Dust Bowl – Chapter 9
The great Dust Bowl of the 1930′s strikes and Oklahoman Woody Loggins and his Mexican friend Pepe pack up shop and head West.
Chapter 9 – The Ballad of Woody Loggins: Part 1
(Woody Loggins is pacing the lawn of the Los Angeles County Asylum where he’s recently been institutionalized. A fellow patient joins him as he stares out at the valley below…)
John: Nice view.
John: So, what are you in for?
Woody: I had an…incident. You?
John: Oh, I’m not crazy. No offense.
Woody: None taken.
John: I’m a reporter for the Times. I talked my way into the asylum to see if I can squeeze a story out of this place.
Woody: (eyes light up) A newspaper reporter. Well, I got your story right here.
John: What’s that.
Woody: Sure, I’ve been on all sorts of crazy adventures. No offense.
John: None taken. Not a patient.
John: So tell me about this incident.
Woody: I attacked President Hoover’s chief of staff, because I thought he was an island cannibal.
Woody: None taken.
John: But I didn’t–
Woody: Yup, I’ve traveled all the way from Oklahoma since the Dust Bowl hit. Me and my friends have had some pretty wacky mishaps along the way. You could write about that.
John: (takes out notepad) Interesting. The Dust Bowl took your farm so you and your family pack up and head west for a new life in the land of milk and honey.
Woody: No family, really. Just my Mexican friend Pepe. And I’m lactose-intolerant.
John: Why do you have to qualify that your friend is Mexican.
Woody: Well it’s not like a racist thing. It’s just to help you better illustrate your story.
John: Right, my story. Let’s find a quiet place to work on that.
Woody: Can’t believe I’m gonna be in the papers! You know, for something other than assaulting the President’s chief of staff.
(Max Eisenberg has set up his new law office in Chinatown. There’s a knock at the door and his secretary, and Woody’s girlfriend Wen-Wen, answers to find an old Indian chief in full headdress, flanked by braves…)
Wen-Wen: Mr. Weinberg, is for you.
Max: (annoyedly gets up from desk) It’s Eisenberg, Wen-Wen. Your crazy boyfriend just told you it’s “Whineberg” to mess with me.
Wen-Wen: Yes, Mr. Weinberg.
Max: (sighs) Can I help yo–oh.
Chief Panther Swipe: (smiling) Hello, white man. Remember me?
Max: Chief Panther Swipe, what a…pleasant surprise.
Chief: Yes, I’m sure it is. May I?
Max: Please, come in.
(The chief and braves sit down at Max’s desk…)
Chief: We lost you along the trail weeks ago. It’s good to see you have recovered from your “Dust Bowl Fever”.
Max: (sniffs, pushes prescription cocaine into open drawer) Yup. All better.
Chief: But there is still the matter of our agreement.
Max: Our, um, agreement?
Chief: You promised if we escorted you and your caravan to California, you’d get us roles in every Western produced here, making us rich beyond our wildest dreams.
Max: Well I mean, Chief. Once we were separated, we kinda made it here on our own. Our agreement is null and void, in my legal opinion.
(One of the braves begins sharpening his tomahawk blade and Max audibly gulps…)
Max: You know what? I’ll see what I can do.
(Poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel, FDR wheels his chair over to the bungalow where President Hoover and his chief of staff Reginald Thorngood are relaxing…)
Hoover: (grins) Governor Roosevelt, what a pleasant surprise. Come for some campaign pointers?
Roosevelt: Actually I’m here to ask you to concede.
(Hoover and Thorngood laugh…)
Hoover: You know what? I think I’m good.
Roosevelt: Actually I don’t think you are, Herbert.
Thorngood: (stands up) That’s Mr. President to you, Frank.
Hoover: (holds an arm up) Easy, Reg. What are you on about, Governor?
Roosevelt: The jig is up, Mr. President.
(FDR holds up the polio syringe that fell out of Thorngood’s pocket when Woody attacked him and both men’s faces go white…)
Hoover: (voice cracks) Uh…you want a mimosa?
(Back at the Los Angeles County Asylum, in an empty library…)
John: So you’re fresh out of prison. You return to your family farm only to see the government has confiscated the land. Preacher Casey leads you to your neighbors’ where your family is staying. You decide then and there to lead them west to start a new life. You bury your grandfather on the family farm and then pack your truck and head west.
Woody: (frowns) That’s not even close to what I just told you. Were you even–
John: (slaps notebook shut) This is great. I gotta make a call.
(The reporter hustles off and Woody drums his fingers on the long oak table…)
Woody: Well, as long as he gets my name right at least…
(Out in the hallway, John is on the line with the editor of the Los Angeles Times…)
John: Mitch, it’s John. John Steinbeck. (grins) I think we’ve got a story here.
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