Movieland - Chapter 14 (1)
The house lights dim.
A long shot of a western city in bright, crisp daylight, mountain range in the distance.
Through a series of dissolves, we see black-and-white stills of downtown buildings, then residential streets, finally a live shot of a row of prosperous old houses on a quiet, shady lane.
Faintly in the distance, a handbell jangles as if to summon a maid. The camera pulls in on second-story windows, searching for the right one, passes it, then turns back and dips under an open window where the shade has been drawn.
We are in a long hallway, a row of doors on the right, a railing on the left, overlooking a staid living room below, its armchairs covered in antimacassars, and beyond the room, a glimpse of kitchen. The bell jangles again, coming from down the hall. A nurse emerges from the room closest to us, barely opening the door, looks back and puts a finger to her lips to someone within.
She is about thirty-seven, still attractive, though no longer as daisy fresh as audiences remember. This is a comeback role for Lee Saxon. Following a series of miscarriages and a rumored nervous breakdown, Lee Saxon quit her career a decade earlier. Now Thorncraft — a director every serious actress wants to work with, despite his notorious handsy ways with leading ladies — has lured the reluctant star back into the public eye. In this first close-up, audiences are surprised to find the blonde actress looking older, paler, without the accustomed movie-star glaze of eternal youth. Real-life trials have deadened her’ sparkle, left her somewhat stark-eyed, somewhat stunned.
She goes down the hall in her white cap and white shoes and disappears into another room. The bell stops ringing. We hear muffled voices as the stationary camera peers over the banister toward the kitchen where there is now the sound of hustle and bustle. A stout woman in an apron emerges and begins climbing the hall stairs. The nurse comes out of the room with a tray and meets the cook halfway.
The cook shakes her head. “Hardly touched it. Almost wasn’t worth coming in this morning just for breakfast. I’ll wash these and be off. Will you be doing anything special for Thanksgiving, Nurse Perkins?”
“Not really … well, maybe. How about you, Mrs. Hastings?”
The cook chuckles. “What does a cook do on her day off? Cooks for an army of relatives. It will be one long, glorious weekend of the grandkids screaming, and the football game blaring, and none of that damn bell of hers going off every two minutes!”
The nurse returns to the second floor and comes toward the camera, to the door closest to us, disappearing into the room.
Now we see a man is waiting for her on an unmade bed. Bare-chested, in white boxers, he is handsome, clearly younger than she, a Hollywood-issue glamor boy, full of screen charisma. He stretches out his arms and yawns languorously on the rumpled sheets. As she passes, he pulls her down to him. They kiss.
She joins him, on the edge of the bed. “Please, Gavin. Can’t you stay just this once? The holidays are such a lonely time.”
He sits up against the headboard and lights a cigarette, looking pensive.
Marti Perkins searches his face, waiting for some sign, some reply. She tries again. “She’s going away with her niece for the whole weekend. We’ll have the house to ourselves. No sneaking around.”
“Marti,” he says forbearingly, “we have our whole life to be together.”
“I only see you when you pass through town on business. What kind of life is that?”
He exhales smoke in a put-upon way. "I thought we were done with this, Marti. The stereo store makes its biggest revenue on the weekend of Thanksgiving. I have to be there, in Rayburn. I'm doing this for you ... for us. You know why."
She sighs. “To save up for our ‘dream house,’” she says glumly. It’s something she has told herself many times before.
He is playful. “To make an honest woman of you.” He pulls her in for a lingering kiss.
“Let’s do it now!” she says suddenly, pulling away. For a moment the sparkle comes back in her eyes. “Today! Right now! This morning! I’ll go back with you, Gavin. I’ll find a job in some hospital—“
“You hate hospitals!”
“No, what I said was I hate the E.R. You never catch your breath in the E. R. Everything is an emergency.”
“You’d hate living in my cramped quarters behind the store. With a hotplate and a lumpy cot. I’d hate it!” he declares, stubbing out his cigarette for emphasis. “Hate seeing you live like that. Hate myself for making you live like that!”
She searches his face, finds only resolve. Gavin continues. “Here you’re sitting pretty in this big old house, taking care of an old lady who’s half-asleep most of the time. No rent, no bills, even your meals are brought to you. Doesn’t this make more sense? To work smart rather than to work hard. To save our money as fast as we can, and then set up a real home?”
She sighs wearily. “It’s just that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.”
He pulls her in for another kiss, a perfunctory one on the forehead, and as he does, he eyes the clunky man’s watch on the bed table. “Oh, hell!” he cries, setting her aside. She shushes him. “I’ve got to get on the road. It’s almost ten!” He springs up in his white boxers and pulls on his trousers.
Marti watches him forlornly from the rumpled bed as he comes alive with excitement. “I have nearly a day’s drive. I should be in Rayburn with enough time to catch a nap before I have to open the store. You know what the police call the day after Thanksgiving?” He is tucking in his shirt. “Black Friday. The Christmas sales bring so much traffic downtown that the roads get blocked, and the cops have to deal with Broad Street becoming one long parking lot. Angry drivers, honking horns, Jingle Bells and ho-ho-ho blaring out over every scratchy loudspeaker. Some of the stores have started opening at 6 a.m. …” He pulls on his socks. “… for the early birds who want to beat the traffic and the Jingle Bells. But my little stereo store is going to beat them all. I’m opening at midnight!”
“Keep your voice down!”
“Is that insane!” he whispers ecstatically.
“Who would even come out at that hour?”
“You’d be surprised,” he replies, tying his shoes, ‘what people will do to save a buck.”
“Must money ruin everything?” wonders Marti. “They lied to us, you know. They said money can’t buy happiness. It’s the only thing that does. Oh, Gavin!”
She tries to hold onto him, but he breaks it off.
“It’s time, darling,” he says with a playful wink
She nods and cautiously steps to the door, opens it a crack, and looks out.
Cut to the kitchen. It is empty, though the cellar door is open.
Marti calls again, and when no one answers, she motions to Gavin to join her in the hall, again pressing a finger to her lips.
In the kitchen, soft footfalls. Mrs. Hastings comes up from the cellar with a tray full of jams and preserves.
The camera assumes its stationary position, peering over the railing with a cool Thorncraftian relish in suspense that borders on the sadistic. Marti and Gavin quietly step down the carpeted stairs, and Mrs. Hastings, her back to us, unseen by them, sets up the preserves. Any moment she will turn, they will collide.
But then the cook hums to herself. Marti grips Gavin’s hand on the stairs, panicked. They are now only a step away from the bottom. Gavin, lighthearted as ever, pulls them both into the light of the kitchen.
“You must be Mrs. Hastings,” he says smoothly.
The cook turns with a look of surprise.
“I’m Dr. Hunter,” he continues, “From the hospital. I was asked to check in on …” He hesitates, he doesn’t know the name. “… our patient.”
“You mean Mrs. Engels.”
Marti quickly dissembles. “Dr. Bennet went to his daughter’s for Thanksgiving. He said he’d send someone while he was in Santa Fe.”
The cook acquiesces with a nod. Then after a moment: “And you were up there all this while?”
“I came early,” replies Gavin brightly. (The line, particularly the insouciant way the actor tosses it off, had, in recent years, produced unintended snickers in the theater, especially when the film was shown at college-town arthouses.)
Marti shows Gavin to the front door. “Thank you … doctor.” He sneaks her a roguish wink before she shuts the door completely.
“Well,” observes the cook with a bit of an edge, “he’s certainly good-looking.”
“Isn’t he,” replies Marti wistfully.
The camera stays on the cook’s reactions as Marti climbs the stair, the cook eyeing her with deepening skepticism.
The Hiding Places
Close-up of a gnarled hand in a lace sleeve, ringing a bell with increasing agitation. The hand looms large on the screen, and from its viewpoint, we see the door open. Marti enters.
“I won’t be thrown out of this house!”
Leaning forward in a high-backed wooden wheelchair, a thin-lipped old woman points a bony finger at the suitcase on the bed. “I won’t be put on the street!”
“No one is throwing you out of your house, Mrs. Engels.”
“What are you going to do? Put me in the fruit cellar! What do you think, I’m fruity!”
The old woman’s voice is shrill. Now a note of pleading comes into it. “I used to be a rich woman! I used to be somebody! I won’t be pushed around this way!”
“I’m just checking your bags for the weekend.,” Marti says with a hint of exasperation. “You’re going to spend the holiday with your niece, Janice.”
The old woman stretches herself up in her wheelchair to see what’s in the suitcase. All this while, she has been raking a hand through the long hairs of a fat white Persian cat on her lap. Its tail whips about irritably as the shrill voice rises. “Where are the pills! You’ve forgotten my pills.” All at once the white Persian makes a leap for it, but the bony hand clamps her down. “You all want to kill me!”
Marti takes this in stride. “I’m about to pack your pills, Mrs. Engels,” she says with studied calm. “I just need to write out the instructions for your niece. I’ll be back in a moment.”
The old woman eyes the nurse bitterly as she departs. Once alone, Mrs. Engels makes haste to hoist herself up on her cane, the cat tumbling to the floor with a screech. Leaving the wheelchair behind, she totters over to a dresser covered with old-fashioned boudoir dolls. She opens her free hand. A look of befuddlement. She totters back to the lace-covered end table beside her wooden wheelchair. She opens a music box, which begins to play a sad, tinkly “O My Darling, Clementine,” digs a finger into the tufted lining, separating it from the box, but doesn’t find what she was expecting. More befuddlement. She goes through the embroidered pillows that swamp her wheelchair, opening zippers. Finally, her claw-like hand emerges clenching crinkled bills in large denominations, hundreds, fifties. She totters back to the dresser and turns over a doll at random, stashes the money under its flowing taffeta skirt when the door behind her opens.
It’s that damn nurse again! “Turn around, girl!” Mrs. Engels demands in a wounded voice.
Marti turns her back wearily. She’s been through this many times. However, from Marti’s point of view, we see everything the old woman is doing in a tall vanity mirror. Marti examines her own reflection, a look of concern. She wishes she were still a girl.
“Why are you dressed like that, Janice!”
Marti faces Mrs. Engels, who is easing herself down into the wheelchair. “I’m not Janice. I’m Nurse Perkins.”
“You’re just like your mother, Janice … grasping, envious, flaunting herself in furs and finery she can ill afford. While her own sister is being thrown out in the street by these vultures from the bank!”
Marti has turned away to look out the lace curtain. “Here’s your niece now,” she says as we see a Mercedes pull into the driveway. “You can tell her all about it, Mrs. Engels.”
The scene dissolves. Now Janice has joined Marti. She sits, Marti stands, busying herself with the medications, while the old lady strokes the fluffy white Persian.
“No, Aunt, I’m not Emily. I’m Janice, Emily’s girl.” Everything about Janice suggests wealth and expensive taste. (Fans of the director easily recognized the actress: Edward Thorncraft’s daughter Miriam Thorncraft, who, though young, is somewhat matronly and rarely plays her true age.)
The old woman addresses the cat. “It’s because I don’t have money. She never visits.”
“I’m here now, Aunt. Janice is here now.”
“She thinks she’s come to my funeral. Well, I’m not dead yet! Tell her that.”
“Aunt! How you talk! I’ve come because it’s the day before Thanksgiving, and you’re going to spend the weekend with us. Isn’t that nice? Alfred and the boys will be so happy to see you.”
“We had a banker named Alfred once. Would come to the house dressed all in black — very proper, mind you — from back East. They found out he was embezzling everyone top to bottom. He looked like a crow. They all do, these bankers. Picking through your papers with their long beaks.
“Yes, Aunt, we know how you feel about banks.”
“I used to be rich … did you know that? I used to be ‘The Most Marriageable Silver Heiress West of the Rockies.” That’s how The Gazette referred to me, much to Father’s fury. But those Eastern crows came and peck-peck-pecked my fortune to bits!”
“You know that’s not true, dear. You’re a very wealthy woman, Aunt. You have a great, great deal of money …” She gazes around the room, adding to herself. “… stuffed in every nook and cranny of this damn old house.”
Marti, who has been checking medications against a list as she packs them in a zippered purse, interrupts. “May I speak to you for a moment, Mrs. LeClair?”
The women retire to the hall, leaving the door ajar. Mrs. Engels is glimpsed through the opening, stroking her cat. Marti unzips the purse.
“This one, two hours before meals. And if she starts crying, the blue pills may calm her down.”
The niece gives her an annoyed look.
“She goes on crying jags lately,” Marti explains. “Sometimes she throws things, so keep her clear of anything small or fragile.”
The niece is quite put out. She glares back into the room, whispering harshly to herself as if Marti were not there. “Why doesn’t she just get it over with!”
We now hear Mrs. Engels fussing with the cat. “They think they’re getting my money. The bankers. The doctors. My niece who never visits.”
Janice hurries into the room. “Aunt … Aunt … I’m right here. Emily’s girl.”
Mrs. Engels ignores her. To the cat: “They don’t know what we know.”
“What Aunt! … what don’t we know!”
“I changed my will,” she says with malicious satisfaction.
Janice to Marti, roughly: “Is that true?”
“Mr. Willem was in with her last week.”
Mrs. Engels continues dreamily. “You’re going to be a very fat cat, Snowflake.”
A close-up on the cat dissolves to a close-up of the cat in a carrying case, swaying as it is held by a leather-gloved hand. The hand belongs to the niece who carries the case at arm’s length. Mrs. Engels is seated in the back seat of the Mercedes ready to be chauffeured about. Janice leans in. Sweetly but insincerely: “And here’s your lovely Snowball.”
“Snowflake!” snaps the old woman shrilly as the case is placed beside her. “No! No! No! Get her out!”
“Aunt, she’ll shed all over the back seat.”
“Get her out of that coffin!”
Janice pulls the fat, squirming cat from the box by the scruff of its neck and places it on the lap of the old lady, who coos over it.
Janice turns, and her smile curdles. She steps aside to speak to Marti in confidence. The nurse huddles in the doorway in a cardigan sweater as a brisk breeze ruffles the niece’s rich-looking sable coat and fur hat. Though Janice has heretofore spoken to her only as a menial, she now tries to fake a tone of intimacy.
“You don’t have a family, do you, Nurse Perkins.” She eyes Marti steadily. “We were just thinking you might want to spend Thanksgiving with us.”
Janice lets out a sharp, bark-like laugh. “Manner of speaking. I … I was wondering. Wouldn’t you like that? To be with a real family on Thanksgiving. This way you could keep an eye on our dear aunt.”
Marti knows exactly where this is going. “I have other plans,” she says firmly.
“Oh?” The niece sounds amazed. “Other plans,” she echoes. “My, my. I just thought …well, you live here, you keep her company—”
“I’m her nurse,” Marti corrects, “not her companion.”
The niece begins fussing with her gloves. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with her for an entire weekend … and that cat!” She catches herself in mid-flow. “It’s just that you deal with her so well, dear. You know her little ways—“
“We discussed time off when you hired me, Mrs. LeClair.”
The niece sighs grudgingly. “So we did. Forgive me for trying to do a good deed. Offering you a place to go for the holidays. A seat at the table with a family! But you have ‘other plans.’ No husband, no children, no people you can call your own. But ‘other plans.’ My, you’re quite grand for a live-in nurse, Miss Perkins.”
Just then Mrs. Engels pokes her thin-lipped face out the car window. Her eyes narrow on the nurse. “You have a lot of house for just one person, Miss.”
“It’s your house, Aunt,” Janice says gruffly as she gets into the driver’s seat. “Not hers. She owns nothing.” (Though Miriam Thorncraft won a Golden Globe for the performance, fans always said she was snubbed by Oscar. Not even a nomination.)
Marti shuts the door behind her. She is clearly furious. She looks up the stairs, steely-eyed, stands there a moment, getting her thoughts in line, then hurries up the steps with determination.
Dissolve to her bedroom as the Reinhard Heft score takes over. Marti is in a black slip and bra, snapping closed a suitcase. The score, famed for being only strings, is at this moment all plucked pizzicato, to indicate time ticking away, punctuated by long foreboding chords drawn across a cello.
The camera has a will of its own and wanders away from her to the writing desk where an envelope is propped against the lamp. It is addressed “Mrs. LeClair.” Marti crosses over to the desk and picks up a purse. She looks exposed and vulnerable in her black bra as she rifles through the purse with growing alarm. Then she finds what she’s looking for: a bank book. She checks the balance. The camera zooms in on the bottom line: $841.03. Her shoulders slump.
Marti stares off into the distance pensively as she tucks her white blouse into a narrow skirt that she zips up the side. She is still a shapely, though no longer young, woman. With a look of concern, she sits on the bed to put on her pumps. Past her shoulder the camera pushes in on the empty closet, concentrating on a nurse’s cap left on the top shelf. Then from the distorted point of view of a heavy glass ashtray, large and masculine in the foreground, we watch Marti rise. Beside the ashtray is Gavin’s cigarette lighter, forgotten on the nightstand. Marti examines it in her hand. An inscription on the silver says “From M. To G.”
She smiles wanly. “Here I come, G., ready or not.”
Dissolve to a long view of the hall. Marti in a cloth coat is about to descend the stairs when she thinks of something, puts the suitcase down, and turns to stare at the closed door at the end of the hallway. With a sudden flash of anger, she tears into Mrs. Engels’s bedroom.
The cellos gallop as Marti’s hands are all over the dolls on the dresser, turning them over, finding the ones with cash stuffed under their skirts. “She won’t even know it’s gone,” she whispers to herself, then out of caution, slips a few bills back. Next, the bookcase, pulling out books until she finds a tin candy box, fumbles, large bills fall out. She takes most of them, spreads out the rest to make it look like the candy box is still full, puts it back. Rapid cuts now: money found between seat cushions, behind a framed photo of the cat, in an empty container of makeup powder. The string section is going wild.
Dissolve to Main Street: The Bank of Nevada. Its pillars are lit up. It’s getting dark early.
Fade in on Marti at a teller’s window. The somber atmosphere is a relief after so much chaos. The score resumes its ticking pizzicato, time is slipping away.
“Yes,” Marti says. “I’m closing the account.”
“Would you like that in cash or a check, Ma’am?”
“A check is fine.” Marti looks about the bank anxiously. A little girl is pleading with her mother, who is busy writing out a deposit slip. “We’re going to miss the pageant,” the child whines. A younger boy in a cowboy hat runs around the girl, mock shooting his toy gun: “Die Injun, die.” The girl smugly corrects him. “The Pilgrims were not cowboys. They didn’t shoot Indians, they invited them to dinner. You’ll see.”
Out of the eyeshot of the clerk, Marti snaps open her purse — it is crammed with bills — and puts the check in a side pocket of the lining. She has difficulty closing the snap.
As Marti leaves the bank, we see posters here and there for “The Thanksgiving Pageant on the Green.” She hurries to her car, a Ford Fairlane that is easily ten years out of date with the rocketship tailfins and shiny chrome detailing of the previous decade when spaceships were still aspirational fantasy fun and not yet a chess move in the Cold War’s arms race. The car is as roomy as a boat. Marti slides into its voluptuous two-tone upholstery and jams the key into the ignition. She is in a rush to leave, but the Fairlane won’t start.
“Not now,” she pleads and turns the key again. This time the engine sputters, hacking to life. Families and children are everywhere, heading for the Green. Marti turns into traffic, which slows to a crawl. Up ahead, a policeman steps forward. He raises his voice: “Main Street is closing for the pageant, folks. You’ll have to take Annie Oakley Boulevard.”
Marti inches to the intersection just as the light changes. She is right under the policeman’s nose. Warily, she eyes her purse. It is so overstuffed that the snap hasn’t quite closed, bills are visible. She reaches to close it when a voice behind her says, “Making a hasty getaway?” Marti turns to see the amiable face of the policemen. “Trying to, Chuck,” she replies, forcing a smile, leaning forward to block the view of the purse. He touches his cap in farewell, as the light changes.
The Fairlane doesn’t get far before the traffic stalls again. Families and children are taking advantage of the stand-still, crossing between the cars to a large circular island, landscaped with grass and park benches.
The camera follows two blond girls gayly skipping onto the Green. Marti watches them head toward the portly Christmas tree strung with oversized ornaments. Nearby, a woman is assembling actors behind the band shell. To one side, Indians in warpaint and feathers, to the other black-garbed Puritan fathers. Marti watches as the half-dressed Indians disappear unto the stage, stomping and hooting. Now the Puritans make their stately entrance, among whose dour number — in one of his drollest cameos, turning to the camera to return Marti’s startled glance —is the glum, pear-shaped face of Edward Thorncraft, under a tall Pilgrim’s hat.
The Ford Fairlane pulls away. A series of dissolves: Night, and the car is moving on rural highways, some flat desolate stretches, some curving through mountains. Dissolve again, and we see Marti emerge from a truck-stop convenience store. A few snowflakes drift in the air, some settling on the kerchief she has tied under her chin. The gas station attendant finishes cleaning the windshield. She pays him, gets into the car, unfolds the map she has just bought. Methodically, she unties her kerchief as she studies the map, brushes back her hair.
Dissolve to headlights moving through a dark western landscape.
Now the night dialogues begin. We are looking at Marti straight-on behind the wheel. She has a blank white-eyed stare as she imagines the reactions to her impulsive departure. We hear her thoughts in a series of voice-overs.
Janice’s voice: “Well, if she thinks we’re paying her for the month after leaving us flat, without any notice! … No, Alfred, I didn’t say a thing! I just invited her to dinner!”
The road is seen from Marti’s point of view, racing toward us. A snowflake or two catches on the windshield.
A jangling handbell. Mrs. Engels calls from the distance: “Where’s my shawl! Janice?… Janice! … Janice!!”
Marti’s face in close-up: a faint, trance-like smile.
After a moment, Mrs. Hasting’s voice, exasperated: “Yes, Mrs. Engels, we’re all stealing your money—”
A second voice cuts in: “I wish you wouldn’t carry on like this, Aunt!”
Passing headlights make Marti’s face bright for a moment. A new thought.
Gavin’s voice: “I had no idea you had saved so much! We can find that house now, the one you always dreamed of … with a sycamore tree by a brook—”
Marti’s voice: “And a nursery on the second floor?”
“A pink one and a blue one. Maybe two blue ones!”
“Oh, my darling…” Her voice trails off.
The rocketship Fairlane against a white western sky. Turning off the highway, Marti is greeted by a municipal sign: “Welcome to Rayburn.”
The snow falls lightly as Marti searches addresses on Broad Street. “Twenty-seven twelve …” she murmurs to herself before finally finding ‘Western Stereo.’ “But it’s not small at all,” she says wonderingly, then with happy satisfaction: “Gavin’s doing well … very well!”
Marti pulls up in front of the store, sees someone moving about within. It must be her boyfriend. She gets out of the car, playfully taps on the store window. He is going to be so surprised!
A young man turns, barely out of his teens. He has been setting up a display under a banner, “Thanksgiving Blowout.” He opens the door a bit. “I’m sorry, Miss, we don’t open till midnight.”
“I’m looking for Gavin.”
“Mr. Hansen? He’s at home today.”
“But … doesn’t he live in the back?”
“In the stock room?” The young clerk finds this amusing. “No, he lives out in Imperial Hills.”
Marti is too confused to speak.
After a moment: “Well, if you don’t mind, Miss, I need to finish up here. I want to get home in time for the game.”
A stunned Marti wanders back to her car, is about to open the door, when she spots a phone booth, hurries toward it, picks up the White Pages phonebook which hangs from a chain, flips through the pages. Close-up on her finger underlining an address: “Hansen, Gavin … 5 Ponderosa Dr.”
Dissolve. The Ford Fairlane stalks slowly through an upscale suburban neighborhood. A map of Rayburn is laid out on the passenger’s seat. Marti’s purse remains prominent.
She pulls into Ponderosa Drive, and when she gets out of the car, the camera assumes her point of view— the First-Person Camera, moving steadily toward a destination, being a Thorncraft trademark.
We are now seeing everything through Marti’s eyes. Slowly, smoothly, we approach the walkway to Number Five. Something is obscured on the lawn behind a tree. Camera cuts for a moment to a medium shot of Marti, craning her neck to make the thing out. Back to first-person camera which mimics the action, leaning to the right, still gliding forward. As we reach the steps, we turn to see what it is. The camera comes to a standstill: it is a child’s tricycle fallen on its side. Reaction shot: Marti stares at it in her shell-shocked way.
The score tingles with anticipation, the violins aflutter.
Marti continues in first-person camera mode. We glide steadily toward the door, focusing on the doorbell. Marti’s gloved hand reaches forth to press it when there’s a burst of laughter, then a cheer from the house.
Marti can not resist. She approaches the large picture window, peeks through the sheer voile curtains:
The scene is a festive table, filled with old and young, reminiscent of the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting. A turkey platter is being brought forth, held high, we can not see by whom until with great pride, the turkey is put on the table. It is, of course, Gavin. Someone snaps a flash photo. A pretty young woman in an apron joins Gavin with a carving knife. They are asked something. She mouths wait, takes an infant from a high chair, holds him close. A second child, a toddler, runs up to Gavin’s side, clings to his legs. And the perfect family is frozen in a flash of light.
Marti’s hand flies to her mouth, stifling a cry, which nevertheless escapes through the violins, coming to life in chaotic shrills. (Cruelly, no doubt intentionally, the actress is lit in a way that shows the faint crows feet reading through the makeup.) Marti flees in tears.
Sobbing, not looking at the road ahead, she speeds off. The road is slick with ice. The car skids wildly, righting itself as it races out of the circular drive.
Fade to black.
Preview: Wrong Turn.