EXT. OLD WEST TOWN - DAY
A rust sign swings and squeaks in the wind gently just outside of your average frontier town. Through its rust stains the name Belles Lettres can be seen.
EXT. OLD WEST TOWN STREET - SAME
The wind blows the dusty main street about in little whirlpools, as the prerequisite tumbleweed rolls down the street. As we get closer to ground level, we see the focus of all commerce and social interaction in the town: the saloon. The name above the door reads, Carlyle. We then see a nondescript figure in full cowboy regalia move up the steps and enter the saloon.
INT. CARLYLE SALOON - SAME
The saloon is a buzz. Eccentric men and women roam about the bar, ordering drinks, playing cards, making dirty deals, and discussing philosophy. The group of card players nearest to the door look up at the as yet undisclosed individual. While some of them are recognizable, others are not. The group consists of EDGAR A. POE, OSCAR WILDE, WILLIAM JAMES, ARABELLA KENEALY, and SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
Oh jubilation, looks who's come back to town.
What have I told about wanton criticism of Respected figures, in public no less!?
Put a sock in it William, he may be your brother but you don't have to be so sensitive.
Yes Bill, we all tease him about being such a windbag, but when the chips are down, we'll always admit to the validity of his artistic statement.
Speak for yourself Arthur, "the coward does it with a kiss." If someone like your brother, William, wants to be taken seriously, he must be ready to defend his stance, even if it requires doing it with a sword. Face it, your brother is a pushover! He runs on wind, not wine.
The formerly nondescript figure, now revealed to be Henry James, saunters up to the bar. ZHUANG-ZI stands behind the bar, busily cleaning glasses and pouring drinks. He spots Henry and before Henry can say a word, Zhuang-zi starts in on him.
Really Henry, I can't understand why you keep coming here and challenging that woman. Will you never learn that your perceptions of "artistic integrity" are just transitory and that there are no intrinsic values to anything in this world?
Shut it, Zhuang!
Zhuang-zi just shakes his head and returns to polishing his shot glasses. Anticipating Henry's coming question, he points up stairs to the balcony. Standing at the top of the stairs dressed like Clint Eastwood-meets-Versache.
EMILY DICKINSON begins her descent, her tranquil gaze fixed on Henry. Once at the the bottom, she moves towards Henry as he moves towards her, most of the bar seems to ignore them. They meet in the middle of the room.
So Henry, you've come to challenge my position as sheriff again?
Of course! I refuse to rest until someone with truly discerning artistic taste is in charge of this town!
Really Henry, you wound me. Why do you say such things? Why do you feel that I do not posses artistic taste?
Why? Just look over there!
He points angrily to another group of card players. This game's players are Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Jan Karon, Robert Jordan, and Jewel.
The simple fact you let no talent hacks like them into this town is reason enough. Next thing I know you'll be allowing people like David Baldacci or Clive Barker in here.
Actually, Clive's upstairs with Robert Frost, but that's beside the point. Leave the others out of this.
Henry just shakes his head and sighs.
You'll never understand Emily.
With that, Henry tosses aside the right flap of his jacket, unveiling a thick short story collection tucked neatly in its holster.
Emily, with much greater speed, beats Henry to the punch. She produces a fascicle from underneath her coat, and has it open, and is reading before Henry can even find the page he's looking for.
Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,-you're straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.
Just as she is finishing, Henry homes in on page and passage.
"You were Prospero enough to make her what she has become. You have acted on Isabel Archer since she came here."
By this point a silence has fallen over the saloon. Both Henry and Emily stare at each other a moment, before looking over at Zhuang-zi. Zhuang-zi looks at Henry sadly and just shakes his head.
Damnit! I can't believe I lost again! And who says Zhuang-zi is fit to judge the duels anyway?! Huh?
(yells out from the back of the saloon)
He's the founder of Daoist philosophy Henry! They don't come any more objective than that!
Henry sighs in submission, hanging his head, he turns and moves for the door. However, before he can reach it Emily catches him by the arm.
Now come on Henry, let me show you around. I think you'll like some of the new comers once you get to know them.
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