Blood Samosude is someone to fear. A vigilante enforcer of contracts, Blood lives outside the law and is shunned by respectable society. In the town, they warn one another about him.
The debt collector, the debt collector,
They don’t call him Blood for nothing.
He has no heart, he has no soul,
No pity, patience or forbearance.
Outside the law, out of control,
There’s nothing he won’t do to scare us.
Children frighten each other with graphic descriptions of what he might do to them, if he met them on some dark night.
He’ll tear all the teeth from your mouth like a dentist,
Except that he’ll do it without Novocaine.
The way they did back when it wasn’t invented.
And he’ll laugh in your face when you cry out in pain.
He’ll take all your teeth, and no one can stop it,
And he’ll whistle a tune feeling chipper and merry.
Then he’ll wrap them in tissue and sell them for profit.
Each one for a quarter paid by the tooth fairy.
Everybody who owes money or who has reneged on a promise both loathes and fears him. But when Helga Hauser, a financially struggling widowed landlady, needs someone to help her against her unruly tenants, the Larks, the Debt Collector is her only hope.
The Lark family has seven children and one on the way. They are living on welfare in Mrs. Hauser’s rent house, and they do not pay their rent and are also late with the bills, but they are not thieves. The Larks consider themselves to be decent folk. They are law abiding people.
Into the lives of the Larks steps the beautiful, flirtatious social worker, Siren Thompson. Siren has been sent by the State to make sure that everything is okay with the Larks, and especially with their children, who are considered “at risk”. Siren is concerned for the poor and the downtrodden, and she loves everyone.
Blood, the Debt Collector, happens to overhear Siren singing this song, when he is on his way to collect rent from the Lark family that is owed to his client, Helga Hauser. He is charmed by Siren’s enthusiasm, and the two exchange words. Blood and Siren are both idealists, but their ideals are different. Siren wants a world where no child is ever hungry or hurt. But Blood wants to live in a world that is fair, where people keep their promises –or else.
Things begin to unravel when Blood shoots and injures Constable Peeples, whose job it is to prevent the eviction. Blood goes into hiding, while Constable Peeples makes a full recovery. Two of the Lark children, Dexter and Sophie, who have learned to respect Blood when he helped them collect a debt from their parents, decide to go with him, and they ask him why he lives outside the law, the way he does. Why isn’t Blood an officer of the State, instead, like Constable Peeples, if he is so interested in enforcing the law? His answer is “I’d Rather Be Free”.
The children, who begin to miss their parent, return to find that their mother is in the hospital, having given birth to yet another baby. But Siren has already reported the absence of the children, spurring an investigation by child protective services that eventually leaves seven year old Sophie in the hands of a cruel foster mother who wants to adopt her without her consent.
When the Larks learn that Sophie is in danger, they realize that the Debt Collector is the only one who can help them against the welfare state. But they don’t know where he is. He has gone into hiding. The only person who knows how to contact Blood is Mrs. Hauser, their former landlady. But when Lottie Lark sees Mrs. Hauser on her knees, trying to scrub the stains out of the dirty floor that she has left in their former residence, she suddenly realizes that she owes Mrs. Hauser an apology.
Mrs. Hauser, moved by this apology, tells the Larks how they can contact Blood. At first, Blood does not want to help the Larks, until he realizes that it is his fault the State took Sophie away. He had no right to take the children away from their parents without permission. He has contributed to the problem. Overcome with remorse, Blood apologizes to Lottie Lark.
Blood goes off and saves Sophie, but is shot in the process of illegally removing her from her foster home. Mrs. Hauser provides a safe house for both Blood and the Larks, and even tells Constable Peeples who comes to check on her that the crying baby the Larks have left in her living room is her own grand child. While Blood recovers from his injury, Siren, the social worker, learns how to apologize by taking lessons from Carl Lark, the welfare father.
Eventually, after being well-schooled by Carl, Siren manages to apologize to Blood for her contribution to the problems of the Larks and Mrs. Hauser, and for trying to sabotage him.
In the end, the Larks and Mrs. Hauser come to terms, and they realize that tenants need landlords, and landlords need tenants, just as children need parents, and parents need their children. Carl Lark agrees to work for Mrs. Hauser as a handyman, and he asks Blood to make sure that she does not go back on her promise to pay him his wages. The Larks learn that they have as much to lose to government meddling as Mrs. Hauser does. Children are precious to their parents. Rent is essential to the continued existence of landlords, and nobody needs a government that redistributes either money or children. Even Siren reforms and agrees that everybody needs a person like the Debt Collector, to make sure that important promises are kept.
Copyright 2017 Aya Katz and Daniel Carter. All rights reserved,