a play in two acts
by Charles Deemer
First performed at Theatre Workshop in Portland, Oregon, on November 6, 1981. Directed by Steve Smith.
THE CAST (in order of appearance; 4M, 4W):
Michelle, a young filmmaker
Rick, her cameraman
Red, owner of the Rapids Restaurant & Lounge
Dotty, bartender at the Lounge, who is blind
Buck Timber, an itinerant country singer
Gayle Goodwyn, a country superstar
Mrs. Ames, a resident of Harvest Acres, a retirement center
Mr. Fredericks, manager of Harvest Acres
Rapids, Oregon, on the Umpqua River out of Roseburg
The lounge at the restaurant in Rapids. Upstage right is a bar, off of which is the entrance-exit. Another entrance-exit stage left leads to the restaurant. Downstage from the bar are several tables.
Still farther downstage is a neutral playing area.
Songs: "Thank Heaven For You", "Country Northwestern", and "Hangin' In" by Lynne Fuqua. "Your Cheatin' Fart and "Great Speckled Fraulein" by Charles Deemer.
(AT RISE: a dark stage. SPOTS come up on MICHELLE and RICK, who stand some distance apart in the neutral area.)
MICHELLE: Crazy Rick. At least once a month he phones me at some weird hour of the morning, stoned and babbling, probably horny, expecting me to hijack a plane up to see him.
RICK: Michelle, you will not believe this country. It's the end of the earth. After Oregon, there's no place else to go.
MICHELLE: Unless you're a filmmaker. Then you live in Southern California.
RICK: You can make a movie anywhere. I find lots of work up here.
MICHELLE: I have to pay the rent, Rick.
RICK: So do a documentary on the Blazers. I'll shoot it and when they win the championship in a year or two, you'll have a gold mine to market.
MICHELLE: I had to ask to find out he was talking about the local professional basketball team. Real good, Rick. Real macho.
RICK: So do a documentary on Ken Kesey. He lives in Oregon.
MICHELLE: Better but a little too obvious. Rick, it's seventy-two. The sixties are quite dead.
RICH: This country is a cinematographer's dream. Make a film and I'll shoot it. Everything is so green here.
MICHELLE: Like money?
(A third SPOT comes up on RED in the lounge area.)
RED: The dam would be expensive, we all knew that. Fact is, for a while I was hoping it would be too expensive to build. Or if they were set on building it, that they would go down river, where they could put up the sonofabitch without putting the town under water. Wouldn't lose nothing that way but a few Federal campgrounds. But flooding the town where the hell are folks supposed to go? Especially Dotty, blind like she is. But you know the government between the town and those Federal picnic tables, they set their mind on flooding the town. Wasn't a damn thing we could do about it.
(SPOT off Red.)
RICK: (sleepily now) Hello?
MICHELLE: Hi, Rick.
MICHELLE: I know, it's about time I called you for a change.
RICK: Are you in Oregon?
MICHELLE: I'm home. I called to find out what you can tell me about Rapids.
RICK: Rapids? It's when a river
MICHELLE: Not what, where. The town of Rapids. Do you know where it is?
RICK: Yeah, I think it's out the Umpqua from Roseburg.
MICHELLE: Where's that from Portland?
RICK: Less than 200 miles south. What's with the sudden interest in Rapids?
MICHELLE: I've been following a series of articles in the paper. They've built this dam on the river and in a few months the town of Rapids is going to be flooded out of existence. I want to do a documentary on the final days in the town. I'm looking for a good cameraman. You interested?
RICK: Of course I'm interested. Tell me more.
(LIGHTS UP FULL on the lounge. Rick gets behind a camera with portable sound equipment and is filming Red, who sits at the bar. DOTTY, the blind bartender, is behind the bar. Michelle stands off to the side, interviewing Red.)
MICHELLE: Interview with Red Mitchell, take one. Action.
MICHELLE: Action, Red.
RED: I start now?
MICHELLE: Right, whenever I say "action."
RED: Okay. Well, let's see. I came here in, oh, it must have been ... I'd say around 1946. After the war. I knew Skeeter Davis in the Army he's Dotty's ex and got killed. So when I brung her the news and some things he wanted her to have course, she knew he was killed by then anyway, she had the place up for sale. So I bought it and kept her on behind the bar. Been here ever since.
MICHELLE: What was business like in those days?
RED: The town had seen better days for sure. Hills was pretty well logged out by then, and the loggers were moving up river. Down river belonged to the government. So I was taking a chance buying a restaurant.
MICHELLE: Did you get any tourists up here then?
DOTTY: We always had good fishing.
RED: More tourists were coming all the time. The boom was in the sixties. More retired folks moved in, too, mostly from California. Got to where we'd have a pretty lively summer, especially after we built the motel and had live music in here. And we always did have the best restaurant in town. The only one for about the last five years.
MICHELLE: What was a Saturday night like in the good old days? When it got pretty lively ... ?
RED: After we added the motel and the campground, we'd have a real busy summer, year after year. Didn't make any difference if it was Saturday night or Wednesday night really on vacation, it's all the same. Course, things got even livelier on weekends with the music.
MICHELLE: What kind of music did you have?
DOTTY: Gayle Goodwyn sang here. This is her home town.
RED: I don't think they want to hear about that.
MICHELLE: Who did you say?
DOTTY: Gayle Goodwyn. She sang in here a hundred times if she sang once. She grew up in Rapids.
RICK: The Gayle Goodwyn?
RED: Yeah, but she ain't been back for years.
DOTTY: Her first hit was about growing up here. And, of course, last year she was given that award on television. She used to sing right in here, all the time.
RED: That was ten years ago. She went to Nashville about '61 or '62, I guess. When did she leave Buck?
DOTTY: Summer '61, I think.
RED: They used to be married. His real name's Henry Lancaster but he got to calling himself Buck Timber. He was quite a country singer himself in those days.
DOTTY: Gayle's real name ain't Goodwyn either. It's Miller. She didn't marry a Goodwyn, the record company give her the name. I heard so on the radio.
MICHELLE: And Buck Timber is a country singer, too?
RED: Yeah, but nobody ever heard of him like they know Gayle Goodwyn. He may be dead for all I know.
DOTTY: For my money, neither sings alone as good as they used to sing together. That was right in here. Course, I ain't heard Buck sing for years. Don't know if he's even singing any more.
RED: Buck and Gayle could pack them in on a weekend, that's for sure.
(ACTION FREEZES in lounge and LIGHTS COME DOWN HALF. GAYLE and BUCK move into LIGHTED neutral area, each with a guitar, and sing like in the good old days.)
BUCK: (singing) I've always been a rambler
I never settled down
I took the road to be my own best friend
But lately I've been finding
All my roads lead back to you
I've found my home
You are my journey's end
BUCK AND GAYLE: (singing) Thank heaven for you
You've always seen me through
You know the ways to ease my troubled mind
Thank heaven for you
For the love that's been so true
You are the one I never thought I'd find
GAYLE: (singing) I wake up in the morning
To find you close to me
And the love I feel is much too strong to hide
You are the one I've waited for
You are my dreams made real
Come take my hand
I need you by my side
BUCK AND GAYLE: (singing) Thank heaven for you
You've always seen me through
You know the way to ease my troubled mind
Thank heaven for you
For the love that's been so true
You are the one I never thought I'd find
(BLACKOUT. A beat. LIGHTS COME UP on lounge, where Gayle is alone, strumming her guitar. She is in the process of writing a new song. Stuck, she cusses under her breath and exits left.)
(Buck enters right, carrying his guitar case. He looks around. He goes to the bar and pours himself a shot. Seeing the guitar Gayle left behind at a table, he goes to it, sits down and starts strumming the guitar.)
(Gayle returns, entering left. Seeing Buck, she stops in her tracks. They regard one another for a moment.)
BUCK: I'll be damned.
GAYLE: Hello, Buck.
BUCK: Great minds think alike or what?
BUCK: (about using the guitar) Hope you don't mind ...
GAYLE: Help yourself. It's a present from my new manager.
BUCK: I would've expected him to buy you something fancier.
GAYLE: Her. It's my traveling guitar, not my concert one.
BUCK: Where is everybody?
GAYLE: A young couple's here to make a movie of some kind. Red's taken them down to the river.
BUCK: I read where you're making a movie yourself.
GAYLE: My agent's negotiating something like that. Nothing definite yet.
BUCK: Expect him to pull it off?
GAYLE: Yes, I think she will come up with something.
BUCK: Sounds like you got a full house working for you.
GAYLE: I try to be associated with the best. How about yourself? You still playing?
BUCK: Of course I'm still playing. Jesus.
GAYLE: I didn't mean it like it sounded. You should know I'm a fan.
BUCK: Yeah, I'm still beating the strings. Have a gig next week in Portland, as a matter of fact. Then up to Renton the following week.
GAYLE: And so you stopped on your way to see Rapids one more time before it ... what's the word? Sinks?
BUCK: Gets flooded, sinks, same difference.
GAYLE: I knew I was sentimental. I didn't know you were.
BUCK: Oh, I just came by to see what was going on. What's your excuse?
GAYLE: My excuse the one I gave my manager is that I have the flu and I'm in Palm Springs to recuperate. I wanted to get up here before I go on tour.
(Dotty enters left. Though blind, she knows her way around very well. Buck quickly gestures "sshh" to Gayle, in order to surprise Dotty.)
GAYLE: He took that couple down to the river. They wanted to film him down there.
DOTTY: I still don't understand what this movie business is all about.
GAYLE: Just the story of the town, I guess.
DOTTY: What town? They should've come before folks moved out.
(Buck has moved behind Dotty and now puts his hands over her eyes.)
DOTTY: Who's that?
BUCK: (disguising his voice) Three guesses.
DOTTY: It ain't Red. Hands are too warm.
BUCK: No, it ain't Red.
DOTTY: Let me feel.
(Buck removes his hands. Dotty turns and with both hands feels the contours of his face.)
DOTTY: I don't know you.
BUCK: (in normal voice) Oh yes, you do.
DOTTY: (still feeling) It can't be.
BUCK: Sure as hell is, though.
BUCK: Hello, Dotty babe. How come you ain't made me one of your specials yet?
DOTTY: Buck, you son of a gun ... it's getting to be like old home week around here.
BUCK: (breaking the embrace) Then mix some specials, damn it. How about one of Dotty's specials, Gayle?
DOTTY: If a Blind Dotty don't do it, nothing will.
GAYLE: I think I'll pass.
BUCK: Come on. You don't want to celebrate old home week?
MICHELE'S VOICE IN DARKNESS: Interview with Buck Timber, take one.
RICK'S VOICE IN DARKNESS: Rolling.
(A SPOT comes up on Buck.)
BUCK: I have a gig in Portland next week and this is on the way. I'd heard about it going under water because of the dam but wasn't sure when didn't know if it was already under water actually. So I just came by to see what was going on. I got a lot of memories here. Had some good times here. Let me tell you something I'm not bragging, it's the plain truth. Red and Dotty will tell you. So will Gayle, if she's honest about it. In 1960 Buck Timber was a name that brought folks in the door. I could play any club from Renton to Bakersfield. Hell, there was even a record promoter in California who was trying to get me to cut a record. You remember that, Red? One summer he pestered me no end, trying to get me down to California to cut a record. It must have been 1961 or so. He'd phone me right here at the bar, begging me to come down to California. Remember, Red?
(LIGHTS UP FULL in lounge, with Buck, Red, Dotty and Gayle. It is 1961.)
RED: (at phone) Buck, for Christ's sake, won't you just talk to the man?
BUCK: Ain't got a thing to say to him.
RED: So tell him that yourself. It's the third time he's called today.
GAYLE: Maybe it's not like you think.
BUCK: Like hell. If you've seen one record promoter, you've seen them all. They're like vultures.
DOTTY: When did you ever meet a record promoter?
BUCK: I know more than you think about record promoters.
RED: What do I tell him, Buck?
GAYLE: I don't see the harm in just talking to him.
BUCK: Because he wants me to change my style.
RED: How do you know he's even heard you?
BUCK: Why's he calling, if he ain't heard me?
RED: You got a reputation in Bakersfield, don't you? He probably wants to hear for himself what all the talk is about.
BUCK: Then he can drive his ass up here and catch my show.
RED: He's not going to wait all day, Buck.
GAYLE: Can I talk to him?
BUCK: I'll talk to him. Christ.
(He goes to the phone.)
BUCK: This is Buck Timber. ... Not so fast, partner. I want to make something clear.
RED: Jesus, Buck.
BUCK: I don't sing Hollywood western, and I don't sing rockabilly, and I don't sing popular. I sing Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers, mainly. ... Woody Guthrie.
RED: Sometimes I think he's afraid of success.
BUCK: If you don't know, I can't tell you.
(He hangs up.)
BUCK: He never heard of Woody Guthrie!
RED: Damn, but you're afraid of success.
BUCK: Depends on what you mean by success.
RED: Do you realize all it would take is one hit record? Then you could record any damn thing you want. Your name would sell it.
BUCK: Sure, that's why Hank Thompson has to cut a record about the jungle. "Rockin' in the congo, rockin' in the congo." You can have it.
GAYLE: He called because he heard about you, and you only sing what you want to, don't you? You should've listened to what he had to say.
BUCK: They have a way of changing you, believe me. Look what happened to Woody at the Rainbow Room.
RED: I don't see it hurt his reputation any.
BUCK: Because he had the balls to walk out. They wanted to turn him into Gene Autry or somedamnbody. Woody Guthrie, America's Ramblin' Cowboy, they were billing him. They even had a costume made up for him chaps, fancy boots, the works. Woody says he's ashamed he lasted two verses of his first song. He shouldn't have gone on stage at all. The damn tables had white tablecloths, for Christ's sake. People were sipping champagne like it was New Year's eve. Woody says he felt like he was in a zoo.
RED: I still say you can write your own ticket once you make a name for yourself.
BUCK: I got a name, from Renton to Bakersfield. I can get a gig anywhere on the west coast.
RED: In the clubs, sure. Because you're good, you're damn good. But until you cut a record, you're nothing. You should be writing your own ticket, anywhere you want to be.
BUCK: What's wrong with being right here? We're not doing all that bad, are we, babe?
GAYLE: We're doing fine.
BUCK: Damn right, we are.
(LIGHTS DOWN HALF as Gayle moves forward into SPOT in neutral area.)
GAYLE: Buck was running the show in those days, and I trusted him to do right by us. The truth is, I wouldn't be singing at all if it wasn't for him. He kept pushing me on, telling me I had a voice as pure as Patsy Cline. And we weren't doing bad at the time, playing clubs along the west coast. We'd spend summer and fall in Rapids, then go to California for the winter. But I always wished Buck wasn't so stubborn. Whenever a record promoter took interest, he'd almost run to get away. He said he didn't like the way country music was changing, he'd have nothing to do with helping it along. Rock and roll was ruining country, Buck said, and popularity would ruin it even more. So more and more we got requests on stage for songs that we didn't know. The times were changing, and we weren't changing with them. The fact is, many of the new songs were songs I wouldn't mind singing at all, but Buck would have nothing to do with them.
(LIGHTS UP FULL in lounge. It is 1972.)
BUCK: That all you need?
MICHELLE: For the time being. We want to do some shooting outside while the sun's up.
RICK: Is there a bridge across the river somewhere?
RED: About five miles down river. Go to the highway and turn left. If the Corps' already closed it, you're going to have to go into Roseburg.
RICK: Catch you all later.
(Michelle and Rick exit right.)
BUCK: Do you think they know what they're doing?
RED: Appears to me they do.
BUCK: They don't have much when it comes to equipment.
GAYLE: They can make do with what they have. My manager's brother did a real nice documentary on country fiddling, using a smaller camera than what they got. It was on educational television. Looked real nice, real professional.
BUCK: A movie with you in it will be commercial easy. They stumbled across a real golden egg in their nest.
GAYLE: I hope they do a good job. Be a nice tribute to the town.
BUCK: I'm surprised CBS isn't here doing it.
RED: CBS ain't interested in Rapids, Oregon.
DOTTY: Seems to me the folks who lived here weren't interested in Rapids either.
RED: Everyone signed the petitions. What else could we do?
DOTTY: Raise a stink.
BUCK: Damn right. Just refuse to move, refuse to budge.
RED: Face it, this town was already dying. When news of the dam leaked out, folks just moved away faster than normal.
GAYLE: You didn't.
RED: Us and a few others. Been here too long to move fast, I guess.
GAYLE: It's still about as pretty country as you can find.
DOTTY: I remember your song about Rapids. Can I twist your arm to sing it?
GAYLE: Maybe later. Right now I feel like taking a walk and enjoying some of that scenery out there.
BUCK: Want company?
GAYLE: To be honest, no.
BUCK: Didn't think so.
GAYLE: Nothing personal.
BUCK: Course not. Don't fall in.
GAYLE: I'll try not to.
(She exits right, taking her guitar.)
BUCK: I think I'm ready for another special.
DOTTY: One Blind Dotty, coming up.
BUCK: You joining me, Red?
DOTTY: Then let's make it three.
BUCK: When I try to explain about a Blind Dotty, folks don't believe me.
RED: It's one of a kind.
DOTTY: You know, Skeeter actually discovered it. He had it in the Army and sent me the recipe. In the Army they called it Artillery Punch. Gin, whiskey, rum, white wine, soda and grapefruit juice.
BUCK: Sure as hell tastes better than it sounds.
DOTTY: I wonder how folks will take to it in Yakima.
BUCK: You're heading up to Yakima?
DOTTY: Red's brother has a bar there.
RED: It's not much but he's thinking of expanding.
BUCK: To make room for you?
RED: His business has always been pretty good.
DOTTY: I always wanted to see Yakima.
BUCK: Yakima's all right. I played there a couple times.
DOTTY: Red says his brother has a real nice spread. Built it himself.
BUCK: So when are you taking off?
DOTTY: They want everybody out of town by next Monday.
RED: We might hang around Roseburg for a while.
DOTTY: What for?
RED: Just to relax. We've been in such a god awful rush lately.
DOTTY: You never told me about relaxing in Roseburg. We can rest when we get to Yakima.
RED: I expect Fred'd put us right to work.
DOTTY: We can take our time driving up.
RED: That, too, I guess.
DOTTY: (delivering the drinks) Three Blind Dotties.
BUCK: Well, cheers, all.
DOTTY: Seems like somebody ought to make a toast.
RED: Go ahead.
BUCK: To the obvious, I guess to a fine little town that's going under water. Got a lot of memories here. (They drink.) Damn, that's good.
DOTTY: Don't forget it'll sneak up on you.
BUCK: I'm counting on it.
DOTTY: You old son of a gun I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again.
BUCK: You ought to know better than that.
DOTTY: I'm just glad you came before we headed for Yakima. Gayle, too. It means a lot.
RED: Gayle says she had to cancel a concert to come. I imagine that cost her a pretty penny.
BUCK: She can make it up easy enough.
RED: How do you mean?
BUCK: I'm not saying she's here for a publicity stunt or anything, but it can't hurt her image, visiting the home town before it's flooded.
RED: She seems to be keeping mighty quiet about it, out there looking at the scenery. Where's the publicity in that?
BUCK: We'll find out, I guess.
DOTTY: When did you get so damn suspicious?
BUCK: Ever since I heard that first record of hers. It didn't strike me like she was quite telling the truth on that song, even if she did get a gold record. I've been suspicious of Gayle Goodwyn ever since.
(LIGHTS DOWN in bar and UP on Gayle in neutral area. She has her guitar.)
GAYLE: (singing) I was born in a place where the sky was always clear
Where you took the trees for granted in a forest live with deer
Where every face was friendly and every voice was kind
And that country northwestern soothed your mind
(Chorus) I've been through Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee
But my home in the west won't let me be
Where the clean sparklin' river comes flowin' through the pines
Got that country northwestern on my mind
(She plays a guitar lick.)
GAYLE: (singing) I headed down to Nashville, left behind my rollin' hills
I found a world of glitter, spotlights and fancy frills
But sometimes in my dreams my way back home I find
And feel that country northwestern in my mind
(BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP in neutral area, where Rick and Michelle are filming.)
MICHELLE: Sweep and zoom in on her.
RICK: And we zoom ... she's writing something.
MICHELLE: Okay, pull back. I want to end with the bend in the river.
RICK: Can I hold on her a minute? She looks involved.
MICHELLE: A beat of six.
RICK: One, two, three
MICHELLE: Then back to where the river bends.
RICK: Six. And we're at the bend in the river.
MICHELLE: Hold a sec ... and cut.
RICK: Cut. I wonder what she's writing.
MICHELLE: Her tax return.
RICK: Very funny. Want to check out that bridge now?
MICHELLE: Will you let me call the shots, please?
RICK: I thought you wanted to shoot from across the river.
MICHELLE: Eventually. I also want to shoot with a sense of continuity. I'm still working some concepts out.
RICK: You know, she could be writing her next gold record down there. A million dollar song. Incredible.
MICHELLE: Not really. What's more smaltzy and commercial than your home town being flooded by a dam? Country fans ought to eat it up.
RICK: You think she's writing a song about that?
MICHELLE: It's probably why she came.
RICK: You get tough skin down there in L.A.
MICHELLE: I'm a survivor. Obviously she is, too.
RICK: You sure got a break, though. If she can sell a song, she can sell your film.
MICHELLE: If she's in it, I suppose she can.
RICK: What do you mean, if she's in it?
MICHELLE: If my concept includes using her.
RICK: How can you not use her? Gayle Goodwyn is down there scribbling her next hit record and you have it on film. You have her talking about growing up here on film. You'd leave that on the editing room floor when every country fan in the world would pay to see it?
MICHELLE: Rick, do you know what it's like to work on Hollywood fluff? Do you have any idea?
RICK: Not too hot, right?
MICHELLE: Frustrating. It's filming by computer, by consumer analysis, by market demand, by the most intricate attention to every detail but one what are you trying to mean? On this one, I want to please myself. I want to say something I really mean.
RICK: A lady of such integrity.
MICHELLE: I'm serious.
RICK: So am I.
(He embraces her but Michelle resists.)
MICHELLE: I want to get more shooting in.
RICK: Okay. What's going on anyway?
MICHELLE: Nothing. I want to get more shooting in while the sun's right.
RICK: I got the impression you really weren't participating last night. You have a steady guy in L.A.?
MICHELLE: I don't have to answer that.
RICK: You spoiled me long ago. Something was wrong last night.
MICHELLE: I guess I'm preoccupied with what's happening here. I don't understand it.
RICK: Dams are built every day.
MICHELLE: But the consequences everyone is taking it so calmly.
RICK: Can't fight city hall.
MICHELLE: I suppose I'm still looking for my point of view. I haven't decided what kind of film I'm making.
RICK: How about making it a comic love story? Gracing the hillside with passion as a gesture to the sea from which we came.
MICHELLE: Rick, you're nuts.
(They embrace. Buck enters and sees them. He backs off to announce his arrival with a song.)
BUCK: (singing) There's lots of mean women on almost every street
Lots of mean women on almost every street
But I've got the meanest woman ever walked on two feet
(Buck "notices" them.)
BUCK: Well, howdy. Shooting scenery for the movie?
RICK: Gayle's down along the river, if you're looking for her.
BUCK: Is that a fact? Damned if she ain't.
MICHELLE: Let's check out the bridge, Rick.
RICK: You're the boss.
BUCK: Guess you've got a real winner, with the great Gayle Goodwyn in your movie. What a break.
MICHELLE: It's not the kind of film that depends on a star.
BUCK: Sure as hell can't hurt, though. She'll probably make all the difference in the world at the box office.
MICHELLE: I'm not necessarily making this for whatever money it may earn. I work in Hollywood, so I know about the commercial market. This project is something different.
BUCK: You don't want it to be a success?
MICHELLE: I would be pleased if it was a success. But making money isn't my motivation.
BUCK: But you still have to cover expenses. Like royalties, for instance. Funny I haven't been asked to sign a release or contract yet.
RICK: My fault. I haven't gotten to it yet.
BUCK: I imagine Gayle will ask a pretty penny to sign.
MICHELLE: Dotty and Red have signed releases. If you don't want to sign one, fine. I can shoot around you. I can shoot around the great Gayle Goodwyn, too.
BUCK: No offense. I was just curious about your budget. If you can't pay royalties, that's fine with me. I'll still sign a release.
MICHELLE: We have more shooting to do.
BUCK: I hope you make one hell of a movie. I like your attitude. I'd love to be included.
RICK: You used to be married to Gayle, didn't you?
BUCK: Six years. Between you and me, she wouldn't ever have climbed onto a stage without a boot in the butt from me. Then later, after we were separated, she changed her style and became famous. So where are you?
RICK: You don't like her style?
BUCK: Do you like making movies in Hollywood?
MICHELLE: It pays the rent.
BUCK: Let me put it this way. I don't buy her records.
RICK: What records do you buy?
BUCK: Ernest Tubb. Hank Snow, Hank Williams. Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Woody Guthrie. Patsy Cline. Gayle used to remind me of Patsy Cline.
MICHELLE: Would you talk about country music on film?
BUCK: Sure, what do you want to know? I'd better warn you, I'm old-fashioned. Buck Timber, the Ramblin' Dinosaur ...
MICHELLE: Roll it, Rick.
RICK: Rolling ...
(BLACKOUT. SPOT UP on Gayle in the neutral area, right.)
GAYLE: I've never understood how a song gets written. Bits and pieces of a tune come to mind, usually while I'm just fiddling around on the guitar. I don't play much in concerts any more, that's what the band is for, to give the fuller sound people want today. But alone, fiddling around on the guitar, sometimes fragments of a tune will begin to catch my ear, and then sometimes words attach themselves to the pieces of tune, and somehow a song begins to take shape. It's always struck me as an irrational and mysterious process. A moment ago, sitting watching the river, trying to imagine that all of this would soon be under water, these hillsides where I played as a girl would be flooded, the swimming hold near the bridge would be lost forever thinking this way while fiddling on the guitar, I felt a song was beginning to break through, a song about what was happening to my home town. But this feeling came too quickly, too consciously, and before words attached themselves to the fragments of a tune, I stopped. Suddenly it was very quiet, moreso than I've been used to. It was as if silence itself was a song.
(Buck enters as LIGHTS COME UP in the area.)
BUCK: You've been on candid camera. Up there the movie makers have been snooping on you.
GAYLE: It's okay with me.
BUCK: Long as you get your royalties, right?
GAYLE: I don't think this will be a commercial film. Probably something they'll show at festivals.
BUCK: All the same, somebody in your position, being a superstar and all
GAYLE: I don't want to argue about it, Buck.
BUCK: What do you want to argue about then?
GAYLE: I don't want to argue, period. I'm heading back.
BUCK: Wait a minute. You know, you could put a stop to all this if you had a mind to.
BUCK: For instance what if you called the TV station in Roseburg and told them you were up here and didn't plan to leave? If they flood Rapids, they have to put the great Gayle Goodwyn under water as well. The networks would pick up a story like that, you know damn well they would. And then the Corps of Engineers would have a controversy on their hands. They wouldn't dare flood the town.
GAYLE: That's a very romantic notion. However, I'm a realist.
BUCK: You think they could flood the town with the country singer of the year up here? No way.
GAYLE: You're still a dreamer. That's charming, in a way. But I'm not a dreamer, Buck.
(Buck watches her go. Then he looks up to where Rick and Michelle have been filming.)
BUCK: Hey, Rick, Michelle! You ever see a Ramblin' Dinosaur piss across the Umpqua? Start the camera rolling ...
(BLACKOUT. A SPOT comes up on Dotty in the lounge.)
DOTTY: At first, I thought, well, there's no way they can get away with this. You can't just decide to put a town on the map under water. You can't just move everybody out. Not without a vote, and nobody here wanted to move, those of us left had lived here all our lives. So when the meetings were called I thought, we'll just all go to the meetings and tell them we don't like this idea at all, and that'll be the end of it.
(A SPOT comes up on Red in the lounge.)
RED: You take one man, and he's free; two, and pretty soon you got an argument; add a third and you've got government, and then you're really in a mess. I knew we didn't have a chance in hell as soon as the proposal for the dam came out in the Roseburg paper. The government had the choice of flooding the town or flooding their picnic tables. Which do you think they're going to do?
DOTTY: When it became clear to me that there wasn't going to be anything like a vote, that their minds were made up and we had nothing to say about it, the only thing they were really interested in was how much they were going to have to shell up to buy us off from lynching them, then I thought to myself, Lord have mercy, who are these men, what do they look like? I never wanted to have eyesight so much in my life. I wanted to see for myself what men like that looked like.
RED: They had their argument, of course. The town was dying anyway, which was true enough. Young folks had moved out til there weren't any to speak of. The mill had closed long ago, the hills had been logged out long ago. They were going to give the area a new life, they said, by making a big recreation area. What did the opinions of a few sentimental old-timers matter?
(LIGHTS UP FULL in lounge as Gayle enters.)
DOTTY: Gayle, is that you?
GAYLE: You have a sixth sense.
DOTTY: Sounded like your walk.
RED: Buck went out looking for you.
GAYLE: He found me.
DOTTY: You keep Red from getting bored with himself, I've got chores to do.
RED: What chores you talking about?
DOTTY: Packing, for one.
RED: We don't have to leave til Monday.
DOTTY: Seeing how I'll end up packing for both of us, I need a head start.
RED: Hell, I can pack myself in half an hour.
GAYLE: It's so quiet out there. I'd forgotten. I think I'm overdue for a vacation.
RED: I've always been partial to this country.
GAYLE: I've never been to Yakima. Is it pretty?
RED: It's all right.
GAYLE: Moving is harder on Dotty than you, isn't it? It's incredible the way she gets around here. She must have every nook and cranny memorized.
RED: She gets around as good as any of us.
GAYLE: Now she'll have to memorize a whole new territory. Or is it really a sixth sense?
RED: Gayle, maybe you can help me out a little. Something just between you and me.
GAYLE: What is it?
RED: You see, Dotty and me have had separate bedrooms upstairs for years now.
GAYLE: That's no business of mine.
RED: It's not like she's my wife, is what I'm saying. It's not like I have that kind of responsibility. We're more like good friends.
GAYLE: What are you trying to say?
RED: I want to go to Yakima alone. I know it must sound awful of me to say so. But it's the truth. I'm too old to be a caretaker. Because it's like you say, she'll have to learn a whole new territory.
GAYLE: You said you wanted help. Sounds to me like you've got your mind made up.
RED: Help to talk sense to her. You see, I called this fellow I heard about and he sent me this brochure about the place he runs. It's in the hills outside of Roseburg, overlooking the river, just like here. Dotty's always talking about how much she loves the sound of the river. So I thought, maybe she's better off staying there. They have nurses who are trained special and
(Buck enters, interrupting him.)
BUCK: You know what I think? I think that lady knows more about making movies than I figured. I'm not saying she'll have a hit on her hands but I wouldn't be surprised if that movie turns out to be pretty interesting.
GAYLE: If you'll excuse me, I'll give Dotty a hand.
BUCK: Go ahead, desert me.
BUCK: She's avoiding me like the plague.
RED: What do you expect, married like you was?
BUCK: I expect a little civilized nostalgia.
RED: She's acting civilized to me.
(Gayle has left behind her guitar and Buck will go to it, pick it up.)
BUCK: Go head, gang up on me.
RED: That's not what I meant.
BUCK: You have any idea what a guitar like this costs?
BUCK: And this is just her traveling guitar. She saves the diamond-studded one for concerts.
RED: She earned it.
BUCK: You don't earn a goddamn thing in the music business, Red. You either kiss ass or you don't kiss ass.
RED: Gayle's done all right with herself.
BUCK: I wish this was her concert guitar. I'd be inspired to play something obscene on it.
RED: What's the point in that?
BUCK: What's the point in anything? Because if this was her concert guitar, I'd feel like playing an obscene song. On principle, partner.
RED: So if you feel like playing a dirty song, sing a dirty song.
BUCK: I get it you want to hear a dirty song.
RED: I didn't say that. Jesus Christ, I can't open my mouth without you changing everything around. You sure as hell used to be easier to get along with.
BUCK: Here you go, Red. Dedicated to you.
(He sings, to the tune of "Your Cheatin' Heart".)
BUCK: (singing)Your cheatin' fart
Will make you reek
You'll smell so bad
For weeks and weeks
Relief won't come
Until you bathe
I'll throw some soap
Into your grave
The stench spreads 'round
Like clouds of smog
I'd rather live
With fifty hogs
You try to hide
But your cheatin' fart
Still smells on you
(He lifts a leg to fart. Nothing.)
BUCK: I'm getting old, partner. Lost the touch. I used to be able to sound off at will and light them with firecrackers.
RED: Where the hell did you find that song?
BUCK: Picked it up in a bottle on the beach.
RED: Like hell you did.
BUCK: I wrote the son-of-a-bitch myself. Give me a little credit. Written a hundred others like it, too.
RED: I enjoyed it.
BUCK: Think it'll play in Nashville?
RED: You got to be dreaming.
BUCK: Red, you hit it on the nose. I'm dreaming. I'd like to see country music raise a little hell again, where I could get up on the bandstand at Grand Ol' Opry and sing about something as natural as passing wind.
RED: They ain't never sung about that on the Opry. You're as crazy as ever.
BUCK: I sure as hell hope so! I'm so crazy I'd like to stop them from flooding the town, partner. If I had Gayle's clout, I'd stage a sit-in, just like the college kids. I wouldn't budge. I'd grab that shotgun off the wall and fend them off if I had to. I'd phone Walter Cronkite person-to-person and give him an exclusive interview. The Corps would have to back down once Uncle Walter got into the act.
RED: Like hell they would. The army drags the college kids off, don't it? They'd drag you off as well.
BUCK: Maybe they would and maybe they wouldn't. But let me tell you something, buddy. The only way to find out is to try it and see what happens.
(Michelle and Rick enter.)
BUCK: Out of film already?
MICHELLE: We have lots of film.
BUCK: If you're taking a break, how about a drink?
RICK: Sure. Scotch and water for me.
MICHELLE: Do you have white wine?
RED: Umpqua's finest.
BUCK: I'll get Dotty to make you one of her specials later.
MICHELLE: What are the chances of having a party here?
BUCK: There you go.
MICHELLE: I'm serious. I'd like to film a party going on.
RED: Don't know where you'd find the folks to come, unless you want to invite the Corps of Engineers.
MICHELLE: A private party's fine.
BUCK: (going to exit, left, to yell) Hey, Dotty, we're going to have a party!
MICHELLE: It'll be like a wake.
RICK: Far out.
MICHELLE: Maybe we can all loosen up and talk about the good old days some more. Send the town out in style.
BUCK: You going to join the party or just film it?
RICK: Pull a Hitchcock and appear in a scene yourself.
MICHELLE: Makes no difference.
BUCK: So when do we start?
(Dotty and Gayle enter.)
DOTTY: What're you yelling about?
BUCK: The lady wants to have a party. Like a wake.
DOTTY: You Catholic?
MICHELLE: I want something festive and final for the film. A wake, going away party, whatever you want to call it.
GAYLE: Sounds interesting.
MICHELLE: I don't want it to be interesting. I want it to be sincere. Let's start drinking and see what happens.
BUCK: My kind of girl. Make a bucket of specials, Dotty.
MICHELLE: Start rolling, Rick. Just forget about the camera, everybody. Let's just toast the town for a while.
RICK: Rolling ...
(A long beat. No one is partying.)
BUCK: Hey, come on now, we're supposed to be having a party! Make a mess of specials, Dotty.
GAYLE: None for me.
BUCK: No sobers allowed at a wake.
DOTTY: Why don't you sing while I'm mixing drinks?
GAYLE: Maybe later.
BUCK: Hell, I'll sing. (Singing) "Your cheatin' fart / Will make you reek."
GAYLE: I hate that song.
RED: This is all on film, Buck.
BUCK: If you don't like it, you can cut it out later, right, Michelle? (Singing) "You'll smell so bad / For weeks and weeks"
DOTTY: They don't want to hear that. Do (singing) "Hey, good lookin' ... "
DOTTY AND BUCK: (singing) "Whatcha got cookin' / How's about cookin' something up with me?"
BUCK: Remember this one? (Singing) "There stands the glass / Fill it up to the brim"
BUCK AND DOTTY: (singing) "Til my troubles grow dim / It's my first one today"
BUCK: (singing) "Detour, there's a muddy road ahead"
BUCK AND DOTTY: (singing) "Detour, I paid no mind to what it said"
BUCK: Here's one I bet you forgot. (Singing) "Way down yonder in the Indian nation / I ride my pony on the reservation"
BUCK AND DOTTY: (singing) "In those Oklahoma hills where I was born"
BUCK, DOTTY AND GAYLE: (singing) "Way down yonder in the Indian nation / A cowboy's life is my occupation / In those Oklahoma hills where I belong"
GAYLE: (singing, with guitar) I was born in a place where the sky was always clear
Where you took the trees for granted in a forest live with deer
Where every face was friendly and every voice was kind
And that country northwestern soothed your mind
I've been through Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee
But my home in the west won't let me be
Where the clean sparklin' river comes flowin' through the pines
Got that country northwestern on my mind"
(Near the end of the song, Buck fetches the shotgun on the wall.)
BUCK: (with the shotgun) That's a bullshit song, Gayle.
GAYLE: Buck ... ?
RED: It's not loaded.
BUCK: Like hell it ain't. I loaded it myself this morning. Found the shells in the drawer, Red.
RED: Then what the hell?
DOTTY: What's going on?
BUCK: Red, I want you to get some rope. Don't ask no questions, just get it.
RED: They're still filming.
BUCK: You keep on filming, too. I'm going to give you something to make a movie about.
DOTTY: You quit this fool nonsense, and let's get on with the party.
BUCK: Oh, we'll have ourselves a party, don't worry about that.
GAYLE: Perhaps you can share what's going on with the rest of us.
BUCK: Damn it, Red!
RED: Be right back.
(He exits for the rope.)
BUCK: Remember this one, Dotty?
BUCK: (singing) "There's lotsa mean women
On almost any street
Lotsa mean women
On almost any street
But I got the meanest woman
Ever walked on two feet"
DOTTY: Jimmie Rodgers.
GAYLE: (singing) "It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels "
RED: (returning) Here's your rope. I hope I'm wrong about what you plan to do with it.
BUCK: Tie her to a chair.
GAYLE: That isn't very funny.
BUCK: Tie her up, Red.
GAYLE: Listen here, goddamn it !
RED: Buck, why don't you just put away the rifle?
BUCK: You ever know me to back down, partner?
RED: Gayle, we'd better do like he says.
GAYLE: I'll help you.
(She sits obediently in a chair while Red ties her up.)
BUCK: If you behave yourself, I won't gag you. Do I make myself clear?
GAYLE: Yes sir, Mr. Timber. Talk about being phony. Mr. Henry Lancaster.
DOTTY: This doesn't make any sense, Buck.
BUCK: It will in a minute.
MICHELLE: What's going on, Buck? Tell the camera.
BUCK: I'll talk to the camera later. Just keep the film rolling. There's a TV station in Roseburg. Do you think they can develop your film?
MICHELLE: They should have a lab.
BUCK: You take the film to Roseburg when I'm finished and get it developed and show it to them. Tell them there's a crazed Ramblin' Dinosaur up here who's holding superstar Gayle Goodwyn hostage. He'll let her go if they don't flood the town. Otherwise she gets a number right between the eyes.
RED: Jesus, Buck !
BUCK: I'm not going to murder anyone. But they don't know that. Shit, that's on film.
MICHELLE: We'll put in a new roll when you're ready. But I don't think it'll work, Buck.
BUCK: It's worth a try. That's the trouble with people today, they don't try.
RED: All you'll do is draw the police up here.
BUCK: We got a real army of confidence here, don't we? All right. Screw it. Let the town sink, it's not my home any more. Hell with it.
RED: Then I can untie her?
BUCK: Hell no. I'll do something else with her. She's too good a trade not to bargain with for something.
DOTTY: You fool, let her go.
BUCK: You tell the station in Roseburg that there's a raving Ramblin' Dinosaur pervert up here who's liable to rape the great Gayle Goodwyn unless they put my little film on the tube. I want prime time on the news.
MICHELLE: I'm not sure what film you're talking about now.
BUCK: I'm going to sing a song and you're going to film it. I want it shown on prime time.
DOTTY: You don't have to tie Gayle up to get on television. Just go down there and audition like everybody else.
BUCK: I've got a special song in mind, Dotty. They won't touch it unless I bargain from a position of strength.
MICHELLE: What song's that?
BUCK: (singing) Your cheatin' fart
Will make you reek
RED: They won't put that on TV! I don't care who you tie up.
BUCK: Don't know unless you try. Assholes.
MICHELLE: Pretty bizarre, Buck.
GAYLE: There's kids who watch TV at prime time.
BUCK: Did I ask your opinion? Gag her, Red.
GAYLE: I'm sorry. I'll keep quiet.
BUCK: Children fart. Then they have the good sense to laugh about it. It's only adults who get uptight about it.
RICK: This is all so anal.
BUCK: What's so anal about a fart? It's perfectly natural. So what's wrong with singing about it then?
MICHELLE: We'll do it, Buck. Let me know when you're ready.
RICK: This is better than a wake.
(MRS. AMES enters.)
MRS. AMES: Excuse me. I'm looking for Dorothy Davis.
DOTTY: That's me.
MRS. AMES: I'm Mrs. Ames from Harvest Acres.
RED: (to get Dotty away) I've got to take Dotty back to the kitchen, Buck.
DOTTY: (being hustled away) What are you doing?
RED: I'll explain everything in a minute ...
MRS. AMES: I'm sure Dorothy will like Harvest Acres very much. We spoil everyone rotten. We really do. It's a privilege to be able to be a part of it. It's actually like being in a country club. A country club for seniors, you might say. Everybody gets spoiled rotten. We're just terrible that way.
MICHELLE: Keep it rolling, Rick ...
RICK: Not missing a thing ...
MRS. AMES: Dorothy will love it there. Is she packed and ready to go?
BUCK: Jesus Christ.
(LIGHTS FADE TO BLACKOUT. End of Act I.)
(AT RISE: both Gayle and Mrs. Ames are tied to chairs, Mrs. Ames gagged as well. Buck is fiddling with Gayle's guitar. Mrs. Ames looks scared out of her wits.)
GAYLE: How long is this going to go on?
BUCK: Til Roseburg puts me on the tube.
GAYLE: How do you know they're not on their way to California?
BUCK: They haven't finished their movie.
GAYLE: They may have given up on it. I'm sure they weren't expecting this.
BUCK: This will make a better movie than the other.
GAYLE: Am I to understand my singing inspired all this? Why do you dislike "Country Northwestern" so much?
BUCK: Because it's a bullshit song.
GAYLE: I'm all ears if you care to tell me why.
BUCK: "A forest full of deer" when's the last time you seen a deer within ten miles of Rapids? They cleared out a step ahead of the loggers.
GAYLE: I meant it more as an image.
BUCK: Red's right this town started dying long ago. Of course, once that Hollywood promoter decided he'd rather make you famous than me, I guess he needed a bullshit song to fit your new style.
GAYLE: He had nothing to do with the song.
BUCK: But he helped you, didn't he? You seemed pretty interested in him when he came up here. Don't tell me you didn't look him up after you left me.
GAYLE: Only because I didn't know anyone else in the recording business. He seemed interested in my career.
BUCK: That ain't all he was interested in.
GAYLE: That's why we didn't get along, finally.
GAYLE: I know I was young and naive. But I survived and I made it on my own.
BUCK: It's kind of humorous actually. A guy comes up from California in order to discover me and a month later you're running down there so he can discover you. Don't tell me he didn't help your career and for a price, right?
GAYLE: He got me my first gig, yes. I don't have to answer the rest.
BUCK: He change your style?
BUCK: Who changed your style?
GAYLE: I did.
BUCK: Bullshit. You don't have that much of a business sense.
GAYLE: I did after going hungry for three years. I changed my style to sound like myself. It wasn't natural for me to try and sound like Patsy Cline.
BUCK: Sometimes you sounded better. It wasn't like you were imitating her. You were extending her, the way Ramblin' Jack extends Woody.
GAYLE: I had to sing in a style comfortable for me.
BUCK: Sure got comfortable financially.
GAYLE: Buck, I know you're a purist. I actually admire that in a way. You keep the rest of us aware of our roots.
BUCK: Jesus Christ. (Singing, to the tune of "The Great Speckled Bird") What a beautiful thought I am thinking
Concerning a great speckled fraulein
GAYLE: You're your own worst enemy.
BUCK: (singing) She is rolling around and is naked
'Cept for fifty tattoos on her behind
(Chorus) Fraulein, fraulein
Tattoos on her behind
The initials of those who've come and gone
Lives on white wine
And the soup of one large chicken bone
(He grins at Gayle.)
BUCK: (singing) I tattooed an M just for mother
I tattooed a G for God's grace
DOTTY: (entering) Why did everybody decide to go over the deep end at once?
BUCK: I tattooed a D just for Dotty
DOTTY: No, you didn't either, you crazy fool. Now you untie Gayle right this minute, unless you already have.
GAYLE: He hasn't.
DOTTY: Buck Timber, you untie Gayle this minute before I do it myself.
BUCK: She's being held hostage.
DOTTY: That don't mean she has to be tied up.
(Dotty finds Gayle and begins to untie her.)
BUCK: Go ahead, she can't go anywhere. I have her distributor cap.
GAYLE: I didn't realize all this was premeditated.
BUCK: Oh, this part isn't. But I figured something interesting was bound to happen sooner or later and I didn't want you getting away before the dust settled.
(Gayle is free.)
GAYLE: Thanks, Dotty.
DOTTY: Now if you still have that shotgun
(She stumbles into the chair with Mrs. Ames.)
DOTTY: Who the hell is this?
(Mrs. Ames makes noises through her gag.)
BUCK: I think she escaped from some asylum.
DOTTY: I'll have you loose in a second.
BUCK: At least keep the gag on.
GAYLE: Must I ask permission to use the facilities?
BUCK: Go ahead. You ain't going anywhere.
GAYLE: You're such a gentleman.
DOTTY: There we go.
MRS. AMES: My word! I didn't expect that. Of course, Lester uses me in one of his magic tricks now and then. I kept waiting for the trick to happen.
BUCK: What did I tell you?
MRS. AMES: Lester does his tricks after the movies. Every Sunday afternoon there's old movies in the recreation center. We have such a good time! Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy. Mr. Fredericks gives a little pep talk and we get free popcorn.
BUCK: I think that's terrific, lady. Free popcorn.
MRS. AMES: Sometimes we have a talent show. Arnold plays his accordion. Samuel and Marie sing a duet. That's when Lester will do his magic show, and sometimes he uses me as an assistant.
BUCK: You like tricks?
MRS. AMES: I thought that's why you tied me up!
BUCK: I know some tricks. I can turn a glass into a peach.
DOTTY: Lord, that trick's older than I am.
MRS. AMES: Lester can have you pick a card from a deck and put it back and then when he shuffles, the card just flies up into the air!
(Buck moves to the bar for a glass and a bar towel.)
BUCK: What we have here is an ordinary glass, am I right? And here you see one ordinary bar towel.
DOTTY: There can't be anybody who ever knew a logger who doesn't know that trick.
BUCK: You ever seen a glass turned into a peach, lady?
MRS. AMES: Oh no, but it sounds wonderful!
BUCK: Great. I'm going to turn this here glass into a peach. But I need your help. We drape the towel over the glass like this ... and say a few magic words, abra-cadabra ... and now I want you to hold onto the glass through the towel while I take the other end. There you go.
(Mrs. Ames holds the glass through the towel and Buck will begin to twist the other end of the towel.)
BUCK: A few more magic words ... abra ... cadabra ... shazam!
(The towel is twisted and Buck suddenly moves his end to his crotch: a huge phallus is suggested, with Mrs. Ames holding its head.)
BUCK: Now ain't that a peach!
MRS. AMES: Oh my!
(Buck laughs his head off and lets go of his end of the towel. Mrs. Ames removes the towel from the glass.)
DOTTY: I didn't know there were any suckers left in Oregon.
BUCK: Ain't that a peach!
MRS. AMES: (puzzled) But it's still a glass.
BUCK: Jesus Christ.
RED: (entering with a portable TV set) Where do you want this?
BUCK: On the bar, buddy.
RED: I still say it's a waste of time even watching for it.
MRS. AMES: Am I missing something?
BUCK: I ain't got the strength to explain, lady.
MRS. AMES: You should see Lester's tricks at Harvest Acres! Is Dorothy packed and ready to go?
DOTTY: Just where is it you think I'm going?
MRS. AMES: You're Dorothy?
DOTTY: Everybody calls me Dotty.
RED: She ain't the right Dorothy because you're at the wrong address. This here is a kind of family reunion. So maybe you'd better be on your way ...
MRS. AMES: But I have this letter ...
(She brings it out.)
DOTTY: Give it to me.
RED: Let me see that.
MRS. AMES: My word!
(Dotty gets the letter first.)
DOTTY: Buck! Read it to me.
RED: Dotty, that letter's got nothing to do with nothing.
DOTTY: Then why are you so interested in it? Buck ...
(Buck takes the letter and will read it silently.)
DOTTY: What's it say?
RED: You can tell she's nuttier than a fruit cake.
MRS. AMES: Harvest Acres is so nice. We spoil everyone rotten.
BUCK: This letter don't make a bit of sense, Dotty.
RED: See there?
BUCK: You got the wrong Dorothy, lady. Better go back to where you come from.
MRS. AMES: I got a lift from a soldier. He was so nice. He said his uncle's at Harvest Acres, only I don't think I've met the gentleman. I don't know everyone by name. I have to be careful because so many men propose to me as soon as they meet me.
RED: Lady, this here is a private family gathering. If you need a ride somewhere
BUCK: Not so fast, Red. There's a quicker way to get her out of the way.
(Buck will tie her back to the chair and gag her again.)
RED: I'll be glad to take her where she wants to go.
DOTTY: What's going on? What's Buck doing?
BUCK: Nothing you wouldn't do yourself under the circumstances.
MRS. AMES: Is this another trick?
BUCK: Sure is, lady.
MRS. AMES: I didn't understand the other one.
BUCK: (gagging her) You know how it is with us amateurs. Sorry we're not as good as your friend.
MRS. AMES: (cut short by the gag) Les
GAYLE: (returning) Not again.
RED: You're not doing Gayle again, too, are you?
BUCK: Nope. Time to turn on the tube and see how much of a trade the great Gayle Goodwyn is really worth.
RED: They won't put on that song, I can promise you that.
DOTTY: This foolishness has gone on long enough. Can I speak to you private, Gayle?
BUCK: Sure, go ahead.
DOTTY: Let's go in the kitchen ...
(Dotty and Gayle exit.)
BUCK: (still with the letter) You ought to be ashamed of yourself, partner.
RED: I was just asking for information.
BUCK: You'd actually put Dotty away in a place like that?
RED: I didn't know what it was like, except for what this brochure said. It looked real nice in the brochure. It's on the river, and Dotty's always talking about how much she likes to hear the river.
BUCK: So why do you want to ditch her?
RED: I'm not ditching her. It's not like we're married, for Christ's sake. Sure, she has no trouble here, knowing her way around like she does. But someplace else it'll be different. She'll need somebody to watch after her.
BUCK: Then Yakima's just a crock?
RED: My brother has a tavern there. He don't know about Dotty.
BUCK: But she sure knows about Yakima.
RED: I had to tell her something. Jesus, I don't know what to do now. We ain't married.
BUCK: Sounds to me like you've got yourself a problem.
(He goes to the TV and turns it on. It's positioned so the audience doesn't see the picture.)
RED: I'm not trained to be a nurse.
BUCK: You gonna watch the news?
RED: You're wasting your time. They won't show something like that on television, I don't care if you kidnap the President.
BUCK: Just between you and me, partner, I think you're right.
BUCK: I think I could have Nixon tied up in here and they still wouldn't mention farting on TV.
RED: Then why the hell did you tie Gayle up? What the hell's the point of all this?
BUCK: To see what happens. I'm not betting on me winning but you never know. Don't know unless you try, I do know that. Besides, it was worth it to get Gayle riled up.
RED: You're not the easiest fellow in the world to understand. Do you mind if I put the shotgun away? It makes me nervous.
BUCK: Go ahead. It's not loaded.
RED: You said you found the shells in the drawer.
BUCK: I did. I was looking for a match.
RED: You get crazier all the time.
BUCK: I hope so. The news is coming on.
(LIGHTS FADE, as SPOTS UP on Michelle and Rick in the neutral area. They each will play a double role.)
MICHELLE: KPIC-TV, Roseburg.
RICK: In the news tonight, country superstar Gayle Goodwyn is being held hostage in Rapids by a man identifying himself as her ex-husband. With the story is Doris Fletcher. Doris.
MICHELLE: Thanks, Arthur. A man who calls himself Buck Timber, the former husband of country singer Gayle Goodwyn, is holding the superstar hostage in the lounge area of the Rapids Restaurant. Rapids, of course, is the small town that will be flooded by the new Umpqua Dam, beginning next week. The story comes to us from two filmmakers who have been in Rapids for several days now. They are in the studio with us Rick Olds and Michelle Cadbury. Rick, is Buck Timber asking for a ransom of some kind?
RICK: Not exactly. He had us film a song that he wants to be telecast on the news tonight.
MICHELLE: We've seen that film, Arthur, and I guess you could be generous and call it a ribald satire of the country classic, "Your Cheatin' Heart." Is it your impression that Gayle Goodwyn's life is in danger?
RICK: Not really. He's been drinking. I think it's more like a practical joke.
MICHELLE: Do you have any questions, Arthur?
RICK: Yes. Michelle, you are directing a film on location in Rapids. Does Gayle Goodwyn have a role in the movie?
RICK: No role at all?
MICHELLE: Perhaps a cameo. I'm undecided. The film is not about her, it's about the town.
RICK: More on country singer Gayle Goodwyn on the news at eleven. "The Dating Game" is next.
(BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP on lounge area as before. Buck turns off the TV.)
RED: If that don't bring the cops up here, I don't know what will.
BUCK: Want to bet how long it takes them?
RED: Damn it, Buck, this isn't funny any more.
BUCK: I didn't know you thought it was funny before.
(Dotty and Gayle enter. Dotty is carrying a suitcase.)
BUCK: We got on the news after all, Dotty.
DOTTY: Give Gayle her distributor cap. She's giving me a lift.
RED: Where do you think you're going?
DOTTY: To the Roseburg Hotel.
RED: Like hell you are.
DOTTY: Give her the cap, Buck.
BUCK: I think Red can explain himself. Partner?
RED: Well, hell ...
DOTTY: If you've got something to say, then say it.
RED: I ran across the brochure and
DOTTY: and figured it was as good a place as any to dump me on your way out of town. The cap, damn it!
BUCK: (fetching it) If you want to hide something from Gayle Goodwyn, hide it in the vicinity of a liquor bottle. She never goes near the stuff. Catch, superstar.
(He tosses the distributor cap, retrieved behind the bar, to Gayle. She catches it.)
RED: It doesn't make a bit of sense to go to Roseburg. You can stay here, even if you don't want to talk to me. And if you want to come along to Yakima, that's fine, too.
DOTTY: Sure, you can say that now. Just don't expect me to believe it.
RED: You're always talking about how you like to hear the river close by. I was just finding out what they had to offer. I didn't ask for no lady off her trolley to come up here.
DOTTY: I can take care of myself, and don't you forget it.
BUCK: You'll miss the fireworks if you leave. The cops should be on their way up here right now.
RED: I'll take you to Roseburg tomorrow myself, if that's what you want.
DOTTY: That's what I want.
RED: There's nothing in Roseburg.
DOTTY: There's nothing here either.
BUCK: Now that you two have kissed and made up, how about mixing some specials, Dotty?
GAYLE: Don't you think you've had enough?
BUCK: Make mine a double.
RED: You shouldn't be drinking when the cops come.
DOTTY: Why are the police coming?
BUCK: We were on the news. They said a superstar was being held hostage up here. If you leave, they'll be disappointed.
GAYLE: You've outdone yourself this time.
BUCK: Why thank you, ma'am.
GAYLE: Now maybe you'll put my distributor cap back where you found it.
RED: I'll do it.
GAYLE: I appreciate it.
RED: No trouble.
(He takes the cap and exits.)
GAYLE: You'd better think of what you're going to tell the police.
BUCK: Yodel-lay-he-oh, a-lay-he-oh, a-lay-he.
DOTTY: You're not talking to the police. Gayle can talk to them herself and explain that it's all a big misunderstanding.
GAYLE: They'll wonder why she's tied up.
DOTTY: They don't even have to come in here. You can explain everything outside and send them on their way.
BUCK: Still the peace-maker, Dotty.
RED: (entering) Patrol car's heading this way. What do we do now?
DOTTY: Go out there and talk to them, Gayle.
GAYLE: I've half a mind to let them lock you up.
BUCK: What do you have against Ramblin' Dinosaurs?
DOTTY: You won't either. One practical joker around here is enough.
BUCK: I can explain everything myself.
DOTTY: You stay right here.
BUCK: Let them hear it from the dinosaur's mouth.
DOTTY: (after him) Damn it, Buck, you fool ... !
GAYLE: I'll talk to them.
(She exits behind Buck.)
RED: Dotty, I can explain.
DOTTY: If that's all you think of me after all these years ...
RED: You know as well as I do that a change won't be easy for you. I was checking out other possibilities.
DOTTY: I can take care of myself.
RED: I know that as well as anyone. Better.
DOTTY: If I'm such a burden to you
RED: You ain't a burden. I just thought maybe you'd want to stay near the river.
RED: So come with me to Yakima.
DOTTY: I don't need sympathy.
RED: The tavern's doing real fine, my brother says. You can tend bar and it'll be like it used to be here, with enough customers to make the day go fast. You can convert a whole new crowd to your specials.
DOTTY: I can find a bartending job in Roseburg.
RED: Roseburg's not the town that Yakima is.
DOTTY: I don't owe you nothing. It's not like we was married.
RED: No, it ain't. But that doesn't mean I don't care for you.
DOTTY: Hell of a way to show it, fixing to put me away.
RED: Damn it, that's a lie. I was just finding out about it so you could make up your own mind. I didn't know nuts like her had anything to do with it.
DOTTY: Why do you want me to go to Yakima with you?
RED: Because I'm used to you, damn it.
DOTTY: Your brother know about me?
RED: Course he does.
DOTTY: He know about Harvest Acres?
RED: I didn't tell anybody about it. I shouldn't have even written them.
DOTTY: That's the first sensible thing you've said.
DOTTY: What are the police doing?
(Red goes to a window to see.)
RED: Gayle seems to be doing the talking.
DOTTY: (Regarding Mrs. Ames) Maybe we should turn her over to the police.
RED: That would just take more explaining. I'll drive her back to Harvest Acres when this is over.
DOTTY: Buck behaving himself?
RED: Seems to be.
DOTTY: He's crazier than ever.
RED: One of a kind. Rick and Michelle just drove up.
DOTTY: You'd better go out there and make sure they don't speak out of turn.
RED: Buck worries me more than they do.
(Dotty comes forward to speak to the audience.)
DOTTY: It was during the hearings, and I'd put my name down to give my opinion as to why I thought they shouldn't build the dam where it would flood the town. They had this microphone set up where you spoke and when my name got called I carefully made my way to the microphone to give my opinion. Getting there without tripping was the easy part because I could feel myself shaking once I was there. I'd never given a speech before in my life. I stood there shaking a minute, then took a deep breath and just blurted out what was on my mind.
I said, Well, I've been listening to a lot of folks talk about how pretty this country is and how it won't be the same once the dam is in. I've never seen the countryside, of course, or any other scenery for that matter, so I guess 'pretty' isn't the word for me to use here. I'll use the word 'lovely' instead.
I'm here to tell you that the Umpqua River through Rapids has a lovely voice. If you put in that dam, you're going to change the river's voice, just as sure as you're going to ruin the scenery for those others who spoke. But it's not only the voice of the river that's going to change the voices of waterfowl will be lost, too, and the voice of the rain when it touches the river's shallows. The splashes in the swimming hole when grandkids are playing in the summertime will be gone. All of these sounds and more are going to vanish if you change the voice of the river because the river's voice was lovely enough to attract those other voices in the first place. When you ruin a river, you see, you just don't ruin one thing. You ruin the big family of other things that depend on the river.
Thank you, that's all I have to say.
Well, I'd been so nervous to speak that I tripped on my way back to my seat and fell flat on my fanny. A few people rushed to my side but I told them to go away, I could manage by myself. But, hell, I felt foolish falling like I did.
Later Red told me that I was wasting my time speaking out like that, they'd already made up their minds. It wasn't the voice of the river they were ignoring, he said, but the voice of the people.
(Entering are Rick, Michelle, Buck, Red and Gayle.)
RICK: (seeing Mrs. Ames) Far out, you still have her tied up.
BUCK: Only way to shut her up.
RED: They're on their way, Dotty. Gayle explained everything.
BUCK: And don't think I don't appreciate it.
GAYLE: No comment.
RED: I guess I'd better drive her back to Harvest Acres.
BUCK: What's your rush? We're supposed to be having a wake. Where's the camera?
RICK: I left everything in the car.
BUCK: By the way, thanks a hell of a lot for getting my song on the
RICK: They wouldn't show it.
BUCK: Of course they wouldn't. What makes you so stupid to take the film to Roseburg in the first place? You should've headed straight back to California.
RICK: I live in Portland.
BUCK: You act like you live in California.
MICHELLE: We went to Roseburg because we weren't sure whether you were kidding or not.
BUCK: You thought I'd shoot her? I admit it was a temptation, but only because I used to be married to her.
RICK: We showed them the film. A couple people cracked up at your song. They really liked it. They just couldn't put it on.
GAYLE: I guess there's a market for everything.
RICK: There's definitely a market for this story. Especially if Gayle refuses to leave. They'd never flood the town then.
RICK: There's a lot of reporters on their way up here. You can give them something to write about.
DOTTY: And we'll send them on their way, just like we did the police.
RICK: I think you should think about it, Gayle.
BUCK: How about that?
RED: Why are you on Buck's side all of a sudden?
MICHELLE: He thinks he's doing me a favor by getting publicity for the film.
RICK: Sure it will help the film. But that's not all it will do. It will raise an important issue here. That's what Buck was really getting at. Right?
BUCK: A dinosaur ahead of my time.
GAYLE: I have a concert in Atlanta on Saturday night.
BUCK: So much for saving the town. Who's ready for a special?
RED: Besides, the dam's built, ain't it? It's a done deal.
RICK: You can bargain to have them move the buildings to higher ground.
MICHELLE: Stop doing this, Rick. They went through bargaining long ago.
DOTTY: Wasn't much bargaining to it.
RICK: You can make them bargain now. Right, Buck?
BUCK: This is your show. I retired.
GAYLE: Just let it be, Rick. What's done is done.
DOTTY: If you're still going into Roseburg, Gayle, I can use a lift.
RED: I thought we settled that you're coming with me to Yakima.
DOTTY: I want to think about it.
RICK: Am I the only one who wants to try and salvage something here?
MICHELLE: Yes, so just get off it, okay?
RICK: I don't believe this.
RED: It's too late to change anything.
GAYLE: Let me get my bag, Dotty.
RED: It don't make sense to go to Roseburg.
DOTTY: I'll be at the hotel. I need a little time to think.
BUCK: Looks like the reporters are going to have to settle for you and me, partner.
RED: I might as well go into Roseburg myself.
DOTTY: Suit yourself.
BUCK: Somebody better drop off ding-a-ling here.
RED: I have room.
DOTTY: If you think I'm riding with you, I'm not. I'm riding with Gayle.
RED: Fine. But I'm coming by the Roseburg Hotel tomorrow afternoon and if you want to come along to Yakima, you'd better be ready to travel. I'm tired of trying to talk sense into you.
DOTTY: If I want to go, I'll be ready.
RED: Fine and dandy.
(Gayle returns with her bag.)
GAYLE: The guitar and I'm ready.
BUCK: Allow me.
RED: Go ahead and take Dotty with you. I'm coming by the hotel tomorrow afternoon.
GAYLE: I'll be heading south in the morning. So I'll say goodbye now. I wish the circumstances could have been different but it's been great to see you again.
RICK: You can make the circumstances different.
GAYLE: If I actually believed that, maybe I'd try. But I don't believe it. This is all a lot bigger than us.
BUCK: One traveling guitar ready to travel.
GAYLE: Thanks, Buck. Good to see you again.
BUCK: No need exaggerating on my account.
GAYLE: If I can ever help you out in any way, you can write me through the record company. They forward everything.
BUCK: Sure enough.
DOTTY: If you come into Roseburg tomorrow morning, I'll let you buy me breakfast.
BUCK: Damn, that sounds too good to pass up. I'll be there.
GAYLE: Good luck with the movie. It's an important story.
RICK: Just not important enough to change the ending.
MICHELLE: The ending is the only ending possible. It's nice meeting you, Gayle. I'll be listening for your records.
GAYLE: Is somebody going to do something about her?
RED: I'll take her to Harvest Acres.
DOTTY: Gayle, I'm ready when you are.
RED: Tomorrow afternoon at two. You're welcome to come to Yakima and tend bar in my brother's tavern.
DOTTY: I said I'll think about it.
BUCK: I'll tell the reporters you're on your way to Portland. Maybe that will throw them off.
GAYLE: We'll probably pass them on the road.
RED: Two in the afternoon, Dotty!
(Gayle and Dotty exit.)
MICHELLE: I want to get some night shooting in. The moon is full tonight.
RICK: You're the boss.
MICHELLE: Tomorrow I want to get Red packing and leaving. I want to interview someone from the Corps of Engineers, too.
BUCK: What're you trying to do, tell both sides of the story?
MICHELLE: I expect he may add a fine irony.
RED: I'd better get this lady back.
BUCK: Keep the gag on.
RICK: You want this on film?
RED: Here we go, lady. I'm taking you home.
(Untied, Mrs. Ames removes her gag.)
MRS. AMES: Why did Dorothy leave without me?
BUCK: Red, put the gag back on.
(MR. FREDERICKS enters.)
FREDERICKS: Good evening.
MRS. AMES: Mr. Fredericks!
FREDERICKS: Hello, Abigail. I'm Horace Fredericks from Harvest Acres. She's one of ours.
BUCK: So she told us.
FREDERICKS: I hope she hasn't been too much trouble. Her enthusiasm gets the best of her sometimes, and she tries to recruit for us. Not always with the best PR, if you know what I mean. Time to come home, Abigail.
MRS. AMES: Dorothy just left.
FREDERICKS: I met her outside. We don't want to miss your late snack, do we?
MRS. AMES: I certainly don't!
FREDERICKS: This is where the dam is going to flood, isn't it? A shame. The moon rising over the river now is just gorgeous. But you can't fight progress, can you? Goodnight.
MRS. AMES: Goodnight, everyone!
(Fredericks and Mrs. Ames exit.)
BUCK: Ain't that a peach.
MICHELLE: Let's get the moon over the river.
RICK: You got it.
BUCK: If you want more of me, I'm taking off in the morning.
MICHELLE: We'll be back later.
(Michelle and Rick exit.)
BUCK: Ain't nobody here but us dinosaurs.
RED: I don't know why she wants to spend the night in Roseburg.
BUCK: Dotty will manage, wherever she is.
RED: I think I'll go upstairs and do a little packing. I sure don't want to talk to no reporters.
(He exits. Buck is alone.)
BUCK: And that left me to handle the reporters by myself. I had a fine time with them. I told them how Gayle was sneaking out the back way, driving twenty miles of dirt road before hooking up with the freeway on her way to Portland. She was off to do a concert in London, I told them. When they asked about her ex-husband, well, I couldn't resist telling them that he was going to London as well. They were having a trial reconciliation and were going to have a kind of second honeymoon in Europe after the concert. I wish I'd been around when Gayle read that in the paper.
The next morning I took Dotty to breakfast and damned if she and Red didn't catch my gig in Portland that weekend, on their way to Yakima together.
I kept listening to the radio for Gayle's song about the dam and all, but her next song turned out to be about a woman needing a man like a fish needs a bicycle, which somebody told me is a pretty well known saying among certain kinds of ladies. When Gayle didn't write a song about the dam, I thought maybe I'd try one myself.
I kept thinking of all the songs Woody Guthrie wrote about dams on the Columbia (singing) "That Bonneville Dam is a sight to see, makes that e-lek-a tricity" and, anyway, this here's what I ended up with.
(Singing) I read the news about my home town
A dam washed it away
No one yelled and no one cried
They just packed and left one day
They said that nothing could be done
Though they never said just why
I guess you can't fight city hall
But I would've liked to try
(Chorus) Hangin' in
Another drink, my friend, and another song
If life is just a game, my friend, then few folks are playin' to win
BUCK: (singing) Folks tell me that I drink too much
When I step out at night
They tell me that I talk too loud
The way I fuss and fight
But they're just doing what they're told
While I do as I please
I ain't got much but I ain't sold out
You won't find me on my knees
(As Buck plays a guitar solo, Rick and Michelle appear in the neutral area.)
RICK: (sleepily) Hello?
MICHELLE: It's Michelle. Are you awake?
RICK: I am now. What time is it?
MICHELLE: Midnight. Two. I lost track.
RICK: You sound bombed.
MICHELLE: I finished the film.
RICK: Hey, that's great.
MICHELLE: I goddamn finished editing the film ...
RICK: How'd it turn out?
MICHELLE: I think it's good, Rick. I really do.
RICK: Did you end up using Gayle?
MICHELLE: A little. It's all very low key. It's very quiet and it's very menacing at the same time.
RICK: In what way?
MICHELLE: It's all so inevitable. And it's all so very sad.
RICK: I'm anxious to see it.
MICHELLE: Oh Rick, it's all so inevitable and so very, very sad.
(FOCUS returns to Buck, singing his song.)
BUCK: (singing) Well, I once met an agent
He said he liked my song
Said he'd make me famous
But my image was all wrong
He was talking about a sequined suit
As I headed for the door
I guess you just can't make a star
From a ramblin' dinosaur
(Chorus) Hangin' in
Another drink, my friend, and another song
If life is just a game, my friend, then few folks are playin' to win
( FADE TO BLACKOUT. The play is over.)
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