LIBRETTO BY RINDE ECKERT
1) SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHT ON
He takes out the keys. He opens up the door. The first thing he notices is that everything is just as he left it: The photo of his first car had been hanging next to the photo of him and his dad just before their last trip; A shallow glass dish of buffalo nickels had been on the dresser; familiar magazines had been on the night stand, Popular Mechanics, National Geographic,.
Soldier of Fortune: He had been reading an article on "Slow Fire," conversion of rapid fire nine-millimeter sub machine guns to eight hundred, count 'em, eight hundred rounds per minute. The window had been locked... The window is still locked. Nothing has been disturbed since he left to go to work. Everything's the same, nothing's changed.
He dresses for bed. He puts his keys on the dresser. He hangs up his three-piece suit. He puts his side-arm on the bed stand...his shorts in the hamper. He gets into bed. He pulls the covers up. He leaves the lights on. He sleeps with the lights on because... He knows they know you can't prove nothin' on a dark night without the lights on.
Sleeping with the light on He knows they know You can't prove nothin' on a dark night without the lights on.
He pulls the covers up. His head swims; he drifts
Did I lock the car? Did I lock the car? What about my stuff! Somebody could take my stuff! My stereo tape deck- That's 250 not including installation My leather briefcase- That's another 200. My sunglasses on the dash- There goes 50 bucks. My sheep skin seat covers- There goes another 80. What about my Rand McNally?
He grabs his robe and his keys and he heads for the door... Lock the car! He moves down the hall. Lock the car! He flies down the stairs. Lock the car! He hurries through the living room. Lock the car! He bolts through the front door. Lock the car! He leaps across the lawn to where his Volvo sits in the driveway. He checks the driver's side. Locked up tight! He checks the passenger side. Locked up tight! Left rear door...right rear door...everything's locked up! Stereo tape deck, sheep skin seat covers, briefcase, sun glasses, Rand McNally... Everything's OK!
He takes out his keys. He opens up the door. Everything's just as it was before. Sleeping with the light on I might as well be dreaming.
He takes out the keys. He opens up the door, Gets into bed and he starts to snore.... I might as well be dreaming I might as well be dreaming I might as well be dreaming
2) DUCK BLIND
Saturday morning, Bob is in the basement making duck decoys. He remembers what his dad said, Right hand is the hammer hand, left just holds the work. Man got a good hammer hand, can nail it home in one shot.
Nail it home, boy Nail it home
Man got a good hammerhand and a head for business nail himself a dream house. Bob knows his hammerhand. He keeps his mind on his business. He has all the right tools. He can execute a design.
Right hand is the hammer hand, left holds the work Right hand is the hammer hand. Nail it home, boy. Nail it home!
They've got to look natural or the ducks won't come down. You got to make it look real, like they just blew in. And weight 'em down, boy. You don't weight 'em down, they blow away like a house of cards, just like a house of cards in a dust devil. Nothin' sure fire in bad weather, boy. Nothin' any good 'less it's nailed down. Weight 'em down, boy, and weight 'em down good.
Weight 'em down boy anchor them so the wind doesn't take them out they've got to look like they just blew in like they just blew in. Once they're all set, you're ready back in the blind take a shot of whiskey keep you fired up while you wait but keep your eyes on the sky you keep your eyes on the sky you keep your eyes peeled for the ducks, for the wild ducks just like a cloud they come, a black cloud they fly in like a storm cloud, like a storm cloud just like bad weather, like bad weather, like tornado weather.
Loaded chamber full magazine, just like your dad. I got a chrome plated bore, got a twelve gauge auto-loader, I know when to shoot, I know when. You've got to wait, you've got to wait till they're in range before, before you take the safety off, you can't shoot with the safety on. Do you hear me, boy, do you hear?
Fire into the crowd, boy! Watch 'em drop like stones! Wait till they're in range, and open up! BLAM! there goes a Bufflehead BLAM! there goes a Northern Shoveler One good hit and you own 'em, boy, one good shot and they drop like a stone! That's the way to go, boy, just like a big wild duck, one clean hit, BLAM!
3) DAD'S LETTER Dear Bob, Tornado weather, you know the signs yellow sky, not a sound; then you hear it miles off, like the sound of a thousand trains
Look before you leap, boy gotta pay hardware prices for soft soil easy access; one way through the glass double doors short ride on a long term big open field of a desk policies simple as arithmetic simple as the difference between a door and a highway.
I got a duck gun, boy; I got a duck gun and a dream I go through those doors looking for a face to put my finger in I got a twelve gauge looking over the big field desk tops for a face to put my double barrel business in get my own back my dad's land; my dad's dad's land
Something is sliding under Nebraska, boy it's bigger than anything you can figure it never sleeps, it never stops moving.
Someone has torn the tongues from all my shoes, boy, they painted the soles red. Someone has carved their initials on my shoes. Who do I talk to?
4) THE MAGAZINE DREAM
Automatic tick auto didact tacky key seeming ming knee needing me to maam mammal am ammo mad dad damn man on no somatic tic monad
On job bob do who do done money knee dad dead eddy demon man mean volvo revolve on hot shot Shock cock amaze as is his gun ugly flee jesus he go ego any nigh annihilate is hells bells alas ass a mass ass mammon Just before he died his dad said: Don't be fooled by the decoys, boy get yourself some land. Today Bob can't remember what he's supposed to know. His mind wanders. He thumbs through the magazines. He sings to himself. He says his prayers, and his prayers go...
Thumbing through the magazines Bob remembers what he needs: A good pick-up: V-8 300 Horse with twin traction beam independent front suspension, high pressure shocks, post mount spotlights, body lifters, and sheep skin seat covers, automatic camera: center weighted average metering, fully automatic film transport, shutter priority automation with safety shift, a bayonet lens mount, and a molded body shotgun: twelve gauge auto-loader with chrome plated bore, vent ribbed three inch chamber, a bead blasted finish, and a full choke barrel ... and a night light.
Automatic camera...sheep skin seat covers...four-wheel drive, with a winch on the front for the tight spots...
Shotgun! Shotgun! Shotgun!
Bob is riding shotgun in a magazine dream, due west, just like a pioneer past the prairie dogs past the wagon trains past the cattle drives past the ghost towns past the ten gallon hats past the good guys and the bad guys...
When do we get to the next town, dad? How many miles to the next town? "Okay boy, take out the map and tell me where in hell we are."
When do we get to the next big city, dad? How many miles to the next big city?
"Don't be fooled by the decoys, boy; get yourself some land."
When do we get to the border, dad? How many miles to the border?
"Look boy, you got to stay alert, you got to keep your eyes open. You fall asleep at the wrong time you miss everything. You got one second to grab it, boy, one second and no second chance. You get one shot, boy, one shot...late...you lose. Grab it, boy!...look...stay...keep your eyes...miss every second... boy you got...look what stay when you got...keep...one eye...you're I...boy..."
What state are we in now, dad? "This state is...Nebraska What state are we in now, dad? "This state is...Wyoming." What state are we in now, dad? "This state is...Nevada." What state are we in now, dad? "This state is....California...
Keep driving! Keep driving! Keep driving! We are driving ourselves to sleep, We are driving beyond the sea, Drive on... Drive to where the land is wide enough for freeways. Drive! Boy, you got to drive yourself to where the money's good; You've got to drive to where the sun is shining. Drive! Boy, you got to drive over the sea to where it's easier to find a place to park your Winnebago.
Take the keys, take the wheel, Drive on, drive on. Take the wheel! Drive on, boy! Drive on, boy! Drive on, boy! Drive on!
It's your turn to win. It's your turn to have. It's your turn to be free. You don't need to know a thing. Drive on, boy! Drive on, boy! Drive on, boy! Drive on!
It's your turn to win. It's your turn to have. It's your turn to be... You can be a pioneer. Drive on! Be a pioneer! Turn the key and close your eyes. The car will take you where you're going."
What state are we in now, dad? "This state is...Vietnam." What state are we in now, dad? "This state is...Cambodia." What state are we in now, dad? "Real estate, boy! Real estate!" Real estate is where the money is! "Don't be fooled by the decoys, boy! Get yourself some land. Anybody's land!" Anybody's land!
5) SWIMMING He gets into bed. He pulls the covers up His feet relax. His knees relax. His hips relax. He relaxes his chest. His shoulders relax. His head swims. He drifts... lifts... one arm over the other arm... legs straight and kicking... breathe every other stroke... dive in...shoot down...pull up...float out.
There's a man can read the currents like the back of his hand says It's best to pretend you know where you're going, says, It's best to think like a duck. Not one of those dirty oil-soaked shore birds. Not one of those slimy canal creepers. Not one of those simpering obsequious park feeders. We're talking wild duck here.
Swimming out, stroke over stroke, out to sea on wave swells, into which, diving down, up safe to arm over over stroke after other arm safely into swell of dad's land. Swimming out, one arm over other stroke, swell disfiguring sky rolling way high overcast, where dad's land falls back, stroke over stroke, swell deepening, undertow forms waves, high rolling spray to darkening duck inflected arm stroke over stroke, swell back, swell back, and wave over face and form, swimming like crazy... I mean... I mean... I mean... Every duck has his day. I mean... A bird in the hand... A bird in the... A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush...when...birds of a feather flock together. The road to hell is paved with good intentions...so...if you can't stand the heat Get out of the kitchen. Every cloud has a silver lining...although...great oaks from little acorns grow. One picture is worth a thousand words...because...too many cooks spoil the soup. Home is where the heart is...if...great things come in small packages. A rolling stone gathers no moss...but...look before you leap.
6) THE SUNDAY PAPER
Noise at the door! Noise at the door! A big bang at the front door...Slam!
Could be...could be... Jehovah's witness Could be Jehovah's witness with the watchtower and a slow sermon. Could be...could be a big man in a pork pie hat with a bone to pick. Could be... Could be an angry woman with a Smith and Wesson and the wrong address!
Slow cross on the wall to wall... throw the heavy duty dead bolt... It's just the Sunday paper! It's just the news no hard men, no angry women just the headlines and the funny pages Sunday, Sunday, Sunday...
The world at a glance The news in brief Real estate Living, the section on living Funny pages
Dagwood Bumstead. Dagwood Bumstead and Herb Woodley they're duking it out on the front lawn, they're duking it out at the barbecue, they're killing each other at nickel dime poker. Boys will be boys. Boys will be boys!
Full page movie ads; Close-ups: Johnny's got his gun and nothing to lose, BLAM! Johnny's got his pride and a telescoping sight, BLAM! Johnny's got fast hands and no time to think, BLAM! My kind of movie!
headlines...headlines...extra! extra! BASEBALL TEAM SURVIVES ON WICKER PATIO CHAIRS IN FLASH FLOOD Extra! headlines...headlines.... AUTOMATIC TELLER GIVES BUCKS BY ACCIDENT TO RIGHT WING CAUSES Headlines...headlines... RADICAL CONSERVATIONIST BUILDS GUN NEST IN BIRD SANCTUARY Headlines...extra! headlines... EYEWITNESS TO ROADSIDE KILLING
I witness roadside killing I turn to the living, I turn to the section on living; I turn to the living section:
FIRST AID FOR THE NUCLEAR FAMILY Rule number one: Never expose your face.
7) MATCH STICK EMPIRE
Bob is thumbing through the scrapbooks. Snapshots: Bob and his Dad at the funeral Dad in his Sunday best Bob taking a picture of himself in the mirror Dad at the wheel of the pickup working on a cigarette Bob and his Dad with a string of perfect ducks
Postcards, pictures of motels: Laramie, Apache motel: Dear Bob, Highway's a long black land in a big green sea, boy. Thank god for a good pick up; keep me moving hand over fist, flying past the fire line, big snake of fire in the field at burn off time, one half black, the other half asleep, but that ain't me boy, no sir; your dad's got a line on a dream house.
Provo, Glad Hand Motel: Got her spotted, boy; she's a real beaut', you and me, build it from nothin' but blue prints; an' your dad is good for it; no sure fire loans; no double doors; lots of windows on the south side and a picket fence- tell us when to stop.
Scottsbluff, Shepherds Inn Motel: I'm on the high ground now, boy. From the high ground your dad can see the weather changing miles off. Spotted it thumbing through Popular Mechanics, there she is like a big cedar shake dream. Gotta find a basement , roomy and dry, a big work bench away from the furnace.
Build us a dream house from scratch. Three thousand, boy, three thousand match sticks..... build us a model home as real as you and me, no strings...just plenty of match sticks and glue, hell, we get us enough match sticks, we'll build a whole development,. match stick cars and match stick streets; and little paper boys flying past the private yards, the little match stick lawn chairs. hell, a couple of match stick tycoons build us a whole COUNTRY of developments, great split level match stick fields of split level dream houses, match stick cities, great industrial match stick parks, an EMPIRE, boy ! an EMPIRE! why not? why not? we're the builders now,
We're the builders now, we're the pioneers we're the big time pioneers business tycoons, dream makers hard men on the move, hard men with large appetites the dream house pioneers; we're the big time; we're the builders; we're the pioneers we are the makers of an empire, match stick pioneers we are the builders of a dream house on the high ground
Build on the high ground, boy from the high ground you can see the weather changing spot a tornado miles off that's what to watch for, boy; tornado weather you got to keep your eyes open, you got to stay alert, you fall asleep at the wrong time, boy, you miss everything.
Listen boy; tornado weather, you know the signs; yellow sky; quiet as the devil; then you hear it, miles off like the sound of a thousand trains.
8) RIDING SHOTGUN
You remember the one that flattened Charles City and that big Victorian by the lake, it picked up and set sideways It comes from the east, it drives west and it keeps on going but I got her spotted I'm one step ahead, I got a fast truck and plenty of gas Nobody stop us boy anybody try we roll right over 'em BLAM! Car is better than a shotgun Get in the truck boy, get in the truck; we're headin' out in front of the bad weather, due west; good pickup; plenty of gas
You and me boy shotgun in the rack 45 under the seat security in the tight spots
When do we get to the border, Dad How many miles to the border
Pass me my cigarettes, boy, and load the camera Make me a snapshot
Take out the camera make me a snapshot a scrapbook souvenir, a shot of your dad he's smoking the last one in the pack due west, both hands on the wheel ahead of the storm
Driving the pickup into the sunset a boy and his dad, with nothing to lose ahead of the storm Take out the map and tell me where in hell we are
Bob's got the map he's looking at the legends he remembers what his dad said broken line is the border line broken line
what state are we in now dad? what state are we in now?
Late night Due west Bob is riding shotgun fingering the cellophane on an empty box of "Luckies" Dad is on his last cigarette They pull over
What are we stopping for, dad?
"Can't keep driving, boy, out of gas"
Dad reaches for the 45 under the seat; security in the tight spots
What're you gonna shoot, dad?
"Got an appetite for a wild duck, boy gonna shoot me a big wild duck"
I don't see 'em, dad.
"They're all around, boy."
I don't see 'em at all.
"Land is crawlin' with 'em, highway's crawlin' with 'em, thick as ants on a dead deer, boy, thick as ants"
I don't see nothin', dad.
"You gotta keep your eyes open, boy, just like Columbus looking for the shore, you gotta... don't look at me, boy, don't look at me, keep your eyes on the road, watch for them big ducks, and don't be fooled by the decoys, boy, you keep your eyes peeled, just like Columbus, you get yourself some land.
Bob's got his eyes peeled Bob's got his eyes on the road and dad's got the business end of a 45 right where he wants it.
Blam! Clean hit! Just like a big wild duck, stone cold on the shoulder of the road.
9) WITHOUT A WORD
10) EYES OPEN
Eyes open. Slow focus reveals the photo of his first car hanging next to the photo of him and his dad just before their last trip, A shallow glass dish of buffalo nickels on the dresser familiar magazines on the night-stand: Popular Mechanics National Geographic Soldier of Fortune. He turns off the alarm. Sitting up slowly at the edge of the bed he checks the weather through the window, picks up his Swiss made analog wrist watch from the top of the clock radio on his way to the bathroom for a clean shave with a disposable razor. He takes the cap off the toothpaste... a little on the brush goes a long way. Don't forget the ones at the back. Out of the closet with just the right suit for the start of the week, he dresses for work,
he puts his wallet in his inside pocket. he puts his keys in his outside pocket He knows downstairs Mr. Coffee has his coffee waiting. In the kitchen among the oak veneer cabinets, he breaks open the cellophane wrap on those doughnuts he was saving for breakfast. A quick glance at the no-nonsense clock on the wall near the microwave tells him... Plenty of time if the traffic's not too bad. Throw the heavy duty dead bolt. Through the solid core front door, he heads across the lawn to his silver Volvo. It starts like a dream...smooth idle... put it in first and drive to the T, where he turns right onto the boulevard. Two lights left...one light right...onto the freeway on ramp...driving defensively he turns left to the fast lane. Traffics not too bad; Plenty of time for another cup of coffee and a danish at a small cafe not far from the job. Traffic's not too bad... looks like a fourth gear day... like fifty-five...all the way. On the radio a smooth baritone answers a lyrical soprano they're talking about artificial hearts, inflationary markets, prison reform, Judicial appointments, Japanese cooking, the World Series.
Bob's dad took him to see the series once, he bought him a hotdog and a coke told him what to look for.
"Son, you want to be a hero in this game, you got to know when to steal and when to hold up; when to throw home and when to hit the cut-off man."
I got all the earmarks of a hero.
"Now, if you know the business end of a 12 gauge, you got to be right part of the time."
Real heroes die of old age.
"But you've got to know your Rand McNally."
They got a smile on their lips when they buy the farm. "You got to know a bluff from a highrise, you got to know a river from a power cord. Don't be fooled by the decoys, boy. Get yourself some land!"
I've got the business end where I want it.
"Real estate, real estate is where the money is."
Bob looks at his wrist watch Plenty of time for another cup of coffee before it's through the glass double doors to where the money is
Through the glass double doors; in and out in no time; no suspects; still clean
Through the past troubled wars; in and out in no time; no suspects; still clean Through the past troubled wars; in and out in no time; no suspects; still free Through the past troubled wars; in and out in no time; still free Still free Still free Still free