Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Doggie Brushdown

She loves it.

-Peter

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

#SupermanVBatman

I wish this hadn't been in the trailer.

-Peter

American Statistic

Dogs with guns who have absolutely had it with their NRA owners.

-Peter

Wednesday Afternoon

West Cliff run with the killer.

-Peter

Mass Murderer

Sees a target.

-Peter

330 AM

Time to do some damn dishes.

-Peter

Monday, December 07, 2015

SAINT PAUL: MOTHERFUCKER

I am gonna take this guy down with my next project. I can't believe that Paul gets such a pass. 

It's time.

-Peter

Sunday, November 29, 2015

THE WHISTLER

Who doesn't love this kid?

-Peter

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

7 DAYS TO TREATMENT

So, we wrote this treatment. We had 7 days to get it together. We got it together. AJ, my writing partner is a warhorse.

The people we submitted it to didn't like it. As I was driving my daughter home from school today, she made it pretty clear to me that our plot was a little too sophisticated for your typical action crowd. Hey, I like action movies. I like the odd heist. I would have loved to have seen this thing developed. This wasn't some sloppy Frankenstein's monster, this was a plot I could get behind. Furthermore, the development into a script would have really smoothed it out. The story is dope. The level of violence injected into this thing was heavy, and I couldn't wait to go heavier.

Understand what we were up against:
The plot had to be titled THE FINAL SCORE. The plot had to do with a STADIUM. We were supposed to work from a roster of actors like JASON STATHAM or DANIEL CRAIG.

I believe that we did good. If there is a weakness, it is that the main character (BYRON) needs a bit of the fleshing out.  That is why this is a treatment and not a full script. Holy smokes, I was ready for it.

Also, there are criminals in this thing that all deserve future development. In fact, I have already started with one grouping. I'm telling you, I get giddy when I think of the potential. Their loss.

 So I was prepared to let it go. But then again we had to sign a contract saying that all of our ideas could very well be replicated "accidentally". With that notion in mind, I am going to post the whole thing here.

Lastly, even though we have signed away on the contract, the contract stipulated that the material had not been published at our time of submission. Now that the submission time is complete, I am publishing it. Why? I am proud of it and I have nothing better to do with it.

Looking forward to seeing what treatment they did actually go with. I guess we'll know next summer.

If you have any questions, feel free to find and contact me. Probably the best bet would be through Twitter.

Here is the treeatment:

                                                                      THE FINAL SCORE



TAGLINE: Byron Templeton, unfairly fired head of stadium security has both a rugby riot and a violent heist to deal with, no matter what the final score is, he is out of a job tomorrow.
PREMISE: On his last day before “retirement,” BYRON TEMPLETON, head of security for the Silver Backs Stadium, stumbles on to a plot to rob the stadium’s proceeds for the championship RUGBY ASSOCIATION CUP. The thieves, disguised as BYRON’s own security men, actually have two targets in sight: The Gate and concessions cash and the CEO’s secret illegal gambling room cash that BYRON himself doesn’t even knows exists. By the time the game is over, BYRON’s attempt to foil the heist has left a trail of dead bodies in his wake, not to mention his own. The money is nowhere to be found. Months later, when the stadium is being rebuilt, the money is pulled from the debris by BYRON and his team. BYRON masterminded the whole thing.
         
                        THE FINAL SCORE
Treatment by talking magpies (AJ and Peter)

TODAY – An older version of BYRON in a posh hotel bedroom.  A woman is obscured in the sheets of the bed behind him. He opens up a Wikipedia Page, “SBU HEIST 2005.”
MAY 2005 GAME DAY - As the final R A CUP Silver Backs United vs Cronies game is about to start all hooligans are rowdy, drinking and ready for trouble. Massive amounts of beer have been consumed. Police in riot gear are everywhere searching lines of fans as they enter the stadium. The crowd is thick.  The air is electric. The seats are packed. BYRON TEMPLETON (Jason Statham - A fit man in his mid-to late 40s), head of stadium security, checks in with the riot police and has them shift their positioning. If it is going to explode, it is coming from the SBU and Cronies hooligan sections behind the goals on the right and left sides of the field. The SBU Hooligans throw beer cans and debris out on the field. Game start is delayed while they clean up the debris. Some Hooligans jump to the field and brawl. The police chase them off. The air is tense.

MARCH 2005 - BYRON, security chief for the Silver Backs United (SBU) Football team is two months from being “retired.” His boss, Mr. ELKES, SBU CEO (Michael Ironsides - An overweight, cigar-chomping man in his 60s), harshly fires BYRON. No severance pay. BYRON is no longer employed or welcome, effective at the end of the season, two months from now.

The night before, a handful of die-hard SBU hooligans smuggled baseball bats into the previous night’s championship match and hospitalized several Cronies fans. Retaliation talk is all over the news.

Mr. ELKES needs a scapegoat to be in place for the rest of the season, immediately. BYRON has been pre-emptively blamed. 

BYRON sees the chaos that’s coming. The rivalry between SBU fans and Cronies fans has led to bar brawls and drunken street fights throughout Upton Park. There have also been stabbings. The violence is escalating to unprecedented levels. The potential for a full-blown sports riot is in the air. BYRON knows that the last game is going to be an explosive situation. Extra police are being flown in. This is going to cost somebody, bigtime. BYRON just has to keep the stadium secure until and through the final game.
BYRON leaves Mr. ELKE’s office dejected. BYRON passes by STELLA (Courteney Cox  - A pretty, dark-haired, mid-forties bookworm who is visibly shy) who works in the main gate money room. “Not good, eh?” she asks. “I don’t worry about me. I worry about my mother.” BYRON says.  STELLA looks down and says nothing.
MAY 2005 GAME DAY - As the crowd settles for the game to begin, DAVIS (Eric Bana – A large man who hunches his shoulders), a maintenance worker, makes his way with a mop to a back passage. The hall is parallel to a VIP room that sells hotdogs and accepts illegal bets on the game. DAVIS opens up a caged secure area, walks to the end of it, and cuts a hole in the drywall exposing a Pneumatic tube pipe. He then hangs a large, canvas sack against the pipe. Directly above the bag he hacksaws a hole in the tubing and drills in a bolt at such an angle that the delivery tubes are ejected into the bag instead of going to their tubular destination. DAVIS waits to make sure that the tubes land securely before exiting the passage and locking the cage door behind him. DAVIS exits a maintenance closet and goes back to mopping.

GAME DAY KICK OFF. The game begins with typical R A CUP fanfare and the Silver Backs progress with an immediate score. The teams are so amped that they are both playing some fantastic Rugby. The Cronies fire back with a score of their own. Appearances are looking good on the exterior of the stadium, and the crowd has been relatively peaceful.

BYRON enters the Gate/Concessions money room to check on STELLA. BYRON has a gut feeling that something today is going to go wrong.  He discretely gives STELLA a .38, "To protect yourself, remember, BRASS: Breathe, relax, aim, squeeze and shoot. It will save your life."  He leaves and she sighs and puts the gun in her desk.

Next, BYRON checks behind the scenes. He patrols the food storage area before moving on to maintenance supplies. While passing the cage he hears something. BYRON opens the cage with his skeleton key and finds DAVIS’s hole in the wall bolt and the bag of ejected tubes. One of them missed the bag and lies on the floor. BYRON opens the contents to find a thousand pounds in large bills. He closes it, placing it in the bag before making his way back to the closet, locking the cage door and exiting back to the game.

At the same time CARL (Steve Zahn - an obnoxious tough guy), ADAM (Chris Pine – A hulking, swaggering rugby player), HAMMERSCHMIT (Walton Goggins- A screw-loose psychopath), and four muscular henchmen in security uniforms are cleared to pass the initial security check to enter the stadium. They make their way to the back rooms waving security passes through all check points and finally storm the Gate/Concessions money room.

SBU star-player FREDERICK accidentally scores against his team and all hell breaks loose on the field The players from the SBU and the Cronies break into fisticuffs. Hooligans pour onto the field and join in. People get seriously hurt. FREDERICK and other players punch and push their way through the fracas. The riot police try to calm the crowd. Violence has broken out in the stands. It is spilling through the stadium. Fists are flying and bodies are being thrown about. Bleeding hooligans tend to their wounds on the sidelines. “The police don’t look like they will have control of the situation any time soon,” says the British announcer.

When CARL, ADAM and their team bust through the door of the Main Gate Cash Room, STELLA shrieks and is too afraid to reach for or use the .38, which is hidden in her desk within her reach. The Security that is in the room stands down, outnumbered. They are zip-tied and kicked to the floor. CARL holds STELLA at gunpoint and begins to rifle through the area organizing the cash haul.  After quickly counting up a considerable amount of dough CARL and company realize, “Where’s all the money, this is only a few hundred grand.” CARL looks up. There are four accountants lined up against the wall. They are all frail and bespectacled. CARL steps toward them.

Meanwhile, BYRON returns from his rounds to Security head office and sees that CARL and co. have cut the video feed CCTV. He fills ELKES in on the issues he has observed, omitting the money chute. ELKES thanks BYRON for the information. He is visibly nervous.

CARL stands by while HAMMERSCHMIDT and the four musclebound thugs beat the four accountants to death, one at a time. Throwing them about the room and breaking furniture, all while demanding the whereabouts of the real money. ADAM tries to intervene, and is roughed up by one of the henchmen. The accountants obviously don’t know. Their deaths are wasteful and unnecessary. STELLA is now the only staff member in the Gate Money Room that is still alive. During the beatings she witnessed, she gathered courage enough to reach for the gun BYRON gave her and hide it in her belt.

When asked at gunpoint, STELLA, gives up the secret Gambling Money Room where illegal bets are taken. CARL, ADAM and HAMMERSCHMIDT have STELLA lead the way and leave the rest of the crew in the Gate Money Room. As CARL and his group move through the back passageways they regret splitting up the team.

Anticipating a full-on brawl, they burst into the Gambling Money Room and it turns out to be several elderly women counting large piles of cash with state of the art counting machines. CARL and ADAM secure the room, and begin consolidating all of the cash on one table.  It’s a very small haul. Where is the big cash? Word on the street is that the game is fixed in favor of the Cronies, but there should still be considerably more dough than this in the oven.

Then ADAM finds the wall-safe, massive, behind a tapestry. HAMMERSCMHIDT sets explosives that he always carries on gigs, “Just in case.”

STELLA asks them why they don't just open it, Mr. ELKES combination is in his office, it’s in the upper right corner of the left drawer of his desk.

ADAM volunteers to get it. He runs several halls to ELKE’s office. CARL looks at HAMMERSCHMIDT, neither really trust ADAM, and HAMMERSCHMIDT tosses a grenade to CARL “Just in case.” CARL tears after ADAM to make sure everything goes well in ELKE’s office.

TWO YEARS AGO - In 2003 ADAM FREEMASON and FREDERICK SAXON, both top players for SBU, were caught with performance enhancing drugs in their systems. ELKES bribed the profit-hungry members of The National Rugby Board and they in turn, chose not to suspend both players. If both players were suspended from the top team in the league, the season would be thrown. FREDERICK refused to negotiate. ADAM got the 3 year suspension, and FREDERICK was allowed to continue playing. It destroyed their friendship.

BACK TO THE HEIST: BYRON enters Gambling Money Room room with back up security and they confront HAMMERSCMIDT and the four musclebound men. STELLA hits the floor. BYRON, under attack, viciously gouges and impacts his way through the four muscle men out with his krav maga fighting skills. BYRON then attacks HAMMERSCMIDT. This is a protracted, violent fight that completely destroys the room, and several digits of HAMMERSCMIDT’s right hand. When BYRON finally breaks HAMMERSCHMIDT’s neck, he is completely exhausted. STELLA makes her presence known and tells BYRON that CARL has taken off after ADAM who is headed to ELKE’s office.

ELKES, from elsewhere in the stadium, starts calling BYRON on his cellphone. ELKES wants an update. BYRON states that the Gate Money Room is secure but there is no money, and no one in the room. ELKES realizes out loud, “Shit, they’re hitting the gambling room.” BYRON, then asks “What gambling room?”

At this point in the game, Frederick brutally head-butts one of the Cronies and the crowd goes wild. It is as if FREDERICK is obstinately trying to ruin the final game. FREDERICK gets red-carded. BYRON rushes out of the Gate Money Room to find rich mobsters, and several young upstart pop stars from the expensive box seats calling their uniformed security for safe passage out of the violent stadium. The physical fights between SBU fans and Cronies fans has turned into a pulsing mob and blocks the escape route for the box-seat holders. The private box-seat security detail, in official uniforms, beat on some of the fans to clear a path. This is seen as a police attack by the hooligans and there is a new surge against the police throughout the stadium. The throng of hooligans gets through the security detail and beat on several of the rich box-seat fans, with specific focus on the swaggering pop stars. It’s a total free for all.

ADAM, intent on securing the combination to the safe, has entered Mr. ELKE’s office, and has been tearing the desk apart, looking for it. ELKES walks in and realizes ADAM is searching his office. He turns to run and ADAM holds a gun he’s found in ELKE’s desk. 
“Remember when you put me on suspension?”
ELKES stalls, “That was the boards’ decision.”
ADAM shakes his head, “I blame you. It’s so crazy out there that today I can get away with this.” ADAM shoots ELKES in the left thigh. ELKES drops to the floor, and drags himself away from ADAM.
“I also know you are in on the ripoff. This means you know about what happened to the accountants. This is for them.” ADAM then shoots ELKES in his right leg, the back of the knee. ELKES lets a tiny, high pitched scream out, and tries to crawl more. The tears are running down his cheeks. He’ll never walk properly again.
Payback time.
“Ooops. Give me the combination to the safe and I might forget who was at fault.”

TWO WEEKS AGO - With no savings, BYRON’s finances have officially fallen apart. BYRON, recently divorced, made $150,000 a year. He has no union, no pension, and no more benefits. How will he cover his in-patient, cancer-ridden mother’s treatment? All that will have to change, now that ELKES’s has fired him.

While at the hospital, BYRON and his mother talk about GEORGIE (Topher Grace – A squirrelly, obnoxious guy). GEORGIE is BYRON’s wayward brother, and he’s been missing for a week. BYRON knows that GEORGIE owes a lot of money for a drug deal that went sideways. A lot of money went missing. There were questions.

BYRON sleuths in his free time, checking GEORGIE’s old haunts because he is sure he is still alive and in town. BYRON leaves a message for DAVIS, GEORGIE’s best friend, who is head janitor in the offices at the Stadium.

BYRON soon traces GEORGIE down to a thug named CARL. BYRON muscles his way into CARL’s warehouse. CARL threateningly tells BYRON that he owns GEORGIE and GEORGIE’s debt now. GEORGIE is also running up a heroin tab at CARL’s house so CARL has had GEORGIE “do things” in order to cover the expenses. CARL says that BYRON can buy GEORGIE out of his debt for a half a million pounds. BYRON is then thrown out of the warehouse by CARL’s muscular goons. BYRON places another missed call with DAVIS.

BYRON, depressed, hits his favorite bar for a drink. He observes SBU star-player FREDERICK SAXON, partying hard with the bar-owner and local underworld king MOSES (MOE) THE MAN-HANDLER (Mickey Rourke – A well-built older man that can handle himself). BYRON eavesdrops and hears MOE blackmail FREDERICK over his cocaine use. MOE then promises FREDERICK 100,000 pounds to throw the final game of the Football Association Cup. If FREDERICK can help to achieve the FINAL SCORE of 30 to 20, he’ll receive triple the amount he is being offered. Whatever the case, SBU has to lose the Rugby World Cup. FREDERICK heads to the can. MOE calls ELKES and tells him the fix is on.

ADAM FREEMASON, suspended-SBU player, purposefully shoulder-checks FREDERICK SAXON at the bar, they meet eyes and leave the bar to take a walk. FREDERICK thinks that ADAM might have heard the blackmail talk. ADAM might have heard about FREDERICK’s plan to sabotage the upcoming game. FREDERICK, however, owes ADAM for refusing to negotiate at the suspension board-meeting. FREDERICK knows ADAM is almost out of money, and tells him he has found a way to make up for what he owes him: to “make it right.”

BYRON follows both athletes to a coffee shop where ADAM and FREDERICK meet DAVIS whose face has been beaten to a pulp. DAVIS explains around a chipped tooth that he was pistol-whipped by CARL. CARL also told DAVIS he can “buy his boyfriend GEORGIE back” for half a million pounds. BYRON, eavesdropping, finds the confirmation about GEORGIE shocking, and he is visibly shaken.

BYRON listens on. It turns out that the stadium is going to be demolished and rebuilt next summer. Before security goes completely high tech, DAVIS explains, they could get a small crew of 10 guys together, and rob the Main Gate Cash they might score at least half a million pounds. DAVIS always daydreamed of robbing the Stadium and has just learned where the illegal gambling room is. It’s assumed to be heavily guarded so they’ll need someone with muscle to handle this room. DAVIS knows a woman, a professional, with a team of high-end muscle, she runs them like her own personal action-figures. They will be perfect for the job. If DAVIS can bring CARL in on the heist, he knows he can get GEORGIE out of debt. FREDERICK has an idea of a diversion for their escape. BYRON stops eavesdropping, and makes his presence known. He sagely reminds them where their loyalties are (The SBU and the sport of rugby) and to remain true to themselves.
BACK TO THE HEIST: CARL, has taken a wrong turn and is disoriented, running through the stadium through a chaotic concession area. He uses a walkie-talkie to try and contact ADAM.

ADAM is in the middle of ruthlessly beating and throwing ELKES around his own office. Radio-silence from ADAM makes CARL panic. CARL radios for two of his henchmen to meet him, once he determines where ELKES’ office is.

In the office, ADAM is still negotiating with ELKES for the combination to the safe. ELKES screams that he was not responsible for ADAM’s being caught doping. He whimpers that FREDERICK may not have been as valuable a player but he was less of a liability. ADAM swings ELKES above his head towards the ceiling and lets ELKES drop to the desk. ELKES offers a slip of paper with the safe combination. ADAM thanks him but he is committed to finishing the job. He punches ELKES in the face, systematically, with dead-eyed indifference till ELKES is unrecognizable and dead. ADAM wipes his knuckles off and exits. There are maniacal fans running everywhere. Someone is on fire. ADAM returns to the safe room, running into CARL and the henchmen on the way. 

There is a strong surge of police presence. Helicopters hover above and military are lowered into the field. Rows and rows of zip-tied fans and hooligans are lined up on the stadium field. Multiple vans remove those being arrested. Soon, throughout the stadium, some semblance of order has been created. The riot police and common sense have won out.

TWO DAYS AGO - STELLA and BYRON lie in bed and playfully argue about the virtues of Barbados versus Mexico.  The tone is wishful thinking. They joke about the policy of not dating fellow employees.

NEWS FLASH on television at the end of the bed:
The SBU have won their latest game against the Cronies and the teams are tied in the series for the R A Cup. Whoever wins the next game takes the trophy. However, there was a violent Cronies riot after the game. The police marched and used tear gas and rubber bullets. Multiple fans and police were hospitalized. Several police cars were flipped and burned by rowdy Cronies fans.

Ticket prices are slated to double in price, for the last game. The news is delivered, publically on television by ELKES, who is the public fall-guy for the team’s owners. The news is ablaze with the potential violence that could break out if the Cronies win. Reserve police officers are being flown in from all around the country. Police warn fans of potential violence. But the games must go on.

TWO DAYS AGO. ELKES, who’s had some heavy coaching from MOE, is still on the fence and wants to know how the word got on the street that the game is fixed. The big plan is that the Final Score will be 20 to 30 in favor of the Cronies. Bets have been coming in favoring the fix. MOE tells ELKES that a member of CARL’s heist crew may have let the news slip to some of his musclehead, merc friends at the gym. (Yes, CARL brought MOE in on the heist and MOE brought it back to ELKES.) However, the mob fix is locked in. Regardless of the numbers it’s a win-win situation. Another piece of the pie is that ELKES makes up for any loses with his fat robbery-insurance policy.  

BACK TO THE HEIST: BYRON is in a brutal fight with CARL’s two henchmen. BYRON beats them both to death with his bare hands in front of a crowd of onlookers near a concessions stand. There are several riot police who have taken notice. BYRON runs at ADAM and brings him down. ADAM fumbles with BYRON, who gets up and runs away. CARL and ADAM both turn and race to the Gambling Money room to escape the police, and take a crack at the safe.
CARL and ADAM run one way and BYRON uses his skeleton key on the first interconnected-office door he can find. Who will reach STELLA and the money first?
STELLA hears someone coming down the corridor and points the .38 at the door. When BYRON comes in and STELLA sees it’s him she says, “Oh it’s you.” CARL plows into the room directly after BYRON. Six policemen enter the room in riot gear immediately behind CARL. CARL turns and opens fire on the police, before crouching behind a desk. STELLA has her gun, but crouches to the floor, dropping it. As the gunfight continues, Money, papers and blood flecks fly through the air. CARL pulls the pin from the grenade HAMMERSCHMIDT handed him and lobs it into the center of the remaining officers. The blast is small but strong enough to rip the drywall off the walls and blow part of the room out. Bodies hit the floor, some covering STELLA with dead weight. Unable to stand she looks across to see BYRON’s unmoving on the floor.
Because the grenade exploded at the end of several lengthy cement passageways, the blast is relatively contained and causes no alarm among the officers patrolling that area of the stadium.
Meanwhile the violence has settled throughout the stadium. The crowds are orderly. The last minutes of the game go on. The Silver Backs United win the series and everyone realizes the game wasn't fixed. MOE got the FINAL SCORE he wanted but with Silver Backs winning.

A larger explosion shakes the stadium, the explosives that HAMMERSCHMIT put on the safe. By the time the police find its source, and security realizes that the robbers got away scot-free, there is no trace of the money except what was burnt in the final shootout/blast.

The fire in the illegal money room had been huge. There are wounded and dead bodies all over the stadium. Several witnesses (including STELLA) state to the police that BYRON was attacked and killed during the rioting. There were bodies burnt beyond recognition in the illegal money room. On paper, BYRON is dead. The stadium exits its patrons peacefully. 

THREE MONTHS LATER.  The stadium is demolished, blown to bits and a construction crew clears away debris. A floor is pulled open by four men and several large bags are removed and placed into a van. Once inside the van, ADAM, BYRON, FREDERICK, DAVIS, STELLA and GEORGIE are ready to celebrate their newfound fortune.


BARBADOS TODAY.
The old man, reading the SBU Heist 2005 Wikipedia page, opens the option to edit the page.  It reads that upwards of 8 million pounds were stolen, BYRON changes it to “an unknown amount.”
STELLA pokes her head up from under the sheets in the background. She makes her way forward to read what older BYRON is doing. Then she realizes, familiarly.
“Why do you change that every time they adjust it? You can’t change all the facts. Someone can look it up somewhere else.” She says.
FLASHBACK: WHEN CARL, ADAM and BYRON race to the safe room, BYRON evasively hits the floor seconds before the shootout takes place, finding as much cover as possible. STELLA hits the ground too, safe. After the grenade blast, BYRON unlocks the wall safe with the combination that he took from ADAM when he tackled him. BYRON and STELLA both pull up the floorboards in the center of the room and push the money bags in. BYRON then stacks furniture from the room directly above the flooring housing the money. BYRON changes into civilian clothes, and puts on a tight, low-fitting ballcap. Then STELLA sets a makeshift timer on the wall-safe with a flare she finds on one of the dead officers. Outside of what is left of the office, they find ADAM, who is now dressed as a police officer in riot gear. ADAM escorts them from the crime scene. Elsewhere, DAVIS unlocks the cage door, enters, and slings the swollen canvas bag over his shoulder like Santa Clause. He re-locks the cage and dumps the contents into a 35 gallon trashcan with a lid on a dolly. He wheels it away, whistling.

BARBADOS: “I like to have some control over the final score.” Byron answers.



Monday, November 23, 2015

I thought it was funny.

The Santa Barabarians didn't.

-Peter

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Cool Angle

I ran into.

-Peter

SPOTLIGHT

For 35 bucks I scored this 15 million candlelight retina-scorch shotgun. 

Initially, I could only put out the street light by hitting the sensor from across the street. However, PG and E adjusted the light and put in some really harsh LED for the street.

Look at the pic. It is my light cannon on top of the car in our driveway. That is the low-beam and it kills the streetlight for as long as I want to look for stars, listen to owls, etc.  

The second I take the light off of the sensor, the street is re-illuminated with that painful, man-made, unnatural, off-white pseudo- light.

-Peter

I married

The shooter.

-Peter

Back to Basics

It's time to start wearing on of these again.

-Peter

Trust Me

I was done at 4AM. I needed a drink.

-Peter

Get on my fridge's level



-Peter

Monday, November 02, 2015

REAL ESTATE

Here is another short story I am working on. I am going to have to let you behind the curtain so you can see how it is being assembled.

It started with a conversation with my wife about the failure of haunted house. I was speculating out loud that it would be good if you saw the things in the house before the people moved in. That the psychological tension would be cooler if you saw these 2 forces in one house from the beginning. I am sure it has been done before, but maybe I can add to it.

So I went to work on a short story (tick tock, I need 10 by December). I started it off with an odd family in the house, having a showdown with the previous family of the house, and the final reveal that one family is actually a bunch of spirits, forcing a re-read. But what I drafted didn't hit right.

The draft below is a tuning up of that. it is a little unfair to the reader, and that is why I am only calling it a draft. I am setting up the notion of a man murdering his wife and kids in a house, and then suddenly shifting to a story being told about a man, his wife, and kids. The reader will be off their footing for a bit. Also, I have incorporated a couple of horrible tells in a phone conversation at the beginning.

I like it, but I don't. The mechanism is pretty blatant, once you see it. Will my audience be able to hang on all the way through it? They will if I obscure my tracks PROPERLY. Speaking from experience, if the notes are false, the story falls flat. I have gotta sew in one more red herring here.

Speaking of false notes, I had a roommate once who would wrote short stories, back when I was young in the game. He wrote one about a man closing in on his enemy. The enemy was circling the man, chaos ensues. But at the end, when you learn that the "enemy" is a goddamn housefly. Something about misplaced dialogue. I think the dude yells "You will die!" or something, thereby placing the stinky kipper out and tricking the reader into thinking that this was a human exchange.  It fell flat, however. I'm sure that if that dude reads this blog, he must realize that I am talking about 1989 here when (as far as I could tell) everything on the planet was young and sophomoric. I questioned the aspects of his storytelling at the time, but I was shot down. I couldn't articulate my issues with my high-school education. However, now I comprehend what the problems were.

Similar problems abound in the draft below. IN fact, I just got done reading through it and I see many things that need to be tightened. Most noticeably being the rage of the COntage family directed towards the father. You'll see. But I think that you will see that if I tighten it up in the right spots, it is gonna sing. Take a gander:

REAL ESTATE


"That would be phenomenal." Ray said. His moustache, perfectly trimmed, kicked up at the right as he smirked into the phone.

"Ok, but afterward we need to discuss the McShiver Bungalo." Beth said.

"You know, we never talked about how weird that street name is. I just. Ummm. I want to get it back out there. Its not too soon." Ray said. Leaning forward into his desk. His paunch, rolling into his lap.

"Ray, I don't even know if its legal. I think that there is a law against this. You are moving too fast. Let me make some phonecalls." She said. She powered into her right turn, keeping it at 50 as she merged into the slow lane on the 101.

"Beth, I don't know what to tell you, its been three months. The only issue is that we have to be absolutely clear about what exactly happened there before we can rent it. The construction and facelift have been completed. New carpet. Fresh paint. We should rent it out now. We'll price it so far below market value, that we will have to secure a renter." Ray hoarsed into the phone. His right hand held a computer mouse, and he was drawing circles with the icon on the Windows 98 logon screen.

"I haven't been on that side of town for awhile. That house just gives me the creeps. I still find it hard to believe that the father killed his entire family because they were about to get evicted. By us." Beth responded. She was weaving through traffic now. Her black BMW was being handled with precision and she talked on the phone.

She was holding the cellphone to her left ear. When Ray, her real estate manager from Royal Blodell called, she got excited. She broke driving laws. That night had been fun. She knew he didn't care, but, he was still there. Maybe for later. Plus, Ray had illuminated the path for more money than Beth had ever expected to see as a beginning realtor. Ray had directly influenced Beth's double tax-bracket jump. The problem was that Ray also had her monitoring certain rental properties that didn't get her any percentage whatsoever. It was the give and the take.

"He was mentally imbalanced. Plus, they had no other family. No safety net." Ray said mutedly through the phone. He was now carefully making squares with the mouse on the login page.

"I really don't understand it. Its good that you don't either. We haven't really had a chance to talk about this, you and I." Beth said. She was at a red light. Her BMW dwarfed by a huge econoline passenger van on her left and a black Chevy Suburban on her right rear corner, trying to squeak by her and make a right hand turn.
"A man that kills his wife and kids is a man that is missing some key elements of his humanity." Ray said.

"Ray, I've gotta go. I'll get to work on it." Beth said. She clicked off and tossed the phone into the passenger seat, missing her purse.




The Contage family had been enjoying the house. They'd moved in 8 weeks prior and they were content. J. Contage, the father, had barely been there for the move-in. It was almost as if he'd left the onus of the settling in on his wife, Cheri. The two pre-teen looking boys had been very pleasant with the move.Mostly because their father hadn't been around. This hadn't been the family's first serious relocation, and the boys had settled in easily.

Cheri Contage didn't like to clean, but she did like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. She'd allowed a bit of dust to pile up. In fact, she hadn't even dusted when they'd moved in. The family for the most part, had settled in and was happy. The house was a large, early '70s  one-story bungalow with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, the aforementioned kitchen and a large dining area that led to a right turn into the living room. The house was at the top of a hill, on a cul de sac. There were several other houses on the McShiver Street, all built during the same era. The neighbors seemed private and "to themselves" enough. The area was quiet.

The Contage family liked the house. They didn't really  step out of it during the day. Cheri hadn't even looked for schooling for the boys yet. In some ways, she couldn't be bothered. There were the things that families are supposed to do when they move into a new town and house, but the Contages didn't follow that list. They kept it very quiet. They'd been through a lot. They had some issues that they needed to work out. Cheri knew this. She was ready. Everyone was going to have to say their piece.

Even the boys.

They all handled the move-in very slow. Mr. Contage finally finished whatever business he had out of the area and took up full-time residence in the house after two and a half weeks. He knew what was coming. He'd lingered in some dark places. But he was home now, to face the music. This was what he had signed on for. When he came home, Mr. Contage didn't spend time anywhere else in the house but in the living room.

From there, Mr. Contage scrutinized the street, through the living room window, from the covered easy chair. Sometimes he stood, looking out like a sentinel.

When Cheri would enter the living room, and meet Mr. J. Contage in the eyes, she would scream. Loud enough for the neighbors to hear. High pitched yelps. Screams that said hatred and anger and unforgiveness. Mr. Contage would hang his head. He would shake it sadly.

Otherwise, Cheri dominated the kitchen. Applying her focus to the side of the house and the view that the kitchen window afforded her. The side yard, the overgrown grass, the fence, the stray cat and the neighbor's manicured lawn and idyllic house.

It was rare that Mr and Mrs Contage interacted. The screaming assaults that Cheri delivered were regular. A haunting berating, that Mr. J. Contage took, with no explanation. This family was going to process this. It was as if they had been in such a pattern for a century.

The Contage children, sweetly nicknamed Grub and Moss, tore through the house at all hours. Mrs. Contage and Mr. Contage seemed completely oblivious to the concept of disciplining their children for the noise that they made.

Most peculiar was the raising of shrill notes, the closer the boys got to their father. They would screech, and circle him. Looking up at him, trying to catch his eyes. Screeching louder. Mr. J. Contage would close his sad eyes, shaking his head slowly, as if saying no.

Sometimes, passersby outside would stop and listen perplexedly to the squeals coming from within. They would let it go. Finding ways to dismiss the shrill notes they had sustained.

Then the unwelcome pattern of visitors started.

First it was the black BMW parked out in front of the house. Mr. Contage knew that it was Beth the real estate agent in the car. He knew who she was. He was indifferent to her. She'd set him up with the rental house that they were in. She'd been fair enough, and honest enough. The problem had been with himself. He knew that. He'd handled it badly, and he was paying for it. However, with Beth parked in front of the house, questions were raised. Mr. Contage didn't verbalize these questions, however.

Mr. Contage simply preferred to sit in his easy chair (still covered with a sheet) and, face the front door, waiting for the day that a visitor would come. On the Monday of their 9th week, someone with a key opened the front door and entered the house. Mr. Contage stayed in his chair. He merely looked straight at the woman who had entered the house.

Beth, wearing a black, mid-length skirt, and a tight, white blouse looked into the house, past Mr. Contage. She breathed in deeply.

"This house needs to be dusted." She said.

Cheri Contage took a few cautious steps from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room. She peered around the corner to observe the unwanted guest. Beth took several steps into the house and stood in the center of the living room, not aknowledging Mr. Contage at all. Flustered, he stood. He didn't say a word either, he simply walked past the woman, who rudely ignored him, and he slammed the front door.

Suddenly Beth turned, to Mr. Contage. Wild-eyed.  Mr. Contage slowly sideways shuffled back towards his chair, making a large arc around beth. He never took his eyes off of the woman, but she seemed much more interested in what he had done with the door than Mr. Contage. Mr. Contage turned three quarters to the right and caught Cheri's eyes, as they peered around the doorframe. Cheri stepped out from behind her polite waiting place and gesticulated to Mr. Contage to engage with the guest, using both hands, open-palmed, pushing at him lightly. Mr. Contage stared back at her, blankly.Beth, unaware of their interaction, paced quickly to the door, opened it, and stepped outside. At that very moment, Grub and Moss, in a mad game of tag with excessive tag-backs ran through the living room, shrieking and hollering. Louder and shriler as they got closer to Mr. Contage.

Beth stopped outside, listening to the squawking from inside. Finding a way to excuse it. Or understand it.Mr. Contage had turned it slightly, and then sat back down on his chair and was looking out the window. He saw that trespassing Beth had turned back to look at the house after hearing the boys.

Neither Mr. or Mrs. Contage shushed the children. They looked at each other though, and exhanged a look of sadness coupled with a knowing understanding head nod that was a direct reference to their close relationship with each other. Mrs. Contage covered her mouth. Tears started. She turned and went back to the kitchen.

The processing was going to have to wait.

The next day, Beth returned, with a husband and wife pair.

Mr. Contage was furious. He understood why Beth was bringing people by, but it made him want to react. He wanted to do something. Harmful.

When the door opened, and Beth, now wearing black dress slacks and a light creme colored sweater entered, Mr. Contage's face broke into a harrowing, heavily tendoned scowl. He stood up.

Beth and her guests slowly stepped into the house, uninvited.

"Yes, we heard the story. But the price you have it at is worth it. We want to start our own family." The man said.

"We think we can make better memories here." The woman added.

"We're both in school, with the rent this low, we can really live better." The man said.

"It is so spacious." The woman said.

"I understand why the low price, Beth. I really do." The man said.

Mr. Contage walked behind his easy chair. He placed his hands on the back of the chair and gripped the sheet.

"Yes, this place needs to be dusted. But my manager wants to get it out right now. I knew you were in the market. We had to make you a price you couldn't refuse." Beth said.

The couple placed themselves at her left and at her right side. The man was bigger than Mr. Contages. Physically, this man was Mr. Contage's superior. He looked ten years younger too, and was definitely in better physical shape. He was wearing a business suit, and his square, broad shoulders tapering to his slim waist were all accentuated by his expensive, light blue, silk jacket.

Mrs. Contages again, peered around the corner into the living room. She stared at the woman who had come in as a guest of Beth. Cheri looked at the woman's left hand and saw the wedding band. She observed the the fit of the woman's jeans, and her t-shirt. Mrs. Contage cocked her head, perplexed, trying to determine exactly who and what this woman was. But she had also heard the banter. She knew it was time to go.

Mr. Contage looked at Cheri. She nodded at him. Mr. Contage turned back to look down at his hands, gripping the back of the chair. Mr. Contage looked up at the three intruders. His face twisted into that scowl again.He stepped out from behind the chair. Walking directly toward the people that had entered the house. He walked through them, and through the front door.

Mrs. Contage turned and saw the two boys at her left side. They both looked up at her vacantly. She gestured towards the doorway. They both walked through the people in the living room and through the front door, just like their father had.

The people in the living room didn't notice Mr. Contage or his sons passing through them. In fact, they were having some sort of murmured conversation about the people who'd lived in the house before. Something about a murder suicide.

Mrs. Contage stepped out, around the corner, and followed her boys through the door and out of the house. She stopped, directly in front of Beth who was fumbling in her smooth, black leather purse for her cellphone. She had actually taken the strap off of her shoulder and was holding the purse with her left hand to rummage through it with her right. Beth looked straight through Cheri, down into her purse. Cheri, offended, then pulled Beth's purse from her hands and dumped its contents on the ground. Several business cards hit the floor along with a collage of make-up, cellphone, chewing gum, and tissue related mess that cascaded around it.

Cheri then walked through Beth, and through the front door.



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bad Therapy

Here are my thoughts about and then the actual draft of a story I'm working on.

THOUGHTS:

So check it out. I had this horrible experience back in 1996 when I was working at a Chevron station holding my freshly minted bachelors in English. It was a low point in my life. A wife, two kids and a part-time, minimum wage job in a foreign country. I was stressed.

I have carried this story with me since then. I told my father about it, but that's really about it. It was this confused, racist exchange that left me in an eternal introspective loop.

In Canada, African-Americans don't catch the racial heat. It is the East Indians that do. But because I am not your typical looking black man, the "old guard" miscategorize me all the time. They don't know what to do with me. At a distance I can look like a pissed-off Asian if the light hits me right.

So I was catching East Indian racial heat at this Chevron station. Actually, the description of the guy in the story is generous. The guy I was dealing with was cadaverous. His hands were yellow from nicotine smoke and his eyes were shotblood. I mean like blown vessels.

The police did arrive. What I learned from it all, is that someone can say whatever they want to to another human being and they can get away with it. What this old guy said to me was pure, vitriolic hatred. In fact, in the draft below, I steer away from most of it.

But here is the rub: After I wrote this thing out, and catharcized what I thought would have been a dark experience in my life the result of it was this: I was in a HORRIBLE mood the next day. It was as if I had lived out the existence of the clerk in the story I had written, and I was full of anger.

Hence the title of the blog.

This is the 7th draft in a goal of 10 short stories by mid-December. 7 drafts means I am behind the 8-ball. But I have ideas, so its gonna happen.

Enjoy:

CLERK

"That'll be five dollars and two cents sir." The clerk said.

"Here is five." The well-dressed, white, fifty-something, balding, pudgy man said, flicking a bill into the gutter below the plexiglass shield.

The clerk looked down at the bill.

"Well?" The older man asked.

The clerk had been awkwardly wondering if the older man was going to produce the two cents, or a quarter or something else to break. There had been an issue with the penny dish that used to be by the counter, so it was no longer, but that is a different story.

"Uh, I was figuring out the two cents, sir." The clerk stammered.

The clerk had literally been doing just that. The clerk was very precise with his register, and had prided himself on having perfect cash coutout numbers at the end of shift. To miss-key the $5.02 and only add five dollars to the register would make a little bit of a forgiveable deficit, but his numbers would be out. He'd had clean numbers for three weeks now. The clerk had been very, very precise and careful with the money. It was the only thing that he really had power over while working, the cash that he was in charge of. The clerk was bored with the job, and this was his one thing that he did that kept his brain occupied. His manager had even complimented andencouraged him on his stellar register work.

The clerk had to process the thought. He didn't have two pennies in his pocket, and he knew there weren't any pennies floating around in the back office.

The two pennies didn't matter, but they did.

All of these thoughts whipped through the clerk's head in a few seconds, but it was too long for the patience of the customer, who had steadily become irate.

"You. You sonofabitch. You people come to this country and you demand everything. Fuck you. I will not pay your two cents." The man sputtered. His face had turned red. There was more than anger in his tone. This was a man who had been offended to the point of committing assault, for some reason.

"I'm from America, sir. Listen. I just have to figure out the register for a second ok? I have been trying to run perfect numbers for awhile here, and you caught me off-guard." The clerk said. His voice was wavering. Stress was in the air.

"How about I come around the counter and kick your ass?" The older man said. "Oh wait, you're locked in there aren't you. Cheap son of a bitch. If I could, I would knock your teeth down your throat." The man growled.

"Sir, I am going to call the police." The clerk said. His voice was still trembling. The clerk tightened his fists and flexed his arms. He started to fumble for the wall-phone. The five dollar bill stayed in the gutter.

"Sure, call the police, you asshole." The older man hissed. He was leaning over the counter. He was slamming his open palms on the plexiglass barrier.

The clerk pecked out 9-1-1 on the touchtone phone, nervously. The phone was ringing, but no operator.

The man and the clerk locked eyes through the plexiglass, as the clerk listened to the phone ring three times.

"Asshole." The man hissed at him again. Then he turned, and started back up the candy aisle to leave.

The clerk gently put the phone down into its wall holster. He glanced out into the parking lot and only saw the Mercedes coupe that the obnoxious old customer had driven. The clerk stepped 4 steps to his left, opened the security door and entered the store area.

The man had lingered by the magazines at the door. Pompous. He had just put the guy behind glass in his place, and now he was going to look at magazines, because he could.

The clerk hunched, and crept purposefully up the candy aisle to the front door.

The clerk walked quietly up behind the angry old man. The overweight, suit jacket wearing man didn't notice that the clerk was behind him. He hadn't even processed the fact that the clerk had left the booth.

"Hey." The clerk hissed at the back of the older man's balding head with a bar of hair that evenly reached from ear to ear.

The old man flinched. Surprised.

The clerk didn't wait for the man to turn around. He swung a direct right punch into the center of the back of the man's head. Two inches lower, that same force would have severed the man's neck-string. The older man pitched forward. Knees buckled. He fell to his right. He fell away from the magazine rack and towards the door.

"Look at you now, asshole." The clerk said.

The older man broke his fall, sloppily, by landing on his  right elbow. His head bobbed oddly as it recoiled from the sudden halting of his right shoulder. He rolled onto his back, looked up at the clerk. He sat up, and rested his hands, palms down on the floor. His face was a scowl of pain and hatred.

"You sonofabitch. Just you wait till I get back up." The man spit between clenched teeth.

"Then stay down." The clerk said, matter of factly. He took a bound in the older man's direction with his right foot. Using that momentum, the clerk brought his left knee, square into the older man's soft face. The older man had propped himself up with his two straight arms, leaning back. His legs splayed forward. The impact of the clerk's knee caused the man's arms to buckle and let his upper torso fall back. The man's head dropped straight back to the concrete floor with a hollow crunch, re-worrying the place where the clerk's fist had first landed. The irate customer was now unconscious.

The clerk ran back to the booth. He fumbled for the keys. He turned the knob and got back behind the plexiglass shield. Turning to his right, the clerk moved quickly to the back office. He fumbled for another key. He turned the knob. He stepped into the closet-sized office. The light was already on. The clerk looked at the dark monitors, stacked on top of each other. The security system still wasn't recording. There were Post-it notes and papers with  notes and phone numbers all over the monitor station. It had been out of order for two weeks now.

The clerk breathed a sigh of relief and went back to his stool by the register. The clerk looked out into the parking lot and saw that a black and white police car had just parked by the empty Mercedes. Two officers were now making their way into the store.

The older man was still unconscious, on his back, by the entrance to the store. A pool of blood had formed around the back of his head.

The officers entered.

"Officers! That man at your feet was assaulted by a teenager. The kid was driving an old Chevy." The clerk yelled.

The first officer stood, looking around. Assessing. He stayed close to the man on the ground, but wasn't going to do the dirty work.

"There was a 9-1-1 call placed from here. Was that you?" The first officer asked.

"Yeah, I called. But I hung up." The clerk said.

The first officer then applied his attention to the second officer who was at the side of the unconscious man, squatting. He reached forward and took the man's pulse. With his other hand, he rifled through the man's coat pockets. He pulled out a medication bottle.

RISPERDAL

"Hey Leonard, this guy was on anti-psychotics." The second officer said.

The first officer nodded. Then he turned and started pacing towards the clerk behind the glass.

"What color was the attacker? Can you give us a description?" The first officer asked.

"White." The clerk responded.