Chimera Song Mosaic
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
An Octopus Has Three Hearts
by Deborah Wardlaw Pattillo
INT. CIRCUS – Octopus Display Room - Day
This is a temporary display inside a trailer. The walls are covered in tacky wood paneling. The carpet is orange shag. There is a very large aquarium against one wall, filled with water.
There is a glass partition with a very small hole in it in the middle of the aquarium. A pale purple octopus, BABE, lounges beside it. Several toys are scattered around the floor of the aquarium.
BARRY walks into the room. He is a man in his early 30s, good-looking, but a little too thin and worn. He is wearing a dark blue uniform with no insignia on it.
Hey, Babe, how are you today?
Babe comes to life, spinning and flipping in the water.
That good, huh?
Babe streaks across the front side of the glass in a dramatic gesture, flipping some water out of the aquarium and into Barry’s face.
That was a pretty good one! Here
Barry grabs a bucket from a shelf on the aquarium stand, opens it, grabs a few shrimp morsels, and holds them over the water.
Babe snakes up the side of the glass, leans his head over the rim, and carefully grabs the morsels with his beak.
FLYNT walks in. He is dressed like a human cannonball—red and silver fringed spandex.
Gross. I can’t believe you let that
thing touch you.
He’s my friend.
Barry returns the bucket to the shelf and rubs his fingers against the glass.
You need to get out more.
What’s up, Flynt?
I’m about to go on. I just came over
to tell you that the monkey chick,
Penelope, is over by the snake pit.
So now’s your chance!
Barry gives no response. He rubs his fingers against the glass, and on the other side of it, Babe swishes his tentacles appreciatively.
If you don’t act now, Raoul is going
to get her.
Then that’s just the way it is. I’m not
going to scramble after her like some
Oh, she should come to me, right? Look,
this is a circus. Everybody is doing
everybody. It’s a free for all for
freaks. You’re the only one who’s not
getting any action.
Flynt fingers the silver fringe on the side of his pants.
You used to try. Man, you used to be
inspirational. I used to wonder, how
can that guy stand to get shot down
over and over?
I used to be like Babe. Babe has three
hearts, did you know that? He can afford
to get a couple of them trampled on. But
No, you just need to think more like
Babe! Have some guts! Get out there.
Now you don’t even try.
Barry ignores him and strokes the glass.
I guess that’s the way you want it.
Faint Heart never won Fair Lady.
Coming right up!
Flynt whooshes out of the room with a flourish.
Well, Babe, I gotta go, too.
Barry goes to the closet in the corner of the room, opens it, and retrieves a mop and a mop bucket from its depths.
He turns and closes the door and leaves the room with his stuff.
Babe settles back down onto the floor of his tank.
Close up on Babe’s eyes and his gills moving in and out.
INT. CIRCUS – Octopus Display Room – Night
Close up on Babe’s tank, which appears to be empty.
Suddenly, part of Babe pokes through the little hole in the glass partition.
More of him squeezes through the hole until he is completely through to the other side, where he rushes to the top of the tank.
PENELOPE, a pretty woman in her early 30s, dressed in s flashy and skimpy, red and gold, showgirl type outfit, and RITA, a pretty, tall, bearded lady in a muumuu, are standing outside the tank, watching Babe.
Wow! He really does fit through there!
I know; he’s really cool, isn’t he?
Give him the fish!
Penelope grabs the bucket from the shelf, opens it, and shakes some shrimp into the water.
Several shrimp morsels drift down through the water.
I think you put too many.
Well, I didn’t want to touch these
Babe rushes around, grabbing them with his eight arms and pushing the shrimp into his mouth.
His mouth is weird.
I know. Barry says it’s really sharp.
So, what’s going on with Barry? I need
to know about this.
There’s nothing to know. Yet. We’re
going on a date this Tuesday.
Where are you going to go?
Rita rolls her eyes.
That’s such a first date mistake.
There’s no chance to get to know one
Are you paying?
Don’t be an ass, Rita. He makes
plenty of money. Probably more
I doubt it. You think this is my
This shuts Penelope up. She looks away from Rita’s direct gaze, a little prudishly.
Rita flips her very long and thick braid over her shoulder.
You don’t have to be coy with me.
Penelope is silent. She puts the bucket back under the aquarium.
Hey, don’t go all quiet on me. Go
ahead, give him some more.
Penelope reaches for the bucket, but then stops.
I don’t want to overdo it.
That’s my girl! See, this is what I
am talking about. Don’t overdo
things. Don’t come on too strong.
For God’s sake, Penelope, don’t
sleep with him on the first date.
You really think I would do that?
Oh, Honey, I know you would do it!
Don’t you think things get around?
Raoul? The old lion tamer?
Penelope is blushing really hard now, and her head is ducked far into her chest.
Then there’s that. That fake innocent
stuff. Don’t pull that on him. Guys
don’t like a woman that’s so delicate,
she will break.
Do you think I should give him some
more after all?
No! My God! Look, you need to just
think about this, okay? Barry’s a
nice guy, and he’s kind of cute. All
I’m saying is don’t mess it up.
How will I know if I’m messing it up?
Just don’t do anything you would
normally do. Don’t call him the next
day. Don’t ask him a hundred questions.
Don’t cling. Don’t count your chickens
before they hatch.
I’m not that bad. Besides, he’s not
my only prospect. I could get plenty
I think we’ve been though them all.
Not here, I mean. Other places. I
sort of have one of those guy’s
fantasy jobs, don’t I?
Like a stewardess? A nurse?
No. Maybe Johanna. Any of the trapeze
girls. But not you. You’re the Monkey
I’m not, like, related to monkeys!
We all are. Why do you think I have
this hair on my face?
I just bring the monkeys out! I wear
a cute outfit.
You let them crawl all over you.
That’s my point.
Hey, do you think he’s all right?
He looks kind of pale.
I don’t know. Maybe he’s trying to
blend into his surroundings. Fat
chance in this place.
Let’s go. I don’t want Barry to know
that I fed Babe too much.
Close up on Babe again. He moves across his tank to a brown teddy bear toy.
He curls around the bear and begins to get darker, like the bear.
INT. CIRCUS – Octopus Display Room – Day
Close up on the teddy bear toy, alone in a corner of the tank.
Babe moves over to the toy and grabs it. He drags it over to a nest of several other brightly colored toys. He settles into the nest and pulls the teddy bear on top of himself.
Barry walks into the room, accompanied by a GUY who works at AQUAWORLD in slacks and a bright blue polo shirt with Aquaworld embroidered on chest, over the heart.
They stop in front on the tank.
Babe pops the bear toy off his head and swims up to the surface.
There he is. Hey, Babe! How’re you
Barry rubs the glass with his fingers.
Babe flips over and over in his tank.
Barry reaches for the bucket.
What else can he do?
Barry pauses, holding the bucket in his hands.
He can do these flips and spins,
flick water out of the tank, change
colors, and, if I wait and don’t
give him some snacks for a while,
he’ll squeeze himself through that
little hole to the other side of the
I’ve seen that before.
He also squirts ink, of course, but
he doesn’t like to do that a lot.
He’s not afraid of anything. He’s happy.
Babe rushes up the side of the tank and splashes water out of the top, like before.
Barry and the Aquaworld guy stand back and wait.
Babe squats down on the floor of his tank and changes color.
He’s good, isn’t he?
Your octopus is female.
Barry looks at Babe with a puzzled face.
Babe continues to sit on the tank floor, blushing red to purple to lilac.
Yeah, she’s pretty good. Go ahead
and give her the treats.
Barry happily holds a few morsels at the top of the tank.
Babe swishes up and takes them from his hand with her beak.
Babe’s really gentle.
Can anybody feed her like that?
No, just me.
Well, you’ve got a pretty nice pet
here, but you don’t know dick about
I know they have three hearts.
We could use her at Aquaworld. I’m
willing to take her off your hands.
She’s not going anywhere.
Who are you kidding? This place is
going to close in a week. Everything
is going. What are you going to do,
Yeah, I’ll keep her.
She needs lots of attention. She is
used to big crowds. What are you going
to do, keep her at your apartment?
Fine. Suit yourself.
He doesn’t leave. They stand there in silence. Barry rubs his fingers across the glass, and Babe reciprocates.
We’ll give you $500.
Is that the best you can do?
It’s beyond the best we can do! What
do you say?
I say forget it. She’s mine.
Fine! Keep your freaking octopus!
The Aquaworld guy storms out.
Barry rubs the side of the tank.
INT. – BARRY’S APARTMENT – Living Room
This room is crowded with a big entertainment center covering one wall, a huge, overstuffed couch opposite that on another, and a massive aquarium on the third wall, almost blocking the hallway leading to the rest of the apartment.
Barry and Penelope are entwined on the couch, fully clothed, but making out heavily, with lots of SLURPING noises.
Penelope stops kissing and pushes Barry away with her hands.
I can’t do this. Not with that thing
looking at us.
They look over at the tank.
Babe is sitting on the bottom of the tank.
She doesn’t have very good eyes. I
bet she can’t even see us.
Barry stands up and looks at Babe.
Babe twirls in the tank, flipping over and over.
She can see us now!
Okay. Let’s go to my room.
Barry and Penelope get up and walk in front of the tank and around it down the hallway.
While they pass, Babe flips madly in her tank.
She stops. Then squats on the bottom and begins to change color.
Close up on Babe, changing color from red to pale lilac.
INT. BARRY’S APARTMENT – Living Room - Day
Barry and Penelope are sitting on the couch.
Penelope is wearing a blue Wal-Mart vest. Barry, wearing sweat pants, is flipping through the channels with a remote control.
Babe is sitting in the tank across the room.
There’s nothing on.
She struggles out of her vest.
Barry turns off the TV.
We could do something else?
No. I’m tired. I’m going home.
Penelope, come on! I’ve been waiting
up all day for you to get off work,
and now you want to leave?
Don’t bad mouth my job! At least
it’s respectable! At least I’m not
working at a strip club!
I’m a bartender. There’s nothing
wrong with that.
And you’re complaining about my hours—
at least I work during the day! Like
a normal job!
We didn’t used to work during the day.
That was at the circus—a freak job!
I don’t want to hear about that.
Barry is quiet.
Who was that girl that called the
What did she want?
She just wanted to talk, that’s all.
She calls from time to time.
Is she a stripper?
Yeah. So what?
And she calls you at home? So what?
A stripper calls you at home? What
am I supposed to think?
She just has problems, that’s all.
I need to feel like I can trust you,
Barry. You’re not making me feel that
way by letting strippers call you at
I didn’t let her, she just got my
number from work.
Barry pauses and studies Penelope’s face.
Okay, I’ll tell her not to call
anymore, if that’s what you want.
Whatever will make you happy.
You’re going to talk to her again!
No! I mean, I’ll get one of the guys
to tell her.
Tell her what? That you have a psycho
girlfriend who can’t stand to have her
call you at home?
Something like that.
Don’t tell her that, Barry! God!
Okay, Okay, calm down! I was just
You’re going to joke about something
like this? I don’t believe you, Barry!
I take you seriously. I do. If you’re
upset, I’m upset. Can’t we just forget
Barry gathers her into his arms and kisses her check, which is turned away from him.
Penelope softens and sniffs a little.
Barry, do you love me?
Of course I do. I tell you all the
Good. Then let’s move in together.
They fall back into the depths of the couch, kissing.
Close up on Babe, sitting on the floor of the tank, changing color.
Babe stops changing color and swims to the middle of the tank, where she begins to squeeze herself through the opening in the partition.
When she has squeezed all the way through, the tank appears empty.
INT. BARRY’S APARTMENT – Living Room – Night
Close up on the empty tank.
Slowly, Babe comes into view, squeezing herself through the little hole from the opposite side of the tank.
Barry, who is wearing a stylish black mock turtleneck shirt and black slacks, chases Penelope, wearing a slinky nightie, in front of the tank, trying to pinch her butt.
Penelope squeals and laughs.
Babe flips in her tank.
They run in front of the tank again, and Babe swooshes up and splashes water at them.
Ahhh! The octopus got me!
And I’m going to get you now!
They run out of the room and down the hall toward the bedroom.
Close up on Babe squatting on the bottom of her tank and squirting out a stream of black ink.
The water fills with clouds of ink, obscuring Babe and blackening everything in sight.
INT. BARRY’S APARTMENT – Living Room – Day
The living room is the same as before, expect it’s a little messier, and Babe’s aquarium is nowhere to be seen.
Penelope, wearing a blue Wal-Mart vest, rushes in through the outside door, carrying a paper bag full of groceries.
She walks straight through the living room without putting the bag down and disappears down the hallway.
You’re still sleeping?
Whaa . . .?
I can’t believe you’re still in bed!
I’ve been at work all day . . .
Penelope continues to yell and Barry to protest, but their words are hard to make out as . . .
The camera moves through the living room and down the hall, but instead of following their voices, it turns to the left and into another room, the guest room.
INT. BARRY’S APARTMENT – Guest Room – Day
Babe’s tank is at the far corner of this room, otherwise empty except for a day bed covered in denim.
Babe is sitting in the corner of her tank. Her toys are scattered around the tank.
She is very pale and still.
Would you get off my back? I’m really
tired! I got in late last night.
At the sound of Barry’s voice, Babe flips and twirls in her tank.
Like you do every other night . . .
Camera zooms in close to Babe’s tank and then enters it.
INT. BARRY’S APARTMENT - BABE’S AQUARIUM – Underwater – Day
Lights are bright and watery.
Pale purple Babe is flipping over and over, tentacles streaming, and underwater, muffled, BLOOP noises are heard.
Underwater yelling human voices are also heard, but are indiscernible.
Babe is flipping and twirling frantically.
INT. BARRY’S APARTMENT – Guest Room – Night
Babe is sitting at the bottom of the tank.
There is the sound of a door being unlocked and opened.
Barry is heard rushing through the hallway.
Baby, I’m home!
At the sound of Barry’s voice, Babe flips frantically in her tank, her movements through the water more beautiful than ever.
Barry appears briefly at the guest room doorway and then shuts the door.
Close up on Babe, who stops spinning and stabs herself in the heart with her sharp, pointy beak.
Blood fills the water and pillows around the dying Babe, finally obscuring her from view completely.