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The Bean Trees - Part Two

The Bean Trees


Barbara Kingsovler

Part two

Taylor: Dear Mama. Hard to believe it was December when the Cherokee aunt gave Turtle to me. Even harder to believe she's three, like the doctor says, and not two like I believed. It's summer here in Arizona, and so hot you could fry eggs on the sidewalk. Lou-Ann is like a sister to me, and Matti is great to work for. A new group of Central Americans is staying, and I've made friends with two of them. Estevan and Esperanza.

This afternoon we're going swimming to a natural pool in the middle of the desert, would you believe. Love, Taylor.

Estevan: I am going swimming. Anyone else?
Taylor: Oh yeah, Estevan. Don't look.
Lou-Ann: Taylor no, you mustn't. You're not supposed to go in for an hour after you eat. You'll drown, both of you.
Taylor: Lou-Ann, I know I can depend on you. If we sink, you'll pull us out.
Lou-Ann: If you all want to go off and catch pneumonia, you can be my guest. Aren't you worried about your husband, Esper-what's-your-name.
Esperanza: Esperanza. No. No worry.
Estevan: Mi palomita dulce. Mi rosa. Tus ojos son como las estrellas. [My little dove. My rose. Your eyes are like the stars]

Taylor: Hey, Estevan, over here, it's good for diving.

Estevan: I come, Taylor.

Taylor: I touched the bottom, but boy, it's deep.

Estevan: I try also ...

Taylor: Estevan ... your wife.

Estevan: Esperanza. It's difficult for Americans to say, I know ...

Taylor: It's a beautiful name ... So is Estevan.

Estevan: Thank you.

Taylor: But... I mean ... she looks so sad.

Estevan: We had to leave behind very much in Guatemala.

Taylor: It's when she looks at Turtle, you know.
Estevan: Ah yes. The little turtle. You see, Taylor, your Tortolita, she looks like a child we both knew very well.
Taylor: Yeah. Turtle could be Guatemalan for all I know.
Estevan: How is that?
Taylor: She's not really my daughter. Come on, I'm freezing. I'll tell you about it when we're out.
In Taylor's car

Taylor: Thanks, Lou-Ann. That was a great picnic.
Lou-Ann: Thank you for bringing Dwayne Ray and me.
Taylor: It's good to have a car again.

Lou-Ann: You like working for Matti, don't you?

Taylor: She's great. Hey, she's on TV tomorrow night.

Lou-Ann: She is? Someone I know is on television?

Taylor: All these months, and I never realised.

Lou-Ann: What didn't you realise?

Taylor: All the comings and goings. Central Americans staying with her all the time. Estevan and Esperanza.

Lou-Ann: Do you know what time she's on TV? We just have to watch her.

Taylor: Lou-Ann, there's only one little problem. Remember? Angel took the TV.

Lou-Ann: Oh yeah. Silly me, I am always forgetting that. I know. Miss Edna Poppy and Mrs Parsons. They have a TV.
Taylor: And who might they be, for heaven's sake?
Lou-Ann: Two nice old ladies. Edna's blind and Mrs Parsons looks after her. They sometimes baby-sat Dwayne Ray, before you came.
Taylor: Let's have a party. Invite Estevan and Esperanza. And Miss Edna Poppy and Mrs Parsons. And their TV!
Inside Lou-Ann's house

Taylor: I'll never get into that.
Lou-Ann: You will, Taylor. It's no good to me. I've spread since Dwayne Ray was born. The word'sfat.
Taylor: Layoff yourself, Lou-Ann.

Lou-Ann: Breathe in! There! I said it would fit you.

Taylor: Wow, Taylor Greer in a little tight black satin Chinese-y dress! Phoof!

Lou-Ann: You look good. God, I would kill for black hair like yours. There they are. And I'm not ready.

Taylor: I'll go… Oh, Esperanza. Your dress. It's so beautiful. Is it Guatemalan?

Esperanza: Yes.

Estevan: And who are you? I think we know your tom boy sister who works with a used tire company.

Taylor: She couldn't come. Will I do?

Estevan: Oh, but of course. In such an exquisite dress.

Taylor: Thank you kindly, sir.

Lou-Ann: Why come on in, you-all.

Virginia May: Are you at home?

Lou-Ann: Oh, Mrs Parsons, come on in. And Miss Edna ...

Taylor: Here, let me take that TV. Boy, it's heavy.

Edna: What? Oh! What's happened?

Taylor: I've got it.

Edna: I'm Edna Poppy.

Taylor: Pleased to meet you. I'm Taylor Greer. Here. Shake ... Oh. Edna: I can't see your hand, dear.

Taylor: Hellfire, and Lou-Ann told me you were blind. Oh my, look at the time. Let me get it plugged in .

Taylor: It's Matti. She's on already!

Matti: The States is a signatory to the United Nations declaration on human rights. And that means we, as a nation, have a legal obligation to take in people whose lives are in danger.

Interviewer: So you're saying the States has to take in any asylum seeker who lands on our shores.

Matti: I'm talking about human beings whose lives are in danger. People here don't realise, out of nearly a thousand Guatemalans and Salvadoreans who have applied for asylum, only one percent have been granted it. One percent is ten persons. And you tell me why it is, that those ten people are all relatives of the dictators, and not people running for their lives?

Newsreader: Last Monday, the Immigration and Naturalization Service returned two illegal aliens, a woman and her son, to their native EI Salvador. According to Mrs. Stone, the two aliens were interned on arrival, and later found dead near the airport. Newsflash has no independent confirmation of her story. Meanwhile, Rodeo Roundup. Here's Randy Henson.

Taylor: If they won't believe Matti, who will they believe?
Edna Poppy: Who was she, dear?
Taylor: A friend of ours.
Virginia May: All these aliens are just dope peddlers and criminals in disguise. They're ruining our country. Shooting's too good for them. Lou-Ann, can I have a pillow for my back?

Lou-Ann: Oh sure, Mrs Parsons.

Taylor: I'd like you to meet some of my other friends. Es-

Estevan: Steven. And this is my wife, Hope.

Taylor: Uh?

Edna Poppy: Pleased to make your acquaintance.

Virginia May: And is this naked creature one of theirs? She looks like a little wild Indian.

Estevan: We have no children.

Esperanza: Steven ...

Taylor: She's mine. And sheis a little wild Indian. Cherokee, as a matter of fact. Aren't you, Turtle? Why don't we start dinner. Won't take long! Down you get, Turtle. Now... Ginger and garlic. Plenty of garlic

Esperanza: Taylor ... I help?
Taylor: Esperanza ... Hope, I mean. I'm sorry about that.
Esperanza: All the world. People is good. People is bad.
Matti's garden

Taylor: Suicide?! Why didn't you tell me before?
Matti: Because she nearly succeeded. Luckily we got her stomach pumped out in time. It leaves a person weak, Taylor.
Taylor: But can I ... ?
Matti: Yeah, go on up. She's stronger today.
Bedroom

Taylor: Esperanza? Hi! How are you feeling now? Your stomach okay?

Esperanza: Si... Yes...

Taylor: I've wanted to tell you ... I think Esperanza's a beautiful name. Estevan told me it means to wait, and also to hope. I thought it was pretty even before I knew what it meant.

Esperanza: Thank you.

Taylor: You understand basically everything I'm saying, right?

Esperanza: Yes.

Taylor: That's how Turtle is. She doesn't say much. But she understands stuff. I hope you don't mind me talking about Turtle.

Esperanza: No.

Taylor: Estevan told me about your daughter. How she was Turtle's age when the Guatemalan police took her. And why you couldn't do anything. Because then you'd betray all your comrades. I try to imagine, if someone took Turtle away from me... Estevan. He's crazy about you
Lou-Ann's house

Lou-Ann: Taylor? Is that you?
Taylor: What's wrong? Lou-Ann, you okay?
Lou-Ann: It's not me – I'm so sorry...
Taylor: Lou-Ann –
Lou-Ann: It's Turtle, she –
Taylor: Where is she? Turtle!
Edna Poppy: I've got her, dear.
Lou-Ann: They were in the park, Edna and Turtle. It was so cool after the rain, and Mrs. Parsons was to come and tell them if it looked like another storm.

Taylor: So what happened?

Lou-Ann: We don't know exactly – Edna Poppy couldn't see. I've called the police, and they're on their way with a doctor. She doesn't look hurt, Taylor.

Taylor: She's back where she was, isn't she? Not talking. Just clinging on. Turtle ...

Edna Poppy: She was singing, like she does. I heard a peculiar sound. Just like a bag of flour hitting the ground. But I heard her struggling. So I swung my white cane. – Oh, I swung it high, so it wouldn't hit her.

Taylor: Did you hit anything else?

Edna Poppy: Oh, yes, dear, something that had some – somegive to it. The next thing I knew I felt Turtle back in my lap.

Lou-Ann: She's been there ever since. Just won't let go. Maybe she'll come to you.
Taylor: I can't stand this. Not allover again.
Lou-Ann: Taylor!
Bathroom

Lou-Ann: Taylor, you can't stay in there all night. Taylor .. !The doctor examined her. There's finger marks on her shoulder, but nothing else. Nothing else, Taylor. Look, you gotta come out. The social worker wants to speak with you.
Taylor: Turtle won't talk. Not now. Maybe not ever.
Social worker's office

Social Worker: Let's see, it's now three weeks since the attack. So how is she?

Taylor: You were right, she's resilient. She talks about it now, don't you Turtle?

Turtle: Ma poppy.

Taylor: Yeah, ma poppy popped him one, didn't she.

Turtle: Pop bad man.

Social Worker: And what about you, Taylor?

Taylor: Me? I'm fine.

Social Worker: Good. Now, I've been contacted by the Child Protection Services. It's been discovered, in the course of the investigation, that you have no legal claim to Turtle.

Taylor: No more legal claim than the city dump has on your garbage.

Social Worker: Yes, well ...

Taylor: I told you how it was. Her aunt told me to take her. If it hadn't been me, it would have been the next person with an empty front seat.

Social Worker: I understand that. But you see, you have no legitimate claim.

Taylor: But if I don't have a legal claim on Turtle, I don't see where anybody else

has, either.

Social Worker: The state of Arizona has a claim. When a child has no legal guardian ...

Taylor: You mean like orphan homes, that kind of thing.

Social Worker: Yes. But there is a chance you could legally adopt her... It would depend on a number of factors. Including your income and stability.

Taylor: Income. And stability.
Turtle: Stay bean-tree. Ma stay bean-tree.
Matti's garden

Taylor: They've got to go? Estevan and Esperanza?
Matti: Yeah. My friend in Immigration told me the cops have got wind of something.
Taylor: Too bad. There must be a solution.
Matti: Oh never mind my problems. What's the trouble you want to talk about.
Taylor: Matti, when I drove up here that day in January, did you think I seemed like any kind of decent parent? Tell me the honest truth.
Matti: I thought you seemed like a bewildered parent. But hell, we all have to start somewhere.
Taylor: I don't know the first thing about bringing up children.
Matti: Taylor, I think you're asking yourself the wrong question.
Taylor: How do you mean?
Matti: You're asking, can I give this child the best upbringing and keep her out of harm's way all her life? The answer is, no, you can't. But nobody else can either. Not a state home, that's for sure.
Taylor: So what's the right thing to ask?
Matti: Do I want to try? Do I want to share my life with this kid. Will I give it my best effort?
Lou-Ann's living room

Taylor: Lou-Ann, Lou-Ann, it's all settled!

Lou-Ann: Did you tell that social worker to get lost?

Taylor: No, I did not! She's been on my side all along, only I didn't realise!

Lou-Ann: So what's going on?

Taylor: She told me what to do! I have to have written consent from the person who's the guardian in the eyes of the law! Don't you see, Lou-Ann, it's the aunt. The one who gave Turtle to me. All I have to do is get her to swear in front of a judge that I'm to be the new guardian! And Turtle's mine, and no social worker can take her away!

Lou-Ann: Taylor, that is so wonderful!

Taylor: So I'm going back to Oklahoma, and find that aunt.

Lou-Ann: Gee, Taylor, that'll cost you some, all that travelling and motels.
Taylor: No, Matti's going to pay.
Lou-Ann: Matti?
Taylor: Yeah. I said I'd take Estevan and Esperanza with me. To the Church that looks after all the immigrants.
Lou-Ann: But Taylor, they're illegals! You could go to jail.
Taylor: Yup. Five years in prison and a 4000 dollar fine.
Lou-Ann: Taylor, are you crazy?
Taylor: No crazier than I've always been, I guess.
Car interior

Taylor: Border Patrol. Matti said we'd be stopped here. It's so close to Mexico, there are always illegals. Just keep smiling. Esperanza: It's okay, Taylor, we understand this.

Officer: Licence?

Taylor: Sure thing.

Officer: All US citizens?

Taylor: Yes, sir. This is my brother Steve and my sister-in-law.

Officer: Uh-huh. The kid yours or theirs?

Taylor: Er ...

Estevan: She's ours.

Officer: Have a nice day.

Taylor: That was so stupid of me!

Estevan: Since you hesitated, I thought it might seem suspicious if I said she was yours.

Taylor: I know. I know. I know.

Stationary car interior, as before

Taylor: Damn, damn, damn. Goddammit. Estevan: There's a problem?
Taylor: You could say that. I drive you guys across half America and we find the place where the aunt gave – me Turtle, and ... it's all changed. New owner, new people. New curtains. At least someone's happy.
Esperanza: You don't like I play with your daughter?
Taylor: No, no. Go ahead. It won't be for much longer. Without a guardian to sign her over to me, the State of Arizona wins.
Estevan: So what do you want to do now, Taylor.
Taylor: This may sound stupid, but I want to go here – see. Lake o’ the Cherokees. Looks real pretty. We'll rent one of these cabins. The least I can do for Turtle is show her her home before I have to hand her over. What do you say?
Lake of the Cherokees

Taylor: Heart o’ the Cherokee Nation. Did you know I am one-eighth Cherokee myself?
Estevan: You are? Then maybe we are distant cousins.
Taylor: How come? You're Spanish!
Estevan: No, we speak Spanish, but we are Mayan. Indians you would say. We Mayans were here long before Christopher Columbus.
Taylor: Then that explains it!

Esperanza: What does it explain, Taylor?
Taylor: It explains how you fit in. I kept thinking, you look as though you belong here. In the Cherokee Nation. Your faces, your hair – just like the people along the road!
Esperanza: Oh, I wish we could belong somewhere...
Taylor: Esperanza, when you play with Turtle, you look like mother and daughter.
Esperanza: Oh, Taylor ...

Taylor: Dear Mama. Stopped off in the Cherokee nation with two friends, Steven and Hope. Hope's really fond of Turtle. I think it's helped her over the loss of her own daughter. ButTurtle's Cherokee aunt's gone – no-one knows where. So there's no one to legally give me Turtle. That means I'll lose her for sure. If only there was some other way.

Taylor: Hell, I've had an idea!
Estevan: Taylor, what is it?
Taylor: When we get to Oklahoma City there'll be a judge there. That's who we've got to go to! And Estevan, Esperanza, can I ask you a favour – a bigger favour than I truly deserve?
Quiet office

Jugde: Do you, Steven, and you, Hope, natives of the Cherokee Nation, solemnly swear that April Turtle is your natural and lawful daughter?
Esperanza/Estevan: I swear.

Jugde: And do you also swear that you willingly and lawfully give your daughter April Turtle in adoption to Taylor Greer of Tucson, Arizona.
EsperanzalEstevan: I swear.
Jugde: That's it then. We just need your signatures on the papers and then you are all through.
Oklahoma street

Taylor: We've done it! We've done it! Turtle, sweetheart, not even the State of Arizona can take you away from me! Esperanza, Estevan, how can I ever thank you enough for what you've done!
Estevan: No, no, it is for us to thank you. Bringing us here, you risked prison.

Taylor: Oh, Estevan, Esperanza. Well, let's go. Get you to the safe house. And Turtle and me, we've got to get back to Tucson. Boy, have we got news for them!