’s helpful.
CONGRESSMAN BRYAN: Excuse me?
JEFFREY: I’m Staniel Manhandler, from the Hansbay Quintessential. Nice to meet you.
(They shake hands)
CONGRESSMAN BRYAN: That’s quite a queer name, Staniel.
JEFFREY: Please, call me Staniel. Mr. Manhandler is my father’s name.
(They ungrasp hands)
CONGRESSMAN BRYAN: I called you Staniel.
JEFFREY: Of course. Now sir, I-
CONGRESSMAN BRYAN: Sorry to interrupt, but I’ve got another location to speak at pretty soon, my buggy is waiting outside. Thanks.
(Congressman Bryan walks away)
JEFFREY: Of course, I will see you later maybe! Shit. (Jeffrey goes into his dressing room and sees a mirror, a dresser, and a bunch of Victorian gowns) Why does he need all these Victorian gowns? (Jeffrey picks up a copy of a speech. At the top of the speech, it reads “LEBANON, OHIO SPEECH, BROUGHT TO YOU BY DOCTOR BEAUREGARD T. CATTYCORNER’S WHIMSICAL ELIXIR, CURES ALL AILMENTS-INCLUDING INDIAN BITES!” He flips to the final page of the speech, which contains the last line alone, which reads “You will not whip the back of labor with this branch of leaves, you will not enslave mankind with these chains of gold!”) Ooh, I could certainly make this anti-religious. (He puts the speech aside and uncovers a typewriter. He begins writing on it) “That evil bastard Jesus Christ will not whip the back of labor with his dick of leaves, he will not enslave mankind with the chains of…fuck Jesus!” (He stops typing) No, he wouldn’t be likely to read that. I need something offensive enough to draw ire, but not offensive enough to not come out of Bryan’s mouth. How about… (He continues typing) ”you will not…press down…upon the head of labor, BROW of labor, this crown of thorns…you will not hang up this, no, CRUCIFY mankind, upon a cross…of GOLD!” (He stops typing) My God! It’s genius! He’ll be ridiculed as a blasphemer! And then the people will elect William McKinley as the 25th God of the United States! (He hears footsteps) Oh shit!
(He rips the paper out of the typewriter and replaces the original last page of the speech with his new one and he runs away. Then a tap dancer walks in, tapping his heels with great merry. Cut to Baylee Cogswell sitting in the Donahue household. Harold’s body has been removed, but there remains a massive blood stain on the couch and on the walls. Baylee is sitting in an arm chair, reading their will)
BAYLEE: Wow, they really gave ME the house? I am going to make it a whore house. Maybe-(Baylee opens the blinds to reveal a crowd of journalists outside) starting with these people.
JOURNALIST: IS IT TRUE THAT YOU MURDERED THE DONAHUES?!
JOURNALIST 2: WAS IT FUN?!
JOURNALIST: DO YOU LIKE MY HAT?!
(Baylee closes the blinds)
BAYLEE: Those people, how dare they camp on my property! I really need to get that blood stain out. I’m a maid, I should know how to do that, I did it with wine, and trust me, they had wine stains larger than that blood stain. Who am I talking to?
(Cut to the spectral image of Lizzie Borden in the living room with her)
LIZZIE BORDEN’S GHOST: ME!
BAYLEE: OH MY GOD! The ghost of Lizzie Borden! Wait, isn’t Lizzie Borden still alive?
LIZZIE BORDEN’S GHOST: Yes I am. In fact…
(The spectral image disappears and the real Lizzie Borden walks in, causing Baylee to scream)
LIZZIE BORDEN: You should be careful about screaming, sweetheart. There are a lot of flies outside your window, grappling on to your every last bit of misery.
BAYLEE: How did you get in here, Lizzie?
LIZZIE BORDEN: I dressed up as a reporter and broke in, using a wrench to your garage window.
BAYLEE: Why would being dressed up as a reporter assist you in that cause?
LIZZIE BORDEN: I’m not sure, but you sure are getting a lot of attention, honey girl.
BAYLEE: These people don’t understand! I didn’t kill Harold and Tori!
LIZZIE: Yes you did, sweetheart. And I killed Andrew and Abby Borden. I understand.
BAYLEE: Why did you kill your father and stepmother?
LIZZIE: Because my father named me Lizzie Andrew Borden. That son of a bitch had the audacity to use his first name as MY middle name! He gave me a boy’s name for a middle name! I mean, who does that?! I had to axe him to death.
BAYLEE: Okay, then why the stepmother?
LIZZIE: Because she was a bitch.
BAYLEE: Stepmoms always are.
LIZZIE: But regardless, I continue to live in Fall River, Massachusetts.
BAYLEE: Why? Aren’t you ostracized?
LIZZIE: Every day. I can hardly go outside without getting tomatoes thrown at me, I can hardly go to the library without people looking me up in books and sometimes I look myself up actually, because the murders are quite intriguing.
BAYLEE: I’m sure they are. But they’re going to try to pin this on me, just because I did it. But the people who lived here abused me, they were monsters. I am not sorry for my crime. My only friends left are Leon Czolgosz and you. And I guess I’m glad you made the day-long journey from Fall River to tell me things I already know, but I just don’t know how that’s supposed to help me!
LIZZIE: You need to get away. Don’t make the same mistake I did. You’re young. You have your whole life ahead of you.
BAYLEE: You avoided jail!
LIZZIE: That’s true, but now I make my living selling sealskin coats out of a manhole!
BAYLEE: How could I possibly escape unnoticed?
(Cut to Jeff Sarandon nailing a “WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN ‘96” sign into Baylee’s front yard while the journalists and spectators fawn at her window. He finishes and looks at his work)
JEFFREY: I’m a kinky genius.
(Guy Altmire walks over to the fawning masses and whistles, causing them to turn around)
JOURNALIST: HEY! Can’t you see we’re fawning?!
GUY: Who wants a HUNDRED bucks each to go cause some trouble at the factory strike down the street?!
JOURNALIST: That would be ME!
JOURNALIST 2: Me too!
GUY: Then go! Goddamn, I shouldn’t do all the work.
(They start charging towards the factory, besides one confused oaf who was left behind)
CONFUSED OAF: He hasn’t paid us yet!
(Cut to Baylee and Lizzie in the house, looking out the window)
BAYLEE: Oh my God, they’re running away for some reason!
LIZZIE: Here’s your one and only opportunity, Baylee. You have to seize it. Come with me to Fall River, you can pretend to be my sister, you look kind of like her!
BAYLEE: What about your sister though?
LIZZIE: I killed her! No one will know! Now come!
BAYLEE: Okay! Do I need luggage?
LIZZIE: Do you want me to axe murder you?!
BAYLEE: Let’s go!
(Lizzie and Baylee run out the back door and into the woods. Cut to William Jennings Bryan walking into his dressing room to see the speech on the table. He picks it up and looks through it and then flips to the last page)
WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN: (Mumbling) “You will not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you will not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold…” THAT’S GENIUS! Did Josephus sneak that in there? I ought to give him a sloppy wet hug. Wait! You know what? I should save this “Cross of Gold” line for later…
(William Jennings Bryan stuffs the speech into his coat and walks out of the room. Cut to Governor McKinley, Ida McKinley, Mark Hanna and Jeffrey Sarandon in Governor McKinley’s office, sitting)
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Let’s start this meeting with a prayer. (William, Ida, Mark and Jeff join hands, bow their heads and close their eyes) Dear Heavenly Father-
(They all open their eyes and look at each other)
MARK: Holy shit, we all thought no one could see us.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Let’s just begin. (They let go of each other’s hands) How did we do on Senator Blackburn and Governor Pattison?
MARK: There’s a mountain named after him in Alaska, and people have died on it. I think we can spin that to where he’s culpable.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Anyone else?
JEFFREY: Well, I changed the last line of Congressman Bryan’s speech to where it would offend Christians.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: …And?
JEFFREY: And he did not end up reading that…part.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Damnit, Sarandon! I gave you a chance to shine and you blew it! Now how am I going to become President?!
(A 36-year old Theodore Roosevelt enters)
THEODORE ROOSEVELT: That is an excellent question.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Who are you?
THEODORE ROOSEVELT: I am New York City Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. And I’m glad you asked how I was going to become President, because-
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: I clearly asked myself how I was going to become President, not you!
COMMISSIONER ROOSEVELT: …Oh. Oh, well, I see. Shit. I came all the way to Ohio, for this!
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: How did you get in here?!
JEFFREY: I gave him a key. (Jeffrey stands up and puts his hand on Roosevelt’s shoulder) I think he would make a great Vice Presidential candidate, should you choose to run and subsequently get the nomination.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: He looks like he just came back from prom!
JEFFREY: He has a mustache! He can help you win the facial hair vote.
COMMISSIONER ROOSEVELT: Governor, what are the best neighborhoods in which to establish permanent residency in Ohio in order to be eligible for statewide political office, but also, in terms of school districts, I have kids. That’s a nice desk.
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: You, you are an imbecile! You bring me this ambitious animal to replace me and you don’t get shit on Jennings Bryan?! You’re fired!
JEFFREY: I’m fired?!
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: Yes! Pack your things!
JEFFREY: All I have is this (he pulls a tooth brush out of his pocket) toothbrush!
GOVERNOR MCKINLEY: That’s, weird, but, whatever! Just GO!
JEFFREY: FINE! Teddy and I will go elsewhere.
COMMISSIONER ROOSEVELT: That’s actually good, because I have a pair of black bears pulling my buggy, and they are not patient when tied up.
JEFFREY: Bye, Mrs. McKinley.
(Ida appeared to not be paying attention. And then she looks up and smiles and waves cheerily)
(Jeff and Teddy walk out of the room. Cut to outside the Ohio Governor’s office. Jeff and Teddy walk down to the street)
TEDDY: I’ll go find the bears.
(Teddy walks away. Jeff sees a 22-year old Leon Czolgosz sitting on a bench nearby, reading “Anarchy” by Errico Malatesta. He goes over to him)
JEFFREY: Hello there young sir, I’m Jeffrey Sarandon.
LEON: I’m Leon Czolgosz.
(Jeffrey holds out his hand)
LEON: I’m an anarchist, I’ll shake the hand when I choose.
(Jeffrey puts down his hand)
JEFFREY: So kid, do you like Governor McKinley?
LEON: I know nothing about him, but yes, I fucking despise him.
JEFFREY: You’ll do perfect, where are you from?
LEON: I was born in Michigan, but I live in Warrensville.
JEFFREY: Come with me, I’ll tell you how much of a bad man Governor McKinley is. Do you like bear buggies?
(Leon gets up)
LEON: Well, gee whiz, sir, I like assassinations more!
JEFFREY: I already like the cut of your gib, let’s go.
(Leon and Jeffrey walk off together. Cut to Guy’s hired mob of journalists rushing towards the factory strike. They push over several strikers and they start jumping the gates and throwing rocks. Cut to Laos in the crowd)
LAOS: They want some troublemakers, huh? To make us look bad? Well, they’ve got it. (Laos jumps the fence as well, grabs a beer, stuffs a rag in there, lights that Molotov cocktail and throws it through the factory window, starting a fire) There’s your trouble!
(Laos runs away as the fire spreads, and a bunch of people start running away. Cut to Guy’s shocked face as the fire’s luminescence shines upon it. Screaming is heard in the background)
GUY: …WHAT THE FUCK?!
(Cut to Harold Donahue and Justin Donahue sitting at a table in the factory, laughing maniacally as everything burns around them. Even as they begin to burn alive, they continue laughing like lunatics. Cut to black)
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