The Lion in the Carpet
By Dr. Pelham Mead III (c) Western Writers Assoc.
Logline: In the 1950’s, while sitting on the toilet, a young boy with polio sees images of animals, especially a large headed Lion. The Lion, named Leo, frees the young boy from his leg crutches and takes him on journeys where they can walk through walls, fly the air, and appear invisible to people.
Billy Alton is 8 years of age when he is struck with polio. He is confined to leg braces and on occasion an iron lung to help his breathing.
ACT ONE- THE SCOURGE OF POLIO
Scene 1- Freeport, Long Island, New York, home of Billy Alton, 8 years of age.
Billy Alton begins to have symptoms of fatigue and when taken to the hospital he is diagnosed with Polio. Having polio and being forced to wear leg braces changes Billy’s life completely. He cannot play with his friends anymore or go to the park to swing on the monkey bars. He can barely walk with crutches and leg braces.
ACT TWO- THE LION IN THE CARPET
Scene 1- The Alton family bathroom in Freeport, N. Y.
While sitting on the toilet one day at age 10, two years after being stricken with polio, Billy in leg braces and crutches is staring at the carpet under his feet. The carpet is the color beige and it is high pile style. Suddenly, Billy sees the head of a Lion. As he stares harder and harder at the head of the Lion, the Lion comes to life in front of him sitting on the toilet. The Lion cannot talk but he can speak to Billy in his mind. The lion introduces himself as Leo. Billy is scared and falls off the toilet. Lying on the floor in crutches with his pants half down his legs, Leo the Lion helps Billy stand up. Billy is amazed that a Lion is standing in his bathroom. Leo explains that only Billy can see him and to all others Leo is invisible. After their introduction Leo shows Billy what magical things they can do together. He tells Billy to take a deep breath and leave his crutches behind and they walk through the wall into the master bedroom where Billy’s parents Jane and Thomas Alton are having an argument. Billy’s father Thomas wants a divorce from Jane because of the pressure of taking care of Billy and his polio. Jane is upset because she feels Thomas is abandoning her to take care of sick Billy all on her own. Billy and Leo, who are invisible, stand in the master bedroom and watch this argument. Billy begins to cry over his parents fighting over him and his polio. Leo tells Billy, not to worry that there are better things for them to do and instantly they are flying through the air to the Bronx Zoo where Leo has some Lion friends. Leo introduces Billy to his pride, Buela, Mateo, and Matta. Thor is one of Leo’s brothers and he is on the other side of the Lion compound away from the pride. Leo takes Billy over to talk with Thor his brother.
Later they return home. Billy asks if he will see Leo again and Leo replies when the need is great I will appear.
Scene 2- Billy takes a turn for the worse and is committed to an Iron Lung.
While asleep on night Leo returns to check in on Billy. Billy tells Leo he fears he is going to die of polio in the Iron Lung. Leo tells Billy that his future is not to die in an Iron Lung but to recover and put polio behind him. Leo and Billy escape from the Iron Lung and travel. They travel into New York city to Manhattan where they wander through central park. Billy tells Leo how his father used to beat him with a belt when he did something bad.
Flashback- Billy was caught stealing a pie from the Mr. Wheat bread and pies truck. When the driver sees Billy take a pie from the truck he chases Billy back to his home. There the driver confronts Billy’s dad who gives the pie back to the driver and takes Billy into the bathroom and beats him with a belt.
Return to Central park. Leo tells Billy that anything is possible in life. He tells him about a little poem to tell himself. “Lion lift me up, Lion make me tough, but not rough, Lion take me away this day.” If you repeat this phase again and again, I will come to save you, Leo says.
ACT THREE- THE BEAR IN THE CARPET
Scene 1- While sitting on the carpet one day looking for Leo, Billy cannot find Leo. Instead a curly headed Bear appears.
The Bear tells Billy that his name is Ben. Billy asks where Leo is and the Bear tells him he is away for a while but will return soon. Ben takes Billy without his crutches through the wall to a neighbor’s house where Sally Smith lives. Sally is the same age as Billy. They observe a discussion between Sally and her mother Beatrice about Billy having polio. Sally asks her mother why Billy came down with polio? Beatrice her mother tells Sally that is the will of God the Billy was stricken with polio. Sally asks if Billy will get better, and Beatrice replies “probably not.” This saddens Billy when he hears beatrice’s comment. Ben the Bear tells Billy that most people do not have hope when it comes to polio, but he will show Billy how to have hope. They fly through the air to India where a young boy the same age as Billy is searching for food in the city dump of Calcutta. He is so poor that he is considered an untouchable by other Indian boys and girls. Stay away from Benjee a boy cries out to his friends. He is an untouchable or Dalit by Hindus. Ben the bear explains to Billy that untouchables or Dalit in India are shunned by other Indians of the Hindu religion. The future for a Dalit is poor, Ben says, yet despite this they continue to survive on the edges of society. Despite their poverty they still have a positive attitude that some day they will move up the ranks of the caste system.
Return home- Billy Awakes from sleeping on the toilet
Billy’s father is pounding on the door to get into the bathroom where he finds Billy asleep on the toilet. He takes his belt off and begins to beat Billy who stands up and falls over onto the floor.
Suddenly, Billy’s father jumps back as the head of a Lion appears in the bathroom and let’s out a giant roar. Billy’s father who had been drinking thinks he is seeing things from drinking too much and backs out of the bathroom, leaving Billy on the floor crying. Leo says to Billy, “things will change for you soon. Be patient and follow Ben the bear and your other animal friends. Billy says what animals? He has only met Leo and Ben. Leo says more are to come
ACT FOUR-THE WOLF IN THE CARPET
Scene 1- A Wolf named Nomad appears in the carpet
The Wolf, named Nomad, takes Billy to his former school where they enter the Principal Mr. Shaw’s office where he is kissing Art Teacher Mrs. Agresta, a beautify young blonde teacher. Mrs Agresta is a new teacher to Kakiat Elementary school and Principal Shaw is using his power as a Principal to seduce her into having an affair with him.
Nomad the wolf explains that Mr. Shaw is a predator like a Wolf but with no morals. Mrs. Agresta is but a sheep says Nomad the wolf and Mr. Shaw is the wolf preying on the sheep. Billy asks what can they do to stop Mr. Shaw? Nomad says, “Time will tell my friend.”
Nomad shows Billy how to run with the pack. He introduces Billy to some wolves in the pack named Swift, Aiyana, logan, loki, luna, Malakai, Adimar, Ari and Arctic. Artic is the only wolf in the pack that is almost pure white, Swift is a black colored wolf, Aiyana is mixed white and black, Logan is tri-colored with brown, black and grey colors, Loki has a scar across her nose where an Elk cut her with it’s horns. Loki is almost totally black except for a grey stripe across her back. Malakai is the smallest of the pack being only a year old and the only surviving pup of Loki. Malaki is all grey and white in color. Luna is a brown and white colored wolf. Adimar is the largest of the wolves and the oldest being 11 years of age. Ari and Arctic are twin wolves from the same mother. Both are grey and white colors.
Nomad says to Billy, we will teach you how to run with the wolf pack. When we are hunting our prey down, sometimes we have to run through the snow for miles before our prey tires. Come let us start slow and run faster and faster. Billy says, but I have polio and cannot run. Nomad says, ‘as long as you are part of the wolf pack you have no handicap or polio. Come run with us. Stay up with me. I will lead the pack. See that deer down in the valley. We are going to run one of the stags down until he dies from exhaustion. Come follow me. The snow and wind whip by Billy’s eyes as he bounds through the snow following Nomad at a high rate of speed. Closer and closer they move behind a large male deer. The deer is fast, but the wolves are stronger in long distances. After a mile of running the stag trips and stumbles rolling in the snow. The wolves surround the stag and ready themselves for the kill. Nomad says, we will spare you today swift stag because of our friend and fellow wolf, Billy. Thank the Gods that you will live to see another day stag. Be on your way now.
Billy sees himself on the high school track and field team. He is a runner in the Mile run and the fastest in the school. He has done a four minute mile on several occasions. Today at Randall park in South Freeport he will attempt another four minute mile on a cinder track. Billy leads the pack the whole way and eventually laps some of the slower runners. He finishes his four laps in 3 minutes and 53 seconds and sits down and watches the last of the pack of runners finish their last lap. Everyone slaps Billy on his back and congratulates him for helping the Freeport track team to win against rival team from Baldwin.
Billy awakes on the toilet, pulls up his pants, leans on his crutches and stands up and leaves the bathroom.
ACT FOUR- THE BEAVER IN THE CARPET
Scene 1- Alton family bathroom with Billy sitting on the toilet.
The beaver’s name is Podus. Podus take Billy to a local pond where a dam is created to make the pond deeper and to protect the beaver lodge from predators. Billy it takes hard work to make a dam and a lodge. My family of beavers are all good swimmers by using our powerful tails as a paddle and a rudder. I can eat a tree down in a matter of minutes and then eat the delicious lives on the top of the tree when it falls into the water. You can learn from beavers. We do not give up. You must learn not to give up on getting well from polio. Remember how hard a beaver works to add twig after twig and pack mud inbetween to make a good dam. In life you have to work hard to succeed. Nothing is given to you for free. Everything must be earned or it has no value.
Billy is in a swim suit on a racing block ready to jump into the water and race free-style down the pool two time for the 100 meter race. Billy readies himself on the block and the gun goes off and he dives into the pool. Stroke for stroke he leads the other team, flipping on the end and racing back to touch the pool and win the 100 meter race. Billy’s parents are there with smiles. They are proud of Billy’s accomplishments in the pool. He is a great swimmer. During the week Billy does more laps than any other member of the Freeport High School swim team. He is a success.
ACT FIVE- THE EAGLE IN THE CARPET
Scene 1- Billie struggles to enter the bathroom with his crutches and leg braces.
Billy sees the head of an Eagle in the carpet. The Eagle comes to life landing on Billy’s knee brace. He is so big that Billy must lean back so as not to knock the Eagle on the floor. Call me Skye says the Eagle. I can soar over the land and see anything with my 7x power eyes. When I go into a vertical dive I have an outer eye lid that covers my eyes and protects them from the wind. I bring the power of long range vision. Come let us fly to the Football team at the weekly Saturday game in the stadium. Coach McCawell is standing on the sidelines facing his opponents the team from Merrick, Long Island. The Freeport Red Devils are losing 14 to 3. Billy and Skye are perched on the top of the stadium watching the game. You see Billy with long range vision I can see the Merrick Football coach talking to his assistants and calling the plays. Walk down to the Freeport coach and tell him what the Merrick coach is calling for a play. Ok says Billy, but why will the Freeport coach listen to me? Because, says Skye, when you tell him the first play he will ignore you only to find out you were right. When you tell him the second play he tells the defense it will be a play that you informed him it would be. Freeport will stop the play. For the remainder of the game you will read the lips of the Merrick coach and tell the Freeport Football coach what the play is going to be. He will defend against the play and Freeport will score many touch downs afterward. OK, Skye here goes nothing.
ACT SIX- A MIRACLE OCCURS AND BILLY RECOVERS FROM POLIO
SCENE 1- DOCTOR WILLIAMS OFFICE IN FREEPORT, N.Y.
Billy gets good news from the Doctor. His polio is cured and with therapy he may walk again and maybe even run.
Billy returns home and throws his leg braces away and walks into the local park. All the animals are chirping and talking, the squirrel congratulates Billy. The chipmunk challenges Billy to a race. The Bluebird shares some berries with Billy. The Possum is excited handing upside down from a tree, but not excited enough to come down from the tree. The frogs are croaking up a storm and the Beaver in the pond slaps his tail on the water to clap for Billy.
SCENE 2- THE LION IN THE CARPET RETURNS
Leo the Lion returns with Ben the Bear and other friends in the carpet. Leo challenges Billy to take hold of this opportunity and forget that he had polio and shoot for the sky. Leave no challenge undone. Take on all the challenges and with hard work you will succeed.
Billy goes on in high school to become the State champion in Track and Field with the fastest Mile run in New York state. He also becomes a great freestyle swimmer and captain of the swimming team. The Freeport football team becomes undefeated during the 1955 season with Billy reading the lips of the opposing coaches as they call their plays.