Carnivale
Ingram, TX

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Snake Harming

...Radio KoZAK. The announcer is plugging Moxie soda before introducing this week's broadcast of the Church of the Air. Brother Justin moves to the microphone, abandoning a composition book he was scribbling in, and starts chattering about salt. As a metaphor, you understand. From a corner of the studio, Iris looks at Justin's "notes" and sees that they consist of doodles of eyeballs and genitalia. Making the props for this show must be fun. Iris closes the book and slips it under her arm. Justin goes on about salt as an irritant and also a blessing, and yada yada.

Varlyn is listening to Justin on his car radio as he drives past Burma Shave-ish signs telling him, "You'll love Babylon." That doesn't rhyme or anything.

Ben is tossing the tarot cards into a fire burning in a steel drum, because he's whipped. Not literally. Not yet. Ruthie joins him and starts to dump some dead snakes into the fire, explaining, "One of them must've bit the others, or they got sick. Who knows why some things die?" Then she asks Ben why he's been avoiding him, and wonders if she did something to offend him. Ben insists that he isn't hiding from her, and then snaps, "I don't want to be around you -- satisfied?" Ruthie, bemused, asks what he's scared of. Ben says, "The only thing [that] scares me is folks using other folks to use me." Ruthie somehow sorts her way through that sentence and asks if Ben thinks she's using him. Ben tells her to forget it, and non sequiturs, "You said it: some things die." What? Ruthie meaningfully argues, "Some things don't," and huffs off. I get it and all, but even so, what the hell? Ben stares grumpily into the fire, and finally notices one singed card with a drawing of a guy with a tree on his chest. Y'all know that Ben's not very bright, right? So he reaches in, ows, and finally tips the drum over so he can retrieve the card. The music gets all whirly to let us now that this is significant. Ben picks up the card, which is number 23 in the Major Arcana, which doesn't exist, but come on: 23! And it's the tree-guy, and the card is named "Le Passeur," which translates pretty well to "Usher," so we've learned: nothing at all. Whoopee.

Rita Sue is griping to Stumpy about her workload as she does her makeup. Stumpy insists that he's trying to suck up to a guy who might be Ingram's mayor someday. Rita Sue is unconvinced, and finally says, "I'm all...messed up down there." Stumpy nods, grabs a soda, and takes a swig. Then he hands the bottle to Rita Sue, who covers the top with her thumb and starts shaking it. She shoos Stumpy out as the soda starts fizzing, and thank goodness we push in on her face as she...well, douches with it. Ow.

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Carnivale

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