night, the carnival is lit up, packed
with patrons and bustling with activity.
Ben walks around, taking in all
the attractions offered, among them
a firebreather, a swordswallower
and the Gay Paree -- a Hootchie
- Kootchie Show, or 1930's version
of a strip act. The Gay Paree is
run by Felix "Stumpy"
Dreifuss. His wife and two teenage
daughters are the act. Ben isn't
quite sure how to react to the topless
and near-topless women flirting
with him from on stage, so he leaves.
Outside the tent, he overhears a
conversation between a talker and
another man. They're haggling on
a price for a night with Stumpy's
wife Rita Sue. Ben, more confused,
finds solitude away from the noise
of the carnival. Sofie appears to
return to his jacket. When Sofie
asks if Ben's coming on permanent,
Ben acts derisively and says he's
no carny. Sofie says that the people
in the towns they visit are asleep,
but the carnival wakes them up.
Ben thinks on this for a second,
then Sofie offers to read his cards,
free of charge. "Maybe later."
A man running through a cornfield,
pursued by another man, heavily
tattooed -- a tattoo across his
chest is of a tree. A World War
I soldier ducking an explosion.
A ring with a Masonic seal. A fetus
in a jar. A woman surrounded by
darkness, her mouth agape. A smoking
skull. Two bloody or burned legs,
concealed from the knee-up. A clock
that reads 2:25 with the pendulum
ticking rapidly back and forth.
A close-up of the Tattooed Man,
his face resembling Brother Justin.
Many soldiers dead in a bunker.
The neon sign for Mr. Chin's explodes
in a shower of sparks. And more.
He had fallen
asleep reading. Across from him,
Iris is sewing and listening to
the radio program The Shadow. Justin
leaves the room and wanders the
streets of Mintern. He walks past
a campsite. Migrant workers and
peasants socialize, sing songs and
try to keep warm over fires. Eventually,
Justin finds himself outside of
Mr. Chin's, a brothel. A Chinese
woman approaches him and suggestively
runs her hands over his clothes.
He grabs her arm and she shouts
angrily at him in Mandarin.
it begins to snow. The streets are
suddenly empty. There are no cars
or people in sight. Justin looks
up at the sign for Mr. Chin's. It
flashes complacently in the snowy
night. Then, he feels blood drip
on his face. And his palm. As it
rains blood, Justin opens his arms
in supplication. The neon sign for
Mr. Chin's explodes in a shower
of sparks. Justin falls to his knees,
hands clasped together, praying.
He opens his eyes to see that he's
surrounded by pedestrians. There
is no snow. No blood. The sign for
Mr. Chin's is still intact.
day after and Ben is assisting with
dismantling the carnival tents and
loading up the trucks. Sofie spots
him and offers him a second chance
on that card reading. Ben accepts.
They sit inside her trailer and
she shuffles her tarot cards. She
reads his past by dealing three
cards facedown. They will be revealed
to be The Moon, "indicating
confusion and exposure," Death,
"not a harbinger of bad fortune
but of transformation," and
The Magician, reversed, "a
great talent or ability wasted,
unfilled; a gift hidden from others."
As Sofie turns the cards upright,
her insights cause Ben to remember
when his "talents" first
age six to eight, is stroking a
cat. Flora is disgusted. The cat
has been dead for three days. She
takes it from him, despite his resistance.
It meows. She screams and drops
it and it walks away. She tells
him that the Lord takes what's his
and man has no right to take it
back. Young Ben watches as his mother
places the cat in a sack and holds
the sack underwater. She sobs and
tells him that he's marked by The
Beast. Then, Present Day. Flora
is dying. She picks up a cross from
the table beside her bed and holds
it to her chest. She waves her son
away from her. "Keep your hands
off of me. You filth! You filth!"
Ben what he's hiding. She places
her hand on his. Suddenly, Ben sees
the face of Brother Justin coming
out of the darkness. "Tell
me!" he screams. Ben bolts
from his seat and runs out of the
trailer. He runs through the carnival
grounds and into the crops, where
he sits and starts to weep. Maddy
Crane, a crippled girl that Ben
had spotted earlier during the carnival,
is sitting in her wagon close by.
She asks him why he's crying and
he goes to her.
"Gremmie says y'all are marked."
BEN: "They ain't marked.
They're just people, that's all...
How long you been like that?"
BEN: "Does it hurt?"
girl nods. Ben turns. He hears Samson
calling for him. The carnival is
leaving. When Ben doesn't answer,
Samson says to hell with it, and
the trucks begin to depart. Ben
turns back to Maddy and places his
hands on her legs. She watches as
he struggles to drain her of the
pain. The crops around them turn
black. He sprints away from the
crops, to the road, and jumps on
the back of a truck. He climbs up
top and collapses. The truck speeds
him away from Milfay. Back in the
field, Maddy is standing upright
on her own legs. She runs back to
her farmhouse, limping a little
as she goes. The remaining crops
whither and die...