Edendale, Chapter 13

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December 1, 2011 · Posted in Edendale by Phyl M. Noir 

Malcolm Lowry, author of "Under The Volcano," was in Curaco about the time that Ronald and Marnix were there. Did the great author's close proximity to the young Ronald set him on his inevitable path under the volcano growing up in the Silverlake Hills?


THIRSTY PARADISE

By Phyl M. Noir


EDITOR: This chapter is written as a script because, well, it just seemed like a great movie. 

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE IN THE NETHERLANDS: DAY

A picture window in the living room reveals a descending garden, and the garden contains the bare branches of mature trees, bare rose bushes and perennial plants.  There is snow on the ground.   Only sky is seen above the trees.  The sky is gray with clouds.

The interior’s design is Bauhaus but some of the furniture and the oil paintings were created in earlier centuries.    There is a large painting in a carved gold frame of a blond woman wearing eighteenth century clothing, a large cupboard elaborately carved with vines, birds and mice, tables with feet shaped like lions’ claws, and a Balinese trunk made of dark wood.

CUT TO:

INT. STUDY – DAY

Music comes from a Grundig radio in a mahogany case: Schubert’s Der Wanderer.    There is the sound of someone typing on a manual typewriter in the study. The titles of the books in the study are in Dutch, German, French and Spanish.

A stout woman sits at a desk in front of another picture window.  This window also looks into the descending garden and out at the gray sky.

She wears a gray dress cut in the style of the early1940s and made of good thin wool with embroidered lapels, embroidered border down the front, and buttons covered with the same fabric as the dress.  Her hair is Marcel-waved, dark brown streaked with gray.  Her face is aristocratic – commanding.    She has stubborn and self-satisfied eyes.   She wears small diamond earrings.   Her dress is hiked up over her knees, and her legs splay.  Her stockings are held up by elastic bands circling her thighs.  This is Oma.

She smokes Marlboro cigarettes without apparent pause.    The ashes fall from the end of her cigarette and into the well under the mechanical keys.    She squints against the smoke and continues to type.

 

CUT TO:

 

FIRST MALE –RONALD (V.0.).

It started with Oma.

SECOND MALE — MARNIX (V.O.)

What did?

RONALD (V.O.)

Everything.

CUT TO:

We see the inside of a house in Los Angeles near Silver Lake Boulevard and Sunset.   Windows overlook Los Angeles.  Helicopters pass in the area of sky in front of the hill facing this house.

There is a Balinese trunk, furniture with feet carved into lions’ paws and a cupboard with mice and birds carved into it inside the house.   An oil painting of a blond woman hangs on a wall.

Two elderly men sit on the balcony.   They slowly stir cups of coffee with heavy old fashioned spoons and then drink.

CUT TO:

The outside of the first house:  A farm is across the narrow road, and there are cows in the pasture of the farm.    A German soldier hammers a notice on a tree.    It reads  “Bevel.”

“By order of the German Army, all men aged 17 to 50 must register for digging duties. Therefore all men of these ages must without further call immediately go stand in the street.

“Must bring along:  warm clothing, sturdy shoes, blankets, foodstuff, knife, fork and spoon.

“Bicycles remain in the possession of the owner.

“The daily compensation consists of good food, smokes and five guilders.

“Leaving the community is forbidden for all occupants.

“During attempts to flee there will be shooting.”

Other soldiers join him. They go to the front door of the house and bang on it.

CUT TO:

 

A thin young blond man takes a shower in the first house, in the 1940s.   He is Young Pa.   A woman servant runs up the stairs towards the bathroom.   Banging on the door downstairs continues.    She opens the bathroom door.

WOMAN SERVANT

The Germans are here for you!

She looks around the room frantically for clothes to give him but all she finds in her nervousness is a hat on a peg in the bathroom.   She hands him the hat.     He puts on the hat and runs into another room and the stout woman lifts a rug and pulls a plank from the floor.    The young man slides beneath the plank and his mother replaces the plank and the rug and puts a large chair over the place he hides.

CUT TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM IN THE COUNTRY HOUSE – DAY

The man’s wife (Young Ma) opens the front door.    She is also thin like her husband but her hair is dark.   She has narrow blue eyes and wears eyeglasses.   She is vain about her nearsightedness and removes her eyeglasses and puts them in the pocket of her dress.  She faces the soldiers.

FIRST SOLDIER

Is there a man in this house?

YOUNG MA

No.  There are only my little boys, the baby, my mother-in-law and the maid. My father-in-law is over fifty and he has left us.

FIRST SOLDIER

We will search the house.

Young Ma steps back.  The soldiers thunder up the stairs.  She turns and speaks.

YOUNG MA

My mother-in-law will be angry with you!

FIRST SOLDIER

We will not disturb the household unduly.

YOUNG MA

She is Jo van Ammers-Kuller!  The Fuhrer himself presented her with an Iron Cross for literary achievement.

You would not want to make her angry!

The soldiers have never heard of the young woman’s mother-in-law.   Their faces show no interest in what the young woman says to them.

CUT TO:

INT. DAY. HOUSE

Upstairs, the soldiers look in the closets and the bathrooms.    The stout blonde sits on a chair placed over the place where her son sits, frowning as fiercely as a gargoyle and smoking Marlboros.   She sits with her arms over her large bosom.  Her body is stiff because she wears a corset that ties with laces on the sides.    The second soldier kneels in order to look under a bed.   When he turns his head he realizes he sees up older woman’s dress.  He becomes embarrassed and herds the other soldiers out of the room.  The older woman snorts between drags on her Marlboro.

CUT TO:

INT. DAY – NURSERY

A little boy with narrow hazel eyes and dark blond hair and a very small white-blond boy play on the floor with a wooden train.    A baby girl sleeps in a crib.  The older boy is Ronald and the younger is Marnix.  The baby is Claudette.

One of the soldiers bends over the crib and gently strokes the side of Claudette’s face.     The second soldier bends to talk to the boys.

SECOND SOLDIER

Good morning young sirs.  Could you please tell me if there are any grown-up men living in this house with you?

YOUNG RONALD

There is Grandpap.   I don’t think he’s here anymore.

The second soldier runs a hand through the little boy’s hair.    He gets up and walks out of the nursery.   In the hallway they meet the young woman and walk down the stairs with her.

SECOND SOLDIER

It is so cold in this house.

YOUNG MA

There is no more coal.  You know that.

SECOND SOLDIER

Yes I know.   My children are also cold.

YOUNG MA  (Not smiling)

Children are a blessing.

The soldiers finally leave and everyone runs to the room where young Pap is hiding.    Oma pushes away the chair, throws the rug from its place and pulls at the plank with all of her strength.  She curses loudly when she drops it.   Young Ma and the maid run to help her.  At last, they remove the wood and haul the unconscious naked young Pap from his hiding place.    He still wears the hat.   The little boy looks at young Pap and speaks to him.

RONALD

Oh, Grandpap.  You must get better!

 

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE – EVENING

Women and men in formal dinner clothes from the 1940s sit at table in one of the dining rooms.   Two German army officers and their wives are also guests.    A male servant serves dishes of fresh strawberries.  The small boys hide beneath one of the tables to watch the adults.

OLD MARMIX (V.O)

Oma was seen as a Nazi sympathizer.

The grandmother stands at the head of the table and lifts her glass.  The guests turn their heads in her direction.

OMA

(Glass held up in a toast)

To Germany!  To our long historic, personal and cultural attachment with Germany!

No one dissents.    Some of the faces, however, reflect extreme disapproval.     The dinner party continues.

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

Oma wrote a letter to the editor in which she said that we needed to give up, to succumb to the inevitable.

 

OLD MARNIX (V.O.)

Oma wrote popular romances called things like The Hummingbird and the Golden Nest.    She was not a profound thinker.

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

That was the end for Pap.   This is why we left Holland.

CUT TO:

INT. COURT ROOM – DAY

Oma testifies on the stand.   A judge glares down at her.  Oma looks grand, immune and formidable.   She glares back at the judge.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HOME – NIGHT (PRESENT TIME)

Silhouettes of old Marnix and old Ronald watching a home movie on a computer screen.   The film is of young Ma and her three children on the deck of a ship.  They wave at the camera.

MALE (V.O.)

We had to leave.  Ma and Pap couldn’t stay

in Holland after the trial.  They

had no idea our move to Curacao would

precipitate Oma’s second prosecution.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT.  STREET – DAY

We see the tropical island of Curacao off the coast of Venezuela.  The old buildings along the sea in the historic district show the well-known havel –  “gable” – false fronts.  Most of the people are descended from Africans.  Black women walk with huge burdens balanced on their heads.

World War II American Army barracks stand at a distance from the historic district.

The three small blond children run out of the house together, down to the bay.     A dog accompanies them.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY – WATERFRONT

A handful of dockworkers stand indolently smoking pipes.

The two van Ammers boys sit at the edge of a wall overlooking the harbor, kicking their legs.  Marnix is about four years old.   Ronald is about six.

YOUNG RONALD

You can fly, you know.

Young Marnix shakes his head.

 

YOUNG RONALD

No, really.  I know what I’m talking about.   Just stand up and hold your arms out.

Marnix gets to his feet and holds his arms out.

YOUNG RONALD

That’s it.  Now let go and push yourself out with your legs.   That’s it.

Marnix falls straight into the water and lies on the surface unconscious.

Ronald stands frozen in horror.   The dog jumps and down yipping.

Ronald runs towards the dockworkers.   He grabs the arm of one of them and points at his little brother.  The worker jumps into the water and rescues the unconscious child.

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

After you almost drowned we took swimming lessons.    We spent a lot of time in the water.   It was such warm water.    Polluted of course.   No one paid attention to sewage.  Everything went into the water not just you.

 

DISSOLVE TO

EXT. DAY – WATERFRONT

A montage of shots:  animal carcasses, large cans, newspapers all float in the water, a very fat African woman wearing a Japanese kimono is asleep on a tire inner tube.  Oil slicks shimmer the surface of the water in rainbow colors.

CUT TO:

The van Ammers children join up with the other children, most of them black children, and they flow down to the water together.   They speak papamientu. They steal wooden pallets from the docks and the children hammer cans between the planks.    They push the pallets into the water.   The makeshift boats float.  The children paddle with their hands.   From a distance, the children make confetti of skin colors swirling in an ocean of turquoise, green and cobalt.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY – THE FRONT PORCH OF A NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE IN CURACAO

A little girl jumps up and lands on her hands and walks on her hands to the house.   The van Ammers children follow her, also walking on their hands.   A woman opens the door to the house and invites the children inside.

 

WOMAN IN THE HOUSE

I am sorry to have to tell you this, children.   We’re going back to Holland and a new family is moving into our house.   I’m sure you will like them.   They have a little boy.   I hear he’s very nice.   Their name is Bejon.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY – THE SAME FRONT PORCH TWO MONTHS LATER

An obese hairy man with nasty eyes sits on a rocker on the front porch.  He wears baggy white underwear and smokes a cigar.   He farts loudly.

A fat little boy also with nasty eyes sits on the first step.  He throws rocks at a cat but the cat runs away in time.  The van Ammers children stare at them.

MR. BEJON

(Getting slowly to his feet)

Get the fuck away.   I don’t want no revolting children around here.

YOUNGER BEJON

(He lifts a stone to throw at the children)

You heard my pap.

The children jump on their hands and walk on them until they are out of sight.

CUT TO:

EXT. — WATERFRONT

Young Ronald fishes with a string.   He sits alone on one of the stolen pallets in the oil-slicked bay.   His freckles are as big as pennies.  He catches an ugly fish and paddles into shore with it.     His mother meets him at the edge of the water and politely thanks him for the fish and walks proudly with it shining on a string towards the barracks.   He passes the Bejon house.

Mr. Bejon smokes the end of a cigar.   He farts.   Ronald quickly walks past him.

MR. BEJON

That was a railroad fart.  Next come popcorn farts.

CUT TO:

INT.  NIGHT – INSIDE THE BARRACKS APARTMENT

Young Ma pretends she is cutting up the ugly fish for the night’s dinner.  Five-year old Ronald beams with self-satisfaction.    When her son turns away, Young Ma gathers the pieces of fish in a napkin and pushes them into the trash.

CUT TO:

INT. NIGHT — APARTMENT

Wind slams a window.   Curtains blow into the rooms from the wind. The brothers wake.   Their little sister screams.   She screams and screams.    Only the boys’ eyes can be distinctly seen in the shadows:  large innocent and curious eyes.

YOUNG RONALD

(Softly, telling his brother a story)

Once upon a time there was Mr. Bejon.   He was an ugly and fat man and he always wore his underwear.   His farts made his shorts billow around him.

One day, Mr. Bejon blew a fart so hard and so far he levitated above the porch and rose up high in the sky.   His ugly little boy threw stones at him and he fell plop to the ground and broke his nose.

CUT TO:

EXT. – We see the hot blue sky over Curacao.     Mr. Bejon is an inflated Mr. Bejon balloon floating over the harbor.  The face of the balloon shows a puzzled expression.

CUT TO:

INT: NIGHT — the barracks bedroom

Young Pap enters the room.   His face is haggard.  There are pouches under his eyes.

YOUNG PAP

Please be quiet.   Claudette is very sick.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY – BACK COUNTRY

The brothers run with the other children – again, the others are mostly black children — into the backcountry.  They climb a ladder to an abandoned water mill rung by rung.  They fight battles.

CUT TO:

EXT. NIGHT – NEIGHBORHOOD

Young Marnix and Ronald leave the barracks secretly and stealthily creeping along the ground like shadows.  They stand by their neighbor’s house under the windows listening to the neighbor wife moan.   They look at each other mouths open.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. DAY – OUTSIDE OF THE BARRACKS

Young Pap carries the blond little sister.  Her legs are paralyzed.   She cries from pain faintly as if she knows nothing can help.    He carries her down to the sea so she can watch the brilliant and improbable colors of the ocean near Curacao – turquoise, lavender, green.

CUT TO:

EXT. NIGHT – NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE BARRACKS

The neighborhood children all leave their houses secretly to go to see Camp Allegro.     One after the other under the starred sky they cartwheel downhill.

There is a red neon sign that says “Campo Allegro” and beneath it is a stylized triangle-and-stem shape of a martini glass.   Sailors and officers enter through the doors wearing crisp white uniforms.    Whores stand in front greeting them with silly military salutes.   The men put their arms around the women’s waists and go inside with them.   Benny Goodman music flows from the windows.    A woman laughs high and hard – hysteric or drunken laughter.

CUT TO:

INT. DAY – SCHOOL ROOM

The brothers are in school.    There are only a few other white children.     Ronald is speaking to another little boy, a black child who was not with the neighborhood children who went to see Camp Allegro.   They speak in Papamientu.

RONALD

I went to Camp Allegro last night and had a good time.

OTHER BOY

I went there, too.  Funny we didn’t come across each other.

RONALD

The whores are good to me.  I had sex with two of them.

OTHER BOY

Funny.  I had sex with three of them.

RONALD

I go there every night.  I have sex every night.

OTHER BOY

So do I.

The two boys face each other feigning boredom.

CUT TO:

INT.   HOUSE  — NIGHT

The little sister screams all night.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY – The harbor

Young Ronald stands on the dock.     He hooks a dead fish on a fishing line and gets into an inner tube and paddles out into the bay.    He throws the fish and line into the bay.    Underwater shot of his small body suspended in the water.    Sharks move through the water beneath him.     He paddles back to shore.

To his delight, a sand shark bites the dead fish.   The Bejon boy runs out and helps wrestle the shark to shore.   Mr. Bejon takes a photograph of them.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT.  HOUSE IN LOS ANGELES – PRESENT DAY

There is an old faded photo of a little boy gleefully holding up the sand shark.   The older boy is taking the greater part of the weight of the shark in his hands.

The photo is in a very old frame hung on the wall next to a desk with a computer on it.

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR BUNKER – NIGHT then

INTERIOR BUNKER

The young van Ammers brothers and the Bejon boy lie in an abandoned bunker with three young girls – two of them white, one black.     The boys hug and kiss the girls.

CUT TO:

Young Ronald and Young Marnix pass the house of the older boy.     He is bound to a tree with a rope.    His father hits the boy’s bare back with the lash of a leather belt.   The Bejon boy yells at the top of his lungs.   We hear….

MR. BEJON

Son of a bitch!   You goddamn perverted son of a bitch!

You will burn in hell!

 

CUT TO:

Young Marnix and Ronald look at each other from the sides of their eyes but say nothing.

CUT TO:

INT. BARRACKS APARTMENT – DAY

Young Ronald sits at a table writing on a long sheet of paper with a thick school pencil.    We read what he writes:

“We the below-signed petition our government as follows:

“A wonderful family once lived in the house now occupied by the Bejons.   They had a little girl and she was sweet natured and a good friend.

“The Bejons live in the house now.    They are disgusting people.

“We petition you to remove the repulsive Bejons and to return them to Holland.

“Signed respectfully, Citizens of Holland and residents of Curacao.”

YOUNG MA

(walking into the room carrying a tray with a cup of tea)

You are doing your schoolwork.   That’s good to see, Ronald.

INT. BARRACKS APARTMENT – NIGHT

Young Ma and young Pap sit on a couch downstairs.  Young Ma wears a beautiful dressing gown, red, with dragons embroidered on it.  The boys sit in darkness at the top of the stairs.

YOUNG PAP

We have to take Claudette to Holland.  The doctor here isn’t good enough.  We must leave tomorrow!

YOUNG MA

And the boys?

YOUNG PAP

We’ll take Marnix.  He’s too young to take care of himself.  Ronald can take care of himself.  He’ll be nine years old soon.

Ronald and Marnix turn their faces towards each other.  Ronald mashes Marnix’s nose with his fist.

CUT TO:

INTERIOR OF ANOTHER BARRACKS APARTMENT – DAY

There is a dressing table with a frilly skirt and a bench in front of it.  A mirror hangs on the wall behind the dressing table.

 

A beautiful woman sits at the bench, looking at her own reflection in the mirror and brushing her long black hair with an old-fashioned silver backed brush.  Young Ronald stands behind her.

He gently takes the brush from her and begins to brush the woman’s hair in long strokes.   The woman closes her eyes.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

You come here whenever you want Ronald.  Your parents

want me to watch over you.  You will eat your meals with us.

Ronald’s face lights with joy.

EXT. PORCH – EARLY MORNING

Young Ronald sits in the orange dawn light, his arm around his dog, thinking.   The dog looks earnestly out at the harbor.

OLD MARNIX (V.O.)

What were you thinking about?

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

I was thinking about what was to come to me.  I wondered if I was going to be a man of action or a man of thought when I grew up.

 

OLD MARNIX (V.O.)

What did you decide?

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

A man of action.

We see Young Ronald walk down to the harbor, and the dog follows him.  A large barge, weighted with coal, is tied to the dock with heavy ropes tied around a large metal spool.    Young Ronald unties the ropes.  The barge slowly moves out of the harbor.

The boy watches the barge grow smaller.    He walks rapidly up the hill towards the barracks apartments.   He performs one cartwheel and then continues.

CUT TO:

INT.  NEIGHBOR’S APARTMENT

A large window looks out at the harbor.    The beautiful woman stands in front of the window talking with the older brother.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

You seem agitated, Ronald.    Is

something the matter?

 

The barge appears in the seascape seen through the window.   The barge continues to move out to sea.   Men on the dock jump up and down, arms waving.

YOUNG RONALD

Nothing.   Everything’s fine.

EXT. DOCK – DAY

A plank leads from the dock to a large ship.

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

I know what madness smells like.  It smells like

cotton, straw and sweat.  It starts with the queen’s birthday.

OLD MARNIX (V.O.)

Peculiar associations.

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

Not really.

CUT TO:  EXTERIOR SHOT OF THE HARBOR IN CURACAO

A man yells that they are bringing out a crazy man.  Young Ronald runs with all the other children to see the crazy man.  There are bales of cotton and packing straw on the dock.  Ronald turns his head towards the bundles for a moment, and his face shows his interest in what is happening around him.

 

The adults in the crowd sweat profusely.  There are banners up and flowers standing in buckets in many places.   The banners, simultaneously translated from Dutch to English, wish the queen a happy birthday.

Two police officers in summer whites emerge from the ship. They hold between them an ordinary looking man wearing eyeglasses.  He fights them and they hold him up in the air as his legs churn furiously.  We now see….

the children’s faces.

CUT TO:

INT. BARRACKS APARTMENT – NIGHT

Young Ronald walks around his family apartment, going from room to room.   He goes into his parents’ room and then into his mother’s closet.    He brings the fabric of her dresses to his nose.   He removes his mother’s gown with the embroidered dragons from its hanger and puts it on.  He wears his mother’s high heels and walks around the house.

CUT TO:

INT.  BARRACK’S APARTMENT – DAY

Young Ronald makes a bow and arrows from building materials on the dock.

He goes back to his house and shoots arrow after arrow into the face of the 18th century lady in the oil painting (the one in his grandmother’s house in Holland in the first scenes).

CUT TO:

EXT  – NIGHT

Dressed in a good suit young Ronald walks around the refinery and then to the historic district.  The whores at the door of Campo Allegro call him over and give him a cigarette and light it for him.   He inhales like a practiced smoker and he does not cough.

CUT TO:

INT. THE NEIGHBOR’S APARTMENT – DAY

Young Ronald wears his usual clothes: torn shorts and no shirt and bare feet.  He sits in his neighbors’ dining room.    The beautiful woman watches him to make sure he eats.    She looks at him with concern.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

I see you sitting with your dog watching the sunrise.   Are you all right?

YOUNG RONALD

I am only thinking.   Sometimes I think I would like to be in Holland again.  I used to ice skate.

On the other hand, here I can swim all day if I want.  The water is as warm as a bath.   This is all.   You need not worry about me.

THE NEIGHBOR’S APARTMENT

The woman, however, continues to look worried.    She is suspicious,

CUT TO:

INT.  VAN AMMERS APARTMENT – NIGHT

Young Ronald walks around his family’s apartment.   The curtains are open to let in the night air and moonlight.    He wears his mother’s dragon gown and her high-heeled house slippers.    There’s a knock at the front door.    He ignores it.    The person knocks louder.    He continues to ignore the knocking.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

Ronald!   Your parents asked us to watch you, and we don’t know what you’re doing!

YOUNG RONALD

I’m asleep.   You wakened me.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

No, that’s not true.    We hear you walking around.     We have a key and we’re opening the door.

VAN AMMERS APARTMENT

We hear the sound of a key in the lock and someone trying to open the door.

Ronald looks around him for a way to escape the neighbors.   There is none.    He sits down on a chair, crosses his legs and lights a cigarette and blows a circle of smoke by the time the neighbors get the door open.

The beautiful woman and her husband stand looking at the child in the moonlight.

BEAUTIFUL WOMAN’S HUSBAND

We will telegraph your parents.    This is too much.

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT – THE BROTHERS’ ROOM – NIGHT

Young Pap comes into his sons’ room in the barracks apartment.   He is crying.

YOUNG PAP

Claudette is all right now.  She is no longer in pain.

YOUNG MARNIX

Do you mean she’s dead?  Did she die?

Young Pap takes his sons in his arms briefly and then leaves the room.

YOUNG MARNIX

What is dead?

YOUNG RONALD

Dead is like this.

Ronald falls over and lies motionless on the floor.   Marnix falls over and lies motionless on the floor.  The wind blows the curtains open.  There is a path of moonlight down the middle of the bay.  The man in the moon peers through the window.

CUT TO:

EXT. BARRACKS – DAY

Oma, dressed very warmly for the hot climate, lumbers towards the barracks.    Her carefully styled hair is flat and sweaty.  Her lipstick has run over the edges of her lips.   Her stockings have come loose from their elastic band moorings and are slowly falling down over her legs.    She hoists her stockings in irritation.

The van Ammers brothers run out to her.    She takes them by their hands and walks down towards the water, where there is an ice cream store.     She buys them ice cream cones.

YOUNG RONALD AND YOUNG MARNIX

(Speaking at the same time)

Thank you, Oma.

 

She moves her head back on her neck so all three chins show at once.    She beams at them.

OMA

Now, aren’t you the spoiled ones!

She toils back to the apartment with them and sits down heavily once she gets inside.    Young Ma brings her tea.

OMA

This climate makes me parched!

The brothers sit politely and listen.

YOUNG MA

You could have resisted for a few more months.  You didn’t have to do this to us.  We had a life here, and now everyone knows and we’re ruined again.  Now we’ll have to find another country.

OMA

Do you think I wrote Thirsty Paradise?

YOUNG MA

I know you wrote it.   It contains a description of Marnix.   It contains all the experiences I wrote you about. You are a stubborn and selfish human being.  You had only to wait another year before the ban was lifted but no, you couldn’t resist, you had to be published.  All of you Kellers arestubborn.  Mules.

OMA

You will be asked to testify as to what I say, and I know you, you will tell the truth.   So I tell you I did not write the book. I did not violate the judgment against me.  An English woman arrived at my door.  She admired my writing and asked me to help her edit her book on Curacao.  I made a few little stylistic changes.  I may have shown her your letters.    Yes, now that I think about it, that’s what happened.

YOUNG MA

No one is so stupid as to believe such a thing.

OMA

I don’t know about that.   People are pretty stupid.

Do you know they won’t let me go to England?   They think I’m going to England and sending letters and pretending I’m the English woman.

 

YOUNG MA

Ridiculous.

OMA

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?   I have so many good friends in London.  They are such pleasant people.

CUT TO:

INT – COURT ROOM  – DAY

A second trial, this one in Curacao. A black magistrate stares malevolently at Oma.    Oma stares malevolently back at him in an echo of her first trial.

GOVERNMENT PROSEUCTOR

(in a cruel and harsh voice)

You were tried and convicted of collaboration.    If it had not come out that you had helped a number of Jews to escape Holland to England, you would be in prison at this moment.

OMA

(in a condescending voice)

Hitler was wronged.   He had bad advisors. He went too far.  I don’t like the Germans killing Jews but he could

not have known.

 

GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR

 (attempting to stare down Oma but that is impossible.  )

Your wrong headedness, Madam, remains astonishing.

He turns away from her and addresses the wall.    Electric ceiling fans churn the air.  The sea shows through the courtroom windows: vivid blues.

GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR

You were prohibited from publishing anything for a period of seven years.

OMA

I appealed the decision.

GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR

You lost, so let us continue with this trial, Madam.

Last year your publisher sent out copies of a book called Thirsty Paradise, a book about this island.

OMA

I was told this happened, yes.

GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR

(He bellows)

YOU WROTE THAT BOOK!

OMA

(She also bellows)

NO.   I DIDN’T!

The prosecutor sits down.    He has no proof and had hoped she would confess.   She didn’t confess.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY – OUTSIDE OF MR. BEJON’S HOUSE

Mr. Bejon sits on his rocker, looking out at the water and smoking his cigar.    He is still in his underwear.    His son sees Ronald walking by the house and picks up a stone from the yard and throws it at him.  He misses.

YOUNG RONALD

Why did you do that, disgusting boy?   You make me vomit.

BEJON BOY

The children of Nazis are Nazis and the grandchildren of Nazis are Nazis.    You and your family were collaborators!  Your little sister died because you are all so evil!  My Daddy says so!

Ronald’s flat freckled little face takes on a look of murderous intent.   He walks swiftly over to the Bejon child and pushes him to the ground and kneels on his chest and pushes his fist into the little Bejon’s nose and squishes it around and around.

 

MR. BEJON

Hey!  You leave my boy alone you Fascist pig!

Ronald remains kneeling on the Bejon boy’s chest.   Neither boy moves.

I’m going to get you now!”

Mr. Bejon rises ponderously to his feet.

Ronald finally realizes his predicament and jumps up.    He sees the buffalo-sized man lowering his head and hears him snort.   Ronald runs through the town.    He runs through the harbor.   We hear snorting and heavy running footsteps.

Ronald runs up the path to his family’s house and runs in the door past Marnix, who gets to his feet.    He runs out the back door.

Mr. Bejon arrives.   His chest heaves from exhaustion.

MR. BEJON

Where is he?  I’m going to kill him.  I can smell him.  He was here.

Young Marnix shakes his head.

Mr. Bejon runs through the house checking all the rooms.    He slows and walks into the backyard and looks around.    He looks up into the branches of a tree in the backyard.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY. — The roof of the barracks

We see the top of Mr. Bejon’s head below the roof.    We see his face as he turns it upwards to look into the tree.

Ronald lies as flat as he can lie on the barracks roof.

CUT TO:

INT. HOUSE IN LOS ANGELES IN THE HOUSE THAT OVERLOOKS EDENDALE

Two jet planes cross the sky.  We hear the sound of helicopters and sirens.

OLD RONALD (V.O)

  So we moved to this house in 1953.

OLD MARNIX  (V.O.)

No, we rented a house first, down on Heliotrope near Los Angeles City College.

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

Those times seem like paradise.  We had soft vanilla ice cream cones dipped in chocolate bath.

OLD MARNIX  (V.O.)

Being young is living in paradise.

 

OLD RONALD (V.O.)

Right after the war, we still had very little and we were often hungry.    The island wasn’t divided by black and white but rather divided by class.   There were hungry black children.  I passed them when we first arrived, their little bellies distended from malnutrition.    Things got better over time but the paradise was both real and a lie.  Oma’s title wasn’t good.

OLD MARNIX (V.O.)

We had an American life here.   We were like everyone else, and our friends laughed because we had the Nazi grandmother.  We grew up.  Ma and Pop died within a month of each other.

CUT TO:

INT.   NURSING HOME LOS ANGELES – DAY

Old Ma’s face is ravaged from cancer.    Her sons help her from the car.    She breathes with difficulty, and they have to walk slowly.

They enter a room.   Pap is now old.    He breathes with the help of a machine.    His eyes are glazed.

 

The brothers, then in their forties, lift Old Ma so that she lies in bed with her husband.    Old Pap puts his arm around her.

CUT TO:

EXT – Curacao

The black and white children walk on their hands down the hill from the barracks towards the ocean, which glints like a diamond in the sunlight. They disappear when they pass under the lip of a hill.

END

 

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