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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 12)

2006-07-09 16:36

  EXT. PASTURE - NIGHT

  Francesca and Robert walk through the pasture. She sniffs her arm.

  FRANCESCA Smells like dirt.

  ROBERT You get used to it.

  FRANCESCA When?

  ROBERT(laughs)

  You want to go back in?

  FRANCESCA No. I'm all right. It's working.

  Silence. They walk. It is a beautiful night.

  ROBERT You've got it all right here, you know. It's just as beautiful as any other place I've seen. God, it knocks me out.

  FRANCESCA What?

  ROBERT(indicating the night)

  This “…… Of what I call God and fools can Nature.” Who wrote that?

  FRANCESCA Umm, I don't know. I can look it up.

  ROBERT I'd appreciate it. I like knowing who I'm stealing from. If you can't create art I think the least you can do is recognize it around you, don't you think? There is……

  (genuinely affected)

  …… so much beauty.

  She watches him with great appreciation. He smiles at her. Instead of looking away, their eyes remained locked for a moment. There is clearly an attraction. They simultaneously look away and continue walking.

  Francesca's heart is beating a mile a minute yet she can't deny she is enjoying herself. Walking side by side in silence, Francesca turns back occasionally to look at her house as they get further away from it. Suddenly, the more distant the house becomes, the more frightened she starts to feel. Something inside her knows she's going too far with this man —— too far from home. Although a part of her wants it, she is surprised to find a larger part of her finds too unknown. She stops.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  What's wrong?

  Francesca looks confused for a moment, not knowing what she wants. She can't move. She searches for a way out.

  FRANCESCA Would you like some coffee? Or maybe,some brandy?

  Somehow Robert can sense her uneasiness. He obliges.

  ROBERT How about both?

  INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

  Francesca moves about the kitchen preparing coffee —— dropping the coffee pot basket, spilling the grounds. She acts tense. Robert sits at the table opening the brandy bottle Francesca almost opened the night before, aware of her mood.

  Francesca gets the coffee going then sets the table with cups and saucers.

  ROBERT You sure you won't let me help you with those dishes?

  FRANCESCA(coldly)

  No. I'll do them later.

  ROBERT Francesca?

  FRANCESCA What?

  ROBERT Are you all right?

  FRANCESCA Yes.

  ROBERT Francesca?

  FRANCESCA What?

  ROBERT We're not doing anything wrong, do you.

  Francesca freezes. He has read her mind again.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  (smiles)

  Nothing you can't tell your children about.

  Once again, he relieves her of fear and anxiety. He hands her a glass of brandy……

  CUT TO:

  1995

  INT. KITCHEN - DAY

  Carolyn and Michael have come to the end of a notebook.

  MICHAEL He's getting her drunk. That's what happened. Jesus, maybe he forced himself. That's why she couldn't tell us.

  CAROLYN Oh, he did not. He's such a nice guy.

  MICHAEL Nice? He's trying to sleep with somebody's wife.

  CAROLYN I don't think so. Not yet anyway. And besides, something like that doesn't make you a bad person. He reminds me of Steve in a way. Steve's weak,immoral and a liar but he's still a real nice guy. He just shouldn't be married.(laughs)

  At least not to me. You getting hungry? I'm hungry.

  Michael nods, then speaks with sincere compassion.

  MICHAEL I had no idea it's gotten that bad,sis.

  CAROLYN Oh, don't feel sorry for me. Please. No one's forcing me to stay.

  MICHAEL Then why do you?

  CAROLYN And do what? Live alone? Go back to school? Find someone else? Start a magazine for confused woman? …… What if I can't do any of those things?

  Michael can't answer her. Carolyn looks through the cabinets.

  CAROLYN (cont'd)

  There's not much here to make.

  MICHAEL Let's go into town and get a bite. We'll take the books with us.

  Carolyn nods. Michael looks for the next notebook, checking the dates.

  INT. CAR - EARLY EVENING

  Michael drives as Carolyn opens the next notebook and reads:

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  “We sat sipping brandy. I thought if anybody walked through the door now there'd be no explaining it. But I didn't care. And I loved that I didn't care. I almost wanted it to happen. Then there'd be no turning back. I wanted to be like him. I lived this life of his. We talked about his wife and I was jealous ——not of her —— but of his leaving. His fearlessness. He knew what he wanted. How did he do that.

  CUT BACK TO:

  1965

  INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

  Francesca sips her brandy. Robert sits in the easy chair.

  FRANCESCA Do you mind if I…… ask you why you got divorced?

  ROBERT Not at all. I wasn't around much……

  So why did I get married? Well, I thought it was a good idea at the time. Have a home base. Roots. You can get lost moving around so much.

  FRANCESCA So what happened?

  ROBERT I never got lost. For some reason,I'm more at home everywhere than at one place. So I decided I'll think of myself as some kind of world citizen. I belong everywhere and nowhere. I'm kin to everyone, and no one in particular. See, once you get into the habit of not needing anyone, it's kind of hard to break.

  FRANCESCA You must get lonely at times.

  ROBERT Never touch the stuff. I've got friends all over the world. Good friends I can see when I want, if I want.

  FRANCESCA Woman friends, too?

  ROBERT I'm a loner, I'm not a monk.

  Francesca averts her eyes, before continuing her investigation.

  FRANCESCA You really don't need anyone?

  ROBERT No, I think I need everyone! I love people. I want to meet them all!

  I just think there are too many out there saying “This is mine.” or“She's mine.” Too many lines have been drawn. World's breaking apart because of man's weakness for some testosterone conquests over territory and power and people. He wants control over what deep down he knows he has no control over whatsoever and it scares him silly.

  FRANCESCA Why doesn't it scare you?

  ROBERT I embrace Mystery. I don't know what's coming. And I don't mind.

  FRANCESCA Do you ever regret it? The divorce,I mean.

  ROBERT No.

  FRANCESCA Do you ever regret not having a family?

  ROBERT Not everybody's supposed to have a family.

  FRANCESCA But —— how can you just live for what you want? What about other people?

  ROBERT I told you, I love other people.

  FRANCESCA But no one in particular.

  ROBERT No. But I love them just the same.

  FRANCESCA But it's not the same.

  ROBERT That's not what you're saying. I know it's not the same. What you're saying is, it's not as good. Or it's not as normal or proper.

  FRANCESCA No, I'm just saying ——

  ROBERT(interrupting)

  I'm a little sick of this American Family Ethic everyone seems to be hypnotized by in this country. I guess you think I'm just some poor displaced soul doomed to roam the earth without a self-cleaning oven and home movie.

  FRANCESCA(irritated)

  Just because someone chooses to settle down and have a family doesn't necessarily mean they're hypnotized. Just because I've never seen a gazelle stampede doesn't mean I'm asleep in the world.

  ROBERT Do you want to leave your husband?

  Francesca is completely stunned and thrown off guard.

  FRANCESCA No. Of course not.(rising, upset)

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