ENTIRE SCREEN PLAY, SEE Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story: New and Improved
For background, see: (from War, Literature and the Arts)
Scene Eighteen: New York, early winter 1898
Over the weeks since their last encounter, Margharita and Crane and have spoken on the phone daily and been together many times. Crane has been working non stop changing the movie. After a brief hiatus, he tells Margharita to come to the studio.
Margharita: (entering the studio and clutching him tightly) Stevie, it’s been three days. I am about to explode. You know how hot blooded we Cuban girls are!
Crane: (feeling her forehead) Perhaps just a touch of Cuban malaria.
Margharita: Three days too long. (touching him below the belt). Mr. Stephen Crane certainly knows how to use his wig-wag.
Crane: (groaning slightly) Coqui [a species of small, jewel-like Caribbean frog], all of the sudden you are bringing back my report for Hearst: “The Raising of the American Flag at Santiago.”
Margharita: (blushing) And I am brought back to blushing like a Madrid school girl!
Crane: (feeling her forehead) Maybe its not Cuban malaria after all.
Margharita: (looking him in the eyes) How does it feel to be Crane in love?
Crane: Coqui, it’s strange. When I walk around the streets, I am on a celestial high. And I look about wondering how many others are too. Maybe one in five hundred are at that moment also being transported to our completely different universe. But I can’t say who they are by just looking. It’s a Clan of No Name. How does it feel? It’s delicious and delirious just like you. Scene 17
Also, I’ve been looking so differently at my work. The Open Boat is very good, maybe excellent. But, to coin a phrase, it’s just too existential. And there is too much war. The Red Badge and the poem, “War is kind.” You were right back at Pete’s Tavern. It’s the feminine mystique I’ve been lacking. Scene 14
Coqui, I’ve penned a few lines about you.
Margharita, light of my life,
Fire of my loins.
My sin, my soul. Mar-ghar-ita:
The tip of the tongue
Taking a trip of three steps
Down the palate
To tap, at three,
On the teeth.
Mar. Ghar. Ita.
Crane: First, very quickly, I want to show you the new scenes I’ve spliced together. Its not all finished, but it can be seen. Hope so much you like it.
Margharita: Right now?! You exasperating boy! When you have the Pearl of the Antilles in front of you glistening and tingling like the phosphorescent lagoon at Aricebo. And not even wearing her corset!
Crane: Maggie, we were apart for the whole damn Cuban Campaign. Wig-wagging can wait just fifteen minutes, I swear.
(The start watching the new scenes Crane has added. He has mixed actual footage of the war together with the acted scenes. He went to a shooting range and made a phonographic impression of the sounds of the bullets firing. As they watch the movies, the phonograph plays in the background.)
Margharita: (mesmerized) Stephen, it’s brilliant. Overwhelming. The masses of men colliding. Intermingling. Teeming. Like ants. No. Taken as a whole, like one animal. An octopus. With humans as tendrils.
Stevie, oh, god. That man’s been hit! His arm is blown off. Its rolling on the ground . . . oh god. . . Stephen, is that real? Or an actor.
Crane: Does it matter?
Margharita: And the sounds of the bullets. They roar like trumpets from heaven. And the colors. The Negros and the whites. Chessmen strewn upon a board.
Crane: I wish I could show the blue of the uniforms. By the way, that’s the movie’s new title. No more Rough Riders. It’s Black and Blue on San Juan Hill.
Margharita: And that man. He’s hit. Not once twice. And a third time! Stephen, I can see the blood gush!
Crane: Try seven, I mean eight times, that’s Bisbell the half-Cherokee. I actually found those shots in the original footage. Scene 16
Margharita: That man with the cigarette. He’s walking ahead into the smoke. I can’t see him. What happens?
Crane: Its Bucky O’Neil. He’s killed. But the smoke is too heavy. We’ll never know about his last seconds.
Margharita: Look it’s Roosevelt. He’s dazed. Lying on the ground.
Crane: Now watch this angle. I’ve made the camera lens looked broken like Teddy’s spectacles. And the angle is what he would see. Lying on his back looking up at the sky. Wondering if he’ll die. Scene 11
Margharita: And yourself? Where is my grand wig-wagger? My brilliant first American film maker wig-wagger.
Crane: As I said, it’s not quite finished. That scene is not yet done. (Crane turns off the projector.)
Remember at the Bryan rally when you wondered if I was the cowardly lion. Not so cowardly after all.
Margharita: No. All courage. You are my lion. My Marc Antony.
Crane: You remember when you said that too. When I said you reminded me of Cleopatra. Scene 14
Margharita: I know about Cleopatra more than you think. As a child, we took the grand tour of Egypt and the Pyramids. (Crane looks impressed) Remember, I am from a family of very wealthy Penisulars [the white upper class Spanish who settled in Cuba]. I have sacrificed much for the revolution.
I am fascinated with all things Epypt. A bit of what they call an Egyptomaniac. I even have learned the secrets of ancient Egytptian sensuality
Crane: Not the only kind of maniac you are my dear.
Margharita: I’m going into the other room for a moment. While I am gone, set up that camera of yours. Can it take pictures by itself.
Margharita: Just wait. Now it is you that must be patient.
Crane: (expectant) My goodness, you are a New Woman. Who I would never dare to predict or contravene.
(Margharita goes into the changing room while Crane sets up the camera.)
(Margharita returns dressed as Cleopatra.)
Crane: (his eyes gleaming) My, darling. Oh, Egypt I am dying!
Margharita: And for you, Marc Antony, is a Roman toga. (She throws him a bed sheet) Now, my not so eunuch, disrobe.
Crane: I am your obedient slave, my Queen of the Nile.
Why exactly the camera?
Margharita: You are making your movie. Cleo shall make hers. Set it going, Pharoah.
(Crane sets the camera. Margharita turns off the lights and brings out an ancient Egyptian candle holder shaped as a cobra)
Crane: The candle light it’s so . . .
Margharita: Vivid. I told you Cleopatra was privy to the secrets of the goddesses.
Margharita: Your toga does seems to be too tight fitting around the groin. Is that a cobra in your pants?
Crane (panting) Why, Eve, it is a snake. The snake of knowledge.
Margharita: Of a carnal kind.
(Crane, almost trembling drops the toga to the ground).
Margharita: Not yet my musketeer. We are only on the first step of the Pyramid. We won’t reach the summit until daybreak. Hope you have an extra reel for that camera.
(Daybreak comes. In the morning, the lovers are satiated and exhausted. They sit quietly at the breakfast table.)
Margharita: Stephen, I have something to tell you. This evening I am leaving for Spain.
Crane: What, what are you talking about? Spain!? Spain!? Why are telling me this now?
Margharita: I didn’t want to dampen my Pharoah’s ardor. And miss the wig-wagging of a millennium. But, wait hold on.
I want you to come. When you can.
Crane: Tell me more. This is so sudden.
Margharita: I know. But this trip has been planned for months. Before we met again.
Crane: But why Spain?
Margharita: I don’t want to go back to Cuba. Especially now that Calixto is dead. And I can do more for the universal cause of freedom in Spain.
Things are changing rapidly in Spain. For the better. In Madrid, they actually thought they would win the war. And reclaim Florida as Spanish colony.
Crane: Just like those fools in Havana. Scene 8:
Margharita: Now that Spain has lost so completely, there is a whole literary and political movement taking place. There is group of men and women who call themselves “the Generation of ’98”.
They have thrown away colonialism and imperialism. Stephen, they may well be the vanguard of the 20th century.
There is one man in particular who is a member of the circle. He is young painter. His name is Pablo Picasso. We knew each other when I was in school in Madrid. He is a brilliant man. He lives by a single credo: “Paradise is to love many things with a passion.”
[ During this period, Picasso had returned to Barcelona in June 1898, ill with scarlet fever. Here, Picasso was reunited with the primary roots of the country and a return to nature, more in line with the modernist ideology, which was one of the first ‘ primitivist ‘ episodes of his career. In this environment Picasso came into contact with anarchist thought. The prevailing poverty in the slums of Barcelona, the sick and wounded soldiers returning to Spain after the disastrous War of Cuba , created a hotbed of social violence ]
He has sent me this. (She goings into the alcove.)
It is portrait he did of me.
(Crane looks at the sketch without saying anything.)
Margharita: Stephen, join me there.
Crane: You will do great things in Spain. You will write. You will protest. You might even make a movie. (Speaking of which, perhaps your “virgin” production from last night best belongs in a time capsule.)
I have some courage. But you are the most fearless woman I have ever met.
But how can I can I go? What about Cora?
Margharita: Invite her. She sounds too like a New Woman in her own way. Stephen, I may be your lover, but just like with Calixto, I am not your mistress. And I would not be your mistress in Spain. Nor Picasso’s.
Crane: How many decisions does a man have to make? I will try. With the last measure of devotion.
(leaving) Margharita: Goodbye, Marc Antony. Until we meet again.
Crane: Goodbye, Cleopatra.