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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 18)

2006-07-09 16:41

  EXT. RESTAURANT - DAY

  The mother stands on the street frantically calling for her daughter.

  MOTHER REBECCA!

  The Maitre'd, Francesca and Robert exit the restaurant.

  MOTHER Oh my God……!

  FRANCESCA What happened?

  MOTHER I was paying the check. She ran outside. I told her to wait for me right here! Oh God, where is she?

  Rebecca!

  The sidewalk is filled with people. Francesca looks to Robert. He recognizes the concern in her expression. Going home will have to wait.

  ROBERT I'll check down here. Someone call the police.

  The Maitre'd goes back inside. Francesca comforts the mother.

  FRANCESCA Think for a second. Is there someplace she said she wanted to go?

  MOTHER I don't remember!

  EXT. STREET

  Robert searches through the street, poking in and out of storefronts, looking across the street.

  EXT. RESTAURANT

  Francesca and the mother search in the opposite direction.

  EXT. STREET

  Through the crowd of people, Robert looks across the four lane Main Street to a LARGE CITY PARK. He crosses to it.

  INT. RESTAURANT - AN HOUR LATER

  Francesca sits with the mother as TWO POLICEMEN take down a description. The mother is crying. A waiter brings over some water for her. The Maitre'd stands by.

  MOTHER She was right outside. I turned my head for a second.

  POLICEMAN When was this?

  FRANCESCA About an hour ago.

  MOTHER They're not going to find her!

  FRANCESCA Yes, they are.

  At that moment, the mother looks up and cries.

  MOTHER REBECCA!

  She jumps out of her seat as all turn to see:

  Robert holding the little girl in his arms, entering the restaurant. He carefully hands her over to the mother. The two wrap their arms around each other. Francesca looks to Robert, loving him even more now.

  FRANCESCA Where was she?

  ROBERT Across the street. She went into the park and got turned around and didn't know her way out.

  MOTHER You crossed the street by yourself?!

  REBECCA(crying)

  It was a green light.

  The mother is too relieved to be mad. Robert sits down.

  MOTHER Thank you so much!

  ROBERT(frazzled)

  I need a drink.

  Everyone laughs out of relief. Francesca wraps her arm around his shoulder and kisses his forehead. He kisses her back.

  INT. TRUCK - DUSK

  Robert drives as Francesca sits inside his arm. Neither speaks.

  INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DUSK

  Francesca calmly leads Robert up to her bedroom.

  INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM

  Naked, Francesca guides Robert into bed beneath the covers. They begin to make love —— softly, lovingly —— like a couple that are beyond the erotic, discovery stage; a couple that have been together and in love for years.

  LATER -

  Francesca puts her arm around him as he nestles his head to her breast. Francesca strokes his hair as Robert closes his eyes.

  ROBERT I don't know why I'm so tired all of a sudden.

  FRANCESCA Long day. Go to sleep.

  ROBERT Am I too heavy for you?

  FRANCESCA No.

  Robert settles into her. But Francesca is wide awake. Something is on her mind —— “Tomorrow? What happens after tomorrow?”

  INT. KITCHEN - MORNING

  Francesca is serving Robert breakfast, then sits down beside him. Silence. We can sense some tension between them —— this being their last day together.

  Francesca seems ingeniously friendly. Robert is suspicious.

  FRANCESCA Sleep all right?

  ROBERT Yes, thanks.

  FRANCESCA Good. More coffee?

  (he nods, she pours)

  Robert, I hope you don't mind my asking, but I feel like I should.

  ROBERT What?

  FRANCESCA Well, these…… women friends of yours…… all over the world. How does it work? Do you see some of them again? Do you forget others? Do you write them now and then? How do you manage it?

  Her facetiousness startles Robert.

  ROBERT I…… What do you want?

  FRANCESCA Well, I just want to know the procedure. I don't want to upset your routine. Do you want any jam?

  ROBERT(insulted)

  Routine! I don't have a routine. And if you think that's what this is -

  FRANCESCA Well, what is this?

  ROBERT(upset)

  Well, why is that up to me? You're the one who's married. You told me you have no intention of leaving your husband.

  FRANCESCA To do what? Be with someone who needs everyone and no one in particular? I mean, what would be the point. Would you pass the butter?

  ROBERT I was honest with you. I told you who I was.

  FRANCESCA Yes. Absolutely. You have this habit of not needing and that it's hard to break. I understand.(beat)

  Of course, in that case, why sleep ——you don't need rest or for that matter eat, you don't need food.

  She takes his plate away from him, rises and throws it into the sink.

  ROBERT What are you doing?

  FRANCESCA(sarcastic)

  Gee, I don't know. I guess I'm not cut out to be a World Citizen who experiences everything and nothing at the same time.

  ROBERT How do you know what I experience?

  FRANCESCA(angry)

  I know you! What can this possibly mean to anyone who doesn't “need”meaning -(mocking)

  “Who goes with the Mystery” —— who pretends he isn't scared to death.

  ROBERT Stop it!

  FRANCESCA You have no idea what you've done to me, do you? And after you leave, I'm going to have to wonder for the rest of my life what happened here. If anything happened at all! And I'll have to wonder if you find yourself in some…… housewife's kitchen in Romania if you'll sit there and tell her about your world of good friends and secretly include me in that group.

  ROBERT What do you want me to say?

  FRANCESCA(nonchantly)

  I don't want you to say anything. I don't need you to say anything.

  Robert rises, knocking his chair aside.

  ROBERT STOP IT!

  FRANCESCA Fine. More eggs or should we just fuck on the linoleum one last time?

  ROBERT(grabs her)

  I told you! I won't apologize for who I am.

  FRANCESCA No one's asking you to!

  ROBERT I won't be made to feel like I've done something wrong.

  FRANCESCA(angry)

  You won't be made to feel! Period. You've carved out this little part for yourself in the world where you get to be a voyeur, a hermit and a lover whenever you feel like it and the rest of us are just supposed to feel so incredibly grateful for the brief time you've touched our lives!

  Well, go to hell! It isn't human not to feel lonely —— it isn't human not to afraid! You're a hypocrite and you're a phony!

  ROBERT(cries out)

  I DON'T WANT TO NEED YOU!

  FRANCESCA WHY?

  ROBERT BECAUSE I CAN'T HAVE YOU!

  FRANCESCA WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

  He throws a cup at the wall. It breaks apart. Covering his face, Robert turns away from her as he holds onto the sink. Francesca reaches for him but he pulls away, embarrassed.

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