I have included small photos of actors in this screenplay solely for the purpose of suggesting the kind of person I would have tried to get for the part if we had made the film. Their inclusion here in no way is meant to imply any actual association to or approval of our screenplay on the part of any of these extremely talanted people. I doubt that any of them have even read it before. If anyone would like their photo removed from this site, please use this link to send me an e-mail: Email To Paul Golding
Breakfast of Champions
Screenplay by Paul Golding & Peter Bergman
Based on the Novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
This is a tale of a meeting of two lonely men on a planet which was dying fast. One of them was a science-fiction writer named Kilgore Trout. He was a nobody at the time, and he supposed his life was over. He was mistaken... The man he met was an automobile dealer, a Pontiac dealer named Dwayne Hoover. Dwayne Hoover was on the brink of going insane. . .
EXT. CAR LOT - MIDLAND CITY, INDIANA - DAY
DWAYNE HOOVER, in his thirties, wearing an expensively tailored if somewhat garish plaid suit and a bright yellow hard hat, is strolling across the acres and acres of new and used cars that are "Dwayne Hoover's Exit Eleven Pontiac Village." He is speaking directly to CAMERA -- like Cal Worthington doing a tv commercial -- and is unrolling a spool of braided electrical wire as he walks -- casually, seeming to pay little attention to what he's doing.
Hi friends, I'm Dwayne Hoover, owner of Dwayne Hoover's Exit Eleven Pontiac Village here in wonderful Midland City. As I look out at these MILES and MILES of beautiful American-made cars it makes me want to cry -- I'm so happy. Our forefathers came over to this country to MAKE cars. And here they are. It doesn't matter what color you are -- we've got the color for you. Black, white, red, yellow, two-tones... And they're all American with real American names: Bonneville, Chieftan, Fiero, Gran Tourisimo.
He stops next to a small yellow Toyota Celica that is parked all by itself in the middle of the lot. Dwayne glares at it.
And that's why it makes me so mad when I find one of these little snipers hiding out here on my lot in between these beautiful Bonneville bedrooms! Why this isn't big enough to send two pigs to a party in!
We can see now that the braided wire Dwayne has been unspooling is attached to a bundle of dynamite. Dwayne offhandedly tosses it into the driver's seat of the Celica.
And look here! Do you see what it says here?
Dwayne rips the chrome name-plate off the car, frowns at it.
"Celica"! What's a CELICA??
There's a big dictionary lying open on the hood of the Celica. Dwayne picks it up.
I looked it up in the dictionary.
(scanning the book)
Centerpiece, celery, celibate, circlejerk... It's not here.
(slams the dictionary shut)
Dwayne strides back along the wire he unspooled.
I asked my friend, Tommy Tojo, down at the stereo store. He said Celica doesn't mean jack-all in Japanese either. So what's going on here, friends? Who's fooling who?
Dwayne stops at the other end of the wire -- a classic World War II demolition battery complete with T-shaped plunger.
I tell you what. I'm sending this sucker back to the land of the rising sun right now!
He slams the plunger home and the Celica blows sky-high!
That's one for you, Mr. President!
He surveys his lot. Shrapnel and chrome trim are raining down all around him. He gestures proudly at the cars.
Look at that -- now isn't that beautiful -- nothing but American bodies!
(turning to camera again)
You know, it's getting so you can't trust half you see and nothing you hear. But you CAN trust ME. Because I'm Dwayne Hoover. So get on the Midwest Turnpike and drive in the direction of your choice till you cross Sugar Creek and see my head spinning around on a pole up there and then you'll know you're at Dwayne Hoover's Exit Eleven Pontiac Village.
Okay, tell them what we've got left, Harry.
HARRY LeSABRE, 40, dressed in an ultra-consenative gray suit, steps INTO SHOT as Dwayne leaves. And as Harry begins to speak, the image dissolves to Black and White, and TV scan lines wash across the screen.
(walking down the line of cars)
We got a red one -- it's an '84... A blue one -- it's an '86 -- 434 under the hood, bucket seats, crybaby leather dashboard... Here's a black one, four door stretch sedan... Come on, whoo! I think I'll buy this one myself. This one's big enough to be buried in!... Here's a yellow one...
The CAMERA HAS BEEN STEADILY PULLING BACK. And we are now...
EXT. CEMETERY - DAY
The image we'vebeen watching is the screen of a pocket-sized tv in the hands of Dwayne Hoover. Dwayne is wearing a black suit and tie now, standing in front of an open grave, watching the tv and listening to it privately over the speaker wire that leads to his ear.
Only two other people are standing as close to the grave as Dwayne: REVEREND HARDY, who is performing the funeral service, and LOTTIE DAVIS, a black maid. Lottie has corn-silk dreadlocks, and carries a juju bag. She is sobbing openly. Just behind Lottie are two big men in fancy Western garb -- Dwayne's step-brothers: LYLE and KYLE. Their combined IQ easily exceeds 120.
Standing behind Dwayne are Harry LeSabre and his wife GRACE. Grace's hand is discretely on Harry's crotch. Harry is doing his best to conceal it tastefully behind a folded newspaper, but he can't keep the hint of a smile from coloring his otherwise serious expression.
FRANCINE PEFKO -- late 20's, simply and strikingly beautiful -- is also standing behind Dwayne, shifting uncomfortably, hoping for it all to be over as soon as possible.
In the back row, a dozen other CO-WORKERS from Dwayne's car dealership stare somberly at the grave. And standing a little apart from all the others, FRED T. BARRY -- 60 or so, fabulously well-to-do -- is eyeing Francine, while his male secretary, KENNETH BARBY, sexless and silent, averts his eyes.
...and so we consign the mortal remains of Celia Faye Hoover, beloved wife of Dwayne Hoover, into thy all-loving and all-encompassing hands...
As Reverend Hardy speaks, the CAMERA MOVES IN on Dwayne. A white light sears the screen -- like flash-bulbs exploding -- giving brief, high contrast images of a kitchen, a woman's body lying on the Italian tile floor. Dwayne blinks -- as if the images were exploding inside his head. As the CAMERA COMES IN CLOSE on his eyes, we suddenly CUT TO:
INT. DWAYNE & CELIA HOOVER'S KITCHEN - DAY
Dwayne, his tie open and suit coat rumpled, is standing in the kitchen doorway, motionless, as if in shock. The CAMERA QUICKLY traverses a tableau of POLICE INVESTIGATORS and a PHOTOGRAPHER, ending on a CLOSE SHOT of the white-taped outline of a woman's hand -- and inches away from it, an overturned bottle of Drano. The photographer's flash burns out the image, returns us to:
EXT. CEMETERY - DAY
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Amen.
Reverend Hardy tosses a handful of dirt onto the expensive coffin in the open grave. Lottie follows him, taking a pinch of grayish powder from her bag and sprinkling it into the grave -- making Reverend Hardy sneeze.
Several of the others follow suit. Fred Barry succeeds in getting a little of the dirt onto Francine's shoe. He gestures a courtly and charming apology. Francine recognizes the ploy for exactly what it is and ignores it totally.
Only Dwayne -- among the principals -- hasn't followed suit. The others all turn to him. Confused, understanding that something is expected of him but not knowing what it is, Dwayne throws his pocket tv into the grave.
IN CLOSE-UP: On the tiny screen, Dwayne's head on top of a fifty-foot pole rotates above his car lot. Dirt covers the image.
INT. DWAYNE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Dwayne is sitting alone at the dining room table in his suburban dream house. He is still wearing his black suit. There's a place set at the table opposite him, but the seat is empty. Lottie serves Dwayne's dinner, singing quietly under her breath -- a reggae Rasta song:
Talkin' 'bout Babylon... When the Tower fall out of the sky, mon, It's gonna fall on you not me. 'Cause I'm safe in the arms of Jah.
She starts to serve food for the empty place at the table, then suddenly realizes what she's doing.
Sorry, Mr. Hoover, I've been serving two places for so long now...
Dwayne just nods, understanding Lottie, but lost in thought. Lottie starts picking up the other place setting, going back to her singing -- but more stoutly now, as if to keep herself from crying.
No road to run, No place to hide, No rock to shelter the Babylon bride. Talkin' 'bout Babylon!
Lottie... Can you give it a rest tonight...
Oh, don't you worry, Mr. Dwayne. Don't you worry. When Jah comes with his old steam-roller to crunch up the bones of the wicked--
It's all right, Mr. Hoover, even if Miss Celia did go over to the other side by drinkin' that king-size can of Drano, Jah gonna pluck her up outta da crunch, 'cause I put a pinch of the Garvey's powder on her--
Dwayne buries his face in his hands. Lottie goes off toward the kitchen, singing proudly.
Babylon! Talkin' 'bout Babylon!
Dwayne shoves his chair back, gets up, and leaves the room.
EXT. DWAYNE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Dwayne is playing basketball by himself now on the floodlit blacktop apron outside his five-car garage. The back door opens and Lottie comes out, wearing her coat, leaving for the night, carrying her copies of "Police Crimes" and "Reggae Revolution." She pauses for a second to watch him.
Dwayne is talking as he plays -- but not to himself. He is talking to his Labrador retriever, SPARKY. Sparky is lumpy with scars. His ears are in tatters.
Lottie shakes her head at the pair of them, and exits quietly.
(missing one basket after another)
Why'd she do it, Sparky? If something was wrong, why didn't she tell me? Was it my fault?
(stopping for a minute)
Come on, Sparky, level with me. Man to man. If it was my fault, just tell me.
Sparky continues to watch silently. Dwayne goes back to shooting baskets.
We could have talked about it. Whatever it was. We used to talk. Like you're supposed to. We used to communicate. I mean you've got to communicate, or you're in big trouble. Like you: After your auto accident, you can't wag your tail. So you can't signal to other dogs that you're friendly. So they beat the shit out of you... Well, it beats the shit out of me!
You and me, Sparky. You and me.
IN CLOSE UP: The basketball arcs high into the air.
MATCH CUT TO:
EXT. FRED T. BARRY AMERICAN ARTS CENTER - NIGHT
The Fred T. Barry American Arts Center is a bright white globe -- a perfect sphere -- like a giant concrete harvest moon permanently installed above Midland City. Its huge parking lot is mostly empty -- a few trucks and a black limousine, its engine idling.
INT. FRED T. BARRY AMERICAN ARTS CENTER - NIGHT
Inside the huge white sphere, in the center of one of the vaulted galleries, an enormous pile of horse manure is lumped atop a giant lucite wheelbarrow. It is the only object in this gallery. A swarm of flies are buzzing all over it.
Fred T. Barry is standing in the doorway, contemplating the scene -- and batting away occasional flies. His secretary, Kenneth, is at his side.
What do you think, Kenneth?
It's a strong statement.
It's going to be a lot stronger by the time we open this place! Cover it up! Get some kind of plastic dome or something and put it over the son of a bitch, will you? Keep the flies off it.
If I might, sir, I think the flies are part of the statement.
Who told you that?
The sculptor, sir, before he went back to Texas. He said... I think I've got it here...
He deftly keys a portable memo device, reads from its screen:
"The flies are the fundamental interactive part of the piece..."
Just cover it up! If I paid forty thousand dollars for a pile of horseshit, I guess I've got some rights.
Yes, Mr. Barry.
Barry turns away, strides across the interior of the building toward the circular grand entranceway, which stands framed beneath a pair of equally monumental circular windows. All around the interior, we can see WORK CREWS feverishly putting last-minute finishing touches on the structure and its exhibits.
Okay, punch up that guest list and tell me how we're doing.
(consulting his memo device)
Bernice Keedsler has confirmed, the Gothic novelist? And Bozo Geranium, the abstract expressionist. He'll be here early for the unveiling of his new work as you requested--
What about Trout?
Kilgore Trout? He hasn't replied, sir...
We've got to have Trout. He's the world's greatest living writer! Phone him!
He doesn't have a phone, sir.
Maybe it's unlisted.
No, sir, I checked. He doesn't have a phone.
Send him a telegram!
EXT. ARTS CENTER - BARRY'S LIMOUSINE - NIGHT
Barry strides out of the huge spherical building toward his waiting limousine. Kenneth taps in a memo as he hurries along behind.
Yes, sir. Certainly, sir.
(getting into his limo)
It's a damn shame! A genius like Trout and no one knows his name. He can't even afford a telephone. Well, he changed my life, and I'm going to change his. I'm going to make him famous -- put him on the map. Let the world see what a great prophet really looks like!
INT. KILGORE TROUT'S APARTMENT - COHOES, N.Y. - DAY
KILGORE TROUT is a grizzled, totally rumpled man in his late fifties. He could pass for a big-city street person, although he does have a place to live: a grundgy, sparsely-furnished upstairs room on a back street in Cohoes, N.Y. Trout is in his underwear, pacing back and forth, talking to his parakeet, BILL. On a table are a number of letters, opened and unopened. He is holding one in his hand, reading
Three in one day -- must be some sort of record. Listen to this one, Bill -- Esquire Magazine -- blah blah blah -- we regret that we are unable to -- crap crap crap -- considerable writing skill and merit -- lies lies lies -- in future please submit other works -- bullshit bullshit bullshit -- Sincerely yours, -- Asshole asshole asshole.
He takes the letter, grabs two more from the table, and moves to the window sill, upon which resides a big jar of rubber cement. As if he's done this ritual many times before, he mechanically lays the three rejection letters down backside-up, and swiftly coats them all with the glue. Juggling the three letters, he moves toward his tiny bathroom.
Three in one day! Must be a record.
He snaps on the bathroom light. The tiny windowless room is covered from floor to ceiling -- literally wallpapered with letters. Familiar logos festoon the leterheads: Playboy, Vanity Fair, Harper's...
Ah, Rejection City!
He scans the walls, looking for a bare spot, pauses for a second to stare, almost fondly, at a yellowing, curling letter from "Saturday Evening Post."
That one was sent when a stamp still cost a nickel. The whole world cost a nickel then. A hot dog. The subway. Macaroni and cheese at the Automat.
He slams letter number one onto the wall so hard that the pipes rattle!
(smacks number two onto the wall)
(slaps the third -- Esquire -- letter onto a place of honor near the toilet paper holder)
THREE strikes you 're out!! 'Cause it's their ball game!
He snaps out the light. Bill, the parakeet, watches from his cage as Trout crosses back toward the table.
Damned fools wouldn't know good writing from bad if I whacked them in the head with a dangling participle!
(picks up one of the other letters)
This one's different, Bill -- Dear Mr. Trout -- blah blah blah -- Midland City Arts Festival -- flak flak puff puff flak flak -- greatest living writer -- huh huh huh -- great talent -- lies lies lies -- FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS--!
He pauses at this, gasps, clutches his chest as if having a slight seizure, coughs, then regains control.
Five thousand dollars?
Aaaah, ego ego ego ego -- please come -- phooey phooey phooey -- Looking forward to -- ego ego ego ego -- Sincerely, Fred T. Barry!
He crumples the leuer impulsively and tosses it across the room.
Ah, keep the hell out of my body bag!!
Mumbling to himself, Trout moves to the one window in the room and stares out at the huge belching smokestacks that dominate the horizon.
Whatever happened to the promise of tomorrow? When the hope of something wonderful lay just over the horizon... Now...
He turns and studies his parakeet -- listening...
You sound terrible, Bill.
(listening to Bill's breathing)
Worse every day. Sounds like you've got emphysema. That's what it sounds like, old buddy. That's old Doc Trout's diagnosis. Chippin' away a little each day, that's what they do.
(a sudden rage)
Damned irresponsible bastards. Screwing up all animalkind. Plants and vegetables are hurtin', too. Even the trees wheeze in the breeze. Where will it end, Bill? Where will it end...?
Trout angrily picks up a large sketch-pad and jerkily draws on it with a charcoal pencil. His drawing is well-formed, but childlike in its simplicity: A birdcage in the foreground -- huge smokestacks behind it...
Bad Chemicals. Lung searing, liver scorching, eye burning molecules put into the air every day by the Overlords of Industry--
He peppers the page with a blizzard of toxic dots -- ("Bad Chemicals").
That's what's going to finish us, Bill. Forget the nukes! It's chemistry that's going to kill us. One damned new molecule too many --
He draws a dot spiralling toward the birdcage.
And dammit if I won't be the first to know because you'll be the first to go.
Trout looks at the completed drawing and shows it to Bill: A miner wearing a traditional lantern cap is holding a birdcage. The bird in the cage is lying on his back, X's for eyes, his feet sticking straight up in the air.
INT. DWAYNE'S GARAGE - MORNING
CLOSE ON an exhaust pipe roaring to life. Dwayne is sitting in his gleaming, cherried-out Bonneville convertible with the top down, a drip-proof cup of coffee in its holder. The car radio blares out:
GOOD MORNING! Shake your dead head out of bed! Excuse me for living! You're on the morning zoo! With yours truly, Sandy Sacket. Get ready to fight the traffic. It's out there waiting for you. Got your coffee? I got mine. One, two teaspoons of crystals -- mmmmm -- some day I'll have to try cutting it with hot water.
Dwayne is still just staring straight ahead.
Come on, what're you waiting for? Hit the road, Toad. Put the car on the tar, Mac. And I'll be right back.
The CAMERA MOVES STEADILY IN on Dwayne, who is sitting motionless. The air in the closed garage is getting gray with exhaust. On the radio, a Fats Domino sound-alike croons:
GOODBYE, BLUE MONDAY!
Over the theme, a friendly, fatherly VOICE intones proudly:
We are Barrytron. And you may not know it, but every time you put on a pair of NoCare underwear, walk to work on Antproof shoe liners, unwrap a piece of SaniSpread sandwich filler, or fly in low on a pair of RadarReady airplane wings, you've put your trust in Barrytron. Barrytron Industries: If there IS a future, we 're it!
The "Goodbye, Blue Monday" logo theme swells. The CAMERA IS IN CLOSE on Dwayne, who still hasn't moved. He is staring at the remote control door opener in his hand, as if he's never seen it before in his life.
EXT. GARAGE - MORNING
A long moment passes. Sparky is sniffing at the garage door, whining. Then the door swings up. A huge cloud of exhaust pours out. From the RADIO of Dwayne's car, the "Goodbye Blue Monday" jingle climaxes.
EXT. BARRYTRON INDUSTRIES - DAY
A big billboard proudly bearing the motto "Goodbye Blue Monday" adorns the expansive lawn in front of the hyper-modern one-way-glass factory complex that is Barrytron Industries.
INT. FRED BARRY'S OFFICE - BARRYTRON - DAY
Barry is sitting at his football-field-sized desk, reading a garishly-colored porno magazine. There's a huge stack of similar magazines near at hand. He's reading aloud - savoring the words of a well-remembered passage:
"Dear Sir, poor sir, brave sir: You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. Everybody else is a robot, a machine."
(smiling to himself)
(flips the page)
"Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why. They are simply liking machines and hating machines. Their only purpose is to stir you up in every conceivable way, so the Creator of the Universe can watch your reactions. They can no more feel or reason than grandfather clocks..."
Barry's intercom BUZZES. Barry, moved deeply by the words he's reading, wipes away a tear, then answers the buzz.
The Xopolis brothers, Mr. Barry...
Send them in.
Barry closes the magazine reverently and looks up as MAX and MINOS XOPOLIS enter -- a pair of fifties-style gangsters turned ninties-style respectable.
Max... Minos... Boys, sit down. Let me tell you a little story...
(the Xopolis brothers sit)
When I was a child--
Oh, I love this story!
Max shushes him; Fred Barry frowns, then goes on:
My earliest memories were of my mother doing the wash on Monday -- and crying. I swore then and there to do something about it. Twenty years later, I invented the RoboMagic washer, and every housewife stood up and said...
Max and Minos join him as he proudly proclaims:
"Goodbye Blue Monday!"
In 1941, The RoboMagic Corporation changed its name to Barrytron and went to war. No, boys, we didn't drop washing machines on the enemy. But we took that same steel, those same gears, and that same American knowhow, and helped blow the world back to its senses!
I LOVE this story!
I know you've heard all that before. But here's the news: As of today, boys, Barrytron Industries is entering a new phase of prosperity! We are doubling our production of Bi-polar-poly-planar-methyl-amyl plastic. That means more NoCare underwear; more Antproof shoe liners; more SaniSpread sandwich fillers; more RadarReady airplane wings--
And a hell of a lot more bucks, huh, Mr. Barry?
And a hell of a lot more TRI-polar-poly-planar-methyl-amyl utterly useless toxic goop.
Hey, getting rid of things is our specialty.
Yeah, "Wastes R Us"!
I know, boys. You've done an outstanding job disposing of the Barrytron wastes thus far. But can you meet this new challenge?
(considering it seriously)
Well, Mr. Barry, it means we're gonna have to find another hole to pour it in. The one we're using's almost full.
(rising from his seat)
Are you up to it?
(rising also, shaking hands)
Hell, Mr. Barry, we know every hole in this county!
As they exit, Barry pushes a button on his phone and Kenneth Barby appears almost immediately in another doorway.
Did you send that telegram to Mr. Trout?
Barry nods in satisfaction, picks up the porno magazine.
Kenneth, I'm going to give you Trout's masterpiece. It'll change your life.
Kenneth gingerly takes the raunchy-looking magazine.
(squinting at the title)
"Wet Beaver Weekend," sir. ..?
No, no! ! It's called "Now It Can Be Told"! You have to peel the sticker off.
Does uh... Mr. Trout specialize in sexually explicit material?
Hell, no! The man's a visionary! He's never written a dirty word in his life! Whatever gave you that idea?
What about the pictures, Mr. Barry?
It's a tragedy. The writings of a genius like Trout being used as filler in pornographic magazines.
(sighs, shakes his head)
You're sure you sent that telegram?
It should be in his hands right now.
INT. TROUT'S APARTMENT - DAY
Trout is holding a crumpled telegram -- and an equally-crumpled check for five thousand dollars. He looks at his parakeet.
What should I do, Bill? What do you think I should do?
(the bird turns his back on Trout)
Dammit! Don't turn your damned back on me. I hardly ever ask you for advice. Now that I need you, you turn your damned back on me. Gratitude. That's real gratitude... Help me, will you,dammit? Aaaaah. Just for that, I'll show you! I'm going to go to the stupid thing!
Trout makes a beeline for his closet and fishes around in the darkness. From the deep recesses he removes an ancient tuxedo. It has a greenish patina of mold. Some of the fungus growths resemble patches of fine rabbit fur. He removes the jacket from the hanger and tries it on, inspecting himself in a mirror.
Yeah! This will do nicely for the evenings.
He dabs at his tuxedo with a damp rag. The fungi come away easily.
Hate to do this. Damn. Hate to kill things. Fungi have as much right to life as I do. Here they've been livin' a good life in that closet for years -- feelin' secure -- living a sublime existence -- growing there in the darkness -- safe as clams -- a result of my social inactivity... Then, BLAM! A telegram -- and sudden doom! All they wanted was a little peace and quiet... Hell, they know what they want, Bill. Damned if I do anymore.
(looking at Bill, then exploding)
Dammit, Bill, are you listening to me? The least you can do is show me a little respect... after all I've done for you... after what we've been through together... Dammit, Bill, I'm talking to you!
(remorse sets in suddenly)
Shit, Bill, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shout like that. It's just that sometimes things pile up... get to be too much... Hell, you know how it is... Christ, I've got to yell at somebody... and, well... you're elected 'cause you're here. I really don't mean anything by it. I'm sorry, old fella. Please forgive me.
(Bill rests in his cage, his back to Trout. Trout explodes again)
Are you listening to me??
Trout storms across the room, picks up the crumpled telegram -- then the check. There's a big "Support The Arts!" logo in one corner of the check: two stylized masks -- like "tragedy and comedy," except that both are smiling. Trout moves back to the mirror, mugging -- trying to match the smiling faces on the check. He contorts his face radically before finally giving up.
Aw, the hell with it! I'm not going, Bill.
(pointing at the logo)
They don't want anything but smilers out there. Unhappy failures need not apply...
He crumples up the telegram and is about to crumple the check as well when Bill peeps loudly. Trout cocks his head.
Now you've got something to say! Well, it's about time you put your two cents in. Well, come on, what is it?
(Bill peeps again)
No, no, no, forget it. Nothin' doing. I know about your powers of persuasion. You're a master but my mind's made up. And there's nothing you can say that'll change it.
(Bill squawks furiously)
Storm warnings are up! Take it easy for Chistsakes, you're poppin' your feathers. No, no, that's not it. Of course the money's fine. And the tuxedo looks great. And I know I haven't been out of Cohoes in twenty years. But, Hell, look at me! What do you see? Tell me, Bill, what do you see? Certainly not a lion of the literary world! Definitely not! I'll tell you what you see. What you see -- and let's not mince words -- what you see is a plain, broken-down, unhappy, frustrated, old, old, old FAILURE.
(Bill chatters back excitedly)
What's that? What? A bitter, unhappy, old failure is what they need to see? Exactly what they need?
(starting to laugh wildly, uncontrollably)
Hahahahahaha! Yeah! I get it! I get it! You're right dammit, Bill, it's perfect! PERFECT! Alright, Bill, I'm going!! You heard me! I'm going! Hahahahahaha!
(He looks at Bill, considering something)
Bill, I owe you one for that. And I am such a big shot in your universe, that I'm going to make your three biggest wishes come true.
Trout opens the door to Bill's cage, something the bird couldn't have done in a thousand years.
Wish number one.
Bill flies to a windowsill. He puts his little shoulder against the glass. Just a slim piece of glass separates Bill from the great out-of-doors.
Bill, your second wish is about to come true.
Trout again does something which Bill could never have done. He opens the window. But the opening of the window is such an alarming business to the parakeet that he flies back to his cage and hops inside. Trout closes the door of the cage and latches it.
That's the most intelligent use of three wishes I ever heard of. You smart little bugger. You made sure you'd still have something worth wishing for -- to get out of your cage!
(thinks for a second, then)
Bill,we're going! Dammit we're going! I'm taking you with me. We'll go out there and show those smilers and literary lion-tamers what nobody has ever seen at an arts festival before: a flesh and blood example -- a bone and marrow representative of all the thousands of artists who devoted their entire beings and lives to a search for truth and beauty -- and didn't find doodley-squat!
Bill squawks furiously.
INT. HOLIDAY INN - TALLYHO ROOM - DAY
The CAMERA IS IN CLOSE on a big "Support the Arts!" lapel pin with a twin smiling face logo. The pin adorns the sequined jacket of BUNNY, the resident lounge lizard and piano player of the Tallyho Room -- locale for Midland City's "power" breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. He is sitting at the pumpkin-colored formica piano bar, tinkling out Las-Vegas-cocktail-Muzak. Bunny's piano playing is truly dreadful.
BONNIE MACMAHON -- 40, a horse-faced cocktail waitress wearing white cowboy boots and black net stockings with crimson garters plainly showing across several inches of bare thigh, and a tight sequin sort of bathing suit with a puff of pink cotton pinned to its rear -- brings martinis to a nearby table. All the drinks have little flags in them, reading "Breakfast of Champions!"
Bonnie is also wearing a big "Support The Arts!" badge. As she sets down the drinks, she says to the people at the table:
Breakfast of Champions!
At the head of the table is Fred Barry. Seated around him are CASSANDRA BOXE, a "million dollar club" realtor, Max and Minos Xopolis, Lyle and Kyle Hoover, and CYPRIAN UKWENDE, a black doctor from Africa. All are wearing "Support The Arts!" badges. One chair is empty. Fred Barry is holding forth:
You want to talk about success?
LYLE & KYLE
You bet! That's what we're here for!
I am a perfect example of what's right about this country. You pick up the newspaper. You turn on the tv, and all you get are stories about how America is going down the tubes. But why don't some of those big city editors and network news stars come out to my town: Midland City?
They'd write another story!
Or I'd break their legs!
Minos cackles appreciatively, and pantomimes breaking legs.
Fifty years ago, this town made railroad tracks, buggy springs, and celluloid collars. Those days are gone. But are we in the dumps? Like Pittsburgh? Philadelphia? Chicago? Detroit?
THE WHOLE TABLE
We've adapted! We've changed with the times! I waved goodbye to smokestacks and labor unions! And said hello to the clean wholesome world of high-impact plastics, guided missiles, and frozen yogurt.
Bunny breaks into "Happy Days Are Here Again!"
When I was a girl, you couldn't go swimming in Sugar Creek without catching polio. But now, we're drinking out of it!
And there isn't an iron lung left in the County! Where there used to be block after block of dingy mills and sweatshops -- now there's hospitals. And doctors coming in from all over the world. And today it's my pleasure to welcome one of those doctors as the newest member of the "Breakfast of Champions" table -- Cyprian... Well, how do you pronounce it?
Ukwende. It means throbbing spear.
Well, I'll drink to that!
We all will!
Bunny launches into "Breakfast of Champions." (theme) Fred Barry gestures toward the empty seat at the table.
(to Lyle & Kyle)
Off making a commercial.
God bless Dwayne Hoover.
God bless America!
EXT. DWAYNE HOOVER'S EXIT 11 PONTIAC VILLAGE - DAY
Dwayne is standing next to a Volkswagon bug, talking to CAMERA:
My dad fought these people. My sales manager, Harry LeSabre, his dad shot at them. My uncle Frank worked over at Barrytron -- when it was a munitions plant? -- and he personally built the largest bomb ever dropped on Hamburg, Germany! And now that metal is coming back at us -- as Rabbits, Jettas, Sirrocos... and bugs.
You know what you do with a bug?Squash it!
A huge metal press drops on the car -- turning it into a bug-pancake with its wheels splayed out comically.
In a WIDER SHOT, we see the CREW making the commercial. They love it! They're trying their best to keep their laughter from going onto the soundtrack.
(nodding in satisfaction)
I'm Dwayne Hoover, and you can trust me. I don't sell bugs. I sell cars. Tell them what we got left, Harry...
Thank you, Dwayne.... We got a black and silver one... We got a green on green with Walla Walla wire wheels... We got--
He stops, noticing that Dwayne hasn't left the shot as he usually does. Dwayne is staring at him in a crazy, unsettling way.
Harry LeSABRE... LeSABRE ... I don't mind that you have the name of a Buick, Harry, when you're supposed to be selling Pontiacs. You can't help that.
INT. MOBILE TV CONTROL TRUCK - DAY
Inside the mobile tv remote unit, the DIRECTOR and TECHNICAL DIRECTOR look at each other.
Is this part of the commercial?
I don't know... Let it run.
EXT. DWAYNE HOOVER'S EXIT 11 PONTIAC VILLAGE - DAY
(building in intensity)
When we started selling Pontiacs, Harry, the car was sensible transportation for school teachers and grandmothers and maiden aunts. Maybe you haven't noticed, Harry, but the Pontiac has now become a glamorous, youthful adventure for people who want a kick out of life! And you still dress like this was a mortuary! If you want to dress like an undertaker, go work in a mortuary -- and have yourself embalmed while you're at it!
Harry can't do anything but let his mouth hang open. Dwayne grabs Harry by the suit jacket and starts pulling him along the line of cars, pointing out their colors to illustrate his words.
Harry, I have some news for you: Modern science has given us a whole lot of wonderful new colors, with strange, exciting names like red!, orange!, green!, and pink! We're not stuck any more with just black, gray and white! Isn't that good news, Harry? Smile, Harry! I have the personal promise of the Governor that never again will anybody be sent to the Sexual Offenders' Wing of the Shepardstown Insane Asylum for dressing up!
Harry gasps. Dwayne stares at him for a second, suddenly brought back to reality, totally disoriented. He looks around at the tv crew, some of whom are laughing nervously, then he turns quickly and walks off.
INT. DWAYNE'S OFFICE - DAY
Dwayne is sitting at his desk, holding his head in his hands. There's a tap on the door, then it opens. Dwayne looks up. A six-foot tall duck waddles into his office, carrying a bright blue egg. Dwayne shakes his head violently, clearing it. When he looks again, he sees Francine Pefko approaching his desk, carrying a bright blue aspirin bottle -- and looking very worried. She's also carrying a black 3/4 inch tape cassette.
Honey, they finished the commercial. And I know it wasn't really for me to do, but I had to give Harry the rest of the day off.
I'm sure you did the right thing.
Well, after he finished, he came back into the showroom. A customer asked him a question and he just lay down on the floor and started sobbing. The customer thought it was some kind of sales gimmick. But Harry never got up.
The poor son-of-a-bitch. It's all my fault. I never talked to him that way before.
You're the kindest boss in the world.
All of a sudden he just looked like death warmed over to me -- all black and gray and no colors and...
What's wrong with me?
Do you want an aspirin?
Give me two -- my headache has a headache.
She gets the pills and Dwayne opens a 32oz. bottle of water. The label on the bottle says "Sparkling Tears of Christ Water."
It shows water coming from a limestone face of Christ into a bottle whose label shows water coming from a limestone face of Christ into a bottle... ad infinitum.
Adorable label. Whose idea was it?
Lyle and Kyle. They say that tourists keep dipping their hands into the cistern out at the Miracle Cave, so the three of us might as well make a buck on it.
(taking a swig)
But I don't know. It tastes like plastic.
Maybe it's the bottle.
She puts the water back on a shelf next to a half dozen more bottles, and holds up the cassette.
Do you want to see the commercial? They cut it together real cute.
She puts it on the tape player, goes and stands behind Dwayne and gives him a gentle neck massage as the ad comes on the tv.
INT. SHEPARDSTOWN INSANE ASYLUM - DAY
On a poorly-tuned tv in the recreation room of the Shepardstown Insane Asylum, we can see Dwayne, standing next to the Volkswagon bug.
In the foreground, WAYNE HOOBLER -- 25 or so, black, dressed as a Trustee of the Shepardstown Insane Asylum -- is sweeping up the room, moving past the drugged-out INMATES -- and talking back to the tv.
DWAYNE (ON TV)
My dad fought these people. My sales manager, Harry LeSabre, his dad shot at them.
You tell 'em Dwayne!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
My uncle Frank worked over at Barrytron -- when it was a munitions plant? -- and he personally built the largest bomb ever dropped on Hamburg, Germany!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
And now that metal is coming back at us --
You say WHAT??
DWAYNE (ON TV)
-- as Rabbits, Jettas, Sirrocos... and bugs.
You know what you do with a bug?
Step on it!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
A huge metal press drops on the car -- turning it into a bug-pancake with its wheels splayed out comically.
(claps his hands)
That's my MAN!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
(nodding in satisfaction)
I'm Dwayne Hoover, and you can trust me.
Oh, I trust you, Dwayne!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
I don't sell bugs. I sell cars. Tell them what we got left, Harry...
Harry comes on, barely holding it together.
HARRY (ON TV)
Here's a black one... Here's a bl...bl... blue one... Here's another blue one...
Hoobler dials the volume down and turns to one of the inmates.
You see that car? You know what that car needs? Your face in it! And when Wayne Hoobler give it the wax, that's what you got!
You got a car?
I am Satan.
That's nice. I'm Wayne Hoobler, and I don't have a car. And if you don't have a car, you can't wax on it. So what do I do? I just go out and get me one. What do you think of that?
I am Satan.
So you say. The Country Club's a nice place to get cars. On the weekends. Real pretty ones. But there's always one that needs a waxin' real bad. Now on weekdays, I go to the bank. Nice people. Nice cars. But there's always one that needs a waxin' real bad. Drive it home, get out the rags and the can, go to work, pretty soon the neighbors are all around smilin', drinkin' beer, kids laughin', the car shinin' -- that's when I feel like I'm one of them real Americans on the ads on tv.
(a beat, shaking his head)
Then the cops come. Lately, they be comin' so soon I can't even get the job done. Now that's a shame. They say I'm crazy. What do you think of that?
I am Satan.
And I am gettin' out of here. One more day, Mr. Satan. One more day!
He turns back to the tv, turns up the volume.
DWAYNE (ON TV)
You know, it's getting so you can't trust half you see and nothing you hear.
DWAYNE (ON TV)
But you can trust ME.
Yes, I can!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
'Cause I'm Dwayne Hoover.
And I'm Wayne Hoobler!
DWAYNE (ON TV)
So get on the Midwest Turnpike and drive in the direction of your choice till you cross Sugar Creek and see my head spinnin' around on a pole up there...
DWAYNE (ON TV)
...and then you'll know you're at Dwayne Hoover's Exit Eleven Pontiac Village.
I'm on my way! Whoa!
INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY
Kilgore Trout is also on his way. He's in a Greyhound bus bound for New York City. Bill, in his cage, is on Trout's lap. His seatmate is a small, very clean and prim WOMAN in her sixties. She is reading aloud from a religious tract. Trout is trying, unsuccessfully, to take a nap.
"...And those were the abominations of the sons of Solomon: fornication, sodomy and the coupling with the beasts of the field, for which the sons were turned away from the sight of the Lord and cast into the fiery pit to suffer and travail unto the end of time."
(closing the pamphlet)
So you be wary, young man. New York City is teeming with homosexuals, lesbians, and communists, every one of them paid by Lucifer to drag you down to hell.
Sounds like good work if you can get it.
I beg your pardon!?
(turning to her)
Don't misunderstand me. I join you in your miserable evaluation of the human race. Madam, mankind deserves to die horribly.
Oh, you're a Christian!
Mankind deserves to die horribly; but not for fornication, sodomy, or the occasional four-legged girlfriend. Humans are damned because they alone have developed a taste for cruelty. Because we are all Heliogabalus.
Helio--who? Is he in the Bible?
Well, when they rewrite it again, maybe he will be. He's wicked enough.
He pulls out his sketch pad, unfolds it, and begins to draw: A resplendent figure -- HELIOGABALUS -- complete with the Imperial toga.
Listen: Heliogabalus was the name of a Roman emperor who had a sculptor make a hollow, life-size iron bull with a door on it...
(he sketches the forged iron bull...)
The bull's mouth was open. That was the only other opening to the outside. Heliogabalus would have a human being put into the bull through the door, and the door would be locked.
Trout draws a slave being imprisoned inside the bull. Despite herself, the woman is fascinated.
Any sounds the human being made in there would come out of the mouth of the bull.
A "balloon" issues from the bull's mouth. Trout writes "HELP!!" in the balloon.
Heliogabalus would have guests in for a nice party, with plenty of food and wine and beautiful women and pretty boys -- and Heliogabalus would have a servant light kindling. The kindling was under dry firewood --
Trout grins at the woman. She edges away on her seat. Trout finishes the drawing and holds it up for her. Flames lick the belly of the bull.
The dry firewood was under the bull.
EXT. NEW YORK CITY - DAY
Carrying a battered cardboard suitcase in one hand and Bill's birdcage in the other, Kilgore Trout descends from the bus into the center of midtown Manhattan.
He looks around, orienting himself in the bustling crowd, then spots a huge sign half a block away: "Shorty Cox -- Adult Book Faire -- MAGAZINES -- TAPES -- PEEPS."
INT. DIRTY BOOK STORE - DAY
Trout enters the store. The fat, greasy-black-haired CLERK is wearing a Beethoven tee-shirt and is engrossed in a huge (eight carton) Chinese take-out dinner. The clerk eyes Trout.
Something for the bird?
(a disgusting, wheezing laugh)
We got great pecker films.
I'm trying to assemble the complete works of Kilgore Trout. It's for an Arts Festival.
Trout!? Birds!? What do you think this is, a fuckin' zoo? Hey, what're you into, man? You want bimbo's doin' donkeys?
Another time, perhaps. May I see your magazines?
Suit yourself, Tarzan.
He points toward the magazine section -- aisle after aisle of garishly-colored raunch. Trout squares his shoulders and sets off on his quest.
INT. HARRY LESABRE'S HOUSE - BATHROOM - NIGHT
IN CLOSE-UP: Harry LeSabre is a few inches from his medicine-cabinet mirror, carefully plucking an eyebrow. His shoulders are bare. He is talking loudly enough so that his wife, who is in their bedroom, can hear.
He knows! You heard what he said. He made fun of my clothes. He knows, Grace!
Bullshit, he knows. You haven't passed around any Polaroids, have you?
INT. HARRY LESABRE'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT
GRACE LeSABRE is stretched out seductively on the purple satin sheets of their king-size bed. She is wearing "Frederick's Of Hollywood" style trashy lingerie and smoking a small cigar in a long holder made from the legbone of a stork. She looks like the cover of one of the magazines in "Shorty Cox Adult Book Faire."
You haven't been subscribing to any magazines, have you?
No... But he threatened me with the Sexual Offenders Wing up at Shepardstown. I know he knows!
Fuck Dwayne Hoover. What does he know about sex anyway? How many orgasms do you think Dwayne Hoover has a month?
Gee, I don't know, honey.
One point five - that's my guess. Do you know what my average is?
Tell me again. I like to hear it.
Eighty-seven! Will you hurry up and get that thing on!
Harry appears, resplendent in a slinky, sequined strapless evening gown and spike heels, his cheeks are rouged now and his mouth a pout of lipstick.
Grace, don't you understand? Dwayne Hoover is my boss. And he thinks I'm a freak.
Becoming excited, Grace slides across the bed toward Harry, starts to run her hands along the satin softness of his dress.
You're not a freak, Harry. Listen, as nearly as I can tell, we're the only white people in Midland City with any kind of sex life. I'm serious. Midland City is the asshole of the Universe. Let's sell the God damn Barrytron stock and buy a condominium on Maui and live for a change!
Harry's erection is visible beneath the tight satin dress. Grace kisses him hungrily.