Act Two!

And only 2 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule.  We’re still chugging along (both in plotting and in the plot, coincidentally).  I am confident we can STILL hit the 6pm deadline for Act Three.

They start walking to town, but get held up by a woman with a pistol.  She introduces herself as “the famous boxer Penny Bruiser,” and demands all their money because she needs it to enter a boxing match.  Gil expresses skepticism that she’s really a boxer, and to prove it she punches him in the face.  He’s knocked out cold and we cut to black.  When he wakes up Penny’s gone and so is all their money.  Frankie’s standing over him like a vision.  He blinks up at her.  She blithely tells him that she gave their money to Penny, and notes that it was awfully rude of him to question Penny’s prowess.  They keep walking.  Gil is really looking the worse for wear — he’s limping, his left arm is in a sling, and his broken nose has soaked the front of his shirt in blood.  A car comes down the road.  Recalling his near-miss with Ned, Gil dives into the bushes.  The car stops to see if they’re alright.  The driver is a woman named Mrs. Digby.  They ask her for a ride.  She’s a good Samaritan and tells them to hop on in, she knows just what they need.  Once they’re in the car she reveals that what they need is the healing hand of Jesus.  They’re approaching the edge of town and feeling relieved when Mrs. Digby pulls into a church and bustles them into a revival meeting.  Her husband Obadiah is the preacher.  Frankie’s along for the ride, but Gil looks a little shell-shocked as Obadiah begins to declaim about the fiery pits of hell.

We cut to a speakeasy in New York.  India, Ernst, and Charlie are drinking.  Percy Pierson the newspaperman walks in, and Ernst introduces him to the others.  He starts asking India questions about her sister, as background for the big story he’s writing.  Suddenly Ned the bootlegger bursts into the speakeasy.  He’s flushed and rushed and in a hurry.  He begins apologizing to the bartender for being late, and explains that he’s behind schedule because a woman from New York fell out of the sky.  The quartet pricks up their ears — they all recognize the description of Frankie.  They mob Ned and clamor for more info.  Ned offers to drive them back to Kentucky that night, and Ernst and Percy leave with him.

Frankie and Gil meanwhile are leaving the revival meeting.  Gil’s humming a tune about how they’re all damned.  They walk into town and almost immediately run into Penny Bruiser, who is putting up posters advertising her fight.  She greets them like old friends and rather shyly invites them to come watch.  Gil is indignant but Frankie eagerly accept the invite — they don’t have enough money for a bus ticket, anyway.  Penny leads them to a barn on the edge of town.  She fights an enormous coal miner named Tony and knocks him out in the second round.  Her winnings are immense, and over Frankie’s protestations she splits the purse with Frankie and Gil.  They’ve missed the last bus for the day, and ask Penny if there’s an inn in town.  Penny frowns and tells them that there’s not an inn, per se, but that there’s a place they can stay.  She leads them through town — which is a rough and tumble coal town — to Madam Mislethwaite’s brothel.  Gil is horrified, but Frankie’s delighted, and they’re both too tired to argue about it.  They rent rooms and go to bed.  Ned, Ernst, and Percy speed through the night.

The next morning Frankie and Gil go to the bus station.  The ticket agent asks them where they’re headed and they say New York.  The ticket agent hands them two tickets to Chicago.  Gil hands them back and repeats New York.  The ticket agent again hands them two tickets to Chicago.  He explains that there’s only one bus and it only goes to Chicago, but says that there’s plenty of ways they can connect to a New York bound bus or train from Chicago.  They accept the tickets and board the bus.  As the bus leaves town it passes Ned’s jalopy coming into town.  Ned waves, but Ernst and Percy are sound asleep, their heads on each other’s shoulders.

As the bus heads north Gil and Frankie finally share a quiet moment.  She’s frustrated that they’re going to Chicago and nervous about getting back in time for the gala.  Gil, by contrast, is beginning to enjoy the adventure, and asks why she’s so set on going to the gala.  She explains that without the funding she wouldn’t be able to go on her expeditions.  Gil is scornful of money, though, and asks why adventuring has to be about money — shouldn’t it be the love of discovery that’s important, not dredging up funding?  In his passion he’s quite a different person from the worrying complainer that she’d seen up till now, and she’s surprised to find that she enjoys talking to him.  The moment ends when the bus breaks down.

In the mining town, Ernst and Percy search for the truants.  Ernst learns from Madam Mislethwaite that they stayed at the brothel last night, and Percy learns from the ticket agent that they’re on their way to Chicago.  Ernst and Percy wonder why on earth they’d have gone to Chicago, and decide to follow them.  Ernst uses Sam Naylor’s expense account to buy Ned’s jalopy.  They start driving north.

The passengers are waiting on the side of the road next to the broken down bus.  Frankie is fretting about getting back to New York.  They decide to hitchhike.  A car stops for them.  The driver is a workingman named Ethan Jones.  He asks where they’re headed.  Gil says Chicago.  Frankie says New York — she points out that if they’re hitch hiking anyway, they may as well make a straight shot for it.  Gil concedes the point and Ethan offers to take them to a nearby train station.  As they get into the car Ernst and Percy trundle up in the jalopy and call out to Frankie by name.  Frankie slams the door and tells Ethan to step on it.  He does.  Gil asks Frankie who’s following them.  Frankie says she thinks it must be the government.  Gil, a little shocked, asks why the government is following her.  Frankie says that because of her adventuring the government somehow got it into their heads that she’s a German spy.

Ethan is a sturdy sort of fellow and is unruffled that they may be in a car chase with the US Government.  He impassively speeds away.  As they approach a railway crossing a freight train threatens to cut them off.  Ethan guns the car and as Gil screams they cross the tracks just ahead of the train.  Frankie tells Ethan to stop the car — she says the train is headed east, they’ll jump in a boxcar.  Gil’s dubious about this idea, but she reminds him that pursuit is just on the other side of the tracks and they have to hurry.  That settles it.  They thank Ethan and get out.  They approach the train.  It’s daunting.  They stand watching it go by until a woman’s voice from a boxcar yells, “You’ve got to keep pace!”  They begin running alongside it.  A young tramp appears at the opening.  Frankie lightly vaults into the boxcar.  Gil has more trouble, though, and the two women have to grab his arms and unceremoniously haul him in.  He bounces a little bit along the ties, but finally ends up in a heap on the floor of the boxcar.  Frankie looks triumphantly out the other side at the perplexed “government men.”

As the train rumbles by, Ernst and Percy look on, genuinely baffled.  It’s a really long train, and they sit watching for a really long time.  Finally it’s past.  They look at each other.  Percy says, “What now?”

On the train, the tramp introduces herself as Dot.  She asks if Gil’s OK.  Frankie says he’s fine.  Gil groans.  Frankie asks Dot where the train’s going.  Dot just says, “East,” and begins chattering happily about the unencumbered life of a tramp.  Gil thinks it’s the most romantic thing in the world, and Frankie begins to be persuaded.

Back in New York, Sam gets off the phone with Ernst.  He’s furious.  He tells Delilah, India, and Charlie that the damned Fritz has lost his damned daughter.  He says that she and her damned biographer jumped a train like a couple of damned tramps.  Delilah isn’t concerned, and India exclaims that it would be the most delightful thing in the world if they fell in love and got married on a train.  Charlie and Delilah agree, but Sam’s apoplectic.  He reminds them that the gala’s tomorrow night, and that if she’s not there he’s going to wring some necks.  Delilah tolerantly says, “Yes of course, dear.”

The train keeps trundling east.  At sunset Dot declares that this is her stop and jumps out of the boxcar, leaving Gil and Frankie suddenly, awkwardly, and dare we say romantically alone.  They sit with their legs dangling out the side of the car watching the sunset.  She puts her head on his shoulder.  He’s surprised but not at all sorry.  We fade out.

Here we come denouement!

-a

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