The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages - www.carygrant.net

"Whacked Out West"
Chapters 4 thru 6

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Chapter Four
-- by Laura Collins --

The Suits residence--er, the FORMER Suits residence is in chaos. Preston and Chanel are in the attic surrounded by boxes. Chanel picks up a hideous china cat and puts it in a box behind her.

Chanel: I can't believe we still have all these things to pack. You weren't planning to leave too early, were you?

Preston takes the cat out of the box and looks at it with a disgusted yet fascinated expression. He puts it in a box marked "Salvation Army."

Preston: No, not too early. I was thinking of two or three tomorrow morning.

Chanel nearly drops a painting of dogs playing poker. She puts it in her box.

Chanel: My ears must be playing tricks on me, darling. I thought you said we were leaving at two or three in the morning.

Preston: We are.

With an expression of just plain disgust, he takes the painting out of Chanel's box and puts it in the Salvation Army box. Chanel puts an ashtray shaped like a smiling turtle into her box.

Chanel: You can't be serious. The sun won't even be up, and the trains certainly don't run that early.

Preston: Who says we're taking a train? I've been riding back and forth on one bloody train or another for ten years now, and where has it gotten me? Right back where I started, that's where. I'm trying to get away from all that.

He picks up the ashtray, grimacing as he notices that the turtle's slightly crossed eyes appear to be following him. He puts it in the Salvation Army box.

In the meantime, Chanel has put into her box a snow globe, which reads "I Saw Seven States from Mt. Baldy and All I Got Was This Lousy Paperweight."

Chanel: So how ARE we going to get there?

Preston: We could drive--see the USA in our Chevrolet and all that.

Chanel turns to face Preston.

Chanel: You haven't gone and bought a car, have you, Preston? Please tell me you didn't buy a car.

Preston: Of course I didn't buy a car.

Chanel: Are you sure?

Preston: Sure I'm sure. I swear on my mother's grave.

Chanel: But your mother isn't dead.

Preston: Well, then I swear on my mother's life insurance policy. I did not buy a car.

Chanel: All right, Preston, I believe you.

Preston takes his handkerchief out of his pocket and uses it to pick up the snow globe. He can't bear to look at it as he drops it in the Salvation Army box.

Chanel: Preston! What are you doing?

She begins rummaging through the Salvation Army box and holds up the china cat.

Chanel: This belonged to my great-aunt.

Preston: Well, she may have been great, but her taste wasn't.

Chanel: And my mother gave us these. Preston: I always knew there was a reason I didn't like your mother.

Chanel: And what about this? We got it on our honeymoon!

Preston: Oh, yes. "I Honeymooned on Mt. Baldy and All I Got Was This Lousy Paperweight and a Nasty Case of the Flu."

Chanel: That's it! You're going to bed and I'm going to finish all this packing myself.

Reluctantly, he obeys. Chanel sighs and begins looking through the Salvation Army box. With a wicked grin, she picks up a marker and crosses out "Salvation Army", replacing it with "Preston's Den."

Several hours later, the moon is full, the stars are bright, and the world is peaceful. Most of the world, that is.

Preston: CHANEL!!!! LUCY!!!!

Chanel runs down the stairs, throwing on her bathrobe.

Chanel: What is it, darling? What's happened?

Preston: Why aren't you dressed yet? We're running late as it is.

Chanel: Preston, it's four o'clock in the morning.

Preston: Exactly! We were supposed to leave no later than three. We'll need to make REALLY good time now.

Chanel: You can't be serious, darling. Come on, let's go back to bed.

Preston: But I am serious, Chanel. You can always sleep during the trip, but the early bird misses rush-hour traffic.

Chanel: So does the late bird.

Lucy appears at the top of the stairs, still half-asleep.

Lucy: Was that you yelling, Daddy, or just a dream?

Chanel: Go and get dressed, Lucy; we'll be leaving in a few minutes. (Glaring at Preston) And it had better not be in that imaginary Chevrolet of yours, either.

Chanel and Lucy, now fully dressed, if not fully awake, come out of the front door. They are shocked to see Preston piling a huge load of luggage into the back of a massive pickup truck.

Chanel: Preston! You said you hadn't bought a car.

Preston: I didn't. I bought a truck. How else are we going to drive twelve miles into town on those dirt roads? Not to mention herding cows and all that.

Chanel: Well, I suppose what's done is done. But shouldn't that little gate thing in the back be closed?

Preston: Nonsense. It's supposed to stay open, for ventilation.

Chanel looks skeptical, but she and Lucy get in the truck. With Preston, it makes for a very tight squeeze.

Lucy: For such a big truck, there's not very much room, is there?

Preston: Chanel, if you hadn't packed all that useless stuff, we'd be able to put Lucy in the back.

Chanel: Oh yes, all those luxuries like food and clothing.

Preston: Exactly.

He puts the truck into reverse and tries to back out of the driveway. Nothing happens. He tries again. Nothing.

Preston: Now, what the . . .

He opens the door and starts to get out.

Chanel: Darling, it might help if you actually started the car first.

Preston: What was that, dear?

Chanel: I said, it might help if you started the car first.

Preston gets back in.

Preston: Sure, I knew that. And it's not a car, it's a truck.

Chanel: Whatever you say, Preston.

Preston is puzzled at Chanel's cold tone, but starts the car--er, truck, and backs out of the driveway. As they begin driving, boxes fall out into the street through the open tailgate. None of them seem to notice. As they continue driving, we see that the only boxes left in the truck are marked "Preston's Den."

Preston: Come on, girls, why the long faces? This is no way to start our new life.

Chanel and Lucy ignore him.

Preston: Oh, she'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes . . .

Lucy bursts into tears.

Preston: My singing's not that bad, is it?

Lucy: Oh, Daddy, I want to go home!

Preston: But we are going home, darling. Only 2,000 miles to go!

At that, Chanel begins sobbing quietly. Preston is clearly disturbed, but isn't sure what to do.

Preston: It's going to be a long 2,000 miles.

Staring straight ahead, he shrugs and begins singing again.

Preston: I can't give you anything but love, baby . . .

Chapter Five
-- by Amelia Klock --

The road leading up to the Suits' new home: a ramshackle old ranch. Preston Suits stops his car in front of the ranch, talking in a loud voice to Chanel Suits, who is asleep in the passenger seat. Lucy is asleep as well.

Preston: ... And I saw the picture, and I suddenly knew what life was meant to be! No more advertising for Johnson's Jam, no more long days at the office, no more rainy nights in a crowded apartment! This will be the life! We'll dance through the fields and catch butterflies in the mid-morning sun! (Dramatically, as if reciting from some long-forgotten poem:) The sun filtered through the trees on the forest animals...

He trails off as thunder rumbles and a drop of rain falls, making Chanel stir. She sighs with exhaustion, and half-awareness.

Chanel (in a sleepy voice): Go back to bed, dear. It's too early to be up.

Preston (grandly): This is no time to sleep! My dear, we’re home!

Chanel (sitting up and shaking her head): Well, of course we're at home! Where else would we be? In the middle of the country? (She looks around her.) In the middle of the country. I forgot.

Preston: Lucy! Wake up! We’ve reached our new home!

Chanel (tapping her husband on the shoulder to get his attention): Preston, I've been meaning to ask you: where is Lucy to go to school?

Preston spreads his arms wide - as if to encompass the entire property and the wealth of resources offered therein.

Preston (grandly): Who needs school? All the education one needs is right here! The fantastic air, the sparkling climate, the sunshine reflecting on the dew...

The rain falls in torrents, and the decrepit rooftop of the old house drip waves of water.

Chanel: You were saying, dear?

The rain is now falling hard and fast, drenching all three of them thoroughly, and also waking Lucy thoroughly. She looks around her, and spots the house.

Lucy: Daddy, is that our new house?

Preston: Yes, darling, isn't it wonderful?

Lucy: It's the kind of house that I've always wanted! Like out of a book.

Preston (smiling): I think the expression is "like out of a fairy tale."

Lucy (pretending not to hear him): You know, with an old house, beyond repair. Falling to "wrack and ruin". And then, through some miraculous magic, it is restored to life. From it's devastated and decaying state.

Preston grimaces.

Preston (hurriedly): Yes of course. Let's go see the house, shall we?

Chanel is staring at the house and grounds in shock. She brushes her red hair off her forehead for a better look. A dismayed look takes over her face as she glances toward the coral to the side of the house.

Chanel: Dear, what did you plan to do with the cows?

Chapter Six
-- by Debbie Dunlap --

"The cows?" exclaims Preston. He cocks his head in the direction of the barn, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the pouring rain.

"Cows, Preston. Those lovely creatures who provide you cream for your coffee every morning. Cows, Preston. Large, swollen, smelly creatures that have no better sense than to stand in the rain staring at us. Can we PLEASE get out of this pouring rain!"

"But darling! This is fresh, country rain! Rejuvenates the skin!" Preston presents his face to the sky for a liberal dose.

Chanel narrows her eyes, marches to the front porch of the house, turns and looks to Preston with exasperated expectancy. "Are you going to let us into this ..." She looks from one end of the porch to another and sighs heavily. "Only Noah could provide enough country rain to rejuvenate this place."

"Noah?" Preston asks as he reaches the porch and gallantly opens the unlocked door. "No need for keys in the country! Everybody's honest, everybody's neighborly."

He throws the door open wide, stands aside, spreads his arms wide and announces, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

Chanel takes a cautious step across the threshold and peers into the gloom. Something small scurries across the floor in front of her. She shrieks and jumps backward, nearly toppling Lucinda down the stairs.

Preston grabs Lucinda with one hand and steadies Chanel with the other. "What's wrong?" he demands and looks toward the doorway.

"Just one of the friendly neighbors," Chanel glares.

Preston rushes to the door as if expecting visitors.

"Preston, this is insane. There was a nice motel about 30 miles back. It's nearly dark. We're soaked to the skin, Lucy's teeth are chattering and we haven't eaten for hours. We'll face all this ..." she waves her hand toward the house, "this country hospitality in the morning."

She grabs Lucinda's hand and begins pulling her toward the truck.

"Now Chanel," he gropes about on the wall inside the front door, "as soon as we find the lights, we'll get ..."

Preston stops speaking when he notices a large black pickup truck pulling in behind theirs.

A tall man in a cowboy hat climbs out. The tall man stops to speak quietly with Chanel as she and Lucinda scramble, unladylike, into the cab.

Preston stops groping for the light switch. He watches with curiosity as the stranger helps first Lucy, then Chanel into the truck and then gently closes the door. Preston raises an eyebrow as he notices Chanel roll down the window and then as the cowboy's head leans in. Chanel laughs.

"Act like they know each other," Preston mutters.

Chanel reaches up to push back a soaked strand of hair. An act of femininity, not an act of vanity. It's one of those intimate gestures that those long married recognize in the one they love. Preston recognizes the gesture well. He jams his hands in his pants pockets. "Act like they know each other well!" he mumbles.

Chanel's laugh & Lucy's voice tinkle in Preston's ears. "Well, I think I'll just see who this jack-o-napes is!" Preston yanks his hands from his pockets and takes determined steps down the porch stairs and toward the truck. At the same time, the tall stranger has tipped his hat to Chanel and has turned to approach the house. He and Preston meet halfway.

The stranger's smile is wide, his blue eyes welcoming, and his hand is outstretched, inviting a handshake a yard before the two actually meet.

"Mr. Suits! Is great ya made it here in one piece." The stranger's handshake is viselike, yet warm, radiating genuineness and sincerity. Preston looks at his own hand as the stranger withdraws his.

Preston looks into the stranger's face, trying to decipher the strange drawl and the fact that the man talks as if they're the oldest of friends.

"...and your missus thought it was a fine idea. Of course, that youngun is so tuckered out ah don't think she'd even argue with a stampedin' bull. Whadya say?"

"Have we met before?" Preston asks, then looks up at the sky, noticing that the rain has finally ceased.

"Tex. Tex Arkana. Ah'm sorry. Forgot to introduce mahself. Just felt like ah knew ya after all our correspondence."

"Tex!" Preston’s face lights up. He grabs Tex's hand and pumps vigorously. "Come on inside!" Preston gestures eagerly toward the house.

"Naw. Ya'll aren’t set in yet. I was just tellin' your missus that Ella's got the house all red-up for ya'll. Great food and the beds turned out. Ah new ya'll'd be worn out, travelin' all that way. Ah'd hoped to get here before ya and spruce up the place. But the roundup took a coupla days longer than usual. Rattler spooked the lead. Ya know how it is. Took us a while to gather up the strays."

Preston nods in sage agreement, not understanding a word Tex just said. Except the food part. Preston understood the food part. "Yes, I think that would be fine."

"Well, let's get along then. Ella will be waitin' on us. You can follow me to the main house." Tex heads toward his truck, tipping his hat to the ladies on the way.

Preston glances at the house and decides there isn't anything to close up. He tucks his hands into his pockets and begins to whistle "Home on the Range," his steps lively and cheerful toward the truck.

Lucinda and Chanel are engaged in animated discussion as Preston climbs into the cab.

"Daddy! Tex is going to teach me how to ride a horse! Can I start tomorrow morning?"

"That sounds fine, Luce! You'll be a cowgirl in not time at all. See Chanel, Lucy sees the potential to expand her horizons, broaden her scope, refresh her spirits." Preston's right hand alternates between sweeping gestures and shifting gears as he follows Tex down a teeth jarring gravel road.

"Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam ..." Preston bellows. His voice is staccato as the truck bounces down the road.

"Daddy, Tex says we can see a real rodeo!"

"Grand idea! Where the deer and the antelope ..."

"Tex says he'll teach me how to throw a lasso!"

"A handy thing to learn. ... play. Where seldom is ..."

"Tex says I can rope a calf when I get good enough!"

Preston stops singing and looks down at his daughter.

"And Tex says I can get a cowboy hat just like his!"

Preston's eyebrows draw into a V. He looks over Lucinda's head at Chanel to gauge her reaction to their daughter's enthusiasm.

Chanel isn't paying any attention whatsoever to her daughter's ramblings. Her eyes are focused on the truck in front of them, a bemused look on her face.

"Chanel?" Preston asks.

"Darling?" he tries again.

"Chanel!" he says sharply.

Startled, Chanel looks up at Preston, "Yes, dear?"

"What on earth did Tex say to get Lucy so excited? She's talking about horses, and rodeos and roping calves."

"And Tex says I can watch the brandin'!" Lucy exclaims.

"That's branding dear," Chanel corrects. "Yes Preston, he did mention showing Lucy about. And he said the strangest thing. Do you know what Tex said?" Chanel's eyes get a dreamy look; she smiles a small smile.

"At this point it would be safer to ask what Tex didn't say!" Preston retorts. He winces as the truck hits a deep rut and his head hits the roof of the truck.

"Tex said ..." Chanel unconsciously pushes back a limp strand of damp hair.

Again, the gesture is not lost on Preston. He thinks to himself, "For a man who speaks so slow, he sure does say a lot!"

"Tex said my eyes look like a newborn foal's. All soft and warm, moist and brown." Chanel sighs. "Wasn't that just so sweet of him. Here I am looking like a drowned kitten and he says something like that. What a dear man, trying to cheer me up like that."

"'Tex said'," Preston grinds his teeth. Maybe this guy isn't all he's cracked up to be. "Perhaps my first impression was right," he thinks. "Maybe this guy is notorious ladies man in these parts. Maybe that friendly handshake was just to throw me off his trail." He looks over at Chanel. "Foal's eyes my Aunt Fanny!"

"And Daddy! Tex said ..."

The scene fades with a long shot of the two trucks winding their way down a long drive. Beautiful countryside with a backdrop of majestic mountains in the distance, burnished with the glow of the setting sun. Far in the distance is a magnificent ranch house, windows aglow.

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