Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Music Box 3/5

Laura, Anna and Mary are carrying their books as they walk past the Mercantile on their way to school. “Laura Ingalls!” Nellie races down the front steps as Laura stops in her tracks. Nellie sneers that she wants to talk to Laura then offers her a gumdrop. Willie observes the bi-polar action from the porch. Laura accepts the gumdrop while Nellie invites Laura to eat lunch with the club. Laura says she is still mulling over her membership. Anna volunteers that she will be in the club, but Nellie says Anna can’t be a member until she learns how to talk. Laura doesn’t take too kindly to this, so she returns the gumdrops and tells Nellie she won’t be joining. Laura and Anna walk away arm in arm. Nellie screams after them. “A chicken can squawk, a butterfly can flutter, but Anna can’t talk, all she can do is st-st-stutter.”

Nels is out on the porch at this point and yells at his daughter while Willie giggles. Nels tells her to get in the house and get the strap ready. Yikes. Nels looks at Willie who says he didn’t do anything. Nels pulls Willie into the shop anyway. The kids run to Harriet and hide behind her. She doesn’t know what is going on (as usual), but begs her husband to give the kids another chance. Nels brandishes the strap saying that Nellie doesn’t deserve another chance. Nellie apologizes and even vouches for her brother that he didn’t do anything. Nels tells Nellie that she will be grounded from school for the day and will go to Anna’s house that afternoon to apologize. Harriet is horrified, insisting that her daughter will be humiliated. Nels says that’s the point. He gives Nellie the choice between the strap and a half-assed apology. Nellie says she doesn’t know where Anna lives, but her father says to ask Laura. Nellie doesn’t like that idea, but Nels brandishes the strap again and tells Nellie to choose. To recap, the choices are A) Stay home from school for the day and then walk over to Anna’s house to “apologize”, or B) A whuppin’. Nellie chooses A. Nellie goes upstairs and Nels tells Willie to clean his room. Today is a school day, right?

That afternoon, Laura is in the barn trying to fix the music box. It isn’t going very well. Outside, Nellie approaches the homestead and Jack goes into Cujo mode. Good for him. The sound isn’t great, as they play barking sound effects when Jack’s mouth does not show any sort of barking or growling, just drooling. Nellie rushes into the barn to hide from the dog. Laura is caught off-guard (she didn’t hear the dog?) and Nellie realizes that it is her music box that Laura is tinkering with. Laura tries to lie that it is her own box but Nellie calls BS on that instantly. Laura insists that it’s hers, so Nellie suggests asking Laura’s parents. Laura, realizing that she’s caught, confesses. Nellie says she is going to tell, but Laura says she will do anything that Nellie says. Nellie verifies this incredibly stupid statement, but Laura insists that she will do anything that Nellie says. Nellie tells Laura that she is going to be in the club and warns Laura that if she steps out of line, Nellie will tell and possibly try to have Laura put in jail. Laura promises to follow Nellie’s orders.

At this point Pa walks in. He asks what’s up and Laura says they were just listening to Nellie’s music box. “Oh it’s your music box now, Laura,” Nellie says. Pa is pleased with this news, especially since it appears that the two buried the hatchet -- and not in anyone’s skull. Nellie leaves but as she exits she asks Mr. Ingalls if Laura can go to her house after school tomorrow. Charles is okay with this. Nellie asks Laura how to get to Anna’s before she leaves. Once she is gone, Pa says he is really happy to see this new development. Laura catatonically agrees.

Nellie’s arrival at Anna’s house is inexplicably framed through the arms of a chair on her porch. Inside, we see that the props office used the “LHOTP – Generic” item list, which includes a shawl, butter churn, rocking chair, and a woodpile. Anna’s mom answers Nellie’s knocking by opening the door, but answers Nellie’s questions in Swedish. I wonder what obnoxious schoolyard rhyme Nellie has for that linguistic trait? Anna comes out of her room and asks Nellie what she wants. Nellie apologizes, but Anna doesn’t quite believe it. Anna’s mother asks, through Anna, if Nellie would like to stay for dinner, but Nellie politely refuses. Anna gets the door for Nellie and walks her outside. Nellie apologizes again, but the insincerity starts to drip when she tells Anna that she is talking much better. Anna doesn’t have an insincerity detector, so she is thrilled by this development.

That evening at the homestead, Laura puts down her dictionary and asks her Pa what it’s like to be in jail. Did Charles do hard time? That would be amazing. Aww, he says he has never been. Charles asks why Laura wants to know and she says it’s for homework. Did Miss Beadle ask the kids to write prison letters? Charles said he met a couple of guys who went to jail during the War, but he isn’t inclined to repeat their stories. Laura asks what sort of crimes lead to jail time – cheating, hurting somebody, and stealing are what Charles list. Laura speculates that stealing only applies to big things like horses, but Charles says you can hang for a crime like that. “No, they put you in jail for stealing just about anything,” Pa continues. This does not ease Laura’s nerves.

The Nerd March plays as we enter another one of Laura’s dreams. A fire burns in the center of a medieval prison. One prisoner is stretched on a rack while several others sleep on the stone floor. Someone is laughing as Harriet enters wearing a hood and carrying a giant bucket. Laura is looking even more bedraggled than in her previous dream. Harriet reaches into the bucket and pulls out a wad of breadcrumbs that she chucks to the ground. All of the prisoners scramble to the food except for a Leif Garrett impersonator chained to the wall. As Harriet feeds the birds, Nellie walks in wearing a hood and eating from a chicken bone. She laughs as Laura notices the meat. Laura crawls towards the Oleson jailors who continue to laugh at the girl. Once Laura reaches Nellie and begs for food, Nellie bludgeons the girl with the chicken. Nellie leaves and slams the door.

Laura starts to bang on the door and we fade out of the dream. Back in reality, Laura is banging on the wall screaming, “I’m hungry.” Mary wakes up her sister and tells her to knock it off. Charles yells up to the loft to find out what’s going on. Laura and Mary say nothing, but Charles yells up again demanding an answer. Mary says flatly, “Laura rolled over and fell out of bed.” Mary Ingalls sucks at plausibility. Charles asks if she is all right and Laura responds just as flatly that she is okay. Pa tells them to go to sleep.

The next morning outside school, Nellie explains to the club that she will decide who is "it" and, as president, she will never be "it". That’s not much of a game, whatever it is you’re playing, honey. Nellie calls over to Laura and Mary, who have just arrived, that they are going to play Hide N Seek. Mary declines, which Nellie is okay with. Nellie then commands Laura to join her. Nellie has decided that Laura will be “it”. Mary and Anna are shocked by this. Laura apologizes to Anna and promises to play with her after school and dejectedly walks towards Nellie and the girls. Anna is deeply disappointed by the development.

2 comments:

Adrian Platt said...

Please complete this when you have time. It is an excellent write up and I have been amused by the details you have picked out which I had not noticed even after about four viewings.

Adrian Platt said...

Please complete this when you have time. It is an excellent write up and I have been amused by the details you have picked out which I had not noticed even after about four viewings.