with Ruth and Paul Martin standing outside their house in front of a
shed, barnyard animal sounds in the distance. Ruth is
wearing a plain dress covered by a floral-print apron with scalloped
hems. Paul wears khaki pants, a matching khaki shirt, and sensible
shoes. Though the audience can't hear what they're saying, the
couple's body language, soft eyes, and pleasing smiles make it obvious
that Paul and Ruth are engaged in mindless, rural chit-chat---the
possibility of an early winter, perhaps. The camera closes
in as the bucolic scene is interrupted by a large collie
entering stage right. The collie is sweating as though she has
run several miles or has been liberally spritzed with water from an
off-camera spray bottle. Ruth dries her sweaty palms on her
apron. Paul leans forward, hands on his knees so that he can
better communicate with the dog.
Paul Martin: "Lassie,
girl. Where have you been? Where's Timmy ?"
Lassie is catching
her breath but recoils at the stench of Paul's. Sensing a problem
with his oral hygiene, Paul stands up straight. Lassie sits and
raises one paw.
Ruth Martin: "I think
she's trying to tell us something. What is it girl?"
At this, Lassie
stands, turns, and begins walking back in the direction from which she
came. Paul's jaw slackens. Ruth scratches her
head. Neither Martin moves. Lassie then turns her head and,
seeing that nobody is following, sits again. Lassie stares at the
Paul Martin: "I think
you may be right, honey. Is she right, Lassie? Are you
trying to tell us something?"
Lassie nods her
shaggy head up and down. The Martins continue staring at the dog
even as Lassie walks away, stops, looks over her shoulder, walks away,
and stops again. Paul and Ruth resume their prior chit-chat, this
time an overly kind assessment of Ruth's blueberry cobbler.
Lassie backtracks and takes a few steps toward them.
Ruth Martin (to
Lassie): "Are you still here? What could you possibly want?
And, by the way, where's Timmy? I have some scrumptious cobbler
and cold milk a'waiting on him."
A look of
exasperation spreads across Lassie's face. The collie
again raises her paw but, this time, she uses it to slap her own
forehead before dragging it down her face and snout. Paul thinks
of Curly Howard, but doesn't know why and quickly dismisses the
thought. Raising his voice as though the dog were hard of
hearing, Paul speaks again.
"TELL ME GIRL. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?"
releases a deeply held breath, and begins to draw a picture in the
dirt. The picture, though crudely drawn, clearly shows a smallish
stick-figure standing at the bottom of a long
cylinder. Above the cylinder is roof and crossbar, rope
wound around the bar like a spool of thread. At the end of
the rope there's an overturned bucket. Paul
thinks the bucket is made of wood and calls Ruth's attention
to the meticulously drawn staves. Ruth and Paul study the
picture for what seems an eternity.
Paul and Ruth Martin
(to Lassie, in unison): "We just don't understand you, girl. Want
At this, Lassie
stands on her hind legs, cups her front paws around her mouth, and
"TIMMY IS IN THE
MOTHERFUCKING WELL, GODDAMNIT !"