A Good Woman is Hard to Find
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Sounds of car in the woods. Crickets, bull frogs. We are in the swamp. Old, twangy country kicks in from a crackling radio.
In the car are Vincent and Grace, two southern teens who are leaving the prom by a back road. Vincent P. is a smooth and confident young jock. I guess they won the state championships or something too. Grace K. is the daughter of a wealthy Southern landlord, dating Vincent.
Grace: Aw Vincent, I’m not so sure this “shortcut” was such a good idea.
Vincent: Now Grace what I did I tell you about doubting my abil-i-ties? Nothing wrong with a little swamp air to end the night.
Grace: That’s my Poppa’s car you’re driving through that swamp air. And I don’t think a breeze is the only thing you’re picking up. Gonna be real happy when his baby girl comes back covered in mud.
Vincent: I wouldn’t let a little mud spoil my queen’s prom.
Grace: I was talking about the car.
Vincent: So was I?
Grace: Well, you should have said the same about the Stromboli. I’m covered in the stuff Vincent! You know for such a star shortstop you are awful clumsy.
Vincent: I hit my home run this morning. Now if I could only hit another tonight....
Grace: Oh Vincent you’re driving! (Laughter) Vincent keep your hands on the wheel!
The Car swerves, slows, stops. There is only the radio playing now in the background. Sounds of zippers and cloth rustles.
Radio: This just in! Breaking news out of Baton Rouge – the brand new, state-of-the-art psychiatric ward, reopened for business after the infamous “Indian Incident,” has just suffered a –
Vincent (Turning it down): Aww what is this malarky
Grace: It sounds serious!
Radio: -- suspected murder of a child, but almost too catatonic to --
Vincent: It’s probably one of those housewife hopping sensationalist stories. Yellow Journalism and all that. Or one of those silly radio programs your sister always listens too.
Radio: -- found the body marked up by what appeared to be the signature weapon –
Grace: I’m not so sure it’s a joke, Vincent.
Radio: -- should be advised to watch for –
Vincent (Clicking off the Radio): Could you quit paying so much attention to the damn radio and focus on me a bit here?
Grace: My Poppa is going to be getting anxious about now.
Vincent: Awwww Grace (Sound of Zippers) It’s only 10:30 honey-pie, what’s the rush.
Grace: You don’t even know how to get out of here, do you?
Footsteps behind them, while muffled in the background is:
Vincent: Now I know exactly how to get out of here! You take a left back at the fork back there and you ride it down past old Mr. Carothers’s place... Or General Sanders... maybe it was a right? And then you double back, and –
A knock on the window, Grace screams
Vincent: Gee-many Crickets! Grace it’s just a young man looking for directions!
Vincent rolls the window down
Vincent: Can I help you sir?
Man: Can I help you, boy?
Grace (whispering): Vince I think we should just go. Go. Vince! Go!
Vincent: We just stopped to get our bearings sir, didn’t mean to cause any trouble.
Man: Awful late to be carousing around the bayou kid. Ain’t natural.
Grace: Precisely why we were just leaving, isn’t it Vincent?
Vincent: It is. Heading back into town now, just have to turn the car around.
Man: Suit yourself, but you turn that car around now and you’ll be lucky if yer not gator food by sun-up.
Vincent (getting worried): Ummmm, excuse me, sir?
Man: No, I suppose I’m going to have to show ya’ll the way.
Grace: That’s so kind, very kind, but I think my Vinc –
Door opening, and shutting, as Man enters the car.
Man: No. No I suppose there’s no other way. I hope you don’t mind the stains. Gator hunting.
Vincent: Gator hunting... Oh well in that – Is that a gun?!
Man: You’d be correct young man.
Vincent: I’m not so sure we should have that in the car, safety concern and all. Sir.
Man: That so?
Grace (Petrified): I have nothing wrong with guns, sir.
Vincent: No no no! Me neither. Shoot them all the time.
Grace: He once took me hunting with him and I hit an opossum and we killed it with a shovel!
Man: No fun in hunting opossum. Not much of a challenge, is it?
Vincent: Left or right? Left, right? It’s getting late, Grace’s Pops will be getting worried. This is Vince by the way. I mean Grace. I’m Vince. Vincent.
Man: Turn right Vince.
Silence as they drive for a while.
Grace (fighting hysteria): You know on Sunday’s we visit the old folk’s home and play gospel songs.
Man: God bless. Too many of ya’ll wasting your lives on sin. Not enough kids remember to ten’ to their immortal souls these days. Tending to the bodies. God knows though. Always knows. Gotta respect your elders.
Vincent: Praise Jesu, nervous laugher!
Man: (Silence). Take this left Vincent.
Vincent: That doesn’t look like much of a road...
Grace: I think we should probably listen to him, you didn’t get us too far trusting those instincts.
Vincent: I think we should go straight. I’ve definitely seen this moss before. You know I think we’re about good, sir actually I can see the lights!
Man: You looking to head to the Pysch Ward, Vincent?
Vincent: Godamnit. No, I mean. Maybe? We could sing them “I’ll Fly Away.” Right Grace, that’d be nice. Pay some respects. For the elders.
Man: Turn left, Vincent.
Grace: You know sir, you should come by for dinner sometime. My Poppa’d be real happy you took the time to help us. It’s the Christian thing to do. You remind me of him, you know.
Man: Much obliged.
Vincent: Thank God for four wheel drive, right?
Grace: Vince just shut up...
Man: Stop the car.
Vincent: Yeah I think we’re doing ju--
Man (cocking a gun): Stop the car!
Vincent: I swear we weren’t doing anything amoral sir we were just stopping to get our bearing --
Man: Stop the car!
Grace: There’s a woman in the road Vincent!
Slamming of breaks, heavy breathing.
Grace: She’s old... oh she looks hurt Vincent!
Man: Y’all wait here. I’ll go check on her. Door Closes as he gets out.
Vincent: Let’s get out of here before that freak gets back in.
Grace: He’s trying to get us home Vincent, stop being so paranoid.
Vincent: 5 minutes ago you would have told me to run him over!
Grace: But look over there, there’s some light in the distance. Why would he bring us closer to town if he wanted to hurt us?
Vincent: (sighs) Your Poppa is gonna kill me... Well they’re coming back. Is she wearing a nighty?
Grace: Oh poor woman, she probable got lost. Her family is probably worried to death.
There is a knock and they roll down the windows, a door opens and the woman gets in.
Man: Well I was gonna take you all the way, but it looks like our time together comes to an unfortunately early end. Town’s just over that way, all you have to do is follow this road and you’ll jump out onto the highway.
Grace: Thank you so much sir, it’s very kind of you.
Man: This poor woman could use a ride out as well. Figured you were going the same way. She can tell you where she lives.
Vincent: Yessir, we’ll be sure to do that.
Man: You be safe, ya hear? The good Lord’s always watching.
Vincent: Like an altar boy on Sundays.
He grunts. The window rolls up and they start driving in silence.
Grace: That’s a lovely scarf you’re working on ma’am. (No response). I’m Grace, and this is my boyfriend Vincent.
Grace: It’s a beautiful color. Red’s my favorite. My mom does crochet too, she made me a lovely hat last Christmas. (Nothing). So is that for anyone?
Woman: Me. And my daughter. She had such pretty hair.
Grace: Oh, that’s nice. It’ll look very pretty on you.
Woman: I keep telling her, all you need is the right scarf to match that pretty hair.
Grace: Does your daughter live in town.
Vincent: Maybe we should just let her work...
Woman: So soft. Strong. Red. You have very pretty hair Carolyn.
Grace: It’s Grace, Mrs....
Woman: She told me no. She liked her hair just how it was. But if I could just find the right material for the scarf, she would be the most beautiful girl. I’m close now. So close.
Vincent: Jesus, I thought he said the highway was just right around the corner, this ain’t no more than a sha -– AHHHHHHHHHHH
Sounds of stabbing, splatter and swerving wheels.
The car crashes.
Grace (Groaning to come to): Vincent?! Vincent? Vincent wake up!
Woman: Come here Carolyn, try this on. It will make you so pretty.
Grace: What are you... Oh my god Vincent, don’t you touch him like that, that’s... that’s –
Woman: Your’s now. Oh we will be so beautiful.
Sound of the car door opening and slamming shut, running through the woods.
Grace: Help! Help me please, help!
Woman: Oh Carolyn, I know that they think I can’t take care of you. But I took care of them. They won’t bother us anymore. It’s just you and me now. You me and Poppa.
Grace runs through the woods, trips and falls, and yells.
Grace: No, no, no! Oh my ankle... Not now not now not now HELP!
Woman: There there darling. Now it’s just me and mommy. I know how much you love those cheeks of yours, but they’re just a little big you know. Best let mommy hem them in a bit.
Grace: I’m not your daughter lady! I’m Grace! Help! Please someone!
There is the sound of a scuffle.
Woman: Young lady this is not how you treat your elders. Your poor mother just wants to make you pretty so you can go to the prom like a normal little girl. You want to be normal Carolyn.
Woman: Don’t you want to be normal...?
A gun cocks.
Man: What exactly do you think you’re doing?
Grace: Oh thank god! She killed Vincent and she wants to kill me too! She thinks I’m her daughter.
Woman: I just want her to be beautiful.
Man: You best move along and let me deal with this, honey.
Grace: Thank you, thank you! I think I need some help, my ankle is huge right now, I can barely walk.
Man: I told you to be careful. I do so much for you. So much to get you out of that hell hole, and this is how you repay me.
Grace: I was trying to escape she just came out of –
Woman: Oh darling but look at her hair. Oh if I could just make our daughter a scarf and then she could be pretty forever and ever.
Grace: Wait. Wait wait wait!
Woman: And then she’ll come back home.
Man: Yes, honey, she’ll be home very soon.
Grace: No! No please this is a mistake. I’m Grace, I live in town with my Poppa you were going to bring me home!
Woman: Shhhhh Carolyn, it’s okay. You don’t need to cry, Momma’s back. Come now, let’s get you home to brush that pretty hair. You’re Poppa’s getting anxious