|The Ponderosa Spirit - 7||Joan Sherman Markowitz|
INT. PONDEROSA – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Ben is sitting in his favorite chair sipping coffee. He's reading a book. At closer look we see the title, "GHOSTS AND APPARITIONS." Front door opens and Joe walks in. Ben turns.
BEN: Where Hoss?
JOE: I imagine he's out dancing with cows.
BEN: What in the world are you talking about?
JOE: Oh, Hoss is seeing things again. Nothing worth mentioning. I imagine he'll be along shortly.
BEN: Well, go wash up. Dinner will be ready pretty soon.
Joe exits up stairs. Ben goes back to book and the front door opens and Hoss comes charging in.
BEN (without looking up): You're late. What held you up?
HOSS: Paw, you'll never believe this.
BEN: Try me.
HOSS: I saw a cow stand on her hind legs and dance and then she winked at me.
BEN: You're right. I don't believe you. Go and wash up for dinner.
Dejected, Hoss turns and starts up stairs.
INT. DINING ROOM – NIGHT
The family at the dinner table. Hop Sing is serving to Hoss. Kara is telling Joe about her ride around the ranch. Hoss starts to tuck napkin under chin – other end flies up and his him in face which makes him jump and knocks tray from Hop Sing's hands. Hop Sing's attention was on Kara as were the rest of the family and nobody notices the napkin hit Hoss. Noodles land on Hoss's head. Hop Sing, without a word, picks up bowl and places it non-too gently on top of noodles.
JOE (laughing): That looks very becoming, Hoss. Think you could stay like that until the Easter Parade?
BEN: Now what happened, Hoss?
HOSS: Paw, if I was to tell you, you wouldn't believe me again.
BEN (to Hop Sing): Go get some more noodles and we'll try again. Just steer clear of Hoss's area.
Hop Sing exits and enters kitchen.
INT. LIVING ROOM
They are no sitting around drinking coffee and brandy. Joe and Hoss are on the sofa. Ben and Kara are wandering around the room. Ben is showing Kara some of his books and knickknacks that have meaning for him. They are not paying any attention to the boys. They seem to have eyes only for each other. Boys seem to be aware of this.
HOSS: Well, Joe – what's on the agenda for tomorrow?
JOE: Did we finish up the south range today? Are your strays all accounted for?
HOSS: I think so. Maybe we should check the fences. We haven't done that for a long time. Also, there are a couple of horses to be broken.
JOE: Do you want to just break them or do you want to teach them how to dance?
Before Hoss can answer that one Joe turns away to stoke the fire. He turns back and reaches for his brandy. There is no brandy in the glass.
JOE (to Hoss): You're got your own brandy – leave mine alone.
HOSS: What are you talking about?
JOE: I went to take my first sip and it was gone.
HOSS: Well, I didn't touch it. Maybe the Ponderosa spirit is thirsty.
JOE: What Ponderosa spirit? What in the world are you talking about?
HOSS: Oh, forget it. I'll get you some more brandy.
Hoss gets up and goes to bottle taking Joe's glass with him. Ben and Kara re-enter scene and Kara suggest that they get a breath of fresh air.
KARA: It's such a beautiful night. Let's go out on the porch.
BEN: Sounds wonderful. Coming boys?
JOE: No, Pa. I had enough fresh air on the range today.
HOSS: I'm with Joe.
Ben and Kara exit out door.
EXT. PORCH – NIGHT
BEN: It certainly is a beautiful night.
KARA: The moon is full and bright. These are the kind of nights I missed living in the city. Even in Virginia City the moon doesn't seem the same.
BEN: Speaking of cities. Where do you go from here? Are you following any sort of pattern?
KARA: Yes. Prior to coming here I was in Reno. Now I go to Carson City, El Dorado, and Placerville. Then on to Sacramento and San Francisco.
BEN: Sounds like quite a tour.
KARA: I have a breathing spell between Sacramento and San Francisco.
While Kara has been talking she has edged considerably closer to Ben. Ben starts to put his arm around her making the attraction very mutual. All of a sudden the door of the house flies open and Hoss comes bounding out.
HOSS: Paw, do you have a book on ghosts?
BEN: Hoss, don't you have any manners?
HOSS: Yes, sir! Well, do you?
BEN (exasperated): Yes, I do. I was reading it earlier. What in the world do you want it for?
HOSS: I'm just curious about something. Where is it?
BEN: I put it back on the shelf just above the desk.
HOSS: Thanks, Paw.
Hoss races back into the house.
BEN: Ghosts!! What my sons won't think of next.
KARA: Well, that is in my line you know. We do conjure up spirits from another world.
BEN: Do you really believe in that?
KARA: There are times when something unexplainable happens, but most of the time its done with wires and mirrors and a good advance man.
BEN: Why are you telling me this? I thought you people never gave away secrets.
KARA: Because I want to be perfectly honest with you.
BEN: And why is that?
KARA: Well, if you don't know I won't try to explain it right now.
Ben gets the picture. He puts his arm around her.
BEN: I didn't mean to be coy. You are a very lovely woman and I'm flattered that you would even think something like that about me.
They move in for the kill.
They are about to kiss when the door again flies open and Hoss comes charging out.
BEN: Now what is it?
HOSS: I found something in this book about a chicken ghost!!
BEN & KARA (in unison): A what??
HOSS: Chicken ghost….A poultrygeese.
BEN: You're still not getting through to me.
He shoves the book at Ben and points to the word he is trying to pronounce.
HOSS (continuing): Here it is in black and white. A poultrygeese.
BEN (laughs): He means a poltergeist.
Kara reacts quite visibly. Ben looks at her concerned.
BEN: Are you all right?
KARA (abruptly): I'm rather tired. Would you mind if I retired early?
Ben is nonplussed to say the least.
BEN: I'm sorry. It has been a long day. Get a good night's rest and we'll see you in the morning.
KARA: Thank you. Goodnight, Ben… Hoss.
HOSS: Goodnight, ma'am.
Kara goes into the house.
BEN: Now, Hoss – let's talk about your poultrygeese.
HOSS: Let's go get some coffee first.
BEN: Okay – sounds good to me.
They go into the house.
INT. LIVING ROOM
Hoss goes to the kitchen to get the coffee and sits down beside Joe.
BEN: Joe, do you know what your brother is driving at?
JOE: Beats me, Pa. He hasn't confided in me.
Hoss enters with pot of coffee and cups. Puts them down on table and proceeds to pour coffee for the three of them.
BEN: Now, Hoss. What's on your mind?
HOSS: Well, you know Paw…all the strange things that have been going on around here – this goose could be the answer.
BEN: Hoss, you're the only one that anything's happened to. Besides, you don't really believe in ghosts, do you?
HOSS: I didn't before I met Madame Kara.
BEN: You don't think she's a ghost?
HOSS: Of course not, but….
BEN (interrupting): Did you check everybody in and around the house to see if they were playing tricks on you?
HOSS: I sure did.
HOSS: They didn't know what I was talking about.
JOE (sheepishly): There's one thing I haven't mentioned to anyone.
BEN: What's that, Joe?
JOE: Well, the other evening… the night that Hoss says these eerie things started happening to him… the night he brought Madame Kara home… Well, something peculiar happened to me.
BEN: Well, tell us what it was.
HOSS: Yeah, Joe.
JOE: It's not much really. I was just reading that evening and the book flew out of my hand. It happened twice. At first I thought it must be a draft…a rather large one… but I checked all the windows and they were closed tight and so was the door. It all seemed so silly I didn't want to say anything about it.
HOSS: So you just let me think I was going crazy 'cause everything was happening to me and nobody else saw them.
BEN: There has to be a logical explanation for these things and I can't quite make myself believe that a poltergeist would be in this house. What would it be doing here and how did it get here? (looks towards stairs) No – it couldn't be. She admits to being a fake. (shakes his head) I'm just being silly.
HOSS: What'd you say, Paw?
BEN: Oh, nothing… Let me see that book again. I didn't get to that chapter when I looked through it.
Ben sits in his favorite chair and reads out loud.
BEN (continuing): "Poltergeist – a noisy spirit. Never seen. Freakish sounds and actions makes his presence felt. He generally isolates one person to persecute. Sometimes picks on others in same household. Generally haunts people rather than places. Sometimes polter- Geists are conjured up by mediums." Mediums!!! Then it's quite possible Madame Kara is a carrier of the poltergeist.
HOSS: You don't think a nice lady like that….
BEN (breaking in): It has nothing to do with being nice or not nice. If she is a carrier there's not much she could do about it.
HOSS: A carrier?? Does that mean she has a disease?
JOE (in disgust): Don't be ridiculous, Hoss. It means…it means…. What does it mean, Pa?
BEN: It just means that through some psychological way the poltergeist has attached itself to her.
While they are digesting this we
INT. KARA'S BEDROOM
She is frantically looking through her books, some of them quite old. She is mumbling to herself as she thumbs through them.
KARA: A poltergeist! Could it be possible? I think I recall something in these family diaries about my ancestors being carriers. (pause) Let's see – here's a passage by grandmother Ingrid entered October 10, 1786. (reads) "During the séance at the Bergstrom house a most unusual thing took place. The Bergstrom's eight year old son was suddenly the object of many strange occurrences. Objects began to fly about him and some even struck him. It lasted for a couple of hours and then stopped as suddenly as it had started. The only explanation to which I could attribute these evens is that I brought a poltergeist into the Bergstrom home and it attached itself to the lad."
She sits and ponders what she has just read.
KARA (continuing): Well, perhaps I have brought a poltergeist into this house and it has attached itself to Hoss. All the events in the diaries have poltergeists attaching themselves to children. But Hoss is so childlike at times perhaps the poltergeist couldn't tell the difference. Anyhow the question now is what to do about my little spirit. Does he stay with me if I leave or does he stay permanently with Hoss. I'll have to talk to Ben and see what he thinks. I'm sure he doesn't want this little fellow around here for all times. Well, no sense in mentioning it tonight. Tomorrow's soon enough.
She clears the bed of the books and stacks them on the desk. She turns to take the bedspread off and sees it folded neatly at the foot of the bed.
KARA (continuing): Well, thank you, Mr. "P." I sure do appreciate that. Maybe you are handy to have around at that.
She points to the light and it goes out.
KARA: Good night, sweet Poltergeist.
INT. LIVING ROOM
Ben, Joe and Hoss are sipping coffee and discussing what should be done about Kara.
BEN: I don't think Kara will laugh at us as she seemed quite upset when poltergeists were mentioned. I have a feeling it's not the first time she ever heard the word, but it may be the first time it ever appeared around her. In a way, it's kind of funny 'cause she thinks she's a fraud.
HOSS: Well, let's get her down here right away and see if we can clear all this up. I don't much like being the butt of jokes being played by something I can't see.
BEN: It's pretty late. Kara is probably asleep by now – its nearly midnight. Why don't we just leave it until tomorrow. I'm sure the poltergeist has to get some sleep also.
JOE: Midnight sounds like a great time to look into something like this – it's the witching hour.
HOSS: This guy can't tell time then. He's been witching me at all hours.
BEN: Come on, let's turn in.
He gets up and goes to the door to lock it. The boys walk around the room checking all the windows. As they are walking around the grandfather clock starts to strike the hour. Each bong is counted by the boys and after the twelfth bong the clock rocks back and forth a couple of times much to the astonishment of all. Hoss almost faints and runs up the stairs. His parting remark is
HOSS: Joe, I think it's later than it's ever been.
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