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EXT. DESERT - DAY
The sun beats down on a barren terrain -- heatwaves rise from the ground distorting the view -- there is no sign of life.
Leading a company of TEN BEATEN and RAGGED looking MEN are FOUR DELAWARE INDIANS -- they HALT the company and press their ears to the ground.
BEN TOBIN (50s) - a small wiry man, his long face is covered by a dirty salt and pepper beard. His skin is leathery and weathered -- his right hand is missing three fingers.
Ain't nutin fifteen, twenty miles.
DOC IRVING (40s) - a thin man, his hair is black brushing across his brow -- his mustache droops down besides his mouth -- his eyes are an unusual color, neither blue nor green but a pale and cloudy emerald -- his glasses slide off his nose.
Reckon -- we need to stay movin.
In the distance it looks to be a figure -- of a MAN -- seated on a rock. The only sight in this vast wilderness for miles.
Sumthin their ahead --
That a man? -- Where his horse?
The company cautiously moves closer to the seated MAN -- his figure and features are obscured by a large old WOOLEN BENJAMIN -- his back is to the company as they approach.
He must of brought that rock with him here -- ain't no others.
Could be a merestone...
The MAN sits with his legs crossed -- an old canvas kitbag sits to his side -- a GERMAN STEEL RIFLE leans to the other.
Inscribed along the cheekpiece in silver wire in latin: "Et In Arcadia Ego."
BLOOD MERIDIAN - OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST
INT. TAVERN -NIGHT - (ST. LOUIS)
A Small Dark Tavern is full men of all races and breeds. Tongues from far off lands can be heard throughout. The air is thick with the stench of sweat, tobacco, and spilled beer.
In the corner sits two MALTESE BOATSWAIN MEN, they are dressed in rags. They whisper -- and point to the bar.
At the bar: THE KID (15) he is not big but he has big wrists, big hands. His shoulders are set close. His face is curiously untouched behind the scars -- the eyes oddly innocent.
One of the Maltese Men rises from his chair and approaches the bar -- he sits next to The Kid -- STARES -- LOOKS --
The Kid turns to the Maltese Man -- looks over to his friend.
Can I help ye?
The Kid spits -- The Maltese Man Smiles -- looks to friend.
Int! Kienet int!
The Kid grabs a BOTTLE, smashes it on the end of the bar -- he sticks the broken end into the Maltese's right CHEEK.
Maltese 1 SCREAMS -- The Kid grabs his head and SLAMS it into the bar -- BLOOD SPLATTERS -- BANG -- a thin STREAM OF BLOOD bursts through The Kid's right shoulder -- he spins around.
The second Maltese Man is standing -- smoking pistol in hand -- The Kid advances -- BANG -- another hit, just below the heart. The second Maltese Man runs out of the tavern.
The Kid leans on the bar -- BLOOD POURING from his mouth --
BLOOD begins to POUR from his shirt -- he falls to the ground -- the OTHERS look away. As The Kid begins to fade away, the TAVERNKEEPER'S WIFE rushes over with a cloth and bucket.
She begins to attend to his wounds -- pours water into his mouth -- pats his head.
INT. TAVERN - LOFT - DAY
The room above the tavern is small. The Kid lays on a cot in the center of the room -- a bucket sits next to him --
The TAVERNKEEPER'S WIFE attends to him daily for two weeks straight. She is a hardlooking woman with a wiry body like a man. She brings his meals -- she carries out his slops --
By the time The Kid is mended he has no money to pay her and sneaks out in the night -- grabbing bread and blankets --
EXT. RIVERBANKS - NIGHT
The Kid has a fire-less camp set up along the Riverbank -- Animal hides and dirty blankets make up his bedding.
He searches for a boat willing to take him away from here -- finally he finds one willing to take him on -- TEXAS bound.
INT. RIVERBOAT - MAIN DECK - DAY/NIGHT
SERIES OF SHOTS
- The passengers are a diffident lot -- men of all races --
- They cage their eyes -- no man speaks to one another --
- The Kid sleeps on the deck -- a pilgrim among others --
- The Kid watches the dim shore rise and fall.
- Gray seabirds gawking -- flights of pelicans above --
EXT. PORT - DAY
The Riverboat docks -- the men disembark -- all studying the low coastline -- The Kid steps off and into the coastline.
SERIES OF SHOTS
- EXT. PORT - NIGHT (The Kid walks down narrow streets)
- EXT. SANDROADS - DAY (The Kid walks alone -- hands in coat)
- EXT. FARM - DAY (FARMER gives The Kid an AGED MULE)
- EXT. FREDONIA - DAY (The Kid rides through town -- A Sign posted says: "Nacogdoches Three Miles" -- LIGHTING-THUNDER--)
SHOTS END as The Kid pulls up to NACOGDOCHES - POP: 739
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - DUSK
Nacogdoches is a modest settlement nestled away in the rugged Texas landscape -- simple wooded structures of rough-hewn timber line the narrow dirt streets -- in begins to RAIN --
The Kid rides his Aged Mule down the dirt street -- he notices a ratty revival style canvas tent at the end of town.
INT. REVIVAL TENT - CONTINUOUS
The Kid ducks into the tent seeking shelter from the rain -- a heady reek of the wet and bathless fills the tent, there is standing room only -- The Kid stands along the back wall --
The only thing that might have distinguished him in that crowd was that he was not armed -- REVEREND GREEN preaches.
REVEREND GREEN (30s) clean-cut -- WHITE Three-piece suit -- GOLD BOLO SLIDE sits secured below his pointy chin --
Neighbors... he couldnt stay out of these here hell, hell, hellholes right here in Nacogdoches! I said to him, said: "You goin to take the son of God in there with yet?" -- And he said: "Oh no. No I aint." And I said: "Dont you know that he said I will foller ye always even unto the end of the road?"
The Kid looks on -- indifference towards the preacher, yet hypnotized by the spectacle --
Well, he said, I aint askin nobody to go nowheres. And I said: "Neighbor, you dont need to ask. He's a goin to be there with ye ever step of the way whether ye ask it or ye dont."
A TEAMSTER (50s) a slightly walleyed man, he wears his moustaches long and a widebrim hat with a low round crown.
I said Neighbor: "you caint get shed of him. Now. Are you going to drag him, him, into that hellhole yonder?
The Teamster walks up next to The Kid -- looks outside.
You ever see such a place for rain?
I just got here.
Well it beats all I ever seen.
An ENORMOUS MAN dressed in an oilcloth slicker enters the tent and removes his hat. He is bald as a stone and he has no trace of beard and he has no brows to his eyes nor lashes to them. He is close to seven feet in height and he stood smoking a cigar even in this nomadic house of God and he seemed to have removed his hat only to chase the rain from it for now he put it on again -- The Reverend halts his sermon.
This man is JUDGE HOLDEN -- there is no sound in the tent -- all eyes are on The Judge. He adjusts the hat and then pushes his way forward as far as the crateboard pulpit where the reverend stood and there he turned to address the reverend's congregation -- His face is serene and strangely childlike --
Ladies and gentlemen I feel it my duty to inform you that the man holding this revival is an imposter. He holds no papers of divinity from any institution recognized or improvised. He is altogether devoid of the least qualifications to the office he has usurped and has only committed to memory a few passages from the good book for the purpose of lending to his fraudulent sermons some faint flavor of piety he despises.
The Judge holds out his small hands --
In truth, the gentleman standing here before you posing as a minister of the Lord is not only totally illiterate but is also wanted by the law in the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Oh God! Lies! Lies!
The Judge pears into the crowd -- SMILING --
On a variety of charges the most recent of which involved a girl of eleven years. She had come to him in trust and whom he was surprised in the act of violating while actually clothed in the livery of his God.
A MOAN sweeps through the CROWD -- a LADY sinks to her knees.
This is him! This is him! -- The Devil. Here he stands.
"Let's hang the turd!" - can be heard from the rear gallery.
Not three weeks before this he was run out of Fort Smith Arkansas for having congress with a goat. Yes lady, that is what I said. Goat.
"Why my damn eyes if I wont shoot the son of a bitch myself"
A SHOT is FIRED -- everyone scrambles - The Teamster pulls out a knife, cuts a slit in the tent -- they step outside.
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - NIGHT - RAINING
Already gunfire was general within the tent and a dozen exits had been hacked through the canvas walls and people were pouring out -- women screaming -- folk stumbling -- folk trampled underfoot in the mud.
The Kid and The Teamster reached the hotel gallery and wiped the water from their eyes and turned to watch -- As they did so the tent began to sway and buckle and like a huge and wounded medusa it slowly settled to the ground trailing tattered canvas walls and ratty guyropes over the ground.
INT. BAR - CONTINUOUS
The Judge was already at the bar when they entered.
The Kid and The Teamster walk up to the bar -- order whiskeys -- place money on counter -- BARTENDER pushes money back --
These here is on the judge.
They drank -- The Teamster sets his glass down and looks at The Kid or he seemed to, you couldnt be sure of his gaze -- The Kid looked down the bar to where The Judge stood.
The bar was that tall not every man could even get his elbows up on it but it came just to The Judge's waist and he stood with his hands placed flatwise on the wood, leaning slightly, as if about to give another address.
By now MEN were piling through the doorway, bleeding, covered in mud, cursing. They gathered about the judge. A posse was being drawn to pursue the preacher.
Judge, how did you come to have the goods on that no-account?
When was you in Forth Smith?
Where did you know him to know all that stuff on him?
You mean The Reverend Green?
Yessir. I reckon you was in Fort Smith fore ye come out here.
I was never in Fort Smith in my life. Doubt that he was.
The MEN in the bar look from one to another --
Well where was it you run up on him?
I never laid eyes on the man before today. Never even heard of him.
The Judge raises his glass and takes a drink --
The room slowly fills with laughter of all present --
INT. BAR - NIGHT - TWO WEEKS LATER
The room is all but empty -- The Kid sits alone at the bar.
The Kid is down to his last dollars -- he gets up - EXITS.
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - CONTINUOUS
It is raining out -- boards sit on top of the mud outside the bar -- they lead down to the batboard jakes at the bottom.
The kids walks down the boards -- walking up is TOADVINE (40s) his head is strangely narrow, no ears. On his forehead were burned the letters H T and lower and almost between the eyes the letter F -- these markings were splayed and garish.
Toadvine slightly sways as the two meet on the narrow boards -- his wet hat brim falls to his shoulders -- bottle in hand.
You better get out of my way.
The Kid wasn't going to do that and he saw no use in discussing it. He KICKS Toadvine in the jaw -- Toadvine goes down and gets up again -- FURIOUS -- he wanes and faints --
Im goin to kill you.
He swings the bottle, The Kid ducks -- He swing again, The Kid steps back. The Kid arches back, punches Toadvine -- at the same time Toadvine SMASHES the bottle over The Kids head.
The Kid flies off the boards into the mud -- Toadvine lunges towards The Kid with the jagged bottleneck, attempting to stick it in his eye -- The Kid fends him off with his bloody hands, attempting to reach the KNIFE in his BOOT --
Kill your ass.
The two tussle in the mud -- their boots go flying off. The Kid now has his KNIFE, both are up right -- they circle crabwise -- Toadvine leans in, The Kid slices his shirt open.
Toadvine throws down the bottleneck, reaches behind his neck and pulls out an IMMENSE BOWIEKNIFE -- his hat falls off and his black ropy locks swing about -- He has become CRAZED --
Toadvine wades forward -- but SOMEONE else is coming, great sucking sounds in the mud can be heard getting closer -- THE FIGURE is carrying a HUGE SHELLALEGH -- he reaches The Kid first -- SMASH -- The Kid falls face down in the mud --
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - MORNING
The Kid lays face up in the lot -- Toadvine leans over him --
Are you quits?
Quits. Cause if you want some more of me you sure as hell goin to get it.
The Kid looks up yo sky -- a buzzard -- he looks at Toadvine.
Is my neck broke?
Toadvine looks over the lot -- looks at The Kid -- SPITS --
Can you not get up?
I don't know. I aint tried.
I never meant to break your neck.
I meant to kill ye.
They aint no body done it yet.
The Kid claws at the dried mud -- lifts himself up --
They aint nothing wrong with you.
The Kid grabs his boots -- sits on plank -- puts on boots.
Toadvine wipes down his BOWIEKNIFE and puts it away.
Toadvine stands up, dried mud covers his entire body -- The Kid follows Toadvine to the front of a HOTEL -- they ENTER.
INT. HOTEL - BAR - CONTINUOUS
A small HOTEL BAR sits empty -- Toadvine and The Kid enter in their suits of mud -- A BARMAN comes from the back kitchen --
In the bed I reckon.
Toadvine and The Kid head up a flight of WOODEN STAIRS.
The Kid looks back -- Toadvine keeps walking
The Barman runs up to the the duo on the stairs.
THE CLERK stands at the top of the stairs.
He'll shoot you.
Toadvine pushes his way past The Clerk -- The Kid follows --
INT. HOTEL - SECOND FLOOR - CONTINUOUS
A long hall with a windowlight at the end -- There are varnished doors down the walls set so close they might have been closets - Toadvine reaches end of hall -- LISTENS --
Toadvine signals The Kid -- head pressed to door 217 --
You got a match?
The Kid searches his pockets -- a crushed and stained wooden box -- Toadvine grabs the box from him -- SPITS --
Need a little tinder here.
Toadvine crumbles the box and sticks the bits under the door.
Toadvine strikes a match -- sets the pieces ablaze -- he adds more tinder and debris -- SMOKE and FLAMES begin to appear --
Is he in there?
That's what we fixin to see.
The duo sit back on their heels -- blue flame begin to rise over the panels -- Toadvine stands up, looks to The Kid --
Tap on the door now.
Rustling can be heard inside the room -- the flames are growing more intense -- The Kid slams his fists on the door -
Here he comes.
The duo sit ready to pounce -- waiting on Old Sydney --
You hot son of a bitch.
The doorknob can be seen turning -- The Door flies open -- There stands in his underwear OLD SYDNEY (50s) heavyset, long grey hair -- Sydney spots Toadvine, attempts to go back into the flaming room -- Toadvine pulls Sydney into the hall --
Toadvine begins to GAUGE out they right EYEBALL of Sydney -- Sydney HOWLS as BLOOD pours down his face -- Toadvine grabs Sydney's long locks and pulls his head down to the ground.
Kick his mouth in...Kick it.
The Kid walks over -- KICKS Sydney in the face -- BLOOD --
Kick him. Aw. Kick him. Honey.
Toadvine pulls his head back -- The Kid STOMPS down --
Toadvine lifts Sydney's LIMP head -- two SPECTATORS stand at the end of the hall watching -- Toadvine kicks the body --
Toadvine and The Kid run down the stairs -- The Clerk blocks their path -- Toadvine KICKS him in the throat-- The Kid runs past The Clerk -- SOCCER KICKING his skull as he passes.
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - CONTINUOUS
Toadvine and The Kid come bursting out of the Hotel -- covered in mud and blood they dash down the streets like great clay voodoo dolls made animate -- THEY LAUGH MADLY --
Behind them flames are licking at the top corner of the hotel -- clouds of dark smoke rise into the warm Texas morning.
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - MEXICAN FAMILY HOMESTEAD - CONTINUOUS
The Mule is being boarded by a MEXICAN FAMILY on edge of town
Need to get my mule.
An OLD LADY spots The Kid struggling -- she yells to NITO --
Venga. Hay un caballero aquf. Venga.
NITO (60s) older yet strong, comes running from behind the barn -- he runs over to help The Kid -- Nito brings The Kid his wretched saddle and bedroll -- The Kid sets off --
EXT. NACOGDOCHES - CONTINUOUS
The Kid passes back through the town, the hotel is burning, men are standing around watching; some holding empty buckets.
A few sit horseback watching -- The Kid rides past -- The Judge turns; watches. He turns his horse, as if he'd have the animal watch too. When The Kid looked back The Judge SMILED.