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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 14)

2006-07-09 16:38

  EXT. PAY PHONE, GAS STATION - LATE MORNING

  Francesca's note is opened in Robert's hand. Her phone number is written after the “P.S.” He stands in the pay phone getting a busy signal from Francesca's line. He hangs up.

  CUT TO:

  INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

  Francesca, dressed and packed, prepares to leave. She checks her purse to make sure she's got everything. She grabs her bag and exits.

  A few beats later, the phone rings. But she doesn't return. It rings again. We hear Francesca's truck door open and close. It rings again. We think Francesca is on her way,until:

  We suddenly hear her burst into the house and see her leap for the phone.

  FRANCESCA Hello?

  INTERCUT ——

  INT. SLOW BEND SALOON/RESTAURANT - DAY

  Robert is at another pay phone.

  ROBERT Francesca?

  FRANCESCA(out of breath)

  Yes! Hi.

  ROBERT Am I interrupting anything?

  FRANCESCA No. I was just…… No.

  ROBERT I'm sorry I didn't call sooner, but I just read your note. I stuffed it into my pocket. The light was fading and I had to get my shot.

  FRANCESCA(relieved)

  The light was fading. Huh-huh.

  ROBERT I would love to come for dinner.

  FRANCESCA(smiles)

  Wonderful. Uh……

  ROBERT Listen, I have to shoot Cedar Bridge until a little after sunset. I want a few night shots. Would you like to come with me? If you're interested……

  FRANCESCA Oh, sure. Great.

  ROBERT I'll pick you up.

  FRANCESCA No. I'll drive myself. I have a few errands. I'll meet you there.

  ROBERT Okay. See you later.

  FRANCESCA Yeah. See you later.

  Francesca is thrilled. Her mind races with a list of things she must do before tonight. She opens a cabinet, removes a coffee can and empties it of her house money. She quickly counts it, then shoves it into her purse.

  EXT. ON THE ROAD - DAY

  Francesca drives past a sign marking Des Moines as the next town.

  INT. SLOW BEND SALOON/ RESTAURANT - DAY

  The second of two eating establishments in Winterset. A lunch time crowd fills the place. Robert is seated at the counter. He can sense their eyes on him, wondering who this stranger is and what's he doing here. He knows the whispered conversation is about him.

  A MIDDLE-AGED COUPLE talk at table.

  WIFE Thelma told me he checked into the Motor Inn and the bill goes to National Geographic Magazine.

  HUSBAND National Geographic? What the hell's he doing here? We ain't got no naked pygmies to take pictures of.

  WIFE He's taking pictures of the bridges.

  HUSBAND Ain't no pygmies there either.

  Robert wants to finish his lunch as quickly as possible. At that moment, someone enters the restaurant and all the conversation stops. He overhears one waitress turn to the other and whisper ——

  WAITRESS God. It's Lucy Redfield.

  Both the Waitress and Robert (though more subtly) turn to see:

  THE REDFIELD WOMAN. But instead of being the harlot we might think, she's actually a rather plain, demure looking woman ——not nearly as fancy or pretty as Mrs. Delaney herself.

  As she crosses the counter, Robert immediately picks up on the vibes in the room. He notices all the patrons stare then turns away to whisper. The waitress behind the counter ignores her. A customer eating at the counter places a bag on an empty stool beside her, so the Redfield woman can't sit down near her.

  Robert and the Redfield woman's eyes meet. She is clearly uncomfortable. She turns, about to leave, when Robert clears his cameras off of a stool next to him and offers:

  ROBERT Got room right here if you like.

  She is surprised at his courtesy. Others are astounded. Some disgusted. She accepts his offer and sits beside him.

  REDFIELD WOMAN Thank you.

  ROBERT Hot out there today.

  She nods and smiles. The waitress tosses a menu at her and slams down a glass of water, then moves on down the counter. The Redfield woman tries to act casual, glancing through the menu. Robert subtly scans the room as all eyes are on them,then turn away.

  Robert returns his glace back to the Redfield woman who is now only pretending to read the menu. She is so embarrassed. She wants to leave but can't move.

  WAITRESS Well, are you ordering anything!?

  Her harsh tone startles the Redfield woman as well as Robert. Gathering her dignity, she responds.

  REDFIELD WOMAN No. Thank you. I've changed my mind.

  She politely nods to Robert, gathers her things and exits. Robert looks to the waitress, as a SECOND WAITRESS enters.

  SECOND WAITRESS I'd've thrown that water right in her face.

  WAITRESS Poor Mrs. Delaney.

  The waitress walks O.S. leaving the second waitress facing Robert, who looks at her curiously. The second waitress looks back as if to say, “What business is it of yours?” and exits.

  CUT TO:

  EXT. DES MOINES - DAY

  A metropolis compared to Winterset.

  Francesca exits a liquor store with a bottle of wine in a paper bag. She also carries a bag of groceries as she heads down the street to her parked truck. She passes a DRESS SHOP and stops.

  CUT BACK TO:

  EXT. WINTERSET - DAY

  Robert enters a general store. He buys a six pack of beer for his cooler and approaches the counter for the Cashier.

  CASHIER That all?

  Robert nods. He decides to have some fun and test the waters a little bit.

  ROBERT Isn't it awful about poor Mrs. Delaney?

  With this, the damn bursts -

  CASHIER Tragic is more like it. The pain that woman has been subjected to by that no-good husband. I never liked him. Known him for years. People say he's quiet. Well, it's the quiet ones that can sneak up behind you and stab you in the back. I heard yesterday, that she confronted him. Gave him the ultimatum and you know what he did?——(CONTINUES AS NEEDED)

  Robert stands astounded, listening to this diatribe of gossip.

  CUT BACK TO:

  INT. DES MOINES DRESS SHOP - DAY

  Francesca sits in her slip, alone in a dressing room, with several dresses strewn about. The panic of indecision has set in. She looks at herself in the mirror and begins to doubt that seeing Robert is a good idea. Or perhaps she's imagining something that isn't there. And what about Richard?

  MEMORY:

  A few years back. Francesca is dressed up for some formal affairs. She heads down the stairs. Richard is waiting in the hall, in a suit and tie. He looks at her admiringly.

  FRANCESCA Ready. You have the keys?

  But Richard doesn't answer. He's just staring at her. Francesca stops. Richard looks at her like a little boy.

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  What's the matter?

  Richard is obviously impressed by how she looks, but he can't say anything. He just smiles shyly and shakes his head to say nothing is wrong and opens the door for her.

  END OF MEMORY:

  Francesca feels guilty when a SALESWOMAN enters with a pretty summer dress.

  SALESWOMAN How about this one?

  Francesca examines it. She likes it. But the guilt……

  FRANCESCA I don't know. I haven't bought a dress for myself in so long.(saleswoman nods)

  I mean, I'm just buying a dress. It's not a special occasion or anything. I'm just shopping. Just shopping for a new dress, that's all.

  SALESWOMAN(completely understands)

  That might work. And if he's still mad, just tell him you could have done better but you married him out of pity. That's always works for me.

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