I wasn’t there for it, but I there was some highfalutin muckety-muck location scout for “a network TV show” in the Sidewalk recently. I hear there was talk of filming in the club there this summer – let’s hope it doesn’t inconvenience the AntiFolk Festival… I haven’t heard what the actual TV show is, but I was able to retrieve some scrap paper left behind after the scout was in the back room. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Luxurious hotel room with panoramic view of Times Square. Rayna James is on the phone.
Rayna – …I love you too. I’ll be home on Thursday. Tell your dad he’s manipulative and two-timing, although unnaturally handsome. Alright girls get your homework done – love you. Goodnight.
Knock on the door. Rayna’s manager Bucky sticks his head in.
Bucky – Don’t forget Rayna, we leave for the airport at 6 a.m.
Rayna – I know Buck. Hey Buck. I’ve got this new song I’ve been working on and I’m dying to get it in front of an audience. When I was living here in ’97 we used to go down to the Sidewalk Cafe for that sort of thing. I wonder if they still have sex in the basement there. Hey, let’s go down and see Latch.
Cut to Sidewalk Cafe. On the stage a magician is making a menorah float.
Magician – Thank you for your applause. (he finishes the trick)
Latch – that’s Irving the Impressive, ladies and gentlemen. Next up is Rodent, on deck is Squeaky Floors, on double deck, City Farm, batting cleanup – Jon Berger.
Rayna approaches Latch, who ignores her and pretends to be busy with lots of important stuff. Finally…
Latch – Hey look what the private Gulfstream Jet dragged in. Still struggling to make ends meet in Nashville?
Rayna – now Latch, be nice – I thought I’d come down and try out a song —-
She pauses- with a catch in her throat and a sparkle in her eyes
— and see you for old time’s sake.
Latch – Rayna – that was a long time ago.
Rayna – Don’t flatter yourself M. C. – Hey you got anyone here who can play the piano?
Latch – the magician is also a songwriter – Hey Irving you want to play with Rayna James?
Irving – Me? Sure. Wait, What? I don’t know. I mean I’m really not that good at the spur of the moment. What if I screw up? Sheesh – What am I talking about? Rayna James is hot…but isn’t she married to some two-timing, manipulative unnaturally handsome guy? Or is that just one of those sham showbiz marriages? Maybe if I play for her, then I’ll show her some tricks and we’ll write a song together and fall in love…But what trick would I do? I just don’t know!!! Ohhh, life – why do you take me on this torturous and complicated path!!??
Latch – Shut up Irving or I’ll get Dizozza. Ladies and gentleman on double deck our old friend Rayna James ….
Rayna hands Irving a lead sheet.
Dissolve to the two of them playing an exquisitely beautiful song called “Picking Up the Pieces” that plays over a video montage perfectly summarizing the situation of each character: Rayna is shown walking through the park with Deacon-picking up the pieces of their last emotional argument, Gunnar has just smashed his guitar because he is very deep and frustrated – so he is “picking up the pieces” while Scarlett’s eyes grow wider than humanly possible, Juliette is picking up the pieces of her mother’s drug paraphernalia. Irving is picking up the pieces of an elaborate magic trick that he keeps accidentally dropping on the floor, and Jon Berger is picking up pieces of fried schnitzel. Characters named Ambrose, Rattlesnake, Gustav, and Luther also do things.
The song ends and Rayna and Irving are heading off stage.
Rayna- Hey not bad Irving. This used to be my hangout. (Alluringly) – do people still have sex in the basement.
She grabs his bow tie and starts pulling him toward the stairs – Just as they reach the bottom of the staircase Rayna spots Deacon
Rayna – What are you doing here?
Deacon – Same as you I suppose. On top of that it seems that mainly I’m here to complicate your life and also to be unnaturally handsome. Plus, I love you.
Rayna – Deacon – I was about to have sex with a magician. You just spoiled it.
Deacon – sorry Rayna, but I am very sincere and I always tell the truth. Hey magician – do people still have sex in the basement.
Irving – I think it’s usually the sound equipment room.
Rayna and Deacon head upstairs, followed by the magician. Rayna is torn – pulled in different directions by her emotional ties to Deacon, her history with Latch, and her lust for Irving.
In the background of the shot a large bald man is gesticulating on stage and we hear the words of his brokenhearted poetry….fade out.
The next morning, 6 am. Rayna, Juliette, Bucky, and other members of the tour are gathering in the lobby of the hotel loading their luggage, etc. The elevator opens and giggling is heard. Out spill Rayna and Irving–who is wearing his tuxedo from the night before with the unfurled bow tie hanging around his collar.
Rayna – Well, that certainly was magic.
Irving – Yes, but it was NO illusion doll.
Rayna- I’m really glad I met you Irving.
Irving – Aww, sweetheart, the pleasure’s mine. And don’t forget my credit on the song. See you soon country girl.
Irving kisses her on the forehead and starts to walk away. He turns back and they kiss passionately. Irving walks out the front door of the hotel with new confidence as a jaunty version of “Picking up the Pieces” begins to play. Rayna looks at him wistfully as he walks away. Fade to credits.