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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 9)

2006-07-09 16:34

  EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - DAY

  The truck stops. They exit. Robert takes out some equipment.

  ROBERT This won't take long. I'm shooting tomorrow morning. I just need to do some prep work.

  FRANCESCA I don't mind waiting.

  He smiles and takes his equipment to the bridge. Francesca slowly follows. She watches his body move. Catching herself,she stops.

  Robert sets up a tripod in the small ravine beneath the bridge, pointing a view finder up as he plans his shots. Francesca walks through the bridge, noticing lovers names scrawled on the inside: CATHY & BUDDY 4 EVER…… ROSIE AND HANK TILL THE END OF TIME. Through a crack in one of the wooden planks, Francesca watches like a voyeur as Robert works. She sees him take out a handkerchief and wipe the sweat off his neck, then inside his shirt and around his chest. Without knowing where Francesca is, Robert speaks aloud:

  ROBERT Is it always this hot?

  Francesca moves quickly away from the plank, like a Peeping Tom who's been caught.

  FRANCESCA This time of year.

  ROBERT Would you do me a favor and go to the truck? Inside that leather bag with the pockets is a package of lens cleaners. Would you grab me one?

  Francesca obliges, grateful for something to occupy her.

  Inside the truck, she scans for the leather bag. She sees it next to a duffel bag. The bag' zipper is opened. She glimpses inside as Robert's personal things —— clothes, socks,underwear, shaving kit. Life magazines from July and August,one depicting the death of Aldai Stevenson; the other a cover photo of the Watts riots. She grabs the leather bag and opens it.

  At the bridge, Francesca looks for Robert in the raving but he is gone. She looks through the bridge to the other end and sees only the tripod. No Robert. She walks through the bridge and out the other end. She finds Robert bent over,picking flowers.

  FRANCESCA Oh there you are.

  ROBERT Oh! You caught me.

  He rises with a bouquet of wildflowers for her.

  ROBERT Thanks for your help.

  Francesca smiles, not knowing how to take this.

  ROBERT Men sill give women flowers, don't they? I mean, as a sign of appreciation? I'm not that out of date, am I?

  FRANCESCA No, not at all ——(suddenly)

  except those are poisonous.

  ROBERT WHAT!

  He flings the flowers down. He wipes his hands furiously.

  FRANCESCA I'm sorry. I was kidding.

  Robert looks at her with a shocked smirk, secretly liking her strange behavior.

  FRANCESCA I'm sorry. I don't know what —— I'm sorry. Really. They're lovely.

  She begins picking up the flowers.

  ROBERT(smiling)

  Are you by nature a sadistic person?

  FRANCESCA No, I'm not.(trying not to laugh)

  I don't know why I said that. I've been in a very…… strange mood all day. I've never done anything like that before. It's…… I'm just……

  (looking for excuse)

  Well, you know, the whole world is just going nuts.

  Robert looks at her like she's nuts. Francesca tries to dig herself out of her hole. Robert enjoys offering no help.

  FRANCESCA What with those riots in Los Angeles and people burning draft cards and…… Adlai Stevenson dying last month.

  She rises with the flowers. Robert gives her a friendly pat on the arm.

  ROBERT Shouldn't let things get to you so much.

  He continues with his work. Francesca expresses relief and embarrassment behind his back.

  INT. TRUCK - LATER

  Driving back, Francesca sits with her feet up on the dashboard. Robert drives while he fiddles with the radio. All he can find are country stations.

  FRANCESCA Looking for something in particular?

  There's not much of a selection.

  ROBERT I found this Chicago station before. Wait a minute……

  (he tunes it in)

  Here it is.

  We hear a BLUES SINGER with a sax arrangement.

  FRANCESCA Oh, that's nice.

  ROBERT Want another cigarette?

  FRANCESCA Sure.

  Francesca's having a great time.

  EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

  Robert's truck drives down the road and into the driveway.

  ROBERT Well, thank you for all your help,Mrs. Johnson.

  FRANCESCA Francesca.

  ROBERT Francesca. Robert.

  Francesca nods, as if to say hello and goodbye in the same moment. She gets out of the car, closes the door, then asks:

  FRANCESCA Would you like some iced tea?

  INT. KITCHEN - DAY

  Robert fiddles with the kitchen radio, tuning in to the Chicago station. Francesca is making iced tea. Robert sits back down at the kitchen table.

  FRANCESCA Lemon?

  ROBERT Sure.

  With her back to him, Robert never takes his eyes off her. She turns and crosses to him, with the tea.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  Thanks.

  Francesca smiles and sips her own. She watches him gulp down the tea so fast, some of it dribbles down the side of his face and neck. Francesca finds it sexy. He empties it.

  FRANCESCA Would you like another one?

  Robert nods and he pulls out his cigarettes.

  ROBERT Mind if I smoke?

  FRANCESCA(at the sink)

  Not at all.

  Robert lights up as he watches her fix another iced tea. He watches her slip off one boot, then the other —— never missing a beat of her preparation. He can't help eyeing her body. When she returns, she also has the flowers he picked for her arranged in a Casper the Friendly Ghost jelly glass. She places them on the table and sits.

  ROBERT Sure you want to keep those in the house?

  FRANCESCA I'm so sorry about that. It was rude. I think I just got nervous for some reason.

  ROBERT I thought it was funny.

  She likes that.

  FRANCESCA Where are you staying while you're here?

  ROBERT A little place with cabins. The something-Motor Inn. I haven't checked in yet.

  FRANCESCA And how long are you here for?

  ROBERT As long as it takes, I might stay a week. No more I don't think. Where's your family?

  FRANCESCA My husband took the kids to the Illinos State Fair. My daughter's entering a prize steer.

  ROBERT Oh. How old?

  FRANCESCA About a year and a half.

  ROBERT No, your kids.

  FRANCESCA Oh. Michael's 17 and Carolyn's 16.

  ROBERT Must be nice having kids.

  Francesca looks at him and FANTASIZES SAYING:

  FANTASY:

  FRANCESCA Not any more. It's awful. They're awful. I can't stand them.

  END OF FANTASY:

  But in reality, Francesca chooses instead to say:

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  They're not kids anymore. Things change.

  ROBERT Everything does. One of the laws of nature. People are always so afraid of change. But if you look at it like it's something you can count on happening, it's actually a comfort. Not many things you can count on for sure.

  FRANCESCA I guess. Except I'm one of the people it frightens.

  ROBERT I doubt that.

  FRANCESCA Why?

  ROBERT Italy to Iowa? I'd call that a change.

  FRANCESCA(explaining)

  Richard was in the army. I met him while I was living in Naples. I didn't know where Iowa was. I only cared that it was America. And of course, being with Richard.

  ROBERT What's he like?

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