Showdown at Sherman Mine!
By Robert Schmidt
Previously: For those who didn't read the script for PP #4 or who don't remember it, here's what has happened:
Billy Honanie and Drew Quyatt have gained mysterious powers that they don't fully understand. Drew chased an escaped llama across the reservation and returned it to its home. Billy talked to locals to prepare his defense of the Sherman Mine's environmental record. The Sampson family continued their vacation in the Four Corners area, while the man-monster called Petro continued to stalk the land.
Spotting something suspicious at the mine, Billy and Drew snuck in at night to investigate, only to be confronted by the malevolent Manhandler. They transformed into their superhero forms but, before they could escape, were buried alive.
PANEL 1. A half-page shot from overhead shows a moonlit landscape. In the distance are the two Mitten Buttes—famous from thousands of photographs, commercials, and movies—and other monuments. In the foreground is a small cluster of buildings with a pool and a parking lot. It's a motor lodge for tourists visiting Monument Valley. An unobtrusive dirt road leads to it.
Voices emanate from the motor lodge. They're all rendered as whispers until indicated.
1. CAP: A motor lodge near Monument Valley, Utah.
2. CAP: After driving north to see awesome canyons, natural arches, and a Ute Indian casino (where they had to drag Horace away from his "lucky machine"), the Sampsons are heading home.
3. VOICE #1 (Leeza): Brad, are you awake?
4. VOICE #2 (Brad): Unnhh....
5. VOICE #1 (Leeza): I can't help thinking about today. Wasn't that tour just, just...monumental?
6. VOICE #2 (Brad): Big deal, man. I've seen this place in tons of bank and car commercials.
7. CAP: Showdown at Sherman Mine!
8. CAP (credits):
Words: Rob Schmidt
Art: Eduardo Savid
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
PANEL 2. Leeza and Brad, both awake, lie in one king-size bed with the covers drawn up, staring at the ceiling. To one side are the lumpy forms of their parents, asleep in another king-size bed. The room has the layout and decor of a typical motel room. It's dark except for the moonlight through the window.
9. LEEZA: I can't believe our vacation is almost over.
10. BRAD: Yeah, that bites the big one.
11. LEEZA: We're heading by the Sherman Mine again tomorrow. I want to stop and see it.
12. BRAD: Huh?
PANEL 3. They continue talking. Beginning with Brad's question, the voices are no longer whispers, but normal speech.
13. LEEZA: I'm especially interested in the reclamation techniques used to restore indigenous plant life.
14. BRAD (in a normal voice): Are you nuts?
15. BRAD: As Horace would say, it's nothing but a big hole in the ground!
16. LEEZA: No, I really—
PANEL 4. Horace stirs groggily and yells at them from his bed.
17. HORACE: Pipe down over there! Go to sleep!
18. LEEZA and BRAD (together): Awww, Dad!
PANEL 1. Longshot of the Sherman Mine from above as a steady rain falls, partly obscuring the scene. In the center, amid the sculpted hills of coal, is the pile of earth containing our heroes. Because of the rain, it's more of a rounded mound than a pointed pyramid, maybe 10 feet tall.
1. CAP: The Sherman Mine.
2. CAP: A steady rain patters against the sculpted hills of coal.
3. CAP: Nothing unusual about that, except this shower bathes ONLY the mine, leaving the surrounding land untouched.
PANEL 2. Medium shot of the pile Rain Falling and Snake Standing are buried in. As drops of rain hit the pile, they create small but visible impacts. The pile's surface is dimpled with tiny pockmarks.
4. CAP: If the rain fell continuously, night and day, it eventually would wash away the pile of dirt and ore and expose what lies beneath.
5. CAP: Unfortunately, Billy and Drew have only seconds to live, not weeks.
PANEL 3. Closeup of the mound. A shallow depression appears in the dirt, maybe a couple of feet wide. In the center of the depression, the pointed tip of something emerges.
6. CAP: But wait...
PANEL 4. Shot of the mound's top. Two or three badgers break through the surface. Their snouts and forepaws are visible as they claw their way out. They're in a rough circle, several feet wide, and facing away from each other.
Between them is a larger version of the depression. In the center of this are Rain Falling (RF) and Snake Standing (SS)—at least, their fingers and the tips of their heads—as they struggle to break out of the earth. The rain begins to taper off.
7. SFX: CHURR CHURR
PANEL 5. The depression between the badger collapses further as RF and SS burst out of the mound. Their upper torsos and arms are visible as they claw their way upward and gasp for air. The badgers around them have almost completely emerged from the pile. The rain continues to taper off.
8. SFX (in small letters): kecker kecker kecker
PANEL 6. On their hands and knees, gasping and coughing, RF and SS pull their legs and feet from the caved-in depression. The badgers, if they're visible, have forgotten RF and SS and waddle away, unconcerned. The rain is almost over.
9. RF: koff-uk-huk-huk-alive.
10. SS: hack-kak-ak-kuk-free.
PANEL 7. RF and SS flop or tumble down the side of the mound and land at its base.
11. RF: Buried-koff-alive.
12. SS: Badgers-ack-freed us.
13. RF: Let's go before-koff—
14. RF: —the National Guard arrives.
PANEL 1. Wide-angle shot of the mine from ground level. In the center, SS leads as the two heroes flee into the night. The light is dim because clouds cover the moon.
As RF and SS run, they revert to their civilian identities. Each of them is shown as a triple image: their superhero forms, then transitional forms, then their regular forms.
1. SS: Hey, I just realized. Badgers...Honanie.* What could be more appropriate?
2. RF: Shut up and run.
3. CAP: *"Honanie" is Hopi for badger.
PANEL 2. Overhead shot of Drew and Billy as they approach their camp, feeling their way through the darkness. Drew, in the lead, concentrates on finding the way.
PANEL 3. This panel stretches the full width of the page. On the left is a closeup of Billy. He looks angry.
On the right are the two small figures of Billy and Drew as they run from the mine. The center of the panel is blank to make room for the text.
4. BILLY (thx): What the hell were we thinking?!
Billy's thoughts bleed into a section of text.
They slink through the night. "Slink" is the perfect word for it, Billy stews—two common criminals fleeing the scene of their crime. He'd been crazy to go along with Drew, crazy to break the rules. And he'd paid for it in spades.
Drew is saying something, trying to lighten the mood, but Billy ignores his cousin. Again and again he relives that moment. The waves of earth knocking him down, inundating him. The sudden stark feeling of being pinned, trapped, unable to move. The panicked energy blazing out of his body, stretching in all directions, pulling the water out of the sky.
And when nothing happened, the realization that he was entombed, a dead man, but alive to experience the last moments. The utter blackness of doom, the bile rising in his throat, a scream his last will and testament. A feeling of helplessness squeezing his heart till it was ready to burst.
He'll never forget that abject sense of terror, he knows—not till his dying day.
PANEL 4. This panel stretches the full width of the page. On the right is an inset showing a closeup of Rain Falling's face as he panics while buried beneath the earth. The edges of this inset are rounded to indicate it's a flashback.
On the left this time are the two figures of Billy and Drew as they run from the mine. They're bigger and closer than they were in the previous panel. The center of the panel is blank to make room for the text.
And then, an eternity later, the earth shifting and something moving beside him. Drew? Whatever it was, the earth was suddenly loose. He tore at it, pulled himself up, clutched and scrabbled and kicked. He was drowning in dirt, his lungs about to burst. The earth slumped around him and suddenly his fingers were touching nothing. A last surge and he was gulping great gasps of air.
His entire body felt like one big bruise. Every inch hurt, ached, or throbbed. But nothing felt broken. How had they survived the crushing tons of dirt? Were their "super" forms tougher than normal bodies?
And how had they survived without air for so long? He was sure they'd been buried ten or fifteen minutes. He couldn't hold his breath longer than a minute, he guessed. The mask over his face had kept the dirt out of his eyes, nose, and mouth. Had it trapped a layer of air also? Or did the "super" form (he can't think of it as himself) need less air to breathe?
PANEL 5. This panel stretches the full width of the page. On the left this time is an inset showing a closeup of Manhandler's high-tech gun as it sprays bullets in Billy's direction. The edges of this inset are rounded to indicate it's a flashback.
On the right are the two figures of Billy and Drew as they run from the mine. They're even closer than they were in the previous panel. The center of the panel is blank to make room for the text.
His heart is racing, and it isn't because of their exertions. He's madder than he's ever been in his life. He's mad at the gun-toting guard who tried to kill them. Mad at the mine for a hiring a wacko who shoots first and asks questions later. Mad at Drew for his stupid fantasy of playing heroes. And, most of all, mad at himself for listening.
Their so-called "powers" are a joke. They couldn't stop a old lady from crossing the street, much less an armed and dangerous thug. He can't even blame the guard for shooting. The fellow may have been trigger-happy, but they were the guilty ones. They were in the wrong.
What should he do? Report to Sherman that he field-tested their security by trespassing in a funny costume? He isn't sure if he and Drew would be jailed or committed to a funny farm. Neither prospect seems inviting.
PANEL 1. This panel stretches the full width of the page. On the left is a small picture of Drew stumbling into camp ahead of Billy. On the right is a small picture of Billy climbing into his sleeping bag. The center is blank for text.
They stumble into their camp. The fire has gone out. Bone-weary, Billy curls up in his sleeping bag and tries to sleep.
Despite his exhaustion, he can't, at least not fully. He twitches and jerks as images flash through his subconscious. There's the figure on the hill, his body glinting like metal. The gunman is shooting at them, at him—a rain of bullets that changes into a rain of dirt that rises to his waist, his shoulders, his mouth—
PANEL 2. This panel stretches the full width of the page. On the left is a small picture showing Billy's head and shoulders as he tosses and turns in his sleeping bag. On the right is a small picture with some sort of distortion to show it's a dream image. It's a closeup of Manhandler as he laughs insanely, enjoying the thought of killing Billy and Drew.
The center is blank for text.
Billy wakes with a start. The only drowning he's doing is in sweat—he's drenched in it. The moon has set and the night is dark, though stars gleam between the tatters of clouds. Somewhere in the inky blackness is the truck, the firepit, and Drew's huddled form, but he doesn't care. He doesn't care about anything. He curls up in his bag and falls into a fitful sleep.
PANEL 3. A return to a conventional panel layout. This panel is a wide-angle shot of the campsite showing the truck, the firepit, and Billy and Drew in their sleeping bags. Drew is asleep but Billy is awake, pushing himself up to a sitting position. The scene is bathed in the gray light preceding dawn.
1. CAP: Dawn breaks cold and gray.
2. CAP: Every bone in Billy's body aches as he pushes himself awake.
3. CAP: He feels as if he hasn't slept in a week, though he thinks he managed a few hours.
PANEL 4. Billy gathers his gear as he prepares to leave.
4. CAP: He's in sad shape for what may be the most important day of his life.
5. DREW (from off-panel): groannn....
6. DREW (from off-panel): Did anyone get the number of that truck...the one that hit me?
PANEL 5. Drew is now awake. He's still in his sleeping bag, propped up on his elbows, watching Billy as he climbs into the driver's side of the truck.
7. DREW: Hey, where are you going?
PANEL 6. Closeup of Billy as he responds coldly, sarcastically.
8. BILLY: To Disney World. Where do you think?
9. BILLY: The Sherman press conference, with my career on the line, is in three hours. I'm going into town to wash up, have a pot of coffee, and review my notes.
10. BILLY: I'll pick you up when it's time.
PANEL 7. Drew watches as the truck roars away in a cloud of dust. He looks puzzled.
11. DREW: Sheesh, what's wrong with him?
PANEL 1. A typical motel room. Through the door to the bathroom, we see Billy taking a shower and scrubbing himself. He's behind the glass and partly hidden by steam, but we can see the outline of his trim body.
In the foreground is a table or cabinet with his wallet, keys, and cellphone on it.
1. CAP: Two hours later....
2. CAP: A motel room in Kayenta.
3. BILLY: Ah. Blessed water.
4. CELLPHONE: R-I-NN-G!
PANEL 2. Same layout as the previous panel. Billy pokes his head out of the shower to listen to the cellphone. He gapes as he listens to the message.
5. VOICE (on cellphone): Billy? This is Smith.
6. VOICE (on cellphone): I hope you're ready. This is the big show.
7. VOICE (on cellphone): Sherman has set up a temporary site for your press conference. You're on at 9.
8. VOICE (on cellphone): You know the drill. Make the client look good and the protesters look bad. We're counting on you.
9. BILLY: Oh, $#!%.
PANEL 3. A medium shot of Chack as he stands in the midst of his fellow protesters. He's talking on a cellphone while the others clamor for his attention. He holds up a hand to quiet them so he can hear the person on the line.
10. CAP: A community room in Tuba City.
11. CHACK: Simmer down, people. I've got SPLS on the line.
PANEL 4. Tighter shot of Chack as he talks on the phone. He puts one finger in his ear to shut out the noise. Around him we see the faces of some of the protesters.
12. CHACK: What're our options? What's our best strategy?
13. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Knock 'em down!
14. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Smash 'em up!
15. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Show 'em we won't be intimidated by their bully tactics!
PANEL 5. Silhouette of a black woman in an office behind a glass door. She's talking on a desk phone. On the door is stenciled the phrase "Southwestern People's Legal Services."
16. WOMAN: I heard that!
17. WOMAN: No violence. That's rule no. 1.
PANEL 6. Closeup of Chack on the phone.
18. VOICE (over the phone): And no trespassing either. Stay out of the compound. Don't give them any excuse to arrest you.
19. CHACK: What about the media? Will anyone actually show?
20. VOICE (over the phone): Don't worry...I had someone alert them. Local TV and radio will be there.
21. VOICE (over the phone): Play to the cameras, not to the live audience. The people at home are your real target.
PANEL 7. Another shot of the black woman through the glass door.
22. WOMAN: Stick to our talking points, stay on message, and you'll do fine.
23. WOMAN: Godspeed.
PANEL 1. Manhandler is on a rise overlooking a fenced-in area (henceforth to be called the "compound"). He's wearing a big overcoat that flaps in the breeze over his body armor. He's fiddling with a small box—an electronic device that looks as though it could transmit a signal.
The area below him is a large square shape. A chain-link fence about eight feet high surrounds it. A double-door gate leads to an aisle between rows of chairs. There are five rows of ten chairs on each side of the aisle. At the end of the aisle is a dais with several chairs and a lectern on it. Behind the dais are two tall metal poles with speakers and lights on them—one in each corner.
In front of the compound, the freeway passes at an angle. A dirt road leads from the highway to the compound's gate. To either side are trailer-style buildings. Behind the compound are jumbled piles of dirt forming a crescent-shaped rise overlooking the scene. That's where Manhandler is. (See drawing.)
Nobody's in the compound at present.
1. CAP: The Sherman Mining Company.
2. MANHANDLER (thx): Took care of those two interlopers last night. Nobody's gonna spoil my big moment.
3. MANHANDLER (thx): This pulser will scramble electronic signals if anything goes wrong. Nobody's gonna call for help on my watch.
PANEL 2. Another shot of Manhandler.
4. MANHANDLER (thx): This'll show Sherman I can do the job. If those tree huggers try anything, I'll slap them down like a bear guarding his honey.
5. MANHANDLER (thx): When the suits see how smoothly this gabfest goes, they'll HAVE to hire me.
PANEL 3. Small closeup of Manhandler.
6. MANHANDLER: As Momma always says, if opportunity doesn't knock, ring the doorbell yourself.
PANEL 4. A small longshot shows Petro in the distance as he walks along the highway.
7. CAP: Somewhere on Highway 160.
PANEL 5. Billy races the truck along the highway to pick up Drew.
8. BILLY (thx): Gotta hurry...can't be late.
PANEL 6. A small shot of Petro getting closer to his destination.
PANEL 7. The Sampson family drives along the highway.
9. HORACE (groaning): Do we HAVE to do this?
10. LEEZA: Dad! You promised us one cultural activity a day, and this is it!
11. HORACE: <groan> Doesn't eating donuts in a genu-wine Indian Burger King count?
PANEL 8. A small closeup of Petro as he approaches his destination. He looks grim and determined, as if he's stalking something—or someone.
PANEL 1. A blonde newscaster stands in front of the fenced compound. She's holding a microphone and speaking into the camera. Around her are a couple of newsvans with various cables and antenna coming out of them. Workers are arranging equipment, hoisting cameras, etc. Also milling about are a few protesters with signs, and a couple of uniformed security guards.
1. CAP: Soon....
2. NEWSCASTER: This is Trish Travis for KQNX. We're here LIVE in front of the Sherman Mining Company, where a press conference is about to begin.
3. NEWSCASTER: The issue at hand: Is the Sherman Mine harming the environment by using water from the underground aquifer?
4. SIGN #1: Sherman Unfair!
5. SIGN #2: Save Our Planet!
PANEL 2. Wide-angle shot of the compound from overhead. We can see the dais and most of the audience. On the dais are mining executives in suits on the left and Indians on the right. A couple of these Indians are miners in hard hats and work clothes. The others are wearing nice clothes, including a suit with a bolo tie. One is a woman.
Mr. Griffith (see PP #1) is at the lectern and Billy (in a suit) is seated to his left (our right).
The seats are full of people, though we can see only the backs of their heads. Many of them are Indians while others are ordinary white folks. There are no protesters inside.
The Sampson family is seated in the audience also. They're in the fourth row from the front, on the right (our right), near the aisle. We can just see the backs of their heads, but Horace's bald head and Madge's big hairdo are noticeable. Next to them are Brad and Leeza.
In the back row on the left, seated on the aisle, is a middle-aged woman holding a pair of Chihuahuas. The dogs are wearing bows or sweaters and look very cute.
Cameramen are stationed on either side of the chairs and in the center aisle. They're filming the proceedings. Near them are security guards, one on each side of the compound, standing at ease along the fence.
6. GRIFFITH: Okay, everybody, let's begin.
7. GRIFFITH: I'd like to introduce today's speaker: Billy Honanie of Smith, Jones, Rodham, and Brown.
PANEL 3. Closeup of Griffith.
8. GRIFFITH: As a Native American himself, Billy will give us the Native perspective on Sherman and everything we're doing to help the community.
PANEL 4. Closeup of Leeza and Brad. Leeza looks excited while Brad looks annoyed.
9. LEEZA: What luck! We got the last seats available.
10. BRAD: Yeah, what luck. Any more of this luck and I'll have to kill myself.
PANEL 5. A shot from Billy's perspective as he moves past Griffith to the lectern. We can see the audience, the fence, and the newsvans beyond it. Drew is in the front row, to the right of the aisle. He's sitting casually, smiling confidently at Billy. His t-shirt has the words "Fair Play" on it.
11. BILLY (thx): <gulp> Show time.
PANEL 6. Closeup of Drew giving Billy a thumb up.
12. DREW (thx): Go get 'em, tiger.
PANEL 1. A TV screen-shaped panel shows Billy standing at the lectern. He looks a little nervous as he begins speaking into the microphone.
1. BILLY: Thank you, Mr. Griffith. And thank you all for coming to hear our story.
2. BILLY: The Sherman Mining Company is proud to be a partner of the Navajo and Hopi tribes. By working closely with our neighbors, we've created jobs while safeguarding the environment. It has been, and continues to be, a win-win situation for everyone.
PANEL 2. Billy continues speaking at the lectern.
3. BILLY: Today we'll hear from the miners who work the land and the scientists who monitor it. They'll give you the real story about Sherman's environmental accomplishments.
4. BILLY: First, I'd like to introduce Mr. Ashton Hale.
PANEL 3. Medium shot of the fence behind the audience. Now it's lined with protesters holding signs. We can't see them clearly through the fence, but there appears to be a dozen or so people on each side of the closed gate.
5. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): What about the water?
6. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Quit stalling!
PANEL 4. A stocky Indian miner in a hard hat begins speaking at the lectern. He looks unsure of himself.
7. HALE: Uh, hello, everyone.
8. HALE: My name is Ashton Hale. I was born to the Red Running into Water Clan and born for the Towering House Clan.
PANEL 5. Hale continues speaking at the lectern.
9. HALE: I've been working at Sherman for 20 years now. I've earned a good income with great benefits. The folks here have really taken care of me and my family.
10. HALE: Sherman employs about 800 Indians: 700 Diné and 100 Hopi. These are people who might otherwise be unemployed. In fact, Sherman is the largest employer in the area by far.
PANEL 6. Closeup of Brad fingering the "lucky rock" he picked up in PP #4.
11. BRAD (thx): I'm bored. C'mon, you dumb rock: Make something happen!
PANEL 7. A closer shot of the fence behind the audience. Now we can recognize a few of the people behind the fence. On the left is someone in a wheelchair, whose face is obscured, and Chack. On the right is Pearl (see PP #3) and her husband Alan (see PEACE PARTY 9/11 Story).
12. CHACK: We're not questioning the economic benefits!
13. PEARL: Talk about the environmental degradation!
PANEL 1. Hale continues speaking at the lectern.
1. HALE: Uh, as I was saying, 800 of us Indians work here. We're careful to follow all the mandated mining procedures to protect the land.
2. HALE: After we mine an area, we backfill it with soil and replant the native vegetation—
PANEL 2. Closeup of the figure in the wheelchair through the fence. It's Oliver Gee (see PP #1). Although he's dressed like a hospital patient, he's shouting angrily. He's not wearing a headband this time, but does have a bandage covering his head.
3. OLIVER: C'mon, Billy-boy! Is this the best you can do?
4. OLIVER: Stop this dog-and-pony show and start addressing the issues!
PANEL 3. A shot from Billy's perspective on the dais as he looks out at the audience and the fence. Both he and Drew are staring at Oliver.
5. BILLY and DREW (together): Oliver?
6. DREW (thx): I thought he was in the hospital.
7. BILLY (thx): What's he doing here?
PANEL 4. A shot of Hale at the lectern. Billy steps to the lectern and nudges Hale aside so he can speak.
8. HALE: Uhh—
9. BILLY: I'll take that question, Mr. Hale.
PANEL 5. Closeup of Billy as he addresses the hecklers. He's trying to stay calm but not doing very well at it.
10. BILLY: Our hydrologist was going to address the groundwater issue shortly. But since you can't wait, I'll address it now.
11. BILLY: Several studies have shown that Sherman is using less than 0.1% of the N-aquifer annually. That's far less than the rainfall replenishes every year.
PANEL 6. Closeup of Oliver on the other side of the fence.
12. OLIVER: Our hydrologist will kick your hydrologist's butt any day of the week.
13. OLIVER: Let's have a real debate, not this feel-good parade of talking heads.
PANEL 7. Closeup of Billy as he addresses the hecklers. He's starting to get angry.
14. BILLY: If you'll stop interrupting us, we'll give you all the information you need.
PANEL 8. Closeup of Drew, who looks worried on Billy's behalf.
15. DREW: Uh-oh. Bill's starting to lose his grip.
PANEL 1. Medium shot of the fence. Various protesters (but not Oliver, Chack, Pearl, or Alan) have laced their hands through the chain links.
1. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Sellout!
2. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Stop the coverup!
3. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Apple!
4. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Tell the truth!
5. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): Uncle Tomahawk!
6. PROTESTER (with the balloon not attached to a particular person): We want justice!
PANEL 2. Closeup of Leeza, Brad, and Madge (holding Midgie). They've turned to look at the protesters. Leeza and Madge look worried, while Brad looks excited.
7. LEEZA: Oh, no!
8. BRAD: Oh, yeah!
9. MADGE: Oh, my!
10. MIDGIE: slrp slrp
PANEL 3. Medium shot of the compound from overhead. The people in the audience are twisting in their seats. Some are getting up. Billy is at the lectern waving his hands, trying to calm people down.
11. BILLY: Please, people! Let's sit down and discuss this calmly!
PANEL 4. Another TV screen-shaped panel shows a closeup of Billy as he tries to calm everyone down. Suddenly he's pelted with several flying objects: eggs or tomatoes. They rain down from above because the protesters have lobbed them in a high arc over the fence. Billy tries to fend the objects off but one of them hits him.
12. BILLY: Hey!
13. BILLY: Oww!
14. BILLY: Stop that!
15. SCREEN CAP: LIVE
PANEL 5. We see the fence from Brad's perspective. The protesters are screaming, throwing things, and rattling the fence.
The woman with the Chihuahuas is also visible. She looks frightened.
16. PROTESTERS: No water, no life!
17. BRAD: Kewl!
18. BRAD (in small letters): Thank you, lucky charm!
PANEL 6. Closeup of Manhandler. He's looking down at the chaos from his position above the crowd.
19. MANHANDLER (thx): This situation is officially out of control.
20. MANHANDLER (thx): I KNEW Sherman's people couldn't handle it.
PANEL 7. Shot of him rushing or leaping forward. In his hand he has a tear-gas grenade. (I believe it looks like a tube the size of a spray can.)
21. MANHANDLER: Okay, pulser's activated.
22. MANHANDLER: This looks like a job for...Manhandler!
PANEL 1. Manhandler drops into the scene. He lands between the gate and the chairs, facing the protesters on the other side of the fence. The people on the dais and in the audience gape at him. The tear-gas grenade is in his hand.
From this point on, we should see some of the aforementioned people—the Sampson family, the woman with the Chihuahuas, Mr. Griffith, Ashton Hale, the cameramen—in the background of the compound scenes. Depending on what the angle is, show one or two people who might be standing in that position.
1. MANHANDLER (to protesters): All right, weirdos. Play time is over.
PANEL 2. A rear shot of Manhandler as he faces the protesters behind the fence. He holds up the grenade and waves it menacingly.
2. MANHANDLER: You have five seconds to disperse or I'll give you a taste of this.
PANEL 3. Overhead shot of the compound. Most of the people are frozen in positions of shock. The two guards inside the compound are slowly approaching Manhandler from either side with guns drawn. Billy and Drew are now together in front of the dais.
3. DREW: Who is this guy?
4. DREW: You didn't hire some high-tech security?
5. BILLY: No chance. I've never—wait.
6. BILLY: I think it's HIM. The same nutjob who tried to bury us alive.
PANEL 4. The two guards, each about 15 feet from Manhandler, are pointing their guns at him. They look grim, while he looks slightly puzzled, as if he's surprised that anyone would dare interrupt him.
7. GUARD #1: Don't make any sudden moves.
8. GUARD #2: Drop the weapon and raise your hands.
9. MANHANDLER: Eh?
PANEL 5. Medium shot of Manhandler. He reacts by throwing his hands up and tossing the grenade into the air.
10. GUARD (from off-panel): You heard us.
11. MANHANDLER: Okay, if you say so!
PANEL 6. Overhead shot of the compound. We see a closeup of the grenade as it twirls in the air. Below it, everyone is looking up at it, including the guards.
12. CROWD: Oooooh.
PANEL 1. Shot of the first guard to Manhandler's left. In the foreground, we see Manhandler's left hand holding a gun as he fires at the guard. A bullet hits the guard in the chest and he falls backward.
1. SFX: BLAM
2. GUARD #1: Ooof.
3. SFX (the beginning of a cry from the crowd): SHHR-
PANEL 2. Another panel of the same size and shape shows a similar shot of the second guard. We see Manhandler's right hand also holding a gun as he fires at this guard. A bullet hits the guard in the chest and he also falls backward.
4. SFX: BLAM
5. GUARD #2: Urgh.
6. SFX (the end of the cry from the crowd): -IEEK!
PANEL 3. Manhandler has already holstered his two guns. He looks up and casually catches the falling grenade. The guards lie crumpled on the ground on either side, motionless.
7. MANHANDLER: Nothing to worry about, folks.
8. MANHANDLER: I used rubber bullets.
PANEL 4. Manhandler points at the protesters on the other side of the fence. They were watching like everyone else and haven't moved.
9. MANHANDLER: I thought I told you to vamoose. Am-scray.
PANEL 5. Closeup of Oliver and Alan through the fence on either side of the gate.
10. OLIVER (and others): Hell, no!
11. ALAN (and others): We won't go!
PANEL 6. Closeup of Drew and Billy as they confer near the dais. Billy has his cellphone pressed to his ear. The people on the dais have all cleared out, leaving them alone.
12. DREW: We've got to do something.
13. BILLY: I tried calling for help. No luck.
14. DREW: I don't mean that. I mean—
15. BILLY: Oh, no.
16. DREW: Oh, yes!
PANEL 1. Manhandler lobs the grenade over the fence. As it flies over, it spews a cloudy trail of gas.
1. MANHANDLER: Okay, you asked for it.
2. MANHANDLER: Don't say I didn't warn you.
PANEL 2. The grenade lands amidst the protesters and begins emitting clouds of gas. Chack, Oliver, Pearl, and Alan are among those who clutch their throats, bend over, or fall down, gasping and choking.
3. OLIVER: gasp
4. CHACK: hack
5. PEARL: choke
6. ALAN: koff
PANEL 3. Shot of Billy and Drew as they transform into Rain Falling and Snake Standing. We see each of them as if in a triple exposure: their human forms, a blank outline, and then their superhero forms. Billy has his hand extended, fingers spread, as if he's gesturing toward Manhandler.
7. BILLY: No choice!
8. DREW: Do it!
PANEL 4. A layer of dark clouds appears about 10 feet above the protesters. From it pours a burst of rain. The protesters are drenched but the rain washes away the gas.
9. OLIVER: —ack
10. CHACK: —off
PANEL 5. Shot of Manhandler from halfway up the center aisle. Suspecting something, he twists around and spots RF and SS.
11. MANHANDLER: Huh?
12. MANHANDLER: YOU?!?
PANEL 6. Manhandler faces RF and SS along the center aisle.
13. MANHANDLER: I thought you were dead.
14. RF: We were—
15. SS: —but we got better.
PANEL 1. Manhandler draws his guns and fires several shots at RF and SS. We see several bullets hitting each of them.
1. MANHANDLER: Well, this time you're going down for sure.
2. SFX: blam blam blam blam blam blam
PANEL 2. Shot of RF and SS sprawled on the ground on their backsides. They look surprised that they're still alive. Each feels his torso for bullet wounds. There's no damage; their costumes aren't even ripped.
3. SS: We're still conscious.
4. RF: Must be these hard bodies.
PANEL 3. Manhandler looks surprised too. He draws a big, high-tech sort of rifle from under his coat.
5. MANHANDLER: Time to stop screwin' around.
6. MANHANDLER: Armor-piercing shells'll do the trick.
7. MANHANDLER: As momma always says, if at first you don't succeed—
8. MANHANDLER: —fire, fire again.
PANEL 4. Closeup of SS and RF. This time SS gestures with his hand in Manhandler's direction.
9. SS: No, it's our turn.
10. SS: Animals, attack!
PANEL 5. The two Chihuahuas leap from their owner's arms with teeth bared. At the moment, they look more like vicious attack dogs than frilly pets.
11. CHIHUAHUAS (together): GRRRR
PANEL 6. The Chihuahuas clamp onto Manhandler's legs—one on an ankle, the other on a thigh. As they jolt Manhandler, he lets go of his rifle.
12. SFX: chomp
13. SFX: chomp
14. MANHANDLER: OWWW!
PANEL 1. With a quick motion, Manhandler slaps or swats the dogs away. They go flying through the air together.
1. MANHANDLER: Get off, you little rugrats!
2. CHIHUAHUA #1: ulp
3. CHIHUAHUA #2: ulp
PANEL 2. Closeup on the two Chihuahuas. They're lying on the ground on their backs, looking dazed from the assault.
4. CHIHUAHUA #1 (thx): Yo quiero Lassie.
5. CHIHUAHUA #2 (thx): Yo quiero Rin Tin Tin.
PANEL 3. A couple of birds fly around Manhandler's head and try to peck at him. He tries to swat them away.
6. MANHANDLER: What the—?
7. MANHANDLER: Get away!
8. SFX: flap flap
PANEL 4. Medium-long shot of Manhandler. Suddenly he's surrounded by a flock of birds around his head. They're all trying to peck at him. There are also a few little rodents—mice and small squirrels—trying to nip at his heels.
9. MANHANDLER: GO AWAY!
10. SFX: peck peck peck
PANEL 5. Manhandler seems to fold into a ball under the birds' assault.
PANEL 6. Suddenly, Manhandler looks up again, smiling. He has another gas canister in his hand. A cloud of gas envelopes him and the birds. The birds look surprised. They stop pecking him, back off, and flutter weakly.
11. SFX: whsssh
PANEL 7. Closeup of a few birds that are falling or have fallen to the ground. They're lying on their backs, legs sticking up in the air as if they're dead. (But their legs twitch or wings flutter to show they're still alive.)
PANEL 1. Manhandler crouches to pick up his rifle while looking around for more attacks. The stunned birds lie around him. The last remains of the gas drift away.
1. MANHANDLER: Is that the best you can do?
2. MANHANDLER: That attack was feebler than baby spit.
PANEL 2. Closeup of RF and SS, who are crouching now, as they confer.
3. RF: He's right. We need help.
4. SS: We need divine intervention.
PANEL 3. Shot of the front of the compound from the highway. In the background, near the compound's gate, the protesters are still struggling to their feet. The ground beneath them is soggy and muddy.
In the foreground, more guards have arrived in a couple of security cars. These cars look roughly like police cars. In the car closest to us, the guards are talking. One is driving and the other is using the radio.
5. GUARD #1 (to other guard): We need backup...fast!
6. GUARD #2 (with microphone): I'm trying, but I can't get through!
PANEL 4. We see a man-shaped silhouette from the rear as it approaches two security cars blocking the way to the compound.
7. VOICE (from car, in small letters): Mayday, mayday!
PANEL 5. From the rear, we see the dark silhouette smash through the two cars, sending them flying.
8. SFX: KRR-
9. SFX: -SSH!
PANEL 6. From the rear, we see the dark silhouette smash through the people outside the gate. Five or so people—perhaps two security guards, a cameraman, and two protesters—go flying.
10. SILHOUETTE (in letters of increasing size): rrrrr
11. SFX: argh!
12. SFX: gleck!
13. SFX: womp!
PANEL 7. Shot of the gate from the interior as Petro the Petrified Man bursts through.
14. PETRO: ROWRRR!
15. SFX: krish
16. SFX: krash
PANEL 1. Brad has moved away from his family and is now somewhere near the dais. He watches as Petro continues down the center aisle. Petro heads directly toward Manhandler.
1. BRAD: This is better than a Bruckheimer film!
PANEL 2. The first of a series of small panels showing a fight between Petro and Manhandler. In this panel, Manhandler shoots his high-tech rifle at Petro.
2. SFX: pow pow pow pow
PANEL 3. The bullets nick Petro's body and send small flakes flying before bouncing off harmlessly. Petro seems unfazed and looks angry.
3. SFX: tik tik tik tik
PANEL 4. Petro knocks the gun aside, causing it to crumple, splinter, or break into pieces.
4. SFX: thwack
PANEL 5. Manhandler hits Petro in the chest with a martial arts kick.
5. SFX: thud
PANEL 6. Manhandler hits or kicks Petro again. Petro is unmoved; he doesn't feel the blows.
6. SFX: thud
PANEL 7. Petro hits Manhandler and sends him flying 15 or 20 feet backward. Manhandler lands hard on the ground.
7. SFX: frump
PANEL 1. Manhandler pulls a standard explosive grenade (i.e., one shaped like a pineapple) from beneath his coat and hurls it at Petro.
PANEL 2. The grenade hits Petro and explodes, engulfing him in a ball of fire and smoke. Small pieces of rock go flying out of the firestorm, which has enveloped Petro, and into the crowd.
1. SFX: ka-BLAMM
PANEL 3. Shot of Leeza, Madge (holding Midgie), and Horace standing approximately where they were before. Leeza and Horace react in horror as a piece of rock hits Madge in the forehead. She reels backward and lets go of Midgie.
2. LEEZA: Mom!
3. HORACE: Madge!
PANEL 4. Closeup of little Midgie as she lands safely on the ground. As usual, she's sucking her pacifier.
4. MIDGIE: slrp slrp
PANEL 5. Worm's-eye view of the scene—i.e., from Midgie's perspective. Through a tangle of chair legs and people's legs, she sees the lower half of Petro where he still stands. For some reason, she reaches one little hand toward Petro as if she wants him.
5. SFX (from crowd): unhh
6. SFX (from crowd): ohhh
7. MIDGIE: slrp slrp
PANEL 6. As the firestorm clears, Petro inspects the upper half of his body. Cracks run through his arms and torso and chunks of his body are missing, but otherwise he's okay.
PANEL 7. Closeup of RF and SS as they confer.
8. RF: This is totally insane.
9. SS: We've got to do something. But what?
PANEL 1. Shot of the compound from overhead. Manhandler, between Petro and our heroes, is crouching and preparing for another attack. Behind him, RF gestures with both hands. Wisps of fog begin to swirl around Petro and Manhandler—mainly around Petro.
1. RF: Air's almost out of water. But I can create a fog.
2. SS: Good. That'll stall 'em!
PANEL 2. Outline of Petro as he's enveloped in fog.
3. PETRO: Rowr?
PANEL 3. Repeat of the previous panel, except Petro gestures angrily as his outline grows firmer. The fog is dissipating as quickly as it formed.
4. PETRO: Rowr!
PANEL 4. The fog finally clears. Petro is standing in a triumphant pose. In one hand, he holds little Midgie high in the air for everyone to see. The crowd looks on in horror.
Off to one side, Horace (holding Madge's limp form) and Leeza react.
5. LEEZA: Midgie!
6. HORACE: My baby!
PANEL 5. Closeup of Manhandler as he assesses the situation.
7. MANHANDLER (thx): I have enough ammo to take this @&$^#% down. But I can't hurt the baby.
8. MANHANDLER (thx): That would KILL my rep.
PANEL 6. Closeup of RF and SS as they assess the situation. SS has his eyes closed and appears to be concentrating.
Either in this panel or the next one, Manhandler ducks out of the way. He doesn't want to have anything to do with a hostage situation involving a baby.
9. RF: Oh, no! This is horrible!
10. SS: Shh. I'm getting something.
11. SS: Strong emotions. Overpowering.
PANEL 7. RF and SS continue talking. RF points to the baby Petro's holding. SS is still concentrating on something unseen.
12. SS: This creature wants something...bad.
13. RF: He's got it! That baby!
PANEL 1. Wide-angle shot of the crowd from Petro's point of view. He's scanning the crowd, looking for someone or something. (In his primitive mind, he thinks that threatening Midgie will force the one he wants to come forward.)
A circle with rays emanating from it appears around four widely dispersed people in the crowd: Horace, the woman who held the Chihuahuas, Mr. Griffith, and Ashton Hale. It's as if Petro has spotted each one in turn and is targeting them. They're in his cross-hairs, so to speak, as he examines each one in turn.
1. SS (from off-panel): No, something else.
PANEL 2. RF and SS continue talking.
2. SS: Only one thing's keeping him alive. Animating his petrified body.
3. SS: Revenge. Revenge against the man who killed him.
PANEL 3. Another shot from Petro's point of view: a flashback with rounded edges. Petro sees a dreamlike image of Frank Glower standing next Ilsa Hecht (Petro's wife when he was alive). They're looming over him as if he's lying on the ground. Frank is holding a rock as if he's just smashed it on Petro's head. (See PP #2 for how they looked.)
4. CAP: "A man named Frank Glower."
PANEL 4. A shot from Horace's point of view. He glares at Petro who continues holding Midgie aloft. Leeza is also staring at Petro. She looks worried and tugs on Horace's sleeve.
5. LEEZA: Dad, do something!
PANEL 5. Closeup of Horace, who looks angry and shakes his fist at something.
6. HORACE: I AM doing something, sweetie. I'm looking for your brother Brad.
7. HORACE: He's responsible for this somehow. When I get my hands on that boy--!
PANEL 6. Brad has edged close to RF and SS. He's trying to eavesdrop on their conversation while remaining inconspicuous. RF and SS notice him and turn to him as he speaks.
8. BRAD: Glower? Hey, that's my grandma's name. Grandmother Glower.
PANEL 7. RF and SS notice Brad and turn to him as he speaks.
9. SS: Then it's YOU he wants.
10. RF: You must be a descendant of Frank Glower.
PANEL 1. RF and SS confront Brad.
1. BRAD: No way, man!
2. SS: Way!
PANEL 2. Closeup of Brad, who's starting to look scared.
3. BRAD: Midgie's a descendant too. Let him keep HER.
4. BRAD: She doesn't do anything except eat and sleep anyway.
PANEL 3. SS goes to Brad's side. Brad is really scared now, almost crying. He's still holding his "lucky rock."
5. SS: No, it's definitely you.
6. SS: You stole something from him. A piece of his immortal soul.
7. SS: You've become the embodiment of everything he hates. He's burning with desire to destroy you.
PANEL 4. RF and SS spot the rock in Brad's hand. If possible, show that Petro is watching this scene unfold.
8. BRAD: I didn't take any stupid soul!
9. RF: What's that in your hand?
PANEL 5. SS gestures at Brad's rock. Petro realizes Brad is the one he wants. Still holding Midgie overhead, he begins lumbering toward Brad and our heroes.
10. SS: That's it! It's gotta be!
11. PETRO: Ysss.
PANEL 6. Flanked by RF and SS, Brad looks with horror at the approaching Petro.
12. BRAD: Not my lucky rock!
13. SS: You've got to give it back!
14. RF: Throw it! Now!
PANEL 7. Sweaty and jittery from fright, Brad tosses the rock toward Petro. It flies in a short arc and hits the ground, only a third of the way to Petro.
15. SS: Oh, no!
16. RF: Missed!
PANEL 1. Somehow, the rock bounces a couple times and heads straight for Petro's gaping mouth.
1. SFX: nik
2. SFX: nik
3. PETRO: ?
PANEL 2. Closeup of Petro's head and shoulders as the rock flies into his mouth and he chomps down on it.
4. SFX: CRUNCH
PANEL 3. Medium shot of Petro. Still holding Midgie aloft, his body shakes violently, as if he's experiencing his own personal earthquake. RF, Brad, and SS look on.
5. RF: You did it!
6. SS: Great shot!
7. BRAD: Uh, sure. I planned it that way.
PANEL 4. Petro turns into a human pillar of rocks, gravel, and dirt. The entire mass of loose debris begins to cascade downward, and Midgie with it.
8. SFX: sshhhhh
PANEL 5. Closeup of a pile of fine rubble 2-3 ft. high. It's all that's left of Petro. Lying atop it is Midgie, unharmed. She looks at ease, as if nothing's happened, and continues sucking her pacifier.
9. MIDGIE: slrp slrp
PANEL 6. Manhandler leaps back into the center aisle. (It's now more of a center ring, the chairs and people having been blown or knocked away.) He waves the two guns he used earlier and fires them haphazardly. Some of the bullets skim low over people's heads, while others hit the ground between people. Manhandler looks half-crazed, as if he's losing control.
10. MANHANDLER: All right, everybody!
11. SFX: pow pow pow pow
PANEL 1. He continues firing around the cowering people as he addresses them.
1. MANHANDLER: I handled this situation. It's under control. You know why?
2. MANHANDLER: 'Cuz my name is Man-HANDLER. Handling things is what I do.
3. SFX: pow pow pow
PANEL 2. He continues firing around the cowering people as he addresses them.
4. MANHANDLER: Sherman wouldn't give me the security job. So I showed 'em I could do it my way.
5. MANHANDLER: I'm the Sinatra of personal protection consultants.
6. SFX: pow pow pow
PANEL 3. Manhandler spots some protesters beyond the gate, whose doors are hanging ajar, in pieces, since Petro smashed through them. He fires through the opening at the protesters, though it's not clear if he hits anyone.
7. MANHANDLER: I told you wild-eyed fanatics to leave. Now get out before I plug ya full of lead.
8. SFX: pow pow pow pow
PANEL 4. Shot of Manhandler from the rear—from RF's and SS's perspective—as he rants and raves. Manhandler raises his arms high into the air, as if he's celebrating his victory. He continues firing.
9. MANHANDLER: Top o' the world, ma!
10. MANHANDLER: Told ya I could do it!
PANEL 5. RF and SS confer behind Manhandler. They're crouching behind a couple of folding chairs, hoping Manhandler won't notice them.
11. RF: We can't count on reinforcements coming.
12. RF: We've got to stop him ourselves before he hurts someone else.
13. SS: No problem. He's preoccupied with his delusions of grandeur. He's forgotten us.
14. SS: Let's rush him!
PANEL 6. RF and SS continue talking.
15. RF: Are you crazy? He's firing real bullets now and we're not bulletproof.
16. RF: Besides, did you see those kung fu moves?
17. RF: He'd wipe the floor with us in hand-to-hand combat.
PANEL 7. RF and SS continue talking.
18. SS: Then we'll have to think of something.
19. SS: You wouldn't happen to have a thunderstorm up your sleeve, would you?
20. RF: No, I'm tapped out. How about you?
PANEL 1. RF and SS continue talking. Maybe SS looks out, past the compound's fence and sees the barren landscape of the mine.
1. SS: No animals left except a lizard or two.
2. RF: What about underground? Badgers? Snakes?
3. SS: Sorry. This place is devoid of life. It's as barren as a moonscape.
PANEL 2. RF and SS continue talking. RF presses his hands against the side of his head to shut out Manhandler's voice.
4. VOICE (from off-panel, in small letters, as if from a distance): blah blah me blah blah great blah blah unstoppable
5. RF: He's driving me crazy with his ranting and raving.
6. RF: I'd be happy if we could just shut his mouth.
PANEL 3. SS suddenly looks happy. His eyes widen with pleasure and he smiles broadly. He holds up a finger as if he's just had a brilliant idea. Perhaps, a candle (Indian equivalent of a light bulb) appears over his head.
7. SS: That's it!
8. SS: As they say at the casino, bingo!
PANEL 4. Gesturing with his hands, SS explains his idea to RF.
9. SS: Remember how we shut that monster's mouth with that rock?
10. SS: We're going to shut Manny's mouth too.
PANEL 5. SS points to a small lizard about eight inches long. It's nearby on the ground several yards away.
11. RF: How?
12. SS: See that little fellow?
13. SS: Watch.
PANEL 6. Closeup of SS concentrating with his eyes closed. Squiggly, snake-like lines of power radiate from his head.
14. SS: What do you want more than anything, Mr. Lizard?
15. SS: Food? Shelter?
16. SS: Go get it!
PANEL 7. Longshot of Manhandler as he continues raving at everyone and firing his guns at random. We see multiple images of the lizard as it skitters across the ground, past RF and SS, and reaches Manhandler's feet.
17. MANHANDLER: Momma always told me I'd be no. 1! And here I am!
PANEL 1. Shot of Manhandler's body as he rants and raves. Again we see multiple images of the lizard as it skitters up his body—to his knees, to his chest—and then jumps into his big mouth.
1. MANHANDLER: No one can take this moment from me! I'll kill anyone who tri—
2. MANHANDLER: GAACK!
PANEL 2. Closeup of Manhandler as he chokes on the lizard. He's apoplectic, with his face turning red. He's dropped his guns and grabbed his throat to keep from swallowing the creature. His eyes are bulging and so are his cheeks as the lizard pokes at them from inside. Only the lizard's tail sticks out of his mouth.
3. MANHANDLER: ggggg
PANEL 3. Manhandler tumbles backward as he continues to choke on the lizard. His body is one big falling arc. He bites down on the lizard's tail and we can see it fly loose of his mouth.
4. SFX: bite!
PANEL 4. Manhandler lies thrashing on the ground as everyone (except RF and SS) comes running up. In the lead are several security guards with guns drawn, the news people with their cameras, and the Sampsons. Horace is helping a shaky Madge, who has revived. She has a cut on her forehead but is now holding Midgie.
5. GUARD #1: Don't move a muscle, mister.
6. GUARD #2: Or we'll pump you full of bullets. And I don't mean rubber ones.
7. MANHANDLER (mumbling in tiny letters): Momma...
PANEL 5. Closeup of Brad and Leeza as they look on. Brad looks exultant, while Leeza looks sad.
8. BRAD: That was the grossest thing I've ever seen!
9. BRAD: Awesome!
10. LEEZA: But what about that poor lizard?
11. LEEZA: He gave his life <sniff> to save ours.
PANEL 6. Brad points to Manhandler's head, where the lizard emerges from its mouth. It's in fine shape except for its missing tail.
12. BRAD: No, look!
13. LEEZA: The lizard survived!
14. LEEZA: I get it! Lizards can shed their tails as a survival technique. When that creep bit it off, it didn't hurt the little guy one bit.
15. BRAD: Thank you, Leeza the Lizard Lady.
PANEL 7. Brad suddenly wonders what happened to RF and SS. He looks around for them. Next to him is Horace, who gestures at Manhandler and speak paternalistically.
16. LEEZA (from off-panel): Mom!
17. BRAD: Hey! What happened to the two super-freaks?
18. HORACE: Now, Brad. We have two super-freaks right here.
19. HORACE: One is a sparkly pile of rubble, and the other is a babbling suit of armor. Why would you want any more?
20. BRAD: But Dad! Didn't you see them?
PANEL 1. This panel spans the page horizontally but takes up only 1/5 or so of the page vertically.
It shows the Sampson family from the rear as they head toward the gate. They're all holding hands. From left to right are Brad, Horace, Madge, and Leeza. Brad is still looking over his shoulder, trying to see RF and SS.
1. HORACE: I saw whatever you think YOU saw, son.
2. MADGE: Actually, he mainly saw the bottom of the chair he was hiding under.
3. MADGE: Hee hee hee.
4. HORACE: With all the confusion, who can really say what we saw?
5. LEEZA. Not me. But I plan to check my Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena as soon as we get home.
6. BRAD (in letters that shrink to show his voice trailing off): But Daddd...!
The rest of the page is text. The text wraps around three pictures of Billy and Drew in their civilian clothes. In the first they're walking away from the compound, through the emergency vehicles and medical personnel, toward us. In the second, they're walking side by side. In the third, they're walking down the highway, away from us, with Drew's arm draped over Billy's shoulder.
Outside the compound, the newsvans have left in a rush to file their stories. They've been replaced by emergency vehicles: ambulances, police cars, and a fire truck. Doctors in white coats are bustling about as they treat people sitting on chairs or lying on cots. A couple of the patients are protesters still holding their signs.
In the middle of this activity, Billy and Drew, now in their civilian clothes, are taking their leave. The doctors have told them that their friends are okay, so the cousins walk briskly away. They don't want to linger so someone can ask them potentially ticklish questions.
"It's a miracle," says Billy, giving the scene one last glance over his shoulder. "Four gunshot wounds, three broken or cracked bones, several sprains and strains, countless cuts and bruises, but no fatalities. None of the injuries are even that serious."
"The luck of the Irish," says Drew. "Or something."
They pass more emergency personnel who are rushing to the scene. No doubt they'll have to answer police inquiries later, thinks Billy. But they can plausibly say they were in shock and just wandered away. Though Billy realizes he's rarely if ever felt more clearheaded than he does right now.
"Even Oliver's okay," he tells Drew. "He fell out of his wheelchair during the first assault. He was so weak he couldn't get up. Ironically, his prior injuries protected him from getting hurt again."
"That ol' head-pounder. It takes more than a petrified man-monster and a psychotic super-vigilante to take him out."
A thought comes to Billy and he looks down, embarrassed. He suddenly understands what this fiasco means to him and his future.
"Well," he hems and haws before continuing. "I think I've flushed my career at Smith, Jones down the toilet."
"Huh?" says Drew. "Why do you say that? They can't blame you for what happened."
"Sure they can. It was my responsibility to manage the scene. To anticipate the possible outcomes and make sure the right one occurred."
"C'mon. Two mad-as-hell villains and two charming-as-heck heroes, and you were supposed to anticipate THAT?"
They exit the Sherman Mining Company's property and start walking along the shoulder of Highway 160.
"Speaking of which," says Billy, "how did you come up with that disgusting lizard ploy?"
"Billy, Billy, Billy. 'Disgusting' is a facile value judgment. It doesn't apply when making cross-cultural comparisons.
He pauses to think how to explain it, then proceeds.
"I was inspired by our old myths and legends. 'Disgusting' things often happen in them. If a wife can cook and eat her husband, I figured our Manhandler could munch a lizard."
An 18-wheeler roars by. A hawk wheels overhead. They continue down the highway.
"You must admit that was quite an adventure," says Drew.
"I don't have to admit anything of the sort."
"C'mon. Wasn't your heart racing and your spine tingling? When was the last time you felt so alive?"
Drew smiles. The hook is in. Billy won't be able to escape even if he tries—which he won't. Drew is sure his cousin is in this biz for the long haul.
"So we'll keep trying this hero thing until we get it right," he declares.
"I guess." Billy kicks a discarded can. "If you say so."
"I do indeed."
Drew drapes an arm around Billy's shoulder. They continue in companionable silence for a while.
"By the way," says Billy finally, "why are we walking rather than taking our truck?"
"Oh, Billy. You and your questions."
He gives Billy's shoulder a friendly squeeze.
"Relax, cuz, and enjoy."
Pages 28-30 have a grid of five images per page, all in TV screen-shaped oblongs. The fifth screen is at the center bottom of the page with text on either side.
SCREEN 1. Trish Travis (see image) sits at a desk in the KQNX newsroom. It's a typical TV newsroom.
LOGO (behind Trish): KQNX
TRAVIS: This is Trish Travis bringing you the Weekly Native News.
TRAVIS: In Washington, the president's senior adviser on Native American affairs, spoke to reporters earlier today about pending legislation.
SCREEN 2. A presidential adviser in a suit speaking to a crowd of reporters on the steps of an official-looking building in Washington DC. He's a fit, tanned, blond man who is 50-ish but well-preserved--like a smug tennis pro.
ADVISER: "Once again Congress is threatening to cut the budget of the Indian Health Service. This money is badly needed to fund critical medical services throughout Indian country. It's unconscionable that Congress spends less on Native people than it does on federal prisoners.
ADVISER: "The President has not yet decided what to do about the proposed cuts, but he has the option of vetoing any bill that does not meet the needs of our First Americans."
SCREEN 3. Closeup on the presidential adviser emphasizing his unctuous grin.
ADVISER: "On another front, we'd like to thank the tribes who helped extinguish the recent wildfires raging throughout parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Several nearby tribes contributed firefighting crews and materiel support to combat these life-threatening scourges.
ADVISER: "Once again, Native Americans are at the forefront of protecting God's creatures—people, animals, and plants—from harm."
SCREEN 4. Trish Travis sits at a desk in a typical TV newsroom. Behind her is a desert scene with mesas (but no cactus) a la Monument Valley.
TRAVIS: On the local scene, the Navajo Nation continued to debate whether and where to open a series of casinos.
TRAVIS: In northern New Mexico, one chapter voted for a casino while another voted against it. Muddling the situation is an opinion by the Nation's counsel that the vote may not have been held legally.
SCREEN 5. The Secretary-General of the United Nations strides toward us, perhaps through a crowd, from left to right. He resembles Kofi Annan. Trailing behind him are men in suits and sunglasses, clearly bodyguards. People around them are carrying briefcases or suitcases. A sign on the wall says "Airport."
TRAVIS: In other local news, the Secretary-General of the United Nations left for Geneva after a week-long fact-finding mission in the Hopi Partitioned Lands.
TRAVIS: He was here to investigate claims by Navajo resisters that they're being forced off their ancestral homeland in violation of international human rights conventions.
TRAVIS: The Secretary-General wouldn't comment for us, but his office issued a statement.
SCREEN 1. An image of the UN building in New York City. With a UN logo superimposed over it in the middle of the screen, or in a box in the corner.
TRAVIS: In part it said, "We recognize that the relocation of Navajo people from the disputed land is a complex and difficult issue. Both sides have legal and moral rights here and we believe both are acting in good faith.
TRAVIS: "We urge the participants to negotiate a solution that protects the Hopis' longstanding claims to their territory and the Navajos' right to live there unmolested."
SCREEN 2. A low-slung tribal building seen from 10-20 ft. away. A partially obscured sign on the wall says "Tribal Police." From an open door in the middle emerges the people arrested: a mix of young and old, male and female, white and Indian, hippie and rancher types. They look a bit bedazzled by the sunlight and the camera crew (off-screen.)
To either side of the door we see Officers Nahee and Montoya. They're watching the people sternly, with their arms crossed, to make sure no one causes trouble.
SIGN: Tribal Police
TRAVIS: In related news, the Hopi tribal police released 10 people arrested at last week's rally at Big Mountain. The 10 were held for several hours on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest but were released after the tribe decided not to press charges.
SCREEN 3. Shot of Chack shaking hands with Mr. Griffith.
TRAVIS: Finally, the Sherman Mining Company has reached an agreement with the Navajo and Hopi tribes and environmental groups about its controversial use of N-aquifer groundwater.
TRAVIS: The agreement provides for the company to begin phasing out its use of the groundwater in the next three years. In return, the tribes and the company will consider a pipeline to deliver water from another source, possibly Lake Powell.
SCREEN 4. Griffith speaks into a microphone held by a reporter (off-screen).
TRAVIS: George Griffith, the mine's general manager, spoke to us about the agreement.
GRIFFITH: "After last week's debacle, we decided we needed to ratchet down the level of conflict and confrontation. We invited the interested parties to meet with us in private, without the media present, and they were amenable.
GRIFFITH: "We found we had more in common than we thought and were able to hammer out this agreement."
SCREEN 5. Police lead Manhandler through a crowd of people in the fenced press area. He's handcuffs and he hangs his head, looking defeated. One of the onlookers is the woman holding a Chihuahua. (See images.)
TRAVIS: Mr. Griffith was referring to a press conference held last week that was disrupted by one or more armed and dangerous intruders.
TRAVIS: Police have charged one suspect, a man calling himself "Manhandler," with a long string of crimes, including assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, and trespassing.
TRAVIS: Manhandler was revealed to be one Rodney Bloom, a resident of Salt Lake City. Bloom is apparently a freelance security guard and "gun for hire" who has a long record of arrests and convictions for violent offenses.
TRAVIS: He is being held in Gallup and will be arraigned this week.
SCREEN 1. Police escort a little old lady to a patrol car. She wears a house dress and sweater and is in handcuffs. She looks spitting mad.
TRAVIS: In a bizarre sidenote, police also tracked down and arrested Bloom's mother, Edna Bloom, on charges of possessing and transporting illegal weapons across state lines. She is also being held pending arraignment.
BLOOM: "Get yer hands off me, you socialist fascist pigs!"
SCREEN 2. Silhouettes on the screen of Petro and Rain Falling.
LABEL (under silhouettes): Artist's Depiction
TRAVIS: As you may recall, eyewitnesses at the press conference reported a variety of strange occurrences, including outbursts of unusual weather and animal activity. Many claimed to have seen a "rock-like man" break into the event, although no evidence of him was found.
TRAVIS: In addition, several reported seeing one or more men in "colorful costumes," troops in "blue helmets," and, according to at least one bystander, glowing "space aliens."
SCREEN 3. A split-screen shot. On the left is a police booking shot of Manhandler: a head-on mug shot from the shoulders up. He's in prison garb rather than his trenchcoat and costume and he looks sullen. Behind him are height marks on the wall.
On the right half of the screen is the device he used to jam signals. (See image.)
TRAVIS: A police spokesperson noted that witnesses are notoriously unreliable. Unfortunately, investigators have been unable to uncover any independent evidence of their claims. Electronic recordings at the scene were scrambled by a device apparently employed by the suspect Bloom.
TRAVIS: Experts say this device produced a signal one of them described as a "localized electromagnetic pulse."
SCREEN 4. A repeat of the televised picture of Billy as he was pelted with objects at the press conference.
TRAVIS: In related news, lawyer Billy Honanie—shown here being pelted at the disastrous press conference—is leaving his job.
TRAVIS: Honanie, who organized and led the event on behalf of the Sherman Mining Company, worked for Smith, Jones, a Phoenix-based firm. He was instrumental in winning several big cases for the firm.
SCREEN 5. Shot of Trish Travis back in the news studio. She's straightening the papers on her desk as she finishes up her report.
Her image is superimposed on a background image of Billy speaking into a microphone held by a reporter (off-screen). He looks annoyed by the microphone. Perhaps he's half-turned away, as if he's trying to avoid it. This background image may be in a box to separate it from the foreground image of Travis.
TRAVIS: When contacted, Honanie said only that he was leaving for personal reasons. He added that, in his words, "I hope to work for clients I feel passionately about."
TRAVIS: He declined to say whether he quit or was fired, and a representative at Smith, Jones also declined to comment.
TRAVIS: Curiously, Honanie was also at the scene last month when police arrested Arthur "Scope" Scapulsky. The arrest took place at a ranch south of Tuba City after several of the suspects suffered snakebites.
TRAVIS: Several men were charged with murder, drug-smuggling, and a variety of related offenses.
TRAVIS: On a personal note, we hope Mr. Honanie will enjoy a nice respite from his apparently hectic schedule. Good luck, Billy, and watch out for those space aliens.
. . .
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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
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