Season 1/Episode 9: Designs and Designations

by Bilal Dardai

Content advisories for this episode can be found below.

This episode features: Shariba Rivers as Lily, Marsha Harman as Dot, Kathleen Hoil as Abbie, Joshua K Harris as Rudy, Gaby Labotka as Sylvia, and Pat King as Chester.

Written by Bilal Dardai, sound design by Ryan Schile, directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner, music composed by Stephen Poon, recording engineer Mel Ruder, Unwell lead sound designer Ryan Schile, Executives Producers Eleanor Hyde and Jeffrey Gardner, by HartLife NFP.

Content advisories:

-Profanity
-Misgendering
-Bias against sex work

Transcript:

THE CRICKETS OF LATE EVENING,

NEARING MIDNIGHT. THE CREAK OF A

PORCH SWING WITH ONE PERSON IN IT.

ABBIE HUMS QUIETLY TO THEMSELVES.

FOOTSTEPS ON THE PORCH AS LILY

APPROACHES THEM. BOTH HAVE CUPS OF

TEA THAT THEY MAY OCCASIONALLY SIP

FROM AS THEY SPEAK.

LILY: Abbie? Am I disturbing you?

ABBIE: Funny about that question. Illustrates

the Observer’s Paradox. By asking if

you’re disturbing me, you’ve disturbed

me, rendering the very intent of your

question invalid.

LILY: So...I am, then.

ABBIE: Yes. But I don’t mind. Would you like

to sit?

LILY: No thanks. I’ll lean against the rail.

Porch swings make me seasick.

Ironically, boats make me porch-sick.

Ha-ha.

ABBIE: (AGREEING) Ha-ha.

LILY: Admiring the stars?

ABBIE: It occurred to me I hadn’t taken a

moment to appreciate what it means to

reside in a dark sky town. I’ve been

staring at books in dimly lit rooms

since I arrived. I wasn’t looking up.

LILY: Takes your breath away, doesn’t it.

ABBIE: It does. I admit. I’m sure one gets

used to it.

LILY: I hope not. If Mount Absalom had been a

dark sky when I was growing up? I don’t

know. Maybe I would’ve stayed with Mom

instead of Dad. Born too soon, I guess.

ABBIE: I usually end up feeling the opposite.

I learn something interesting about a

place and I wish I’d been around to see

it take shape.

LILY: Hm. (BEAT) Wes tells me he had the

house to himself all day.

ABBIE: Seems that way.

LILY: You and Rudy went off together on some

project.

ABBIE: Something like that. (BEAT) You’re

doing that thing.

LILY: What thing?

ABBIE: You’re doing that thing where you

don’t know if you can ask me a direct

question, so you’re stating everything

you already know to see if I fill in

the blanks.

LILY: Ah. That thing.

ABBIE: Not to mention that you’re doing it

because you have something you want to

talk about, but don’t feel comfortable

sharing unless we’ve had an exchange of

social capital. (BEAT) I’ll tell you

mine if I let you tell me yours?

LILY: Yes. Wait? Yes.

THE CRICKETS FADE AWAY AS ABBIE

SPEAKS, TRANSITIONING TO THE WHITE

NOISE AND ECHOES INSIDE A DESERTED

OBSERVATORY. THE SOUND OF A DOOR

HANDLE BEING STRUGGLED WITH FROM

THE OUTSIDE.

ABBIE: (NARRATING) The doc told me there was

something peculiar about the

observatory he needed me to see.

LILY: (NARRATING) I’m surprised you haven’t

already been there.

ABBIE: (NARRATING) I’d been putting it off.

THE TRANSITION TO THE OBSERVATORY

COMPLETES. THE DOOR OPENS WITH A

CLUNK AND A RUSTY SHRIEK. ALL

DIALOGUE SLIGHTLY ECHOES INSIDE

THIS MOSTLY EMPTY ROOM.

RUDY: Just takes a little finesse, is all.

What was I saying before?

ABBIE: Something about meteor showers.

RUDY: Right. Meteor showers. My point is that

most people will tell you the Perseids

are their favorite, but that’s because

they’ve never experienced the Aquariids

while floating on a raft off the coast

of Argentina.

ABBIE: Uh-huh.

RUDY: Commitment and patience. The

twin...something of the...never mind.

Behold! The Mt. Absalom Observatory!

Our cathedral.

ABBIE: That’s not appropriate.

RUDY: Yes, fair, you have to look past the

cobwebs and mildew...

ABBIE: I mean it’s inappropriate to refer to

an observatory as a cathedral. Or have

you forgotten what the Catholic Church

did to Galileo.

RUDY: (AFTER A BEAT) Um. Yes. Solid point.

ABBIE: Also the cobwebs and the mildew.

RUDY: Okay, but surely you can see what I’m

talking about, the architecture, the,

you know, the bones of the place.

ABBIE: I can’t see much of anything, doc.

RUDY: Of course you can’t. Hold on. I set up

a generator in here...a few days ago...

A HUMMING ECHOES IN THE ROOM AS A

SERIES OF LARGE LIGHT BULBS TURN

ON.

RUDY: As I was saying.

ABBIE: The bones.

RUDY: The bones. The shape of this room is,

well, you see it now? The delicate

curve of that dome, for one thing?

ABBIE: Are you about to refer to this place as

a woman?

RUDY: No.

ABBIE: Because that’s also not appropriate.

RUDY: Agreed. Awful. Who does that?

ABBIE: You want a list?

RUDY: What was I...

ABBIE: I can give you a list.

RUDY: The platform. Follow me, you need to

see this...

THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS RUNNING UP

METAL STAIRS AND WALKING ACROSS A

SMALL PLATFORM.

ABBIE: I’m good down here, doc.

RUDY: (FROM THE CEILING) You see up here, the

aperture where the telescope is

supposed to go?

ABBIE: (FROM THE GROUND) Sure.

RUDY: (FROM THE CEILING) I looked through it

using my own telescope and--

ABBIE: (FROM THE GROUND) Doc, it’s hard for me

to hear you?

THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS RUNNING

DOWN METAL STAIRS.

RUDY: Sorry. What I was saying, was I was

looking through that aperture with a

telescope of my own, and I don’t know

who designed this building, but they

were working on some level I can’t even

begin to fathom.

ABBIE: I don’t know what you mean.

RUDY: I mean that, the night I was out here,

it was more or less solid cloud cover.

Except! Where I was looking.

ABBIE: What?

RUDY: I’d be looking through the lens and the

wind would break up the clouds in front

of my eyes, every time. I always had a

clear view of the sky.

ABBIE: That’s absurd.

RUDY: Yes, I know! Unreal! The odds of that

are, I can’t even begin to, either the

architect managed to assemble

structural calculations beyond our

understanding of physical dimensions

and weather, or--

ABBIE: --do not say magic--

RUDY: --they...um...supernatural.

ABBIE: Yeah. No. Clouds are water, water is

chaos, and you got lucky. But okay,

let’s say maybe, maybe there’s some

one-in-a-million math going on. You

want me to find out more about the

architect?

RUDY: Hm? No, I don’t care about that.

ABBIE: You don’t?

RUDY: I mean of course I care, if you happen

to find something, please let me know,

I’m sure it’s--

ABBIE: (FRUSTRATED) --then why the hell am I

here? You said you had something I

needed to see, that I, personally,

needed to see it. I have plenty of my

own work I could be doing right now,

you know!

RUDY: (AFTER A BEAT) This...has happened to

you a lot, hasn’t it.

ABBIE: What has?

RUDY: I’m guessing it’s your thesis advisor?

Treats your work like a quaint little

hobby and then has you running around

campus doing their bidding? (BEAT)

Uh-huh. Listen, Abbie, I know that

there’s supposed to be some kind of

traditional animosity that exists

between historians and

astrophysicists--

ABBIE: --there’s what?--

RUDY: --but I’m not here to pull rank on you,

or undermine your research, or do

whatever condescending bullshit you

were getting from whomever. I’m not

your enemy.

ABBIE: I don’t think of you as an enemy.

RUDY: No?

ABBIE: I think of you as an annoyance.

RUDY: Oh.

ABBIE: Don’t take it too hard, doc. I think of

almost everybody as an annoyance.

RUDY: Bit curious, isn’t it? A historian who

doesn’t like people?

ABBIE: See, no, and I get that a lot, but

seriously, just no. I like people’s

stories, doc. Stories are done. They’re

locked in. Living people? Here and now?

Unpredictable. Chaotic. Annoying. You

want a people person you go talk to a

sociologist, okay? (BEAT) Can we please

get on with this, this whatever you

wanted me to see?

RUDY: Fair. Fair. (BEAT.) So you know how

this observatory was built on a hill?

ABBIE: Yes, I figured that out when we climbed

up a hill.

RUDY: How many other hills have you seen

since you arrived in Mount Absalom?

ABBIE: ...none.

RUDY: Exactly.

ABBIE: So you’re saying that--

RUDY: --which is strange, for a place called

Mount Absalom.

ABBIE: Right, that happens a lot, but what you

are saying--

RUDY: --this hill is manmade.

ABBIE: Huh. That’s interesting.

RUDY: Isn’t it?

ABBIE: That so-and-so Hazel says there was

already a hill here when Mt. Absalom

was founded.

RUDY: Is that right?

ABBIE: She made an entire pageant that says

this. She makes kids learn it, and say

it out loud, and in the middle of it

there’s a hugely problematic bit about

a massacre.

RUDY: Sounds hideous.

ABBIE: It’s almost like she’s not even a

little bit good at her job.

RUDY: Well if there was a hill already, it

wasn’t this one. This one, somebody or

somebodies made a decision to have

here.

ABBIE: For the observatory?

RUDY: That’s an excellent question, Abbie.

That’s exactly one of the questions I

had for you.

ABBIE: What are your other ones?

RUDY: For those, you do need to see

something. This way, it’s on the level

below us.

ABBIE: Is there light?

RUDY: Enough.

THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS DESCENDING

STONE STAIRS. THE ACOUSTICS WILL

CHANGE TO THE FLATTER ECHOES OF A

CONCRETE BUNKER.

RUDY: Allow me to paint a picture. It’s late

evening, and you’ve just spent several

hours--

ABBIE: --no second-person narration, please.

RUDY: I’ve just spent several hours setting

up all the lights and getting the

generator working in this stifling

heat, which is when it occurs to me

that I haven’t even set foot in the

lower level yet. I’d acknowledged the

staircase, made a mental note to myself

to take a closer look down here, and

then I just... didn’t. (BEAT.) Not that

there’s much to see, of course.

Whatever was down here they took away

when they dismantled the telescope. I

could only imagine what this must have

looked like when it was up and running.

The observation logs, the instruments,

the dusty diagrams on the chalkboard. A

desk in the corner with a tiny lamp

where whoever would sit through the

small hours taking careful notes. A

radio, maybe, or a phonograph?

Solitary, old-school science. Classic.

(BEAT. A WISTFUL SIGH.) Anyway. You see

that divot over by the wall? I attacked

that part of the floor with a crowbar.

ABBIE: What? Why?

RUDY: I don’t quite remember. I told you, it

was late, it was hot. I might have been

feeling a sense of existential agony.

Also a few beers.

ABBIE: Why’d you even have a crowbar?

RUDY: Always bring a crowbar. That’s the

first rule of abandoned buildings.

ABBIE: The size of this hole. You must have

been at this for like half an hour.

RUDY: Could be. Still pretty sore, too.

ABBIE: I can’t believe you have a doctorate.

Why do I work so hard.

RUDY: Inside the hole. Look closer. That’s

what I wanted you to see.

ABBIE: ...what is that?

RUDY: It’s a roof shingle.

ABBIE: Don’t play games with me, doc. It’s not

my thing.

RUDY: Look at it! That’s a slate roof shingle! And I’ve spent

enough time on Slate roofs to know!

ABBIE: Why would anybody bury a roof shingle

under--wait.

RUDY: Yes.

ABBIE: No.

RUDY: You’re getting it.

ABBIE: There’s a roof under...?

RUDY: Which means that...?

ABBIE: There’s a building underneath this

observatory?

RUDY: A-plus. And it explains what I saw in

that sewer map you found.

ABBIE: Nothing explains...why would you...?

RUDY: You see now?

ABBIE: Why wouldn’t you just tear down the old

building?

RUDY: That sounds like a riddle for an

historian.

ABBIE: “A” historian.

RUDY: I thought it was--

ABBIE: --you’re not British. Why didn’t you

keep digging? Come back here with a

jackhammer, a flashlight, some rope,

lower yourself into whatever building

this is...

RUDY: That’s a horror story. That’s the

horror story. No thank you. Find out

what it is first and then we can talk

about unsealing Satan’s tomb.

ABBIE: Oh good, this again.

RUDY: It’s not just me, all right? People

around here have some kind of weird

hang-ups about the observatory. Like

this! I almost forgot.

SOUND OF A BACKPACK ZIPPER, AND A

SLOSHING OF WATER IN A BOTTLE.

RUDY: Dot gave me this water bottle.

ABBIE: Okay.

RUDY: Filled with water.

ABBIE: Right?

RUDY: She asked me to pour it out on the

floor of the observatory basement.

ABBIE: Dot did? Why would she ask that?

RUDY: See? That’s another good question.

ABBIE: Are you going to do it?

RUDY: I don’t know. I pour it out, I don’t

pour it out; those are two different

horror stories.

ABBIE: This is insane. You’re insane. Everyone

is insane. (BEAT) I’m going to have to

sneak into the library again, aren’t I.

TRANSITION BACK TO THE PORCH AND

THE CRICKETS OF LATE EVENING.

LILY: My mother did that?

ABBIE: I know.

LILY: That’s...I’ll ask her.

ABBIE: I can ask her.

LILY: No, I should.

ABBIE: Thank you. Truth be told, I was a

little afraid to bring it up.

LILY: You were afraid? You followed a guy you

barely know into the basement of an

abandoned observatory on the edge of

town.

ABBIE: Sure. But the doc’s not your mom.

LILY: Yeah. I wouldn’t want to be on her bad

side either. (BEAT.) You should’ve seen

her today.

THE SOUND OF CAR ARRIVING AND

PARKING ON A CONCRETE LOT. A

DRIVER’S SIDE AND PASSENGER SIDE

DOOR OPENING AND CLOSING; THE

PASSENGER’S GENTLY AND THE

DRIVER’S WITH GREAT FORCE.

LILY: (NARRATING) We had to go to the bank.

ABBIE: (NARRATING) This sounds thrilling.

LILY: (NARRATING) Ohhh. Oh. Just you wait.

DOT: Don’t go inside angry, Lilian.

LILY: If I don’t go inside angry we’ll be in

the parking lot all day. Are you coming

in with me?

DOT: I’ll be along. Maybe I’ll have a smoke.

LILY: You’re not supposed to smoke.

DOT: And yet.

LILY’S FOOTSTEPS ACROSS THE

PAVEMENT, FOLLOWED BY THE SOUND OF

A GLASS DOOR OPENING INTO A

STERILE, HEAVILY AIR-CONDITIONED

BANK. THERE IS VERY QUIET MUZAK.

SYLVIA: Good morning!

LILY: Is it?

SYLVIA: How...can we help you?

LILY: I don’t know yet. How about I tell you

what the problem is, first?

SYLVIA: O...okay.

AN ENVELOPE BEING OPENED AND A

PAPER WITHDRAWN.

LILY: I found this at the bottom of a pile of

mail on my mom’s nightstand. My mom,

Dorothy Harper, you know her? Runs the

boarding house a bit up the way?

SYLVIA: Sure. Dot Harper.

LILY: That’s right. And this piece of mail,

from your fine small town institution,

this piece of mail claims that my mom

owes you an excess of $30,000 in

unspecified property fees.

SYLVIA: Oh my. That’s a lot.

LILY: That’s true. That is a lot.

SYLVIA: So are you here to pay an installment

or--

LILY: --nuh-uh. No. I’m here to learn what

the, what the heck these fees are

about.

SYLVIA: It’s probably the mortgage--

LILY: It is not the mortgage, because that

house has been owned free and clear by

my mom’s family for I don’t even know

how many generations. If your records

say that we still owe this bank

mortgage payments I’d like to see them.

SYLVIA: I don’t know what our records say,

Miss Harper.

LILY: Lily.

SYLVIA: I’m just a teller here, Lily. I’m just

part-time.

LILY: Is there somebody full-time here who

might be able to show us our records?

SYLVIA: I can get the bank manager.

LILY: That would be perfect.

SYLVIA: It might take a few.

LILY: That’s fine.

SYLVIA: He’s pretty busy in the mornings.

LILY: I can wait.

SYLVIA: There’s some seats over there.

LILY: I’ll stay right here.

SYLVIA: Okay. Thank you for choosing to bank

with...excuse me, I’ll get the manager.

HURRIED FOOTSTEPS AWAY.

DOT: Really, Lilybelle. You could have been

much nicer to that poor girl.

Considering your last job I’d think

you’d have more sympathy.

LILY: I have plenty of sympathy. I also know

how effective that tone of voice is

when you need something done. Cue bank

manager in three, two, one...

CHESTER: Hello! Dot, Lilian, so glad you decided

to stop in.

LILY: Wow, I didn’t think that was actually

going to--Chester...?

CHESTER: (BRIGHTLY) That’s what they call me!

LILY: You manage the bank?

CHESTER: Yes.

LILY: Aren’t you the Mayor’s aide?

CHESTER: Yes.

LILY: And don’t you also do something for the

Delphic Order?

CHESTER: Treasurer, yes.

LILY: And you also manage the bank.

CHESTER: You might misunderstand how much time

and how little pay are involved with

those other jobs. Sylvia said you

needed to speak with me.

DOT: My daughter found a bill from you.

CHESTER: From us? Can I see it? (BEAT, SHUFFLING

OF PAPERS) Oh. Oh this. Yes.

LILY: Thirty grand in past due fees. For what

exactly?

CHESTER: Maybe you’d prefer to do this in my

office?

LILY: Oh, that doesn’t sound shady.

CHESTER: I just mean. Perhaps you’d prefer not

to discuss sensitive financial

information in the middle of the lobby.

LILY: This is sensitive?

CHESTER: Um, a little. This way, Harpers.

FOOTSTEPS INTO A CARPETED OFFICE.

A DOOR CLOSES.

CHESTER: Have a seat. (BEAT) This is going to

sound--it’s going to seem a little bit,

uh, backwards. It’s very important that

I, that is. I need to say that upfront.

LILY: Backwards?

CHESTER: But I assure you, on behalf of both the

bank and the citizens of Mt. Absalom--

DOT: --turn it off, Chester. Be straight

with me. What’s this bill about?

CHESTER: There’s a law on the books. Not one of

ours, one of the county’s. From, my

gosh, at least a century ago. I’m not

even sure it’s accurate to call it a

law. A statute, maybe? Yes, let’s call

it a statute. So the wording of this

statute, it relates to, residencies and

business use for, you know, for tax

purposes, etcetera, and well,

basically, it’s like this. (BEAT. HE

CLEARS HIS THROAT.) So for any home in

the county, if there are more than

three, if more than three women reside

there, and if the home also operates as

a place of business, well, then,

according to the county, not me, you

understand, but the county, according

to the county, it’s, well, it’s.

DOT: Chester Warren, are you accusing me of

running a whorehouse?

CHESTER: Brothel! I was going to say brothel!

LILY: Are you fucking serious?!

CHESTER: It’s not me! I know better! I do! I’d

never accuse Dot of that!

LILY: It’s a boarding house! People, they

rent the room for a bit, and then they

move on!

CHESTER: True, yes, but you have to understand,

sometimes maybe there were three or

more women boarding there at the same

time? A ladies’ sewing circle. A

temperance movement passing through

town. So every so often, according to

the county...

DOT: Whorehouse.

CHESTER: I told you it was going to sound

backwards.

LILY: You’re mispronouncing “offensive.”

CHESTER: I respect why you’d feel that.

DOT: Sure, we have the monthly orgy in

the Dionysus Room, but nobody is being

paid for that.

LILY: Mom.

CHESTER: So that’s what it is. If the boarding

house has three women or more living

there--

LILY: --which we don’t, at current.

CHESTER: No? You, your mother, Abb--

LILY: --am I going to have to explain

nonbinary genders to you?

CHESTER: No, I get it. Regardless, the

financial obligation is not contingent

on current occupancy, but the potential

for such.

LILY: You still haven’t told us what the

payment is for.

CHESTER: Right, that’s the other part.

LILY: You’re going to tell us it’s a

licensing fee, aren’t you.

CHESTER: No. No, it’s, you see, as I understand

this, because I wasn’t there of course,

but as I understand it, Dot, your

great-great-however grandmother, she

made a deal with Mount Absalom, after

this law, statute passed.

DOT: What sort of deal?

CHESTER: The boarding house paid an annual

exception fee to the town, and the town

would, it would forget to enforce the

brothel statute.

DOT: A bribe.

CHESTER: Yes. I suppose.

DOT: Generations of my family have been

paying Mount Absalom a bribe.

CHESTER: Yes.

DOT: So that the state of Ohio wouldn’t shut

us down for being a whorehouse.

CHESTER: Basically.

DOT: (CHUCKLES) Well, that’s about par for

the course for this town, isn’t it. I’m

glad we got that straightened out. You

can feel free to recycle that.

CHESTER: The thing is...

DOT: Oh, I’m not paying you a dime, Chester.

Surely you understand that. It’s a

ridiculous state of affairs in the

first place and I’ve never once heard

of this deal. My own parents never said

word one about it. Whatever arrangement

DOT (CONT’D): you think you had, it’s nothing to do

with me.

CHESTER: It’s not that simple.

DOT: It’s very simple. You cut your losses.

CHESTER: It’s not my losses, Dot, it’s the

town’s losses.

LILY: The notice came from your bank.

CHESTER: Yes, true, so look, without getting

into all the particulars of it, Mount

Absalom’s accounts are managed through

here, but deficits and collections are

handled through--

LILY: --no, forget it, never mind, I get the

gist, it’s your usual Frankenstein of a

bank and a government.

CHESTER: So Dot, we’re not talking about $30,000

that the bank doesn’t have. We’re

talking about $30,000 that Mount

Absalom doesn’t have. That’s schools,

Dot. That’s road repair. That’s the

Celery Festival.

DOT: Guilt? You’re going to try guilt?

Listen clearly, Chester. I have never.

Heard. Of this payment. And I am not.

Making it. Now.

CHESTER: I know you’re upset, Dot, but there’s

probably a very good reason you’ve

never heard of it.

DOT: Such as?

CHESTER: Best guess? Perhaps one of your

parents, or grandparents, or whoever,

perhaps they set up some kind of trust

that automatically paid this bill every

year. For some reason that account has

gone dry. I’d be happy to check for you

but I don’t know if the account is

through us, and I’d need authorization

anyhow.

DOT: Surely my mother knew, though.

CHESTER: Maybe she forgot. How old was she when

she went? She might have forgotten a

number of things.

DOT: My mom’s mind was fine. She was smart

as a whip when she passed.

CHESTER: So you say. All I know is that these

wires have gotten crossed, and now we

have to untangle them.

DOT: Fine, then. You do whatever research

you need to do to find this trust you

think exists, then you give me a call.

But I’m not paying out this kind of

money based on your mere speculation.

CHESTER: Dot, I don’t want to do this.

LILY: Then don’t.

CHESTER: This is a significant debt, and neither

the Mayor nor the bank can just let

this slide. Not for long.

DOT: You’ve got some nerve calling it a

debt.

CHESTER: Let me help you solve this.

DOT: How.

CHESTER: You don’t want to pay the full 30

thousand right now.

DOT: I don’t want to pay the any 30

thousand ever.

CHESTER: Perhaps we set you up with a second

mortgage on the house. We pay the town

the 30 thousand, and a percentage of

your payments go into a new fund that

keeps up with the exception fee, so

nobody else in your family ever ends

up having the conversation we’ve just

had.

LILY: And what part of that arrangement

tosses out the bullshit in which my

mom’s house is designated a bordello?

CHESTER: You’ll have to take that up with the

county.

LILY: We will.

CHESTER: You’ll be asking them to acknowledge an

outdated, embarrassing law that they’ve

completely forgotten about and then

suing in court to have it repealed.

LILY: Fine.

CHESTER: It could take months. Years. (BEAT) And

Mount Absalom will not wait that long.

DOT: Meaning.

CHESTER: Dot, I’ve tried very hard to be nice

here, so let’s be frank instead.

Besides what you owe on the house,

there’s the simple matter that building

codes have changed maybe a half dozen

times since the last time there’s any

record of inspection. As far as we

know, the boarding house is a

deathtrap. This town has been very

forgiving of you, in part because you

did things like pay the exception fee.

If you’re not going to do that.

DOT: There he is. There’s the real Chester.

Hello, Chester, you creep.

CHESTER: There’s no need for that.

DOT: Don’t you threaten me, Chester. You

haven’t got the chin for it.

CHESTER: I’m on your side here. I’m in a

position to be helpful. I’m in several

positions to be helpful. (BEAT) If you

want to keep the house, we need to be

able to talk like adults about it. Of

course it’s not a brothel, but is it

adequately licensed as a hotel? Your

assistant does tours, is it a museum?

Do the plans describe its square

footage accurately? Does it take into

account the secret passages and such?

These are all--

LILY: --what was that?

CHESTER: Hm?

LILY: Secret passages.

CHESTER: Oh. Joking. I mean, that’s just what

I’ve heard. That’s what we’d always say

when we were kids. Dot’s house,

probably full of secret passages, and,

pirate’s chests, and, like that.

LILY: Uh-huh.

DOT: Lily, let’s go.

LILY: No wait. I want to hear more of this.

You know, I was a kid here once. Nobody

ever said anything like that to me.

CHESTER: Of course you...you wouldn’t have

expected them to...

LILY: What else did “the kids” say about our

house, Chester?

DOT: Lily, I’d like to leave right now.

A CHAIR BEING PUSHED ASIDE.

LILY: Okay, mom. Okay.

CHESTER: Think it over. (BEAT) Something has to

change here, Dot. That’s just a fact.

DOT: The law and your attitude. Start there.

LILY: Come on.

A DOOR OPENS.

CHESTER: Thank you for choosing to bank with--

A DOOR SLAMS.

LILY: Mom--

DOT: --outside. I’m not breathing this

stale air one second longer.

GLASS DOOR OF THE BANK OPENS,

SOUND OF THE OUTSIDE PARKING LOT.

DOT: We should get breakfast.

LILY: We had breakfast.

DOT: We didn’t have enough breakfast. I’m

starving.

CAR DOORS CLOSE. KEYS IN THE

IGNITION, CAR TURNS ON.

LILY: Where do you want to eat?

DOT: Never mind. Just drive.

LILY: Home?

DOT: No. Wherever. I need to cool down.

(BEAT) Lesson for you. Never enter a

bank angry, but you’re allowed to walk

out as fucking furious as you want.

CAR DRIVING ON THE ROAD.

LILY: That was a very different Chester.

DOT: That’s the same Chester he always was.

He’s harmless. It’s me I’m mad at.

LILY: What? Why?

DOT: Because something he said reminded me.

I did used to make those payments.

LILY: No.

DOT: There was an account. Every month, a

little squirreled aside for the end of

the year. I haven’t been looking at

them very hard since Wes started doing

them.

LILY: So Wes knew about this?

DOT: Not why.

LILY: But he should have kept track of it.

DOT: I guess. I don’t know if I ever told

him. Everything else in the books

seemed fine, I thought.

LILY: Mom, this is why I was saying--

DOT: --I know, I know--

LILY: --you can’t have a teenager doing your

accounting--

DOT: --I know, Lilian!

LILY: Mom. How did you meet Wes in the first

place?

DOT: (AFTER A MOMENT) You know? I

don’t...quite recall that either.

(BEAT) I feel like I should, is what’s

so hard about it. Like the memory’s

gone but my confidence in having had

the memory doesn’t know that it’s gone

yet. That can’t just be me. Doesn’t

that happen to everyone? You forget

things. That’s the normal human

condition. Isn’t it? I’m sure it is.

(BEAT) I might need help, Lilybelle.

TRANSITION BACK TO THE PORCH AND

THE CRICKETS OF LATE EVENING.

LILY: We drove out to the edge of the county

line. Mom got out and sat on the ground

for awhile, didn’t say much. She told

me, she said this was as far as she’d

been away from Mount Absalom since she

moved back to manage the house.

ABBIE: How many years is that?

LILY: A lot. God, I was maybe six when she

and dad separated? So coming up on 30

years?

ABBIE: When she told you, did she sound like

she wanted to go any farther than the

county line?

LILY: I...couldn’t tell.

ABBIE: Maybe you should ask her.

LILY: I don’t know if she’d like her answer.

ABBIE: Yeah. I feel that. (BEAT) Secret

passages?

LILY: That’s what the man said.

ABBIE: Tell you what. Next time I’m in the

library, I’ll see if there are any

plans filed for this place.

LILY: I’d appreciate that.

THE THEME SONG COMES IN- STOMPING FEET, RHYTHMIC GUITAR, AND PRONOUNCED BANJO.

CREDITS:       This episode features: Shariba Rivers as Lily, Marsha Harman as Dot, Kathleen Hoil as Abbie, Joshua K Harris as Rudy, Gaby Labotka as Sylvia, Pat King as Chester

MUSIC BREAK- A HAUNTING SUNG NOTE    

 Written by Bilal Dardai, sound design by Ryan Schile, directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner, music composed by Stephen Poon, recording engineer Mel Ruder, Unwell lead sound designer Ryan Schile, Executives Producers Eleanor Hyde and Jeffrey Gardner, by HartLife NFP.

THE STRANGE BASS NOTE RETURNS

Eliza Fenwood nee Lyle, ran the newly rebuilt Fenwood Boarding House in 1899 when the Lodge County brothel ordinance was passed. She helped pay an “exemption fee” by charging male guests by the hour instead of by the night.