Thee Arkansaw Bear by Nikolas Goodich | Script Revolution

Thee Arkansaw Bear

Arkansas, 1869. A violin playing Bear who can transform into a Black man befriends an orphan Black boy. They escape from the circus to New Orleans. King Leopold II of Belgium’s evil agents follow them.



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Based On: 
The Arkansaw Bear by Albert Bigelow Paine

By Nikolas Soren Goodich and Dr. Leni A. Sorensen PhD

In July of 1869, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a fiddle playing Black orphan boy named Bosephus Johnson, whose parents, killed at the start of the Civil War, had taught him about the magical Black Bears living on the Great Ozark Mountain, befriends Horatio when the circus makes its stop outside of Arkadelphia.

Bosephus, who had planned to run away from the Orphanage that very same night, witnesses Horatio’s performance and hides out in Horatio’s tent. Bosephus suggests to Horatio that they could run away together and travel the countryside playing music as a team. Bosephus is under the mistaken impression that Horatio is being held captive by the “evil” circus Carny Lazarus. He sees that Horatio is living in a large wooden wheeled cart with prison-like iron bars for walls, that also serves as the stage for his circus performances, and automatically assumes Horatio is a prisoner.

After correcting Bosephus’s incorrect assumptions and politely scoffing at Bosephus’s offer, Horatio is later forced to accept, when that night they both surreptitiously discover that Lazarus has agreed to go along with a devious plan devised by the owners of the circus, his Uncle Goldman and their mutual employer the evil King Leopold II of Belgium. They learn that Belgian Zoologist, Herr Henckle Von Hikkengrubber and two Hessian mercenaries will be arriving any day, possibly even the next morning, to drug Horatio and have him shipped off to King Leopold’s laboratories in Brussels, in an escape proof cage, to be dissected there, to find out what makes the magic bear/man “tick.”

Horatio and Bosephus escape from the circus late that rainy night and head south, planning to go to New Orleans to hide there. After a series of misadventures, mishaps, and close calls; earning money performing music for farmers and in small towns; Horatio killing a group of KKK men who nearly lynch Bospehus; avoiding being caught by the Zoologist and soldiers, who’re chasing them; they board a southbound Mississippi River Steamboat, captained by Mark Twain, and arrive in New Orleans during a full-blown Race Riot.

They find safe haven there with Horatio’s wife Marie, their daughter Serenity, fellow musicians Sonny Reefers and Dr. Dirt in the Storyville neighborhood. But after a lively performance at Marie and Serenity’s Juke Joint, The Cheshire Cat Hotel, Horatio encounters his old tutor, Luigi, whom he’s dreamed for decades of taking murderous revenge upon. Though Horatio had promised Bospehus, after the KKK massacre, that he would never kill another human being again, he’s very drunk and promptly kills the elderly tutor, unable to restrain his rage.

Bosephus, furious with Horatio for having broken the promise, convinces Horatio to do the right thing, to turn himself in to the New Orleans constabulary for the tutor’s murder. Horatio reluctantly agrees, is shackled to the iron pole at the very center of Congo Square, and is put on trial. He represents himself and successfully talks his way out of being imprisoned for life or hung as a murderer. He convinces the judge, the jury, and the good people of New Orleans that since he is an animal first and a man second, and that since his tutor’s vile abuse of him deserved vengeance, he should be freed. While he wins the case — the court also refusing to hand him over to King Leopold II and the Zoologist, Hikkengrubber — the judge still sentences him to be permanently exiled from New Orleans.

Bosephus leaves with Horatio and they go north to the Great Ozark Mountain to travel up to Horatio's ancestral palace home. The long climb up the mountain, through snow covered passes, is too much for young Bosephus and he succumbs to pneumonia. Once in the palace, the indigenous native human Shamans there, who are allies of the Black Bear royal house, give him powerful herbal medicines, but Bosephus must still be taken back down off the mountain to heal properly.

On their way back down the mountain, they encounter an Army of Miscreants that King Leopold II’s ordered Hikkengrubber to gather from the dregs of humanity in New Orleans. The army’s climbing the mountain to get Horatio and to take the mythical Black Bear Palace, steal its riches, and its mythic magical secrets. King Leopold II is convinced that this discovery alone will make him the most powerful man on earth.
In the ensuing battle Horatio’s forced to turn to using his magic Bag of Tricks, a fearsome set of weapons of last resort. Also, he must manifest his most fearsome powers of transformation, but still a sick Bosephus is taken captive by Hikkengrubber. Just then, as the tide seems to have turned against Horatio, the King and Queen, the Shamans, and the Grand Animal Congress come racing down the side of the mountain to save the day, casting Hikkengrubber and his pathetic army to the four winds.

After the battle, Horatio continues on with his plan and takes the still very sick Bosephus to live with Netty and Samuel Shaw, a kindly childless Black farmer family whom they’d met the day after having run away from the circus. Bosephus gets to have the real home and family that he’s always wanted. Horatio goes off into nature to found a Bear Cub Colony in the wild to save Black Bear Cubs from human hunters and decides to live in nature forever rather than return to human civilization.

Old Bosephus Shaw Johnson, now 115 years old in 1969, still lives in the same cabin and has been narrating our tale to his eleven great grandkids. Off in the distance, down the now paved road, dancing and playing his Violin, Horatio, Thee Arkansaw Bear, watches over his old friend and disappears back into the forest.

Submitted: March 18, 2021
Last Updated: March 18, 2021

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Nikolas Goodich's picture

The Writer: Nikolas Goodich

SCREENWRITER short Bio NIKOLAS SOREN GOODICH, 52, is a mixed-race native Angeleno. Nikolas is a writer of screenplays, memoirs, and magical realism fiction and he’s also a visual artist – a painter - specializing in a unique type of monoprint painting. He’s exhibited his art across the U.S. since 1990 including a 2015 show in Berlin. He was also a professional musician for over twenty years. His father was Frederic Goodich ASC (rip 2016), a respected Director of Photography in the film industry. Frederic instilled in his son a passionate love for cinema and Nikolas has remained obsessed with the history of film and the writing and production of movies his entire life. The screenplay, “Thee... Go to bio