Characters in this Scene
Lady Gaga as Lorelei Perkins Emma Roberts as Olive Pettifer
Matt Bomer as Clark Pettifer Angela Bassett as Delilah Murphy
Dennis Haysbert as Mo Murphy Dennis O'Hare as Lieutenant Ryan Potts
Wes Bentley as Private Wayne Dodd
For full characters and synopsis, click here (WARNING spoilers, as this contains the plot outline)
On a hot June afternoon in 1967, a silver Greyhound bus pulls up at the town of Talisman Springs, Nevada. The place is little more than a rest stop along Route 55. The bus doors open with a sssshhh from the hydraulics and out steps an impeccably attired blonde woman. Her coiffed hair is protected from the desert wind by a sheer white scarf. She is wearing a form-fitting pink woollen suit, but oddly enough, she is not perspiring in the heat. A pair of batwing sunglasses shield her eyes from the glare as she glances up at the tacky looking building before her, the La Vie en Rose Motel. She has the distinct sensation of being watched, but she can’t determine who or where they are. Her observer is hidden behind the oleander hedge surrounding the motel pool. She places her suitcase on the ground and reaches down to smooth her supp-hose. As she bends, a hand reaches out from the hedge to stroke her thigh. With viper-like reflexes she spins, grips the offending hand, and bends the fingers back to almost snapping point. The young man rolls out from his hiding place and is now writhing around on the ground howling in pain.
“Stop! Please don’t hurt my brother!” The woman glances up to see a girl, barely out of her teens, running toward her, her long brown hair flying behind.
“Your brother should learn to keep his hands to himself.”
“He didn’t mean you any harm,” her hazel eyes flash with anger, and she turns to her brother. “It’s ok Clark, it’s alright.” She soothes the man who is now blubbering and crying like an infant.
Curious, thought the woman as she observed him more closely, her head cocked to one side. A grown man exhibiting the behavioural patterns of a child. Eventually, he got up and went back to the motel but not before throwing a shady glare over his shoulder. The girl watched him go, and then turned to give an explanation.
“My brother, he can’t help himself sometimes, he doesn’t really understand right from wrong. They said his brain stopped growing after an accident he had when he was six years old. The rest of him grew up, like physically, but he still has the mind of a first grader.”
Perhaps that’s why I could not pick up his brainwaves the woman mused.
The girl smiled and extended her hand. “My name’s Olive, Olive Pettifer. My family run the motel here so if you want a room, we have plenty available now. You’re welcome to come in out of the heat and have a lemonade in the office while you’re deciding.”
Lorelei sensed the girl was hiding something, she could tell by the way the electrical impulses sparked and popped in her brain. “Pleased to meet you Olive, I’m Lorelei. Thank you for the offer but I have to get to a job interview first and then I’m not really sure what I’m going to do after that.”
Olive looked slightly disappointed. “You’re very beautiful, are you from Hollywood?”
Lorelai laughed, “No, far from it.”
“Where’s your interview then, there’s not much here, then there’s the military facility…oh, is that where you’re going?”
“I don’t know yet. My interview is at Mo’s Diner, can you tell me where it is?”
“Sure, it’s right behind you.”
Lorelei turned around. Over the other side of the highway was a Gas Station and next to it was Mo’s Diner. “Thank you, Olive, maybe I will see you later.”
“I sure hope so!”
Lorelai made her way across the asphalt in her stiletto heels. She sensed eyes upon her again, and knew that Olive was probably watching, but she could also feel another boring into the back of her neck. She turned sharply, looking over her left shoulder and locked eyes with a man staring through a window from the gas station. This is the first time she had seen a tabuu, a guardian, and he wasn’t what she expected.
On the surface, Mo’s Diner was made to look pleasant and homey, but underneath the façade it was old and tired. Faded plastic sunflowers in hanging baskets dangled from the veranda, checked red and white tablecloths that had seen better days adorned the tables, and a battered old jukebox had pride of place in the front corner. A scruffy looking trucker fiddled with the jukebox and music blared loudly through the air. The tune was Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag by Country Joe and the Fish. The trucker started tapping his foot and doing a little jig as he rifled through more selections. A burley dark man standing over the grill slowly put his spatula down, his large shoulders heaving. “Turn that off!” he roared over the diner’s heads.
“No, I ain’t,” said the trucker “I’m enjoying the music. Hell, you like it dontcha fella?” he asked one of the other diners.
Now anyone who is a regular at Mo’s Diner knows that in a situation like this it was best just to put your head down and don’t make eye contact with anyone. Mo Murphy was known as the most bad-tempered short order cook this side of the State Line. The customer that was asked about whether he liked the music promptly got up, slammed a tip on the counter, tucked the newspaper he was reading under his arm, and left.
Mo stalked through the kitchen, picking up a large knife on his way out, and grabbed the trucker by the scruff of the neck. Mo’s hand twisted around the collar of the man’s shirt so that it started to choke him, while his other hand brandished the knife inches from the trucker’s unshaven throat.
“Mo! Stop that right now!” Mo stared reproachfully at the waitress.
Something about the way they looked at each other suggested they were more than just work colleagues. Mates perhaps, Lorelei guessed.
“Put the knife down and let him go,” said the waitress through gritted teeth. Slowly, Mo complied and went back to his grill.
The trucker straightened his shirt, a few buttons had popped off. “That’s mighty uncivil-like is what you did to me!” he called out after Mo.
The waitress gazed at him with her world-weary eyes. “Mister, you need to leave. Right now.” Something in her eyes seem to spook the trucker. He picked up his jacket and cap and left without another word. She suddenly noticed Lorelei standing at the counter. “I’m so sorry about all of that. What can I do for you?” She plucked a pencil out from her beehive hairdo, ready to take an order. DELILAH her name badge read.
“I’m here to see Lieutenant Ryan Potts.”
Lorelei thought she saw Delilah raise her eyebrows slightly. “You’ll find him down the back, last booth before the pay-phone.”
“Thank you” She picked up her suitcase and made her way down to the back of the restaurant. The booths were quite high, so at first, she couldn’t see anyone - but there he was - an officious looking man, with a pencil-thin moustache wearing the olive-green uniform of the United States Army. He was scrutinizing paperwork on a clip board and making notes with a pencil.
“Please take a seat,” he said not looking up at her. He made some more notes while she waited. Finally, he spoke. “You would be Miss Lorelei Perkins, correct?” Only he pronounced it as Mizz, emphasizing the buzz sound.
“Yes, do you need to check my ID?” She took out her passport and birth certificate from her purse and slid them across the table to Lt Potts. He scrutinized them for a lengthy time before ticking two checkboxes on his clip board which said Sighted.
“It’s an impressive resume Miss Perkins, typing speed of 100 words per minute, proficient in shorthand, first in your class at secretarial college and then you went on to work in the stock exchange.” When Lt Potts looked at her, he didn’t seem impressed, it was more with suspicion.
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Have you read the job description thoroughly, and do you know what is expected of you?”
“Yes, I have. I’m to report to Commander Burchill as his private secretary and I understand that there are some disclosure documents I need to sign, so that anything on the base remains confidential.”
“Correct, except that I will be your immediate supervisor and it will be mostly I who will delegate your workload. The Commander has certain quirks that you will get to know, and only I know how to manage.”
“Now tell me, what makes a young woman like yourself want to live on an isolated army base, you do know about the restrictions and curfews you will be under.”
“Yes, I understand the criteria. My father was military, so I have lived on bases before, and we moved around a lot when I was younger. I am used to isolation.”
“Ah yes, a Captain Roger Perkins. Deceased”
“Your mother is also deceased, and your sister. How convenient”
“Miss Perkins, most of your referees and next of kin all happen to be deceased, and therefore non-contactable. So, wouldn’t you call that convenient?”
“No. I would call that tragic.”
The Lieutenant gave her a blank stare. “Do you have any questions, Miss Perkins?”
“Yes, why isn’t this interview conducted at the base. Why in this diner?”
“The base is a secure facility, and I am the gatekeeper. No one is allowed in unless verified by me personally.”
“Allow me to explain the reason for my concern. Are you familiar with the legacy of the Estercoraria Chair that sits in the Vatican?”
“No, I don’t think so. Perhaps you can enlighten me?”
“In the ninth century, a woman named Joan once masqueraded as a man and became a learned scholar of the holy scriptures. She rose through the church hierarchy and was elected as Pope John Anglicus. She was eventually found out when during a procession, she fell off her horse to give birth. This scandal could not be allowed again, so the Vatican had to craft a ritual to ensure all future popes going forward were male. A chair was fashioned with a horseshoe shaped hole in the seat. The papal candidate would sit over the top while a cardinal would reach up and check for testicles then announce duos habet et bene pendentes meaning ‘there are two, and they dangle nicely’.”
Lorelei leaned forward meeting Lt Potts’ gaze, “So does that mean you’re going to look up my skirt to see if I’m really a woman?”
He smiled thinly, his lips a line almost as thin as his pencil moustache. “No, Miss Perkins. I am merely using an analogy to demonstrate that people are not always what they seem, and just like the Vatican, I have my methods for finding things out.”
“Well, I can assure you there is nothing extraordinary about me”
The thin smile again. “Why don’t I be the judge of that.” He started packing up his papers.
“Wait, is the interview over?”
“Yes, it is. Please pick up your suitcase Miss Perkins and follow me to the vehicle outside.”
“What? Does that mean I have the job?”
“Yes, it means you have the job,” he said somewhat testily.
“I don’t understand, what about the other applicants, don’t you have more interviews?”
“There are no other interviews, and you were the only applicant.”
Lorelei followed the lieutenant outside and to the left of the diner where an army jeep was waiting. A tall, blue-eyed, dark-haired soldier was leaning against the bonnet having a smoke break. He was about to strike a match when he stopped to gape at Lorelei, the cigarette falling from his mouth.
“Private! Quit gawking and help Miss Perkins with her suitcase” the Lieutenant barked.
“Yes sir, right away” the soldier practically leapt over the bonnet and ran to Lorelei’s side. “Please to meetcha m’am. I’m Private Wayne Dodd, if there is anything you need on base, I would be glad to be of service.” He grabbed her suitcase.
“Thank you, Private Dodd. Um..Lieutenant, might I use the restroom before we go?”
“If you must, but please be aware we are on a tight schedule.”
Lorelei made her way to the restroom, and locking the door behind her, scrutinised her face paying particular attention to her pupils. As she watched in the mirror they morphed from a black circle to long slits, giving them a reptile-like appearance, with the irises turning a deep golden-yellow. From her purse she took a vial of eyedrops and attended to the malfunction in her disguise. Now satisfied with her appearance she replenished her lipstick, and in an imitation of Marilyn Monroe, blew a kiss at herself in the mirror.