out of the ashes

Saturday, April 26, 2014

THE Hardest Thing To Do!

I'm writing a script based on Marvin. A spec script. Should be around 100-110 pages I hear tell. I'm already too wordy or actioney, or something. So I have to start trimming. In my latest scene I have consumed 5 pages. Condensing, condensing, condensing. Cutting a lot of the good parts.

Here's the chapter from the book that I kind of wept over as I...CONDENSED. All that good stuff...GONE! The camera doesn't want to see any of the non-visual beauty, lol.

Maribeth Harris, the governor’s daughter, twenty-one come September, five-four, maybe five, blonde, eccentric, brilliant but too young to know it, a lover of lost or hopeless causes, beautiful in a James Dean sort of way, and a terrible driver. Someone Anselm could make use of in his two times two equals ten method of calculation with these beings.
Angels are no smarter than men or women—simply more obedient, less distracted, and much better traveled.
He’s going to have to vacate the underside of that dock. But, where should I put him? Have him put himself? The rescue missions are no good, he’d wind up killing someone.
Anselm sat deep in thought atop a stone bench. The bench stood amidst a bed of dazzling, colorful flowers running alongside the narrow asphalt road winding through Cheesman Park, a few blocks to the east of the downtown area.  It was nine-fifteen in the morning. A Colorado morning, a Denver morning that was impossibly exquisite—resting as the city did just below the ceiling of the world like a pearl in a silver mount.
Marvin was sleeping soundly, with a spike holding him securely down. Roget had Amy’s hand in his, even if she was unaware of it. The situation was two-thirds under control, but where to put Marvin? Where might he be planted that he could truly blossom?
A sparrow with a worm in its mouth shot in a blur from the sky and perched on Anselm’s knee, though in the physical world his tiny claws clung firmly to thin air—six inches above the cool stone surface of the bench. The little creature rested for a moment and studied him, offering the angel, perhaps, a piece of her chicks’ breakfast with a quick twist of her head that made the worm’s body whiplash. No? She whisked away again toward her nest in an elm thirty feet away, leaving the angel to sit quietly, considering Marvin’s housing dilemma. 
Anselm failed to notice Maribeth Harris racing along the road on her way through the park to visit Maggie. The governor’s daughter was in a hurry, as usual, and drove her Mercedes coupe, top down, stereo blasting Phish for all the world to enjoy along with her.  Maggie, a close friend from Denver University, was leaving for the airport at ten-thirty, and Maribeth was late to taxi her there. Seventy-five feet away from Anselm, her cell phone sang out from its pocket in her purse, a monstrosity of denim and sequins lying on the passenger seat beside her.
“Damn, that’s probably Mags…” She reached with her right hand, yanked the top open and thrust the hand into the well of it. Searching through the contents for the phone, shifting her eyes from the road ahead to the purse. Windshield and road beyond quickly.  Purse. Windshield glaring. Purse again. Edge of pavement at forty-five miles per hour.
Anselm turned his head and watched as the flowers fell like soldiers under a withering barrage of machine gun fire. In a blink the front end of the roadster sheered the bench he was sitting on. It passed through him, over the grate and crunch of disintegrating cement, and came to a lurching stop on the decapitated remains of a fire hydrant five feet away.
The hiss and roar of five hundred gallons of water per minute blasting the bottom of the engine block quickly followed. The call on Maribeth’s phone went to a drowned out message.
“Hi, Mare. This is Mags. Just wondered if you were…Ohmagod, hold on, I just heard a horrible crash over in the park…”
Maribeth sat riveted to the seat back in the aftermath, her eyes like owl’s, hands in a death grip on the wheel, and her legs fully pistoned on the pedals—brake and accelerator, yin and yang. The torrent of water, unable to drive its way through the dense block and crinkled metal of the hood found its way out through other, more convenient orifices. It gushered sideways through the wheel wells in a spray to rival the bursting of Hoover Dam, and forward like a thousand fire hoses aimed point-blank at the smashed grill. It finally awakened her.
“Oh—shit!  Daddy’s going to kill me this time!”
This time was number three. The first was two years ago, at midnight, on a dare from Mags and Jonathon to run the diagonal across the park lawn. An officer was at the other end of the hypotenuse, sitting with the lights off in his patrol car. Daddy had to quietly fix the careless driving ticket. 
The second time was five months ago in broad daylight at five below zero, on black ice, here in the park, not far away. The Mercedes—Daddy’s that time—did a series of swift and graceful twirls, but to port as surely as if a strong tide had locked it in its grip. The sparkling snowcapped handrail of the bridge the car was about to cross brought the sleek, formerly undamaged SL to a halt.  Maribeth blamed the entire mishap on Mayor Copperfield’s legion of useless maintenance workers who hadn’t sanded and salted the road properly, and that was somewhat true. But she had been cruising along, again, toward Mag’s house, watching a jet silently swimming in a silver gleam thousands of feet above her. Thirty-five in a fifteen zone, with a jogger enjoying the frozen morning directly in her path, enjoying the passage of the jet herself as she ran. The lady survived with only a severe case of heart palpitations, but the driver’s side door of Richard Harris’ automobile required expensive surgery, and the bridge rail had to be replaced.
Careless driving. Reckless endangerment. Destruction of city property.
“That’s the last time, young lady!”
It seems it was not.
Leaving the thorny problem of Marvin for the moment, Anselm breezed the few feet to the roadster impaled on the remains of the hydrant. He found it curious, this incident. Had the young woman somehow seen him and aimed the vehicle directly at him?  Disregarded the damage that would be done to the fragile body of the car by the stone bench? Certainly she must have known she could not hurt him—if she had, in fact, seen him.
It was not unheard of that a physical being could at times catch a glimpse of a spirit. It had happened often enough on other worlds, and the writings of these people themselves documented the same here on planet Earth.
He hovered over her, then flitted his enormous wings and moved to the front outside the windscreen, wondering if she would react. She did not, at least to him. Maribeth bit her lower lip and stared straight ahead through the body of the angel in a kind of hypnotic vacancy. Anselm peered into her thoughts. Curious, indeed.
Damn! Damn, damn, DAMN! Stupid phone. Stupid, stupid me. How could I have…he’s going to murder me! Accident. This time just an accident. Wasn’t speeding. Too much.
Oh, Mother of God, help me.
Mother of God? But He has no mother, Anselm smiled. He is Mother. Poor Mary back there in Heaven having to blush at these prayers every other second for two thousand years. But who knows, he thought, maybe she’d run to the throne this time, red-faced, but moved by the plea. She carried a lot of weight back home, it was true. Such a sweet girl herself, with the fathomless heart of a mother. And her smile.  He’d listen if she asked.
Maribeth slammed the heels of her hands on the steering wheel after a few more long seconds of alternately cursing her luck and praying to anyone listening. She finally opened the door angrily. The water continued to jet out from beneath the car, creating a swimming pool in the remains of the flowerbed, overflowing in a merry stream onto the asphalt. She stepped into the soft ooze of mud, her left foot sinking into it up to her ankle. So long Prada flats.
A pair of bicyclists circling the park happened upon the scene and stopped immediately when they saw the Mercedes straddling the gush of water, the remains of the bench, the devastated flowerbed that had stood in her path. And they saw Maribeth looking down, trying to work her way out of the mud, muttering to herself. The man gently let his racer fall to the grass on the far side of the road, then ran to her on tiptoes through the stream as though it were hydrochloric acid.
        “You okay? What happened?” he asked from the edge of the pavement where he had stopped.
She raised her head and shot a look at him. Her blue eyes flashed imploringly. 
“I lost my shoe!”
Shoe? Anselm chuckled, leaning sideways with the tips of his wings lifting quickly, like an eagle readying for lift off.
“Shoe?” the man asked, slightly confounded.
“Here in the mud! God, they cost a fortune. I can’t believe this happened!”
“Do you need…your shoe? I’d think that’s the least of your worries. Are you all right? What happened?”
The female rider joined him at the edge of the pool of water on the pavement, grabbing hold of his muscled arm at the elbow. She lifted her Vuitton shades onto her brow and shook her head sadly. The woman appreciated Maribeth’s sense of loss. Expensive shoes, God forbid.
“I lost a Gucci once. I nearly cried. Well, I did,” she said to Maribeth.
“They’re Pradas! Brand new!”
“Oh, no. That’s simply tragic.”
“What about the car!” he said.
From the east, across the expanse of lawn, another young woman sprinted toward the scene in the bright sunlight. Anselm glanced over at her. She wore denim shorts, cuffed at the upper thigh, and a magenta blouse tied in a loose bowknot above her navel. The woman ran athletically, with long, barefoot strides, leaning forward. Her full lips formed an O as she sucked in air and handfuls of consternation. The red hair settled in tight curls against her high cheekbones when she came to a quick stop just outside the mud field.
“Ohmagod! What happened, Mare? How on earth did you manage this one?” she cried out.
“Exactly,” the male bicyclist said. This one. This one?
“Do we need a cop?” the Gucci asked incidentally. “My God, Pradas. You might as well just kiss them goodbye,” she raised her voice. “The water alone will have simply ruined the one stuck in the mud.”
Maribeth was busy tugging to free her foot, and at the same time keep the shoe locked halfway on it. The deluge continued, unmindful of the drama that had unfolded on its account. Anselm took it all in; the man afraid to de-cleat his own feet and go to the unfortunate girl’s assistance. His vacuous friend. The latest arrival hardly breathing heavier than if she’d ambled slowly across the park. The blonde named Maribeth who seemed less worried at the moment about the someone who was going to kill her than the necessity of retrieving a shoe.
“Oh God, Mags…I’m so sorry I was on my way over to your place and I knew I was late I was speeding just a little when the phone rang it was in my purse and I went to find it and lost the road and then my shoe my brand new Prada no less and Daddy’s going to friggin’ kill me. SHIT!”
That about said it all, in less time, too, than it had ever taken Maribeth to say, “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts.”
“Jeez-Louise, Mare. You and your driving. Here, let me help you get out.” Mags took a step forward through the water on the lawn to the beginning of the super-saturated mud pit and her friend. She leaned far forward, extending her hand.
“Don’t worry about Richie. I’ll make up some cock and bull story to get you out of this one. Here, take hold.”
Richie? The murderer-to-be? Daddy? Anselm brought a finger to his chin and wondered. He looked at the expensive car, the girl. Where could this go?
Maribeth was nearly calf-deep, refusing to abandon the shoe.  Mags drew back, grimacing and pulling. Digging her heels in and grimacing. Pulling and slipping.
“Hey you over there. Can ya’ maybe give me a hand?”
The biker looked quickly at his friend. Not directed to her, he was pretty certain. He looked back at Mags, and then lowered his eyes to the flood of water beneath his cleats.
Anselm leapt from the hood and swooped behind Mags. He reached around her with both arms and placed his hands on top of hers, then as easily as if he were lifting a flower from a vase, brought Maribeth Harris out of the mud, shoe miraculously intact. His body and wings enveloped the two young women, which sent a momentary shudder racing through him when they fell through him to the grass.
Mags felt a blinding sensation the moment Anselm’s hand had touched hers. Something bordering on frightening, for those few seconds, heretofore outside her sensory experience in the physical world. Frightening, yet strangely joyful and comforting. Star hot, yet frigid. Soft, yet diamond hard. Falling backward through the angel’s chest and abdomen, the warm waves of Tahiti met the fury of Cape Horn’s. Her vision tingled from the shock of a flashbulb erupting, her ears picked up Brahms and AC/DC, intermixed and lovely.  Sensible. Shockingly impossible.
The angel stepped away, uncertain in his universe of simpler makeup and emotions for the first time. Accomplish the task assigned, but be wary of coming into contact with the fruit of the tree. He shook the uncomfortable feeling away, but he wondered at its power, the alluring aspect of it. He thought of the Angel Of Light.
Maribeth, soaked and covered in mud, rolled off Mags, who lay still and bedazzled on her back. The governor’s only daughter raised herself to her hands and knees.
"Gosh, Mags, thanks so much. So much. I thought I was going to sink with my sh…Mags?”
According to Maribeth’s reliable fate in times like this, a black and white appeared on the scene. The officer pulled to a stop at the curb and flipped the cherry top on. He recognized the car across the road in the demolished garden, closed his eyes and shook his head. Her again. Officer Thompson grabbed his log notebook, opened the door, and stepped out.
Gucci reached him first.
“No one was injured, officer. The woman just lost a shoe.” She wanted to say more, but the important fact had been disclosed. She smiled and lowered her shades back into place on the bridge of her nose.
“Well, I mean after she hit the water thing…”
He left her there constructing the next words and walked across to her friend.
“What happened here?” he asked.
“Not sure, sir. We got here after she plowed over the bench and the hydrant. I was just going to call and report it…”
“Thanks.” Thompson left him in the water and made his way to dry ground north of the carnage, then across the lawn in a wide circle. He noted the woman lying unconscious on the edge of the mud pool.
“Does she need an ambulance? Is she hurt?” he asked Maribeth. “You, huh?” he added.
“No, sir.  She…” Maribeth looked down on Mags, then back at Thompson. “I guess she’s just dazed…or something. She came to help me after, after…” Yes, what? After I went for my phone, lost control, again, and trashed the park? Again?
He bent down, checked Mag’s wide-open eyes, felt for pulse, then tapped on her cheek with his fingertips. “You okay?”
Mags came to life with a gasp.
“Jee-zus Jones! What was that?” She raised herself to a sitting position quickly, as though a spring had released its energy beneath her back, and turned her head in rapid circles looking for, for. For something.
Thompson stood up and called dispatch to send a tow truck and a city crew to the park. Afterward he peered down at Maribeth sitting beside her friend.
“So, how’d you manage this one, Governor Harris?”
“Ha, ha, ha. Very funny. Look, it wasn’t my fault.” She thought quickly. “A dog came out of nowhere, right in front of me. I had to swerve to miss it. I swear.”
“Speeding again, right?”
“No! That’s the truth,” answered the child with her fingers in the cookie jar. Something better. A sudden hurricane force wind behind her. She passed out momentarily, fearing she’d hit and killed the poor animal. A sudden defect in the accelerator cable…or however the apparatus was connected and worked.
“I went for the brake, but somehow missed it and hit the accelerator in…stead?”
As Maribeth tried to lie her way out of this one, Anselm looked on, absently rubbing the tingling in his arms with his fingers.
The governor’s daughter. I like her. I think Marvin might, too. Wonder where the palace is?

The situation was under control, now. With a little nudging, a little direction, the two of them would soon enough cross paths. Anselm took it upon himself to make certain the governor did not do the poor girl in when he found out about “this one” in the meantime.

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