Delta Queen

Short Synopsis of Shady River
By Nori Muster

Shady River is The Love Boat with a paddlewheel. Instead of ocean cruises, the Shady River Steamboat takes passengers on the inland waterways of America. Along with Love Boat-like sub-plots, and passing dramas among the crew members, the overarching plot revolves around the character Captain Garmatzi. After getting himself fired in the pilot episode, Garmatzi gets elected to Congress, and uses his political power to persecute his former employers.





Shady River
Pilot for TV Series
by Nori Muster


Copyright 2012. The author retains all rights to these characters, their boat, and their stories.





Author's Statement

Shady River takes place in present day on a paddlewheel steamboat on the Ohio River.





Shady River
A TV pilot by Nori Muster

FADE IN
A Dixieland band starts to play in the Texas Lounge, the camera follows passengers up the grand staircase to find people drinking and mixing it up. The bartender is a middle-aged, Frank Sinatra type. His name is Bonaldo De Luca, but everyone calls him Bodine. He is dressed in a 1900s-style shirt, vest, and garters on his arms. He pours drinks with a flourish and sets them up on the bar. Camera pans across the window, the boat is tied up in its homeport, Cincinnati. Through the tiffany windows, the camera pans across the beautiful skyline of the city, which is an imposing sight. The camera pans across the Texas Lounge to the band.

PURSERS WINDOW
(the same music is heard, but distant)
The purser, Doss Baker, is a young man, neatly dressed in a uniform with epaulettes and a shipman's cap.

DOSS
(Looks up from passenger list at passenger standing at his window, reaches out to shake his hand.)
Welcome Senator Blake.

SENATOR BLAKE
You must be Doss Baker, your daddy and I have been friends since the service.

DOSS
He told me. Glad you could make it.

SENATOR BLAKE
My daughter finally talked me into it.

DOSS
(chuckles)

SENATOR BLAKE
I have my wife, and some of the younger Blake family with me. (He points to his family, sitting at a table, looking like they could sit for a portrait with the senator for a campaign commercial.)

DOSS
Enjoy your cruise. (hands him stateroom keys and paperwork)
We're a little late getting out, so we started up the band.

(As the senator walks away, several more people get in line to check in; people teem around the gift shop. Outside, people are reading maps and pointing to things on the shore. Couples are walking arm in arm on the deck. Several people are at the bow, looking at the river.)

ROBERT
(Robert Wiley, a good looking young black man dressed in a watchman's uniform with epaulettes. He wears a shipman's cap and carries a watchman's clock.)
Yes, meals are in two settings, downstairs. When you check in, they will give you your table assignments.

PASSENGER
Thank you, young man.

ROBERT
Have a nice cruise, ma'me.

SALLIE BLAKE
(behind the counter in the gift store, she catches Robert looking at her and smiles, then turns back to the passenger who is studying the jewelry case)

(zoom in)
CUSTOMER
Is this just in silver?

SENATOR BLAKE
(he pushes his way to the front of the crowd at the gift store) When do you get off work, darlin', your momma and I want to know when we can visit with you.

MONTAGE
Steam whistle blows, passengers throw confetti and streamers, and frantically wave goodbye. The paddlewheel turns, pulling the boat stern-first into the river. As the boat straightens out and heads up river, the calliope starts to play and the whistle sounds several more times. The ship sets sail on the river.

DINING ROOM (night)
Nearly all the tables are full. Waiters in uniform remove used items from the tables in a choreographed dance. Loud conversation fills the room.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(takes the microphone at the front of the room, the band sits ready to play behind him)
Thank you for joining us ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the late start this afternoon, and I am sorry to report that we are still thirty passengers short tonight because their plane was late and they missed the boat. But we have a great cruise planned for you: including a stop at the famous Cave-in-Rock. We also have a sensational band on board for the whole cruise, so let's welcome the Jump Jive ‘n Wailers.

(crowd applauds, music begins, couples dance, waiters bring fancy deserts, etc.)

CAPTAIN'S TABLE
(The captain is seated in the middle of a banquet table with Senator Blake, his wife, and two teenaged children; also another well-dressed, older senior couple, and two senior single women.)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I hope your children will find enough to do on the boat. Our cruises are known for the newly weds and the nearly-deads.
(the older people twitter) Present company excluded.

SENATOR'S DAUGHTER
You have wireless. We will be fine.

SENATOR'S WIFE
(to daughter) There's so much to see, can you just write to your friends later?
(to captain) How embarrassing, Captain, sorry.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Oh ma'me, I have seen near everything, nothing bothers me. (to children). Reception gets patchy when we're way out on the river. Hope you won't hold it against us.

SENATOR
Thanks for your hospitality, Captain. I mean that, and thanks for giving our little Sallie the job.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Thank you Senator. She's getting along just fine.

MONTAGE
Early morning fog, a tourist bus drives along the ridge of a lonely country road, headed toward Madison, Indiana. They pull off in the middle of nowhere to the bank of the Ohio River, where the boat is tied up next to a smaller paddlewheel boat. The thirty passengers stream toward the outstretched stage, where a man in a booth checks their tickets and IDs. As they are allowed on, the passengers walk up the stage onto the bow, then disappear up a stairwell that leads to the cabin deck.

An old, shriveled pilot and an husky engineer play checkers on the bow, deckhands are seen at the railing smoking, spitting in the river, etc.

CABIN DECK – MAIN LOUNGE AREA
A man in an expensive suit and a young blonde woman stand in line at the purser's office. She wears a scanty dress and expensive jewelry. They look rumpled from missing a plane, then riding on a bus all night. The woman leaves her suitcase, mink stole, and rhinestone-studded purse by the staircase. The captain comes in and sees the expensive items unattended. While the couple is checking in, he brushes past and places the purse under his jacket. However, in doing so, his shoulder strikes a fish bowl on a shelf and it spills over. Everyone looks over.

PASSENGER
My purse!

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Don't worry ma'me. I am the captain. It can't go far, we are after all, on a boat.

PASSENGER
Oh thank you, Captain!

ROBERT
(runs over and scoops up the fish; people scurry around)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Find a new place for that fish bowl, son. It's dangerous.

ROBERT
Yes sir. Will do sir. (he salutes)

(Another couple comes up the stairs and heads toward the line. The woman is guided by a pig in a harness and leash.)

ROBERT
(holding plastic cup with the fish in it in one hand and broken shards of the fish bowl in the other)
Excuse me but we do not allow pets on board.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I'll handle this son, you take care of that fish.

ROBERT
(puts his head down and continues to clean up)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(turns to passengers) We are not having any barnyard animals on my boat.

MRS. P.
This is my assistance animal.

MR. P.
(pulling a folder from his tote bag)
We have all the necessary paperwork.
(he takes his wife's elbow and tries to move along)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Wait a minute, a pig? This is a pig! An assistance animal is a dog.

MR. P.
You want to talk to our attorney? My son-in-law is an Iowa state prosecutor.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Oh, you're right. I think you misunderstood me. I meant to say hope you enjoy your cruise.
(he shakes hands with the man and kisses the woman's hand)
I'm sorry your plane was late, but you enjoy your cruise.

MRS. P.
Little Bully Boy won't be any trouble, I can assure you Captain.

MR. P.
We certainly appreciate your hospitality, Captain.

(Passengers continue checking in at the purser's window, the steam whistle blows, the stage is hoisted up and set straight. Passengers who just joined the boat line the decks, wave and throw streamers and confetti. The camera pulls back to show the bus driver by his empty bus, waving back. Two construction workers on the landing also wave. On the smaller boat, the captain on an upper deck waves, and a dishwasher wearing a cook's apron, while smoking a non-filter cigarette, leans out of the kitchen window on a lower deck and waves. A woman comes out of a door on the top deck and waves.

The boat sails into the sunrise, with only the sound of the paddlewheel leaving a deep wake.)

ON THE BOW (still morning, glorious sunrise)
The captain is seated at a worn table, playing checkers with the old pilot. Another boat approaches and sounds its steam whistle. Everyone turns to look at it. Quickly, the captain rearranges the checkers pieces.

DECKHAND
(on a deck chair, gazing at the river)
That's the Island Belle.

OLD PILOT
Sure enough. (turns back to chess board)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Han't seen her pass by in a long time.

OLD PILOT
That's true. (Nods and turns back to checkers board.)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Look at that Paul, you left it wide open for me.

OLD PILOT
Huh?

Captain jumps all of the pilot's pieces and claims victory.

DOSS (p.a. announcement - voiceover)
We will be stopping soon, so if you want shore tour tickets, go to the gift shop before you disembark. We will be visiting Cave-in-Rock, the original hiding place for river pirates, counterfeiters, and highwaymen. You can get a look into the type of outlaws who used to run the river.

CABIN LOUNGE
People congregate around the gift store to purchase tour tickets, the boat lands at an uninhabited shore, ties up to a tree on a grassy bank, and the stage is lowered. Passengers gather at the top of the stairs, then the doors are opened, they stream down to the bow and off the stage, toward waiting tour busses. The passengers with the pig are among the crowd.

The captain walks through the crowd, acting official, shaking hands and greeting passengers. He starts walking in the opposite direction of the tour busses. Children tease the pig, it breaks loose from its leash, and rampages through the crowd. It runs straight toward the captain and collides with him, knocking him off his feet. He ends up in a large puddle. The pig's owners first run around to recapture their pig, then they attend to the captain, now covered in mud. He takes his still clean hat off and throws it in the mud, then falls back down and sits in the mud. By now everyone is watching. Soon, the crowd obediently files onto the tour busses and the captain is left there.

CABIN DECK - MAIN LOUNGE (night)
A few passengers window shop at the closed gift shop; a passenger is seen on a couch reading a book, and four people play scrabble; a few passengers get coffee and snacks from the free snack bar. The senator and his family, including Sallie, sit in a circle visiting. Doss is seen sitting at his desk inside the purser's office, then he looks at the clock and reluctantly puts his work away, turns the lights out, and locks up the office. He sees the senator and family, and joins them. Robert passes by and joins them.

PURSER'S OFFICE
Doss is back to the books, the clock above his desk shows that it is after midnight. The door opens and the captain walks in.

DOSS
Howdy, Cap.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
You worry me, son, always pouring over those books. Don't you see what time it is?

DOSS
Hi Captain, heard you took a little fall today. I knew that pig was trouble when I first saw it.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Me too, son. Now whata you doing there?

DOSS
It just doesn't add up. I have been trying to figure why we are running into the red. Every cruise is booked.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Must be bad times. You know, people are more careful. They sit a little tighter on their pocketbooks.

DOSS
Maybe you're right, Cap. I hope so.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
That's good.

DOSS
But it looks like money is missing. Look at this here.
(points to items on the bank statement)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I will call the home office about it tomorrow and see if that was their charge.

DOSS
Huh? Want me to call them?

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Leave it to me. (captain turns to the door) Get some sleep.

DINING ROOM - MORNING
Doss sees Senator Blake sitting alone and joins him.

SENATOR BLAKE
Good morning Doss, anymore anomalies, as you call it? Hope you got some sleep. My family has gone upstairs to take photos.

DOSS
So what keeps you in Kentucky, Senator? My daddy said he wants you to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

SENATOR BLAKE
You think about it, you do; naw, I'm Kentucky-bound. All that uprooting is not for me. Plus, what you have to deal with! Ain't worth it.

DOSS
Suppose you're right.

SENATOR BLAKE
I'm an old liberal sixties Democrat. Not many of us left. What are your politics, Doss?

DOSS
My daddy was in the union. Can't imagine a world for my children if I weren't too. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.

SENATOR BLAKE
You have kids?

DOSS
I might someday, if my fiancé doesn't leave me. I travel all the time on this boat. Course I wouldn't blame her.

SENATOR BLAKE
Run for state office, that's a real job. We need good people like you in politics. I would welcome you to Frankfort.

DOSS
What do you like about politics that you think I would like?

SENATOR BLAKE
Nothing, actually. You have to work with the infernalest, wickedest scoundrels in the land.

DOSS
This boat has a few characters I would like to nominate. Take Bodine, for example. River lore says that he poisoned a man on this boat, right up there in the Texas Lounge.

FLASHBACK
Bodine serves a man a drink at the Texas Lounge bar, then the man drops dead. Bodine peers over the bar and smiles.

SENATOR BLAKE
How did he get away with it?

DOSS
(lowers his voice)
Get away with it, are you kidding? He gets away with everything. The captain likes him.

CREW'S MESS HALL (late morning)
(The captain sits at the head of a table, surrounded by employees. The meeting has been in progress for some time, as empty water bottles, etc., clutter the table.)

DOSS
I can't make it make sense. I sat up half the night trying to balance the books.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
You better bring that up with the executives when we get back to Cincinnati. You schedule a meeting with them and get to the bottom of it.

DOSS
Yes sir.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
No, never mind. I'll do it.

DOSS
But you already said you would call them and you didn't.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Next, gift shop report.

SALLIE
Sales have been great this month. Our biggest item is sweatshirts. We need more large and extra-large, we're completely out.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Just go with what we have. Wait until we sell out to re-order.

SALLIE
What? But -

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
You heard me. I run this place, Miss Senator's Daughter.
Next, let's hear from Bodine on beverage operations.

BODINE
Our receipts are up, everything is in order.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Fine, keep up the good work. Let's schedule a meeting soon. There are a few things I want to go over with you.

BODINE
Very good sir.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
How are we going to make this boat successful if the rest of you are just slacking off all the time? You should see Bodine here as a fine example of the type of leadership I am looking for on this boat. I am tired of these so-called meetings where you all just shirk off your responsibilities. Somebody besides me better start pulling their own weight. Doss here is complaining that we are not breaking even and whose fault is that? You all make me sick. This meeting is getting too long. Adjourned.

PURSER'S OFFICE
Doss is pouring over the books, Robert walks in, hands Doss a cup of coffee.

DOSS
Thanks.

ROBERT
What's going on?

DOSS
Keep this confidential, but there's liquor and food missing. It's getting worse.

ROBERT
What are you gonna do? You know as well as me what goes on here.

DOSS
What are you talking about?

ROBERT
You are as naïve as that senator's daughter over there and she's new. Open your eyes. Dark forces control this boat and there is nothing we can do about it. Leave it alone, you'll just get yourself fired.

DOSS
Maybe my fiancé is right, I need to get off the river. It's just that I don't want it to be true, but look at right here. The evidence is right here in the books.

(The service bell dings and Doss goes to the window, to see Mrs. P. waiting.)

DOSS
May I help you?

MRS. P.
Young man, would you happen to have a game of checkers in there?

DOSS
Certainly Ma'me.
(he reaches into one of the cupboards and hands over the board game – she and her husband sit down at a table and the pig curls up at her feet)

ROBERT
What do you make of all that?

DOSS
I was against having the pig on the boat.

ROBERT
I am having doubts about the captain these days.

DOSS
Cap?

ROBERT
I've been watching him lately. Did you know he sits up every night with Bodine after closing time?

DOSS
Are you saying that could account for all the missing booze?

ROBERT
You didn't hear me say anything.

TEXAS DECK, OUTSIDE TEXAS LOUNGE (late night)
Robert and Sallie tip-toe across the deck, keeping to the shadows. They peer into the Texas lounge, where Bodine and Captain Garmatzi are huddled together at the bar.

ROBERT
What the heck are they talking about, it drives me nuts. This is like, every night.

SALLIE
It does seem weird. But they're friends. We shouldn't be spying. Don't you have rounds to do?

(They watch for a while, sinking further into the shadows.)

ROBERT
Sallie, do you have a boyfriend back home?

SALLIE
(rolls eyes)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi'S QUARTERS
Bodine and Captain Garmatzi are in the captain's quarters with the lights low. An open liquor bottle sits on the headboard. Bodine comes out of the head; porn movie on the TV is on pause.

BODINE
Hey, what's this? (picks up the missing rhinestone purse, opens it, and rifles through the contents)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Oh, that. I wanted to find out who had the money, him or her.

BODINE
How can you tell?

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
It's easy. I'm psychic.

BODINE
If you're so psychic, why do you need the purse? And besides, what do you care?

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
If she's rich, maybe I could some sugar too.

(Bodine sits down on the bed and they rummage through the purse.)

HEADQUARTERS (afternoon)
A plush executive office suite with a view of the river in the distance. Four men sit around a conference table. The purser's bankbook, banded reams of receipts, bank statements, a calculator, and laptop computers are splayed across the table.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE (business suit and tie, classy; forties)
(to Doss) How long have you been aware of these discrepancies?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE (business dress, comfortable good shoes, modest gold jewelry, minimal make-up natural, soft long hair, sixties)
(to captain) Money is leaking out of the system.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
No ma'me, there is no leak in my boat. There's no leak. This man is clearly fabricating. He's exaggerating.

DOSS
All I can tell you is, I started to notice things in the last two bank statements. Actually, it goes back further, to last year with the bar receipts and kitchen costs. But it was the holidays and I might have lost track of a party or two.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(shouting)
Lost track!? Why didn't you tell me about this? I am the captain. You tell me what's happening on my boat, you hear?

DOSS
I did mention it.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(mutters)
There's no leak on my boat. Lies, lies.

DOSS
You suggested I call the home office.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(mutters) Incompetent.
(to Doss) I said I would call the home office.

DOSS
But you never did, so I called them. It's my job.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(to Doss) Hand me that bank statement again, will you?

(The executive are shaken watching this cat and mouse exchange, with the captain pouncing on Doss.)

OUTDOOR – STREET
The steamboat looms on the horizon, whistle blowing, the captain and Doss walk down the road toward the boat.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
You made me look like a fool in there. I really wish you would put a cork in it.

EXECUTIVE OFFICES

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
(sitting at his desk, finishing take-out food, packaging and food containers spread across the desk)
What do you make of it?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
Water leaking on a boat is serious. Leaking anywhere is serious.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
What if it goes up to the top? Could it be the captain?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
It couldn't be Cap. I think we can rule that out. Maybe it's that purser. How well do we know him? It's no secret he has wanted off of the boat for a long time.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
If it was the purser, why would he want to meet? Wouldn't he try to embezzle as much as he could, then disappear?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
Maybe he suspected the captain was onto him and he is trying to cover his tracks, throw up a smoke screen.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
One thing we know, we should immediately close the account and keep a better watch over things.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
That's right. Make it so.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
(pushes down intercom button and speaks into box)
Betty, please come in here, I have some work for you.

TEXAS DECK – TEXAS LOUNGE (evening)
The rich couple are at the bar, just finishing their mint juleps. The captain walks up.

BODINE
Captain, Mr. Elkins here might know your cousin Ernie. He owns a big petroleum company too.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
No kidding, that's too bad. Good to meet you. Hope you are enjoying your cruise. (shakes his hand)

PASSENGER
So your cousin is in the industry, what's his name?

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Ernie Dicks, you know him?

PASSENGER
No, don't say that I do.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Well, it's a good thing. The man is dishonest as he is round.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi'S QUARTERS (night)

The captain is sprawled out on his bed; the bartender is sitting in a chair next to the bed. They are watching pornography and sharing a bottle of expensive whisky. The television flickers in the dark room.

BODINE
This movie is too nasty for me, Cap.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Haw haw haw, you are always good for a laugh.

BODINE
Ooooh, look at that, that's a pretty lady.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
That's no lady, that's a porn star, and a damned good one too, so keep it to yourself.

BODINE
Where did you say you got this video?

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I bought it somewhere, that's all. God help me if my VCR player ever breaks.

BODINE
Ain't life cruel? Stuck on this boat with no women.
(as he crawls onto the captain's bed and nuzzles him.)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Get off of me you drunken sailor, what the hell are you doing?

BODINE (standing up, straightening his hair)
I better be going.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
That's a good idea.

(An awkward silence, then the captain grins. Bodine turns and leaves the room.)

EXECUTIVE OFFICES (morning)

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
(sitting at his desk, playing with the equivalent of a Rubik's cube, on a computer)
How are our other accounts doing?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
We're okay.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
So tell me madam secretary, who done it?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
It's the captain.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
If it is the captain, how could he be so stupid? Don't we pay him enough? He has to steal alcohol?

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
Never underestimate a man's potential to be stupid. We all have our blind spots.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
One thing we know, we should immediately get a warrant and search his quarters.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
(pushes down intercom button and speaks into box)
Betty, get in here, I have some work for you.

TEXAS LOUNGE
The rich couple are sitting in a booth.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I am happy to report madam, that somebody found your purse. It was behind a bookcase. Must have slid back there when the fish tank broke. Anyway, it has turned up now so you can claim it at the purser's office.

PASSENGER'S WIFE
Oh thank you Captain.
Harold, let's go.

HAROLD
Yes, indeed. Let's go dear.
(He takes a last sip of his drink and signs the tab.)

SUN DECK OUTSIDE OF CAPTAIN Garmatzi'S QUARTERS (mid-day)
Local sheriffs, the junior executive from Cincinnati, the company attorney, and the purser surround the door of the captain's quarters. The sheriffs go in with a warrant, looking for evidence of embezzlement (stressful music plays). The captain comes upon the scene and goes hysterical. The executive and attorney get him to step aside. Captain sits down, pulls his hat over his eyes. The sheriffs go in and discover dozens of empty liquor bottles, a bookshelf of porn VCRs (and one in the VCR player), as well as missing contents of the passenger's purse, including a credit card with her name on it.

SHERIFF
Sir, we have approximately fifty empty liquor bottles, porn on the video, and what appears to be a stolen credit card.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
Thank you Sergeant. You can lock it down.
(turning to the attorney, lowers voice so only attorney can hear)
Do we want to press charges?

ATTORNEY
We would be wise not to, just let him go and write it off. But stolen credit card? It's up to the passenger. Let's find her.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
(to officer) Sergeant, before you leave, would you meet us down at the Texas Lounge?
(to captain) Captain, we will see you down in the lounge immediately. Come with us.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Uh. (He lumbers after them, looks back at the sheriff, horrified to see that not only the officials, but half of the passengers are witnessing the scene. Sheriff's deputies, joined by several women from the housekeeping crew, pack up the empty liquor bottles onto a cart to take away as evidence.)

TEXAS LOUNGE
The purser, junior executive, attorney, and captain sit down at a booth. Bodine comes over to take their orders.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
I'll have iced tea.

DOSS
Same for me.

ATTORNEY
A Coke, please.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I'll have a Manhattan.

(all glare at him)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I'll have a Coke.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
I think that on behalf of everyone in this company, Captain, I have to tell you: you really screwed up.

ATTORNEY
Let's start here, Captain, do you have an explanation for this?

(Bodine and the captain lock eyes. Captain hesitates, like a child who got caught cheating on a test.)

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Aw come on you guys, let me at least have a beer.

(Outside, passengers whisper to each other about what they saw, and what might be going on inside the Texas lounge. Bodine keeps giving the captain the evil eye as the camera pulls back and the four of them continue talking. The captain throws up his hands, then appears depressed. He rants and raves until finally Bodine brings him a beer.)

BOW OF THE BOAT (mid-morning)
The stage is lowered to the company's wharf boat, and passengers depart one by one and in groups.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi (to passenger)
Thank you for traveling with us. We hope to see you again.

PASSENGER
Thank you.

(More passengers depart, shaking hands with the captain.
The people with the pig approach.)

MRS. P.
Captain, my husband and I want to apologize again for the incident.

MR. P.
We learned something from all that. We cannot keep little Bully Boy cooped up as an assistance animal.

MRS. P.
We want to let him run free.

MR. P.
We found a home on a cage-free organic pig farm where he will live out his natural life as a stud.

MRS. P.
Bully Boy has a pedigree. We have his papers!

CAPTAIN
You have made the right decision.

MRS. P.
So you forgive us?

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Certainly, and please come back again. Without the pig.

EXECUTIVE OFFICES (afternoon)
Captain Garmatzi is at one end of the conference table, with the executives flanking him on both sides.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
This is one of the hardest decisions a steamboat operation ever has to make. We did not come by this easily, Captain, but we have to let you go.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
We will, of course, welcome you back as a guest, if you should decide to travel with us.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
With the amount of proof we have against you, it's a miracle the passenger agreed not to press charges. Therefore, we are willing to let this go and be civil about it.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
I know it makes me look awful guilty, but it was that darned bartender. I've tried to tell you.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE
We want to settle this amicably with you. This was your last cruise. We are giving you a more than generous severance package, considering the circumstances.

JUNIOR EXECUTIVE
I think we have made it clear and god help the Mississippi River. If the bartender was a conspirator to this, he will be fired too.


INTERIOR OF STYLISH PUB

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
(sitting at the bar, talking to a stranger)
They say they found all the missing liquor bottles, but they weren't mine. And they blamed all that pornography on me.

DRINKER
Aw Cap that's the saddest story I ever heard. You ought to have a movie about your life, you poor old man.

CAPTAIN Garmatzi
Yeah, make a movie about me. (he shouts a little louder) I said they should make a movie about me. I have been fired, I'm a poor old boy who used to be the captain of the Shady River but now I'm fired. I'm a nobody. (sits down and cries in his beer)

(pan out to see someone capture the scene on a cell phone)

REPORTER (local evening TV news show)
This was the scene this afternoon up on The Hill. Former Shady River captain Ned Garmatzi announced to the world that he was fired for harboring stolen liquor bottles in his stateroom. QUIX News wants to know: isn't it a little early in the day to get that drunk, Captain? Let's see the clip. (video shows: “They should make a movie about me. I have been fired. . . . [to “cries in his beer”].)

TEXAS LOUNGE (daytime)

SALLIE
He was my friend, I feel so sorry. He got me this job. He was nice to my daddy, seating my whole family at the captain's table.

BODINE
I feel sorry for him too.

SALLIE
There has to be more to it. It just can't be that the captain watched pornography.

BODINE
Yeah, it's hard to believe. Almost like he was framed. Wonder what really happened.

SALLIE
I hate all the bad publicity and gossip. Even Watchdogs of the River had a story on it.

BODINE
(refills her drink – a soda)

SALLIE
Do you believe in conspiracy theories?

BODINE
No, why?

SALLIE
I am non-political, but things are so awful these days. There's a lot the government doesn't tell us.

BODINE
I don't believe in all that. What you see is what you get.

SALLIE
Maybe having a state senator for a father makes me see the dark side. I swear, it's even on this boat. People's suspicions are so high it feels like a pressure cooker sometimes.

BODINE
I don't see it, but if so, good for my business, isn't it?
(both laugh)

GIFT STORE (morning)
Robert, Doss, and Sallie are huddled around the morning paper. A big headline on page three says: "Ned Garmatzi files application to run for vacant Kentucky senate seat."

DOSS
Will you look at that?

SALLIE
I'm happy for him. Bodine says he was probably framed, and now look at that, it's a good career move.

ROBERT
He doesn't have that job yet, he's just running.

DOSS
Think he will win? What if he does the same thing to Kentucky that he did to this boat?

ROBERT
Oh lord, maybe we should have kept him here. Save all those innocent citizens.

SALLIE
You guys should be ashamed, you're so tough on the captain. He's been through so much. How would you like it? I hope he wins. Then he and my daddy will be colleagues.

ROBERT
I would love to tell you why that is so wrong, but I have to do my rounds now. (he leaves)

DOSS
I would like to debate it too, but I better get to work.

(Sallie is left in the gift shop, reading the article. Camera pans out to show a new set of passengers line up at the purser's window; Bodine entertains passengers in the Texas Lounge, pouring drinks with his usual flair; the band starts playing, the steam whistle blows.)

FADE IN
Louisville waterfront. A Dixieland band plays outside on the Texas deck, welcoming passengers for the outgoing one week cruise. We see the main characters from the pilot episode, Doss Baker (ship's purser, a clean-cult young man, dressed a uniform including epaulettes and a shipman's cap) and Sallie Blake (the gift store manager, daughter of the powerful Kentucky State Senator Blake). They walk hastily down River Road toward the waterfront, passing by campaign posters bearing the smug, arrogant face of the former Captain Garmatzi. The montage continues as they make their way toward the boat, the boat whistle blows, and the new Captain Sanderson on the bow check his watches, keeping a lookout for Doss and Sallie. Finally, he spots them on the waterfront. When they run up the stage onto the boat, Captain Sanders signals the deckhands to raise the stage and prepare for departure. The paddlewheel turns and the boat backs away from the waterfront with calliope playing. Several long, loud drawls from the steam whistle signals departure. We see the boat from an aerial view on a bridge as it cruises peacefully down the river and the sun sets in the distance. Festive Dixieland music plays.

PURSERS WINDOW
(the same music is heard, but distant)

Doss pokes his head out of the window and looks around to see if there are anymore passengers. Not seeing anyone, he buttons up the office and joins Sallie, and Robert Wiley (the night watchman, a good looking young black man dressed in a watchman's uniform with epaulettes. He wears a shipman's cap and carries a watchman's clock.). They are sitting around one of the tables in the lounge just outside the purser's office and gift store.

PASSENGER 1
Mind if I join you kids? I saw you two running up the gang plank.

DOSS
We barely made it.

SALLIE
I told you we would have time to see my friends in that play!

DOSS
(chuckles) Okay, I'm glad we went. Plus, we got here and got everyone onboard, life is good.

PASSENGER 1
I hear we have a new captain for this cruise.

DOSS
New to us. He is one of the most experienced pilots on the entire Mississippi River system. We were lucky to get him after losing Captain Garmatzi so suddenly. That's one I will have to work hard at forgetting.

(Flashback to the incident that got Garmatzi fired: local sheriffs, the junior executive from the ship's company in Cincinnati, the company attorney, and Doss watching as sheriff deputies remove cartons of empty liquor bottles and porn videos from the captain's quarters in front of a host of gawking passengers.)

ROBERT
Glad I only heard about that one. I must have been off that day, or sleeping.

PASSENGER 1
I was on that cruise!

ROBERT
Look, you guys, I would love to stay and chat, but I have to get to my rounds. Look at the clock.

(Everyone reflexively looks up at an imposing antique grandfather's clock that is about to strike 7 p.m. All bid farewell to Robert. He takes one last sip of his drink, throws the watchman's clock over his shoulder and takes off.)

SALLIE
Well, at least Garmatzi is out of here. He had a devious side to him, and he had me fooled completely. I don't like him anymore.

DOSS
Glad to hear you say that, Sallie. You defended him too much. I think you had a secret crush on him.

SALLIE
No way. He was just a nice old guy, is all. But I admit, seeing his big, leering mug all over Louisville today gave me the creeps. What if he got elected to the state senate? I'm sure my dad was just trying to be nice when he said he would welcome him to Frankfort.

DOSS
That was me. He told me he would welcome me to Frankfort, not Garmatzi.

SALLIE
But he said.

DOSS
See Sallie, that's how rumors get started. Garmatzi goes around telling everyone that Senator Blake reached across the aisle to endorse him. It's a lie. I want you to get that idiot out of your head. He lies every time he opens his mouth.

(Sallie looks down, but does not acknowledge Doss.)

MONTAGE
Dinnertime jazz music plays as passengers dine at round tables in the ship's dining room. Waiters deliver the food in their well-rehearsed choreographed dance. The scene is surreal. The camera pans from passengers getting drunk on one another's company to the live band playing on the stage. Cut to the complete peace and tranquility of a group of passengers huddled at the stern, watching the wake of the paddlewheel and moonlit scenery of trees and cliffs as the boat slips silently downriver.

CREW'S MESS HALL (morning)
(The captain sits at the head of a table, surrounded by employees. The meeting has been in progress for some time, as empty water bottles, plates, and cups, clutter the table.)

CAPTAIN SANDERSON
It will be difficult to fill the shoes of Captain Garmatzi, but I will give it my best. I look forward to working with all of you. It's great to be back on the Shady River.

(All the employees clap, hoot, and shout their approval. Some pull back from the table to give him a standing ovation. This goes on for an awkward few moments too long.)

Steamboat music plays. Montage shows Garmatzi campaigning for Congress and Captain Sanders in the pilot house navigating the river. Finally, cameras pan across the steamboat from an aerial perspective into the coming storm. (Next episode includes the election of Garmatzi to the Kansas House of Representatives, and his first attack on his former company.)





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