The Whole Wide World (1996) Script

I met Bob Howard today.

My old sweetheart Clyde brought him over.

It's Clyde.

Keep that joker outside.

Hey.

Hi, Clyde.

Why don't you sit down?

No, I can't stay too long.

Bob and I are headed up to Cross Plains.

May I?

Bob who?

Howard.

You wanted to meet him?

Your writer friend?

Ooh, possibly.

Yeah, I want to meet him.

Why don't you bring him up to the house, and I'll go get another chair?

Can't you just come out to the car?

Bob's...

He's scared of your grandmother.

What did you tell him?

Only the truth.

Ah, forget it I'll bring him by another time.

Wait I'm coming.


Howdy. Hi.

Bob, I'd like you to meet Novalyne Price.

Novalyne, this is Bob Howard, also known as Robert E. Howard.

Bob's the greatest pulp writer in the whole world.

Clyde tells me you write.

I try.

I haven't sold anything yet.

You going to Daniel Baker College?

Mm-hmm, every other year.

I teach for my tuition money.

I was too dumb for college.

So, what kind of yarns do you write?

I've sent a couple stories to the confession magazines.

I think the editor meets them at the post office and throws them right back in the return mail.

It's tough getting started.

How'd you get started?

I had lots of other jobs, None of them any good.

Clerking in a store's got to be one of the worst damn jobs a man can have.

I decided the only way I could keep from working was to start writing.

That's working, isn't it?

You're damn right it is, only I stay at home.

I'm the boss typewriter's the employee no arguments.

Do you practice?

I read the magazines I write for.

The pulps. Yes.

They don't pay much.

Half a cent a word mostly so I stretch my yarns.

That's easy for me though I'm verbose.

I got plenty of words.

Do you try to write like the guys in the magazines?

Hell, no.

Let them try to write like me.

Bob's got a character going now called Conan.

Conan's the damnedest bastard there ever was.

Where can I find your stories?

Weird Tales publishes most of them.

Novalyne would never pick up a copy of that.

How much are you willing to bet?

What kind of magazines do you read?

In high school I read Smart Set, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, what?

H.L. Mencken's rags.

Man who looks in the mirror.

Thinks he's shaving the face of God.


Thank you.

I've enjoyed meeting you, Bob.

I'd looked forward to it for a long time.

Thanks.

I've enjoyed it too.

Keep writing.

Bye.

Bye, bye, now.

Good afternoon.

As most of you know my name is Booth Adams.

I'm the town mayor at least for the time being.

I take a great interest in Cross Plains High.

We've got a great school, and we're gonna have a great school year.

You as teachers are responsible not only for the education of the children entrusted into your care, but for their spiritual welfare as well.

These children must have good examples, and teachers are their examples.

Now, that is a man, Ethel.

Oh, my, yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

Mrs. Smith will be right with you.

Oh, look they've got pecan pie.

Sorry, Ethel, the school board won't allow us to have pie.

That's enough, Novalyne.

Who's that? That's Dr. Howard.

Do you know Bob Howard?

I know Robert Howard. That's the one.

Robert Howard, the writer.

That's his daddy.

Does Bob ever come in here?

No, he doesn't.

I'll see him in the post office sometimes.

I've been told that he's kind of odd.

You got that right.

Well, I've met Bob and he's very nice.

Well, I'll tell you one thing he's not very friendly.

And the stories he writes, well Well, what?

Well, Dr. Howard brought one in one time.

It was filthy not something a young lady would read.

Do you have a telephone?

It's right over there.

Operator.

Yes, Howard residence please.

I'll connect you.

Hello, who is this?

This is Novalyne Price.

I'm a new teacher here in town.

Is Bob there?

Robert's in Brownwood.

Can you have him call me when he gets in?

I'm boarding at Mrs. Hemphill's.

He can call me there.

I'll tell him goodbye.

Is he still writing?

Of course he is.

Oh, well, I'm interested in writing too, so.

Sure you are.

Have you heard from that young man?

You mean Robert Howard no.

Well, he's shy I hear.

Shy?

I'm the one who's supposed to be shy, and I've called him about a zillion times.

Every single time his mother tells me, "Oh, he's writing he can't come to the phone", or "He's out of town but I'll tell him you called."

"I'll tell him you called."

You know, I bet she's never told him that I called.

I bet that's it.

I'm sorry but that just makes me so damn mad.

Oh, God, Ethel, you've never said damn on a Sunday?

Well, Lord, no.

Think of the children.

What children?

Do you see any children in here for me to defile with my damns?

Good, let's get going.

Morning, cousin.

Girls and I are gonna take a little ride after church.

Would you like to join us?

Yes, yes, I would.

Oh, I'm sorry, Ethel.

There's not room for you maybe next time.

Shouldn't go running over to a man's house, especially one who's not returned any of your phone calls.

He's not interested in you, Novalyne.

Enid, I'm only gonna ask Bob a question that's all.

I'm not gonna ask for his hand in marriage, and I'm not throwing myself at him.

How do I look?

Well, to ask a question you look just fine.

He stepped closer as if impelled by a powerful fascination.

Without the slightest warning he grabbed her up in a bearlike grasp.

She screamed a very ungoddess like scream,

and there was a sound of ripping silk as with one ruthless wrench he tore off her skirt.

Goddess, ha.

You're Muriela, Zargheba's dancing girl.

This crescentshaped birthmark on your thigh proves it.

I saw it once when Zargheba was whipping you.

A year ago I saw you and Akbitana with that swine.

I don't forget faces or women's figures.

Yeah?

Uh, hi.

I'd like to see Bob, please?

Bob.

Yes, I'd like to talk to Bob.

Mama, somebody out here wants to see Robert.

She can't, can she?

Who is it?

It's Novalyne Price.

Well, Robert's busy.

Hello.

Hello.

Come in how you been?

Hi, fine.

Well, come on in and meet my folks.

Mother?

This is Novalyne Price.

How do you do?

How do you do?

This is my dad.

How do you do? Hi.

Well, I guess we'll go into the other room.

Have a seat. Have a seat.

Thank you.

I can't. Would you like something to?

Go ahead that's all right.

I was just gonna say that I can't stay very long.

I've got some people waiting for me in the car.

Well, tell them to leave I'll take you home.

Would you? Hell, yes.

All right.

Be right back.

Really, Novalyne.

You girls can go on.

Bob says he'll take me home.

So, what brought you over?

Writing.

I wanted to ask you a question.

I'm still getting notes and rejection slips.

Oh.

Well, everybody gets them.

I still get them.

Yeah, but you sell.

Well, a man's got to make a living some way.

I was writing when you knocked on the door.

Didn't you hear me?

Do you always tell a story as you're writing it?

It's a hell of a noise, ain't it?

I find if I talk them out, hear the words, the yarn goes a little smoother.

Oh, so the voice brings the words to life.

You're absolutely right.

Absolutely.

Listen, why don't I take you home now?

We could ride around a while.

Okay, I'd like that.

Well, let's ride.

All right.

So, how was Brownwood?

Brownwood I don't know.

I haven't been in months.

You haven't? No.

I called last week your mother told me you'd gone to Brownwood.

Really? Mm-hmm.

I could have misunderstood her.

That must be it.

I might have been working right then and couldn't talk.

Oh, I see.

My folks are pretty good about me staying at home all the time.

Just pull right there.

That's it.

Every bastard in this twobit town thinks I ought to be out working.

That's hard on my family.

Ha, I say to hell with what they think.

When I'm writing I am working.

You know that.

I get to going on a yarn, I can't be disturbed.

You just misunderstood.

I'm sure I did.

It's a pretty night.

Yes, ma'am.

Things are in the sear and yellow leaf.

That's a beautiful harvest moon.

I suppose you're responsible for it.

By all means I designed that specially for you.

Oh, you knew I was coming over.

You're damn right I did.

I was going along with old Conan and suddenly you popped out of the typewriter.

I said to myself, "Robert Howard, you big, ugly lummox, "there's a girl who's gonna appreciate your moonlight."

I think you're a poet.

Well, girl, there's not many women that can appreciate a thing like that.

I do.

Well, you're one in a million.

One in a million.

Why don't you tell me about your character, Conan?

Conan?

Conan is the damnedest bastard there ever was.

He's got a long black mane of hair, crystal blue eyes.

He's a fighter.

Born on a battlefield.

To him combat's a way of life.

It's all he's ever known, all he ever wants to know.

He's no soldier who was taught to fight.

To him fighting is an instinct.

It's a part of him, like his legs, his arms, his chest, his bull neck.

and believe me he don't take it from nobody.

He'll fight man, beast, devil, or god,

and when those women feel those treetrunk firm arms around their waist, well, they melt like butter on a hot skillet.

Aw, hell.

I've been blabbing all night long.

Hey, girl, why don't you tell me to shut up?

Let you talk for a while.

Tell me about teaching school.

Those kids ever give you any trouble?

Never.

Not if they know what's good for them.

I don't take it from nobody man, beast, devil, or student.

I'll bet you don't.

Novalyne, I want to ask you a question.

If it's none of my business, you tell me pretty damn quick.

Don't you worry I will.

I want to know about you and Clyde.

I was wondering if...

Well, you might still be carrying a torch for him.

Clyde happens to be married, in case you haven't heard.

He's a good friend of mine, and he always will be but that's all.

You're not heartbroken?

I've got a strong heart, Bob.

Well, good.

Now that's settled how about tomorrow night?

Well, I don't have a date for tomorrow night.

Well, girl, you've got one now.

I'll be by about 7:00.

Okay.

About that moon I'll order another one for you.

Okay, sure do appreciate them.

Hey.

Your publisher called from New York while you were out with that girl.

What did he say?

He wanted to know how your story was going and if you were going to meet his deadline.

Did you say I would?

Well, I told him he was foolish to think otherwise.

You've never missed a deadline.

That's right.

Hang on.

They're thinking of using it for the February cover story.

As well they should.

Oh, son, I hope I did the right thing.

Mr. Wright wanted to know if it was okay to give out your address to a Mr. Lovecraft?

He said that he was a big fan of yours and wanted to write you.

H.P. Lovecraft?

Yes, I believe that was his name.

The gentleman was from Rhode Island.

Well, Jesus, yes.

Did you say yes?

Yes, of course I said yes.

Hey, you'd better hurry up he'll be here any second.

Calm down.

He can wait.

A girl has to look her best on a first date.

He's here.

How do I look?

Just beautiful.

Thanks.

Have a good time. I will, I hope.

Oh, he's fine.

He's working hard as usual.

Oh, he's a great doctor. Pardon me.

Well, I didn't know.

I at least thought you'd have on a coat or a tie.

Well, I got on a clean white shirt by God.

I brought this for you.

You said you wanted to read some of my stuff.

I brought this.

It's called The Devil in Iron.

Thank you I sure do want to read it.

Well, okay, there it is.

I'm sorry I didn't get all dressed up.

I didn't think we'd go to a show or anything.

I just thought we'd drive around a while, and I'd shoot my mouth off some more.

If there's one thing I'm good at, that's driving and blabbing.

When I got a pretty girl with me, it makes it that much better.

What's that story about the one that you gave me?

The Devil in Iron.

Yeah.

Well, what do you think it's about?

I don't know a devil made of iron.

Bullseye.

Evil lord baits a trap for Conan on this desolate island.

Guess what the bait is.

A pretty girl.

You read this yarn before, girl?

No, swear I didn't.

Conan, he finds this fantastic city which has been mysteriously rebuilt overnight.

Now, he creeps in No, don't tell me.

I want to read it.

It sounds exciting.

Excitement's my specialty.

Your specialty, huh?

Uh-huh, that's right excitement and adventure.

That's what the readers want.

That's what I give them.

What kind of stories you been writing lately adventure, romance, teaching school?

I write down conversations that I hear in my journal for practice.

Sometimes I try a confession.

You got a lot to confess?

It depends whether I write about what I do or what I think about doing.

No luck, though it still all gets sent back.

Thank you.

What was your last one about?

It's a little hard to explain.

It was called I Gave My Daughter Movie Fame.

What did you say?

It's for the confessions.

Aren't those stories a little bizarre?

What's it called?

I Gave My Daughter Movie Fame.

Really, what's it about.

I'm not gonna tell you until you stop laughing at me.

A woman has an illegitimate child a daughter.

The child is adopted by her aunt, but the mother can't give her up, so she keeps helping her in secret and...

What?

Eventually she helps her become a movie star and very famous.

Stop laughing.

It's not that silly, is it?

Don't pay any attention to me.

I don't know a thing about illegitimate daughters or movie fame.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Well, I haven't seen any giant snakes or big-busted naked women frolicking through the West Texas hills lately.

Oh, but I have.

You look more closely next time.

I try to write about people with ordinary problems, real people.

No, that's where we're different.

I write about another age, another way of life.

Man struggling to survive that's my formula.

Well, you know those tiny farmhouses we passed on the way out?

Those are the people I wanna write about.

Not me.

I can't write about men who toil along on a farm, get drunk, beat up a wife who can't fight back.

Uh-huh, I can't write about hate like that.

Well, just 'cause you're poor and you work hard doesn't mean you're hateful.

You've lived a sheltered life.

You don't know these people out here I do.

Well, your stories sell, so people must wanna read about muscle men who wrestle monsters and girls in skimpy dresses who don't do a darned thing but sit around and watch.

You stick with me, girl, I'll teach you about writing and men.

Although I was completely disappointed by his appearance, there was something appealing about him.

Maybe it was the way he laughed at my story.

He's asked me to go to the picture show this Sunday.

I think I might go.


How's my best gal?

You ready to go?

You look great.

Well, this fool hat kind of bothers me.

Ain't the kind of hat I ought to be wearing.

Why not?

Well, you take those hats the Mexicans wear sombreros.

There's a hat.

Keeps the sun off real good.

Yeah.

Well, are you ready?

You look mighty pretty today.

I like that perfume you're wearing.

Thank you, sir.

Oh, and I hope you'll have your picture made for me in that suit.

You mean with this hat on? Yes, with that hat on.

You look very handsome.

I got a weak chin you see how it recedes into my neck?

You do not. Yes, I do.

My friend, Truett, he's got a really weak chin.

One little tap he'd be out cold.

Mine's weak but it would take a hell of a blow to knock me out.

Well, do you know many people in Brownwood?

Well, I know a few.

I know some girls.

You do?

Name one I might know her.

I know this girl foreign gal Jasmina Divine.

Never heard of her name someone else.

I don't know.

Let me see.

Oh, I know most the beautiful girl I've ever seen.

Who?

Miss Dolores of the House of Dalton.

Yeah, she rings a bell.

Listen old Clyde and I were in Woolworth's shopping.

We saw this stunning girl.

Blonde hair, sparkling eyes, flawless skin it was Dolores Dalton. That's right.

I just dropped dead right there in the aisle, thump.

She walked like a queen.

Shoulders straight, golden hair bouncing down her back.

Yeah, I've heard she was pretty.

The most beautiful girl I've ever seen.

Beautiful big bosoms.

This girl she was the most beautiful.

Hey, girl.

Hey, hell, you be careful with that.

That thing is loaded.

Give me that. No. No.

Why do you have a gun, Bob?

Let go.

You never know who you'll run into around here.

Now give it here.

I've been around guns before.

I have.

You carry it all the time?

Hell, yes.

You think it's just for Sundays?

Look here.

See how dressed up I am?

I look like I got a lot of money, right?

Well, you look like a million but I don't think Suppose we got a flat and I get out and fix it.

Some half-baked gunman drives by.

I'd gotta be ready to shoot first.

Oh, I got you.

This is a dangerous part of Texas.

Those outlaws and vagrants they're all here.

Yeah, I've got a gun.

You do? Mm-hmm.

Yeah.

You got it with you?

No, I don't have it with me.

Well, good I'd hate to try and kiss you and get shot.

Novalyne, look.

Only in Texas do you ever see a sunset like that.

Girl, I hope you appreciate everything I've done for you today.

Now, that's a beautiful sunset if I do say so myself.

That crazy guy? He is not crazy.

He's a writer.

Enid, you're an English teacher you should respect that.

Not what he writes.

I wouldn't touch one of those trash magazines.

He uses words beautifully.

He read me one of his poems the other day.

It was so amazing.

I can't believe how he can Hey.

Look at that guy across the street.

What on earth is he doing?

Novalyne, come here get a look at this.

Come on.

Now, isn't that the strangest thing you ever did see?

What do you suppose he's doing?

I guess he thinks he's Max Schmeling or something.


Hey.

Jesus, girl, I almost walloped you.

Yeah, you sure did.

Why ain't you teaching school?

I am I'm on my lunch break.

I just thought I'd say hi.

You almost got a broken nose for your trouble.

Yes, I did.

What were you doing just now with that punching thing?

I got this boxing yarn I been thinking about going in my head.

Come with me I wanna show you something.

Come on.

So this is your stomping ground, huh?

For now. Whoa.

How's that after-school play coming along?

Good, we're gonna perform it real soon.

Do you wanna come see it?

Maybe, if I'm not too busy.

Still more a fool I shall appear by the time I linger here.

With one fool's head I came to woo, but I go away with two, sweet adieu.

I'll keep my oath patiently to bear my wroth.

Very nice. Thank you.

You ever directed any Shakespeare?

We do a couple scenes in class, but he's a little bit heavy for this neck of the woods.

You know, when I read his plays, I can't see that men have changed much since the 1500s.

Men still hate other men.

Well, in the civilization we live in, men become more depraved and demonic all the time.

Oh, it's not that bad.

Girl, when they discovered oil in Cross Plains, you wouldn't believe the scum that moved in here.

Novalyne, I... Thieves, drunkards, wifebeaters, sex deviants

not a decent man among them.

What about your father?

He's a good man, isn't he?

You're damn right he is.

He's the only one I know. What about your friend Clyde and your other friend Truett?

Well, you don't stick to the subject.

You bring up a bunch of irrelevant nonsense to keep yourself from seeing the truth.

Maggots of corruption are all around you.

Hospitals and schools.

What? Hospitals and schools.

They heal, they teach you use them, but you don't give society credit for them?

We men made a hell of a mistake when we sent women to college and gave you the vote.

You just watch it.

See you Friday.

Now that's beauty that's the kind of beauty my ancestors love.

Novalyne, do you think it's possible for a woman to love just one man forever?

I don't know, Bob.

But you know this is the first time I've ever talked about love in the middle of a field during a thunderstorm.

Whew, I'm in the mood to write a love story.

We're here.

Hey, mama. Oh, baby.

This is Bob Howard.

Bob's the writer I've been telling you about.

Mama, Mammy.

Howdy, Mammy, nice to meet you.

You too, Bob.

Nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Price.

Welcome, Bob.

Take a seat. Thank you.

I understand you've been lending a hand with Novalyne's writing hopes.

Well, I been holding it out, but so far she ain't took hold of it.

That is not true.

I listen to every word you say, Bob.

Well, your ears must be keeping it a secret, 'cause your hands ain't been typing it out.

I think Novalyne should teach.

That's what she's good at.

Well, maybe I'll do both.

Well, it don't work that way.

Hey, something smells good in here.

Good deeds in this house do not go unrewarded.

Yes.

Thank you for bringing Novalyne home, Bob.

Hello, honey how you doing you feel alright?

Hi, my throat's a little sore.

Well, goddamn if you just stayed home like I told you, you'd be feeling fine now.

When will you be up and around?

By Saturday I hope.

And what happens then?

Mayor Adams is throwing a Christmas party,

and, Bob, I want you to come with me.

I'm sorry I can't go.

Why not?

I don't have time for some tea drinking, cookie pushing party.

That's not what it is, you bastard.

A bastard.

You calling me a bastard after everything I done for you.

Don't I wear a tie and that goddamn full hat every time we go out.

Bob, you're gonna have to learn how to mix with people.

You can't just... If I listened to you my writing would go to hell.

It would not.

Sure it would you're not a writer.

If I wrote like you ill be wasting my damn time.

Scribbling down conversations of every Tod, Dick and jackass I met.

That ain't writing that's copying.

I still want you to go with me.

Aw, Christ I'll see those sons of bitches in hell before I make one of their parties.

You wanna learn to be a writer I'll show you what it takes.


Mama, the car won't start.

Goddamn bastard.


Dear Novalyne, the French have one gift the ability to gild decay and change the maggots of corruption to the hummingbirds of poetry as demonstrated by this volume.

Hey, what you got there?

It's a book.

Bob sent it to me.

Next time I see him I'm going to kill him.


You needed to act like whores I swear it.

Why you sacrilegious little hussy.

Do you not fear God's craw?

Is there no honesty anywhere?

And she danced just like the spin of a desert whirlwind, like the leaping of a quenchless flame.

Her white feet spurned the blood-stained deck.

Sweat beaded the forehead of the man facing her, and his eyes were like burning coal.

Smite as he would, he could not break past nor beat down her guard.

She stepped back to draw him out, felt her thighs lock in an iron grip.

His breath came in gusty gulps.

Bob?

You have a phone call.

Hi, it's me.

Novalyne, are you back?

No, I'm still at home.

Merry Christmas, by the way.

Merry Christmas to you too.

Are you still mad at me?

Yes, but not as much.

Hey, Bob, the Pierre Louis book...

What are you doing now?

Well, not much.

I'm coming over.

Oh, Bob, you don't have to.

Now, you read that book.

No, that book is horrendous.

I can't imagine the fool who wrote it.

A fool?

My Conan yarns are full of sex.

They are?

Hell, yeah.

That's what he did.

Drinking, whoring, fighting what else is there to do in life?

I'm sorry, but I don't see anything sexy about a naked woman dancing around a pirate ship.

You don't? No.

Well, for God's sakes I mean she was dancing the mating dance.

I mean what could be more sexy than that?

God I thought she was crazy like you.

Then what do you think would make a sexy story?

Naked women aren't sexy what is, naked men?

I'd look the other way.

You probably would.

A few years ago, I had a hard time selling sex yarns.

Now I got to work double time just to keep up with the market.

Before long there won't be nothing held back.

Sex will infest everything books, radio, newspapers.

Everything.

Hell, yes.

That's the way it was when Rome fell.

Rape and murder took place on the stage.

Damn people loved it.

I'm sorry I can't come in my mother's...

Expecting her medicine I know.

Here's another Christmas present.

Thank you. I hope you don't stick this one under the house.


I walked around the Santa Anna mountains a few days ago, beautiful.

I believe that we carry around the lives of our former ancestors deep in our memories.

You ever read something in history and felt you knew it?

Yeah.

Maybe something bet involving Indians?

Oh, yeah I had this vision of an Indian girl gazing out over the prairie all the time.

Well, there you go.

That's an ancestral memory.

I don't understand why would I have ancestral memories about Indians if there are such things?

Remember during the Christmas holidays my mother saw you shopping.

She asked me if you had any Indian blood, maybe as much as half Indian?

I wonder why she'd think that.

It's the shape of your face.

Do you know how much Indian blood you have?

None that I know of.

I bet you got a drop or two.

We are human because our ancestors were human.

That's one thing that persuades me the bible was right.

I can imagine a lot of things, but I can't imagine man was once a monkey.

Hey, have you heard from that writer friend of yours Lovecourt? Lovecraft.

I did get something in the pouch.

Read down in the middle there.

What's it say there, Novalyne?

He says that you are the modern master of fantasy.

Well.

A letter like that makes it worthwhile to be a writer.

Yeah, I see it does.


The next best thing to a Texas sunset is a Texas rain shower.

One of the things life does have to offer a simple thing but a good thing.

Yep.

If you ask me you spend too much time getting them kids ready.

You look worn out. I'll be alright.

Well, hell I've got to go out to Temple at the end of the week for my mother's operation.

I don't need another sick girl around.

So soon when are you gonna be back?

I'll stay as long as I have to.

Thanks for the time you've given me, Novalyne.

I've enjoyed

every minute with you knowing you.

Well, I look forward to having you back.

Come on wake up.

Come on hard head wake up.

Dr. Howard.

How's Mrs. Howard?

Yep, she's holding her own.

Robert will be alright now.

Has he been sick too? No, no he hadn't.

You really like my son, don't you?

Yeah.

But Bob he...

Robert's real close to his mother.

We're all real close to our mothers.

But we manage to get along without them eventually.

We do.

Robert's a stranger to me, Miss Price.

He's in his own little world most of the time.

I'm not privy to it unlike you.

This one went smooth as silk.

Hell, I can write shoot-em ups.

I got a hankering to write something bigger.

Yeah, a novel, maybe.

Hey, girl.

Let me walk ahead here.

Why?

I got to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.

Rattlesnakes? Yes.

Don't worry I can handle reptiles, especially giant diamond-back rattlers, two-foot fangs dripping with poison.

Oh, yes.

That is a, oh.

Ah, just joking that's all.

That's enough.

Robert E., you lead on and keep quiet.

It's beautiful.

You can see the whole world from up here.

And others as well.


There you are.

Why don't you tell me about that novel?

Set in Texas.

It's gonna be about the hardships of the early pioneers, and their conflict with the Indians who were trying to save the land they loved.

I figure it'll be the best damn book ever written about frontier life.

It sounds fascinating.

I know what I can do.

No one can write about this country like I can.

I'll be nicer to the Indians in this novel.

Thank you.

I'll have this beautiful, fully-dressed Indian girl.

The hero will fall in love with her.

He'll be this morose, ungainly misfit among men.


Why does he have to be a misfit?

Why can't he be handsome and kind?

You're still a dreamer, girl.

He's got to be handsome, huh?

Well, to hell with it.

He'll be the most handsome man in the west, with the fastest gun boom, boom, boom.

Christ Almighty slow down, girl.

If you were Mojave I'd have to shoot you for wasting water.

You'd shoot your best girl for that?

I can't help it that's the law of the desert.

I swear why do I go out with you?

You got me there.

If I was you I'd a high-tailed it away from me a long time ago.

You don't give yourself enough credit.

You have some wonderful qualities.

Is that so? Yeah.

Like what?

Well, your thoughtfulness, your loyalty, your intelligence, humor, imagination.

I could go on and on.

If you don't think a woman is attracted to that you're mistaken.

That's what I see in you.

Well, I...

I appreciate it, girl.

Don't be fooled.

I'm the kind of man that needs to be free.

I can't be tied down.

No, the road I walk I walk alone.

It's funny how women are attracted to that quality as well.


Hi, I'm here to pick up a package.

The name's Truett Vinson.

V-I-N-S-O-N.

Oh, yeah here it is.

Thank you, sir.

Excuse me.

Hi. Hi.

Did you say your name was Truett Vinson?

Yes, ma'am.

Well, hi, I'm Novalyne Price.

I believe we have a mutual friend.

Oh, who's that? Bob Howard.

Bob, really. Yeah.

How do you know Bob?

Well, I teach in Cross Plains.

We're friends.

So do you see a lot of Bob up there in Cross Plains?

Off and on whenever he has time.

But you two weren't serious or anything?

Oh, no, no.

He's made it very clear to me many times that he is not the marrying kind.

He has to be free.

The road he walks... He walks alone.

Yes.

That's what he says, alright, isn't it?

How often did you go to the movies?

Every now and then.

You think Bob will ever go by himself?

Only if the picture was some wild action movie with lots of sword-fighting and stuff like that you know?


Who is it?

It ain't no tramp.

Hey.

What are you doing here?

I thought you might like to take a ride.

It's 5:30 in the morning.

I know.

Come on, get dressed I got something special to show you something you might appreciate.

Come on.

Hold on.

So, how's your summer been going?

Okay.

We had some rain about a week ago.

Yeah, the farmers sure needed it.

I met Truett Vinson this weekend.

Oh, yeah, how's he getting along?

Good.

You know, he and Clyde work for the same company.

Poor fool's a bookkeeper.

Pushing papers all day long that's a job you'd never catch me doing.

When's the last time the three of you were together?

Long time.

Too long I ought to give them iron heads a call, see if they don't wanna go out on the prowl.

What exactly do you do out on a prowl?

Drink beer and talk about girls.

Lie about them is more like it.

Don't you talk about any serious subjects?

That is serious.

Sure we do.

We argue plenty.

I wanna wring Clyde's neck sometimes he makes me so mad.

What do you argue about?

You ever read The Vicar of Wakefield?

Did you like it? Yes, I did.

Well, that's too damn bad.

I thought it was the sorriest book I ever read.

I wonder what you'd do if a student told you that.

If he told me I didn't know what I was talking about?

Right. Well, it depends on his attitude.

The vicar was a lousy old bastard.

The villain seduced and raped his daughters, and the old fool took it piously.

No, he had a sweet and generous nature.

He forgave and then he repented his mistakes.

You know I thought you'd say that.

They offer you a spoonful of manure, and you gulp it on down.

What? I know exactly what you'd if a kid disagreed.

You'd bawl him out.

If he was being rude, I would, but if we were just talking about something...

Sure you would.

It's thanks to teachers like you that there's no room for individual thought in schools today.

Oh, really? Yeah.

Oh, really?

Well, yeah, that's right.

Thanks indeed thank God.

If it wasn't for teachers like me, there would be more individuals like you socially inept, hating the world, prattling off pompous ideas that nobody wants to hear in the first place.

Bob Howard, if you do not take some initiative, you are gonna end up a miserable old man sitting at home with no friends and no life.

And another thing.

Don't you ever, ever imply that I do not know how to teach, because then you really are talking about something that you know nothing about.

Now, why don't you run on home?

Your mama's waiting for you.


Novalyne.

Novalyne, get in the car.

No. Get in the goddamn car.

No.

Hell, come on, girl, get in here.

Go away.

I'll keep chasing you all day long.

Now, get in the damn, get in the goddamn car.

Ugh, men.

All men can go to hell.

We are.

Every damn one of us.

Guess who came by my house this morning?

I don't know who? Bob.

He wants me to go down to New Mexico with him.

Do you think Bob knows we're dating?

Mm, yeah, he does now.

Really?

Yeah, I mentioned to him that we met at the post office, and we'd been to the movies a couple times.

What happened was he mad?

No, I don't think so.

Well, Truett, either he was or he wasn't.

Well, he kind of ignored me.

He didn't say a word.

He didn't seem mad.

He asked me if I'd read The Vicar of Wakefield.

Dear Novalyne, the weather is good.

The beer is lousy.

Hoping you are the same, Bob.

Dear Bob, summer's flying by as it always seems to do.

Where have you been?

I hope you're not still mad at me.

If so, I apologize.

Let me know the next time you'll be coming down, hopefully at a reasonable hour.

Love, Novalyne.

Dear Novalyne, thank you for your invitation to call, but you honestly can't expect me to enjoy ridicule and contempt so much that I'd come back for another dose.

You understand me I think, but I'll make myself clear.

You and Truett haven't played fair with me, concealing the fact that you were going together.

Both of you had plenty of opportunities to tell me, but instead you made a secret of it, and no doubt laughed at me because of it.

Taking advantage of a friend's trust to try and make a fool of him seems a poor triumph, Robert E. Howard. Robert E. Howard.

Obviously, I made a grave error in befriending a pathetic man like yourself, and I now consider my association with you over and finalized.

My only regret is the time wasted spent in your company.

Sincerely, Novalyne Price.

Well, say something.

Seemed like such a nice man.

It's a shame he won't be coming over any more.

Mama, what do you think?

You said it now tear it up.

Why after that hateful letter, I should tell him to go to hell.

Don't end the friendship, Novalyne.

He's been a good friend.

Why don't you write another letter?

Say what you really wanna say.

Dear Bob, although you leave nothing for me to say, being a woman I'll say something anyway.

During the time I went with you, I realized perfectly how you felt about women.

Freedom was the first law you recognized.

Strange as it may seem, I too demand my freedom.

I didn't think you'd resort to middle-class melodrama, and I can't believe that you really in your heart feel that we've betrayed you.

In my last letter, I was of the opinion that we were still friends, and invited you to call, assuming that our friendship would continue as it had in the past.

I apologize for having made that mistake.

Please know that you will always have my sincere wishes for your continued success and happiness.

Sincerely, Novalyne Price.

Mr. Howard called.

Dr. Howard?

No, Robert Howard.

What'd he say?

He said he'd be over tonight.

Hm, did he want me to call him back and confirm?

No, ma'am.

Well, I am gonna call Mr. Howard and tell him where he can really go tonight.

Mmhmm.

I am.

Believe me straight to hell.


Howdy.

Hi, Bob, how you doing?

Fine.

Everything's fine.

So, what do you think of my buttermilk catcher?

You remember that Kipling yarn you told me about?

Yes.

What was it that girl said?

She said kissing a man without a mustache was like eating eggs without salt.

You like your eggs with salt, don't you?

No, I'll have mine plain.

How are things at home?

Not good.

My mother's getting weaker by the day.

I can never repay her for all she's done for me.

Well, she's not expecting to be repaid.

She believed in my writing from the beginning.

She had faith.

You made her very proud, Bob,

but now you've got to lead your own life.

I lead my own life.

Don't think for a second I don't.

I'm thirsty let's go into town.

I made some lemonade.

I want something more substantial.

You got something better to do?

Last month I sold yarns to Action Stories, Top Notch, and Weird Tales.

I sold a grand old Conan yarn to Mr. Wright.

I think it's the best work I ever done.

Conan is after this hardheaded warrior woman, a real spitfire of a girl.

They find a city that's inhabited by two tribes.

One's ruled by an evil sorceress.

She drains the youth from young, nubile women Good heavens.

Which the tribe sacrifices in an orgy-like ceremony, stripped naked, chained to a bloody altar.

I would like to go home now.

Orgies and chained naked women my God, Bob.

Aw, hell, you pay too much attention to what people think.

If they don't feed you or put clothes on your back, then what they think ain't worth a damn.

That's right I care.

I care what those people think.

Why did you come here tonight?

Huh, why?


Miss Price, imagine meeting you here.

Hey, how about it nice?

Hey, girl. Oh, God.

Jesus, girl, wait up.

What are you in such a hurry for?

I have to be somewhere. Yes, he does.

Well, I'll walk you home.

Heard you and Truett are saving lives these days.

What?

Yeah, I heard you took some people to the hospital after they'd been in an accident.

Yeah, that's true.

Good heavens.

I also hear you took off your jacket so nobody would bleed on it.

It was my new white pigskin jacket.

I didn't wanna ruin it.

Well, I've always said we're really an advancing society when we're so willing to save lives we don't want to endanger our white pigskin jacket.

You make me sound like a monster.

I am not a mean person.

I just didn't want somebody who wasn't really badly hurt bleeding all over my new white pigskin jacket.

If he was bleeding he was hurt.

Oh, shut up, Bob, just shut up.


Hello, Hemphill residence.

Miss Price, please.

Bob?

Oh, it's you I didn't recognize your voice.

Hi, how've you been?

Good, good.

Hey, would you like to see a show tonight?

Well, I've got an awful lot of work to do tonight.

Come on I just took my suit out.

I'm all dressed up.

Have you shaved that mustache?

Son, I need you in here.

How's my mama?

Okay, all right.

Here we go.

Here we go.

Come on.

Come on. Okay.

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Okay, I'm setting you down now.

Okay.

Thank you. All right.

Don't you run away.

I'm cold.

Okay.

Let's get this wet thing off.

Okay.

All right, mama, let me get this.

Arms up. Okay.

There you go.

Okay, now, you can go ahead and lean back.

Here you go. Here you go.

Here you go. Here you are.

Thank you. There you are.

Are you going out with that little Indian girl tonight?

No, what and leave my best gal?

I don't wanna spoil your evening.

You ain't spoiling it.

Where our life this forever, you'd only too little to give.

But here tonight we sever for life loves life to live.

And the higher a man may travel the lower may he fall.

And the scheme that I must unravel it was never meant for all.

I'm gonna miss you, son.

I'm gonna miss you most of all.

You ain't going nowhere.

Will you stay with me until your father gets home?

And bring that girl around the house sometime.

I'd like to meet her again.

Hi.

So you made it, huh?

I'm sorry.

Something came up.

We're gonna miss our show.

That's all right.

We could drive around for a while if you want.

Okay, that'll be good.

So, what you been up to?

Same old thing.

My students have been a little restless lately.

Oh, yeah?

Well,

when you're young you feel the lust for adventure buried in your subconscious.

You don't want to be bothered with dreary things like school.

I see.

How's your mother?

Not well at all.

I can't write

or do anything

except take care of her.

What do you mean you can't write?

My mother requires my constant care.

She has these terrible night sweats.

I changed her gown three times last night.

That's not your job.

Aw, damn it, you do what needs to be done.

I can't let her lay there wet and uncomfortable.

Why don't you hire a nurse?

You've got the money.

You are not required... No, you can't... to give up your life. Listen to me.

I'm required to give up anything and do whatever needs to be done.

Not your work.

Not your livelihood, Bob.

What's work?

A man can do any kind of work.

Work ain't worth a damn

unless you do it for somebody you love.

I'm losing her damn it I know that.

I want a woman to love, a woman to believe in me.

Is that so much to ask?

No, it's not.

It's not.

And I'm sure you'll find one.

You're an extraordinary man.

If you don't love me, say so.

I know you loved me once.

I believe in you, Bob, I do.

I do.

And do you love Truett?

If it's Truett you love, say so.

Say it, goddamn you.

Say it.

I don't love anyone.

I don't love anyone at all.

I don't love anyone.

I did love you but you weren't ready.

You told me so yourself.

You said, "I can't be tied down."

You said so yourself. Well, I didn't know what I was talking about.

I know but there's other reasons too.

We have all these differences and they're gone be there.

But differences can be overcome, can't they?

Yeah.

Yeah, they can.

Tell me that you'll change your attitude.

Tell me that you'll get out once in a while, and that you'll try to let go of your mother.

Tell me that now.

Bob, tell me that now.

I'm going to Louisiana State this summer.

I've been accepted.

You made good with your writing, and I'm gonna make good with something too.

I'm gonna teach.

Oh.

You dedicate yourself to

kids in some small, apathetic town

what will you get out of it?

Not even a thank you.

I'm not doing it to be thanked.

Well, you got a great cause.

To make life worth living a man or a woman you got to have a great love or a great cause.

I have neither.

Don't say that that's not true.

That's a colorful sweater you got there.

It's an LSU sweater.

The other teachers gave it to me so I'd be ready when I got there.

Hell, I know you'll be ready.

Question is will they be ready for a spitfire like you?

I'm sure they've seen their share of spitfires.

I don't know about that.

Texas spitfires and Louisiana spitfires are two entirely different breeds.

Hmm.

Come on get in I'll take you for a drive.


Suppose you were a lonely, beautiful girl who came out here to take in the sunset.

While you were watching it

a handsome Indian brave stepped out of them trees there.

Now, what you do about it would be the yarn that you'd write.

See I can imagine the sunset, and I can see the Indian brave, but that's as far as I go.

That's where the story ends.

Why stop when it just gets interesting?

Because the next thing you know, I'd be telling him to wash off the war paint and get a good suit of clothes and accompany me to Sunday School.

Something tells me he just wouldn't wanna do that.

When I saw that house, I thought about the yarns that you write.

Your dream.

The dream that brought you over to my house that day.


Bob.

Thanks for bringing me out here,

and thanks for telling me what's wrong with my stories.

I mean that.

Well, you're welcome.

It's only my opinion you don't have to listen to it if you don't want to.

I'd be a fool not to listen to the greatest pulp writer in the whole wide world, Robert E. Howard.

Well, that you would by God.

That you would.

Uh-huh. Let's ride.


Now, you be sure to write.

You know my address old lock box 313.

I'll write as soon as I get settled.

Don't you get into any trouble with those wild ideas of yours.

You run into any of that voodoo, you make sure you find a Catholic, hold up a cross say a prayer for you.

Okay, I will.


Hey, girl.

Take a look at that sunset I ordered for you.

I sure do appreciate it.


That morning the attending physician, Dr. Dill had told us that Mrs. Howard would never recover.

Robert looked at me, and he went to his room and he began to type.

A minute later our cleaning lady saw him walk through the back door to his car.

She said he raised his arms and began praying,

then she heard a shot

and saw him slumped over the steering wheel.

I carried my boy back into the house.

He lived for eight hours.

His mother passed away the next day.

Thank you for the time you gave my son, Miss Price.

I know how much he cared for you.


Fiveminute stop, folks.


You've been doing a lot of crying.

Who you crying for?

A friend.

Gone, is he?

Passed on?

Yes.

He took his own life.

That's tough.

He was a writer.

He made his living writing stories.

Could spin a yarn, could he?

That's what he called them.

What's your name, dear?

Novalyne Price.

Let me ask you something, Novalyne.

Are you glad you had the chance to know him?

And even though you won't see him for a while, is he still your friend?

Yeah.

Yeah, he sure is.

Novalyne, look.

It's gonna be a beautiful sunrise.