(PART TWO OF TWO)
PAGE 57: 1 panel.
PANEL: This is very similar to the layout on pages 51 and 52, except that instead of a nightclub, Stan and Molly are in a swank parlor (in one of the brownstone houses). Stan in his tux, Molly in her gown. Upper-crust dinner-party guests—all wearing suits or dresses—are seated on sofas and upholstered chairs. On coffee tables, end tables, etc. are wine glasses, highball glasses. A butler watches from the parlor doorway. Molly is standing beside a bald-headed fat man ensconced in a high-back chair. He looks startled and pleased; his hands are folded on his pot belly. The other guests are turned to look his way; a few might be looking at Stan. Some are probably smirking.
STAN: …AND THE GENTLEMAN, I’M SURE, IS WONDERING ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF A CERTAIN…LAWSUIT. WELL, SIR, I CAN TELL YOU THIS: THE RESULT WON’T COME AS SOON AS YOU’D HOPED, BUT WHEN IT DOES, YOU’LL BE QUITE PLEASED…
PAGE 58: 4 panels, top tier consists of 2 half-page-deep panels, the left-hand panel narrower than the right-hand panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Tight on the bald-headed fat man we saw on the previous page; he looks pleased and somewhat in awe. Also, he looks rather pleased with himself. (We’ve made a temporal jump again, and till we get to the next panel, the reader might assume we’re still in the parlor, among the other guests. We are not, however.)
FAT MAN 1: I’M IMPRESSED BY YOUR TALENT, STANTON.
FAT MAN 2: BUT I KNOW YOUR SECRET—YOU CAN’T FOOL ME!
PANEL 2: Stan and Molly, wearing their coats again (they’re on their way out) are standing in the “tasteful” foyer of the brownstone house. The bald-headed fat man (not wearing an overcoat; he’s staying: this is his home) is standing at the (closed) front door. (He appears almost to be blocking it, but he’s not really.) Stan looks a bit worried—he’s thinking, of course, that the man has figured out the code act. The fat man is beaming with glee.
FAT MAN: INDEED! IT ISN’T TELEPATHY, IS IT? YOU HAVE—SPIRIT AID!
PANEL 3: Still in the foyer. Molly, in the foreground, has turned away from Stan and the fat man: there’s an almost cartoonish look of great relief on her face—and we can almost hear her exhaling. The fat man seems very excited now. Stan is smiling, but it’s not a wide smile.
FAT MAN: I ENVY YOU—BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE WHO HAVE CROSSED THE GOLDEN BRIDGE!
PANEL 4: Exterior, night: Stan and Molly are going down the front steps of the brownstone. Behind them, at the top of the steps, the fat man is framed in the open door, one arm lifted in a gesture of farewell. Stan is grinning, Molly looks perplexed.
FAT MAN (calling after them): MOST PEOPLE AREN’T READY FOR THE GLORIOUS TRUTH OF SURVIVAL. BUT YOUR DAY WILL COME! DEVELOP THAT GIFT, MR. CARLISLE. CHERISH IT!
PAGE 59: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of a 3/4-page wide left panel and a narrow/sliver vertical rectangle on the right.
PANEL 1: Stan has stepped off the curb of the sidewalk in front of the brownstone; he’s glancing up the street with is arm out, signaling to a taxi. We see the taxi, still at some distance coming toward Stan and Molly. Molly is on the curb, her hands in her coat pockets. The angle doesn’t allow us to see more than a few steps of the brownstone stoop behind them across the sidewalk; presumably, the fat man has closed the door and gone back into his house.
MOLLY: GOD, WHAT A CRACKPOT!
STAN: MAYBE SO—BUT HE JUST GAVE ME AN ANGLE I SHOULDA THOUGHT UP MYSELF…A LONG TIME AGO.
PANEL 2: The taxi has pulled up. The cabbie has stayed inside the cab, behind the wheel. Stan is holding open the curbside door for Molly. He on one side of the door, and Molly is on the other side: they’re both standing in the street. Stan looks smug and euphoric. Molly—if we can see her expression from this angle and in this light—looks perplexed, verging on worried.
MOLLY: WHAT ANGLE? WHAT’RE YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT?
STAN: JUST GET IN—I GOT SOME THINKIN’ TO DO.
PANEL 3: Stan’s dialog, in quotes, appears in a caption box above the small, almost tiny panel beneath it. The caption/dialog box and the panel are clearly separated. In the small panel, we see the taxi, from behind, already gone way up the street…but the image should be indistinct; the drawing should look incomplete—as though the image is fading out before our eyes.
CAPTION/STAN (with quotes): “LISTEN, MOLLY, WE’VE BUILT AN ACT THAT’S NEAR PERFECT—BUT WHAT DO WE GOT FOR IT? A FEW BUCKS. IT’S TIME WE TRY SOMETHING NEW. DEVELOP MY GIFT—LIKE THE IDIOT SAID…”
PAGE 60: 4 equal-size panels, 2 tiers. In each of these panels, we see Stan at one more stop on his itinerary of gathering the goods that he needs for his new spirit act. His dialog, in quotes, is presented in a separate caption box just above each panel, but separated from it (as was done in the last panel of the previous page). Also: time, and seasons, are passing as we go through the page; fall turning to winter, winter turning to spring.
PANEL 1: Stan is in a tailor’s shop, being measured for a black ministerial suit; he’s holding a preacher’s collar up to his neck and grinning at himself in the full-length fitting mirror. The tailor, with a tape measure around his neck, is squatted beside Stan, using a piece of chalk to mark the cuffs on the black trousers Stan is wearing. On a counter to the side we see a small pile of folded black minister’s shirts. Stan’s beard is beginning to grow up. If we have a glimpse of the shop’s front plate window, then looking through it, we can notice any trees outside have lost most of their leaves, that leaves are blowing along the city pavement, are collected in the curb.
CAPTION/STAN (in caption box, with quotes): “OUR ACT IS ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE HOPE, RIGHT? SAME AS WHAT A PREACHER GIVES ’EM EVERY SUNDAY…”
PANEL 2: Stan, dressed in a heavy winter coat, is standing by himself watching the crowd let out of a small white church on a Sunday morning. People, in winter coats and gloves, are coming down the steps; at the bottom of the steps stands the minister, shaking hands with members of the congregation. Stan is in the foreground smoking. His beard has grown in heavier. The trees near the church are black and skeletal, and there are patches of old, dirty snow on the ground.
CAPTION 1/STAN (caption box, with quotes): “…BUT A REGULAR PREACHER—ALL HE EVER DOES IS PROMISE. WE’LL GIVE ’EM MORE THAN PROMISES—WE’LL GIVE ’EM PROOF!”
CAPTION 2/MOLLY (her caption box, however, is somewhere within the image, with quotes): “YOU’RE TALKIN’ ABOUT SACRILEGE, STAN!”
PANEL 3: Stan, dressed in a lightweight gray windbreaker and dark slacks, is inside an electronics shop/Radio Shack, looking at various transistors, wiring—all kinds of early 1960s-era electronic gizmos on shelves. His beard is now fully grown in, and it makes him look older, far more serious. From now on he’ll wear the beard.
CAPTION 1/STAN (caption box, with quotes): “SACRILEGE? BABY, IT’S SHOW BUSINESS—LIKE IT’S ALWAYS BEEN!”
CAPTION 2/MOLLY (again, her caption box is somewhere within the image, with quotes): “HONEY, I JUST—CAN’T!
PANEL 4: Stan in his hotel apartment. He’s seated at a kitchen table dressed in his minister’s black shirt and wearing a stiff preacher’s collar. There’s a pack of cigarettes on the table, an ashtray with a cigarette burning in it. Also a cup of coffee, pushed away. He has a soldering iron/gun, and he’s working on a piece of electronics. Scattered around are flashlight batteries, coils of wire, tiny transistors—and a small milk-glass globe, or crystal ball. Through the kitchen window we see other city buildings; if we see any trees, they’re leafy; it’s raining out.
CAPTION/STAN (caption box, with quotes): “BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING! I’LL HANDLE ALL THE EFFECTS. LEAVE EVERYTHING TO ME.”
PAGE 61: 3 panels. Top tier consists of a half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Exterior, day. Summer, 1961. We’re back looking at a taxi again, a taxi coming along a street in Greenwich Village/Washington Square North, past a row of brick Greek-revival townhouses built c. 1830. Each has a stately entranceway graced by marble columns and carved wooden colonnettes. On the opposite side of the street is Washington Square Park with its triumphal arch. The trees in the park are in full leafage; people are out walking in the park.
MOLLY (balloon arrow pointing to the back of taxi): I CAN’T HELP IT, I THINK IT’S MEAN—TRICKIN’ PEOPLE. I THINK—
STAN (arrow pointing to back of taxi, opposite side): DON’T THINK! ALL RIGHT? LET ME DO THAT!
PANEL 2: Mrs. Peabody—a doughy-faced dowager—is standing facing us (actually Stan and Molly, out of panel): she’s obviously excited; she’s framed in the doorway of her house (one of the brick townhouses). She’s holding a small dog in her arms—and it’s the spitting image of Stan’s boyhood dog, Gyp.
MRS. PEABODY: OH, REVEREND CARLISLE! I’M SO GLAD YOU COULD MAKE IT. COME IN!
PANEL 3: Reverse angle: We’re now looking at Stan and Molly on the top of the stoop from Mrs. Peabody’s point of view: Stan is in complete ministerial livery, including a black hat. He looks the part, very sober but somehow warm—and he should look older, too. He’s carrying a black satchel in one hand. To see Molly is to get a shock: she’s dressed so…down, in a simple white dress that mutes her lush figure; she’s wearing no jewelry or makeup. Stan is half-turned toward Molly, and is gesturing at her with one hand.
STAN: MRS. PEABODY, A PLEASURE. AND MAY I PRESENT OUR MEDIUM, MARY MARGARET CAHILL.
PAGE 62: 3 panels; the top tier consists of 2 equal-size panels. Bottom tier consists of one half-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Just inside the front door of Mrs. Peabody’s house. The foyer. Stan, having reached out a hand to pet Mrs. Peabody’s dog, has suddenly snatched it back; he looks startled. The dog, struggling in Mrs. Peabody’s arms, has bared its teeth and is barking and snapping at Stan’s fingers. Mrs. Peabody, too, looks startled.
STAN: I USED TO HAVE A DOG LOOKED JUST LIKE—
MRS. PEABODY: NORMAN—STOP THAT!
PANEL 2: Mrs. Peabody, bent from the waist, has just pulled shut a door directly off the foyer. Looking cross, she’s addressing the dog (not shown, of course) behind the door; perhaps she’s even wagging a finger in the direction of the door. Behind her (in the foreground) Stan is looking on, frowning.
MRS. PEABODY: YOU STAY IN THERE, YOU NASTY DOG! I’M SO SORRY, REVEREND—
STAN: NO HARM DONE. NOW, I WONDER IF WE MIGHT SIT DOWN SOMEWHERE—AND I’M SURE WE CAN ESTABLISH AN EXCELLENT VIBRATIONAL HARMONY.
PANEL 3: Mrs. Peabody is leading the way down a carpeted hallway; on the walls are framed photographs, all of the same young girl. Mrs. P. is some distance ahead of Stan and Molly, with her back to them both. In the foreground, Molly is glancing at the photos on the wall, and her expression is one of distaste and maybe fear. Stan is beside her; he has gripped one of her arms tightly. He’s leaning toward her and looks as though he’s spitting out his words.
MRS. PEABODY: OH, I HOPE SO, REVEREND—I’VE HEARD SO MANY GOOD THINGS ABOUT YOU!
MOLLY (whispered; her dialog either in a scalloped balloon or lettered very tiny inside an ordinary balloon): STAN…
STAN (whispered, etc.): JUST FOLLOW THE SCRIPT—I’M WARNIN’ YOU!
PAGE 63: 1 panel, full page: this should serve as an establishing shot for a room that will be revisited frequently in the upcoming sequences. This parlor, later on, will be Stan’s chapel.
PANEL: We’re in Mrs. Peabody’s main parlor, a somber but richly-appointed room; it seems especially eerie because of another series of frame photos (on the walls, on a mantel, on top of a baby-grand piano) and the large oil painting of her young (teenaged) daughter, now deceased. (The oil painting hangs on the wall behind Molly’s chair.) Also, on a pedestal in the center of the room (midway between Molly’s chair and Mrs. Peabody’s chair) there is a bell jar under which are several “relics” of her daughter: a hairbrush, a favorite book, some jewelry, probably a grammar-school report card. The back wall of the room consists of a floor-to-ceiling (small-paned) window that looks out on a back garden. (The garden is in bloom now.) Heavy drapes are pushed back (in later scenes, these drapes will be closed, so it’s important that we see them now.) The room is lit by daylight coming through the window.
Molly is seated in an upholstered wing-back chair to one side of the room; her hands are folded primly in her lap. On the floor, leaning against her chair, is Stan’s satchel. Mrs. Peabody, the focus of our attention, is seated across the room from Molly, in another, smaller chair—her bulk is exaggerated by the smallness of the chair. Stan, looking/acting very ministerial, is positioned directly beside Mrs. P, one hand resting consolingly on her shoulder. Mrs. P is weeping into a handkerchief.
MRS. PEABODY: …SHE WAS SUCH A SWEET CHILD! REVEREND, WHEN I LOST HER, I T HOUGHT I’D DIE MYSELF. OH, MY LOVELY CAROLINE! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE LOST HER FOR GOOD!
STAN: DEAR WOMAN, BELIEVE ME—THOSE THAT SLEEP IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH ARE NEVER LOST! THEY CAN HEAR US…AND COME FORTH. TRUST ME—IT’S TRUE!
PAGE 64: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel; bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Mrs. Peabody is still in her chair, but watching Stan, in the background, drawing the heavy drapes across the rear window. She looks desperately earnest and is twisting her handkerchief in her hands. Molly, off to the side, still in the same chair, has turned half-around and is staring up—with a look of dread on her face—at the oil portrait of young Caroline hanging behind her on the parlor wall.
MRS. PEABODY: OH, I DO TRUST YOU, REVEREND.
STAN: THEN LET US ALL COMPOSSE OURSELVES WITH HUMBLE HEARTS AND BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN…
PANEL 2: Stan is standing beside Molly’s chair, one hand resting lightly on her shoulder. Molly’s eyes are closed; her hands, still in her lap, are knotted together. Stan’s eyes, too, are squeezed shut. We should see Stan’s satchel leaning against Molly’s chair, near Stan’s feet. (Mrs. P is out of the frame.)
STAN: …FOR WITHOUT INNOCENCE WE CANNOT ADMIT THOSE PRESENCES WHO DRAW NEAR US, ANXIOUS TO SPEAK.
PANEL 3: We see Stan’s trousers and shoes. With the toe of one of his shoes, he’s pressing a small switch at the bottom of the satchel, which is leaning against Molly’s chair.
STAN: RAMAKRISHNU, DEAR TEACHER AND GURU—WILL YOU MAKE YOUR LOVING PRESENCE KNOWN TO US NOW?
PAGE 65: 4 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size one-third-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size and two-thirds-page-high vertical rectangles.
PANEL 1: Mrs. Peabody, a hand to her lips, her eyes wide, is startled and is leaning forward in her chair.
MRS. PEABODY: REVEREND! I HEAR—
SFX (off): KNOCK!
PANEL 2: Tight on Stan’s satchel, leaning against Molly’s chair.
STAN (off): FEAR NOT, DEAR LADY—OUR SPIRIT GUIDE HAS COME. AND I FEEL HE HAS BROUGHT ANOTHER WITH HIM…
PANEL 3: Tighter on Molly, seated. (Stan is no longer beside her; he’s not in the frame.) Molly’s eyes are still shut, but her hand has tilted awkwardly sideways. Her lips are pursed. Her hands are clenched on the arms of the chair. We can see (part of) Caroline’s oil portrait hanging on the wall above her.
MOLLY (the “trance” dialog should be lettered differently than usual, and the balloon may have a woozy shape): MMM…MMMOTHER! MOTHER…
PANEL 4: Stan is restraining Mrs. Peabody from rising from her chair. Mrs. P looks excited, jubilant, a bit crazed.
MRS. PEABODY: CAROLINE—IS IT YOU? IT’S MOTHER, BABY—IT’S MOMMY!
PAGE 66: 4 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 3 equal-size (narrow) vertical rectangles.
PANEL 1: Our vantage is behind (and slightly above) Mrs. Peabody’s chair, looking across the parlor toward Molly in her chair. Between them is the pedestal with the bell jar upon it. Molly (eyes still closed) has flopped her head to her other shoulder now, and her hands have lifted from the arms of the chair and are reaching out, toward Mrs. Peabody. Stan has one hand still on Mrs. Peabody’s shoulder, and he’s looking toward Molly, his anxiety clear in his expression (he’s wondering: is Molly going to screw up again?)
MOLLY (distinct lettering, etc. as in previous panel): MOTHER…I LOVE YOU!
MRS. PEABODY: I KNOW, DARLING, I KNOW—AND I’M SO HAPPY YOU’RE HERE WITH ME AGAIN! PLEASE STAY!
PANEL 2: Tight on Molly, eyes still closed; her head has flopped once again, to the opposite shoulder.
MOLLY (distinct lettering, etc.): I WANT TO—BUT IT’S TOO SAD FOR ME HERE. TAKE ME AWAY FROM THIS HOUSE, MOTHER…
PANEL 3: Tight on Mrs. Peabody, looking earnest, tears running down her cheeks.
MRS. PEABODY: OF COURSE, BABY! BUT HOW?
PANEL 4: Tight on Molly again: her eyes are shut, but her head has lifted from her shoulder.
MOLLY (distinct lettering, etc.): IF YOU GO AWAY FROM HERE, I WILL GO WITH YOU. AND WE’LL BE HAPPY…
PAGE 67: layout is the exact opposite of page 66: 4 panels, but the three narrow verticals are on the top tier, the page-wide rectangle is on the bottom tier.
PANEL 1: Looking straight at Molly: her eyes are still closed, but there’s a strange gesture happening: this woman in a “trance” appears to be biting her bottom lips with her teeth; her forehead is puckered with the start of a frown. (What’s happening is: she’s beginning to forget her “script.”)
MOLLY (distinct lettering at first…then changing to “regular” lettering): ONLY—ONLY WHEN THIS HOUSE…(start “regular” lettering:) THIS HOUSE…
PANEL 2: Tight on Mrs. Peabody: her head is tilted to one side, trying to understand. Her face glistens with tears.
MRS. PEABODY: WHAT, BABY—WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?
PANEL 3: Tight on Molly; her chin has dropped to her chest.
MOLLY (distinct “trance” lettering again): …ONLY WHEN THIS HOUSE IS A CHURCH CAN I BE HAPPY. PLEASE, MOTHER!
PANEL 4: Mrs. Peabody is now down on her knees, with her face buried in Molly’s lap. Molly, eyes open again and looking distraught, is glancing up at Stan, who’s standing behind Mrs. Peabody and off to one side. We can see his smile/smirk. Maybe he’s winking at Molly, or even giving her a two-fingered salute.
MRS. PEABODY: OH CAROLINE, OF COURSE—ANYTHING, ANYTHING! WE’LL GIVE THE HOUSE TO THE DEAR REVEREND AND I’LL TAKE YOU AWAY!
CAPTION/STAN (in caption box with quotes, positioned near lower right hand corner of panel—to be read last): “THIS IS WHERE IT STARTS, MOLLY. WITH THAT HOUSE I CAN GIMMICK IT UP FROM CELLAR TO ATTIC. GIVE THE SUCKERS THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST, IF I WANT TO…
PAGE 68: 4 roughly equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: We’re in Stan and Molly’s bedroom; it’s a spare, cheap-looking place. Double-bed, night table with lamp and a radio. Cigarettes and an ashtray. Stan—still wearing his ministerial clothes, though he’s taken off his coat and pastor’s collar—has come up behind Molly and is encircling her, just below her breasts, with his arms. She’s in her full slip. He’s nuzzling her neck, but she looks stiff and angry, her bottom lip pouted out.
STAN: I THOUGHT FOR A SECOND, THERE, YOU WERE FORGETTIN’ YOUR LINES…BUT YOU DID GOOD.
MOLLY: TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME!
PANEL 2: Molly has spun around, out of Stan’s grip, and is facing him; she’s upset, and is pushing him away from her, one palm flat on his chest. Stan looks startled…but there’s the beginning of a smirk on his face.
MOLLY: I FEEL DIRTY! THAT OLD LADY’S SO NICE AND SWEET—AND WE’RE TRICKIN’ HER!
PANEL 3: Stan is sitting on the side of the bed, one leg hitched over the opposite knee: he’s pulling off a shoe.
STAN: TRICKED HER. PAST TENSE. IT’S FINISHED—AND YOU WERE PART OF THE SCAM, BABY. SO DON’T FORGET IT.
PANEL 4: Stan is stretched out on the bed. He’s twisted sideways and has reached out and put his hand around the back of Molly’s neck. She’s sitting on the other side of the bed, facing off, her back to Stan. Stan’s gesture should smack of a threat, but not come across as actually violent or overly dangerous. Molly’s posture telescopes to us her shame/resignation/defeat.
STAN: YOU’RE GUILTY AS ME, ‘MARY MARGARET.’ AND IF I TAKE A FALL, YOU COME TUMBLIN’ AFTER.
PAGE 69: 4 panels. Top tier consists of a 3/4-page-deep, half-page-wide vertical rectangles (left side) and 2 equal-size small panels (right side), one on top of the other. Bottom tier is a narrow 1/4-page-high horizontal rectangle.
NOTE: We’re going into a dream sequence now (the Nightmare Alley dream), and the art, I think, should look tonally different from the other drawing throughout. But it shouldn’t look so different that it immediately says “dream.”
PANEL 1: It’s later; the bedroom is dark. Molly is asleep on her side of the bed; she’s beside Stan, but curled away from him. Stan has just come awake, and is levering himself up on his elbows. He looks puzzled. We’re looking at this scene from just beyond, and slightly above, the foot of the bed.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 2: We are looking from Stan’s point of view down the length of the bed and across the bedroom to the open bedroom door. Stan’s dog Gyp (who, in turn, resembles Mrs. Peabody’s dog) is standing framed in the doorway, looking toward Stan. The dog’s ears are up, alert.
STAN (off; mumbled): GYP…?
PANEL 3: We’re in a long apartment-house or hotel hallway; the dog is in the hallway (and in the foreground), half-turned to look back at Stan, who, in his pajamas, is emerging from the bedroom/apartment. It’s an odd, disorienting, up angle.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 4: It’s Stan as a boy of 13, but still barefoot and in pajamas, racing down the hallway after Gyp; he’s running away from us; we see Stan from behind. The hallway walls should be vague as if they’re dissolving.
STAN: GYP! C’MON BACK, GYP!
PAGE 70: 4 panels, but angled as dramatically, and as disorientingly, as you like: it should be clear by this point that Stan is dreaming.
PANEL 1: The apartment-house/hotel corridor has turned into a narrow, threatening brick-walled alley. Long, weird shadows. Stan is an adult again—but now he’s dressed in his nightclub tuxedo. He is not wearing a beard, though. He’s stopped running, and is bracing one arm against an alley wall. Gyp is far ahead of him, looking back.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 2: Stan (adult) is standing (facing us) in the alley; he’s sweating and looks terribly frightened now. He’s dressed in his minister’s clothes, but the fingers of one hand are hooked over the pastor’s collar and he’s trying to pull it off—it must be so tight that it’s strangling him. He has his beard again.
STAN (mumbling): GYP…?
PANEL 3: Stan as a 13-year-old boy again, but dressed in minister’s clothing. A huge shadow has fallen over him and over the brick wall alongside him: we see that the shadow is the shape of a man. Stan/the boy looks terrified.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 4: Reverse angle: we’re looking up the alley at the figure which has thrown the shadow: it’s the grinning Magician from the prolog’s magic kit. He’s reaching a hand toward Stan. (Stan is an adult again, but 22 years old and dressed as he was first dressed at the carny, when he was a go-fer.)
It may take a second to realize this, but the Magician—in his stage costume—has female breasts under his shirt and jacket. Stan, in the foreground, has dropped to his knees and is burying his face in his hands. We see him from behind and he hunches forward.
MAGICIAN: GIMME A KISS…SO I CAN GET OUTTA HERE.
PAGE 71: 3 panels. The nightmare continues with nightmarish layouts.
PANEL 1: Closer on the Magician, moving toward Stan in the narrow alley. The Magician’s face has changed; it’s still leering, but now it’s Pete’s face (Zeena’s husband). And the Magician no longer has breasts. Stan (an adult, still dressed as a carny go-fer) is rising shakily to his feet, the fingers of one hand scrabbling against the brick wall.
PANEL 2: Stan (adult/bearded) is trying to run away, but Gyp, snarling (like Mrs. Peabody’s dog) has clamped his teeth around the leg of Stan’s pajama bottoms.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 3: The largest panel on the page. Freed from the dog, Stan (adult/bearded/in minister’s clothing) is racing down the narrow, claustrophobic alley. Directly at the end—the dead end—is a brick wall. The Magician’s long shadow is behind him, falling just short of Stan’s heels.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PAGE 72: the dream continues. 3 panels, less crazily angled, though: two tiers, the top tier consists of two unequal-size panels, the left hand panel larger and deeper than the right hand panel. The bottom tier consists of one page-wide horizontal rectangle.
PANEL 1: Stan (adult/bearded/dressed again in his pajamas) has reached the dead end of the alley. He’s standing there, splay-legged, with his back to us, his arms outstretched, impotently banging at the brick wall. The Magician’s shadow falls across him and onto the wall.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 2: Tight on the adult (and bearded) Stan’s face. He’s looking directly at us; his jaw is slack, his eyes are wide with fright. The shadow falls heavier, and darker, across him.
STAN: STAY AWAY—DON’T COME NEAR ME!
PANEL 3: Stan (adult/bearded/wearing pajamas) has collapse at the end of the dead-end alley, he’s huddled down, his legs are drawn up tight against his chest, and his hands are clamped over his head. There is no shadow across him now…but chalked on the brick wall over his head (like graffiti) is the image of the grinning Magician from the lid of the magic kit.
STAN (muttering): NO…STAY AWAY FORM ME STAY AWAY STAY AWAY….
PAGE 73: We’re out of the dream now, and back in the “real world/real story.” 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 half-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists of one half-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: We see Stan in roughly the same posture as in the previous panel—all balled up with his hands clamped on his head; he’s in his bed, though, and the blankets and sheet are tangled all around him; he’s obviously been thrashing in his sleep. Molly, in a nightgown, is leaning over him, trying to wake him. The room is dark, shadowy; the night table lamp is not on.
STAN (muttering): STAY AWAY!
MOLLY: STAN, WAKE UP, HONEY—WAKE UP!
PANEL 2: In the bed: Molly has knelt up in bed and she’s hugging Stan to her, as though he’s a child; her back is to us, and Stan’s head is facing over her; his eyes are open and still look fearful. The night table lamp is still not on.
MOLLY: YOU HAD A BAD DREAM, THAT’S ALL. CALM DOWN NOW, OH POOR BABY…
PANEL 3: Stan is sitting on his side of the bed now, his feet are on the floor and he’s leaning over, still staring dully off into space. He’s just lit a cigarette; the match is still burning in his hand; the cigarette is in his mouth; his head is wreathed in smoke. Molly, kneeling beside him on the mattress, is rubbing his back and speaking into his ear. The night table lamp is now on, and the room is bright.
MOLLY: SEE WHAT I BEEN SAYIN’? THIS THING WE’RE DOIN’, IT’S NOT RIGHT. ALAREADY YOUR NERVES ARE TELLIN’ YOU TO STOP. STAN, PLEASE—LET’S GO BACK TO THE OLD ACT!
PAGE 74: 3 panels. Top tier consists of a one-third-page-deep horizontal rectangle. Bottom tier consists of two two-thirds-of-the-page-high, roughly equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Interior of a lawyer’s office. Characters are seated along one side of a conference table. Mrs. Peabody, wearing a fur stole and jewelry, is smiling as she signs a legal document on the table in front of her. Stan, dressed in clerical garb, is signing another, similar-looking document. Mrs. Peabody’s lawyer is seated between them; he’s frowning. In the background, possibly a series of arched windows. The office should look very “conservative”: wainscoting, etc.
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, top of page, with quotes): “GO BACK? NEVER. I KNOW WHAT I’M DOIN’. SOON’S WE GET OUR ‘CHURCH,’ WE’RE MOVIN’ AHEAD. I GOT IDEAS.”
PANEL 2: Exterior, Mrs. Peabody’s townhouse. A moving van parked in the street. Bright sunlight. Moving men in uniforms are carrying furniture out the front door and down the steps (chairs, taped-up cardboard boxes, whatever). The leaves on any trees should indicate that it’s autumn now (fall of 1961); the leaves have turned, many have fallen.
CAPTION 1/MOLLY (letterboxed, with quotes): “BUT, STAN—”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): SHUT UP! DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ANYTHING? I’M ON THE MAKE…
PANEL 3: Some time has passed. We’re still outside Mrs. Peabody’s house. A workman wearing a short jacket (script on the back tells us he’s from a sign maker’s shop) is screwing a swanky new brass plate onto the front door. The sign reads:
CHURCH OF THE HEAVENLY MESSAGE
STANTON CARLISLE, PASTOR
On the sidewalk below and on the steps, dead leaves are clustered or blowing. The light is gray, late afternoon/very autumnal.
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “NOTHING MATTERS EXCEPT MONEY. WHEN YOU GOT THAT, YOU’RE THE BOSS. AND I’M GONNA BE THE BOSS—IF I HAVE TO BUST EVERY BONE IN MY HEAD DOIN’ IT!”
PAGE 75: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size, half-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists on one page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: The cellar of Mrs. Peabody’s house. Dirt floor, whitewashed walls. We can see an alley-level window, to indicate where we are (in the bottom of the house). We can also see an old coal furnace and part of a coal bin. It’s winter now (winter, 1962), so we might see a glow from the furnace, and the coal bin should be full. The focus of our attention, though, is on Stan, wearing old clothes and squatted in front of an open wooden cabinet pressed against a wall. Inside the cabinet, on a shelf, is a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Stan is threading the reels.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 2: We move in closer and see Stan (in profile); the reels are threaded on the tape recorder; Stan is depressing the PLAY switch. He’s grinning—and he looks totally absorbed in his work.
VOICE (from the tape recorder): HARI AUM! GREETINGS, MY BELOVED DISCIPLES OF EARTH LIFE…
PANEL 3: Upstairs, in Mrs. Peabody’s parlor. All of the furniture we saw there before is gone—replaced by an impressive round oak table; around the table are several high-backed chairs; on top of the table is a large crystal ball, glowing. There are also some folding chairs set up; other, similar chairs are still folded and leaning against one of the walls. On the walls are some religious pictures. Through the back window we look out on the garden and see that a light snow is falling. The garden is just weeds now.
Stan is squatted by one wall, a slide projector balanced on his knees. At the bottom of the wall is a hidden door (open) cut into the baseboard. Various slides/chromes are scattered around Stan on the floor. As Stan makes an adjustment to the projector, a faint image is beamed into the air: it seems to be floating; it’s an image of an old woman in a halo of light. The image is out of focus, though; vague.
VOICE (wafting through the parlor, source less): …THE REVEREND CARLISLE IS MY INSTRUMENT IN WHICH SPIRITUAL FORCES PLAY AS A LOVER PLAYS HIS SITAR. BELIEVE IN HIM, TRUST IN HIM…
PAGE 76: One full-page panel.
PANEL: We now see the end result of all the preparations undertaken on the preceding page. We’re at a full-fledged séance now in Mrs. Peabody’s back parlor/Stan’s chapel. Several well-heeled-looking “believers,” all of them in their 60s or 70s, are seated around the oak table. One of them, a white-haired man, has just leapt up from his chair and is reaching with both arms toward the misty hovering figure of an old woman hovering above the table. (This is the same image that we saw in the previous panel, only projected now with clarity, in focus.) The old man looks blissful; the others around the table (the ones whose faces we can see) look amazed/joyful—they’re wide-eyed. Stan (in clerical garb) is seated at the table next to Molly (dressed in a virginal white gown). Molly’s eyes are closed, and she appears to be in a trance. Stan’s eyes are open and one of his hands is covering/holding one of Molly’s. (Her hands are both pressed on the table, palms-down.) In the center of the table, the crystal ball glows weirdly. The drapes are covering the rear window.
VOICE (source less, floating in the air): …AND BELIEVE THE PROOF THAT HE BRINGS YOU. HARI AUM!
PAGE 77: Layout is reverse of p. 75: 3 panels. Top tier consists of a page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size half-page-high panels.
PANEL 1: The old man who’d leapt up from the table in the preceding panel is now standing in the foyer of Mrs. Peabody’s house, with Stan. (This might remind us of a similar scene earlier: when the fat man at the dinner part gave Stan the idea to become a spook-worker.) Some others that we saw at the séance are leaving by the front door. Stan and the old man are off by themselves. The old man has clasped both his hands around one of Stan’s. He looks very sincere; Stan looks somber.
OLD MAN: REVEREND, I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH—TO SEE MY POOR DEAR WIFE AGAIN HAS GIVEN ME SUCH HOPE! BLESS YOU! I’M SO GRATEFUL THAT DR. RITTER SUGGESTED I COME HERE.
PANEL 2: Molly, alone in the back parlor/chapel: she’s standing at the rear window. The drapes are now open, and Molly is looking out at the garden, which is covered with snow. From her posture and her expression she looks miserable, desolate. Behind her, we see the round oak séance table, the empty chairs, and the crystal ball, unlit.
CAPTION 1/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “DR RITTER?”
CAPTION 2/OLD MAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “MY PSYCHOLOGIST. I’VE BEEN SEEING HER SINCE MY WIFE PASSED ON.”
PANEL 3: Stan and the old man at the open front door. We’re looking at them from outside the house, looking up the front steps; we see them framed in the door. The old man is pressing an envelope into Stan’s hand.
OLD MAN 1: SHE SUGGESTED I VISIT YOUR CHURCH. SHE’S VERY INTERESTED IN THE OCCULT.
OLD MAN 2: OH—AND, REVEREND, BEFORE I FORGET. PLEASE ACCEPT THIS TOKEN OF MY GRATITUDE.
PAGE 78: 4 panels. Top tier consists of one narrow panel on the left-hand side, and 2/3-page-wide panel on the right-hand side. Bottom tier consist of a half-page-high, 2/3-page-wide panel on the left-hand side, and one narrow panel on the right-hand side.
PANEL 1: Tight on the open envelope that the old man just gave to Stan; Stan’s fingers are flicking through the money inside: there are only 3 10-dollar bills.
STAN (off): SOME GRATITUDE. JESUS.
PANEL 2: Stan alone in the foyer. He’s shut the door behind him, and is about to stick the envelope into his inside suit coat pocket. We clearly see the layout of the foyer. There is a staircase going up on the right-hand wall, and a long hallway leading to the rear of the house (and to the back parlor/chapel) along the left wall. (This is the same hall that Mrs. Peabody led Stan and Molly down when they first came to visit her.) Stan is glancing toward the hallway; he looks as if he’s s frozen just as he went to put the cash away. He looks startled. We can’t see what he sees, though.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 3: Now we’re looking down the hallway, from Stan’s point of view, and we see Gyp (the dog) again, half-way down it. The dog is looking back at Stan, and his ears are perked up. What’s a bit odd, though, is that the hall and walls seem to go on forever, the perspective is all wrong. (The walls/hall, though, are “real”—the hall is carpeted, the walls are hung with religious pictures).
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 4: Close on Stan, left-facing profile. His lips are slightly parted, and he looks stunned.
PAGE 79: Not a dream this time, but an hallucination. 3 panels. Top tier consists of 1 page-wide and half-page-deep panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: It’s Nightmare Alley again—a long narrow passage bordered by brick walls—except that the religious pictures have been replace by tarot images, framed and hanging absurdly on the walls. The alley, maybe cobblestones, is littered with broken glass and garbage. Stan, in the foreground, has his back to us, and is looking down the length of the alley. In the distance, Gyp has stopped beside a dark figure that is leaning against the wall. The figure is an indistinct silhouette.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 2: Closer on the silhouette-figure in Nightmare Alley: he’s stepped into bright “light” (the source of the light is a mystery, but then, this is an hallucination). It’s Pete, dressed as he was at the carny; he’s staring straight at us (at Stan, out of panel). In his hand is a whiskey bottle, which he’s just smashed against the brick wall, so that he’s holding it by the neck; the remaining bottle glass below the neck is jagged, sharp. Broken glass is falling from where he struck it, and liquor is running down the bricks. Pete looks angry.
PETE 1: AND I THOUGHT YOU WERE A GOOD GUY…
PETE 2: SON OF A BITCH IS WHAT YOU ARE. SON OF A WHORE!
PANEL 3: Stan has dropped to his knees, and he’s put up his arms to ward off a blow. We’re looking at him from behind. When we notice after a moment is that the Nightmare Alley has disappeared. We’re back in the hall of the house; the hallway is carpeted, and the walls are white, hung with religious pictures.
STAN: I NEVER MEANT YOU TO DIE! IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!
PAGE 80: 2 panels, top and bottom tiers each consist of 1 half-page-deep/high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Molly is in the hall, squatted down; she’s grabbed Stan’s arms by the wrists and is trying to make him quit struggling. Stan looks wildly distraught: his head has snapped back, his eyes are open wide, and he’s staring up at Molly. We’ve caught him just at the moment when he’s moving from his hallucination back to reality.
MOLLY: STAN! JESUS GOD—STOP IT! WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?
PANEL 2: Still in the hall, but the angle is from above, looking down at Molly as she cradles Stan in her arms. The image is not unlike a Pieta. His face is buried in her breasts and shoulder. She’s stroking his hair with one hand and her other hand is one his back. The old man’s envelope is on the floor somewhere, and the 3 10-dollar bills are scattered near it.
MOLLY: OH BABY, YOU GOTTA GET SOMETHING FOR YOUR NERVES. WHYN’T YOU SEE A DOCTOR—PLEASE?
PAGE 81: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 half-page-deep panels, the left-hand panel is a narrow (1/3-page-wide) vertical rectangle, the right-hand panel is a 2/3-page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of one page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: An office door with a nameplate. The nameplate reads:
DR. LILITH RITTER, CONSULTING PSYCHOLOGIST
CAPTION 1/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO SAY.”
CAPTION 2/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT.”
CAPTION 3/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “THAT’S EASY. I’M THINKIN’ ABOUT YOU.”
PANEL 2: Stan, dressed in his clerical outfit, is stretched out on an analyst’s couch; Lilith is seated on a chair positioned behind him. Lilith has pale straight hair, a long thin face with chiseled features; she’s a slender, small-breasted woman, dressed in a white blouse and dark skirt. She’s in her early 30s, slightly older than Stan. Her expression is bland, cool. Dim lighting. We can see a table beside Stan’s couch; the table has a water carafe, a glass tumbler, and a box of Kleenex on top. Perhaps the office has Venetian blinds on the window, and if so, they stripe Stan but not Lilian.
LILIAN: WHAT ABOUT ME?
STAN: I’M THINKIN—THAT I WISH I COULD SEE YOU. I WANT TO LOOK AT YOU WHEN I’M TALKIN’.
PANEL 3: Different angle. Stan has twisted around on the couch to look at Lilian. She stares back coldly at him.
LILITH 1: MR. CARLISLE…
STAN: REVEREND CARLISLE.
LILITH 2: STAN—HOW ABOUT TELLING ME SOME MORE ABOUT THESE DREAMS AND HALLUCINATIONS. TELL ME ABOUT THE DOG.
PAGE 82: 2 panels, equal-size, page-wide, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: Stan is reclining on the couch again, facing away from Lilith. Behind him, Lilith has taken out a cigarette: it’s clipped, unlit, between two fingers of her left hand. In her right hand is a cigarette lighter; her thumb’s on the wheel, but there’s no flame.
STAN: GYP WAS…MY DOG WHEN I WAS A KID. MRS. PEABODY HAD A DOG LOOKED JUST LIKE HIM. THAT’S WHEN IT ALL STARTED—THESE DREAMS AND…THINGS. RIGHT AFTER, RIGHT AFTER—
LILITH: —YOU SCAMMED THE OLD LADY?
PANEL 2: Stan has jumped to his feet; he’s turned and is pointing a finger angrily at Lilith. She just sits there, cool as a cucumber. The cigarette is in her mouth and she’s lighting it from her lighter.
STAN: WHAT THE HELL YOU THINK YOU’RE SAYIN’?
LILITH: OH PLEASE, ‘REVEREND.’ YOU CAN’T FOOL ME WITH YOUR CHEESECLOTH GHOSTS AND MAGIC LANTERN SHOWS. SO DON’T TRY.
PAGE 83: 4 panels. Top tier consists of a narrow vertical rectangle on the left, and a 3/4- page-wide panel on the right. Bottom tier consists of a 3/4-page-wide panel on the left, and a narrow vertical panel on the right.
PANEL 1: It’s the same image of Gyp that we saw from his first appearance in Stan’s dream: we’re tight on the dog, and he’s looking over his shoulder, back at Stan (not in panel).
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “YOU’RE QUITE A NUMBER, SISTER.”
CAPTION/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “AND YOU DON’T KNOW THE HALF OF IT. BUT YOU WERE TELLING ME ABOUT GYP.”
PANEL 2: Gyp is racing down the narrow Nightmare Alley (brick walls on either side) toward the bricked-up dead end. Stan, as a boy of 13, dressed as he was in the prolog, is running after the dog.
CAPTION 1/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT. IN THESE…DREAMS, HE—WANTS ME TO FOLLOW HIM.”
CAPTION 2/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “WHERE’S HE TAKING YOU?”
CAPTION 3/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): I DON’T KNOW.”
PANEL 3: Stan, still a boy of 13, has reached the bricked dead-end of the alley. But as he stands there, his back to us, we see that he’s pressed his hands against the brick wall—and that they’ve passed through it and disappeared.
CAPTION 1/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “OH, I THINK YOU MIGHT. WHAT’S HE WANT TO SHOW YOU?”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “I’M TELLIN’ YOU I DON’T KNOW! OH…JESUS!”
PANEL 4: We’re now back in the glen that we saw in the prolog; in the foreground, Stan’s mother and her lover are screwing on the ground alongside of that big old 1940s roadster. But although the mother’s lover is half-dressed exactly as he was in the prolog (same clothes), it’s not the same man we saw then; it’s Stan, himself, as an adult (bearded). In the background, very small, we see Stan as the boy of 13, hovering above them, looking down upon the scene. Surrounding him is a perforated (dotted-line) outline of the dead-end of the alley: in other words, he’s “spiritually” passed through it.
CAPTION 1/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “WHAT DO YOU SEE?”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “MY MOTHER! IT’S MY MOTHER AND…OH JESUS!”
PAGE 84: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Back in Lilith’s office. Stan is lying almost fetally on the couch, his legs drawn up to his chest; he’s pressing the heel of one hand against his forehead. Lilith is seated in her chair behind him, coolly exhaling a long jet of smoke.
LILITH: YOU FOUND YOUR MOTHER MAKING LOVE? WITH YOUR FATHER?
STAN: NOT MY FATHER. SOMEBODY…ELSE. AND THEN I…I BLACKMAILED THE BITCH—GOT HER TO GIVE ME WHAT I WANTED MOST IN THE WORLD.
PANEL 2: Stan is sitting up on the side of the couch now, his back to Lilith; he’s pouring water from the carafe into the glass tumbler. Lilith, in her chair, is watching him; she’s stretched out her legs and leaned back. She’s holding the cigarette in one hand; it’s smoking.
LILITH: AND WHAT WAS THAT?
STAN: A MAGIC KIT. PRETTY FUNNY, HUH?
PANEL 3: Closer on Stan, drinking from the water tumbler. He’s holding it in two hands, his hands are shaking. His eyes look dead as a shark’s.
STAN: BUT SHE GOT ME BACK—WALKED OUT ON MY FATHER AND ME SIX MONTHS LATER. WE NEVER SAW HER AGAIN.
PANEL 4: Different angle on the office. Lilith has gone over to her desk; she’s taken out a bottle of gin from a drawer and is holding it up. Stan is still sitting on the couch; he’s looking at Lilith while sipping from his water tumbler.
LILITH: MAYBE YOU NEED SOMETHING STRONGER?
STAN: NO, I DON’T DRINK. ALL THAT STUFF SMELLS THE SAME TO ME—LIKE WOOD ALCOHOL.
PAGE 85: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Lilith is now sitting on the couch alongside Stan; she’s staring at him; he looks frazzled and is still holding his water tumbler between both palms.
LILITH: DID YOU EVER DRINK WOOD ALCOHOL?
STAN: CHRIST, NO—IT WAS PETE. THIS GUY I KNEW IN THE CARNY.
PANEL 2: We’re back in the sweatbox under Zeena’s platform in the 10-in-1 tent, with a side view of Pete, seated on a milking stool at the cut-down table; he’s scribbling on a sheet of cardboard with a black crayon. A bottle of whiskey stands on the table, along with a shaded lamp and some torn-open white envelopes.
CAPTION 1/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “WHAT WAS HE TO YOU?”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): QUIT IT! PETE WAS—NOTHIN’!”
CAPTION 3/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “TAKE YOUR TIME, STAN…”
PANEL 3: Under Zeena’s platform. Pete has moved over to the prompt-box and is holding his cardboard toward the opening. (We can’t read what’s printed on it from this angle.)
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “I WANTED TO SCREW HIS WIFE, SO I—GAVE HIM ALKY TO PASS HIM OUT…”
PANEL 4: Pete’s dead man face; he’s staring straight out at us—it’s a real E.C. Comics kind of rotting-corpse face: he’s holding the cardboard to his chest with both (rotting) hands. Crudely printed with crayon on the cardboard, it says:
YOU DID IT, STAN
YOU KILLED ME
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “BUT I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS WOOD! AND HE DIED, THE POOR BASTARD.”
PAGE 86: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Back in Lilith’s office. Stan, exhausted, is still seated on the edge of the couch; he’s leaning forward, arms dangling between his legs. Lilith, still beside him, is leaning toward him, a hand resting lightly on his shoulder.
STAN: THEN MOLLY AND I TEAMED UP AND IT ALL SEEMED LIKE A—LIKE A BAD DREAM. ONLY I NEVER FORGOT.
LILITH: BUT YOU FELT SO GUILTY YOU’D NEVER DRINK LIQUOR—NOT A DROP. THAT IT?
PANEL 2: Stan has turned around and is facing Lilith; there’s a mocking smile on his face. He’s still seated on the couch. Lilith is still seated there, too—only she’s leaned away from Stan now and has removed her hand from his shoulder.
STAN: YOU CAN’T BE A HUSTLER AND DRINK! AND THAT’S JUST WHAT I AM, YOU FROZEN-FACED BITCH—A HUSTLER!
LILITH: INDEED YOU ARE, REVEREND.
PANEL 3: Stan has jumped off the couch and is standing now, talking to Lilith with bravado posture and gestures; he’s all puffed up, his old self again. Lilith, still sitting sideways on the couch, has taken out a fresh cigarette and is tapping it against the package. There’s an amused smile on her lips.
STAN: YOU MAKE ME SICK! THAT SMUG FACE OF YOURS! THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME? WELL, YOU’RE NOT!
PANEL 4: Stan has gone to the window and is peering through the Venetian blinds; Lilith, in the foreground, is standing now with her hand on the back of the couch. She’s smoking as she watches Stan’s back. Smoke wreathes around her head.
STAN: LADY, YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER KIND OF HUSTLER, THAT’S ALL—HUSTLIN’ A BETTER CLASS OF CHUMP!
PAGE 87: 4 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Lilith has stood up and is now walking past the analyst’s couch; she’s dropping her cigarette into the water tumbler that Stan drank from earlier. It looks like a very casual gesture—just flipping the cigarette it.
LILITH: OH, SO THE GREAT STANTON IS NOW AN AUTHORITY ON MY PATIENTS, IS HE? WHAT DO YOU USE—A CRYSTAL BALL?
PANEL 2: Stan has turned his back to the window/blinds and is looking directly at us (actually at Lilith, out of panel). He’s grinning, but he looks a bit crazed, excited.
STAN: DON’T NEED IT. I KNOW THE KIND OF PEOPLE YOU SEE. BANKERS THAT TAKE IT UP THE ASS. SOCIETY BROADS THAT’LL FUCK ANYTHING IN PANTS. POLITICIANS THAT LIVE ON DOPE. YOU KNOW ENOUGH STUFF TO BLOW ’EM ALL UP—DON’T YOU?
PANEL 3: Stan, his arms straight out/elbows locked, has gripped Lilith by the shoulders and he’s holding her as she stares directly into his eyes. Lilith’s face is a cipher: no expression.
STAN: IF I HAD THAT STUFF, I’D HAVE ’EM CRAWLIN’ TO ME ON THEIR KNEES. AND I WOULDN’T QUIT TILL I’D MADE A MILLION.
LILITH: LIE BACK DOWN ON THE COUCH, REVEREND.
PANEL 4: Tighter on Stan and Lilith. She’s now leaned toward him, pressing her body against his; she’s speaking into his ear, and her look is suddenly very seductive, and she’s smiling a scarily all-knowing smile. Stan looks surprised; he truly hadn’t expected this.
LILITH: …AND LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT MILLION. SHALL WE?
PAGE 88: 3 panels: 3 page-wide horizontal rectangles, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: Exterior. Long shot. Evening/night. In the middle distance we see Stan and Lilith, in silhouette, walking together. They’re walking past the Museum of Natural History and the Planetarium, which we can see, illuminated by moonlight. Trees are bare; it’s winter. The sky is ribboned with great streamer-clouds.
STAN: CHRIST, LILITH—I NEVER THOUGHT I’D MEET ANYBODY WHO SAW THIS SHITTY WORLD THE WAY I DO—AS SOMETHING TO SQUEEZE TILL IT COUGHED UP MONEY.
LILITH: WHAT ABOUT YOUR GIRLFRIEND?
PANEL 2: Lilith and Stan are now walking down a side street. They’re walking toward us, approaching a major intersection. We can see Stan gesturing with one arm, excitedly. On the corner (in the foreground) we see a little cocktail bar with a neon sign over it: BAR.
STAN: MOLLY? SHE’S A HALLMARK CARD! BUT YOU! YOU SEND ME YOUR SICKOS, TELL ME THEIR SECRETS, HELL—
PANEL 3: Lilith, smiling, is pulling open the door of the cocktail bar. Stan is looking at the BAR sign; he looks taken aback, startled.
LILITH: SLOW DOWN, REVEREND. IF WE DO THIS, WE DO IT MY WAY—WE TAKE OUR TIME.
STAN: WHY YOU GOIN’ IN HERE? I ALREADY TOLD YOU—I DON’T DRINK.
PAGE 89: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Interior of the cocktail lounge. Stan and Lilith are seated at a padded booth. A waitress is standing at Stan and Lilith’s booth, waiting to take their orders. Stan is looking across the table at Lilith, speaking to her. Lilith is turned to look, unsmilingly, at the waitress.
STAN: LILITH, REALLY—I NEVER DRINK. I CAN’T.
LILITH (to the waitress): HENNESSY, THREE STAR. HE’LL HAVE THE SAME.
PANEL 2: The waitress has returned carrying a tray. She’s setting down Lilith’s drink on the table in front of her; Stan’s drink is still on the tray. Stan is looking at the drink with clear trepidation; Lilith is staring across the table at Stan, and she’s smiling a tight little smile.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 3: Lilith is leaning over the table toward Stan; she’s planted her elbows on the table top. Stan has picked up his glass and is holding it up, not quite to his lips—it looks as though he’s sniffing it. He’s smiling. The waitress has gone.
LILITH: WOOD ALCOHOL?
PANEL 4: Stan clinking his glass to Lilith’s (which she’s picked up), in a toast. He’s smiling, she’s speaking.
LILITH: NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT HIS PARTNERSHIP, REVEREND. THERE’S A PATIENT OF MINE WHO JUST MAY BENEFIT FROM AN INTRODUCTION TO YOUR…CONGREGATION.
PAGE 90: 3 equal-size panels, each a page-wide horizontal rectangles, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: We now see Ezra Grindle standing with his back to us, his hands clasped behind him. He’s a solitary figure in the large office; we see him very small, deep in the background. He’s looking out a huge window. It’s dark outside. In the foreground we see a large desk. This is an elegant corporate office of the “old school”—wainscoting, a full-size framed oil painting of Grindle, etc.
CAPTION/LILITH (letterboxed, with caption): “HE’S A VERY SHREWD, CAPABLE BUSINESSMAN. AND VERY INTERESTED IN PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.”
PANEL 2: Grindle, with his topcoat slung over an arm and carrying a furled umbrella, is walking across an outer office, where secretaries are busy typing. A male lackey in a business suit is holding open a far door for him to exit through. Grindle’s face—seen in profile—is set hard. He’s a man in his 50s, distinguished-looking, silvery hair. A bit overweight.
CAPTION 1/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “HOW’S HE FIXED FOR DOUGH?”
CAPTION 2/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): I WOULDN’T WORRY ABOUT IT. HE’S STINKING RICH.”
PANEL 3: Fairly long shot. Grindle, wearing his topcoat now and holding his umbrella, open, over his head (it’s raining lightly) is walking toward a limousine parked in front of a corporate office building. We’re out in the suburbs, in an industrial park; in the distance we can glimpse factory buildings. On the roof of one of those buildings we see a sign:
CAPTION/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “HIS COMPANY IS A SUBCONTRACTOR FOR THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY. YOU’LL RECOGNIZE THE NAME—EZRA GRINDLE.”
PAGE 91: 3 panels. Top tier consists of a 1/3-page-deep, page-wide horizontal rectangle. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size vertical rectangles.
PANEL 1: Grindle, seated alone in the back of his limo; we’re looking at him dead-on: he seems to be staring vacantly into space; his umbrella (dripping wet) is furled again, and his hands are wrapped on the hooked top. Rain beats against the limo windows, and shadow his face.
CAPTION 1/LILITH (letteredboxed, with quotes): “HE LOST A SWEETHEART—THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE—WHEN HE WAS IN COLLEGE. AND HE’S BEEN HAUNTED BY GUILT EVER SINCE.”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “WHAT’D HE DO—KILL HER?”
PANEL 2: We’re back in the cocktail lounge with Stan and Lilith. But we’re looking at them from a new angle—from across the place, as though from the p.o.v. of the bartender behind the bar. Stan has his glass to his lips. Lilith is sitting back, her legs stretched out under the table, playing footsies with Stan.
LILITH: IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING. SHE DIED FROM AN ABORTION. GRINDLE ARRANGED IT ALL—TURNED OUT HE SENT HER TO A REAL BUTCHER.
PANEL 3: Closer on Stan and Lilith in the booth. Stan has put his glass down, and aside. He’s taken out a pen and is holding it poised over a cocktail napkin, as if ready to write. Lilith is leaning over her folded arms on the tabletop. One of her eyebrows is cocked high.
LILITH: AT FIRST, I THOUGHT I’D HAVE TO PASS HIM ALONG TO ONE OF MY TAME FREUDIANS—BUT THEN HE GOT INTERESTED IN THE OCCULT. LUCKY FOR YOU.
STAN: FOR US, BABY. LUCKY FOR US. WHAT WAS THE GIRLFRIEND’S NAME?
PAGE 92: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one page-wide, half-page-deep horizontal rectangle. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Stan, in his clerical garb, is speaking at a lectern in the back parlor/chapel in Mrs. Peabody’s house. The oak table has been removed and so have the séance chairs. Now, ranged in front of the lectern (and in the foreground of the picture) are rows of folding chairs occupied by middle-aged and elderly “congregants.” Flanking the lectern are potted ferns. A Bible is open on the lectern. Seated off to Stan’s left is Molly, dressed in a simple white dress. Her hands are folded in her lap. Hanging down over part of the back window is a shiny banner which contains the logo of THE CHURCH OF THE HEAVENLY MESSAGE. If we can see through the back window into the garden, we should note that the flowers are back in bloom: it’s spring again (spring, 1962).
CAPTION/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes, positioned at upper left hand corner of the panel, to be read first): “DORIS CADLE. A LITTLE DETECTIVE WORK, REVEREND, AND YOU SHOULD GET ALL THE INFORMATION ABOUT HER THAT YOU NEED.”
STAN (speaking at lectern): THIS MORNING LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. THERE WAS A YOUNG MAN—I’LL CALL HIM JOE—WHO HAD BEEN IN THE KOREAN CONFLICT. ONE NIGHT, JOE WAS SENT SCOUTING WITH A BUDDY OF HIS NAMED BILL…
PANEL 2: Side view of Stan behind the lectern and looking out at the congregation. In the back row we see Ezra Grindle, seated stiffly and looking stone-faced; his hat is on his lap.
STAN: SUDDENLY—A SHELL BURST ILLUMINATED THE FIELD. CRAZED WITH FEAR, JOE PUSHED BILL ASIDE AND RAN FOR THE SECURITY OF A SHELL HOLE…
PANEL 3: Tighter on Grindle; he’s still sitting stone-faced, but he’s absorbed in the sermon, as are the others seated around him.
STAN (off): …BILL WAS MORTALLY WOUNDED—AND JOE, CROUCHING IN THE CRATER, SAW BILL’S EYES FIXED UDPON HIM IN A MUTE LOOK OF SCORN AND ACCUSATION…
PAGE 93: 4 equal-sized panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: We’re looking at Stan preaching; he’s really into it and is gesturing theatrically. Beside him, Molly sits slumped in her chair, her head down (she might even be dozing).
STAN: YEARS PASSED. JOE SURVIVED AND BECAME A PILLAR OF SOCIETY…
PANEL 2: On Grindle: his eyes betray some anxiety now; we see him clutching his hat brim tightly with his hands. The sermon is beginning to sound…familiar to him/his own situation.
STAN (off): …BUT ALWAYS, DEEP IN HIS SOUL, WAS THE MEMORY OF BILL’S FACE—THE EYES ACCUSING HIM!
PANEL 3: Back on Stan preaching, but from a different angle; the focus is on Molly, looking toward Stan now, staring at him; there’s a trace of hostility/anger in her expression. Her hands are fisted in her lap. Stan, meanwhile, is gesturing expansively.
STAN: JOE RECENTLY UNBURDENED HIS HEART TO HIS SPIRITUAL ADVISOR, AND WHEN THEY ESTABLISHED CONTACT WITH BILL, WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE WERE THE FIRST WORDS HE UTTERED TO THE GUILT-RIDDEN MAN?
PANEL 4: On Grindle, leaning forward in his seat, one hand on the back of the chair in front of him. He’s very involved in the sermon now; eager; he looks almost desperate.
STAN (off): ‘YOU ARE FORGIVEN.’ IMAGINE THE RAPTURE THAT ROSE IN JOE’S TORTURED BREAST! HE WAS A FREE MAN AGAIN!
PAGE 94: 2 panels, each a half-page-deep/high, page-wide panel, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: Stan at the lectern; the angle is wide enough to include him, Molly seated beside him, and the congregation. Stan has turned toward the figure of Ezra Grindle, sitting hunched forward with his face buried in his hands. Others in the congregation are turned to look at the slight disturbance (Grindle in tears).
STAN: MY FRIENDS, THERE IS NO NEED FOR GOD TO FORGIVE US. WE CAN SIN ONLY AGAINST MANKIND. AND MAN, IN HIS NEXT MANSION OF THE SOUL, SAYS TO US TENDERLY, LOVINGLY, ‘YOU ARE FORGIVEN.’
PANEL 2: Different angle, same elements. Grindle, however, has gotten up and moved toward the doorway, to leave; he’s walking slumped forward. Other congregants have turned and are looking at him. In the doorway, moving toward Grindle, is a guy who looks like a Secret Service bodyguard, a man dressed in a dark suit and wearing sunglasses indoors. This, we’ll find out later, is Andy Anderson, Grindle’s head of security.
STAN: …LET US PRAY.
CAPTION/GRINDLE (letterboxed, with quotes, at bottom right of panel, to be read last): “REVEREND, I’M TOLD YOU CAN SUMMON VOICES FROM BEYOND…”
PAGE 95: 3 panels. Panel one is a top-to-bottom vertical rectangle that fills the left-hand side of the page; panels 2 and 3 are equal-size vertical rectangles, one on top of the other, that fill the right-hand side of the page.
PANEL 1: We’re looking at Molly from behind. Still wearing her white dress, she’s standing in an upstairs hallway, just outside and behind the partly open door to Stan’s private office. (Fastened on the door is a brass plate that says: PRIVATE.) Molly’s posture is clearly that of someone eavesdropping. Through the partly open door, we can see Stan, seated in a club-type chair, offering a box of cigars to someone seated across from him and out of our view.
STAN: I HAVE HEARD VOICES, BUT I DON’T SUMMON THEM. THEY COME.
PANEL 2: In Stan’s private office. Stan (seated to the left) is offering an open cigar box to Grindle, seated in a similar chair opposite. Grindle is selecting a cigar. He’s dressed as he was in the previous scene, but he looks totally composed again, and grim: the Total Businessman. A small, decorative gong stands on a teakwood table beside Grindle’s chair.
GRINDLE: I DON’T CARE ABOUT NOISES IN YOUR HOUSE. I WANT TO HEAR THEM IN MINE. YOU GET WHAT I’M SAYING?
PANEL 3: Same scene, different angle, so that we see the partly open office door in the background—and catch a glimpse of Molly’s face in the opening. In the foreground, Stan is leaning forward, lighting Grindle’s cigar for him with a lighter. Stan looks a bit peeved. Grindle is puffing smoke.
STAN: MR. GRINDLE, SPIRIT PHENOMENA ARE NOT A PERFORMANCE. THEY ARE A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE—AND NO RESPECTER OF HOUSES!
PAGE 96: 3 panels, each a one-third-page-deep, page-wide horizontal rectangle.
PANEL 1: Grindle leaning forward in his chair, pointing at Stan with his lit cigar. Stan has sat back in his chair; he has an amused expression on his face.
GRINDLE 1: I FOLLOW YOU THERE. BUT I’M A BUSINESSMAN AND MY WATCHWORD IS ‘SHOW ME.’
GRINDLE 2: YOU GIVE ME PROOF YOU’RE ON THE LEVEL—AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT…OTHER THINGS.
PANEL 2: Stan has his hands spread in a “no problem” gesture; meanwhile, Grindle looks startled: he’s half-turned in his chair to look at the small gong—which is now vibrating out of focus.
STAN: I’M AT YOUR SERVICE, MR. GRINDLE. ANYTHING I CAN—
PANEL 3: Grindle has snatched up the small gong from the table and is looking at it upside-down; he’s scowling. Stan is smiling; he’s hitched one leg over the opposite knee. He’s nodding/gesturing toward the gong.
STAN: IT’S NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE—SOMEONE MUST BE TRYING TO GET THROUGH TO YOU…THOUGH I’M AFRAID YOUR SKEPTICISM IS A BARRIER.
PANEL 97: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one 1/3-page-deep, page-wide horizontal rectangle. Bottom tier consists of two 2/3-page-high, equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Grindle is now leaning forward, gesturing with the gong in his hand. (Stan is not in the panel.)
GRINDLE: REVEREND, IN MY JERSEY PLANT I’VE GOT A SCALE DELICATE ENOUGH TO WEIGHT A HUMAN HAIR. YOU MAKE IT MOVE—WITHOUT TRICKS—AND I’LL GIVE YOUR CHURCH $10,000.
PANEL 2: Outside Stan’s private office. Molly has turned away from the door and is walking along an upstairs hall (toward us). She has a crooked, weary, wry smile on her face—as a result of what she’s just heard.
STAN (balloon arrow pointing to door behind Molly): I’M NOT INTERESTED IN MONEY, MR. GRINDLE. I ONLY WISH TO HELP YOU.
PANEL 3: Molly is coming down the carpeted stairs to the foyer. The angle is from above Molly, looking down in the foyer, where we see that Secret-Service-type guy, Andy Anderson, standing stiffly.
CAPTION/GRINDLE (letterboxed, with quotes): “FINE—JUST CONVINCE ME YOU’RE LEGIT AND I’LL LISTEN TO ANYTHING ELSE YOU HAVE TO SAY.”
PAGE 98: 3 panels. Top tier consist of 2 half-page-deep equal-size panels. Bottom tier consists of one 1/2-page high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Molly has come down the stairs and is passing through the foyer. One side of her face looms large in the left foreground; her eyeball is cut to the outside, looking nervously off/back at Anderson, standing behind her in the foyer, looking at her. He’s folded his arms and on his mouth is a supercilious look.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 2: Anderson is looking after Molly as she walks down the carpeted hallway toward the back parlor/chapel. We can see the staircase from this angle. Molly is glancing back at Anderson over her shoulder; she looks nervous. He’s smiling nastily. His arms are no longer folded, but instead are jammed into his trouser pockets.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 3: Grindle is coming down the staircase now in front of Stan. Grindle is extending an arm toward Anderson, waiting at the bottom of stairs and looking up at his boss.
GRINDLE 1: …SO I’LL SNED A CAR FOR YOU TONIGHT AT SIX.
GRINDLE 2: OH, REVEREND, I’D LIKE YOU TO MEET ANDY ANDERSON—HE HEADS UP MY PLANT SECURITY FORCE.
PAGE 99: 3 panels: reverse layout of page 98. Top tier consists of one1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: We’re looking from the downstairs hall back into the foyer. Molly is in the hall; she’s standing with one hand braced against the wall, looking toward the foyer, where Stan is shaking hands with Anderson. Anderson’s mouth is a hard thin line.
STAN: GOOD TO MEET YOU, MR. ANDERSON.
PANEL 2: Tight on Stan and Anderson. Anderson, still holding onto Stan’s hand, is leaning toward him and whispering directly into his ear. Stan’s face is a stone.
ANDERSON: TRY ANYTHING FRAUDULANT, MY FRIEND, AND I GUARANTEE YOU’LL WISH YOU WERE AS DEAD AS YOUR SPOOKS…
PANEL 3: Molly has come up behind Stan in the foyer. We see her over his shoulder. Stan (facing us) is framed in the open front door. Grindle and Anderson have gone. Molly looks worried. She’s place a hand on one of his shoulders. We’re looking directly at them. Stan’s mouth is tight; he looks about ready to explode with anger, but he’s keeping it in check.
MOLLY: STAN…HONEY, I THINK HE’S ON TO US, WE CAN’T—
STAN: SHUT UP.
PAGE 100: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size half-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists one 1/2-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Exterior. Stan, looking deep in thought, is crossing a city street at an intersection. Early spring. He’s wearing a lightweight short zipper-jacket over his clerical clothes.
CAPTION/MOLLY (letterboxed, with quotes): STAN! WHERE YOU GOIN’?”
PANEL 2: Exterior. City sidewalk. Stan is going into an ASPCA animal shelter.
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “I GOT A SÉANCE TONIGHT, BABY. I NEED SOMETHING TO GET READY.”
PANEL 3: Inside the animal shelter. An ASPCA employee (male, with his name—John—stenciled on his uniform shirt) is gripping a mangy-looking mutt-dog by the throat as he ties a rope to its collar. The dog is on top of a counter, and cringing. The employee is on one side of the counter; Stan (foreground) is on the other. Behind the employee are tiered, wire-mesh cages full of other dogs.
ASPCA EMPLOYEE: YOU SURE YOU WANT THIS ONE, MISTER? HE’S JUST CRAWLING WITH FLEAS.
STAN: I THINK I CAN DEAL WITH THAT.
PAGE 101: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size, 1/2-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists of one 1/2-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: In a “real” urban alley, a passageway between two buildings (one of the buildings may even be the animal shelter). But it’s not wholly unlike the alley in Stan’s nightmares. Stan has turned into the alley—actually, he’s just stepped off the sidewalk, so he’s not very far into/up the alley, and we can see the sidewalk behind him (in foreground). A short way up the alley (middle-ground) are a couple of over-full trash cans, and a few bags of wet garbage—some split open by rooting animals—lying alongside the cans.
Stan is down on one knee, kneeling beside the mutt he just got from the ASPCA. (This dog doesn’t resemble Gyp, but just the fact that it’s a dog and in an alley should generate some connections in the reader’s mind.) Stan has the dog’s rope in one fist (he’s holding it close to the dog’s collar/neck); with his other hand, he’s running a comb through the dog’s fur.
STAN: HE WASN’T KIDDIN’—WAS HE, BOY? YOU’RE CRAWLIN’ WITH ’EM, ALL RIGHT. SO I GUESS YOU WON’T MIND IF I BORROW SOME. IT’S FOR A GOOD CAUSE.
PANEL 2: Same scene, but we’re tighter on Stan and the dog—we can’t see any of the sidewalk now, just the alley. Stan is in roughly the same position, squatted down beside the dog. But a shadow has fallen across him and onto the wall beside him. He has just sensed it, and has turned suddenly. We see him glancing up at us (as though we’re the caster of the shadow): and we see the same look of panic on his face he’s had during his nightmares/hallucinations. Though the dog is still beside him, Stan is no longer holding the rope. He still has the comb in one hand. The comb is thick with dog hair. The dog is also looking toward the sidewalk-end of the alley.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 3: Pull back—and now we see that it’s Molly (still wearing the white dress she wore at the house) who’s cast the shadow. Stan is still down on one knee, but now he looks furious—having seen who’s just come up behind him. Molly looks taken aback—her fingers are splayed open and she seems off-balance (after all, she’s being shouted at). The dog’s ears are flattened back on his head. Her shadow continues to fall on Stan and the wall.
STAN: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOIN’ HERE?
MOLLY: I DIDN’T WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE IN THAT HOUSE. GOD, YOU’RE ALWAYS YELLIN’ AT ME.
PAGE 102: 3 panels: top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel; bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Still in the alley. Stan is on his feet now and Molly is hunkered down ruffling the dog’s neck. She’s looking at the animal with a big ingenuous smile. Stan is still holding the comb (thick with dog hair) in one hand; his other hand is in his jacket pocket. Still peeved, he’s looking down at Molly.
STAN: I DON’T LIKE BEIN’ FOLLOWED. UNDERSTAND?
MOLLY 1: YEAH, SURE—SURE!
MOLLY 2: HEY, WHERE’D YOU GET THE DOG? IS IT FOR US? HIYA, BOY!
PANEL 2: Stan has taken a pair of tweezers from his pocket and he’s using it to pick something from the wad of hair stuck in the comb. He’s concentrating on what he’s doing. Molly has stood up and is peering curiously at him. She doesn’t know what the hell he’s up to. She’s now holding the rope connected to the dog.
MOLLY: WHAT’RE YOU DOIN’? STAN?
PANEL 3: Now Stan has a long unsharpened wood pencil in one hand, and the tweezers in the other. The pencil has a rubber eraser at one end. (We can possibly see that he’s stuck the comb into his jacket pocket—it just peeks out.) Molly is looking closer at him; frowning.
MOLLY: STAN? WHAT’RE YOU—?
STAN: WHAT AM I DOIN’? WHAT AM I DOIN’? WHAT DO YOU CARE WHAT I’M DOIN’?
PAGE 103: 4 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size, 1/3-page deep panels. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size 2/3-page high vertical rectangles.
PANEL 1: Very close. We see the eraser end of the pencil, but the eraser has been removed. And we see the tweezers being inserted (tapping) into the hole where the eraser had been. Perhaps we see Stan’s thumb as it holds the tweezers.
MOLLY (off): HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT TO ME? ’COURSE I CARE!
PANEL 2: Very, very close. Stan’s thumb pressing the eraser back into the end of the pencil.
MOLLY (off): DON’T…DON’T YOU CARE, STAN?
PANEL 3: Molly is squeezing Stan by an elbow; she looks hurt and desperate. Stan is turned away from her, waving an arm downward, shooing away the dog, who has moved on up the alley, dragging his rope behind him.
MOLLY: DON’T YOU LIKE ME ANYMORE?
STAN 1: YEAH SURE—SURE I LIKE YOU.
STAN 2 (to the dog): G’WON, GET OUT O’ HERE, YOU MUTT! GO ON!
PANEL 4: Stan and Molly are walking toward us (out of alley, toward sidewalk). Molly is holding Stan’s arm, but she’s turning her head and looking back up the alley, after the dog. You just know she wishes they could keep it as a pet. Stan is looking straight ahead, smirking. He’s sticking the pencil into his suit coat’s handkerchief pocket.
CAPTION (letterboxed, with quotes, positioned at bottom of panel): “THIS WAY, REVEREND CARLISLE…”
PAGE 104: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 1/2-page-deep, equal-size panels. Bottom tier consists of one 1/2-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: A butler/liveried servant is holding open a door for Stan to pass through. (We recognize this as the outer office we saw when we first say Ezra Grindle: Stan is being ushered into Grindle’s office.) Stan is dressed, as usual now, in his black ministerial clothes; he’s carrying his hat in one hand.
BUTLER: …MR. GRINDLE IS EXPECTING YOU.
PANEL 2: In Grindle’s office. We’re looking down a long, highly polished conference table. In the foreground is an odd-looking device: a rectangular glass case about a foot high; inside it is an apothecary’s precision balance, a cross arm with two circular pans suspended from it by chains.
Flanking both sides of the table are several colorless corporate types. Near the far/opposite end of the table are Stan and Grindle. Grindle is gesturing toward the men at the table, but while the introductions are being made, Stan (we notice) is looking directly down the table at the scale. Again, Andy Anderson is off to the side, looking grimly on.
GRINDLE: GENTLEMEN, THE REVEREND STANTON CARLISLE…
PAGE 105: 3 panels. Reverse layout of page 104. Top tier consists of one 1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Stan, followed by Grindle, has moved down the length of the conference table, nearing the apothecary’s scale. Anderson is parallel with them both, directly across the table. His gaze is cold and fixed on Stan. The other businessmen have backed away; they’re either looking at Stan or exchanging amused glances. Stan is gesturing casually to the scale.
GRINDLE: ANY TIME YOU WISH TO GET STARTED.
STAN: THANK YOU. FIRST, THOUGH, PERHAPS YOU’LL TELL ME ABOUT THIS INTERESTING APPARATUS.
PANEL 2: Anderson has come to the head of the table and is reaching around the case; he’s opened a tiny door in the case and is pointing to a small Christmas-tree-type bulb inside, near the scale.
ANDERSON: IT’S A PRECISION BALANCE RIGGED UP WITH A SET OF CONTACTS UNDER THE PANS. IF EITHER PAN IS DEPRESSED—BY SO MUCH AS A BREATH—THE ELECTRIC BULB, HERE, FLASHES ON.
PANEL 3: Stan and Anderson facing off across the glass case as they lean toward it; Stan, meanwhile, is reaching a hand inside his suit coat. Their antagonism is clear, to each other if to no one else.
ANDERSON: IS THAT CLEAR?
STAN: VERY. MAY I INSPECT IT?
Page 106: 4 equal-size panels; 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Stan is now holding his wooden pencil by the lead-end; he’s bent forward from the waist and is pointing with the eraser-end into the still-open door in the glass case; he’s pointing toward “two narrow metal strips leading from under the pans of the balance to insulated connections behind it.” (The eraser, we might notice, has been removed from the pencil’s end.) Anderson has moved one hand toward Stan—as if to stop him from doing something.
ANDERSON: DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING.
STAN: WOULDN’T DREAM OF IT. BUT WHAT ARE THESE…?
PANEL 2: Very tight on Stan’s pencil, pointing. We see clearly now that the eraser has been removed. The pencil has passed through the open door of the case and is partly inside.
ANDERSON (off): CONTACT POINTS. IF EITHER PAN MOVES, IT TOUCHES THOSE POINTS, CLOSES THE CIRCUIT AND THE LIGHT GOES ON.
PANEL 3: Stan, holding open his suit coat with one hand and sticking the pencil back into the inside pocket; he’s straightened up from bending over the table and is looking toward the opposite/far end of the table.
STAN 1: THANK YOU. AND NOW LET’S BEGIN.
STAN 2: I’LL SIT…DOWN THERE, IF NO ONE OBJECTS.
PANEL 3: We’re looking down the length of the table again, from the scale (the unlit bulb should be very apparent) in the foreground to Stan, seated at the far end. He’s folded his arms on the table and has rested his head upon them, as though he’s taking a nap. Grindle is standing to the left of Stan’s chair, an unlit cigar pinched between two fingers of one hand. The other businessmen are seated along the sides of the table, all looking toward Stan with expressions of surprise.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PAGE 107: 4 panels. Top tier consists of one 1/2-page-deep horizontal rectangles 3/4-width of the page (left hand panel), and one narrow vertical rectangle (right hand panel). Bottom tier is the reverse: a narrow vertical rectangle on the left, and a 3/4-page-wide horizontal rectangle on the right.
PANEL 1: Still looking down the length of the conference table, but we’ve moved closer to Stan so that the scale-box is not in the frame. Stan has lifted his head and his eyes are rolling—we see almost entirely white in his sockets—and there’s a foamy spittle on his lips. The other men at the table are startled, looking at Stan or all talking at once. Grindle, standing beside Stan’s chair, is chopping down with his arm to silence them.
FIRST MAN: IS HE IN A TRANCE?
SECOND MAN: MY GOD, HE’S SHAKING!
THIRD MAN: WHAT’S THAT ON HIS LIPS?
PANEL 2: Tight on Stan’s face: his eyes are still rolled in his head, his head is snapped way back on his neck, the spittle/drool is still foaming through his lips, running down his chin.
MAN (off): THE LIGHT! MR GRINDLE—LOOK!
PANEL 3: Tight on the tiny Christmas-tree-size bulb in the scale box: it’s glowing brightly.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 4: We’re looking down the length of the table. Stan has collapsed face down on the conference table, head turned to one side (but facing us); his eyes are closed. The light is still burning on the precision scale in the foreground. Grindle, beside Stan’s chair, is staring down the table at the box, as are the other men at the table. Anderson, tight-lipped, is glaring at Stan.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PAGE 108: 3 panels. Top tier consists of two 1/2-page-deep, unequal-size panels: the left-hand panel is a narrow (1/3-page-wide) vertical rectangle; the right-hand panel is 2/3-page-wide. Bottom tier consists of one 1/2-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Stan’s head is still down on the table, facing us; although his eyes are closed, one of them is open a slit, and there’s a trace of a smile on his mouth. Grindle’s hand is on Stan’s shoulder, shaking him.
PANEL 2: Pull back: the office is empty now, except for Grindle and Stan. Stan, looking drained, is sitting up in his chair, dabbing his mouth with a handkerchief. Grindle is handing Stan a brandy snifter. Grindle looks excited—happily excited.
STAN: DID ANY…PHENOMENA OCCUR?
GRINDLE 1: JUST BEFORE YOU PASSED OUT—THE LIGHT WENT ON THREE TIMES!
GRINDLE 2: COME ALONG, NOW—YOU COULD USE SOME FRESH AIR.
PANEL 3: From behind: Grindle is ushering Stan through French doors onto a balcony; beyond the balcony we can see gardens, pools, topiary…and beyond that, the silhouettes of the ugly factory buildings. Grindle has one hand on Stan’s shoulder; he’s gesturing toward the garden with the other hand.
STAN: THE OTHERS…?
GRINDLE: GONE. YOU AND I SHOULD TALK—ALONE.
PAGE 109: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one 1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 roughly equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Grindle and Stan at the stone balustrade/low wall on the balcony overlooking the gardens slightly below. Stan is holding the brandy snifter. Moonlight touches the gardens, the topiary, poplar trees, and fountain. No flowers, though: it’s early spring. In the distance—the ugly factory buildings.
GRINDLE: I’M IMPRESSED BY YOU, CARLISLE. A MAN OF YOUR OBVIOUS TALENTS—I’M WONDERING WHAT’S YOUR…GOAL?
STAN: I HAVE NO PERSONAL GOAL—EXCEPT TO DO WHAT GOOD I CAN FOR OTHERS. BUT…MY CONTROL SPIRIT HAS DIRECTED ME TO BUILD A CITY—A CITY OF SPIRITUAL LIGHT. WHERE ALL THE SPIRITUAL POWER OF THE WORLD CAN BE CONCENTRATED.
PANEL 2: Stan and Grindle are now walking together in the formal gardens.
STAN: AS YOU CAN IMAGAINE, MR. GRINDLE, IT’S GOING TO COST A LOT. BUT I HAVE FAITH THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE.
PANEL 3: We’re looking down at Stan and Grindle far off in the moonlit garden, still walking together; we’re with Andy Anderson on the balcony; he’s standing at the balustrade staring at them. Stan’s brandy snifter is sitting on the balustrade.
CAPTION 1/GRINDLE (letterboxed, with quotes): “PERHAPS I CAN BE OF ASSISTANCE.”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “KIND OF YOU TO OFFER, SIR—BUT I NEVER ASK FOR CONTRIBUTIONS. NEVER.”
PAGE 110: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Anderson, back in Grindle’s office, is standing at the conference table, leaning over the box that contains the precision balance. He’s grim as he inspects the device.
ANDERSON (to himself): HOW’D HE DO IT? THAT LOUSY HUSTLER DID SOMETHING!
CAPTION/GRINDLE (letterboxed, with quotes, near bottom of panel): “BUT WHAT IF I WERE TO INSIST?”
PANEL 2: Back in Grindle’s garden. Grindle is seated on a stone bench in an arbor beside a classical alabaster statue of a winged angel. Stan is standing alongside the statue, almost leaning on it. Grindle is looking up at Stan; Stan is looking down at Grindle.
GRINDLE: I’LL BE BLUNT, REVEREND. IF YOU WERE TO CALL BACK FROM THE OTHER WORLD SOMEONE VERY DEAR TO ME, MY GRATITUDE WOULD BE…EXTREME.
PANEL 3: Stan has dropped onto the stone bench beside Grindle; Stan looks very solicitous and is leaning toward Grindle. Grindle is not looking at Stan now: he’s looking off into space and his face is beginning to show grief.
GRINDLE: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO ME IF I COULD—IF I COULD SEE HER AGAIN, JUST ONCE!
PANEL 4: Tight on Grindle’s teary face, turning toward Stan.
GRINDLE: IF SHE’D ONLY FORGIVE ME AND I COULD—TOUCH HER AGAIN…
PAGE 111: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one 1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Stan and Lilith are on a luxurious sofa in Lilith’s apartment/living room. He’s sitting at one end of the sofa with his coat and preacher’s collar off; his black shirt is partly unbuttoned. Alongside of him on an end table is a glass of whiskey and a whiskey bottle. He’s frowning as he speaks. Lilith, wearing a see-through shorty nightgown is kneeling on the sofa (not directly next to him, though), turned his way and listening intently. One of her arms is resting on the back of the sofa.
STAN: …THAT’S WHAT HE SAID—HE WANTS TO TOUCH HER! CHRIST! I BRING BACK HIS DEAD GIRLFRIEND—NO SWEAT. SHE TELLS HIM HE’S FORGIVEN—EASY. BUT TOUCH HER? WHAT DOES THIS GUY WANT?
PANEL 2: Lilith has moved alongside Stan on the sofa. She’s gripped done of his hands and has put it to her breast. And she’s leaning down to kiss him on the lips. Stan looks startled.
LILITH 1: DON’T BE NAÏVE, LOVER. HE WANTS TO DO THIS…
LILITH 2: …AND THIS.
PANEL 3: Still on the sofa. Lilith is pulling Stan down on top of her; her mouth is close to his ear. She’s smiling. Stan looks wary.
STAN: NO GOOD. NOT WITH MOLLY, SHE’D NEVER…
LILITH: OH YES SHE WILL…
PAGE 112: Same layout as page 111. 3 panels: top tier consists of one 1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: A resort-hotel outdoor swimming pool. In the background, the beachfront hotel. (We’re in Miami Beach, late spring 1962.) Molly, looking great in an early-60s 2-piece bathing suit (not a bikini) is poised on the edge of the diving board, smiling. Stan is seated at an umbrella table, poolside, wearing a robe, open, over swim trunks. He’s wearing sunglasses. A white-jacketed waiter, carrying a tray, is putting a drink down in front of Stan. Other bathers/sunbathers in and around the pool.
CAPTION 1/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes, top/left of panel): “LILITH, I KNOW HER—AND I COULD NEVER SELL HER ON LETTING THAT ASSHOLD JUMP HER BONES. NO MATTER FOR HOW MUCH MONEY.”
CAPTION 2/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “THERE’S A WAY, DARLING. WE JUST HAVE TO USE THE RIGHT…PSYCHOLOGY.”
PANEL 2: Looking toward the pool from Stan’s general perspective at the umbrella table. Molly, her wet hair slicked back and streaming, is standing in the pool, leaning on the wall near Stan. She’s smiling up at him. Stan is smiling down at her; he has his drink in his hand.
MOLLY: OH YEAH! WE NEVER HAD A REAL VACATION BEFORE!
PANEL 3: Molly has climbed out of the pool and is now standing by Stan’s table, rubbing her hair dry with a big fluffy towel. Water is spilling off her body, making a small puddle where she stands. Stan is watching her.
STAN: HOW’D YOU LIKE TO DO THIS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? WELL, IF THIS GRINDLE DEAL GOES OVER, WE’RE SET. AND EVERY DAY IS CHRISTMAS.
PAGE 113: 2 panels—top and bottom tiers each consist of one 1/2-page high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Stan in evening clothes, Molly in a sheath dress with spaghetti straps. We pick them out on a dance floor, where other couples, similarly dressed, are dancing around them; we’re looking their way from a bandstand. The band is a traditional hotel orchestra of the era.
STAN: …THE GUY HAS MILLIONS. AND TO GET OUR SHARE, ALL WE DO IS PUT HIM IN TOUCH WITH SOME GIRL THAT DIED A LONG TIME AGO.
PANEL 2: Stan and Molly seated opposite one another at a table in the hotel nightclub, overlooking the dance floor. He’s holding a bottle of champagne, ready to pop the cork. Molly is sitting back in her chair, her eyes big. Beside the table is an ice bucket in a stand, the bottle nestled in ice.
STAN: HE’S OVERBOARD ON THE SPOOK DODGE. WE CAN NAIL HIM. BUT FROM NOW ON, IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOU.
MOLLY: ME? WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
PAGE 114: 4 panels. Top tier consists of a narrow (1/3-page-wide) left-hand panel and a wider right-hand panel. Bottom tier consist of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Close on another bottle of champagne; the cork is blowing and foam is gushing out the top, running down over Stan’s hand (holding the bottle).
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 2: Molly, dressed as she was in the nightclub, is standing now in a luxurious hotel suite. She looks stunned. One hand is pressed to her forehead. She’s not looking at Stan, but is staring at the carpet. Stan is filling a champagne glass from the bottle.
MOLLY: YOU…YOU COULD LET ME DO THAT? STAN…?
STAN: IF IT MEANS CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY? YEAH, I COULD.
PANEL 3: Reverse shot: we’re behind Molly, as she’s flipped down one of the spaghetti straps of her dress; the other strap is already down. We see her smooth bare shoulders and her back. She is showing her breasts to Stan. He stands in front of her smiling.
MOLLY: TAKE A GOOD LOOK, STAN. MAKE BELIEVE YOU NEVER SAW ME NAKED BEFORE. IF I—IF I DO WHAT YOU WANT…WILL I LOOK ANY DIFFERENT TO YOU?
PANEL 4: Stan is kissing Molly on the throat; her head is tipped back, she’s wide-eyed and her mouth is open: her expression could be passionate…or it could be horrified.
STAN: NO, BABY—NO DIFFERENT. NEVER…
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes, near bottom of panel): “THERE IT IS, EZRA…”
PAGE 115: 3 panels. Top tier consist of one 1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of two equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Vista. Long Island. Summer 1962. Stan and Ezra Grindle are standing on a hill overlooking woodland touched by rays of the setting sun. The foliage is thick. Stan is pointing to the trees—sweeping his arm to indicate them. Grindle is standing with his hands folded in the small of his back. Behind them, parked at the side of a two-lane country road is Grindle’s limousine. Staked on the rise of the hill (between the limo and the figures of Stan and Grindle) is a commercial realtor’s sign:
J. KESSLER, REALORS
STAN: …OR THERE IT WILL BE ONE DAY, GOD WILLING. THE CITY OF SPIRITUAL LIGHT.
GRINDLE: IMPRESSIVE. AND VERY THRILLING. AS I TOLD YOU, REVEREND, I HOPE YOU’LL LET ME DO MY SHARE…
PANEL 2: Stan and Grindle are walking down the hill toward the limousine (in the foreground). Grindle’s liveried chauffeur is holding open the back door.
STAN: AND AS I’VE TOLD YOU—I DON’T ASK FOR MONEY.
GRINDLE: PLEASE—THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME.
PANEL 3: Stan and Grindle are sitting in the back of the limo. Grindle is talking into a speaking tube that he’s pulled from the back of the divider separating the riding compartment from the chauffeur up front. On the seat between Grindle and Stan is a bulging briefcase. Grindle’s hand is resting on the briefcase.
GRINDLE 1: BACK TO THE CITY.
GRINDLE 2: WHY DON’T YOU OPEN TH IS, REVEREND?
PAGE 116: reverse layout of p. 115: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size, half-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists of one 1/2-page-high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Close on the briefcase open on Stan’s lap. There’s cash inside of it. Stan is holding a banded stack of it in one hand.
GRINDLE (off): TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND. MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR A DOWN PAYMENT ON THE PROPERTY.
PANEL 2: Stan has turned to Grindle. Grindle has gripped Stan almost savagely by the arm and is squeezing. His face looks twisted with earnestness and anguish.
STAN: I CAN’T—
GRINDLE: BRING HER BACK TO ME! THAT’S ALL I ASK IN RETURN.
PANEL 3: Long shot of the limo coming back into New York City over the Manhattan Bridge. There’s some other traffic on the bridge. It’s night, and the east side skyline (1962) is lit up, twinkling.
STAN (balloon arrow pointing to back of limo): OF COURSE, EZRA. OF COURSE…
CAPTION/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes, bottom of panel): “JESUS CHRIST—YOU’RE DRUNK! WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU, CARLISLE?”
PAGE 117: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one 1/2-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: We’re in Lilith’s professional office. Stan—looking rumpled, tilting a little, his preacher’s collar askew—is standing in front of Lilith’s desk and dumping out banded cash from Grindle’s briefcase. His mouth is open in a huge drunken laugh. Lilith is seated behind her desk, looking astounded.
STAN: THIS IS WHAT’S THE MATTER, BABY! TWO HUNDRD AND FIFTY G’S. LOOK AT IT! JUST LOOK!
PANEL 2: Stan has flopped down onto the therapy couch and is in the process of kicking off one shoe with the toe of the other; his legs are slightly off the couch, lifted up in the air. His arms are folded behind his neck. He’s smirking.
STAN: I GOT HALF A MIND WE SHOULD BEAT IT NOW—AND TO HELL WITH HIS SÉANCE! WHAT D’YOU SAY?
PANEL 3: Lilith has come over to the couch and hunkered beside it; with her hand, she’s just taken hold of Stan by his chin and violently jerked his head around to face her. Her eyes are blazing. His are popping; his eyebrows are up.
LILITH: YOU IDIOT! WE SKIP NOW AND GRINDLE’LL HAVE PRIVATE COPS ON US LIKE A PACK OF HOUNDS!
PAGE 118: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Stan, looking sheepish, is standing now, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. Across the office, Lilith, looking stern, has flipped back an oil painting on the wall, opened a safe behind it, and is stuffing the cash inside. She’s holding Grindle’s satchel.
STAN 1: ALL RIGHT, EASE UP! I WAS ONLY KIDDIN’.
STAN 2: HEY—YOU GONNA STASH AWAY ALL OF IT?
LILITH: EVERY DOLLAR—TILL YOU COME AND TELL ME THE VIRTUOUS MOLLY HAS ACTED HER LITTLE HEART OUT TO EZRA GRINDLE’S COMPLETE SATISFACTION.
PANEL 2: Stan has gone around behind Lilith’s desk and has opened the drawer where she keeps her liquor bottle. He’s reaching hand into the drawer to grab it.
STAN: DON’T WORRY ABOUT MOLLY. IT TOOK SOME SELLING, BUT SHE’LL PLAY BALL.
LILITH (off): OH, BUT I DO WORRY ABOUT HER…
PANEL 3: Stan, with an expression of extreme pain on his face—because Lilith has just kicked shut the desk drawer on his fingers. Her foot’s still on the drawer; her face, however, is turned to Stan. She looks, as usual, calm and collected; ice-cold.
LILITH: …BUT I WORRY MORE ABOUT YOU!
PAGE 119: 3 panels. Top tier consists of 2 equal-size, 1/2-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists of one 1/2-page high and page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: (There is a narrow caption above the panel, but separated from it.) In the panel, we’re peering over Molly’s shoulder as she sits at a table looking at several deckle-edged photographs (see next panel for descriptions) spread out in front of her. She is studying them: her elbows are planted on the edge of the table and her hands are pressed against her cheeks.
CAPTION/LILITH (with quotes): “NOW, ‘REVEREND,’ LET’S LAY OUT THE MOVES FROM HER ON IN…”
MOLLY: BUT WHERE—WHERE’D YOU GET THESE?
PANEL 2: Stan is beside Molly now. There are dark circles under his eyes. He’s snatched up one of the photographs, which shows a much-younger Ezra Grindle and his blond girlfriend Dorrie. In the picture, they both look college-age, and are smiling at the photographer. Their clothing (which is not expensive) is circa 1935. Dorrie has a Jean Harlow haircut. Molly has turned her face up toward Stan.
STAN 1: NEVER MIND. I GOT WAYS.
STAN 2: YOU DON’T MIND CUTTIN’ YOUR HAIR—DO YOU?
PANEL 3: Lilith, luxuriating in her bathtub; she’s taking a bubble bath. An ashtray (with a cigarette burning in it) rests on the edge of the tub, also a gold lighter and a pack of cigarettes. She’s smiling her cold, inscrutable smile as she clicks smoke rings—some of them vaguely, by only vaguely, skull-like—into the air.
CAPTION 1/MOLLY (letterboxed, with quotes): “AW, STAN—DO I HAVE TO?
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “YEAH. AND IT’S GOTTA BE THE RIGHT COLOR.”
CAPTION 3/MOLLY (letterboxed, with quotes): “STAN, YOU DO LOVE ME, DON’T YOU? IF I DO THIS…YOU SWEAR YOU’LL STILL LOVE ME?”
CAPTION 4/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “ONLY YOU, BABY. PROMISE.”
PAGE 120: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one page-wide, 1/2-page-deep panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Molly, transformed (Harlow haircut, hair dyed blonde), and wearing a 1930s dress. She’s in the back parlor/chapel of Mrs. Peabody’s house. (The folding chairs have been removed, and the lectern has been pushed over against one wall. Shoved against the rear window-wall is an upholstered divan. Molly stands in the middle of the empty parlor with one arm extended in a very stagy gesture. Stan, off to one side, and straddling a chair backwards, is watching her—and gesturing angrily with his splay-fingered hand.
MOLLY: …EZRA DARLING…IT’S DORRIE. I KNOW YOU HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN US, EZRA, AND—AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW—
STAN: DAMN, MOLLY, WHERE’S THE EMOTION? YOU GOTTA SOUND—WISTFUL!
PANEL 2: We’re in the back of Ezra Grindle’s limousine. Grindle is dressed like a bridegroom in a vested morning suit with a carnation in the buttonhole. He’s leaning forward on the seat, hands clasped on the head of a walking stick. His lips are slightly parted; his eyes are narrowed.
CAPTION 1/MOLLY (letterboxed, with quotes): “AW GOD, STAN, I CAN’T ACT!
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “YOU CAN AND YOU’D BETTER! ’CAUSE OUR MAN IS ON HIS WAY.”
CAPTION 3/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “NOW, TAKE IT AGAIN!”
PANEL 4: Tight on Molly’s face; she looks beautiful and eerie—ethereal; the lighting has changed dramatically from panels 1 and 2: we’ve cut to the actual séance, but that won’t be entirely clear till page 121.
MOLLY: EZRA DARLING…IT’S DORRIE. I KNOW YOU HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN US, EZRA, AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I—THAT I FORGIVE YOU!
PAGE 121: 2 panels, each one a half-page-deep, page-wide horizontal rectangle, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: We’re in the parlor/chapel—a wide view of it. We see Molly (as Dorrie) reclining on the divan under the window. The window drapes are drawn. She’s illuminated by a sinuous coil of glowing vapor, and by dozens of little votive candles set out on the floor around the room. She’s stretched out on her side, with her arms out toward Grindle—who is kneeling in the foreground outside/beyond the arrangement of candles. He’s hunched over, one fist near his mouth. Stan is off to one side, standing near Grindle. It’s a very eerie, creepy scene.
MOLLY: …I FORGIVE YOU, EZRA. I DO! NOW I HOPEYOU CAN FORGIVE YOURSELF AND BE AT PEACE.
GRINDLE: DORRIE! IT’S YOU—IT’S REALLY YOU!
PANEL 2: Reverse angle. Looking from the divan end of the room back toward Grindle. Molly is in the foreground (her back to us) and Grindle is on his feet now, arms out like a staggering zombie. He’s lumbering toward the divan and kicking over votive candles as he comes. Behind Grindle, Stan—in ministerial clothes and looking alarmed—is moving to grab hold of him.
GRINDLE: MY LOST LOVE! I WON’T LET YOU GO AGAIN!
PAGE 122: same layout as p. 121: 2 half-page-deep, page-wide horizontal rectangles, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: Grindle, fully clothed, has climbed on top of Molly, whose face has turned sideways; we can see her horrified expression. Grindle is mauling her, tearing at her dress. Stan is behind Grindle; he’s taken hold of one of Grindle’s arms and is trying to pull him off Molly. He looks panicked. Grindle looks crazed/blissed out.
GRINDLE: TAKE ME WITH YOU, DORRIE! MY OWN, MY PRECIOUS BRIDE!
STAN: EZRA, HAVE COURAGE! YOU MUST LET HER RETURN TO HER OWN PLACE! EZRA!
PANEL 2: And now Molly has lunged up and is beating at Grindle with both her fists. She’s screaming to Stan. Grindle looks stunned, confused.
MOLLY: STAN! FOR GOD’S SAKE, GET THIS PIG OFF ME! GET HIM OFF!
PAGE 123: 4 equal-size square panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Exterior: Mrs. Peabody’s house/Stan’s church (the Greek-Revival house). Night. We’re looking at it straight on. The front door is open. Molly—hurriedly covering herself with a raincoat, which is unbelted and unbuttoned, flapping open in front, is stumbling down the steps in terror. Her hair is wildly awry. (It’s early summer; if any trees are shown they have foliage.)
CAPTION 1/GRINDLE (letterboxed, with quotes): “CARLISLE, YOU BASTARD!”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “SHUT UP.”
PANEL 2: Same shot, the house straight on, but closer. The front door is still open, but Molly is gone.
CAPTION 1/GRINDLE (letterboxed, with quotes): “YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS.”
CAPTION 2/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “SHUT UP!”
PANEL 3: Interior/Stan’s chapel. Grindle has raised his walking stick to strike Stan; Stan has grabbed hold of the stick just below its tip and is lunging toward Grindle. Grindle looks outraged. Stan looks vicious.
GRINDLE: OUT OF MY WAY!
STAN: I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!
PANEL 4: Grindle lying slumped on the chapel floor, bleeding from a head wound. A small pool of blood is running from his head. Stan, standing spread-legged, is looking down at Grindle with horror on his face. The walking stick is in his hand now, and the head of it is dark with blood.
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes, at bottom of panel): “OPEN THE GODDAMN DOOR!”
PAGE 124: same layout as page 123: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: Lilith, dressed in a glen-plaid suit, wearing glasses, her hair in a bun—looking the consummate Professional—is standing in the doorway of her apartment. She looks peeved. Stan is pushing roughly past her, coming inside. He’s half out of his mind with fear.
STAN: SHE WENT ALL THE WAY—AND THEN BLEW IT! SHE BLEW IT!
PANEL 2: Reverse angle. Stan, inside Lilith’s apartment, has turned and is looking back at Lilith as she closed the door. He’s half-bent over, his balled fists raised beside his head. He’s standing in front of an upholstered living room chair.
STAN: AND—I HAD TO HIT HIM! GET THE MONEY AND LET’S SCRAM—NOW!
PANEL 3: Lilith, looking firm and grim (and “Professional”) has come over and, with one hand on Stan’s shoulder, has just pushed him down into the upholstered chair. He’s half-sitting/half-ready-to-spring-back to his feet.
LILITH 1: SIT DOWN, MR. CARLISLE.
STAN: DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME?
LILITH 2: SIT.
PANEL 4: Lilith has crossed the living room and is standing at the small telephone table, one hand on the European-style phone. There’s a drawer in the table. Her back is turned to Stan (out of frame).
LILITH: I’M DEEPLY ANNOYED THAT YOU CAME HERE TONIGHT. YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO THAT I NEVER SEE PATIENTS AT HOME.
PAGE 125: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Stan is on his feet, gripping the top of his head with one hand; the fingers are digging into his scalp. He’s pointing angrily at Lilith with his other hand. Lilith has pulled open the telephone-table drawer (her back is to conceal what she’s doing) and has surreptitiously reached into the drawer with one hand.
STAN: WHAT’RE YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT—PATIENT?
LILITH: WHEN YOU FIRST CAME TO ME YOU WERE IN BAD SHAPE. YOU HAD DELUSIONS. I SEE YOU STILL DO.
PANEL 2: In classic film-noir style: Lilith has turned the tables on her sap and is now pointing a small revolver at Stan (out of frame). With her free hand behind her she’s blindly dialing the telephone. The telephone receiver is lying on the table.
LILITH: YOUR HALLUCINATIONS HAVE MADE YOU DANGEROUS. I CAN’T HAVE YOU WANDERING AROUND GETTING INTO TROUBLE.
PANEL 3: Lilith is in the foreground; we see her from behind and slightly to one side. She’s still holding the gun on Stan, but with her other hand she is holding the telephone receiver to her ear. Stan is backing away from Lilith, toward the closed apartment door. His eyes are bugged.
LILITH: BELLEVUE HOSPSITAL, PLEASE. PSYCHIATRIC DIVISION…
PAGE 126: 2 panels. Each tier consists of one half-page-deep/high, page-wide panel.
PANEL 1: Almost the same shot as panel 3, page 125—except that Lilith’s apartment door is open, and Stan is gone.
LILITH 1: OPERATOR? CANCEL THE CALL. I’VE CHANGED MY MIND.
LILITH 2: (to herself, lettered small): ’BYE, LOVER…
PANEL 2: A seedy bus-terminal platform. A Trailways/Greyhound type of bus (circa early 60s) is parked at the platform. The accordion door is closing; the driver is in his seat. We can see there are passengers at several of the platform-side bus windows. The bus’s destination sign reads: ATLANTA.
In the middle-distance, Stan is racing along the platform (toward us and the bus). He looks wild. He’s still in his black ministerial clothing, but his preacher’s collar is missing. He has a ticket clutched in one hand. His other hand is stretched out in front of him, gesturing at the bus (to wait for him). His mouth is open, he’s probably shouting, but we don’t hear/see his dialog.
CAPTION 1/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “DR. LILITH RITTER’S RESIDENCE. YES, THIS IS SHE.”
CAPTION 2/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “MR. GRINDLE! YOU SOUND UPSET, IS SOMETHING–? OF COURSE I CAN SEE YOU NOW.”
CAPTION 3/LILITH (letterboxed, with quotes): “NO—NO IMPOSITION AT ALL. THIS IS WHAT I’M HERE FOR…”
PAGE 127: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 roughly equal-size panels.
NOTE: It’s now almost one year later: Spring 1963.
PANEL 1: We’re looking at the grinning Magician from the old magic-kit—only he’s here in the flesh, seated at a booth table in a sleazy cocktail lounge/bar. Several tarot cards are spread out on the table in front of him. Gyp, Stan’s boyhood dog, is seated at the Magician’s feet, looking toward a long bar in the background. Seated at the bar is a man bent over (his back to us) talking to the bartender. (The man is Stan, but we won’t know that till the next page.)
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION
PANEL 2: Closer on the tarot cards laid out on the table. They are: The Devil, The Hermit, The Tower, The Wheel of Fortune, and Death. Something very odd, though: also on the table now (they weren’t there in the first panel) are two pilsner glasses, with foam on their insides, a bottle of beer, an ashtray, a pack of cigarettes. A burning cigarette in the ashtray; the cigarette has lipstick on the filter-tip.
CAPTION/BARTENDER (letterboxed, with quotes): “THE BROAD’S NAME IS ALICE. GUY WITH HER IS A SALESMAN—PLUMBING SUPPLIES.”
PANEL 3: The same booth. But instead of the Magician being seated there, we see a blowsy-looking woman seated opposite a fat salesman; they’re talking. Two pilsner glasses, ashtray, etc. are on the table. We’re looking at the booth from another angle—from across the cocktail lounge, from the bartender’s and man’s perspective.
CAPTION/BARTENDER (letterboxed, with quotes): “MIGHT BE WORTH A TRY, PAL…”
PAGE 128: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: On the bartender (in the foreground; profile), glancing sourly down at a dime in his open palm (a cheap tip from Stan). In the mid-ground, Stan is weaving across the floor, grabbing hold of an unoccupied chair at a round unoccupied table to steady himself; he’s head toward the booth-table, where the couple sits talking. Stan has aged dramatically; he’s shaved his beard, but his face has several days’ growth on it; he’s wearing a shabby black suit…or maybe it’s his old ministerial suit now worn out and shiny. He should look on the skids, jittery. And he’s lost weight, so the suit looks especially wrong.
BARTENDER: GEEZ, THANKS…
PANEL 2: The salesman and the woman are glancing up at Stan, who’s standing next to their table now. He’s clearly drunk, and one hand is lifted, the index finger straight out—to declaim. The salesman looks belligerent; his bottom lip is pooched out. The woman is looking at Stan almost pityingly.
STAN: ’SCUSE ME, MADAM. SIR…
SALESMAN: WHATEVER YOU’RE SELLING’, WE AIN’T BUYIN’. GET LOST.
PANEL 3: On Stan, after he’s just dug a tiny, dime-store crystal ball from his jacket pocket.
STAN: I’M SELLING NOTHING, SIR. I’M GIVING—GIVING YOU A GLIMPSE OF YOUR FUTURE.
PAGE 129: 4 panels. Top tier consists of a narrow vertical left-hand panel and a 3/4-page-wide panel on the right. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size, half-page-high panels.
PANEL 1: Stan, holding the cheap little crystal ball in one palm, is leaning toward the booth-table; his other hand, palm down, is braced on the table. We’re looking at him as though from the point of view of those seated at the table—but the couple is not in the panel. We’re seeing Stan just as he begins having an hallucination that will become clear in the next panel. His jaw has just dropped in the middle of his spiel.
STAN: SINCE THE DAWN OF HISTORY, MANKIND HAS SOUGHT—
PANEL 2: Reverse angle. We’re looking over Stan’s shoulder as he backs away from the booth-table; one hand is clapped to the side of his head; his other arm has dropped to his side, his fingers are spread wide. The crystal ball has fallen and smashed on the floor. At the booth, the salesman and the woman have become Ezra Grindle and Lilith. Lilith is smiling; Ezra has his lips skinned back in anger.
STAN: NO! HOW’D YOU FIND ME? HOW’D YOU FIND ME?
PANEL 3: Stan, stumbling away across the floor, bumping against a table. The salesman and the woman, seated at the booth-table, are staring after him in wonderment.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 4: Exterior of the sleazy cocktail lounge. There’s a bubbling neon cocktail glass over the door. Stan has pushed his way through the door, and is now elbowing wildly past a man and a woman on their way in. The man and woman look at him like he’s crazy.
CAPTION 1/SALESMAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “WHAT’S WITH THAT GUY, BARTENDER?”
CAPTION 2/BARTENDER (letterboxed, with quotes): “SORRY, FOLKS—JUST SOME RUMMY GOT THE SHAKES. MY APOLOGIES.”
PAGE 130: 3 panels. Panel 1 (left) is a half-page-wide, top-to-bottom vertical rectangle; panel 2 is a small square panel atop a vertical rectangle (panel 3) on the right-hand side of the page.
PANEL 1: Stan, clearly exhausted from running, is standing shaking at the entrance to an alley—a narrow urban alley between two brick walls (the alley from his dreams/hallucinations, or damn near it). One arm—his left—is braced against a brick wall. He’s totally disheveled, and if there were a soundtrack we’d be hearing heavy breathing. Deeper into the alley is an overturned trash can, and, beside it, piled up against the wall, are several heavy bags of trash. These bags very vaguely resemble two human shapes…or they will to Stan very shortly. There’s a filthy dog (a small dog, but it doesn’t look like Gyp) rooting in the overturned trash can. In Stan’s back pocket is a pint bottle of whiskey.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 2: Close on the dog. It’s turned away from its rooting and is staring at us (actually at Stan, not in the frame); the dog is now Gyp. There’s a chicken bone in his mouth.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 3: From behind, we’re watching Stan running/stumbling down the alley after Gyp, who’s frozen watching Stan’s approach. Gyp looks like he’s probably growling; his head is tucked, he seems ready to spring at Stan.
STAN: GYP—IT’S ME! IT’S ME, GYP—STANNY!
PAGE 131: 4 equal-size panels, 2 per tier.
PANEL 1: In the alley, Stan freezes, stunned; he’s staring at two naked people, a man and a woman, standing up fucking against the brick wall. (The woman’s legs are wrapped around the man’s waist.) Directly next to them is the overturned trash can. The man’s back is to Stan; the woman, looking over the man’s shoulder, is Stan’s mother. Crudely chalked on the wall above them—like a kid’s graffiti—is the image of the Grinning Magician from the magic kit.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 2: Closer on the couple: the woman is now Lilith, with her tip of her tongue showing lasciviously. The man has turned to look behind him (at Stan, not in the panel): it’s Ezra Grindle.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 3: Close on Stan—but it’s the 12-year-old Stan from the prolog. He looks anguished, outraged. Though it’s the boy—Stan’s face—the clothing belongs to the ragged Stan of his steep decline.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 4: Stan (as he is now in 1963) is savagely attacking the naked man. The woman has slid aside and is watching: she’s laughing, and, once again, she’s Stan’s mother. The naked man that Stan is attacking is flattened against the brick wall, helpless; his knees are buckling, he’s about to go down. And the man looks exactly the way Stan did when we first saw him in the carny: 22 years old, well-built, and handsome.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PAGE 132: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 2 equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: In the alley we see Stan (the derelict Stan) down on his knees, pounding the bags of garbage that had been stacked alongside the trash can. They’re torn and spilling wet garbage everywhere. (This, of course, is what he’s actually been attacking.)
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 2: Stan, still on his knees, is now turned toward us (looking up the alley, toward its sidewalk-side entrance, not shown); he’s been startled suddenly and has flinched alert. A shadow (the shadow from the earlier dreams/hallucinations) has fallen over him and onto the wall behind him. He looks more feral than frightened.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 3: From Stan’s point of view (low-to-the-ground perspective) we’re looking up the alley, where the Grinning Magician is standing. He’s beckoning with one hand.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PAGE 133: 4 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide panel. Bottom tier consists of 3 small identically-sized panels.
PANEL 1: Still in the alley. Stan springs from the ground like an animal, arms outstretched. He’s leaping upon a silhouetted figure, who’s buckling/toppling backwards, taken completely by surprise.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 2: Close on the Magician’s face with Stan’s strangling hands clamped around his throat. The Magician’s eyes are popped/bugged, but the grin is still on his face.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 3: Same shot, exactly: Stan’s hands strangling someone, but the victim’s face is now Pete’s, Zeena’s husband from the carny. His eyes are rolling into his head.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PANEL 4: Same strangling-hands shot again—but the victim’s face is now Stan’s own: Stan as a 22-year-old carny worker. His eyes are fixed, staring, and dead.
NO DIALOG OR CAPTION.
PAGE 134: 3 page-wide, equal-size horizontal rectangles, one on top of the other.
PANEL 1: Still in the alley. Close on the stretched-out figure of a dead (strangled-to-death) uniformed cop, his face horribly contorted, his eyes fixed, and his tongue lolling from his mouth. We can see his uniform cap tumbled near the trash. In the background, Stan is stumbling out of the alley, toward the sidewalk.
CAPTION/CARNY BOSS (letterboxed, with quotes, positioned at right-bottom of panel): “LOVE OF GOD! YOU SMELL LIKE YOU PISSED YOUR PANTS! GO ON, BEAT IT!”
PANEL 2: Stan, hitching a leg up on the tailgate of a canvas-sided truck parked outside an art-deco diner. His clothing is even filthier than before. The light suggests very early morning.
CAPTION/STAN (letterboxed, with quotes): “JUST LEMME GIVE A DEMONSTRATION. I’M THE BEST FORTUNE-TELLER THERE IS…”
PANEL 3: Stan inside the truck he’s just entered. He’s hunched down, squatted against the slatted/tarp side, his legs drawn up; hollow-eyed, stubble-cheeked. He’s taking a swig from his pint bottle of whiskey.
CAPTION/CARNY BOSS (letterboxed, with quotes): “SORRY, BROTHER—BUT WE DON’T HIRE NO BOOZERS.”
PAGE 135: 3 panels. Top tier consists of one half-page-deep, page-wide horizontal rectangle. Bottom tier consists of two roughly equal-size panels.
PANEL 1: Establishing shot of a rag-tag traveling summer carnival (not so unlike the first shot we saw of the carny way back on p. 11, but this is definitely a different show.) Game booths, tents, some rides, refreshment stands. But it’s early in the day, and we don’t see any carny-goers; perhaps just a few workmen/roughnecks. Our eye is directed to a small pre-fab office at the perimeter of the carny: it’s like one of those trailer-officers set up on a construction site. On the side or the door it says: OFFICE.
STAN (off; balloon arrow pointing to the carny office): GIMME A CHANCE, MISTER. ’ZALL I’M ASKIN’!
CARNY BOSS (off; balloon pointing to the carny office): WISH I COULD HELP, BUT DON’T USE FORTUNE TELLERS. TOO MUCH TROUBLE WITH THE LAW.
PANEL 2: Inside the cramped carny office. We see Stan—at his lowest point: he’s a filthy wreck, pitifully twisting his hands in his lap; his hair is long and greasy and his beard is grown in, but it’s snarled, unkempt—starting to rise from a chair opposite the chunky, 50ish carny boss, who sits behind a small littered desk. Coffee carton, half-eaten donut, masses of papers, some tubed carny posters on the desk top. Some carny posters are scotch-taped on the wall. We’re looking at Stan from behind/beside the carny boss, so we can see the carny boss taking a liquor bottle from his bottom desk drawer.
STAN: WELL…THANKS ANYWAY…
CARNY BOSS: HEY, WAIT A MINUTE—DON’T RUN OFF SO FAST. SIDDOWN. HAVE A SNORT?
PANEL 3: Stan has dropped back into the chair and is looking desperately at the carny boss, who’s standing behind his desk now and filling a jelly glass with liquor from the bottle.
CARNY BOSS: I JUST HAPPENED TO THINK OF SOMETHING. I DO GOT ONE JOB…
PAGE 136: 3 panels, reverse layout of p. 135. Top tier consists of 2 roughly equal-size, half-page-deep panels. Bottom tier consists of one half-page-high, page-wide horizontal rectangle.
PANEL 1: Crowd scene inside a big carny tent. We’re looking at a crowd of patrons from behind as they push forward to look at an attraction; it’s as though we’re in the crowd, standing on tiptoes, trying to look ahead, to see what’s going on. We catch a glimpse up front of someone on a platform, turned slightly away from us, gesturing theatrically; the figure’s arm is raised and there’s something in his hand, but we can’t see what.
CAPTION/CARNY BOSS (letterboxed, with quotes): “IT AIN’T MUCH, BUT IT’LL PAY FOR A DRINK NOW AND THEN…”
PANEL 2: We’ve pushed through most of the crowd now and are near the front, as though pressed against the low wall of a wooden vat/pit; the stage platform is beyond and above it. We’re looking up at—the Grinning Magician on the platform. He’s addressing the crowd (though we don’t hear/see what he’s saying), and he’s holding up a chicken that he’s grabbed by the neck. And we see two filthy scabby hands thrust up from inside the vat/pit.
CAPTION/CARNY BOSS (letterboxed, with quotes): “OF COURSE, IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY…”
PANEL 3: In the geek vat/pit. Stan, naked except for a filthy loincloth, long-haired, caked with mud, mad-eyed: he’s hunkered, biting through the neck of the chicken; he’s being squirted in the face with its blood. Around him, snakes writhe. Our view is sharply down, as though we’re the carny-goers (we don’t actually see any carny-goers, though: just Stan, completely alone).
CAPTION/CARNY BOSS (letterboxed, with quotes): “…JUST TILL WE GET A REAL GEEK.”