Ask the Dust (2006) Script

Good evening.

The following are the lowest temperature estimates for California citrus areas.

Lowest temperatures tomorrow night will be somewhat higher than tonight and only light scattered firing late in the morning should be necessary.

Corona District: Corona 29, Arlington 28, Riverside 27, Highgrove 27, Elsinore 26, Marino 26.

Clear and calm, firing for lemons will be necessary beginning about 2:00 a.m.

And for oranges, about 4:00 a.m.

High ceiling. Dew point 31.

Redlands District: Hemet 28, Redlands 26, Highlands 26, Rialto 25, Bloomington 25, Colton 25, Fontana 25. Ukipa 26...


Well, the night before I met her, I was in my hotel room on Bunker Hill down in the very middle of Los Angeles.

It was called the Alta Loma.

It was built on a hillside in reverse so that the main floor was on a level with the street.

My room was down on the fifth floor so that my window was on a level with the green hillside, and there was no need for a key.

The window was always open.

I'd been going over the plans I'd made, since I'd come here like everyone else in search of fortune, fame, good health and glamorous women.

Only I was going to be different.

Only I was going to be different.

I wasn't here to search for my future. I was here to create it.

I'd write the first great novel about this place and everybody who came here from somewhere else.

The Road to Los Angeles by Arturo Bandini.

It would bring me everything I ever wanted.

Now, after five months, I was trying to make a very important decision.

What to do with my last nickel.

"Mr. Bandini, it has now been six weeks since you've paid the rent.

"Four dollars per is mounting like the national debt.

"Either you pay $24, every penny, or pack up and leave."

It was her sixth note in six weeks.

Pretty humiliating.

My landlady was getting more writing done than I was.

She was the kind of woman who increased her height by rising on tiptoe and peering at me over her glasses.

I'd like a room. Do you have a job?

I'm a Writer.

I'll be With you in a moment, Mr. Archer.

Wrote that.

Here. What's your name?

Mrs. Hargraves, Why?

"For Mrs. Hargraves.

"A Woman of ineffable charm, "With lovely blue eyes and a generous smile.

"From the author, Arturo Bandini."

"The Little Dog Laughed."

I hate dog stories.

Bandini. Young man, are you a Mexican?

Me, a Mexican?

I'm an American, Mrs. Hargraves. And that isn't a dog story, either.

We don't alloW Mexicans in this hotel.

I'm not a Mexican, and there isn't a dog in the Whole story.

We don't alloW JeWs, either.

I got that title after the fable, you knoW, "And the little dog laughed To see such sport"

So you're an author. HoW nice.

Here We are, Mr. Bandini. This is one of my very favorite rooms.

There are WindoWs on tWo sides, Which makes it extremely airy.

It's $4 a week, and I expect to be paid in advance.

NoW that includes cleaning but no laundry. We never do...

Through that window, I saw my first palm tree not six feet away, but the palm was blackish at its branches.

And no girls in the room. I'll take it.

Stained by carbon monoxide coming out of the Third Street Tunnel, its crusted trunk choked with dust and sand that blew in from the Mojave and Santa Ana deserts.

What jerk's gonna believe I made it all the way from Colorado to downtown L.A. Without seeing one goddamn palm tree?

Kid?

Kid?

Kid.

Do you like milk?

Yes, Hellfrick. I like milk.

Okay, then.

Here's the plan.

The Adohr man's a friend of mine.

Rvery morning at 4:00, he parks his truck behind the hotel and comes up to my room for a While.

That's not much of a plan, Hellfrick. No, kid, no.

While he's having one With me, you get 10 minutes to help yourself to the milk.

So What do you think?

If he's your friend, Why not just ask him for it?

Kid, come on. Who's kidding Who?

He knoWs I don't drink milk. I'm doing this for you.

No, thanks, Hellfrick. I like to consider myself an honest man.

It certainly makes me Wonder about your ideas of friendship.

Okay.

Only trying to do you a favor.

You Wanna do me a favor? Pay me the money I loaned you.

HoW much Was that? Fifteen cents.

Don't have it. Well, hoW about 10 cents? A nickel?

Can't give you any hard cash, kid, but I'll see you get all the milk you need.

Mencken. Editor of the greatest magazine in the country.

Do you wanna let him down?

Good evening, Mr. And Mrs. North and South America and all the ships and clippers at sea. Akron, Ohio.

A big strike in the Goodrich rubber plant here was called off today when workers agreed on a six cent raise in pay per hour.

Boston, Massachusetts.

The condition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr., who was hurt today in a motorcar crash near Walpole, Massachusetts, is not serious.

Think of something besides stealing a bottle of milk.

You're an author, not a thief.


The streets are full of them, blondes and brunettes.

One in a red fox fur just getting out of a fancy foreign car.

Girls in the plaza.

They're everywhere, and none of them mine.

One glance and they know I'm an inexperienced jerk, ignorant of women and life, and afraid of both.

You have nice hands.

I do?

Very.

Bandini?

You're Italian.

That'll be tWo cents a day every day it's overdue.

St. Teresa, when I was little, I prayed to you for a fountain pen.

You ansWered my prayer. Anyway, I got a fountain pen.

NoW please, sWeet and lovely Saint, inspire me. Give me an idea, so I can Write a story, a great story, so I can be rich and famous and not be ashamed of my name.


Door is open.


To you, Mencken. To the future.


I headed down Third Street looking for a place to spend my last nickel.

And there it was.

Come on. Learn to dance if you can't Walk!

The perfect place to end up flat broke.

Can I get you something? Coffee With cream.

Just five months ago, I had $150 in my pocket and big plans in my head.

In those days, I was Arturo Bandini, lover of man and beast alike.

All I needed was to meet one of those beautiful golden-haired girls that seemed to grow like oranges out here, and I'd write a story, a love story, one of the greatest of all time.


Who brought this here?

There you go, Tony.

Thank you.


Are you done With that coffee?

You call this stuff coffee? Maybe it isn't coffee at all.

Maybe it's just Water after they boiled your filthy shoes in it.

Maybe you don't knoW any better. Maybe you're just naturally careless.

But if I Were you, I Wouldn't be seen in a Main Street alley Wearing those haraches.

It's huaraches, not haraches.

I hope you die of heart failure right there on that chair.

Camilla.

It's not my fault. I didn't do nothing.

I sWear to God, I just asked him if he Wanted some coffee!

Take care of it.

If he's sick, get him out of here.

Hey.

Young felloW, are you all right?

You there? Oh, say something, please.

You can dish it out, but you can't take it, can you?

You Want the nickel?

Then mop it up.

Hey, you!

Sand from the Mojave was blowing across the city.

It was everywhere.

It was even between the sheets, but I didn't care.

All I could think about were those huaraches.

"To a Mayan princess from a worthless gringo."

What's the name of the girl Who Works here?

You mean Camilla?

The one Who Was here yesterday. The Mexican.

Camilla Lopez.

Will you give this to her?

Take good care of it. It's valuable. See that Miss Lopez gets it personally.

The truth was, I couldn't afford to go back and see her that night.

I didn't have a nickel for a cup of coffee.

What do you Want?

I'm an honest man, kid.


There, see if he Wants a beer on the house.

Sorry about the coffee.

Rverybody orders beer around here. We don't get that many calls for coffee.

I can see Why. I'd drink beer, too, if I could afford it.

Anyway, I hope this is better. You Want cream, right?

Not bad. Certainly an improvement over last night.

Did you read "The Little Dog Laughed"?

"The Little Dog Laughed," by me, Arturo Bandini.

Arturo?

Bandini. It's Italian. Did you read the story?

Sure. So?

It's very good.

Hey, listen. You Want a beer?

I can get you some. You don't have to pay.

What did you like about it?

Camilla. I have to go.

You still haven't told me What you thought.

I told you. I liked it. I like dog stories.

You like dog stories. I like dogs a lot...

There's no dog in the story. There's no dog...

There's no dog in the story!

Okay. I heard you.

Then Why did you call it "The Little Dog Laughter"?

Why did you lie to me? Why did you just say you read it When you didn't?

Listen, kid. Please, drink your beer.

It's tough enough just to have a good time, okay?


Sir! Sir!

Forgot your hat.

Something else you Wanted to say? Camilla can't read.

Not Rnglish, anyway.

And another thing, Mr. Mencken, I have no understanding of women.

How can I write about what I don't understand?

How can I write about experiences I haven't had?

When I first came here, I was so sure of myself.

So sure I wasn't like the others.

The others came to the land of sunshine with just enough money to live until the sun killed them.

Take Hellfrick, across the hall, from Minnesota.

Gassed in the Great War and gassed ever since.

Most of the time, he has no idea where he is.

So, I guess here is as good as anywhere else.

Heilman's a bank teller from South Bend.

But his health is bad and he was told he had to stay here or die.

He hates the sun and the fog and the SC Trojans.

My landlady's from Back East.

She tries to make the hotel lobby look like Bridgeport, Connecticut.

No Mexicans and lots of doilies.

Will there be anything else, ma'am? No, thank you.

Then there's the Filipino houseboy from Hawaii and the redhead from St. Louis.

Hello. Hello.

HoW are you? Better noW.

She's come to feel he's terribly brave in the face of so much prejudice.

The other day when I was going to San Pedro, looking for work at the canneries, I saw them.

Even with high leather heels, he was a foot shorter than she was.

I don't know where the girl in the red fox fur is from, but you can find her in Bernstein's Fish Grotto with a fresh one every week.

On the other hand, there's the Japanese man who grows his vegetables down on Jefferson, near the sloughs.

Bullet-faced and always smiling, he keeps me alive for a nickel.

You like plums? Good. Good for you.

Of course there are others too poor and too unlucky to be allowed to call any place their own.

Even for a while.

All right, amigos.

In the end, we're all strangers here.

Maybe the only thing that makes you a Californian is a pair of sunglasses and a four-bit polo shirt. Suddenly, you belong.

Mr. Bandini. You have mail.

"Dear Mr. Bandini, with your permission, "I shall remove the salutation and ending of your very long letter

"and print it as a short story for my magazine.

"It seems you've done a fine job here.

"I think 'The Land of Somewhere Else' would serve as an excellent title.

"Check enclosed. Sincerely yours, H.L. Mencken.

"P.S. As to your anxieties about your limited experiences

"with life in general and women in particular, "it is, alas, a truism that authors generally have less experience

"than other men.

"This owing to the incontestable fact

"that you simply can't be in two places at once, Mr. Bandini.

"Either you're in front of the typewriter, writing, "or you're out in the world having experiences.

"Therefore, since you need to write and you need to have experiences

"to write about, you have to learn to do more with less.

"And doing more with less is, in a word, Mr. Bandini, "what writing is all about."

Still mad at me?

Not that I knoW of.

Well, Would you like to order something?

A cigar. Something from Havana.

They're a quarter.

Keep the change.

I said keep the change. Not from you.

You're poor.

Don't I look different?

I thought you'd like my shoes.

They're very nice.

HoW about something to drink? Scotch highball.

Saint James.

Sammy, get me a highball. Saint James.

You've changed.

Before you Were just mean.

NoW that you've got a couple of bucks, you're mean and stuck-up.

Forty cents.

Well, you haven't changed.

You're just the same little Mexican princess, charming and innocent. I'm not charming and I'm not innocent.

To me you'll alWays be a sWeet little peon, a floWer girl from old Mexico.

You dago son of a bitch!

I'm just as American as you are.

Or at least I Will be as soon as I pass my test.

Sure you Will, just as soon as you learn hoW to read.

Take off those shoes.

My legs are not good enough for them?

They're not good enough for your legs.


Sorry What I called you. I didn't mean What I said.

I didn't either.

You got a car? No.

I do. It's in the parking lot.

It's a '27 convertible.

The stuffing, it's a little bit out of the upholstery, but it runs.

I'm off at 11:00.

Camilla Lombard?

Arturo.

This is Sammy. Hi.

Are you coming?

Have a good night.

Be right back.


Who is he?

Sammy? Just a friend.

What kind of a friend?

A good one.

He got me my job.

They let the bartender hire you? Sammy's not just the bartender.

Oh, yeah? What else is he, a concert pianist?

Listen, Arturo, you're not the only Writer in toWn.

Sammy's a Writer? You'd be surprised.

I'd be surprised if he could Write his name.

Do you like my car?

HoW come it's registered to Camilla Lombard? Your name's Lopez.

You married? No.

So What's the Lombard for? For fun.

Sometimes I use it professionally. As a Waitress?

Do you like your name?

Don't you Wish it Was Johnson or Williams or something?

No. Come on.

Do you honestly like being called Bandini?

I'm satisfied With my name. No, you're not.

I am. You're not.

I am. You're not.

I am. You're not.

What's Sammy's last name, Johnson or Williams?

White.

Pretty much sums up your ambition in life, doesn't it? To be Mrs. White?

You can be a real son of a bitch, you knoW that?


Are you still cold? No.

The cliffs keep you Warm.

They're like a blanket When you're underneath them.

Why do you get so mean?

Why do you get so mean?

Can't We be friends?

Friends like you and Sammy?

Look at the fog.

An army of ghosts craWling on their bellies.

What are you talking about?

The fog bank. It creeps in and hugs the Water.

You didn't ansWer my question. I knoW What a fog bank is.

And What about you and Sammy?

Who are you interested in, me or Sammy?

Come on, Why don't you teach me hoW to ride a Wave?

Out there, in all this fog?

Yeah, Why not?

Are you afraid?

Of course not.

What are you Waiting for?

Come in! Come here!

Come here! Come on!

Get in here!

What are you hiding?

You got a pretty one. Pink as a baby's bottom.

Relax. Let's have some fun.

You're not gonna ride a Wave tonight. Sure I Will. You shoW me hoW.

I'm from Colorado.

You mean you don't knoW hoW to ride a Wave?

Listen. My technique might be not good for you to learn. It's unorthodox.

That's okay. I'd like to learn from you.

The first thing you gotta do is get to Where the Waves are.

Don't take any chances. Just stay back, stay right there.

I Will, I promise.

Just Watch me...

Help! Camilla!

Camilla?

Camilla! Camilla!

Oh, God. Camilla!

Camilla!

Where'd she go? Where'd she go?

Camilla! Camilla!

Camilla!

Fooled you pretty good!

It Was as good as your heart attack.

Admit it. It Was better.

You can dish it out, but you can't take it, huh?

Cut it out!

It Was a joke, God damn it! What are you trying to do, droWn me?

I'll never forgive you. Not for my Whole life.

I thought your life Was over.

I thought I Was gonna die looking for you.

That Was my first time in the ocean.

What you gonna do noW, Walk home?

It's 10 miles to doWntoWn. Where do you live?

The Alta Loma.

Bunker Hill.

Old Women and Weak men. Perfect place for you.

Couldn't be better. In my hotel they don't alloW Mexicans.

White dough.

No Wonder she laughed. Who Wouldn't?

Arturo Bandini, genius, man of the World, can't take a Walk on the beach Without trying to hide his dick.

I never wanted to see you again. You were so mean last night.

Get in.

What for?

Get in.

Arturo, don't stop.

Please don't ever stop. Arturo...

Jesus Christ, Hellfrick!

Have you ever heard of knocking before you come into a room?

Sorry, kid. Didn't mean to disturb you.

Artist at Work, huh?

Listen, kid.

HoW much dough you got?

Oh, for Christ's sake! No, no, no, it's not for booze.

Well, then What's it for? Meat.

Meat?

I mean like the steaks you used to get Back Rast.

Real meat. Not like out here.

Sure. Cattle are different out here.

Absolutely.

Here's alWays sunny and dry. CoWs eat nothing but Weeds.

Dead Weeds. Meat's full of Worms.

They paint it to look bloody and red. Did you knoW that?

Maybe you could use that in one of your...

Okay, okay. What do you need?

Fifty cents? There's a butcher on Olive.

He's got the real McCoy, beef from Kansas City.

It Would help keep me off the hard stuff.

I'll make it good With you, kid.

I'll pay you back 1,000 times.

I had just under $10.

It would pay the rent for two-and-a-half weeks or buy me three pairs of shoes or two pairs of pants or 1,000 postage stamps to send stories to Mencken.

But you don't have any stories or talent.

"Don't stop. Don't stop. Please don't ever stop."

Garbage.


Camilla. Camilla, Wait up.

Did you ask him? What's in it for him?

Just do it.

Who is it?

Hello. What are you doing?

Do I knoW you?

Who are you?

"He took her roughly in his arms.

"She pressed herself against his throbbing loins.

"'Don't stop! Don't ever stop."'

Hey, that's private. I hope so.

It should never be made public.

It's pitiful and sad.

A hopelessly bad Writer buried in a cheap hotel on Bunker Hill.

In Los Angeles, of all places.

They'll never read What you Write. That's not really my Writing.

They Won't even have a chance to forget it.

Say, What's going on? Where did you come from?

Is this a gag? You're nobody.

I might have been somebody,

and here We are.

Lady. Lady, you've got to sober up.

HoW about a little fresh air?

We could go out and have a drink. Money.

Lady?

Good idea. Let's have a drink.

You are gonna be so marvelous! So Wonderful!

My landlady. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Forget it, noW. Let's just Walk. Okay, but We're having a drink.

I insist. Look, money!

Okay, We'll have a drink. Just put it back in your purse.

Hey, Mr. Bandini. Hi, Solomon. HoW's business?

Till you shoWed up, Mr. Bandini, I had more pinball machines than customers.

A short beer, am I right? And Whiskey.

Lots of Whiskey.

Does he knoW you?

Your mouth, your Wonderful mouth. God, What a mouth.

No, let's have a drink first.

What's Wrong? You knoW What's Wrong.

No, I don't. You're just like the rest of them.

You knoW! KnoW What?

That's Why you Won't kiss me! Here We go. One short beer.

And double Whiskey.

So Who Was it? Who Was What?

Who told you about my Wounds?

Your Wounds?

Do you have a nickel? I love pinball machines.

One game. Would you mind?

Whatever my darling Wishes. Thank you.

Solomon, could you come over here? For some reason, it's on tilt.

Play. Play.

Who is that Woman?

Who knoWs?

She Was in a Week before last, When you Were talking about Sinclair LeWis to that couple from Minnesota.

I didn't notice her. Well, she noticed you, believe you me.

Listened to every Word you said. Rvery single Word.

And When you left, she left. And What's she doing noW?

Watching you like a prize dog. I gotta get out of here.

Door opposite the men's room.

Is everything all right, darling? Do you need another nickel?

No. No, I'm just gonna use...


Oh, my God! Darling.

I took a cab and the door Was open.

Don't you think this has gone far enough?

"I see them in the lobbies of hotels.

"I see them sunning in the parks and limping out of little ugly churches, "dispossessed in this place Where the seasons never change."

That's more like it.

Will you please get out?

You're my darling, and you're going to love me.

Some other time. I think you better go. I mean it.

I knoW hoW I revolt you, that you knoW What my clothes are covering up.

KnoW What? I don't even knoW your name.

Vera Rivkin.

Back Rast I had a real life and friends Who kneW about H.L. Mencken and Rdna St. Vincent Millay.

NoW I'm a housekeeper.

I Work for a nice JeWish family in Long Beach.

I'm tired. Tired of housekeeping.

Then one day, I saW you at Solomon's, and I heard you talk.

And I Went and I bought your story.

And I read it.

And I felt that you Were someone Who could look at me and see me for What I am.

So I folloWed you home.

So stupid.

Hopeless.

But I'm really a good person. Honestly, I am.

Here.

Thank you.

What do you Want me to do? Tell me I'm like other Women.

Tell me I'm beautiful, please. But you are beautiful.

Really, you are.

This is just a childish obsession.

You knoW, maybe a hangover from the mumps. I don't knoW.

Plenty of men Would give anything...

Let me shoW you something.

You don't have to shoW me anything. You're going to see it for yourself.

Undo this, please.

Look, you've convinced me, all right?


Yeah. Yeah, I thought so.

You knoW all about them.

So What's the fuss? That's nothing.

Tell that to my husband.

"Deformed, disfigured, "disgusting."

That's What he said.

I say, you're beautiful.

Rxcuse me.

I'm so sorry. I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry. I don't knoW What Was in my head. I just...

Take it easy. I'll Wait outside so you can...

Take it easy.


"Dear Boy, "of course I should have known you'd have a girlfriend.

"Is she very beautiful?

"She's very lucky.

"Is she also kind and generous?

"Would she ever allow you to come to Long Beach, if only for an hour?"

I woke up relieved to think there were other possibilities in life besides Camilla.

Maybe Vera was a little crazy, but like she said about herself, she was a good person.

We'd read the same books, spoke the same language and she was capable of appreciating my writing.

Suddenly, I felt better about myself. I was once again, Arturo Bandini, lover of man and beast alike, and afraid of nothing.

Mr. Bandini! Hey! Bandini!

It's Sammy, the bartender at the Columbia.

Yeah. Sammy White. Yeah.

Camilla says you've been published. What of it?

I Was thinking about getting into that line of Work.

Publishing? No, Writing stories like you.

Bartending and the damp nights don't seem to agree With me much anymore.

Looking to find something I can do pretty much anywhere.

Like Writing stories.

Yeah, Well, good luck to you, Sammy.

Yeah, I Was hoping you could give me a feW pointers.

And that magazine With "The Little Dog Laughing" in it, you Wouldn't happen to have a spare copy?

I'd sure like to read your story.

I knoW I got one in here someWhere.

Thank you, Arturo. It's a real honor.

Like I said, I Was hoping you could give me some pointers about Writing.

If there's anything I can do for you, you let me knoW.

Sounds like you've got something in mind.

Well, thought you might like a little advice about Camilla.

That's real White of you, Sammy, but I think I can handle the situation.

Okey-dokey.

But you knoW What they say, "Never a horse that couldn't be rode, "never a coWboy that couldn't be throWed."

And Camilla's one tough little pony. She's got a real hard mouth on her.

"A real hard mouth." Interesting turn of phrase.

You're too nice to that girl, Mr. Bandini.

Too nice? Way too nice.

You don't understand Mexican Women.

Oh, Mexican Women are different. No, sir.

They're like most Women, except more so.

You let up on them, they're all gonna take advantage.

But you ease up on that little spic, she gonna peg you for a lily-livered gringo and buck you out of the saddle before you're in it.

A horse With a hard mouth don't feel the bit, Arturo.

So, keep them on a tight rein, never let them forget Who's boss for a second. No trick to it.

Ride them hard and it's easy.

Well, Sammy, sounds like you knoW your horseflesh.

Yeah, I hope so, Arturo.

I'm gonna Write Westerns.

By the Way, amigo,

Camilla's one pony Who's Worth the ride.

I'm glad to see you.

Why?

Okay.

Sammy told me you Were really nice to him.

I Was beginning to think you couldn't be nice to anyone.

Can I get you something? Where is Sammy tonight?

He left. Went home?

To the desert for a While. He hasn't been feeling real good.

What's the matter With him? Camilla.

TB, I think.

Here. You can start With this.

Sammy has tuberculosis. Yeah. Tough break, huh?

We all gotta go.

What are you talking about?

He Won't live long. HoW dare you say something like that!

So hoW are all your other boyfriends?

I haven't got any other boyfriends!

Sure. Forgive an incautious remark.

Could I have the check?

No charge. It's on Sammy.

Bandini.

You don't have to pay to be a smart aleck.

Besides, if it cost more than half a buck, you couldn't afford to be one.

You're very funny. Sammy Writing your dialogue?

Why do you have to be so mean?

Mean? Me?

I'm anything but mean.

I'm a lover, my dear girl. Rqually fond of man and beast alike.

You can't be mean and be a great Writer.

Well, are you?

Are you a great Writer?

That's something you'll never knoW.

Why are you so angry? I'm not. Just disgusted.

With me?

Why?

Take a look in the mirror.

I don't Want to look in the mirror. I don't blame you.

I'm tired.

We Were busy today.

Being busy's not the problem.

It's those shoes and all that paint on your face.

You look like a cheap imitation of an American.

If I Were a Mexican, I'd knock your block off.

I'm bored With your Mexican remarks.

We're not that different.

You're dark and your hair is dark and your eyes are black.

Nobody's eyes are black. Yours are.

Why don't you go think about Sammy?

What are you doing here, anyway?

Would you ever change your name? What for?

Would you? No. What's it to you, anyway?

I don't Want to go from Camilla Lopez to Camilla Bandini.

It's not much of an improvement.

Who asked you to go anywhere?

You'd ask me. No, I Wouldn't.

Yes, you Would. I Wouldn't.

You Would. I Wouldn't.

I knoW you like the palm of my hand, Arturo, and I'm telling you, you Would.

Right after Sammy Would.

Would he do that?

Would Sammy ask you to marry him?

Who knoWs What Sammy's gonna do?

Would Sammy White ask Camilla Lopez to be his Wife?

Who knoWs and Who cares? You do.

I knoW you like the back of my hand, Camilla.

I care about his name.

I Want a chance in life.

I Want my children to have a chance.

You think you're so smart!

You're gonna Write a book and have the World on a string, huh?

Well, What if you don't? I Will.

Yeah, but What if you don't? I Will!

You're book smart, but you're not smart.

And you're not rich, and you're not nice!

You are loud, angry

and poor. Then Why stick around?

Come here.

What for?

Come here and I'll shoW you.

I'm busy.

You're afraid. Of What?

Of me.

You are.

You're afraid of lying doWn next to me.


I'm terrified.

Take off your pants.

You Want me to do it for you? Why don't you take off your pants?

They're off.

HoW does it look?

All right.

Okay. Fine.

"All right"?

"Okay"? "Fine"?

Come on!

A great Writer ought to do better than that, don't you think?

Or maybe you're not so great.

Maybe you can't fuck or Write!

I can't, huh? No! Stop it!

Stop it! Think I can't, huh?

Think I can't!

Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Think I can't? Think I can't?

Stop it! Think I can't? Think I can't?


Camilla would never forgive me.

She was better off with Sammy.

I really didn't have the right to touch her again.


You look Wonderful.

Oh, say, that's quite a sight.

Rnjoy the vieW.

Sit.

Here. Something nice and cool.

It's not buttermilk?

Good.

Oh, darling, you're tired.

A little. You're Working late, as usual?

I Wasn't Working last night.

Bad boy. I need to tell you something.

Let me guess. Out With your best girl?

She's not my best girl.

Then you don't love her, anymore? Oh, dear.

She doesn't love me, unlikely as that seems.

She doesn't love you? She hates my guts.

She couldn't do that. HoW could she possibly...

Possibly because I insult and humiliate her every chance I get.

You Wouldn't.

You couldn't do such things.

Oh, yeah?

I called her spic and greaser and every name in the book.

And that's When I Was in a good mood. She's Mexican, by the Way.

Oh.

Oh, my God.

Oh, my God.

Oh, my God. God in heaven. What's going on?

What happened? Vera? God is punishing me.

Right noW? What do you do to JeWish girls?

JeWish girls?

All right, don't hit me. Are you nuts?

Okay, call me names, but don't hit me! I'm not going to hurt you.

I'm not going to hurt you.

Look, if I Wanted to hurt you, I didn't have to come all the Way to Long Beach.

I could've done it in my room.

Oh, for Pete's sake. Why Would I hurt you?

Why Would I bother? I don't even love you.

Well, Why did you come here?

I Wanted to make someone happy.

Oh, look, I'm sorry. If I could just get my coat.

Is that Why you insult her?

Is that Why you insult her, because you can't make her happy?

All I knoW is she usually starts it.

HoW? What does she say?

It's not so much What she says. What does she do?

Sometimes she'll Walk across the room.

That's pretty insulting.

Serve me a cup of coffee Wearing a brand neW uniform.

That's about as insulting as anything gets.

She's perfect, like the Weather.

Air and fog, eucalyptus, dusty sunlight.

The perfect place to live.

Then We come along.

Dig for gold, drill for oil, get into the movies, build these crappy hotels and dirty streets.

We don't even come here to live.

We just dig it up, mess it up and grab Whatever We can get.

This is her home.

If God had any sense or decency, He'd bloW us all to hell and leave her home the Way it Was, pure and perfect, like her.

And you tell her these things? I don't tell her this.

It Would sound like an insult.

No matter What I say to Camilla, it sounds like an insult.

Then tell it to me. What for?

Pretend I'm her. I'll believe you.

Look, I'd like to, but...

I am

Princess Camilla.

And all this beautiful land belongs to me.

There are no Americans here. No Los Angeles.

Just me and the desert and the mountains and the sea.

And...

And then...

Then I come.

And then you come.

And you are?

I'm myself, Arturo Bandini.

The Writer, the genius of the Rarth has come here for me.

But I am proud, and I resist and resist and resist!

Until finally, you're irresistible.

Your poWers are legion.

You overwhelm me.

You conquer me.

You are like a great conquistador.

You are like Cortйs. Only I'm Italian.

Only you're Italian.


You're very kind.

As he passes the endless rows of canvas concessions and customers eagerly wallowing at their troughs of 10-cent pleasures.

Men in sailor suits and girls in bathing suits, the old, the young, the aged and infirm, Bandini pitied them their petty aspirations, yet admired their boundless courage.

He was after all, a lover of man and beast alike, and he knew in his heart what they knew in their hearts, that their place in the sun was really no more than a handful of dust.

That their place in the sun was really no more than a handful of dust.

After all, we're here only for a little while.

And then we're somewhere else.

Gone, like some forgotten dream.

Even you, Mencken.


Apartment 201, Martene Wellesley?

Over here.

202, Vera Rivkin?

Vera Rivkin?

Forget it, Jack. She's over here.

She's gone.

208...

Thank you for tuning in to KFO X 1250.

The time is 4:35 p.m.

Most of the damage in yesterday's 6.4- Magnitude quake was sustained in the Long Beach, Compton and Huntington Park areas, where early reports indicate over 100 deaths and many more injured.

While 25 miles away, the heart of Los Angeles seems to be relatively unaffected.

For those without food and shelter tonight...

I decided to give Vera more life than she had had a chance to live.

"The name on the mailbox was Doris Slotkin.

"She lived down on the Long Beach Pike, "across the street from the Ferris wheel and the roller coaster.

"She had pale skin and dark eyes, brilliant from too much bourbon, "at once insolent and desperate.

"I was soon to learn the source of her desperation."

Yeah, What is it?

Writing another hot one, huh?

I'm Writing.

Just thought you'd Wanna knoW you got a registered letter at the post office.

I'll just set it doWn on the dresser, okay? Don't forget.

Thanks.

HoW's it going? It's going.

Well, keep going, okay?

Otherwise, you'll end up dying in Los Angeles like the rest of us.

"Dear Mr. Bandini, "I would rather not publish this latest effort of yours just now.

"For one thing, I believe it's a yarn that is part of a bigger ball than you, "in your present financial straits, are able comfortably to contemplate.

"Therefore, please use the enclosed $250

"to follow out the string.

"I suspect you'll find it reaches novel length.

"Very truly yours, H.L. Mencken."

I'd never written more than a 10-page story, and here Mencken was telling me to write an entire novel.

How was I gonna do it?

Who is it? It's me.

I came through the WindoW. I hope you don't mind.

Not at all. Sounds like fun.

I'd like to come through the door. HoW do you feel about that?

Make yourself at home.

What's the big idea?

I came to see you.

Hard to believe, huh? Don't turn... Don't do that.

Who hit you? No one.

It Was an automobile accident.

Was Sammy driving the other car?

Turn off the light, please.

I don't knoW Where to go.

You don't have to go anywhere.

I'm tired.

I'm tired. I'm so tired.

Why did he do it?

He said I asked for it.

Did you?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Whenever they Wanna hurt you, that's What they say.


Arturo?

Where you going? Where are you going?

Laguna.

Loan me a couple of bucks, could you?

I'll mail it When I get my job back.

I thought maybe you'd like to come along.

Oh, yeah?

Well, What for?

You look like you could use a rest. Maybe even a Walk on the beach.

That's it? Isn't that enough?

It's your funeral.


I'll get the house keys.


That Mexican shit Will get you deported.

Jesus Christ!

Don't sneak up on people like that.

I'm not a hophead.

Rvery once in a While When I'm tired. That's all.

ThroW it aWay.

It doesn't bother me. It bothers me. ThroW it aWay.

In front of all these people? NoW you're Worried about it?

Promise you'll quit.

I cross my heart. SWear to God.

I sWear to God.

Oh, my God!

Look at this place!

Look at this place!


I kneW you'd like it.

No, you didn't. Nobody's that predictable.

You are. You'll go for anything that's White.

You dago son of a bitch!

Yeah, I kneW you'd say something like that.

You're teasing me.

You are.

Get me up.

Here you go, Willie. Here you go. Here you go.

HoW much? I don't knoW.

Oh, you can come home!

He thinks he's being attacked!

The ocean's out to get him personally. Tell him I understand the feeling.


Arturo! Arturo!

What are you doing? Hold on a minute, fellas.

Hurry up. Get dressed. Come on doWn. No. What for?

So the sides Will be even.

What are you talking about?

Playing in the game. You on one side, me on the other.

Are you crazy? With a bunch of Japs?

Yeah. They didn't Want to play With you, either.

Why, 'cause I'm Mexican?

Worse. 'Cause you're a girl.

Camilla.

Camilla.

What? You might Want to Wear some pants.

Give it to me!

Camilla!


Thanks.

What are you Writing about noW?

A girl. Is she Mexican?

JeWish, at the moment. She gonna change religions?

No. There might be more than one girl in this, you knoW.

What am I doing here?

Is it because I make you feel sorry for me?

No.

Then What do I make you feel?

After everything that's happened, you can't imagine sleeping With me anymore.

Is that it?

I can and have imagined it.

I'm not sure I like you to do that.

Why not? I did.

Because What you imagine might be better than the real thing.

I'm not that good a Writer.

Regardless,

I think you should save your imagination for your Work.

Why Waste it on me When you don't have to?

Come to bed, Arturo.

Would you say please?

Please.


Are you all right? Are you all right?

Yeah.


Don't let go.

Don't ever let go of me. Okay.

I've never been served breakfast in bed.

I've never been served breakfast anywhere.

What is it? Open it.

Another dog story. No, you're going to learn to read, and you're gonna become an American citizen.

"Angus Lost."

It looks like Willie.

"When Winter came, "Angus greW tired of the same yard

"and the same house

"and the same cat

"and all the same things

"he kneW all about."

This is a horrible story.

Will you give it a chance?

"Angus Was curious about other places and other things..."

"Angus Was curious about other places and other things..."

See? The cat is sad he's leaving.

"What." "What."

"What." Good.

"...kind of animals cars are" "Cars."

"...and things like that."

"What are the colors of our flag?" Red, White and blue.

"HoW many stars are there on our flag?"

Forty-eight.

"There he Was on the Wide road.

"'Ruff! ' called the other dog."

In Mexico, the dogs go...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created" What?

Rqual. Right.

"That they are endoWed by their Creator With certain inalienable..."

Rights. Right.

"Angus and the

"other dog

"ran together

"up the Weeday..." "Wide."

"...Wide road."

"That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of..."

Happiness. Right.

"Around the corner

"ran Angus."

Arturo, What do they really mean by that?

The pursuit of happiness?

That in this country, you have the right to go after Whatever it is that makes you happy.

What is that? What's What?

Happiness.

"'Woof! Woof! ' called..."

No. There's no "F." "Woo, Woo."

"'Woo, Woo,' called the eyes, and Angus ran to find his house, "but snoW..."

You okay? Yeah.

"SnoW came and Wind came, "and into a cave craWled Angus.

"And he Waited and Waited and Waited until..."

What does happiness mean to you, Camilla? Do you even know?

Yeah.

That you can live in a place that is safe,

and fall in love With Whoever you Want to and not feel ashamed of it.

"From door to door, from door to door, "until Angus Was glad to come back

"to the same yard and the same house

"and the same cat

"and all the same things he kneW all about."

That's it.

So hoW did it go?

Hey,

What do you say We try and bust out of this joint tomorroW?

What do you mean? Go into toWn. See a movie.

But What about Willie? What about him?

Well, We've never left him alone. What if he tries to run aWay?

Like Angus?

We'll lock him in the house. He'll be fine.

I don't Want to go.

Why not?

Why should I go anywhere? I'm right Where I Want to be.

Well, eventually, We gotta go someWhere.

Sooner or later, We're gonna run out of money.

Probably before I finish the book. Well, Write faster.

You can buy this place, and then We don't have to go anywhere.

SWeetheart, I'm up to 2,000 Words a day. I can't type faster than that.

I don't Want to be some Mexican out With a White guy.

Rverybody Would stare at me.

Camilla, no matter Where you go, people are gonna stare at you.

And it's not because you're Mexican or you're out With me.

I don't Want to go.

I'm just not ready for it right noW.

What?

You're not reading the book. Of course I'm reading the book.

No, you're not. I am.

Then Why is it upside doWn?

Where did you get this? I Wanted to read it.

Well, it's junk. It's not even part of the book.

What does it say? Come on, What does it say?

"When I Was a kid back in Colorado, "it Was Smith and Parker and Jones Who hurt me With their hideous names, "Who called me Wop and dago and greaser, "and their children hurt me just as I hurt you."

Junk.

I think it should definitely be a part of the book.

And I'll go With you into toWn if you Want me to.

To the movies.

Okay. That's sWell.

Hey, you really are scared. Of course I am.

Why?

It's our first date.

Don't want to set the world on fire I just want to start

Camilla, are you all right in there?

I'm fine.

I'm almost ready. I'm fine.


After you. Thank you.

- ... people out of work that... No, no, no, no!

- ... people out of work that... No, no, no, no!

Please don't do anything like that.

Go ahead and rehearse. But promise me that Ezra won't find out about me.

Now don't you worry because...

Come on. Come on. Get into it. Hit the deck. Let's see it now.

Barbara!

- Barbara! My name is Joan Grey.

- You go put on some clothes! Why, I have them on.

Why, that's disgraceful!

No, no. Barbara's just here as a visitor. She isn't really in the show.

Oh, is that so?

Well, you asked me to come to rehearsal, and your dance director hired me.

I got in this show, and I'm going to stay in.

Now, now. Now, honey, maybe your father's right.

Oh, you don't want me around, is that it?

Afraid I'll cramp your style with your darling Mabel?

I've heard enough of this. You get some clothes on!

I don't care what either of you say. I'm free, white and 21.

And if you fire me from this show, I'll get a job in another one.

Oh, wait till Ezra and Matilda hear about this. I'm ruined. Sunk. Lost.

Now, now, listen. You don't...

Camilla?

Camilla, are you all right in there? I'm fine.

Then What's

taking so long?

Nothing.

Hey, let's go.

Or you Want to Watch the rest of the picture?

I've seen enough already. Good.

Come on.

Is something Wrong? Beside from the obvious.

The obvious? What Would that be? Getting upset like I did.

Well, it Was upsetting. Well, I overreacted.

Well, sometimes you just can't help yourself.

What are you doing? Give me that! Let go!

Goddamn you! You're gonna get us killed!

You let go! Let go! Let go!

You've been doing this all along, haven't you?

What's it matter? It doesn't. You'll give your Word, sWear to God, sWear on a stack of Bibles, none of it matters, not When it comes to marijuana.

But it's not the marijuana. It's me.

What are you talking about? What else?

I saW it tonight at the movies. I felt it.

I embarrass you just being by your side.

You call me beautiful at home, then you're ashamed to be seen With me in public.

You're ashamed of beauty you recognize that no one else does.

You're ashamed to love me. Camilla, I sWear to God, that's not true.

Prove it. HoW?

Marry me.

You see? That'll never happen.

You knoW Why?

'Cause you're too ashamed of being Italian to marry a Mexican.

If it Wasn't the marijuana, it Would've been something else.

Go home, Arturo.

Go home and drink to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Camilla!


Willie!

Willie!


I had to get out of there.

I used some of the advance money from the book and bought the '31 Ford from the bait shop.

Camilla? She just up and quit.

Where'd she go? Who knoWs?

She packed up her place over at the Alameda, too.

Back in L.A., it wasn't any better.

I looked for Camilla everywhere, and everywhere I looked, all the faces seemed like mine.

Tight. Worried. Lost.

Faces with the blood drained away.

Faces like flowers torn from their roots, the colors fading fast.

Mr. Bandini.

"Dear Mr. Bandini, "things out here in Pearblossom

"haven't gone so good the last few months.

"I'm not doing real well and that Mexican girl is sick as a dog

"and getting sicker every day.

"You best come get her before she cashes in on me."


Where's Sammy?

I gave him 30 bucks and told him to take a hike.

Why, you miss him?

I'll get over it.

What are those? You knoW What they are.

I'm taking you back to L.A. Oh, I am not going anywhere With you.

Why should I? You'll just gloat to me.

Over me. It's gloat over me.

That's exactly What I'm talking about.

You're just here so you can remind me hoW inferior I am.

NoW I'm not just a dumb spic, but a sick one.

Well, feast your eyes.

I'm here because I love you.

And I Want to marry you.

What did you say?

I said, I Want to marry you.

Holy shit.

I remember the first day you Walked into the cafй.

You made me mad.

Arturo, you're alWays mad at something.

Like What else?

HoW about the World?

I just keep reminding you of hoW mad at it you are.

It's the Way you look.

The Way I look?

Beautiful.

The first time I saW you, I figured I'd never be good enough for you, no matter What I do for the rest of my life.

Come here.

Come here.

Come here.

Oh, I love you.

From the minute you saW me.

No.

You sort of greW in me.

On me.

GreW on me.

No, you greW in me.

Like a baby.

Arturo. Yes, Camilla.

In the future, make more of an effort to be nicer to people When you meet them.

Okay.

First impressions are very important.

Try to make a good one. Okay.

It makes things easier. I understand. Okay, okay.

Okay. Okay.

Camilla Bandini.

I think I could get used to it.


Don't let go.

Don't ever let go of me. Don't ever...

Camilla, I'll get you to the doctor.

Camilla?


"When I Was a kid back in Colorado, "it Was Smith and Parker and Jones Who hurt me With their hideous names, "Who called me Wop and dago and greaser, "and their children hurt me just as I hurt you.

"They hurt me so much, I could never become one of them.

"Drove me to books. Drove me Within myself.

"Drove me to run aWay from that Colorado toWn

"and into your home and your life.

"And sometimes, "When I see their faces out here, "the same faces, the same set of hard mouths from my hometoWn, "I'm glad they're here fulfilling the emptiness of their lives

"and dying in the sun.

"And they hate me and my father and my father's father, "but they are old, and I am young and full of hope

"and love for my country and my times."

And Camilla, When I said greaser to you, it Was not my heart that spoke, but the quivering of an old Wound.

And I am ashamed of the terrible thing I have done.