Rude Rhymes

Vicious fishes
With malicious wishes,
In a few expeditious swishes,
Squish us,
Find us delicious, 
And don't even do the dishes.

It's allergy season and the nose is always something of an issue,
So instead of rubbing it between your breasts I thrust it into a tissue,
But I miss you.


Narcissus
In watery abysses,
Condemned to cooler blisses
Than this is,
Hisses
That he misses
His own kisses.


While standing at the vernissage
Engaged in idle badinage
I fabricate some persiflage
To linger by your décolletage.
Could one actually massage
Such an obvious mirage?
At risk of social sabotage,
Employing tricks of espionage,
I infiltrate your entourage
And press my nose to your corsage.
A pair of turrets on the Taj!
Were you under my British raj
I’d put you through some strict dressage,
Inflict an oscular barrage
And park my tank in your garage.


FROM HIS COY MISTRESS 

Purge
Urge
To surge
On verge
Or we shall no more merge.


TO HIS BOY MISTRESS 

Never shall
I stick my pal
In your banal
Canal.


This particular
Funicular
Is so perpendicular
That it looks testicular
As it climbs up the prickular.
And when it goes quickuler
There’s nothing ridiculer.


Randall
The vandal
Sucks your sandal
And’ll
Dandle
With a candle.
Who knows how the band’ll
Handle
The scandal!


Snapes
Tapes
Grapes
To apes’
Napes,
Drapes
Their gapes
With capes
And escapes
To traipse
Landscapes
Toward new scrapes.


Ache
At stake
For fake
Rake
Making break.
On the make.
Give is take
Is jake.
Snake
Takes
Cake.
Lucky break.
Dumb flake.


Uncouth
Youth
In phone booth
Bleeding ruth,
Ear to truth.


Hate
Mate’s
Weight?
Won’t deflate?
Anticipate
Giving Kate/
Nate
Gate?
Wait!
Cogitate!
Neither fate
Nor plate:
Mental state!
Failure to sate!
Typical trait.
Don’t calumniate.
You too are stale mate—
Overweight,
Out of date,
Bald pate,
Loose plate.
Not so great.
Can irritate.
Too late
To eliminate.
Create!
Titillate!
Rejuvenate!
Treat like date!
(May have to fellate.)
All you do is prate,
You ingrate!


Flung
Like dung
Wrung
From bung,
Slung
Among
Those hung
From low rung.
Stung.
Unsung.
Need young
Tongue.


O’Flaherty’s
Rarity
Is not muscularity
Or his wit’s angularity
(Certainly not it’s celerity)
Or his crass jocularity
Or his overfamiliarity
Disguised as sincerity,
Or even the asperity,
Almost the severity,
That defines his polarity.
No. 
O’Flaherty’s
Singularity,
To do him all charity,
Is a vulgarity
Of such lucid clarity,
And some dexterity,
That it achieves a similarity
To hilarity,
Though with no great regularity,
In fact with regrettable rarity.
And so will O’Flaherty
Pass into posterity
With the verity
Of this parody—
A pie in the face of his austerity.


Luck
Stuck.
Fuck!
Out of pluck!
Out of suck.
Had I a buck
I’d shuck
The ruck,
Plow my own muck,
Huck!


No stuff,
Not even to bluff!
Hung by the scruff,
Handled rough—
Stuff this guff!
When’s enough?


Unbreath,
Death.
Stone deaf
Gravel text,
Death
Less dead.


Hone
Own
Bone
Alone,
Grown
On loan
From thrown
Stone.
Nose of crone,
Woes unknown,
Flown,
Ungrown!
A moan
Of one’s own.


Smart
Tart,
Cupid dart.
Start love chart:
Part
Heart,
Part
Other part.
Hitch your cart
Whereso’ere thou art.
When I fart
It’s art.


Rock
Cock.
Walk,
Eye of hawk,
Choose from flock.
Don’t gawk:
Stalk,
Block,
Talk,
Mock,
Shock,
Check clock,
Open lock,
Ease into dock.
Does she balk?
Hard knock.
Go home to warm sock.


Words on page,
Act your age,
Disengage
Childish rage.
Coprophage
In the cage,
Crazy sage.
Decent wage
Hard to gage.


The heart is a kite.
It’s heavy, it’s light.
At maximum height
It quickly takes fright,
Descends to the trite,
Then turns itself right,
Out-races its plight,
A speck in the sight
And, feeling its might,
It shudders in flight,
The string stretching tight,
A moment of night,
Then falls away, slight.


Suggest –
In fact request –
Your breasts,
Undressed,
Caressed,
Rest
Best
In nest
Pressed
To my chest.
Care to test?
Obsessed?
You guessed.
Stressed.
Depressed.
Un-yessed.
Exiled from fest.
No jest.
Detest.
Be my guest.
At your behest.
Feel blessed.
OUCH! 
Distressed
Lest
You ingest
My breast!




A film in your investment portfolio—why on earth? (Chrome and Firefox will open this; Explorer may not.)

Also by Robert MacLean, the "Toby" books,
Will You Please Fuck Off? at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon FRAmazon DEAmazon ITAmazon ES and Smashwords;
Foreign Matter at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon FRAmazon DEAmazon ITAmazon ES and Smashwords; 
Total Moisture at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon FRAmazon DEAmazon ITAmazon ES and Smashwords; 
and these, too,
Mortal Coil: A Comedy of Corpses at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon FRAmazon DE, Amazon IT and Amazon ES;
The President's Palm Reader: A Washington Comedy at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon FRAmazon DEAmazon IT and Amazon ES; and
Greek Island Murder at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon FRAmazon DEAmazon IT and Amazon ES.

The Renoirs, Père et Fils, and Watteau


Pierre Auguste Renoir the painter, who as a young man studied Watteau's work at the Louvre, loved beautiful girls as Watteau did, and in pictures like THE BOATING PARTY and LA MOULIN DE LA GALETTE we have something like what Watteau gave us in the PILGIMAGE TO CYTHERA and the FETES VENITIENNES.  As Kenneth Clark puts it, "No Marx, no Freud. Just a group of ordinary human beings enjoying themselves."


His son Jean Renoir the filmmaker also has a debt to Watteau, but it runs deeper. Like his p'pa, and like the Rococo master, he gives us scenes of enjoyment in the countryside in his PARTIE DE CAMPAGNE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKHr2li4Awk) and THE RULES OF THE GAME (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeRihuggakw), but in this latter film we get the figure of Renoir himself in the role of Octave, the noble wistful outsider, in love with the pleasures of these people, and with the lady of the house, but himself a funny-looking guy, not one of them.

And in this we have the pathos of Watteau's bagpiper in the FETES VENITIENNE, and of his self-portrait as GILLES, clownish and sad, adoring these adorable creatures and their pleasures, but himself an onlooker, left out.

The most sensuous and mysterious of paintings, Giorgione's TEMPESTA—an electric moment before the rain:

The Worst That Could Happen

A Comedy of the Ant and the Grasshopper
Reg’d © Library of Congress 

A serious woman falls in love with a frivolous man and tries against all odds to hang on to her Greek-island hotel.  
Colorful carefree gigolo Toby—the grasshopper
—comes to a holiday island with elderly but attractive Beverly—and the owner of their little hotel, Friederiki, the ant, sees immediately what he is. 

Proposed cast: Nia Vardalos (Friederiki)
Friederiki, the ant, is serious, struggling, still in black a year after her husband’s death.  She doesn’t approve of Toby—especially when Beverly dies in her sleep and he leaves the arrangements to her

No mourning for him—he takes nothing seriously, not even death.  With Beverly’s cards he cleans out her cash accounts—and what the hell writes himself a check in her name.  He’s got to eat!  But he can’t leave the island till the check clears so he parks his money in the hotel safe and lingers. 

We’ll have to count it, says Friederiki.  So they count it together and come up with different sums.  Let’s split the difference, he says.  He takes nothing seriously, not even money.

Proposed cast: Tom Wilkinson (Alden)
Alden, a developer who has acquired Friederiki's mortgage and is buying up the island,  arrives at the hotel and threatens to foreclose on her unless she makes good her arrears. 

Proposed cast: Silvana Maimone (Marie)
With him is his wife Marie, patient and dutiful but she wants something better out of life, and soon realizes it’s Toby. 

Proposed cast: Catherine Tate (Claudia)
Also with Alden are his niece and her lover Claudia.  (He’ll put a stop to that.)  Claudia, butch and abrasive, is the co-mother of his niece’s daughter Lisa, and snarls at Toby whenever his gaze wanders to one of the women in the party.

Proposed cast: Eve Newton (Lisa)
When Alden tells fourteen-year-old Lisa he wants to take her away from her lesbian parents she accidentally knocks him off a cliff and kills him.
At the desk Toby overhears Alden threaten Friederiki with foreclosure and simply slides him over a stack of cash.  Keep the change.  At this she weeps—and, well, it happens.  Her mourning is over.

But not her problems.  She must go to Athens and get a loan to cover the mortgage, and leaves Toby in charge of the hotel—a risky thing to do but who else is there?

Bad enough the humiliation she suffers trying to get a loan: the only creditor she can find requires that she sleep with him—and then dies in her arms!  Big help.  

But while she’s gone the worst that could happen happens: a family feud, the hotel catches fire, a bulldozer knocks some of it down—and Lisa accidentally kills Alden, which Toby, her family and the villagers conspire to cover up.  (Alden held several mortgages.)

Friederiki comes back to a half-demolished hotel and police all over the place.   Where’s the body?  Well—don’t order the mousaka.

And a seventh character is the tiny no-car island of Hydra. 

The Worst That Could Happen is part of the Toby series:

Pretentious Pictures presents a romantic comedy.
Reg’d © Library of Congress

COLD COMFORT: On Being Canadian

For many are cold, but few are frozen.

After you've lived in Europe for a while you begin to defend Americans. At this distance the border blurs. Canada is after all the Disunited State of America, a monitoring device in the American attic, a crew cut on the American fact. It is, you tell your friends in Europe, exactly like the United States only more beautiful, and more boring.

A quiz-show host reads the question, "What is the capital of Canada?" The contestant frowns studiously, considers, then brightens: "New York?" The host sighs with faux disappointment, then shouts "You're right!" Ecstatic cheers. The washer-dryer.

To go to Canada for most of the year is to enter a deep-freeze. Ottawa is the second-coldest capital in the world, after Ulaanbataar. Moscow is comparatively mild.

The great Canadian poem in English concerns an American who wills his friend to carry his corpse across arctic wastes until he can cremate it. For days the Canadian lives with the burden staring by his campfire, lying by him in the night, till he finds an ice-bound ship, sets it on fire and throws the body in. He is already mushing his huskies away when he stops to go back and peek. Close the door, says the dead man, you're letting the heat out.

Almost certainly one's ancestors were stronger people, but why did they stop there? Other Scots went south, but there was fever down there.

Nevertheless the Canadian Dream has palm trees in it. The pathetic name of the La Chine Rapids tells the story: China was surely just around the bend.

As a child I experienced Canada as a suburb of Buffalo. Sitting on the floor before the television watching Wild Bill Hickock I said, "Mom, why aren't we Americans?" She answered. I don't know what she said. The myth of an entire people on a mother's lips and I was too absorbed by CBS to hear.

"North American" is an essentially racist term devised by Canadians to reinclude themselves in the American fact. It doesn't mean Mexico. The recent trade agreement between the three countries has embarrassed that usage.

Embarrassment is the Canadian emotion. Canadians are embarrassed Americans, assuming such a thing to be possible. Ersatz Americans. They made a wrong move in history somewhere.

Canada is the great no to the American yes; a control experiment.
The first thing the American Revolutionary Army did was to secure the St. Lawrence, at which time they asked the French burghers of Quebec City and Montreal to join them. The burghers said no, after centuries of Parisian corruption they preferred the administration of the British. That was the beginning. The first no. Anyone who emigrates to Canada makes that choice.

Canadian politics does owe its socialist character to having been a creature of the British Civil Service and is, depending on how you look at it, either typically half-hearted or a consoling contrast to the floorless rapine of American laissez-faire.

Quebec is an orphan. It was cut off from France by the British blockade against Napoleon and thereafter ignored till De Gaul. It speaks the language in a medieval style and accent, somewhat as Middle English usages survive in the rural south, and is much mocked in France. When Quebec films show in Paris they are subtitled.

The French and the English have been throwing themselves at each other for a thousand years. In medieval England the official language--the language of government, of the royal court, of the judges--was French. Canada is the ice-sculpture monument to that grudge. The tradition that the Quebec French are from Normandy spices the irony.

The real reason Quebec won't speak English is not that it is an island in a sea of Anglo-Saxons but that France won't speak English, or any of the other languages that surround it. (Neither, and for the same reason, will the French in Geneva, or the Walloons in Belgium.) The eyes of most of a remarkable number of cultures in the world, even Paris's, are fixed on New York, but those of Quebec are firmly on Paris.

Is a country with an autumn leaf on its flag meant to have a future?

Three things hold Canada together: the cold, for misery loves company; hockey, the sport of the cold, the cold pretending to be happy; and a hatred for Toronto, which is universal in Canada except in the west island of Montreal, which plans to separate from Quebec and join Toronto.

If Canada breaks up it will become what it has never been before: interesting.

But your European friends will not accept that Canadians are just Americans with goose bumps and visible breath. They insist that we are different from Americans, more "European" as Europeans say, meaning more cultured. (In France of course they spit on everybody.)

And indeed, it is Canadians' conceit that they are a gentler breed of Americans. Strong, elegant, unhappy. Non-threatening and disappointed.

I should say that this is English Canadians' conceit. French Canadians, who approve wholeheartedly of Americans and their so successful revolution, embarrass (that word again) our sense of ourselves by calling us les anglais, the English (and less frequently, les tetes carrees, the square-heads, an epithet we reserve for Germans).

At a dinner party in New York a young woman said to me in a tone of disdainful sympathy, "So you're under the British," taking a stab as it were at what a Canadian might be.

"We don't think of ourselves as under the British," I said. "We think of ourselves as the British."

Why was that a remarkable thing to say? My parents wouldn't have had any trouble with it but I was astonished, even as came out of my mouth. But as she later confessed on the pillow it did give her the appropriate frisson.

It is of some comfort that French contempt for the English, which I guess is us, is relatively new. In the nineteenth century Queen Victoria's portrait was displayed prominently in French-Canadian parlours.

As a kid in Canada, when you sit in the classroom not listening to the teacher, you daydream at the icons on the wall--the evolution chart with its gradually taller straighter squarer-chinned chimps and the map of the world, the two diagrams of identity. The green U.S., big yellow Brazil, and the pink parts: Canada, Britain, India, Australia, huge portions of Africa and Latin America, daubs and splatters here and there in the oceans.

That must be why, although Canada is a tiny country with a population one and one half that of New York City, there seem to be as many Canadians living abroad as Americans. Canadian children grow up identifying with all that pink. They feel at home in the world. Proportionately speaking, twice as many Canadians as Americans own passports (twenty-one per cent to eleven.)

As no nation knows better than Mexico or Canada, a thirty-foot dirty mirror lines the U.S. border. The whole world looks in while Americans look out at their own image. Antiamericanism is largely an American export, but it has been well received. It is a profoundly-felt paradox that the flower of civilization should have bred so much vulgarity and overstatement. Even the desperation is getting noisy.

From the films, TV programmes and news reports that form such a large part of European life it is gathered that America is a country of hayseeds pointing guns at each other while the elite put in regular hours selling insurance, or whatever else it is that keeps them getting into and out of cars so often.

It is commonly said in Europe that Americans have casual manners and a stiff style, whereas Europeans have stiff manners and a casual style. A case in point is the English art of the snub, the very stuff and procedure of their manners. Opinions, preferences, politics, mating, greetings--all personal and corporate relations--are expressed as snubs. A right-thinking Englishman can get off several variously-directed snubs in a single grammatical unit. (But rarely with a glance. The French can give really withering glances but the English tend as it were to swallow theirs. The glance is a little too direct for English style, and other English wouldn't see it anyway. To express something pointedly with a glance is to identify yourself as unEnglish.)

The mutual but incompetent imitation of America and England has resulted in a rigid American class system replete with accents, mannerisms, schools and that sort of signal, while England hardly has one left. English class distinction has been almost completely internalized as the snub, though rags of ritual do remain at the upper levels. Princess Michael of Kent was recently sent some something-or-other she had praised at the house of an admirer and, being broke, would have liked to pawn it. Her husband made her give it back.

You can't sin in America. Puritanism--bless it, curse it--has led to the annulment of sin. Charles Manson tried heroically to sin and achieved only a kind of psychiatric sainthood. In Quebec, though, there are still things to confess.

But to be broke in America (and here Canadians feel a share in the American reality) is a state of sin, traceable perhaps to no specific act but a sure sign of God's--and society's--displeasure; possibly predestined.

The abolition of sin is the result of America's commitment to transforming the world, over and against the European (the Mediterranean, at least) commitment to living in it. An Italian sets up a well-regarded trattoria between two parked cars and the location is part of the charm. In America the presence of parked cars at an area of leisure is felt to be crass. I haven't figured out why.

In Europe racism is a more normal state of affairs, perhaps a convenient way of delineating the space between parked cars. National borders tend to be racial ones whereas in America, land of abstraction, of countries founded on principles, borders tend to be straight lines. When a European border isn't a racial one, there's trouble. We may note the intolerance of racism in Germany in recent years, but reunification immediately raised tense questions about national borders--and not just their own.

The Czechs and Slovaks blame German ambition for a separation they do not themselves seem to have wanted. Divide and conquer, is how some of them tell it. And the disintegration of the Balkans is often referred, here, to German meddling.

The Germans were never Romanized, goes the explanation. Britain and France had four hundred years of Roman civilization but the Caesars were content to keep the barbarians from crossing the Rhine and call the other side "Germany." That's why they're like that.

This is something that persists in Canada and is otherwise unknown north of the Rio Grande--the racial border between Ontario and Quebec, traced out by a river and stretching down Boulevard St-Laurent at mid-Montreal. French Canada spills over into New Brunswick and lives in pockets throughout the country but between Ontario and Quebec the old European line is drawn. The racial line.

In Europe this can be the source of some amusement. Both the English and the French for example, are inclined consciously to impersonate themselves. Their Englishness and their Frenchness respectively are their most precious and, to them at least, their most endearing qualities. In Europe and in Quebec I am routinely consigned to what is called "the Anglo-Saxon world" and its to us so transparent qualities. Certainly it's hard to reconcile the vastly different British and American characters in any consistent portrait of "the Anglo-Saxon." Here's how the tour guides of the Mediterranean basin classify us: Americans complain loudly and tip heavily; the British never complain and never tip; Canadians complain loudly and never tip. In the middle as usual.

Nevertheless your reporter, while organizing these thoughts, has caught himself reveling in his identity as an a-word and thus compounding his sin--generalizing not only national but racial characteristics. He's been gone too long.

(Do not be distressed by his use of the word "sin." In America a sin can be cured, not forgiven.)

But alas, the corollary of these breezy distinctions, both in Quebec and in Europe, is that you are continually tripping over the most casual anti-Semitism where you would so much rather not find it.

Since Hollywood Europe has been a cultural colony, and since the Marshall Plan it has been an economic one--an American museum, just as Canada is an American park--and there is a natural and healthy tendency in both places to rail at the government. Nowhere is this truer than in England. Almost the entire repertoire of British behavior implies a criticism of Americans, and this is largely a matter of resentment. London thinks about New York four or five times a day. New York thinks about London perhaps once a month.

Is that American provincialism, or simply what it's like to be on top? How do we define "provincial" anymore? The article on Paris in the Encyclopaedia Britannica used to begin, "provincial city"--the English getting at the French, of course, but it has to be admitted that Paris is no longer the hub. Rome is much as it was when Gibbon saw it, plus traffic jams. Athens is a five-million-people mountain village.
Where do we escape provincialism? Los Angeles is, as Harold Robbins said, a hick town. New York? Perhaps the violence is promising. When the British were acquiring their empire you couldn't walk the streets of London without being mugged.

But Americans don't feel in control--certainly not in cultural control. Their painting was invented only after the war, their writers appear to ride the crest of an economic hegemony and their filmmakers fidget like bumpkins before their counterparts in Geneva and Milan.

It may be that provincialism is an obsolete concept. There can be no provinces without an imperial city, and America refuses to assume the mantle of empire although even her loudest foreign critics yearn toward her. It was said in France during the 1930's that the average Frenchman longed to be ruled by a committee of Americans, and that hasn't changed. They can't wait for the implicit to become explicit.

It's unlikely to. Historically speaking, Americans cut themselves off from the outside for good reasons. What has grown there has needed protection.

But of course that's not why they did it. The basic and most poignant American ambition is to be alone. Which is not something you can expect others to understand; certainly not your neighbors.

The unspoken feeling there is that Shakespeare discovered America, that it is the real Prospero's island, the end of the middle ages, the birth of the modern self.

What Americans don't understand is that the reproaches of their critics are in the nature of a family quarrel. Many Europeans and an increasing number of Asians and Africans have, like most Canadians, family in the States. The epitome of that attitude is the constant attempt of the British to assure themselves of what they call "the special relationship."

Americans don't want to know. The Anglo-Saxon horror of the family has developed there to the point that a significant number of citizens do not have families. This is routinely decried as a decadence but whether it is or not, it's how things are.

Isolation is a way of life for Americans. They are practical people and know that's the only way things get done. America is not so much a country as a world, like India.

Which is the problem the rest of us have with it. Americans want their lives and successes, their joys and regrets in terms of that world, according to that world. They forget that life is a camp and treat it as a closed system. There are no closed systems.

THE END

EMMA BLUE screened at the Cannes Independent on Friday. Standing ovation. Thrilling.

OUT OF INDIA, An Action Adventure

Reg’d © Library of Congress
A jail bird, an Indian holy man and a woman from the WHO team up to spirit a herbal cure for hemorrhoids out of India.  Think of:

Proposed cast: George Clooney (Mitch)
MITCH, a Westerner in India, is doing time in a Calcutta prison for smuggling (let’s not ask what), when a Bagwan, also in for smuggling, is thrown into the crowded cell with him.

The Bagwan's villagers have shown him a herbal cure for hemorrhoids—works instantly!— handed down secretly for millennia; not even the local Muslims know.  And he can spring Mitch if Mitch can get it out of the country.

Proposed cast: Sir Ben Kingsley (the Bagwan)
Despite lucrative foreign contracts with pharmaceutical companies in Ohio, the BAGWAN can't get it out past the red tape.  It makes up as a suspicious-looking white powder and he can’t afford to baksheesh all those officials. 
 

The two go into business. Mitch takes a steel suitcase of the stuff out of the southern hills to Bombay, where an associate, a fisherman, will sail it past the customs cruisers to a waiting freighter.

But here's another steel suitcase being tied to the roof of a bus by an Afghan horseman. 

So heavy is it (so stuffed with opium) and so cumbersome that he puts a curse on it, and we follow that suitcase south into India on buses and trains, from runner to runner, watching the curse work its evil on each of them until, on the train into Bombay, it gets mixed up with Mitch’s.

Proposed cast: Rebecca Hall (Jill)
As this is happening he meets Americans JILL and Harold from the World Health Organization, doing a report on Indian women. A starving kid grabs her traveler's checks, Mitch reluctantly intercepts them and lets the kid go, and their prickly relationship begins.

Proposed cast: Catherine Tate (Franny)

Also on the train is lascivious FRANNY, a small-time smuggler (it's a widely-practiced trade there), who guesses that Mitch too is a runner, and flirts with him shamelessly—

Proposed cast: Dev Patel (Shubash) 

—although she has something going with shy and proper SHUBASH, an untouchable ("We'll see about that") she has brought into the first-class carriage over the objections of the conductors, and seduced.

He has sold his patrimonial acre and is on his way to Bombay (they say Bombay there, not "Mumbai") to make his fortune, though he knows he'll have to sleep on the sidewalk.

 

When they get to Bombay and Mitch realizes the switch, and the opium is stolen, and the drug lord won’t believe him, and his fisherman contact is murdered, and a corpse is planted in his room, he goes to Jill for help.

She thinks he’s smuggling something bad but they’re already on a non-stop-bus-car-train-boat chase that gives her a closer look at the country, fast as it goes by, than she’d bargained for—

Proposed cast: Satish Shah (Under-Assistant Sub-Inspector Pramod Gupta) 

—until Mitch is arrested by Under-Assistant Sub-Inspector GUPTA, a likable fool despised by his superiors for being honest. 
 

Mitch persuades Gupta to have the ships in Madras port searched, and when nothing is found gives him the slip.  But Gupta stays on their trail.

Based on the novel.  Here's the first scene:

INT. CALCUTTA DUNGEON CORRIDOR - DAY

A BAGWAN (holy man), sixty, dignified, long white hair and beard, saffron robe, WALKS TOWARD US TAPPING his folded black umbrella like a cane, escorted by TWO GUARDS with heavy bamboo cudgels. 

They pause before an iron door, a guard UNLOCKS THE DOOR AND IT CREAKS as he opens it.  The Bagwan looks at the guards. 

They look at him.  He steps inside, still facing them and they SLAM IT on him, LOCK IT and WALK AWAY.

INT. CALCUTTA JAIL CELL - CONTINUOUS (DAY)

The BAGWAN turns to peer into the darkness. 

As his eyes grow used to it we see A HUNDRED MEN huddled on the floor with no room to move.

He steps among them firmly but awkwardly.

BAGWAN
(indignant shout)
I am a Bagwan!

ONE MAN kneels up and touches the Bagwan’s shins with both hands, then his own heart; the Bagwan’s feet, his own heart.

OTHERS - sleepy, surly - ignore him.  As he steps through with more confidence, SOME make obeisance, OTHERS don’t. 

Sitting against the wall tightly squeezed among other PRISONERS, MITCH, a middle-aged Westerner, looks up, bearded, heavy-eyed, in rags: he’s been here for a while.  The Bagwan stands facing him.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
I am a Bagwan!

MITCH
Sorry?

BAGWAN
(manages to step forward importantly)
A Bagwan.
(explains)
God.

MITCH
Good.  I’ve got a few questions.

BAGWAN
I wish to be seated!

MITCH
Why don’t you levitate?

BAGWAN
The Bagwan would like a place against the wall!

MITCH
Takes time to get to the wall.

The Bagwan BARKS ANGRILY IN HINDI at the man beside Mitch, who MOVES AWAY.  The Bagwan sits, and surveys his new estate.

BAGWAN
You have questions?

MITCH
How did I get here?

BAGWAN
You are paying for the sins of a past life.

MITCH
(nods)
How did you get here?

BAGWAN
Injustice!  For smuggling something perfectly legal!

A RAT SQUEALS.  Mitch quickly WHACKS it and lifts the dead RAT by the tail, its neck broken.

MITCH
(delighted)
Meat for supper!  Got a match?

BAGWAN
I do not eat flesh.

DISSOLVE TO:
Deeper darkness.  A small fire of straw on the floor.  Mitch and THREE MEN pick at the bones of the roasted rat.

MITCH
(to the Bagwan)
Got any floss?
(licks his fingers)
What were you smuggling?

BAGWAN
Hemorrhoid medicine.
(to Mitch’s double-take)
An ancient remedy handed down in my village since before the Buddha.  Not even the local Muslims know.  Works instantly!  When I’d lived among them for a while they offered their secret up to God.

MITCH
If I sit here much longer I’ll need some.

BAGWAN
(agrees)
Secretaries, truck-drivers, beggars on curbs, pregnant women, homosexuals, holy men who sit for years meditating - I was a sufferer myself!  Now at last there is Bagwan Bubu’s All-Herbal Cure for Hemorrhoids!  On every corner will be my picture holding it up!  I’ll have an ashram with swimming pools and three hundred and sixty-six Rolls Royces - one for leap year!  How better to show contempt for such things? (FLINCHES at a COCKROACH crawling on him)

MITCH
(plucks it off and eats it)
Not much protein in the diet. 
(back to the subject)
Why smuggle it?

BAGWAN
I have no licence to export!  When I failed to fill the bowls of all the many officials I landed here!  It makes up as a white powder - very suspicious.  If the tests work I get two point five million dollars and thirty per cent of sales!  I have only to get it to Ohio!

MITCH
(belches)
You need an exporter.

BAGWAN
(looks at him narrowly)
Not one who gets caught.

MITCH
(shrugs)
It happens.

BAGWAN
What were you smuggling?

Mitch just winks at him.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
Where is the toilet?

They step among sleeping MEN toward two barrels.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
(sniffs each barrel, wrinkles his nose)
Which one is for drinking?

MITCH
(sniffs each barrel)
I’m not sure.
(picks the most offensive and PEES in it)

BAGWAN
(PEES in it too)
How were you caught?

MITCH
They had a mind-reader at customs.  She saw my thoughts.

They FINISH, and drink with their hands from the other water.

BAGWAN
(recoils in disgust)
We have pee-peeed in the wrong barrel!

MITCH
(can only agree)
It happens.

They sit against the wall.

BAGWAN
(whispers intimately)
Could you get a case of white powder out of India?

MITCH
I’d have to get out of here first.

BAGWAN
(smiles - that’s easy)
My villagers will raise enough to baksheesh these people.  If I arrange for your release you will be in my employ.

MITCH
(shakes his head)
Half.

BAGWAN
(laughs)
Not possible. You will have ten per cent.

MITCH
Half.  Last price.

BAGWAN
Twenty per cent. Last price.  Best price.

MITCH
Half.  Best price.  Only price.

The Bagwan scowls.

Reg’d © Library of Congress