Part 10: I Had a Dream There Were Clowns in My Cupcakes

A film by Jim Washburn

[Fade in: various exterior shots of the old chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano, in the otherworldly dusk. In this light, the place looks timeless. Medium shot: the old bells dripping with dew. Closeup: small immobile lizards clinging to the adobe walls, wearing tiny monks' frocks against the autumnal chill. Extreme closeup: one lizard cocks his head at the sound of approaching footfalls. Closeup: an enormous red shoe goes by on the gravel path followed by another huge shoe, then another, until six shoes in all have passed. While the camera remains on the now vacant bit of path and surrounding greenery, we hear voices.] WOOZY: It's so peaceful. It's a shame it has to be here. GLUG GLUG: You know, the Weekly said this is the most peaceful place in the county. SCHNAPPS: Look, boys, serenity's okay, but we've got a job to do. [Medium shot: the three clowns we've just heard are huddled against the cold in the garden outside the chapel. These aren'tCirque clowns; they're old-school greasepaint clowns who look as if, in life's parade, they've spent the whole time following an elephant's ass. Schnapps, the apparent leader, has unshaved stubble poking through his paint, and is an embittered romantic. They're all embittered romantics, with bulbous noses. Glug Glug looks both wilder and more wistful, while Woozy seems to be walking in a dream half the time. These are the members of Team Clown. Kids don't like them much, but they're crack assassins.] GLUG GLUG: I'm a little queasy about this. We've never killed anyone on hallowed ground before. SCHNAPPS: You'll be okay. Just drink some of that water on your way out. [The clowns step silently into the mission's functioning chapel, which, at this hour, looks like the set from a rock video, all mist and candles flickering on gold leaf. The walls seem to have a pale phosphorescence. The sound of chanting emanates from small wall-mounted speakers. The clowns slip into the nave at the side of the chapel hall, a pocket of color compared to the rest of the hall, lit by hundreds of candles in colored-glass holders. They peer around the corner to case the scene. At the far end of the hall, a man in saffron robes stands before the altar, facing away from them, in apparent contemplation.] GLUG GLUG: There he is. [They then notice an impediment to their task: a be-shawled woman is in the aisle on her knees, holding a large votive candle in each hand and, painfully, slowly, crawling the length of the chapel.] WOOZY: It that a penance? SCHNAPPS: Nah, I think she's trying to get in for the kids' price. GLUG GLUG: It's creepin' me out, whatever it is. [From a pocket in his clown suit, Glug Glug pulls out a laser gun, silently extends its tripod, and carefully adjusts its sights. Schnapps pulls out a machine gun. Woozy pulls out a Jew's harp and starts twanging in eerie accompaniment to the chanting, adding a building tension. The man stands at the altar. The crawling woman is not even halfway down the aisle, moving by inches. The clowns have looks of taut apprehension. The man gathers the folds of his robe, preparing to leave. The woman crawls on. Glug Glug's hand twitches on the laser's trigger. The man at the altar turns. He appears to be the Dalai Lama. The clowns look puzzled, but it is time to act. Woozy rips a speaker wire from the wall. The chanting stops abruptly. The woman turns her head to see the clowns. Schnapps motions her down with his gun.] SCHNAPPS: "Hey, lady! Try the dog paddle!" [She prostrates herself, as Glug Glug pulls the laser's trigger. Various closeups and long shots of the pulsing crimson beam bouncing off the gold leaf on the altar and similar other gilt surfaces in the chapel, forming a latticework of searing death in which the apparent Dalai Lama is caught. He lifts his arms as if in supplication, and the beams pierce both hands. Quick cut to the clowns, heads together.] GLUG GLUG, SCHNAPPS and WOOZY: Uh oh! [Cut back to the crucified-looking man as blood gushes from his palms. A final closeup of his left hand, as blood flows from it like . . . Dissolve to: closeup of boysenberry syrup being poured over a stack of designer French toast. Pull back to show the three clowns seated in the rustic patio of the nearby Ramos House CafĂ©. Their table is crowded with fancy breakfasts with very long names. Offsetting the robust meals are the clowns' downcast faces. They aren't even touching their forks. They look like they've just killed Christ.] WOOZY: Are we tragic clowns? SCHNAPPS: Whatever gave you that stupid idea? WOOZY: Well, we're not happy clowns, are we? . . . Are we? [Woozy's eyes widen as we dissolve to a flashback of the twitching blood-squirting hand.] GLUG GLUG [in voice-over, as the blood still squirts]: You know what I think? WOOZY: Huh? [He focuses on Glug Glug in the present.] GLUG GLUG: You know what I think? [He now has Woozy's attention, and squirts him full-on in the face with his trick plastic flower. It's like a hose has been turned on Woozy, and he's sopped in seconds. He picks up his plate of French toast, swirling with clotted cream and boysenberry syrup, and wallops Glug Glug with it. A food fight ensues, and before long, the clowns are their old merry selves. Fade out. Fade in: Team Clown Head quarters. The floor of the large room is obscured by colored balloons and exercise balls, through which our three clowns wade while practicing their martial-arts skills, a unique mix of Tae-Bo and patty-cake. Against one long wall of the room is a raised, carpeted area with couches, a chair and a desk laid out as if for a talk show, the only difference being a small round table in front of the couch with a red Cold War-era telephone on it. To the right of this raised area is a higher platform holding copper kettle drums and other percussion, presided over by a shirtless bronzed Sun God with metal sunrays ringing his head. He looks down impassively upon the clowns as they continue with their sport. Finally, exhausted, they slouch on the talk-show set.] SCHNAPPS: Hey, Fuji! [An Asian man in white pajamas wheels in a drink tray, as Woozy turns on a small TV on the desk. Closeup of a black-and-white TV screen showing a clean-cut Disney-type kid.] DISNEY-TYPE KID: In Native American folklore, the clown was the trickster, the weaver of illusion. Unlike a warrior, his power was jest, but with it he could shake apart reality like an earthquake. Because of this, the clown was regarded with fear and awe. [The TV screen cuts to another kid.] OTHER KID [repeating, with emphasis]: With fear and awe. [Cut to closeup of Glug Glug cleaning his filthy toenails with a corkscrew. The camera pulls back to show the other clowns in a state of alcoholic sprawl. Cut to the Sun God looking at his watch. The clowns are all jolted as the red phone rings. Schnapps lurches to pick up the receiver. Split screen with Schnapps on right, Mr. Kittyboy on the left. Mr. Kittyboy is a bearded, vaguely satanic man in a blue metal-flake jumpsuit.] MR. KITTYBOY: How are my boys today? SCHNAPPS: Some of the fellas were a little uncomfortable about the last hit. That guy looked kinda familiar. Wooz thought he'd seen him on a Wheaties box. You sure he was a bad egg? MR. KITTYBOY: Take my word for it, he was the worst sort of fellow. Now, listen: I have another one for you. You know the Shouting Guy? SCHNAPPS: You mean that annoying, intense, big-mouthed alterna-guy the Weekly uses on its covers and ads to show how in-your-face they are? MR. KITTYBOY: None other. He's your target. Now, I can't give you an exact whereabouts on him, only that he hangs out at the best places. Stake out the best eateries, shops and nightspots in the county, and you're bound to find him. Now get cracking! [Kittyboy tugs on his end of the phone cord, and on the other side of the split screen, Schnapps is pulled off his feet as the red phone is jerked out of his hands.] SCHNAPPS [flat on his back]: C'mon, boys! We've got work to do. [A montage of shots follows, showing the clowns enjoying machaca burritos at the Little Caboose in Ana heim; blackened calamari tacos at the Orange Taco Mesa; meatloaf at Memphis; banana mochas at the Gypsy Den; blubbering like babies outside the charred remains of Newport's Issay Restaurant(though there is a sign saying, "Reopening in 2001"); shopping for vinyl at Costa Mesa's Noise, Noise, Noise; stealing hubcaps and snapping antennas from cars in Disneyland's parking lot; listening to k.d. lang at the Sun Theater; etc. Finally, the scene-shifting stops, as the clowns pull up outside Linda's Doll Hutin their converted Wienermobile. They pile out and head into the crowded club for a little constitutional. Linda, in fine rockabilly dress, is working the bar. The camera remains on Woozy inside, while Glug Glug and Schnapps step out the door. Cut to emphatic, clean-cut kid on black-and-white TV.] DISNEY-TYPE KID: Clowns are strangely affected by music. [Chris Gaffney, coming onstage, accidentally beans Woozy in the head with the headstock of his guitar as he passes by. Woozy staggers and little tweeting birdies swirl around his head. Onstage, Gaffney begins singing. The song is Johnny Bush's "Pardon Me, I've Got Someone to Kill." The song continues at a distant volume as we cut to the Doll Hut exterior, where Schnapps stands in a valet uniform, with Glug Glug alongside. A white 1950s Cadillac approaches, the Shouting Guy at the wheel, his face a permanent rictus of shoutfulness. This guy is so cool that he's got Hank Williamsslouched over dead in the back seat.] SCHNAPPS: This is it. Get out of sight. [Glug Glug hurries into the shadows as the car pulls up to a halt. Schnapps opens the door for the Shouting Guy, who tosses his keys the short distance to Schnapps' waiting hand.] SHOUTING GUY: Don't mind the dead guy! He's famous! [As he walks toward the Doll Hut entrance, a thought balloon appears above his head, reading, "Strange, I don't remember this place having a valet." There is a screech of tires behind him. As he turns his head and a look of horror crosses his face, cut to point-of-view shot of the Cadillac charging at him in sped-up time, as Schnapps leans out the window, shouting.] SCHNAPPS: God damn you to hell! [The car grill fills the frame as there is a sickening crunch, like the sound of a pillowcase full of Otter Pops and fortune cookies being crushed. Schnapps backs the car off the deceased. Tire tracks lead up to where the body lies. Schnapps steps out and motions Glug Glug out of the shadows to aid him.] GLUG GLUG: What was all that about, that "God damn you to hell"? You don't even know the guy. SCHNAPPS: I just didn't want to seem cold-blooded about it. Help me move the body. [They lift the victim's mangled, bleeding body and put it in the driver's seat.] GLUG GLUG: Why are we doing this? SCHNAPPS: This way the cops might think he ran himself over. [Glug Glug nods at the wisdom of this plan. Hank Williams is still dead in the back seat. In the background, Gaffney is launching into "Expressway to Your Heart." Cut to: the Doll Hut interior, as the music rises. Woozy is still staggering and looking stunned. A cat has perched on his head and is batting at the birdies—with some success. Glug Glug and Schnapps walk in the front door, covered in blood. The crowd moves apprehensively away from them, as a conjoined thought balloon forms above all their heads, reading, "I don't remember this place having a valet." The two belly up to the bar and start throwing back pints of Newcastle. Then, breathing fumes and blood-splattered, they start trying to pick up appalled-looking women.] GLUG GLUG: Girl, you must have magnets in your shoes because I'm so attracted to you. How'd you like to go loping through the ice plants with me? SCHNAPPS: Honey, I can nail you so hard you'll need a tetanus shot. [The cat on Woozy's head tries to mate with a rockabilly chick's beehive. The clowns are becoming so obnoxious that Linda is on the verge of interceding, even though that would mean revealing her secret identity as Whatta Woman, the Wonder Woman-like steam iron-wielding nemesis of the clowns. At just that moment, though, the famous corpse of Hank Williams enters, dragging one leg, mummy-like, and tries to wrest the microphone away from Gaffney, who responds with a series of deft kidney punches. All heck breaks loose as we fade out. Fade in: Team Clown Head quarters. The clowns are lying on the floor in a circle, playing spin the bottle, except in this instance, the bottle is full of whiskey, and as they spin it, the contents go sloshing over the floor and, some of it, into their open mouths. The doorbell rings. Before they can get up to answer it, OFFICER DOWN of the Orange Police Department enters.] OFFICER DOWN: You boys wouldn't know anything about the Shouting Guy murder would you? SCHNAPPS: We weren't there, and it wasn't us if we were. [Schnapps and Glug Glug are still covered in blood. On the wall behind the couch is anOC Weekly cover with the Shouting Guy on it, a putty knife embedded where his open mouth is. The cat on Woozy's head has a chunk of Hank Williams' scalp in her mouth.] OFFICER DOWN: One day I'm going to catch you clowns red-handed. GLUG GLUG [with a bottle of seltzer water hidden behind his back): How about a glass of bubbly, officer? [Suddenly, the policeman's belt radio begins squawking.] RADIO: OFFICER DOWN! OFFICER DOWN! Requesting backup! OFFICER DOWN: What is it? RADIO: Could you possibly back up to the Krispy Kreme and pick us up a dozen plain glazed for the station house? OFFICER DOWN: Wilco. And you clowns, keep your noses clean. [He exits. The Sun God puts a 45 of the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You" on the turntable. A papier-mache moon floats on a string high over the balloon-festooned floor. As the record plays, the clowns join in a slow, moody ballet, jumping at the moon just out of reach. Fade.Fin.] The festivities continue...

 
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