GE 1997-8 Season 4 Episode 16: Pepito and the Wild Man
Note: this is not a transcript, but a working draft of the script, so there may be differences in the aired version.
PAUL: Interior, night. The crumbling manager's office of the
Cine El Grande, an abandoned movie palace in the busted old
heart of Guadalajara. Blue ghosts projected by an ancient
television set illuminate the face of a wildman. Eyes lost
in the shadow of deep sockets, he pulls another mouthful of
tequila from his bottle, and draws a blanket tighter against
the chill of a Mexican winter night. A Christmas Eve, to be
Something else stirs in the wreckage of the room. It is a small
dog, a chihuahua, his shivering ribs poking through his dull coat.
If someone, coming upon this desperate pair, had been told that
the mangy dog was the Hispanic world's Lassie, until recently the
biggest marquis draw in the Latin American cinema, and that the
emaciated dope fiend was one of the most highly-touted directors
of his time, they would have laughed disbelievingly. But it was
true: the chihuahua was Pepito El Grande, the wildman was me.
Bored with the rerun of Cantinflas on the tube, Pepito turns listless,
accusing eyes towards me. For the first time in our five-year relationship,
he snarls. And then it begins. The bitter yelps and yaps that sting and
cut and can never be taken back. I am responsible for the downfall.
My insane financing schemes and uncontrollable substance abuse have
wasted the wealth and the image of the continent's greatest film star!
I cannot hold it in any longer: "and what of the prima donna tantrums on
the set, delaying productions for weeks, months even ? What of the
countless paternity suits? the recurrent rabies ? the vicious attack
on the orphan girl that had to be hushed up at huge expense?! Perhaps
Pepito El Grande was getting a little old. Perhaps the great star just
didn't have it anymore."
That hit home. Wounded, he feigned favouring a paw, and limped through
a crack in the wall into an obscure alleyway behind the derelict building.
I threw the bottle against the wall in a rage, and immediately regretted
the impulsive waste of fairly decent, medium-grade booze.
I went out, to walk off my rage upon the city. Past bands of beggars
and thieves gathered round glowing dustbins, along empty great boulevards
pierced now and then by the stench of diesel and the fearsome din of a
big rig, into the neighbourhoods where the working people lived. I found
a comedor closing up its doors. The woman of the house relented and I
handed her my last six pesos. A steaming bowl of pozole (puSOlay) was
placed before me by a child who stood back to watch my greedy slurping
with curiosity and terror.
It was over. I'd squandered the rich holdings of PepitoCo on dubious
expenditures after the death of Coco Cabrera. Then I'd committed the
fool's error of taking out a loan with the Gomez Portillo brothers to
finance my epic Pepito trilogy. Consumed by visions of multiplying the
loan, I'd put half the mob cash into real-estate flips and money-laundering
schemes then being organised by the governor of the state, and the other
half up my nose. The guv fell out of favour with the PRI, and the get-rich
quick rackets went bust. No problem. I had a guaranteed commercial success
in the offing with the Guadalajara International Canine Film Festival.
You have to understand, I was doing A LOT of coke.
I didn't even know how much I owed any more, but I did know that there
was a contract out on my life. Staring into the soup, I saw myself
crashing the legendary Gomez Portillo Christmas party, going out with
a bit of bravado. I'd jump the back wall, enter through the patio, and
guzzle as much bar booze as I could before the bodyguards took me down.
Then, anaesthetized, I'd watch as my guts were replaced with goodies, and
I was hung from the lemon tree still kicking, so the little mobsters-in-training
could have a real-live piniata to play with. I'd heard that was the kind
of stuff the Gomez Portillo's really got off on. Merry Christmas, boys.
I looked up as music wafted into the comedor from a party across the
street. It was a posada. Mary and Joseph and their retinue of
friends and musicians out on the street, in ritual exile, imploring
those inside the house to give them refuge from the cold night.
From the windows of the humble dwelling, the innkeeper and his guests
sang denials until their cold hearts gradually melted at the spectre
of new life and salvation in trouble. And finally the doors were
thrown open, fireworks carriages crackled and spun, and the feasting
A timid movement brought me back to the table. The child placed before
me a packet containing two Christmas tamales and scurried back to his
mother, who smiled nervously at me from the door to the kitchen.
Thank you, I said, thank you, and stumbled away in shock.
My feet hurried me back through streets filled with the strains of ten
thousand posadas. I took the broken stairs of the Cine El Grande two at
a time and flung open the door to the office. Pepito lay there in the
light of the black and white t.v.. He raised his head, turned to meet
my eyes and whimpered. I looked to the torn mattress in the corner and
saw through my tears that he'd killed a rat and placed it delicately on
the bed. I hugged him and petted him and held him close for warmth, and
we sat down together to our gift of a Christmas supper.
I love you, Pepito. This one's for you, wherever you are.