EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES
Gus Van Sant
Based on a novel by
INT. CAVE NIGHT
There is a huge ancient hourglass made of animal skins, and
acorns plop through the waist of the hourglass one by one.
It sits in a pool of water. In the water swim EYELESS CATFISH
in geometric patterns. An underground stream feeds the pool
of water and then flows into a huge underground crevasse
that on occasion emits a LOW RUMBLE.
INDIANS with torches surround the hourglass, which now we
can see is in a cave. And as soon as the acorns have finished
passing through the hourglass, a crew of Indians turn it on
its opposite end. One of the Indians appears to be JAPANESE.
ONE INDIAN stands at the wall of the cavern in front of a
series of symbolic carvings and scratches, with stone in
hand he makes a few hatchmarks, and keeps an eye on the
THE CREVASSE RUMBLES once more, loosening a few chunks of
rock from the cave.
The earth begins to shake.
THE CHART KEEPER
She is restless tonight.
She dreams of loving.
She has the blues.
View of the chartkeeper's drawings. One is of a crane with a
very long neck. Another is a primitive drawing of a naked
girl, who has long flowing hair. She also has, pointed out
from her sides, thumbs that are three times normal human
proportions. A MUSICAL CHORUS sounds at the sight of this
drawing of a girl with the thumbs. The chartkeeper puts the
finishing touches on the drawing.
And the song "Happy Birthday to You" strikes up on country
and western guitar and polka-like accordion. title
INT. RICHMOND VIRGINIA SUBURBAN HOME DAY
We see CANDLES burning on a cake. It is somebody's birthday.
And there are six candles on the cake.
SISSY HANKSHAW is six years old.
Her DADDY and a visiting UNCLE, finishing their rendition of
Happy Birthday, are staring down at Sissy and looking at her
young THUMBS, WHICH ARE UNUSUALLY LARGE and twitch with a
mind of their own.
She manages to blow out all six candles.
Well, you're lucky that you don't
Sissy couldn't suck 'em, she'd need
a mouth like a fish tank.
Sissy is negotiating a fork full of birthday cake, dropping
it because of her thumbs.
The poor little tyke might have a
hard time finding herself a hubby.
But as far as getting along in the
world, it's a real blessing that
Sissy's a girl-child. Lord, I reckon
this youngun would never make a
Nope, and not a brain surgeon,
Course she'd do pretty good as a
butcher. She could retire in two
years on the overcharges alone.
Laughing, the men walk to the kitchen to fill their glasses.
Sissy is left to feel sorry for herself in front of her cake.
One thing, that youngun would make
one hell of a hitchhiker...
This startles Sissy. A new word that tinkles in her head
with a supernatural echo. Sissy looks at her thumbs.
...if she was a boy, I mean.
INT. DOCTOR'S OFFICE DAY
Dr. Dreyfus looks over Sissy's thumbs.
She is, if I may speak frankly,
somewhat of a medical oddity. Due to
impaired dexterity, her life
activities and career potentialities
will be reduced. It could be worse.
Bring her back to me if there ever
is pain. Meanwhile, she will have to
learn to live with them.
That she will. That she will. The
Lord made them things big for a
purpose. God don't never git tired
of testing our kind. It's a punishment
of some sort, for what I don't rightly
Oh Doc, if a young man ever shows up
here with, a young man with ugly
fingers, you know, something similar,
a similar case, Doc, would you
Remember the words of the painter
Paul Gauguin, dear lady. "The ugly
may be beautiful, the pretty never."
I don't suppose that means very much
It's a judgement. She's gotta bear
Sissy beams serenely like a Christ figure.
INT. SCHOOL LIBRARY DAY
Sissy looks up "thumb" in the dictionary. It says: the short,
thick first or most preaxial digit of the human hand,
differing from the other fingers by having two phalanges and
greater freedom of movement.
Sissy mouthing the words: "Greater freedom of movement."
EXT. ROAD DAY
Sissy very timidly ventures a pass with her gigantic right
thumb in the direction she is walking.
She is passed by...... BUT NO!
BRAKE LIGHTS! A Pontiac skids ever so slightly on the
snowflakes. View of the Pontiac insignia on the hood of the
Sissy runs, actually sweating, to its side. She peers in.
OUTSIDE a palmist's trailer is a sign with a red silhouette
of a hand.
Directly under the wrist where the watch band would be is
written MADAME ZOE.
Madam Zoe in kimono and wig lets Sissy and her mother in the
I am the enlightened Madame Zoe.
Inside. Madame Zoe begins stubbing a cigarette in one of
those enlightened little ceramic ashtrays that are shaped
like bedpans and inscribed BUTTS. The trailer is cluttered,
but not one knick-knack, chintz curtain or chenille-covered
armchair seems to have come from the Beyond.
There is nothing about your past,
present or future that your hands do
not know, and there is nothing about
your hands that Madame Zoe does not
know. There is no hocus-pocus
involved. I am a scientist, not a
magician. I, Madame Zoe, chiromancer,
lifelong student of the moldings and
markings of the human hand. I, Madame
Zoe, to whom no facet of your
character or destiny is not readily
revealed. I am prepared to...
Then she notices the thumbs.
Jesus fucking Christ!
Mrs. Hankshaw and the fortune-teller turn pale and uncertain,
while Sissy recognizes with a faint smile that she is in
Sissy extends the thumbs as an ailing aborigine might extend
his swollen parts to a medical missionary. Sissy's mama draws
a neatly folded five-dollar bill from her change purse and
extends it alongside her smiling daughter's extremities.
Madame Zoe returns to her senses, and takes Sissy by the
elbow to sit at a For mica-topped table of undistinguished
Madam Zoe holds Sissy's hands while she appears to go into a
She opens her eyes momentarily.
You have a strong will. Will power
and determination are indicated by
the first phalanx. The second phalanx
indicates reason and logic. You
obviously have both in large supply.
What's your name, dearie?
Hmmm. I'd say that you have an
intelligent, kindly, somewhat artistic
nature. However, Sissy, however,
there is a heavy quality to the second
phalanx- the phalanx of logic --
that indicates a capacity for foolish
or clownish behavior, a refusal to
accept responsibility or to take
things seriously and bent to be
disrespectful of those who do. Your
mama tells me that you're pretty
well behaved and shy, but I'd watch
out for signs of irrationality. All
She pulls her thumb to her breast.
I guess the most important aspect of
your thumbs is the, ahem, over all
size. Uh, what was it, do you know,
Mom speaks out from the couch she is sitting on
Don't know; the doctors don't know...
Just lucky I guess.
Do you study history in school?
Galileo, Descartes, Newton? Lebinitz
had very large thumbs; Voltaire's
were enormous, but, heh heh, just
pickles compared with yours.
What about Crazy Horse?
Crazy Horse? You mean the Indian?
Nobody that I've ever heard of ever
troubled to study the paws of savages.
Well, I guess that about covers the
Madame Zoe lets go of Sissy's thumbs and wipes her hands on
Mrs. Hankshaw withdraws a bill from her rat-skin bag.
Beg your pardon?
Husband. Will she find a husband?
Oh, I see.
Madame Zoe takes Sissy's hand and gives it the old tall-dark-
I see men in your life, honey. I
also see women, lots of women.
She raises her eyes to meet Sissy's looking for an admission
of the "tendency", but there is no signal.
Mrs. Hankshaw does not approve.
A husband, no doubt about it, though
he is years away. There are children,
too. Five, maybe six, but the husband
is not the father. They will inherit
Mrs. Hankshaw, aghast, has heard plenty, and she ushers her
daughter out of the trailer as if she were leading her from
a burning cocktail lounge.
TITLE ACROSS THE SCREEN:
(Delores del Ruby)
EXT. BADLANDS DAY
Views of vast vistas of arid grasslands, open and unmodulated,
thirsty and exposed.
At the western edge of the DAKOTAS, the monotony of the
landscape, now gradually tilting toward the Rockies, is
interrupted by the Badlands -- sculptured canyons so deep
and chaotic they can break a devil's heart.
Between the grasslands and the eerie badlands ruins, there
lies a narrow band of humpy hills, green and pastoral. The
hills are carpeted with midlength prairie grass.
The Rubber Rose buildings are clustered at the badlands end
at the base of a butte, higher, broader and longer than any
in its vicinity, known as Siwash Ridge. a sign over the entry
of the ranch reads:
Welcome to the Rubber Rose Ranch
(the largest all-girl ranch in the west)
Delores del Ruby arrives at the Rubber Rose Ranch, carrying
a whip at her side and batting an educated lash at the
I've traveled through the Yucatan
with a circus, popping false eyelashes
off a trained monkey with a bullwhip.
When I ate peyote one night and had
a vision. NiwetŁkame, the Mother
Goddess, came to me on the back of a
doe, hummingbirds sipping the tears
she was shedding, crying 'Delores,
you must lead my daughters against
their natural enemy. You must come
to the Rubber Rose Ranch and prepare
for your mission, the details of
which will be revealed to you in a
third vision....' That night I whipped
the shit out of my black lover and
ran away. For a while I drove around,
making a living selling peyote buttons
to hippies, until I made my way
A snake crosses the road in front of her, and she takes her
whip and whirls it around her head. The snake that is crawling
across the dusty road that leads to the ranch is carrying a
card under its forked tongue.
Delores snaps her whip at the snake and picks the card out
of his mouth and lets it fly in the air.
Delores catches it..... The card is the Queen of Spades.
EXT. ROAD DAY
Sissy is thirty years old now wearing a trademark colored
jumpsuit. She is saying these words still: "Greater freedom
Sissy sticks out her thumb, even though there is no traffic.
A plane is flying overhead. Sissy hitches it; and the plane's
flight path curves with in response to her gesture. A squirrel
running by stops to look. The bus on the other side of the
road skids to a stop and two cars coming her way stop as
INT. CAR DAY
The man driving looks over the back seat to the hitchiker
INT. BUS DAY
The bus driver does the same.
From the look of her Sissy is a very seasoned hitchhiker,
and she turns around relatively unimpressed with the fact
that a car has stopped for her.
SISSY'S VIEW. The man driving is black-skinned, beret-topped
and he has four smiling gold teeth and six shiny brass
saxaphones in the back seat. He wears a gardenia in his lapel
and tokes on a short joint.
You bet your raggedy white ass I am.
Sissy gets in.
He turns up the volume of his radio and rockets north.
INT. LINCOLN CONTINENTAL DAY
Sissy ventures into her pocket and pulls out a slice of cheese
and offers it to him. He now gets a better look at her unusual
thumbs. They are elegant, but large boned, and
disproportionate. They are banana shaped boats that makes it
a little awkward to hold onto the cheese.
(taking an alarming
interest in her thumbs)
American Cheese. The king of road
He eats the cheese, and worries about the thumbs. He tokes
on the joint between his fingers.
Are you in show business?
I was a successful model once.
I was the Yoni Yum feminine-hygiene
Dew girl from 1965 to 1970, but got
So now you're bummin' around?
I'm the best.
You're the best?
When I was younger, I hitchhiked one
hundred and twenty-seven hours without
stopping, without food or sleep,
crossed the continent twice in six
days, cooled my thumbs in both oceans
and caught rides after midnight on
As I developed, however, I grew more
concerned with subtleties and nuances
of style. Time in terms of M.P.H. no
longer interested me. I began to
hitchhike in something akin to
geological time: slow, ancient, vast.
When I am really moving, stopping
car after car after car, moving so
freely, so clearly, so delicately
that even the sex maniacs and the
cops can only blink and let me pass,
then I embody the rhythms of the
universe. I am in a state of grace.
The man listening to her takes another toke on his joint.
EXT. ROAD DAY
A view down the road of the Lincoln Continental going swiftly
in its direction.
CREDIT INTERLUDE featuring the song "Even Cowgirls Get the
Blues" as sung by (an undetermined country or pop star like
k.d. lang or Bob Dylan) in an old television Kine-scope piece
of film like you might see on early 1950's television sets.
Between Sissy watching this image on old motel televisions,
there are also IMAGES of roads, cars, trucks, highways,
thumbs, gas stations and deserts gliding by in a flow of
natural hitchhiking beauty.
EXT. POST OFFICE DAY
Sissy gets out of a large eighteen wheel truck and walks
into a United States Post Office.
INT. POST OFFICE DAY
Sissy at the window picking up some mail, and opening a
lavender colored letter that reeks of perfume, she is
surprised to read this:
Sissy, Precious Being, How are you, my extraordinary one? I
worry so. Next time you are near Manhattan, do ring me up.
There is a man to whom I simply must introduce you. Thrill!!
Sissy looks at the envelope and return address. Elaborately
embossed is the Countess' logo...
INT. COUNTESS'S OFFICE DAY
The elaborately embossed envelope is now being sealed.. The
Countess gives it a licking... Beside him is a young
watercolorist named Julian.
I will send this out to Sissy, she
should get it in a week, and you
will be able to meet her. When I
send a letter to Sissy, duplicates
must be sent to U.S. Post Office
Boxes in LaConner, Taos, Pine Ridge,
Cherokee and that other place, for
her to pick up... Why she's probably
out there right now in Hibbing,
Minnesota, or Deluth, Montana...
hitching her way across the country.
INT. TRUCKERS CAB NIGHT
Sissy is talking to a trucker as they pass down the road.
Right off, I don't remember how old
I was when I found out I was part
Indian. My mamma's family, a lot of
them, had lived out West, in the
Dakotas, and one of them had married
a squaw. Siwash tribe. My pleasure
in Indianhood and my passion for car
travel might be incongruous if not
mutually exclusive........ After
all, the first car that ever stopped
for me had been named in honor of
the great chief of the Ottawa:
In the distance, Sissy spies her destination. NEW YORK CITY.
NEW YORK CITY. It's still a helluva
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING DAY
Sissy gets out of the truck and looks up at a large building.
INT. COUNTESS'S OFFICE DAY
Sit down dear, do sit down.
Sissy Hankshaw takes a seat. The Countess lifts a dusty
Take a load off those lovely tootsies.
Yes, sit right down. Would you fancy
The decanter is empty, a stiff fly lies feet up on it's lip.
Shit O goodness, I'm all out of
sherry; how about some Red Ripple?
He reaches into a midget refrigerator beside his desk and
pulls out some pop wine.
You know what Red Ripple is don't
you? It's Kool-Aid with a hard on.
Sissy manages a polite smile. She looks at a heavily finger
To my own special Sissy. Cheers! And
welcome. So my letter brought ya
flying, eh? Where were you? Salt
Lake City? La Conner? Well, I may
have a little surprise for you. But
first, tell me about yourself. It's
been six months, hasn't it? In some
circles that's half a year. How are
That's the very first time in the
eons that I've known you that I've
ever heard you complain. And now
you're tired, poor darling.
A born freak can only go uphill.
Freak, schmeek. Most of us are freaks
in one way or another. Try being
born a male Russian countess into a
white middle class Baptist family in
Mississippi and you'll see what I
I've always been proud of the way
nature singled me out. It's the people
who have been deformed by society I
feel sorry for. I've been steady
moving for eleven years and some
months. Maybe I should rest up for a
spell, I'm not as young as I used to
Shit O goodness, you won't be thirty
for another year, and you're more
beautiful than ever.
Does that mean you might have an
assignment for me?
The Countess taps his monocle with his cigarette holder. He
looks on his wall, and on a poster advertising a feminine
hygene product, Yoni Yum Dew Spray, stands Sissy Hankshaw,
her thumbs neatly hidden, chopped off by the borders of the
You were the Yoni Yum girl from,
(peruses the ad layouts
on the wall)
from nineteen sixty-eight through
nineteen seventy. You've always
smelled so nice. Like a little sister.
The irony has just killed me. You,
the Dew Girl, one of the few girls
who doesn't need Dew. I loath the
stink of females! They are so sweet
the way God made them, then they
start fooling around with men and
soon they're stinking. Like rotten
mushrooms, like an excessively
chlorinated swimming pool, like a
tuna fish's retirement party. They
all stink. From the Queen of England
to Bonanza Jellybean, they stink.
What? Oh yes. Tee-hee. Jellybean.
The Countess's jaw muscles calm down, his dentures ease into
She's a young thing who works on my
ranch. Real name is Sally Jones or
something wooden like that. She's
cute as a hot fudge taco, and, of
course, it takes verve to change
one's name so charmingly. But she
stinks like a slut just the same.
Oh my dear yes, I bought a little
ranch out West, sort of a tribute to
the women of America who have
cooperated with me in eliminating
their odor by using my vaginal
products, Dew spray mist and Yoni
Yum spray powder. A tax write-off,
He looks out his window as a squirrel crosses Park Avenue.
Sissy, Sissy, blushing bride, you
can desist from wearing paths in
those forgotten highways. The Countess
has arranged a job for you. And what
A job for me?
I am once more about to make
advertising history. And only you,
the original Yoni Yum/Dew Girl, could
possibly assist me.
The Countess hands Sissy an article that she reads clenched
in her fist.
The Food and Drug Administration
said Wednesday female deodorant sprays
may cause such harmful reactions as
blisters, burns and rashes. Although
the FDA judges that the reported
reactions are not sufficient to
justify removal of these products
from the market, they are sufficient
to warrant the proposed mandatory
Shit O dear, that's enough to make
me asthmatic. The nerve of those
twits. What do they know about female
odor? Don't interrupt. Here's my
concept. My ranch out West? It's a
beauty ranch. Oh, it's got a few
head of cattle for atmosphere and
tax purposes. But it's a beauty ranch,
a place where unhappy women --
divorcees and widows, mainly -- can
go to lose weight, remove wrinkles,
change their hair styles and pretty
themselves up for the next
disappointment. My ranch is named
the Rubber Rose, after the Rubber
Rose douche bag, my own invention,
and bless its little red bladder,
the most popular douche bag in the
world. So get this. It's on the
migratory flight path of the whooping
cranes. The last flock of wild
whooping cranes left in existence.
Well, these cranes stop off at my
little pond -- Siwash Lake, it's
called -- twice a year, autumn and
spring, and spend a few days each
time, resting up, eating, doing
whatever whooping cranes do. I've
never seen them, understand, but I
hear they're magnificent. Very big
specimens -- I mean, huge mothers --
and white as snow, to coin a phrase,
except for black tips on their wings
and tail feathers, and bright red
heads. Now, whooping cranes, in case
you didn't know it, are noted for
their mating dance. It's just the
wildest show in nature.
It's probably the reason why
birdwatching used to be so popular
with old maids and deacons. Picture
these rare, beautiful, gigantic birds
in full dance -- leaping six feet
off the mud, arching their backs,
flapping their wings, strutting low
to the ground. Dears, it's
overwhelming. And picture the birds
doing their sex dance on TV. Right
there on the home screen, creation's
most elaborate sex ritual -- yet
clean and pure enough to suit the
Pope. With lovely Sissy Hankshaw in
the foreground. In a white gown, red
hood attached, and big feathery
sleeves trimmed in black. In a very
subdued imitation of the female
whooping crane, she dance/walks over
to a large nest in which there sits
a can of Yoni Yum. And a can of Dew.
Off-camera, a string quartet is
playing Debussy. A sensuous voice is
reading a few poetic lines about
courtship and love. Are you starting
to get it? Doesn't it make the hair
on your neck stand up and applaud?
My very goodness gracious! Grandiose,
lyrical, erotic and Girl Scout-
oriented; you can't top it. I've
hired a crew of experts from Walt
Disney Studios, the best wildlife
cinematographers around. You're my
eternal favorite. Princess Grace
herself couldn't be better, not even
if she had your personality which
she doesn't; Anyway, dear, I'm out
of photography now and into water
colors. Ah how circuitous conversation
is! We're back at the beginning. The
exact man I've wanted you to meet is
my artist the watercolorist.
Sissy dares a sip of Red Ripple.
If you don't want me to pose for
him, why do you want me to meet him?
Purely personal. I believe you might
enjoy one another.
Now, now. Don't get exasperated. I
realize that you've always avoided
all but the most rudimentary
involvements with men, and I might
add, you've been wise. Heterosexual
relationships seem to lead only to
marriage. For men, marriage is a
matter of efficient logistics: The
male gets his food, bed, laundry,
TV, pussy, offspring and creature
comforts all under one roof, where
he doesn't have to dissipate his
psychic energy thinking about them
too much, then he is free to go out
and fight the battles of life, which
is what existence is all about. But
for a woman marriage is surrender.
The Countess refills his glass. The squirrel starts across
Park Avenue again but doesn't make it. The uniformed chauffeur
gets out of a limousine and holds the crushed animal up where
it can be seen by an elderly woman passenger.
But here you are, still a virgin --
you are virginal yet, aren't you?
Why, yes, technically. Jack Kerouac
and I came awfully close, but he was
afraid of me, I think...
Yes, well, what I'm getting at is
that there comes a time when it is
psychologically impossible for a
woman to lose her virginity. She
can't wait too long, you know. Now,
there's no reason why you must lose
yours. I mean, just ponder it a bit,
(her brow spaghettied)
What makes you think this
watercolorist and I would develop a
I can't be certain that you would.
But what have you got to lose?
Well, okay. I'll try it. I don't see
the point in it, but I'll try it.
Just for you. It's kind of silly,
actually, me going out with an artist
in New York City. However...
Good, good, good... you'll enjoy it,
you'll see. Julian is a gentleman.
Suddenly the Countess swivels in his desk chair and leans
forward. Lowering his wine glass, he focuses directly,
intensely into Sissy's blue eyes. His smile widens.
By the way, Sissy... he's a full
INT. RUBBER ROSE OUTHOUSE DAY
The Outhouse Radio is playing "The Starving Armenians Polka"
and Bonanza Jellybean and Delores del Ruby are in the privy,
caught in the rain.
Well, I'm not scared of a little
Might as well brave it.
Right. I don't know about you but
I'm sure not sweet enough to melt.
Delores flicks her whip at a sweat bee that has taken refuge
in the privy and hits the photograph of Dale Evans upon which
it has lit.
Jelly looks out the door of the outhouse across a cut green
lawn to a bunkhouse where we can see a gathering of other
There is a fly buzz and a distant polka yip. Way off horse
Bonanza spies a picture of Sissy Hankshaw, an advertisement
for Yoni Yum Dew Spray mist, on the privy wall.
Someday...... if that Sissy Hankshaw
ever shows up here, I'm gonna teach
her how to hypnotize a chicken.
Chickens are the easiest critters on
Earth to hypnotize. If you can look
a chicken in the eyes for tens
seconds, it's yours forever.
INT. BUNKHOUSE DAY
A meeting is in progression in the bunkhouse that morning.
Mary is addressing the group.
I want to complain that some of the
cowgirls have been sleeping two to a
bunk again, in violation of the
agreement that "crimes against nature"
are to be confined to the hayloft.
I don't care who lay with whom or
where or how, but the moaners,
groaners and screamers ought to turn
down their volume when others are
trying to sleep or meditate.
Some of the younger cowgirls blush.
I want to complain about the food
around here! It's rotten to the core.
A round of support from the other cowgirls in the form of
INT. OUTHOUSE DAY
Jelly and Delores are getting ready to run through the rain,
when all of a sudden, Jelly spies a barefoot cowgirl -- it's
Debbie -- run across the yard in her karate robe, jump on
the Exercycle that is rusting in the weeds and begin pumping
the pedals furiously in the yammering rain.
My sacred crocodile! She's flipped.
But in a minute, others follow Debbie, everyone of them, in
fact; the entire bunkhouse load of them, some thirty young
cowgirls, squealing, giggling, They slide and roll on the
wet grass, push each other into the mud that is forming by
the corral fence, chase one another in and out of the thick
folds of rain draperies, stamp their cute feet in puddles
and do bellyflops into the overflowing horse trough.
The cowgirls frolic until, as suddenly as it has come, the
rain goes away. Play ceases. They are panting like puppies
as they lean against one another or pick clods of mud from
one another's hair.
I move that the meeting be adjourned.
At the end of the endless game, there
What the heck did she mean by that!
Just that in Heaven all business is
conducted this way.
INT. HOTEL LOBBY NIGHT
In the lobby, the doors of an elevator open revealing Sissy
inside wearing a buttoned up dress. Very formal looking for
There is Julian standing in the lobby. He turns and walks
toward Sissy. He is wearing a rather formal looking plaid
sport coat with blue cummerbund. He extends his hand to meet
her, and (perhaps at the sight of Sissy's thumbs) Julian has
an asthma attack, doubling over in front of her.
Sissy doesn't know whether to assist Julian or flee.
From the other side of the lobby, two WELL-GROOMED COUPLES,
white, mid-thirties and upper middle class come to the rescue.
The younger of the men, RUPERT, takes charge. He breaks an
inhaler of dinephrine under Julian's nose.
We'd better take you home.
In the red of embarrassment, Julian looks more Indian than
he had previously. Wheezing, he speaks:
I beg your pardon. I've been
enthralled with your photographs for
years. When the Countess hinted that
you might like to meet me -- he never
explained why -- I was ready to paint
for him free of charge. And now I
had to go and spoil it.
EXT. STREET NIGHT
Rupert is helping Julian to the street. Rupert is a salesman
for a publishing house. His wife Carla, a homemaker, as they
say. The other couple breaks down into Howard and Marie Barth,
both copywriters for an ad agency.
Howard hails a cab and Carla and Marie flutter around Sissy.
This is dreadful.
(lowering her voice
You know, asthma attacks are brought
on by emotional stress. Poor Julian
is so high strung. The excitement of
meeting you -- my dear, you look so
stunning! -- must have upset his
Carla nods. Everyone is piling into the taxi.
Come on, Sissy, don't be afraid of
I've never ridden in a cab. The whole
idea of paying for a ride makes my
Sissy is forced to suffer the indignity of riding in a vehicle
she wasn't responsible for flagging with her own thumbs.
It'll be all right, dear. It isn't
as serious as it sounds.
INT. CAB NIGHT
Carla starts to pat Sissy's hand, then decides to leave the
thumbs to themselves.
The six of them are squeezed into the taxi. Sissy looks out
the window of the taxi:
SISSY'S VIEW as the taxi stops at a light, she can see a
newsstand headline on the front page of the New York Daily
THE CHINK SUMS IT UP, SAYS LIFE IS HARD IF YOU THINK IT'S
EXT. JULIAN'S APARTMENT NIGHT
THE TAXI stops in front of Julian's building. It discharges
INT. JULIAN'S APARTMENT NIGHT
INSIDE Howard mixes Scotch and sodas, Rupert fills a syringe
from a vial of aminophylline he has taken from its place
behind a gelatin salad mold in the refrigerator. He gives
Julian an injection.
There, that ought to beat them
bronchial buggers into submission.
He turns to Sissy.
I was a medic in the Army. I really
should have become a doctor.
Sometimes, though, I feel that pushing
books is a whole lot like pushing
medicine. Think of books as pills. I
have pills that cure ignorance and
pills that cure boredom. I have pills
to elevate moods and pills to open
people's eyes to the awful truth...
Too bad you don't have a pill for
Carla smiles as if she were joking, but she'd said it tartly.
Rupert glares and takes a big bite of Scotch.
(changing the subject)
Where do you live, Miss Hankshaw?
I'm staying with the Countess.
I know, but where do you reside when
you aren't visiting New York?
Well, no, I don't reside anywhere in
particular. I just keep moving.
Everyone looks a bit astonished including the recumbent
A traveler, eh?
You might say that, although I don't
think of it as traveling.
How do you think of it?
Rupert bites into his Scotch again. Julian issues a watery
wheeze. Then, silence.
Rupert, before you get too engrossed
in your research on Scotch as a cure
for aging, don't you think you'd
better phone Elaine's and cancel our
Sissy leaves her chair and wanders about the apartment. Which
is full of books and shelves.
What would we do without you, Carla?
Without our little efficiency expert,
Carla, everything would just go to
hell. Carla is thinking about running
for mayor next year, aren't you,
Up yours, Herr Doktor Book Salesman.
Will the demands of your medical
practice allow you to call Elaine's
or shall I?
Oh let me do it.
Sissy is intrigued by an antique here and an object d'art
there, but she knows she is in an alien environment.
INT. JULIAN'S BEDROOM NIGHT
Sissy enters a bedroom There is a covered birdcage. She sits
upon the bed listening for a 'cheep' from the birds.
And gradually she reclines. Then turning her head to the
side against the bedspread:
No Indian blankets... no Indian
And she blacks out. And the sound drifts away in waves, so
there is only the whistle of a distant wind through the mortar
of the apartment building...
...Until one by one, we see button necks freed. Soon Sissy
can feel it.
Someone is undressing her. In a voice webby with sleep she
lifts her head up, and sees Howard and Marie.
Where are the others?
Oh, Rupert and Carla had a little
hassle and went home.
Julian fell asleep on the couch; we
covered him up.
We thought that we should make you
Sissy thinks this is nice, but wonders, however, why they
are both in their underwear.
Between the two of them, they have gotten Sissy out of her
dress in no time. Sissy feels she should apologize for not
having on a brassiere.
Marie slips out of her own brassiere and moves her bare bosom
close to Sissy's.
Mine are fuller but yours are more
Highly debatable. I'll wager they're
the exact same size.
Howard cups his left hand about a Marie breast and his right
about one of Sissy's. He weighs them in his palms, squeezes
them the way an honest grocer squeezes excess water from a
lettuce, and spreads his fingers to sample their
Hmm. Yours are larger, Marie, but
Miss Hankshaw's -- Sissy's -- are
more firm. You'd think they would
have started to droop; I mean, from
not wearing a bra.
Howard! Watch your manners. You've
made her blush. Here, Sissy, let me
Marie seizes Sissy's free breast, quickly, like a monkey
picking a fruit, rolling it about in her hungry little finger,
rubbing it against her chin and cheeks...
...it was like her earlier days as a hitchhiker....
nostalgic..... tropical plums.
This place is finer than the place I
Like a disc jockey from Paradise, Howard flips Marie over
and plays her B side. Every now and then she reaches for
Sissy to include her, but the laws of physics insist on being
Over and over Marie calls Sissy's name with half-closed eyes.
The Barths are really going at it, Marie yowling like a cat.
The POODLE in the kitchen begins to growl.
So this is what it's like... so this
is what it's really like.
INT. LIVING ROOM NIGHT
Sissy bounces out of the bed and patters through the living
room and crawls under the cover with Julian. Julian stirs
Oh, Sissy. I am sorry about all the
Julian and Sissy embrace and go at it under the covers But
suddenly: Julian stops after a brief climax.
(with downcast eyes)
Sissy cradles Julian and comforts him.
It is the measure of Western
Civilization that it can encompass
in harmony, balance off, as it were,
such divergent masterworks as A
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and THE
AMERICAN DREAM, as the dome of the
Sistine Chapel and the ceiling of
the Paris opera.
Sissy sits up, her eyes moping about the apartment, looking
but not seeing the macrame wallhangings, the volumes of Robert
What's the matter?
After a while Sissy answers.
Here. I'll turn down the air
It's not the air conditioner that's
making me cold. Nothing moves in
here. Not even your birds.
Sissy gets out of bed and begins to dress.
What are you doing?
Getting dressed. I've got to go.
But I don't want you to leave. Please
stay. We can go to dinner. I owe you
a dinner. And tonight... we can...
really make love.
I have to go, Julian.
Why? Why do you have to go?
My thumbs hurt. I've made a mistake.
I've been negligent. I haven't
exercised. I have to hitchhike a
little bit every day, no matter what.
It's like a musician practicing his
scales. When I don't practice, my
timing gets off, my thumbs get stiff
EXT. CITY DAWN
Sissy trembles while she kisses her thumbs.
I will hitch with you, out where
tall birds wade in a lake named for
my Siwash kin. Out where Smokey the
Bear lay down his shovel to romp
with more playful beasts. Out where
starlight has no enemies and the
badland wind no friends. Out where
the boogie stops and the woogie
INT. TRUCK DAY
And Sissy is now traveling in a truck passing Fourteenth
Street on her way to the Geo. Washington Bridge.
View of that Bridge as the truck crosses it to New Jersy.
View of the wilds of New Jersey as Sissy travels to the West.
INT. COUNTESS' OFFICE
The Countess is on the phone.
So she left town. Well, that shouldn't
surprise you. Leaving town is what
Sissy is all about. But tell me, how
did she strike you?
Julian is on the other end of the phone.
She's obviously that. Jesus! Which
would you rather have, a million
dollars or one of Sissy's thumbs
full of pennies?
Oh, you! I'm not talking about her
hands. They're difficult to ignore,
I confess, but I'm speaking of her
whole being. Her whole being is
extraordinary. The way she talks,
for example. She's so articulate.
It's high time you realized, honey
babe, that a woman doesn't have to
give the best years of her life to
Radcliffe or Smith in order to speak
the English language.
Countess. I'm really in a dither.
She's turned my head.
Ninety degrees to the left, I hope.
How does she feel about you?
I think she's disappointed that I'm
not more, ah, sort of atavistic.
She's got some naive, sentimental
notions about Indians. I'm sure she
liked me, though; but.... then she
She always leaves town, you dummy.
That doesn't mean anything. What
about in bed? How does she like it
Julian pauses for a very long moment.
How does she like what in bed?
The Countess' teeth chatter in his mouth.
What do you think?
Shit O dear, Julian. Do you mean to
tell me you didn't get it on?
Oh, we didn't get it all the way on.
Whose fault was that?
I suppose it was mine. Yes, it
definitely was my fault.
What do they do to you boys in those
Ivy league schools, anyway? Strap
you down and pump the Nature out of
you? They can even press the last
drop of Nature out of a Mohawk buck.
Why, send a shaman or cannibal to
Yale for four years and all he'd be
fit for would be a desk in the
military-industrial complex and a
seat in the third row at a Neil Simon
comedy. Jesus H.M.S. Christ! If
Harvard or Princeton could get hold
of the Chink for a couple of semesters
they'd turn him into a candidate for
the Bow Tie Wing of the Hall of Wimps.
If we Ivy Leaguers aren't earthy
enough to suit you hillbillies, at
least we don't go around indulging
in racist terms such as 'Chink.'
Next thing I know, you'll be calling
Chink's the guy's name, for Christ's
Aw, he's some old fart holyman who
lives in the hills out West. Gives
my ranch the creeps and the willies,
too. But though he be old and dirty,
he's alive, I'll bet, clear down to
his toes. They don't have his juice
in a jar in New Haven. Well I suppose
that I'll have to write Sissy out on
EXT. ROAD DAY
Sissy makes little puffs of dust as she walks.
From the direction of the ranch a VW Microbus is approaching.
It is painted with mandalas, lamaistic dorjes and symbols
representing "the clear light of the void."
When the Microbus draws alongside Sissy it stops. Inside are
two men and a woman. They are approximately twenty-four years
Are you a pilgrim?
No, I'm more of an Indian The trio
She means are you going to see the
Oh, I may and I may not. But seeing
him is not my main objective out
That's good. Because he won't see
you. We came all the way from
Minneapolis to see him and the crazy
bastard tried to stone us to death
Yeah, but I no longer believe that
guy's a master. He's just a dirty,
uptight old mountain man. Why, he
pulled out his pecker and shook it
at Barbara. I'd stay away from there
if I were you, lady.
Sissy walks on leaving the people in the bus arguing about
whether the Chink's rock-shower and pecker-wag actually had
been intended as spiritual messages.
EXT. ROAD DAY
WALKING down the long dirt road, Sissy stops to take a
breather and sits down on a log.
Sissy thinking and looking into the clouds.
Waves of grasses whisper her name: Ssssssssss, Sssssssssssss
Meadowlarks squander their songs on her as she begins to
squirm on the log.
A Lincoln Continental drives up suddenly. Sissy barely has
time to zip up.
The Cadillac stops in front of Sissy. A teenaged girl in a
Stetson is at the wheel. The rear door of the limousine opens
and a refined matronly voice calls from the void.
By any chance are you Sissy Hankshaw?
Yes I am.
A chic middle-aged woman leans out of the car.
My goodness. Why didn't you telephone?
Someone would have driven into
Mottburg to pick you up. I'm Miss
Adrian. From the ranch. The Countess
wrote that I should expect you. Get
in, won't you? You must be exhausted.
Gloria, assist Miss Hankshaw with
Gloria nods at Sissy amicably but doesn't make a move to
Sissy swings her sack into the roomy vehicle. Before she
gets in she flashes her thumb to hitch a ride.
The instant that Sissy shuts the door the cowgirl chauffeur
floors the Cadillac and it lurches away in a puff of dust.
INT. CADDY DAY
Sitting up after the bothersome lurch of the car.
(turns to Sissy)
You really ought to have phoned. We
were just in Mottburg escorting some
guests to the afternoon train.
More guests leaving ahead of schedule.
Three checked out today. They decided
to transfer to Elizabeth Arden's
Maine Chance spa in Phoenix, Arizona.
It costs two hundred and fifty dollars
a week less at the Rubber Rose, so
why are our guests leaving and going
to Elizabeth Arden's?
Miss Adrian pushes a button that sends a partition glass
between her and the cowgirl driver. Gloria starts laughing
silently on the other side of the glass.
I'll tell you why, it's that plague
of cowgirls. They've gradually
infiltrated every sector of our
program. The one named Debbie
considers herself an expert on
exercising and diet. With Bonanza
Jellybean's permission and against
my explicit orders, she's been
coercing the guests into trying
something called kundalini yoga. Do
you know what that is? It's trying
to mentally force a serpent of fire
to crawl up your spinal column. Miss
Hankshaw, our guests can't comprehend
kundalini yoga, let alone do it.
Yesterday, she ordered a new cookbook
by a Tibetan Negro, entitled Third
Eye in the Kitchen: Himalayan Soul
Food. God knows what that will be
like. The little barbarians are
destroying everything that I've built,
mocking all that the company stands
for. And there's a new one, one they
call del Ruby. She has the good will
of a scorpion. I've considered it
prudent to avoid a confrontation
that might further upset the guests.
But now that the season is practically
over -- we operate April through
September -- and the Countess is
EXT. RUBBER ROSE DAY
The limousine pulls up in the drive.
MISS ADRIAN'S VOICE
Our Ranch has all the latest in modern
INT. BEAUTY RANCH DAY
We see women having facials.
MISS ADRIAN'S VOICE
We have a facial wing, and next to
that is the Hair Barn...
INT. HAIR BARN DAY
Sissy is being given a tour by Miss Adrian. A variety of
hairdos are witnessed.
We have a team of fifteen hair experts
from all over the world.
INT. EXERCISE ROOM DAY
And fanny flab flies off in this
room at the rate of six hundred and
seventy-five pounds a day... that's
a lot of salted ham, Sissy....
INT. MAIN LODGE DAY
Sissy and Miss Adrian walk through the lodge lobby, guests
and cowgirls are conducting a variety of activities:
A BIRD EXPERT projects slides of whooping cranes on the wall
and is giving a lecture about the habits of the birds.
In the center of the room COWGIRL DEBBIE is leading a mixture
of cowgirls and guests in a meditative chant as they reach
high above their heads in a yoga exercise.
Miss Adrian stops in front of the registration desk and Sissy
catches glimpses of the chaotic lobby.
Our special guest Miss Sissy Hankshaw
is with us.
The receptionist hands Miss Adrian a key to Sissy's room.
A COWGIRL makes a face at Sissy as she walks by carrying a
tray of herbal teas.
A representative of the film crew is being intimidated by a
Cowgirl who is looking though his camera lenses and shaking
them and listening to them like you would put a shell up to
your ear to hear the ocean.
Cool! We're going to make a movie!...
Another cowgirl, BIG RED, is lifting a piece of furniture
and passes it to her accomplice.
Get rid of the furniture.... it's
too masculine... Get rid of all the
furniture and use it for kindling!!!
Break away from these pig-like
chauvinist masculine influences....
Miss Adrian looks on helplessly.... she grabs Sissy and leads
her out of the lobby.
EXT. CORRAL DAY
Miss Adrian and Sissy walk out the back door of the Ranch
and out near a corral, to the sound of gunfire.
O merciful Jesus! They're murdering
One of the FILM CREW MEMBERS is hanging out in the corral
wearing a shiny jacket with DISNEY printed on the back.
Miss Adrian grabs him by the shoulders and shakes him.
Where are the guests?
Take it easy, lady. They went on a
short ride with the cowgirls. Rode
over the hill yonder. You're Miss
Adrian, aren't you? We need to talk
to you about the filming.
Not now, you fool, not now. Those
crazed bitches have led innocent
women out and are slaughtering them
at this moment. We'll all be killed.
Another CAMERAMAN spits out a wad of chewing gum.
There's a slaughter going on all
right, but it's not the fat ladies
that are getting it. Your hired hands
are killing the cattle.
The cattle? They're killing the cows?
All of them?
putting a zoom lens
on his camera)
That's what they said, Miss Adrian.
A devilish young cowgirl is sitting on a fence nearby. Miss
Adrian addresses her.
How dare you slaughter the Countess's
cattle! What is a ranch without cows?
We're going to replace them with
goats. Most of the cattle are diseased
and in pain. We're just putting them
out of their misery. According to
Bon-an-za Jellybean, the Rubber Rose
is in-di-cat-ive of the Countess's
values. He has purchased a cheap
weak strain of cow to begin with and
with improper care....
Oh heavens! I don't want to hear
what Bonanza Jellybean has been
telling you girls.... Come on Sissy.
I'll show you to your quarters.
AND THE SUN SETS OVER THE CANYON, THE HILLS AND SIWASH RIDGE
THE CHINK, with his back to us looks down on the ranch from
the ridge and watches Miss Adrian lead Sissy into a small
guest cottage on the ranch.
A DISTANT COYOTE HOWLS, AND A FEW SCATTERED GUNSHOTS ARE
INT. RANCH COTTAGE MORNING
Sissy stirs in a nicely appointed guest cottage. A maid knocks
on the door and serves Sissy breakfast in bed.
Excuse me, Miss. Do you care for
your breakfast now?
Sissy sits up and rubs her eyes.
Yeah. I feel a bit hungry.
The Maid puts the tray down, and the cloth that covers the
food is lifted away to reveal a shocking display of grease
A vase of prairie asters stands over a double-meat
cheeseburger, a package of Hostess Twinkies, a cold can of
Dr. Pepper and a Three Musketeers bar.
Sissy is delighted.
Road food. How did you know?
Well it is a change of our usual
grapefruit and melba toast, I'm sure.
Sissy notices a card. It reads:
Compliments of Bonanza Jellybean
She will be up to see you directly.
Sissy devours her meal. Out her window she can see women on
exercycles, women doing jumping jacks and women in beauty
A FIST pounds on Sissy's door.
IN SAILS Jelly, a cowgirl so cute she makes Sissy blush just
to look at her. She wears a tan Stetson with an aster pinned
to it, a green satin shirt embroidered with rearing stallions
snorting orange fire from their nostrils.
Her breasts bounce like dinner rolls that have gotten loaded
on helium and, between red tinged cheeks, where more baby
fat is taking its time maturing, she has a little smile that
can cause minerals and plastics to remember their ancient
Jelly grasps Sissy's elbow and sits on the side of the bed.
Welcome, podner. By God, it's great
to have you here. It's an honor.
Sorry I took so long getting to you,
but we've had a mess of hard work
these past few days -- and a heap of
planning to do.
Er, you seem to know who I am, and
maybe even what I am. Thanks for the
Oh, I know about Sissy Hankshaw, all
right. I've done a little hitchhiking
myself. Ah shucks, that's like telling
Annie Oakley you're a sharpshooter
because you once knocked a tomato
can off a stump with a fieldstone.
I'd heard tales about you from people
I'd meet in jail cells and truckstops.
I heard about your, uh, your, ah,
your wonderful thumbs, and I heard
how you were Jack Kerouac's girl
Sissy sets her tray on the bedside table.
No, I'm afraid that part isn't true.
Jack was in awe of me and tracked me
down. We spent a night talking and
hugging in a corn field, but he was
hardly my lover. Besides, I always
Well, that doesn't matter; that part
never interested me anyway. The
beatnicks were before my time, and I
never got anything outta the hippies
but bad dope, clichťs and the clap.
But the example of your life helped
me in my struggle to be a cowgirl.
The guests are huffing and puffing in between the pauses in
conversation, in the background through the window in Sissy's
Tell me about it.
About being a cowgirl. What's it all
about? When you say the word you
make it sound like it was painted in
radium on the side of a pearl.
Cowgirls exist as an image. A fairly
common image. The idea of cowgirls
especially for little girls prevails
in our culture. Therefore, it seems
to me, the existence of cowgirls
should prevail. Otherwise, they're
being fooled. In the Rodeo Hall of
Fame in Oklahoma City there are just
two cowgirls. Two. And both of 'em
are trick-riders. Trick-riding is
what cowgirls have almost always
done in rodeos. Our society sure
likes to see its unconventional women
do tricks. That's what prostitutes
call it, you know: 'tricking.'
Jelly lays her hand atop the oval mound Sissy's thumb makes
under the covers.
You're political, then?
No, ma'am. No way. There's girls on
the Rubber Rose who are political,
but I don't share their views. I got
no cowgirl ideology to expound.
"Politics is for people who have a
passion for changing life but lack a
passion for living it."
There is a moment when the two girls feel something between
Did that last comment sound too
profound to be coming outta my mouth?
It's not original. It's something I
picked up from the Chink.
Really? The Chink, huh? I've gathered
that you sometimes speak with him.
What else have you learned from the
Learned from the Chink? Oh my. Ha
ha. That's hard to say. We mostly....
Uh, a lot of his talk is pretty goofy.
Oh yeah, now that I think of it, the
Chink taught me something about
cowgirls. Did you realize that
cowgirls have been around for many
centuries? Long before America. In
ancient India the care of the cattle
was always left up to young women
they called gopis. Being alone with
the cows all the time, the gopis got
awfully horny, just like we do here.
Every gopi was in love with Krishna,
a good-looking young god who played
the flute like it was going out of
style When the moon was full, this
Krishna would play his flute by a
river and call the gopis to him.
Then he would multiply himself sixteen
thousand times -- one for each gopi --
and make love to each one the way
she most desired. There they were,
sixteen thousand gopis balling Krishna
on the river bank, and the energy of
their merging was so great that it
created a huge oneness, a total union
of love, and it was God. Wow! Quite
a picture, huh?
Sissy's thumb twitches. Jelly swallows hard. They gaze into
each other's eyes.
A WHISTLE pierces the sunlight outside the window.
That couldn't be Krishna, could it?
A bit shrill for a flute. Just our
Jelly walks to the window and exchanges hand signals with
Gotta run now. Delores says I'm
needed. Somebody's here. Maybe it's
Jelly spins her six-shooter in her kewpie fingers.
Sissy, cowgirl history is about to
be made. I'm damn glad you're here
to witness it.
She holsters her gun and blows Sissy a kiss, then is gone
out the door.
Sissy hops out of bed and from the window she can see cowgirls
gathering in a circle. Someone or something is in the center
of the circle.
Sissy zips herself into a red jumpsuit and hurries outside.
EXT. CORRAL DAY
What was in the center of the circle was a goat. Debbie was
scratching the animal's ears. She was hugging it.
It's cute. Way cuter than a cow.
Goats are always testing you. They're
like Zen masters. They can tell
instantly if you're faking your
feelings. So they play games with
you to keep you true. People should
go to goats instead of psychiatrists.
It's so loving.
Gloria cuts in on Debbie and gives the beast a hug.
Look at those playfully wise eyes.
Ooo! It licked me!
More and more people are discovering
that cow's milk isn't fit for human
consumption. Billy West says if we
can produce enough goat's milk on
the ranch to make it worth his while,
he'll run it into Fargo regularly.
She pauses and looks around the group in the circle.
I'm aware that Tad Lucas rode broncs
until her ninth month, but I don't
think pregnant cowgirls are going to
be any asset on this ranch. I hope
you itchy clits who are sneaking
down to the lake every night are
taking precautions. It's bad enough
we've got cranes coming; we don't
need storks. I feel that those film
makers should be removed from the
Rubber Rose as soon as possible. Men
can cause nothing but trouble here.
I also feel that our guest
(she nods at Sissy)
should be excused while we discuss
this matter further.
Hurt, Sissy leaves the group.
EXT. RANCH DAY
Views of Sissy in her Whooping crane outfit dancing to Debussy
in front of the Disney film crew. The documentary being
directed by an effusive Frenchman.
View of the camera crew training their long telephoto lenses
on Siwash Lake. They all seem to be wearing the same trademark
satin baseball jackets with one logo or another on their
Another view of the lake, from above, from the Chink's point
of view and our first view of THE CHINK. The Chink spies
Sissy and Jelly coming over a ridge.
We cannot hear them at first, but Sissy and Jelly are talking.
......Delores zonks out on peyote at
least once a week, but so far her
Third Vision hasn't happened.
NiwetŁkame, the Mother Goddess has
not gotten back in touch with her.
Meanwhile she and Debbie are rivaling
each other like a couple of crosstown
high schools. Tension. Cowgirl
tension! What a drag.
What is Debbie's position?
Debbie says that if women are to
take charge again, they must do it
in the feminine way; they mustn't
resort to aggressive and violent
masculine methods. She says it is up
to women to show themselves better
than men, to love men, set good
examples for them and guide them
tenderly toward the New Age. She's a
real dreamer, that Debbie-dear.
You don't agree with Debbie, then?
I wouldn't say that. I expect she's
right, ultimately. But I'm with
Delores when it comes to fighting
for what's mine. I can't understand
why Delores is so uptight about the
Chink; he could probably teach her a
thing or two. Ee! That grass tickles,
doesn't it? God knows I love women,
but nothing can take the place of a
man that fits. Still this is cowgirl
territory and I'll stand with Delores
and fight any bastards who might
deny it. I guess I've always been a
scrapper. Look. This scar. Only twelve
years old and I was felled by a silver
Jelly takes Sissy's hand, carefully avoiding the thumbs and
helps her feel the depression in her belly. The depression
is a dimple, like another navel.
AFTER A HUNGRY STILLNESS, like intermission at a wolf dance,
rhythms are established. Jelly and Sissy are socked into one
another now, and they arch and push and corkscrew and
jackknife softly but with pronounced cadence.
Everything becomes scrambled. They rock each other in cradles
of sweat and saliva, until we can see nothing.
Noisy breaths buck out of Sissy: "Jelly, Jelly" but she can't
hear Sissy because she is screaming. Hysterical from the
scalding hot softness of girl-love.
EXT. HILLTOP DAY
The Chink looks on from the hilltop above indifferently.
EXT. FIELD DAY
Sissy and Jelly are riding on the back of a horse.
A WHOOPING CRANE is spied by Sissy as she rides on the back
of Jellybean's horse back to the ranch. Delores and Big Red
hurry to meet them.
Sure enough across the yard, in the midst of the low-cal
barbecue in progress, monocle reflecting sunlight, cigarette
holder stabbing the air, stands the Countess.
Look at him. Perverse as a pink
Sick as a vice squad.
He's in a snit. He wants to see you
right after the barbecue.
Jellybean chuckles sardonically and dismounts.
Get the girls. He's gonna see me
Sissy, confused, and loyalties torn in the face of an
impending revolution, leaves the corral and
SLIPS INSIDE THROUGH THE KITCHEN.
DOWN THE HALL
ENTERING HER ROOM, SHE LOCKS HERSELF IN. As she locks the
latch she hears Jelly's voice.
INT RANCH OFFICE DAY
Jelly has taken over the ranch loudspeaker system and is
giving an ultimatum.
Any of you ladies who would like to
join us, you're welcome to stay on
as a full working podner at the Rubber
Rose. Rest of you get packed -- and
I mean now. You've got fifteen minutes
to move your lard asses off this
INSIDE THE EXERCISE ROOM
Women are reacting to the demands.
INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE
Some women are taking up trowels and brooms as weapons.
INSIDE THE KITCHEN
The help is joining the revolt.
INSIDE THE HALLWAY
Other women are running for their lives.
INSIDE SISSY'S ROOM
She hears the screen door screech open and a chaos of
footsteps in the hall. She goes to her window. And she can
see, partially cut off by the corner of the building, Miss
You will all be rounded up and sent
to prison if you take this any
farther! This is not your ranch!!!!
EXT. THE FRONT YARD OF THE RUBBER ROSE
The Countess seems to be taking it slowly, and calmly smoking
a French cigarette. He observes the fighting among them with
You pathetic little cutesy-poos. Do
you actually suppose this exhibition
of childlike melodrama is advancing
the cause of freedom?
You owe us this here ranch, as a
token payment for your disgusting
Then take it.
Go for it, girls!
The hands, who carry axes, picks, pitchforks and shovels,
retreat. The Countess, still grinning, reaches for an hors
d'oeuvre and subjects his cigarette to a measured, self-
(shaking her fist)
Go to your bunkhouse and remain there!
The guests are hurriedly packing their things.
INT. SISSY'S ROOM
She looks on.
EXT. FRONT YARD
When the revolutionaries have retreated about thirty yards,
they stop. With astonishing rapidity, they unbuckle unbutton
and unzip and step out of their jeans and underpants. Then,
nude from the waist down, thatched pubises thrust forward,
up front and leading the way, they begin to advance.
The Countess's grin goes down his throat like bathwater down
Better reach for your spray cans!
Not one of these pussies has been
washed in a week!
Rather pale, his nose twitching, the Countess drops the caviar
canapť he has been holding.
ON COME THE COWGIRLS, pelvises pumping, laying down what the
trembling Countess believes to be a devastating barrage of
Miss Adrian, lost in her own hysteria, charges. A barbeque
fork she hurls draws blood from Heather's eyebrow.
Quick as a frog's tongue, Delores's whip cracks. It's lash
curls around the ranch manager's ankles, pulling her feet
from under her. She hits the sod in a jangle of jewelry and
expulsion of breath.
A Molotov cocktail thrown by Big Red says hello to the sexual
reconditioning building. Within seconds, the structure is
INT. MAIN HOUSE
THE BARE-ASSED COWGIRLS storm into the beauty parlor and
SOUNDS OF breaking glass and wood splintering. The air is
singing with cries of "Wahoo," Yippee," "Let 'er buck" and
"The vagina is a self-cleaning organ."
SISSY flees the house as she hunkers down out the back door.
EXT. CROQUET COURT
Sissy running across it. She passes the pool, and falls in.
Climbing out, wet, scared, she runs to the base of Siwash
Ridge and southward along the mountain's foot.
EVENTUALLY Sissy comes to a place where the juniper bushes
are broken to reveal a crude path beginning a steep ascent.
Sissy decides to climb up it.
She shoulders her way through low, slivery boughs.
Approximately halfway up the ridge she rests on a flat rock
from which she can look down on the...
BURNING RUBBER ROSE smoking away, distant yahoos and carryings
on can be heard. Horses whinney in the corral. A few gunshots
are thrown into the soundtrack if things aren't lively enough.
MISS ADRIAN'S CADILLAC, ON FIRE, roars out of the drive.
Sissy looks up to the quiet mountain. Pauses. Then she looks
back to the chaos below.
THE CINEMATOGRAPHERS' RENTED CONVERTIBLE AND THEIR EQUIPMENT
VAN drive away.
Sissy sits and wonders. The sun is setting on the horizon,
mixing well with the firelight that the Rubber Rose is giving
BUT SHE is aware of something watching her. Looking about
she sees nothing.
VIEW of an empty trail.
VIEW OF a quivering bush.
Sissy turns to the sound of the CHINK.
Ha ha ho ho hee hee.
AND THERE HE IS. Standing only ten yards away.
The Chink's problem is that he looks like he rolled out of a
Zen scroll, as if he says "presto" a lot, knows the meaning
of lightning and the origin of dreams. He LOOKS as if he
drinks dew and fucks snakes.
Sissy and the Chink scrutinize one another with mutual
Ha ha ho ho and hee hee.
Sissy is just about to speak, but before she does THE CHINK
whirls, and scampers up the mountainside.
Warily he stops and turns, poised to flee again.
SHE RAISES her ripe right thumb. And jerking it and swooshing
it, she hitchhikes the Chink and his mountain.
THERE HE STANDS where Sissy's thumbs have stopped him. The
Chink wears the wary look of a wild animal. He's not going
to stay stopped long. It is Sissy's move.
Well, aren't you going to shake your
whanger at me?
The Chink pauses for a moment, then he slaps his thighs and
giggles hysterically. Ha has, ho hos and hee hees squirt out
of his nose and through the gaps in his teeth.
(laughter dies a
Follow me. I'll fix you supper.
THE TWO doggedly walk up the steep trail.
I'm a friend of Bonanza Jellybean's.
I know who you are.
Oh? Well, there's been some trouble
on the ranch. I came up here to get
out of the way. It's so dark now I
doubt if I could find my way back
down. If you could help...
(voice that wears no
Save your breath for the climb.
SISSY takes another look at the Rubber Rose, which is now
quiet. We can hear faintly a distant popping of washcloths
and girlish laughter.
THEY make their way into a depression at the top of the
mountain down a ladder of sticks.
THE CHINK lights a large fire in the middle of the depression.
HE puts a kettle of stew over the fire, and begins to roast
THE CHINK'S FACE as the fire dances off it.
A CAN OF CHUNG KING water chestnuts is opened.
CUT TO: Sissy and the Chink eating supper on a rough wooden
AND AS THEY FINISH, the Chink goes into a cave and returns
with a tiny peppermint-stripped plastic transistor radio. He
switches it on and the silence is broken by "The Happy Hour
Still clutching the radio in one hand, the Chink hops into
the wheel of firelight and begins to dance.
Sissy walks around the fire watching the old geezer heel and
toe, skip and hop. He flings his bones; he flings his beard.
Yip! Yip! Ha ha ho ho and hee hee.
Arms swimming, feet firecrackering, he dances and dances.
When the song ends, the Chink puts the radio down as the
news comes on.
Personally, I prefer Stevie Wonder,
but what the hell. Those cowgirls
are always bitching because the only
radio station in the area plays
nothing but polkas, but I say you
can dance to anything if you really
feel like dancing.
The Chink dances a little to the news, and then lifts Sissy
by her shoulders and guides her onto his pock-marked dance
But I don't know how to polka.
Neither do I... ha ha ho ho hee hee.
The radio strikes up the "Lawrence Welk is a Hero of the
Republic Polka," and the Chink and Sissy dance arm in arm,
their shadows reel against the curves of the depression in
Night birds fly past with fluttering feathers. A bat flies
out of the cave.
The Chink escorts Sissy to a dark side of the depression and
sits her down upon a pile of soft stuff: dried wheatgrass,
faded Indian blankets and old down pillows without cases.
So this is how Jelly spends her visits
to the Chink.
A twanging noise sounds from the bowels of the nearby cave.
What was that?
The Chink pauses to decide whether he should talk any further,
The Clockworks is one reason that I
am here on Siwash Ridge. I accepted
the invitation to be initiated as a
shaman by an aged Siwash chief who
was the principle outside confederate
of the Clock People.
He was a degenerated warlock who
could turn urine into beer, and the
honor that he extended me gave me
rights of occupancy in this sacred
cave on this far-away Siwash Ridge.
I came to the Dakota hills to
construct a clockworks of my own.
Sissy cradles her head in her arms, but is startled by a
louder noise from the clockworks. The Chink is startled too.
Bonk! sounds the cave, and then it chimes poing!
The Chink smiles at the noise coming from his clockworks.
But unlike the clockworks of the
Clock People, my ticks more accurately
echo the ticks of the universe....
......ha ha ho ho and hee hee.
The Clock People?
INT. CAVE NIGHT
The Chink leads Sissy into the cave where we see his
clockworks. It is made of garbage can lids and old saucepans
and lard tins and car fenders all wired together with baling
wire. A bat flies into it making a bong noise and the
contraption moves a little.
During the Second World War I busted
out of Tule Lake detention camp; as
a Japanese-American, I had been put
there and watched over. I found refuge
with the Clock People, who discovered
me in a snow bank, near dead, I had
been climbing across the Sierra Nevada
Then if you are Japanese, then why
are you called the Chink?
The Clock People mistook me for
Chinese. And the name stuck. In the
same way that all Indian tribes came
to be labeled "Indians" through the
ignorance of an Italian sailor with
a taste for oranges, it is only
fitting that "Indians" misnamed me.
The Clock People, however, are not a
tribe, rather they are a gathering
of Indians from various tribes. They
have lived together since 1906.
INT. THE GREAT BURROW
A gathering of the Clock People. A woman is giving birth
near the Giant timekeeping hourglass.
The pivotal function of the Clock
People is the keeping and observing
of the clockworks. It is a real thing,
and is kept at the center, at the
soul, of the Great Burrow. Insofar
as it is possible, all Clock People
deaths and births occur in the
presence of the clockworks. Aside
from birthing or dying, the reason
for the daily visits to the clockworks
is to check the time.
INT. SIWASH CAVE NIGHT
Sissy listens to the Chink as they walk around the Chink's
These people have no other ritual
than this one. Likewise, they have
but one legend or cultural myth:
that of a continuum they call the
Eternity of Joy. It is into the
Eternity of Joy that they believe
all men will pass once the clockworks
is destroyed. The destruction must
come from the outside, must come by
natural means, must come at the will
of this gesticulating planet whose
more acute stirrings thoughtless
people call "earthquakes."
The Chink holds Sissy's thumbs in his hands adoringly.
The Earth is alive. She burns inside
with the heat of cosmic longing. She
longs to be with her husband again.
She moans. She turns softly in her
sleep. In the Eternity of Joy,
pluralized, deurbanized man, at ease
with his gentle technologies, will
smile and sigh when the Earth begins
to shake. I loved those loony
redskins, but I couldn't be a party
to their utopian dreaming. After a
while it occurred to me that the
Clock People waiting for the Eternity
of Joy was virtually identical to
the Christians waiting for the Second
Coming. Or the Communists waiting
for the worldwide revolution. Or the
Debbies waiting for the flying
saucers. All the same. Just more
suckers betting their share of the
present on the future, banking every
misery on a happy ending to history.
Well, history is ending every second -
happily for some of us, unhappily
for others, happily one second,
unhappily the next. History is always
ending and always not ending... ha
ha ho ho and hee hee.
Sissy interrupts the Chink for a second while he is
worshipping her thumbs.
What do you believe in then?
Ha ha ho ho and hee hee.
Then he says nothing. And his silence makes Sissy weep. They
sit down on a grass floor, illuminated by the fire outside
Then the Chink, without hesitation, grasps her thumbs. He
squeezes them, caresses them, covers them with wet kisses,
telling them how beautiful they are.
Sissy is bowled over, frightened, stunned, elated, moved
almost to tears.
Sissy bends her head back and whispers.
If this be adultery, make the most
And as the Chink plunges into Sissy, she arches her spread
bottom against the blankets and rears up to meet him halfway.
Their bodies glowing in the firelight, they cast shadows of
ANCIENT BEINGS, anthropomorphs making love through the night
under the moon.
INT. CAVE DAY
SUNBEAMS awaken Sissy. When she looks around she sees an
inscription has been freshly scrawled on the right wall.
I BELIEVE IN EVERYTHING; NOTHING IS SACRED.
And on the left wall:
I BELIEVE IN NOTHING; EVERYTHING IS SACRED.
Sissy hears and then sees A HELICOPTER in the sky above the
ranch. Sissy gets up and walks out of the cave.
EXT. TRAIL MORN
EXT. RUBBER ROSE
Sissy hitches a ride out of town.
EXT. FRONT DOORSTEPS MORNING
Countless NEWSPAPERS on countless porches, and the headline
of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reads:
OUR WHOOPING CRANES ARE MISSING.
INT. THE COUNTESS' OFFICE DAY
The countess is in a snit.
Sissy, don't play dumb with me! You're
a good model but a shitty actress.
The cowgirls are involved in this
whooping crane disappearance. You
know perfectly well they are. Last
seen in Nebraska. Didn't make it to
Canada. Siwash Lake is between
Nebraska and Canada. The cowgirls
have possession of Siwash Lake. And
who else but Jellybean's wild cunts
could possibly conceive of doing
something so diabolical as to tamper
with the last flock of some nearly
extinct birds? How much do you know
about it? Have they murdered those
cranes the way they murdered my moo
I don't know anything about it.
Sissy. You're trying to protect those
scuzzy bitches. Well, let your
conscience be your guide, as my mommy
used to say, but it won't work. Those
stinking sluts are going to suffer...
Sissy strikes the Countess with her right thumb -- with
Immediately the thumb strikes again, this time shattering
the Countess's monocle against his eye.
Shit O dear.
HIS DENTURES fall onto the shag rug.
The left thumb strikes. Sissy is swinging her thumbs like
ballbats socking flaming homers over the left-field fence.
The countess is out on his feet. His eyes are closed. His
legs wobble. He does a pathetic dance, like a drunken old
fool trying to boogie with a chorus girl.
He topples forward and meets Sissy's onrushing thumb of
thunder which straightens him up, sends him over backward.
Motionless, he lies on the floor, a crimson part in his
thinning hair, a bright ooze at each nostril.
INT. HOSPITAL DAY
Seated on a spotless wooden bench is Sissy, staring at a
clock. A surgeon emerges.
Well, he's not out of danger, but I
think we can safely say he's going
to make it. I'd be pretty surprised
if he didn't. However, there is
evidence of injury to the frontal
lobe, and I have reason to fear that
this injury may be permanent. The
patient may never again function as
a normal human being.
Brain damage? You mean he's going to
be a vegetable?
Vegetable? Vegetable? I wouldn't say
that, no. We won't ascertain the
extent of the injury for some days.
But there is a genuine possibility
of severe and lasting behavioral
defects. I wouldn't classify it in
the vegetable category, however.
EXT. STREET DAY
SISSY IS HITCHING OUT OF TOWN.
A conservative blue Econoline van out of the throngs of
traffic draws itself to Sissy as if on a string.
SISSY HOPS IN.
INT. VAN DAY
The DRIVER stomps on the gas. With a sense of disgust at her
own failure Sissy scrutinizes his sweaty brow, his smug hot
leer, his starving eyes.
Her heart sinks when she sees his gun and his knife. He is
also unzipping his pants.
I'm going to give it to you like
you've never had it before. Oh, you
didn't know it could be this good.
You're gonna like it. You're gonna
like it. You're gonna like it so
good. You're gonna love it so much
you're gonna cry. You're gonna cry.
You're gonna cry and cry. Do you
like to cry? Do you like it when it
hurts a little bit? Whatever happens
to you, it'll be worth it. The way
I'm gonna give it to you, it'll be
worth anything. Everything. Go ahead
and cry if you want to. I like it
when women cry. It means they
EXT. STREET DAY
The van pulls over down a dead end alley between warehouses.
INT. VAN DAY
Sissy looks into the back at a soiled mattress.
The driver is taking his dick out of his pants. But with a
swift swoosh, Sissy's left thumb comes down hard on the penis
top, making the driver howl.
His finger fumbles for the gun trigger, but before he gets
to it, Sissy's thumb splats between his eyes. Twice. Three
times. He loses control of the van.
EXT. VAN DAY
It lumbers into a street lamp. Sissy leaps from the vehicle
INT. WORKING MAN'S LUNCHEONETTE DAY
Sissy goes in and begins to cry at the counter as she looks
at her thumbs.
EXT. NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE DAY
Into a sunset hitches Sissy.
EXT. ROAD NIGHT
SISSY hops into a semi.
AND ROAD SIGNS:
EXT. DR. DREYFUS'S HOUSE DAY
An older Dr. Dreyfus answers the door. Without Sissy's asking
I'm afraid I can't help you.
Please, child, don't be dismayed. We
all have problems these days. But as
the painter Van Gogh said, 'Mysteries
remain, sorrow or melancholy remains,
but the everlasting negative is
balanced by the positive work which
thus is achieved, after all.' I don't
suppose that means very much to you.
I have retired. A victim of a
Oh, Doctor! You've got to do it. You
and nobody else should be allowed to
take away my gift.
In her embrace, the Doctor is presented with her thumbs.
Ah, the thumb.
LATER sitting inside his study, Dreyfus muses.
The thumb the thumb the thumb the
thumb the thumb the thumb. One of
evolution's most ingenious inventions;
a built-in tool sensitive to texture,
contour and temperature: an alchemical
lever; the secret key to technology;
the link between the mind and art; a
humanizing device. The marmoset and
the lemur are thumbless; none of the
New World monkeys has opposable
thumbs; the spider monkey's thumbs
are absent or reduced to a tiny
tubercle; the thumbs of the potto
are set at an angle of one hundred
eighty degrees to the other digits.
And so you are demanding at last the
privileges of thumb that nature has
perversely denied you?
I just want to be normal, give me
that old-fashioned normality. It was
good enough for Crazy Horse and it's
good enough for me.
Ah, yes. Very well, my dear. Here is
what we can do.
VIEWS OF Sissy admitted to a hospital Blood analyzed in a
Powerful lamps turn on in an operating room.
IV tubes are inserted in veins.
Sissy is wheeled into surgery.
An anesthesiologist sticks a needle into a curved and creamy
An anesthesiologist sticks needles into a long, graceful
A nurse scrubs an arm.
A body and table are draped with sheets to create a sterile
A tourniquet is placed on a slender right arm.
An elastic rubber bandage is applied so tightly it squeezes
most of the blood out of an arm.
A tourniquet is inflated.
A surgeon outlines in iodine an incision around the base of
Pale smooth skin is incised along a premarked line and
dissected down to the bone.
Woman flesh is sewn shut with four-ought nylon suture.
A tourniquet is deflated, a bloody arm bathed.
A young woman is rolled into a recovery room.
A nurse and two surgeons, their attention directed by an
intensifying pinkish glow, turn to stare into a metal pan,
where a huge human thumb, disarticulated from the hand it
has been severed from, is now flopping about like a trout,
or rather, arching and thrusting itself in a calculated and
endlessly repeated gesture, the gesture of the hitchhike.
EXT. SKY DAY
Two representatives of the Fish and Wildlife Service are
flying over Siwash Lake in a U.S. Forestry Service Helicopter.
THEY CAN SEE the whooping cranes by the side of the lake.
And as they are recording this, shots from a band of young
women on horseback drive them away.
EXT. RUBBER ROSE RANCH DAY
the same two agents are driving in a truck approaching the
Rubber Rose Ranch. Two bullet ricochets spin off the hood
and roof of their truck and they stop to see a lone teenaged
cowgirl with a rifle.
EXT. RUBBER ROSE GATES DAY
An entourage of Forest Service Rangers, a county sheriff,
four deputy shriffs, a state game warden and Mottburg's town
marshall and several of his deputies, the editor of the
Mottburg Gazette and a couple of bird watchers or two are
AT LEAST FIFTEEN ARMED FEMALES at the gate of the Ranch.
Through a bullhorn, Jelly speaks out at the entourage of law
Yep, the whooping cranes are here
all right. They're in fine shape,
and as you musta saw from your fucking
whirly machine, unrestrained, free
to go as they please. But this is
private property and you aren't laying
a foot on it. None of you.
We'll be back with a court order and
a fistful of search warrants.
Just come back with a couple of people
who know what they're doing and we'll
let'em in for a nice close look at
And make sure at least one of them
is female, and you better do as we
say or there may be trouble.
AND OVER THE AIRWAVES an announcement is broadcast.
INT. WHITE HOUSE DAY
THE ASSISTANT INTERIOR UNDERSECRETARY IS SPEAKING INTO A
MICROPHONE FOR THE NEWS, and reading from a paper in his
It will be my extreme pleasure to
report to the President...
INT. SCHOOL AURITORIUM
...who has been gravely concerned
about the fate of our whooping
EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE DAY
Two construction workers high atop the city listening to a
small transistor radio and eating lunch.
...and to the Interior Secretary and
to the American people that the entire
flock of cranes is, indeed, at...
EXT. MALL DAY
A crowd of people listening to a broadcast in front of a
bandstand set up in front of the mall.
...Siwash Lake and in apparently
The crowd cheers.
....The cranes have built brooding
nests around the whole circumference
of the small lake, and have...
EXT. FIELD DAY
Cowgirls are watching a small television.
....hatched chicks there. Counting
the young birds, there are now
approximately sixty cranes in the
flock. While this is good news, it
is also quite bewildering...
EXT. RUBBER ROSE RANCH DAY
A vehicle know as "the peyote wagon" pulls out of the Rubber
Rose. Delores del Ruby is at the wheel. And over her truck
radio we hear:
...Whooping cranes are territorially
minded and have never been known to
nest as close as a mile to one
another, yet here they are virtually
side by side.
EXT. HILL DAY
A lone FBI man sees the peyote wagon leaving the ranch through
INT. CAR NIGHT
Sissy hears a broadcast over a moving car radio.
The Rubber Rose Ranch has issued a
communiquť that was sent to the
federal judge and copies of a
recording to the press, today.
We can hear the voice of Bonanza Jellybean:
(over the radio)
THE WHOOPING CRANE HAS BEEN DRIVEN
TO THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION BY AN
AGGRESSIVE, BRUTAL PATERNALISTIC
SYSTEM INTENT ON SUBDUING THE EARTH
AND ESTABLISHING ITS DOMINION OVER
ALL THINGS -- IN THE NAME OF GOD THE
FATHER, LAW, ORDER AND ECONOMIC
Sissy recognizes the voice.
FROM MEN, THE WHOOPING CRANE HAS
RECEIVED NEITHER LOVE NOR RESPECT.
MEN HAVE DRAINED THE CRANE'S MARSHES,
STOLEN ITS EGGS, INVADED ITS PRIVACY,
POLLUTED ITS FOOD, FOULED ITS AIR,
BLOWN IT APART WITH BUCKSHOT.
INT. RANCH OFFICE
Jelly is on the telephone.
OBVIOUSLY, A PATERNALISTIC SOCIETY
DOES NOT DESERVE ANYTHING AS GRAND
AND BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND FREE AS
THE WHOOPING CRANE. YOU MEN HAVE
FAILED IN YOUR DUTY TO THE CRANE.
NOW IT IS WOMEN'S TURN. THE CRANES
ARE IN OUR CHARGE NOW. WE WILL PROTECT
THEM AS LONG AS THEY STILL REQUIRE
INT. HOSPITAL RECOVERY ROOM DAY
Sissy listens to the radio.
WHILE WORKING TOWARD A DAY WHEN THE
CREATURES OF THE WORLD NO LONGER
HAVE TO SUFFER MAN'S EGOISM,
INSENSITIVITY AND GREED. WE REFUSE
YOUR ORDER. WE SAY TAKE YOUR ORDER
AND SHOVE IT. THIS FLOCK OF BIRDS IS
STAYING WITH US. GET LOST, MAC.
EXT. ROAD DAY
Sissy is hitchhiking with her new thumb. But cars pass one
after another without stopping. Until Sissy finally tries
her left thumb, which has been spared the knife.
With this thumb there are new maneuvers to try out. And as
soon as the does, a car stops.
MOSAIC of hitchhiking brilliance with Sissy's use of her
left thumb. A CLOCK IS TICKING past twelve then on to six
and past eight.... she dances wildly around traffic, stopping
the hardest of drivers, THE CLOCK TICKS AWAY and within thirty
hours she is approaching Mottburg again.
EXT. RUBBER ROSE DAY
The Ranch is now surrounded by two hundred federal marshalls
reinforced by a dozen FBI agents with loaded guns taking
position outside the ranch.
Sissy gets out of her car and walks past the posse and through
Kym carries a radio which is playing "The Day-Old Apple
Strudel Polka" across the corral. She carries the radio as
if it is a suitcase full of skunk lice.
Man, this is the stupidest music
I've ever heard. This radio should
have stayed in the privy where it
Kym ropes the radio to her saddle horn and prepares to give
it a ride across the Dakota hills. She gets on her horse and
rides by the Ranch bungalows and spies Sissy sitting in the
Kym gets off her horse and hugs Sissy.
You know what you're getting into if
you come over to the lake...
Yes, but I want to be there. I want
to see Jellybean. I want to see the
THEY RIDE ACROSS THE HILLS. Then they stop at an outlook and
Sissy sees the circular barricade in the field below.
We heard on the radio that the judge
has set Delores's bail at fifty
thousand dollars. Now she won't be
here when we really need her.
EXT. CAMP DAY
A few cowgirls in the camp huddle around a radio:
RADIO NEWS REPORT
The American Civil Liberties Union
has requested an extension for the
Rubber Rose Ranch. The government is
aware of the inflamed situation and
are afraid that all the marshals and
agents might be too willing to uncork
the bottle of blood...
SISSY RIDES INTO CAMP on the back of Kym's horse the way
that John Wayne would have ridden into the Alamo; Heather,
Bonanza Jellybean, Debbie, Elaine and Linda dance up to meet
Before Sissy is completely on the ground, Jelly's tongue is
in her mouth. She stumbles out of a stirrup into a wiggly
Debbie stokes up a big joint right now, as Jelly gets out
her six guns and fires them in the air. Heather twirls and
jumps through her rope.
The "Unsung Hero Returns Polka" strikes up on the radio.
Elaine rears up on her horse.
EXT. HILLSIDE DAY
FROM AFAR, AN FBI AGENT views the little going on.
Ain't that just like women.
But as the Agent is saying this, viewing them from the ridge,
a large rock tumbles down the hill and grazes his head,
knocking him out.
VIEW of the side of the ridge from where the rock came, but
there is strangely nothing where we expect to see the Chink.
BELOW: The cowgirls.
Looks like every time we get together
things are in a mess.
So be it. It looks serious this time,
though. All these guns... are you
actually prepared to kill and die
for whooping cranes?
Hell no, the cranes are wonderful,
okay, but I'm not in this for whooping
cranes. I'm in it for cowgirls. If
we cowgirls give in to authority on
this crane issue, then cowgirls become
just another compromise. I want a
finer fate than that -- for me and
for every other cowgirl. Better no
cowgirls at all than cowgirls
How did this business get started,
anyhow? Why are the birds nesting
You were aware that we were feeding
them, weren't you? We fed them brown
rice and they stayed over a couple
of extra days. Then we decided to
try something different. We mixed
our brown rice with fishmeal --
whoopers love seafood, and fishmeal
is cheap. Then Delores suggested
another ingredient, and we think
that's what did the trick.
DEBBIE AND JELLY TOGETHER
Aw, come off it, Sissy. What do you
mean, 'drugged'? Every living thing
is a chemical composition and anything
that is added to it changes that
composition. When you eat a
cheeseburger or a Three Musketeers
bar, it changes your body chemistry.
The kind of food you eat, the kind
of air you breathe, can change your
mental state. Does that mean you're
Sissy frames the flock with the hole in the center of her
No, I guess not.
'Drugged' is a stupid word.
But the peyote is obviously affecting
their brains. It's made them break a
migratory pattern that goes back
thousands of years.
The way I see it, is that the peyote
mellowed them out. Made them less
uptight. They were afraid of bad
weather and humans. That's why they
migrated and kept to themselves. But
the peyote has enlightened them.
It's taught them there is nothing to
fear but fear itself. Now they're
digging life and letting the bad
vibes slide on. Don't worry, be happy.
Be here now.
Fear in wild animals is completely
different from paranoia in people.
In the wilderness ecosystem, fear is
natural and necessary. It's merely a
mechanism for maintaining life. If
the cranes hadn't had a capacity for
fear, they would have disappeared
long ago and you'd be having to get
loaded with common old everyday
meadowlarks and mallards.
This here discussion is destined to
become academic. Because we've got
less than half a bag of peyote buttons
left and Delores's run ended up in
the Mottburg jail. So any day now
we'll get a chance to see how the
whoopers behave when they come down,
to see if the peyote experience really
changed them or not. But in the
meantime, I want to say this about
Then Sissy and Jelly hear a news broadcast on the radio.
Judge Greenfield, at the request of
the ACLU, has granted a forty-eight-
hour extension of the deadline by
which the Rubber Rose cowgirls must
comply with his order. Negotiations
between the cowgirls and the
government are expected to follow.
Another item in, the forewoman of
the Rubber Rose Ranch, a Delores del
Ruby is now free on bond after having
been arrested in Mottburg with more
than fifty pounds of peyote buttons.
Her bail has been paid by the owner
of the besieged ranch, Countess
Products, Inc. Miss del Ruby's bail
having come from the tycoon's personal
advisor, a certain Dr. Robbins of
New York City.
EXT. PRAIRIE NIGHT
Sissy and Jelly lie under the same stars, under the same
blankets. Under the same spell.
Every time I tell you that I love
you, you flinch. But that's your
If I flinch when you say you love
me, it's both our problems. My
confusion becomes your confusion.
Students confuse teachers, patients
confuse psychiatrists, lovers with
confused hearts confuse lovers with
EXT. CAMPFIRE NIGHT
Delores and some of the other cowgirls are talking. A sharp
wind is beginning to gust.
It isn't for ourselves that we take
this stand. It isn't for cowgirls.
It's for all the daughters everywhere.
This is an extremely important
confrontation. This is womankind's
chance to prove to her enemy that
she's willing to fight and die. If
we women don't show here and now
that we aren't afraid to fight and
die, then our enemy will never take
us seriously. Men will always know
that, no matter how strong our words
and determined our deeds, there's a
point where we'll back down and give
them their way.
Delores cracks her whip then parades around the campfire.
I'm prepared to win! Victory for
every female, living or dead, who's
suffered the temporary defeats of
masculine insensitivity to their
A few of the cowgirls cheer.
I'll fight the bastards.
Big Red opens a can of beans with a Bowie knife.
I'll fight 'em with bean gas, if
Delores snaps her whip again.
The sun's going down. Let's those of
us not standing watch get some sleep.
In the morning we'll plan our fight.
Tomorrow afternoon those of you who'd
like can join me in the reeds, where
the cranes and I will be sharing the
last crumbs left in the peyote sack.
EXT. SIWASH LAKE DAY
Delores del Ruby appears from the reeds at Siwash Lake's
edge, asleep yet awake. She has sunk so deep into the hole
in her mind that gale and dust could not follow her.
AS SHE APPROACHES THE COWGIRL CAMP, THEY GATHER AROUND HER
IN A TIGHT CIRCLE.
MANY ARE TRANSFIXED as they listen.
It is woman's mission to destroy as
well as to give birth. We will destroy
the tyranny of the dull. But we can't
destroy it with guns. Or whips.
Violence is the dullard's Breakfast
of Champions and the logical end
product of his or her misplaced pride.
Violence fertilizes that which we
would starve. No, we will destroy
the enemy in other ways. The Peyote
Mother has promised a Fourth Vision.
But it won't come to me alone. It
will come to each of you, to every
cowgirl in the land, when you have
overcome that in your own self which
is dull. The Fourth Vision will come
to some men too. You will recognize
them when you meet them, and be their
steady sidekicks in equal and ecstatic
escapades of poetic behavior and
Delores holds up a card. The prairie moon illuminates its
tattered edges. It is the jack of hearts.
The forewoman seems to be tiring. Fumes of weariness stream
from her black hair. Her voice is leaning against the wall
of her larynx when she says:
First thing, you must end this
business with the government and the
cranes. It's been positive and
fruitful, but it's gone far enough.
Playfulness ceases to serve a serious
purpose when it takes itself too
seriously. Sorry I won't be with you
at the conclusion. As you know, I've
been sick and stupid for a long time.
I have a lot to make up for, a lot
to accomplish, and there's someone
important that I've got to see. Now.
As graceful as a ballet for cobras, Delores turns and walks
away into the night.
EXT. RANCH GATES DAY
THE FBI, other VIGILANTES and POLICEMEN wait in anticipation
of an attack outside of the boundaries of the ranch.
EXT. THE COWGIRL COMPOUND DAY
Jelly is addressing the group of cowgirls.
Well, what we got to do is one of us
has got to go up that hill and tell
them boys that America can have its
whooping cranes back. Since I'm the
boss here, and since I'm responsible
for a lot of you choosing to be
cowgirls in the first place, it's
gonna be me that goes...
Small protests from the circle of cowgirls.
No buts about it. It's getting lighter
by the second. You podners keep your
heads down. Ta ta.
The cutest cowgirl in the world stood up and stretched out.
But Jelly is already on her way.
BONANZA JELLYBEAN VAULTS over the carcass of a reducing
machine and plants her Tony Lama boots in the stirrup of her
saddle and straddles her horse and takes off.
EXT. COMPOUND DAY
The posse surrounding the ranch, can see Jelly coming over
the hill on her horse at a full gallop.
EXT. HILL DAY
Jelly stops her horse, looks down at her waist, and sees her
Better get rid of these. Might give
those greenhorn dudes a fright.
THROUGH the scope of an FBI rifle, Jelly is drawing her gun
out of her holster.
She's going to fire....
He squeezes the trigger, and Jelly is caught in the stomach
with a bullet. She falls off her horse to the ground.
THE CHINK sees Bonanza Jellybean cut down from a vantage
point on the hill, and makes a beeline for the government
THE COWGIRLS scream and cry, and grab their weapons. A couple
of them leap from the barricade and are immediately riddled.
EXT. HILL DAY
The six-gun slips from her fingers.
Twenty or thirty more sweaty triggers are squeezed on the
hilltop firing at Bonanza Jellybean.
THE CHINK RUNNING AND SHOUTING.
EXT. COWGIRL CAMP DAY
A VOICE OVER THE BULLHORN directed at the cowgirls echoes:
You've got two minutes to come out
with you hands over your heads!
RANDOM G-MEN are sniping at the cowgirls, making it impossible
A stray bullet SENDS THE CHINK back down the hillside, beard,
robe and sandals flying.
IN THE HUSH that follows, in the echoes of the explosive
fire, the whooping crane flock rises in one grand assault of
beating feathers - a lily white storm of life, a gush of
albino Gabriels -- swarm into the waiting sky, and circle
the pond one time before flapping south toward Texas...
...they cast shadows over a dead Jellybean who is literally
biting the dust.
Sissy lifts Jelly out of the dust and holds her. Sissy lifts
Jelly's satin shirt tail and pulls down the waistband of her
skirt. Bright red blood is running out of her scar.
Right in the scar where I fell on a
wooden horse when I was twelve. Haw,
I wasn't really shot with a silver
Confessing to Sissy.
Or was I?
EXT. NEW YORK SKY
The cranes fly over the Statue of Liberty.
EXT. PARISIAN SKY
The Cranes fly over the Eiffel tower.
EXT. RUSSIAN SKY
The Cranes fly over Red Square.
INT. MORGUE DAY
An undertaker pounding five nails into a white coffin. ON
THE TOP OF THE COFFIN are engraved two crossed GOLD SIXGUNS.
There are eleven famous cowgirls enameled on the edges and
in the middle it reads:
"Ha ha ho ho and hee hee"
The brown paper bag.
A brown paper bag is sitting on the side of the road.
The brown paper bag is the only thing
civilized man has produced that does
not seem out of place in nature.
Crumpled into a wad of wrinkles,
like the fossilized brain of a dryad;
its kinship to tree (to knot and
nest) unobscured by the cruel crush
of industry; absorbing the elements
like any other organic entity;
blending with rock and vegetation as
if it were a burrowing owl's door
mat or a jack rabbit's underwear, a
No. 8 Kraft paper bag lay discarded
in the hills of Dakota and appeared
to live where it lay. Once long ago,
it had borne a package of buns and a
jar of mustard to a kitchenette
rendezvous with a fried hamburger.
More recently, the bag had
held........ love letters.
View of a bunkhouse trunk.
As a hole in an oak hides a squirrel's
family jewels, the bag had hidden
love letters in the bottom of a
Hands lift the contents of the trunk away, rope, spurs, and
blanket and find the hidden sack of letters.
Then one day after work, the button-
nosed little cowgirl to whom the
letters were addressed gathered bag
and contents under her arm, slipped
out to the corral...
We see the Cowgirl saddling her horse late in the day.
...past ranch hands pitching
horseshoes and ranch hands flying
Tibetan kites, saddled up and trotted
into the hills.
We see the Cowgirl riding along a ridge.
A mile or so from the bunkhouse, she
dismounted and built a small fire;
she fed the fire letters.
And this we see also, the lonely Cowgirl feeding the letters
to a fire in the dusky early night. We can see the cowgirl
is Sissy Hankshaw.
...one by one, the way her girl friend
had once fed her french fries.
She is crying now and feeding the fire, close of words like
"always" and "forever" burning up.
As words such as sweetheart" and
"honey britches" and "forever" and
"always" burned away, the cowgirl
squirted a few tears. Her eyes were
so misty she forgot to burn the bag.
INT. BUNKHOUSE NIGHT
Sissy is sobbing.
Big Red offers a piece of homemade fudge and shows no surprise
when Sissy refuses it.
Kym kisses the lips quickly of the despondent Cowgirl, and
the bunkhouse lights go out.
Delores plunks a carefree song on an old Gibson, looks up at
You know, podner, you can tune a
guitar but you can't tuna fish.
She plunks a few notes.
God, but it's good to be a cowgirl.
And the bunkhouse lights are turned off. There are some
giggles from the cowgirls.
INT. MAIN BEDROOM RANCH DAY
THE CHINK wakes up and is being cared for by Sissy. He is in
pain, but winking.
Is everything getting worse?
Yes, everything is getting worse.
But everything is also getting better.
The Countess has come to our aid.
The Rubber Rose Ranch is officially
deeded to all the cowgirls. And I
have been asked to oversee the ranch.
For $300 a week. And as it turns
out, the Countess is not going to be
the vegetable the doctors thought he
was... here's a picture!
Sissy shows a picture of the Countess recovering in a hospital
bed, posing next to Doctor Robbins.
I want to go back to the Clock People.
I kind of miss those fool redskins
and wonder what they're up to. What's
happened to Jelly?
She had a one way-ticket to Kansas
You mean she's dead?
The Chink mourns a bit.
But that's an old story now...... I
can't believe that you would leave
Easy come, easy go.
Wow, you sure have a way with words.
The Chink looks over and sees that Delores is standing in
I can't help it if I grew up in an
antipoetic culture. Language will be
different when I'm with the Clock
People though. They're from an oral
tradition. And I'm not talking about
what you horny hop toads do in bed
The Chink smiles.
Well, if the Clock People give you
any inside information on the end of
the world, drop us a postcard.
The world isn't going to end, you
dummy; I hope you know that much.
But it is going to change. It's going
to change drastically, and probably
in your lifetime. The Clock People
see calamitous earthquakes as the
agent of change, and they may be
right, since there are a hundred
thousand earthquakes a year and major
ones are long overdue. But there are
far worse catastrophes coming...
unless the human race can bring itself
to abandon the goals and values of
civilization, in other words, unless
it can break the consumption habit --
and we are so conditioned to consuming
as a way of life that for most of us
life would have no meaning without
the yearnings and rewards of
progressive consumption. It isn't
merely that our bad habits will cause
global catastrophes, but that our
philosophies have us in such a blind
crab grip that they prevent us from
preparing for the natural disasters
that are not our fault. So the
apocalyptic shit is going to hit the
fan, all right, but there'll be some
of us it'll miss. Little pockets of
humanity. Like the Clock People.
Like you two honeys, if you decide
to accept my offer of a lease on
Siwash Cave. There's almost no
worldwide calamity -- famine, nuclear
accident, plague, weather warfare or
reduction of the ozone shield --
that you couldn't survive in that
He begins to caress Sissy's belly. His eyes are smiling.
Sissy is surprised.
Suppose that you bear five or six
children with your characteristics.
All in Siwash Cave. In a
postcatastrophe world, your offspring
would of necessity intermarry, forming
in time a tribe. A tribe every member
of which had giant thumbs. A tribe
of Big Thumbs would relate to the
environment in very special ways. It
could not use weapons or produce
sophisticated tools. It would have
to rely on its wits and its senses.
It would have to live with animals --
and plants! -- as virtual equals.
It's extremely pleasant to me to
think about a tribe of physical
eccentrics living peacefully with
animals and plants, learning their
languages, perhaps, and paying them
the respect they deserve.
How am I going to be the progenitor
of a tribe when I'm living on an
isolated ridgetop with Delores?
That's your problem.
The Chink coughs.
Listen to the way I'm babbling. That
bullet must have loosened one of my
transistors. Don't pay any attention
to me. You've got to work it out for
yourself. The westbound choo-choo
leaves Mottburg at one-forty. I want
to be on it. Will you drive me to
INT. TRUCK DAY
Sissy and Delores are driving the Chink out the front gate
of the Rubber Rose.
Schedules! Ironic how I have to follow
timetables in order to get back to
He yells out the window of the moving vehicle.
Don't ever bet against paradox,
EXT. THE RUBBER ROSE GATES
We hear the Chink yelling, and the Rubber Rose sign is being
changed to one that reads El Rancho Jellybean.
....if complexity doesn't beat you,
then paradox will. Ha ha ho ho and
And the truck disappears into the prairie land.
A LONG DARK PAUSE, UNTIL finally we are inside the cave where
the Chink's Clockworks are at work..... poing!
It is revealed that Sissy is with Delores snug in the old
hermit's living quarters. She listens to the clinking of the
And feels her belly.
The swell of her belly has forced her to sleep on her back.
CLOSE VIEW of Sissy's belly, and a little foot kicks from
inside. Or is it a foot?
VIEW INSIDE THE BELLY of Sissy's unborn baby. It is half-
Japanese, one thirty-second Siwash and all thumbs.
The moving thumbs are hitchhiking you.....