THE BYSTANDERS weaves together small-town eccentricities and characters, beginning with the invasion of the Samples family to Lawrenceton, Missouri. Townie, Eddy Bauman, and newcomer, Shannon Lamb, come of age in the 1980s when big hair is big and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” blasts over the airwaves, but they couldn’t be more different. The real town of Lawrenceton and the surrounding area were part of the Louisiana Purchase. Centuries later, the old-timers still speak Paw Paw French and time-honored traditions run deep.
Some say small towns are big families, but Lawrenceton, doesn’t want anything to do with the black sheep of the family. Shannon Lamb, and her “Girls Just Want to Fun” attitude and fashion, along with her hard-partying, cheating, abusive, stepfather, Dale Samples, and Pagan, tarot card-reading mother, Wendy Lamb-Samples, are outliers from Los Angeles who might as well have landed on Mars. Though Shannon is none too pleased, Eddy is enthralled by Shannon. In a town of annual church picnics and beautiful landscapes, the trailer inhabited by the Samples is an eyesore to the townsfolk and the family is quickly snubbed. Shannon and Wendy could really use some friends but learn to rely upon themselves to claw their way out of poverty and abuse.
The title, inspired by the psychological phenomenon known as the bystander effect, is a theme that is subtly explored throughout. As William S. Boroughs said: “There are no innocent bystanders…What are they doing there in the first place?” The characters often feel they are mere witnesses to what life throws at them, incapable of change.
THE BYSTANDERS, sometimes light and humorous, other times dark and tragic, pays homage to Americana and the rural people of the Mississippi Delta region.